Every couple of years, starting in 1984, I have encouraged Charisma readers—much as I am now with Ministry Today readers—to do what my wife, Joy, and I have done for years. And that is, give a tithe of what we spend at Christmas to the poor.
This was etched in my mind as a child when my parents asked my brother and sister and I to pick a gift from the many we'd received and give it to a family in our church that didn't have much. I don't remember details, but I think the dad was out of work. I can't remember what I gave. But I can remember going to their house to give them our gifts and how happy they seemed.
Christmas is about giving. It's when God gave His Son. And didn't the tradition of gift-giving originate with the Magi, who gave gifts to the Christ child?
Yet Christmas has become an orgy of consumer spending. Many retailers make most of their annual profit at Christmastime. Even as believers we tend to get caught up in the world's values of buying gifts. Usually our purchases are for loved ones who already probably have much more than they need.
The antidote, I believe, is to be proactive, to consciously give to the poor and to encourage others to do the same. When I first urged Charisma readers in 1984, and in many December issues since then, to give to worthwhile ministries at Christmas, it was because I believe that in giving to "the least of these My brethren," as Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, you're giving to Christ Himself.
A practical suggestion on how to do this is to give a tithe of what you spend on others. So if you spend $1,000 at Christmas on gifts, determine you'll give $100. My family does this. Over the years we've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it through Christian Life Missions, our nonprofit partner. If every reader of Charisma and Ministry Today gave only $5, it would total more than $1 million this year.
As a way to focus attention on ministries you can bless this Christmas, and to make it easy to give, we have included this section that shows the ministries supported through Christian Life Missions, the nonprofit partner we've worked with for more than 25 years. Every penny you donate through Christian Life Missions will go to the ministry you choose. If you give through Christian Life Missions, your gift will be sent to the ministry and you will receive a receipt for income-tax purposes.
There are many other ministries or needs you can give to. It doesn't matter so much whom you give to, but that you do give and do it as unto the Lord. We believe it will make all the difference in the way you celebrate Christ's birth this year. Click here for more information on Christian Life Missions.
Also, starting Thursday, Dec. 8, be sure to visit the Ministry Today website for touching articles and features on Christmas as we focus on celebrating Christ's birth.
You don't want to miss the Ministry21/Ministry Today conference call next week with pastor, marriage expert and author Jimmy Evans. Join us for an hour of engaging conversation with the senior leader of 10,000-plus strong Trinity Fellowship Church in Amarillo, Texas, for the past 29 years on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT and 1 p.m. PDT.
Here is the call information: Dial-in number (712) 432-1001; access code: 467245262#. Listen in as we to talk to Jimmy about strengthening marriage, the theme of the November-December issue of Ministry Today, now available.
Jimmy is also the founder and CEO of Marriage Today, a ministry that is devoted to helping couples build strong and fulfilling marriages and families. You can read Jimmy's informative article about avoiding the traps of ministry marriages in the November-December issue of Ministry Today by clicking here.
You will want to get a copy of the magazine because the issue is full of good material by nationally respected leaders such as Dr. Doug Weiss, Gary Smalley, Dr. Tim Clinton, and Larry and Jonathan Stockstill—who were Ministry Today guest editors last year on the issue of "integrity." So there is plenty here to minister to you in your own brokenness, and to help heal those whom God has entrusted into your care as a leader.
Now is the perfect time to subscribe to Ministry Today—a great gift idea for Christmas. We're currently offering a special promotion that includes two free gifts—evangelist Reinhard Bonnke's "Full Flame" DVD series and the ESV (English Standard Version) Thinline Bible. Click here to subscribe to Ministry Today.
Check out some links below to recent stories from Charisma News that you'll find useful and informative. You can also sign up to receive stories on your smart phone by signing up for the free app Charisma News by clicking here.
by Pastor Paul Bryan
What an exciting opportunity you and I have to embrace this Thanksgiving season with the right heart attitude.
Begin by thanking God for everything that you are and have. Thank Him for every breath you breathe in today, and practice the attitude of gratitude. Make a list of 100 of the people and/or things that you are thankful for, and give God your honor and worship. Make it a habit this week to let God know just how aware you are of His grace and mercy.
Muscles strengthen with use. Develop your gratitude muscle by being appreciative the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night before you go to bed for the next 21 days. The passage below is a significant key to living the abundant life that Jesus paid for. Saying "thank you," not only opens doors with God, His presence and abundance, but it works with people too. Life is too amazing and too short to only be grateful one day of the year.
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." —Ps. 100:4-5
Every day is a choice. You have to choose to be thankful. You choose whether or not you are going to take time out of your busy day and recognize where all of your blessing and salvation comes from. Thankfulness is an art form that must be disciplined and practiced in order for you to become a master of it. Ask Daddy God to open your eyes to all of the blessings in your life, so that you can give Him the praise and glory. I guarantee that if you master this right heart attitude, you will see positive lasting change in every area of your life.
Pray: Daddy God, baptize me with Your love. Destroy every work of darkness and bitterness in my life. Remove every barrier and hindrance that keeps me from hearing Your voice and being lead by Your Spirit. Eliminate the time wasters and opportunity thieves that have kept me from experiencing the abundant life You designed for me. Grant me the wisdom and the strength to make the necessary changes for my growth and success. Change my attitude to one of gratitude, and help me to express it in word and deed. In Jesus name, Amen.
You were created to live a life with the attitude of gratitude. Be the revival and transform your world. Jesus believes in you.
Paul Bryan is the senior pastor of Lighthouse Church in Deland, Fla. Check out his "21 Day Thankfulness Challenge" by clicking here.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, it's good to remember that Thanksgiving is inextricably tied to our nation’s founding and its times of war, as well as its Christian heritage.
In 1777, the first official Thanksgiving proclamation was issued by the Continental Congress after the American victory in the Battle of Saratoga. The proclamation asked God to "... smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties."
On Oct.3, 1789, eight years after the surrender of the British army at Yorktown, President George Washington issued a proclamation "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
President Washington assigned "... Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation."
It was President Abraham Lincoln who began issuing a proclamation in 1863 for a national day of thanksgiving, when it became the custom of U.S. presidents. During the Civil War, President Lincoln established a permanent observance by calling on the American people "... to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November (to extend the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy). After a storm of protest, Roosevelt changed the holiday again in 1941 to the fourth Thursday in November, where it stands today. It was 1941 when Thanksgiving became an official national holiday. Since then, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation calling for a national day of thanksgiving each November.
The photo image is a copy of a 1789 newspaper that published President George Washington's proclamation of the first official Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
Let us know your thoughts about presidential Thanksgiving proclamations by commenting below.