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Christmas Memories
John 3:16 

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For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas this year? I received several very thoughtful gifts this year. Susan and Stephen went in together to buy me a complete set of Topps 2000 baseball cards. My Mom and Dad gave me several gifts, but my favorite one is this lighthouse tie I'm wearing this morning. Jamie gave me a book written by Richard Hatch entitled, 101 Survival Secrets: How to Make $1,000,000.00, Lose 100 Pounds and Just Plain Live Happily." Hatch was the winner of the hit TV series, Survivor. These gifts were all special to me because of the thoughtfulness that went into selecting them. 

Susan and Stephen know how much I like baseball cards. My collection goes back to when I was eight or nine years old. They also know that I haven't been buying any cards this year. The tie is great because of the name of our Church. And Jamie knows how much I enjoyed watching Survivor this summer.

Richard Hatch was the guy on the show I loved to hate. After he won and started doing the talk show circuit, I cut him some slack. I'd decided that he was just being arrogant and obnoxious to keep the others at arms length so he could win the game. But after reading his book, I've reverted to my original conclusion.

Secret 78 illustrates my point. The secret is, "Selfishness is a virtue." Hatch wrote, "For example, if you give somebody a gift, it's because you want that good feeling that comes to you from the act of making someone you care about happy." (Hatch, 84) (Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html )

Do you agree with that statement? Is selfishness a virtue? Do we only give because of what we "get" out of giving? If not, then wdo you give? 

Over the holiday season, my ministry to our local church and the Internet community has primarily focused on the Christmas theme. This year, a couple of people emailed me, telling me about their most memorable Christmases. As you are thinking about why you give gifts, listen to these stories.

Shelley Batty of Molatta, Oregon was the oldest of two brothers and a sister and often bore the weight of being the "big sister." When Shelley was eight, her Dad had been out of work for a while. As Christmas approached, money was tight. Shelley and her siblings didn't know exactly what was happening but they knew things weren't normal. 

Their meals were a little different but the biggest difference was their Christmas tree. It was a sad "Charlie Brown" tree. Under the tree, there weren't any multicolored boxes or any exquisite bows. Instead they had one present. But it was a huge box. The kids tried for days but they could not guess what it was. 

Christmas day finally arrived and anticipation consumed all the children. As always, their Dad read the Christmas story from Luke before they could open their presents. After the reading, he put the big box in the middle of the floor and directed each child to stand by one side of the present. He told them that the gift was for everyone and they had to share it nicely. Then he gave them the motion to open their present.

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