Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Living Water International

If you read this post from earlier today, you know my stance on Christmas gifts this year: spend less and make the gifts you ARE giving more meaningful. But what about the other aspects of Advent Conspiracy? The four tenants are Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All. I want to discuss the Give More part for a moment.

We got a letter in the mail from Living Water International. Here’s what part of it says:

“Alternative giving is powerful. Americans spend $500 billion on Christmas. Just 2% of that would cut the world water crisis in half. Wouldn’t Jesus love a birthday gift like that? In Matthew 25 when Jesus lists what’s really important, water for thirsty is at the top of the list. What could he possibly want from a shopping mall? Christmas is about God’s love becoming flesh and blood. The love you’re about to extend through safe drinking water will literally become the flesh and blood of whoever drinks it. Celebrate Christmas the way God does.”

I can’t put it any better than that.

I still have a few gifts left to buy this year. They are for hard-to-buy-for people, and I’m lacking ideas of relational gifts to give them. I have decided to throw in the towel, refuse to buy them any more useless STUFF, and give safe drinking water to someone else in that person’s name.

On Christmas Eve at our church, every penny collected during the offering LEAVES THE BUILDING. Imagine that! It’s the one time a year when churches know they will finally get out of the red and into the black because more people attend services at Christmas. My church leaders decided to donate everything that’s collected at the 14 Christmas services. I don’t say this to pat their backs or stroke egos – I am pointing this out because it glorifies Jesus’ teachings. Our church gives that money to Living Water. My daughter Katie knows this, and she saves her money throughout the year to donate on Christmas Eve because she knows it’s going to help someone have clean water.

This year, Living Water has new gift cards you can give that let the recipient decide where exactly the money is being donated. I think that’s pretty cool. Instead of just telling the recipient you donated in their name (which is kind of boring, really), you can get them involved by asking them to designate how the money will be spent. And in the process, maybe their eyes will be opened a tiny bit more to the blessings surrounding them. Who needs another electronic gadget or mall gift card or DVD when there are human beings who are drinking water full of feces and parasites? Sorry to paint such a blunt picture, but that’s the truth y’all.

This weekend, my pastor preached about Advent Conspiracy. He said the money you DO spend this year at Christmas should be spent strategically. Don’t end Christmas in debt! God’s way isn’t to have a noose around your neck at the end of the holidays. No present can fill the hole in someone’s heart – only Jesus can. God could have given us stuff, but He gave us His son.

Okay, I’m stepping off my soap box for a moment. The point I want to make is this: it doesn’t really matter where you donate the  money you save by buying relational gifts this Christmas, but it does matter that you don’t hold on to it and you give it away to someone who could use it.

Oh, and here’s one last shameless plug: Katie and I worked on a video for the Advent Conspiracy film contest. You can help her win the contest by voting on her video. So far, she has 338 votes. Pretty cool! Want to watch it and give her your vote? Click on this link and you can view it. She came up with this line on her own: “I love people more than presents.”

What a sweet girl.

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