Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Posts tagged “Black Friday

Christmas Gifts – On a Mission From God

EPC - Christmas Gifts - On Mission

Before many of us dive head-first into that giant orgy of materialism – you know? BLACK FRIDAY! The day when Americans spend ridiculous amounts of money on stuff we don’t need – 1 day after saying how thankful we are for all that we have! Before we do that – I want to challenge all of us to completely rethink our Christmas gift giving this year!

Rather than buying into the consumerism, materialism, & greed that is so often a part of the American Christmas experience. Rather than buying a bunch of stuff that people really do not need & that will be collecting dust in a few short weeks. Let me challenge you to make your Christmas gift giving be “on a mission from God” this year!

Here are a few ideas of how you can get people a great Christmas gift – while supporting a great cause – & helping those who are A LOT less fortunate than any of us are.

1) Serve the World Christmas Gift Certificates.

These can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given in their name – to help provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well this donation helps fund local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling. These Gift Certificates are available through our church office or in our Cafe on Sunday mornings.

2) Bags of Coffee from Haiti & Rwanda

We serve Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee each Sunday at Eagle Pointe & we make bags of this coffee available for purchase. Bags of this coffee make for great Christmas Gifts while at the same time help provide a job & a living wage for farmers in 2 of the poorest countries in the world. Bags of different blends of coffee & espresso, as well as bags of chocolate & peppermint espresso bark, are available through our church office or in our Cafe on Sunday mornings.

3) Eagle Pointe embroidered gear

EPC - Embroidered Gear

If you’re getting a gift for a family member of friend who is part of our Eagle Pointe family – why not get them something they can sport to show off their church family. This is a great way to promote what God is doing here at Eagle Pointe and a great discussion starter to share your faith and invite people who are disconnected from God and church. These are priced to pretty much just cover the cost to produce and a portion of the sales goes towards our Eagle Pointe mission work. Contact Gina Koepka – (404) 375-9899 for more info.

Again, let me challenge you to make your Christmas gift giving be “on a mission from God” this year! I’d love to hear your stories of the impression this made on those you give gifts to this Christmas.

Oh, and here’s one last thought on this idea…

Christmas - Necessity 2

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Serve the World Christmas 2011 – Part 4

Happy Thanksgiving! I know most of us are very busy with family & cooking – but I thought it was worth a try to get this post out right before “Black Friday”. I pray you will help spread the word about what I’ve been sharing this week in this 4 part series.

If you missed “Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Part 1,  Part 2,  & Part 3” please go back read them to better understand this post in context.

I propose that we “DO” Christmas different this year. Rather than buying into the frantic, crazy, stressful, non-stop month of parties, shopping, & trying to make sure that our friends, families, & kids have lots of “stuff” to do & presents to open – let’s just SLOW DOWN! RELAX! And ENJOY what this season is really about. As my daughter Brianna says, “Christmas is about 3 things: 1) Celebrating Jesus, 2) Spending time with family, & 3) Helping those in need!” DANG! I love that girl! THAT pretty much sums it up!

BTW: That’s a lot of what our December message series “Let It Be… Christmas” is all about! We’re using the Beatles to talk about what Christmas is really all about & how God wants to use us to show that He & we care for our families, neighbors, those in need, & our world. (Also, check out our “Let It Be…Christmas promo video here). Don’t miss this series kicking off this Sunday Nov. 27th. It will run each Sunday in December & on Christmas Eve.

This “Serve the World: Christmas Offering” is ALL about Brianna’s #3 – Helping those in need. I ask that you join us in helping in providing food, immunizations, medical care, mosquito nets, Bibles, & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day.

For the month of December please pray about & consider making a special donation to this offering, which we pray will fund our mission work in Haiti & the Phillipines for 2012. Please help us provide food, immunizations, medical care, mosquito nets, Bibles, & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well, this offering will fund the local mission work with Children’s homes, homeless shelters, battered women’s shelter, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling. Our goal is to raise $30,000. (This is above & beyond the approx. $30,000 it takes to run our church & preschool each month) This is also a rather modest amount considering the incredible amount of work we do with this amount of money.

Please join us in praying that God will FAR surpass our goal! Please pray about cutting back on the “stuff” of Christmas – give your best gift to Jesus this Christmas – & help us truly “Serve the World” in Jesus’ name in 2012!  In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.

Lastly, I hope & pray that you will help us make this a Christmas to remember!


Serve the World Christmas 2011 – Part 3

As, I’ve been saying in “Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Part 1 &  Part 2” – there’s something very, very wrong with us as a society and a people. There’s something very, very wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas. We succumb to this constant yearning for more and more and more. And if we would ever just wake up – we would notice that it leaves us empty. We Americans are shopping addicts & junkies – always looking for our next fix – we get our hit – we buy something – & we’re on a high for a little while. Then we start coming down off of that high – so we rush out & buy our next fix – and we feel really good for a little while – then we begin crashing again.

And we continue on this never ending empty cycle – until half of our life is gone – we’ve accumulated a mountain of debt – and we realize what a mess – and what a waste – our life has been up until this point. Listen – it is time for us to break free from the greed and materialism and consumerism that we are addicted to – and that is destroying our society.

It is time for us to show our kids the way – before it’s too late for them! It is time to stop – and it could begin this Christmas season with us. This Christmas we need to say NO to greed – materialism – & consumerism!  We need to say NO to celebrating the birth of Jesus – by buying more stuff! We need to say NO to celebrating God’s love coming to earth in human form – by showering our kids and everyone we know with a ridiculous amount of material things – that they cannot begin to appreciate or be grateful for. We need to say NO to celebrating Christmas – with a month-long nonstop whirlwind of frenetic activity – which causes us to dread the holidays.

BTW: I am REALLY looking forward to our Christmas series which kicks off this Sunday at Eagle Pointe called “Let It Be… Christmas”. We’re using the Beatles to talk about what Christmas is really all about & how God wants to use us to show that He & we care for our families, neighbors, those in need, & our world. (Also, check out our “Let It Be…Christmas promo video here)

You know – there’s just something “right” about this ! I doubt there’s a person who has been reading this series of blogs – who does not feel a little something deep down inside of them going – “Yeah!” “I don’t need another iPod to match my other iPod – I don’t need a bigger TV – I don’t need a 42nd pair of shoes – what I need is – more of God in my life!”

This Christmas season – when your family & neighbors & coworkers ask “What are you doing for Christmas?” – you can say – “Not going to the Mall – not going to Best Buy – avoiding Wal-Mart and Target like the plague!” And after they bounce back from going into shock – you can explain that  – we’re going to Buy Less & Give More – in fact – Buy Less & Love More – we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ!

We’re going to help a bunch of kids and families in the Philippines & in Haiti – have the basic necessities that we Americans so take for granted.  We’re going to meet real, practical, & tangible needs in Jesus’ name in places where the average FAMILY lives on less than $2 a day  – where they have very little to eat – where they don’t have the immunizations to keep their kids from dying – where they live under a sheet or tarp – or in 1 room shacks with 8 – 12 people living in them.  A place where pregnant mothers don’t have the nutrients  they need & moms don’t have formula for their babies.

Our gifts this Christmas are going to “the least of these” – in name of Jesus.

I pray that this Christmas you will support our Serve the World: Christmas Offering & help us pull off all the local & global mission work God is leading Eagle Pointe Church to do in 2012. God bless you – & let’s try to do Christmas “right” this year!  In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE. BTW: Here’s an info packet explaining in detail our “EPC – Serve The World Campaign – initial letter & FAQ“.

***NOTE: Be sure to check out the above & below videos of our mission work in Haiti & the Philippines.


Serve the World Christmas 2011 – Part 2

Be sure to watch the above video & if you missed “Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Pt. 1” go back & read it 1st – so that you’ll get this part 2 in context.

Listen – if we as Christians don’t step up and address these issues – people starving – parents burying their kids – kids being orphaned by diseases all over the planet… I think years from now people will look back at the 21st century Christian church and ask – “What were they thinking?” “How could they not do something?” It’s like the way we look back at the church – who for 300 years read their Bibles – and kept their black brothers & sisters in slavery. Tell me how that works? How do you justify that? The problem is that we don’t have enough people who will take action!

I also had a conversation a couple of Christmas’ ago with a pastor friend. We were kind of making fun of the people who boycott stores that do not say “Merry Christmas” – during the month of December. I don’t think I’ll ever forget – my friend said – “I want to boycott those stores that invoke the name of my Savior – in the name of the almighty dollar. I had another conversation with my daughter Brianna – who asked me – “Daddy, why is it Jesus’ birthday and everybody buys all kinds of gifts for everybody else – but Jesus doesn’t get anything?” She said – “If it was my birthday – and everybody except me got gifts except me I’d be pretty upset.”

Then I did a little research and found that the average family in America spends $1300 buying Christmas gifts – that’s just the average… Some spend a lot more – & too many go into debt pulling off Christmas. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on gifts for everyone we know – on video games, iPods, clothes, and all kinds of stuff that our kids can’t begin to be grateful for or appreciate. Question – does this in any way sound like a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – of God’s love coming to earth in flesh? To me – it is more of one giant orgy of materialism – and it’s sickening!

I am challenging all of us – and everyone who will listen – to drastically cut back on Christmas gifts this year! I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath ——-  But guess what? Christmas is not my birthday – & I don’t need anything! It’s not your birthday – and you really don’t need anything! Now, I know this is a hard pill, especially for our teens and kids, to swallow – but compared to 99% of the other kids in the world – our’s live like stinkin’ royalty! 99% of the kids in the world would trade places with them in a heartbeat!

So, in our family we’re calculating the maximum amount we can afford to spend on Christmas, without going into debt – which isn’t a whole lot on a pastor’s salary, paying off 2 adoptions, etc… We’re cutting that in 1/2 and using 1/2 to buy gifts &  taking the other 1/2 and giving it Jesus for His birthday. Now, how do you give the Jesus – who is not here in the flesh? You could give to His work – the local church! And we should definitely be doing that. But Jesus also said that when you do this for the least of these – people who are suffering – starving – dying from diseases – you are doing it for Me. It’s easy to get overwhelmed – when you look at the incredible needs all over the globe – and think what could I do about all of that? Well, you can’t fix it all – but we can each do our part. Our Eagle Pointe family could come together and address a small portion of it.

During the month of December we’re doing a “Serve the World: Christmas Offering“. This offering will help fund our church’s mission work in Haiti & the Phillipines for 2012. Please help us provide food, immunizations, medical care, mosquito nets, Bibles, & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well this offering will fund the local mission work with Children’s homes, homeless shelters, battered women’s shelter, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling.

We’re encouraging people to go above and beyond their normal, ongoing support of all the ministries & mission work we do here at Eagle Pointe Church – & give to support our Serve the World: Christmas Offering. Please pray about it & see what God leads you & your family to do. In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.


Serve the World Christmas 2011 – Part 1

I think the above video is all too indicative of our world today! (If you didn’t watch it – invest 4  minutes & do so)  There’s something very wrong with us as a people and as a society! What do you think God is thinking when He sees us acting like that? About 3 years ago God began to really open my eyes and breaking my heart to the conditions that so many people in our world live in. Not just their physical needs – but also their spiritual needs. But reality is – that it’s very hard for people to focus on their spiritual needs when they’re starving to death – when their children are dying of diseases.

2 years ago I was at the gym working out – when a guy who knew I was a pastor approached me… The cyclone in the Myanmar had just happened – 50,000 people died… And another 50 to 100,000 people were expected to die – because they lacked the basic necessities of life – to survive the aftermath of the storm. And as so many people do – this guy was blaming God. He comes to me & says – “How could you believe in a God who would allow that to happen? If God is real – why doesn’t he do something about that?”

He went on and on – I listened for a while – and finally I put down the weights – I turned to him – and said – “God did do something about it!” He looked at me very perplexed and I said – “God created you and me and the other 7 billion people on this planet – and instead of sitting around and complaining and blaming God – God created each of us to get off of our fat happy lazy butts & go do something about it!” And with that – he lowered his head – and walked away.

In America alone – we spend more on entertainment each year – than it would cost to eradicate Malaria & other diseases throughout the world. In America alone – we spend more on hair products & make up each year – than it would cost to than it would cost to feed every man, woman, & child on the planet. But it’s because of our own human greed – selfishness – & irresponsibility that people are starving and dying of diseases all around the world. We won’t get off of our butts & go do something about it!

In Part 2 I’ll dive a lot more into this idea… But let me share with you something our church is doing this year. During the month of December we’re doing a “Serve the World: Christmas Offering“. This offering will help fund our church’s mission work in the Philippines, Haiti, as well as other local & global mission work we do for 2012. Please help us provide food, immunizations, medical care, mosquito nets, Bibles, & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.

Our Eagle Pointe Life Groups will be  helping provide Christmas gifts for a bunch of kids at a Children’s Home we work with for battered & neglected kids, as well as, helping several families both inside & outside of our church pull off Christmas/meals/gifts this year.

So, let me encourage you – before you dive head first into “Black Friday” & the Christmas shopping madness. Just say “NO!” to the greed, selfishness, extravagance, excesses, and debt this Christmas. Step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself —– “Is this what Christmas should really be about?”, “Do my kids & others really need 20 new things this Christmas?”, “Does the way our society celebrates Christmas – even remotely resemble what a celebration of God’s Love coming to Earth 2000 yrs ago should look like?”

I’ll let you chew on that for a while – stay tuned for tomorrow’s  ”Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Pt. 2” – don’t miss it!