Tag: gift

Why every married person should be required to get their spouse a Christmas gift

If you’re married, do you get your spouse a gift?

Or do you forego the gift? Because, after all, you don’t really need anything, right? Or…well…this is a time to get other people gifts. Or…our budget just won’t allow it.

Is it really that important to get your spouse a gift? Or can we just skip it and focus on others? Do we really need to focus so inwardly?

Yes. Yes, you do.

If you’re married, you better get your spouse a gift for Christmas. [Tweet that]

I remember in premarital counseling, my pastor told me something about my then-fiance, now-wife. It was over a decade ago that he spoke the words, but I’ll never forget them.

Your spouse is God’s gift to you. They are your treasure. Treat them like they are. – R. Sing Oldham

If something is my treasure, I’m going to do whatever it takes to find, and keep, my treasure. I’m going to guard it. I’m going to protect it. I’m going to go out of my way to value it because it’s valuable! At the end of the day, I’m going to…treasure it.

One thing that I tell couples when I counsel is that a key to remaining happily married is to continue to date your spouse. Look for moments to steal away. Snag a kiss. Go out of your way to make the mundane special. Go on dates. Do little things to show them you love them. Do big things. Do tiny things. Do medium-sized things. But whatever you do, continue to date them. Continue to get to know them. Spend your life getting to know, and love, your spouse increasingly.

I got gifts for Laura when I dated her. I wanted her to know just how much I loved her. Just how much I treasured her. I wanted her to know how special she was to me. I wanted to impress her with the gifts I got. I wanted her to know I knew her well, and that I understood what made her tick and what she valued.

Just because we’re married now doesn’t mean I should want to impress her less. Yes, we’re committed. She’s not going anywhere and neither am I. But if I really love her, I ought to go out of my way to show her.

I ought to get creative. Think out of the box. Listen to her when she says what she likes and what she thinks looks good to her.

Sure, my wife may not “need” anything. She may not even say she “wants” anything. But it would make no sense for me to go shopping for hours, stretching my brain and my budget, to buy stuff for others without buying something for the one I love the most on this earth.

You’d better get your spouse a Christmas gift before you run out of money and ideas. [Tweet that]

I’m not saying you have to get something expensive. Not at all! It has very little to do with a dollar amount, and everything to do with your heart, your motivation, and how well you’ve listened and know your spouse.

Gifts that show you’ve listened well are more valuable than expensive ones. [Tweet that]

And those you love the most should get the best, most thoughtful gifts of all.

What do you think?


10 Things You Forget About Pastors

I had the chance to preach at Grace this past Sunday. What a gift it was.

apparently, I said something I thought was funny

And what a hard week it was.

Every time I get the call to preach, I forget just how much work it is to prepare until the Wednesday before I preach on Sunday. It’s at that point, when I’m on my 5th rewrite, my 10th bottom line, and my 4th, “I have no idea what I’m going to say” thought for the week.

In the process of preparing and delivering the sermon yesterday, I realized that there are a few things that people often forget about preachers. In fact, I’ve found exactly 10 things that are often forgotten.

10 Things You Forget about Pastors

1. Preaching is a lot of work.

In fact, it takes me between 20-30 hours to prepare my sermon. On top of that, I still have my normal, weekly responsibilities. Last time I checked, adding 30 hours to a work week was a pretty significant amount. The best sermons take time to marinate. Which means that if you enjoyed the sermon…it probably took longer than normal to prepare.

2. Preaching is stressful.

If you mess up in your job, your boss might get upset with you. If we mess up…God is upset with us. I’d rather get the stink eye from your boss than mine any day. 🙂

3. Preaching has a lot of moving parts.

We feel the weight of preaching the Scriptures faithfully, in an engaging way, every time. We have to balance humor, theology, and application, making sure to pepper in just the right number of illustrations, but not too many so that people remember the illustration and not the Truth. That’s a lot to balance on a small stage.

4. We don’t always have it all figured out.

We don’t know it all. Or have all of the answers. Or have every truth we’re preaching on mastered. Growing up, I assumed that my pastor knew everything. Now that I’m in that role, I realize that we don’t.

5. We get worn out, too.

Delivering a sermon is physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. Expect that we’ll be pretty zapped afterwards. After all, “they” say that delivering a sermon is equivalent to 8 hours of work.

6. If you tell us some important detail on a Sunday morning, we’ll probably forget it.

Feel free to tell us, but follow that up with an email. We’ll thank you later. It’s not that we don’t care in the moment…it’s that our minds are racing, and we often have hundreds of thoughts and ideas we’re wrestling with.

7. Preaching is a gift, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Some days, it feels more like work. I’d love to say that every time we preach, the heavens open up and God gives us great joy in the preparation and in the delivery. But I’d be lying…sometimes it doesn’t feel like a gift.

8. Criticisms need to wait.

Seriously, if you have a bone to pick, call us on Tuesday. We’ll be in a much better spot to handle criticism then, than on your way out the door on Sunday.

9. We see you texting.

Don’t act like you’ve listened to our sermon…we know better.

10. We have to do it all again next week.

Most preachers preach every week. In fact, most preachers preach on Sunday, Sunday night, and then again on Wednesday night. The work of a pastor is never done.


Have you ever preached? Do any of these resonate with you?





Getting the perfect gift for the blogger you love

We all want to get that perfect gift for someone for Christmas, right?

image via creation swap user Travis Silva

The one that says, “I know you so well that I didn’t even have to ask you what you would want, I can pick the perfect gift you didn’t even know you wanted or needed.”

Allow me to help.

If you’re looking for a gift for a blogger, I’ve got your back.

1. 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo

This is a great e-book resource from Bryan Allain. It’ll help kickstart a new blog or restart an old one. And it’s only $4.99. 

2. Evernote Premium

I’ve made it no secret that I love Evernote. I’ve found some new uses. It’s revolutionized the way I capture information, which I believe is key to having fresh blog content. An Evernote premium account just takes Evernote to a whole new level. I’m finding more and more every day just how key Evernote is to blogging success. Pay for a year’s subscription for $45.

3. Standard Theme

This is the theme that I use here on my blog. It’s fantastically simple to use, but beautifully robust on the back-end. It’s a great theme that’s easily customizable. If the blogger you love doesn’t have it, this would be a great gift. The theme is $49, but for $99 you can get lifetime support and updates.

4. Idea Paint

I use a big dry-erase sticker, but Idea Paint is even more awesome. You can get it on their website, or you can snag a much cheaper can at Lowe’s HERE. It’s $30 for enough paint to cover a 6 square foot area.

5. Kindle Fire

This is a great new tool that gives the blogger flexibility to read e-books and post updates to their blog as well. And you’ll be someone’s hero. Priceless. Or, if you’re counting change, it’s $199.

6. Coffee

I prefer Starbucks VIA or Starbucks cards. If you’re not a Starbucks fan, just head to your local coffee shop and get a pound of coffee. Your blogger will love you for it. Average price: $10/pound.

7. Moleskine Notebook

Sometimes it’s easier to write our thoughts out, or sketch an idea on paper. Enter the Moleskine. With a variety of colors, cover-types, and paper, you can pick just the right one. Soft cover: $12; Hard cover: $17.95

8. Apple gift cards

From music to apps, bloggers can find a variety of useful things. Most of them serve as distractions, but that’s beside the point. Price: starts at $5…but depends on how much you love your blogger.

9. Headphones

If we’re going to listen to music in public places, respect dictates we listen to music through headphones. I’ve got my eye on a set of Beats by Dr. Dre that have a built-in mic for talking on my phone through the headset. Those are $179, but the Plantronics Backbeat are great, too, have a built-in mic, and are $19.99.

10. Laptop bag

If you’ve got a laptop you carry around, you’ve got to have something to carry it in. I have an STM bag that I love. A new laptop bag is always a good idea. The STM bag I’ve got is $49.99.

11. MacBook Air

I know, I know…this is a stretch. But for those you really love, this may be just the right gift! The portability and power of a new MacBook Air is perfect for the person that travels throughout the day and needs something light and easy to move with, but that’s still got plenty of power. It’s a steal at $999.

Have a blogger in mind? What are you getting them?

* photo credit: creation swap user Travis Silva







Ever had someone come up to you at a stoplight and offer to wash your windshield?

I remember when I was a kid, and it happened to us when my dad was driving.  He politely declined the offer.  I said, “What?!?  A guy just offered to clean your windshield, Dad!  Why didn’t you let him?”  His response: “Because he was going to charge us.”

My cousin, Tyler, had a similar experience the other day.  While walking the streets of Rome, a guy approached him and made him a bracelet, making polite and engaging conversation the whole time.  My cousin, being a naive teenager, thought the guy was just being nice.  When he was done, the bracelet-making street guy said, “I did you a favor, now you do me a favor.  Give me 5 Euros.”  He pulled a 10 out, to which the guy said, “I’ll take 10!”

A gift quickly loses its appeal when the generosity is removed.

In fact, a gift isn’t a gift if there’s no generosity.  When a gift is attached with an expectation, it’s not a gift.  It’s a transaction.  Which is fine if I’m buying something.  But not if I’m receiving a gift.

When you serve your community, do you do so expecting nothing in return?  Or do you expect that, after you serve somebody, they’re going to come to your church?

When you give “selflessly” of your time and resources, do you secretly expect that there will be a return on your investment?  That, because you gave, they are obligated to give something back to you (in the form of a person visiting (or giving money to) your church, your organization, or your small group)?

It’s okay to hope that the love and generosity you show others will be reciprocated.  But making it an expectation strips a gift of its beauty.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  –Luke 6:35


Leaders, Know your Gifts!

God has wired me differently than He has wired you.  It may be true that you and I are the same gender.  Or live in the same city.  Or drink the same kind of coffee.  Or are passionate about similar ministries.

But at the end of the day, I have different gifts than you do.  And you have different gifts than I do.  And that’s a good thing.

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.  -Romans 12:3-8

Our staff at Grace Community Church just talked through our results from Strengths Finder.  It was cool to see the varying gifts and passions that God has uniquely given the staff here.  Over the next few posts, I’ll share my strengths with you.  I don’t share them to make much of myself, but to make much of God, the giver of all good gifts.

These descriptions aren’t perfect for me, but they’re pretty close.


People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want
to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome,
excites them.

What makes you stand out?
Instinctively, you normally dedicate yourself to acquiring knowledge and gaining skills. You
probably devote many hours to mental labor. Because of your strengths, you can block out
distractions when you are working or studying. You are seldom pulled away from a task. You
probably desire to understand ahead of time what needs to be done. You also expect to
receive background briefings and/or a list of a project’s criteria. Armed with this information,
you move closer to your goal. With ease and certitude — that is, having no doubts — you
determine what is and is not important to know about an activity, event, or project. By nature,
you habitually bring together all sorts of information so you can refer to it later. At the instant
you collect a fact, example, story, or piece of data, typically you are eager to use it. You trust
it is valuable. Your fascination with knowledge has probably been part of you even before
you formed the words to ask your first question. It’s very likely that you might prefer to
enroll in a difficult class rather than register for the easiest one. Perhaps comparing how well
you are doing in relation to others has meaning only when you earn the best grades in the
hardest courses. To some extent, you crave recognition for your knowledge and winning
spirit. Chances are good that you may be an individual performer who signs up for tough
classes. Perhaps your desire to excel is amplified when the only path to a good grade is a
steep one.

Do you see yourself at all in this description?


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