The holiday season is a hectic time for me. At the church, there are several various fellowships, services, and other events that take extra time. There is also a lot of activity at home with shopping, planning, and the annual shuffle from house to house seeing aunts, uncles, in-laws, and out-laws. I’ve come to notice that despite the wishes of good cheer that accompany the season, it seems to be the time when people are most likely to anger, hurt, and otherwise bother one another; myself included. As one given to anxiety, it is a stressful time. I enjoy the holidays, but I’m always glad when they are over.

The moment Christmas ends, I begin to think of where the church is and where we need to be. There are victories and challenges that must be examined before moving into a New Year. As for victories, this has truly been a season of giving. We have had several mission projects as of late, all showed great giving. We donated five large boxes of new gifts to the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. We collected gifts for needy children in our community. We gathered stockings full of gifts for the local nursing home. Hopefully, in those efforts we have helped spread some joy in areas where joy doesn’t always take. We also collected over our goal on our annual Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions. Hopefully, in doing so, we have supported the spread of the Gospel. Beyond these planned projects, I have watched our members give of themselves for each other. This has come largely from those who teach children. There have been parties, movies, and even a trip to a famous roll-throwing restaurant; something many of the kids had never experienced before. The teachers and helpers who gave of their time and resources here invested in the hearts of children. Those dividends tend to be longer in coming, but rewarding nonetheless. Truly, we have had a season of giving.

I would love for such a season to set the tone for the year ahead. If anything, we must learn to give more. Our budget includes about 10% for various “mission” causes. By the year end, that number runs closer to 20% but it should be more. Further, we must give more of our time. In order to accomplish the task the Lord gives us in the Great Commission, we must be willing to give a lot of time. Yet, it doesn’t stop at time and money. It would be so much easier if that’s all it were, but there is more.

We must truly learn to give of ourselves. We must give of ourselves to the point that we become smaller and smaller. We must become slight in order to make much of God. This will mean sacrifice. This means first and formost, the sacrifice of will. Everything else after that will be quite an adventure

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30 ESV)