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From the Editor -
Randy Chambers
Just Between Men
Featured Article
TimeGifted to Give
By Randy Chambers

Wouldn't it be a twist at Christmas time to give gifts with the intent that those gifts, once received, are to be given away? Or perhaps it would be that they are not actually given away, but that they could only be used to do something for someone else.

Imagine receiving a gift that is not just for your benefit. Imagine it is something like a free pass to work in a soup kitchen for one year. Imagine the look on someone's face when they open their present to find a basin, towel and soap, and a note attached that says, "May you find great joy and fulfillment as you use these items to wash the feet of strangers."

Most of us would probably not be too pleased with such a gift. Our ideas of a Christmas present are usually material in nature and have little to do with serving someone else.
Gentle Ben
By Glenn A. Hascall

Ben was a neighbor. He was a smaller man with shiny wrinkles and a hat that reminded me of every middle class ‘Joe’ from the 50’s. He wore suspenders and slacks with scuffed leather shoes. He lived down the street with his bride of many years. Let me tell you about him.

You see, my dad had taken a perfectly good back yard and determined that a double car garage was needed to fill up all that extra play space, so Ben came over to take a look. The pronouncement came with a ready smile. It seemed there was enough room and Ben was willing to take on the job.

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Yet, in scripture we find that we have each been given different gifts, "according to the grace that is given to us" (Romans12:6). If we examine the scriptures further, we will find that these gifts are not given to us just to benefit self, but are given to us for the benefit of many. They are the "Christmas Gifts" with strings attached. That is not a bad thing, for anything worth having often carries a degree of responsibility on the part of the one who possesses it. Jesus tells us in Luke 12:48, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." And in Matthew 10:8 He says, "…freely ye have received, freely give."

The gifts of God far exceed our vision and version of annually distributed Christmas gifts. Our gifts are often designed to end at the receiver; while God's gifts just begin with the receiver – flowing outward from the receiver to the many he or she would share them with. While we may give something to wear, or hang on the wall, or just give immediate gratification; God gives that which brings deeper and lasting satisfaction to our souls as we truly learn the meaning of the old expression, "It is far better to give than to receive."

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17 NIV). As good stewards of God's manifold grace, we should be able to see that nothing we have belongs to us – it is all His, and we are responsible for what we do with it. Whether spiritual gifts or earthly endowment, all is given with strings attached – strings that should not end with us, but stretch out into the lives of so many around us, creating a beautifully designed web made up of the service and the giving to others of what we have received.

It is not our right to store up for ourselves treasures on this earth, that God has given us. Instead we have been given the right to be a channel of giving – a conduit of love in service to those around us. If we are good stewards of all we have, we will be God's open channel to the world; but if we hoard that which has been given to us, we become an impasse, clogged by concerns for self, and self-gain.

Do you feel that your "giving" channel has been clogged by self-concern and self-gain? If so, you will be happy to know that there is a kind of spiritual "draino" – it's simply called "service." The practice of service to others will eat at the clog of self-centeredness until God can freely use you as a spiritual conduit of His grace.

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10 NIV).

"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (1 Corinthians 4:2).

(Unless otherwise, stated, all Scriptures quoted in this article are from the King James Version)
Randy Chambers began writing at the age of seven, and more seriously when he began a wonderful walk with Christ at the age of 26. A husband and father of two, Randy served ten years in the U. S. Air Force before following God’s call to go to school full time at the age of 30. He graduated four years later with a B. S. in Psychology, a minor in Counseling, and a minor in Christian Discipleship. Randy has written numerous poems, some short stories, and a devotional series for his Day by Day daily devotion website at: http://www.daybyday.org