Don’t Throw Away Those Christmas Cards!

Christmas card basket
Our basket of Christmas Prayer Cards for 2015

What do you do with all those Christmas Cards you received over the last month…even those latecomers that might not have arrived until January 2nd (we got a few of those!)? Why not keep them and let them help you give back to each person/family throughout the whole year?

A few years ago we began a tradition at the Whipple house. I wrote about it on this blog several years ago, but I thought I’d re-write about it this year, because it has been such an important part of our family’s Christmas tradition that usually lasts through the summer and into the fall.

We take all those cards down from display when we put the decorations away, and place them in a basket. Each Sunday, when we have our dinner, one of the kids draws a card randomly from the basket. The younger ones in particular love picking the card. Sometimes there are spirited discussions about whose turn it is. ūüôā

We then pray for that person or family every night at supper for the entire week. It is a great way to give back to them by praying for them. I try to let people know that we have prayed for them, but honestly, I often don’t. However, the times that I have called, texted, or emailed the family we prayed for in a particular week, or when I simply know the circumstances in their lives, I am always blown away by the timing of God allowing us to pray for that particular family on that particular week. It¬†has almost always come at a time when that family/individual really needed it! Then again, I don’t know why it should blow me away. His sovereign timing is always right!

SO…don’t throw away those cards!¬†Keep them and pray for those who have been meaningful in your lives and to thank God for them. It is a great example for your kids. We rotate saying the blessing around our supper table, so it is always cool to hear our kids intercede for others…sometimes people that they don’t even know well. Then, it is even cooler when we can tell them how their prayers were very timely!

You may even take the cards and put a note on them and send them back to those who originally sent them to you, letting them know you prayed and thanked God for them. It truly is a blessing to stand in the gap for friends and family and to teach your kids about praying for others.

Make those old Christmas Cards from last year into Prayer Cards for the new year!

And know that if you sent the Whipples a Christmas Card…we will be praying for you!

I thank God in all my rememberance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you allmaking my prayer for you with joy
Philippians 1:3-4

 

a voice from the past, relevant for today’s church leaders…

E.M Bounds was a lawyer, pastor, prisoner of war, Civil War Chaplain, preacher, and writer. He has been called an American prophet on prayer. His books have been called the greatest collection of writings on prayer. He said and wrote¬†many things about prayer and the church, but I recently read this quote that I believe could have been written yesterday, but it was written over a hundred years ago. Amazing how little has changed.¬†Church leaders, church planters, church members¬†read it slowly and let it sink in…

“We are continually striving to create new methods, plans and organizations to advance the church. We are ever working to provide and stimulate growth and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendancy to lose sight of the man. Or else he is lost in the workings of the plan or organization. God’s plan to is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men…What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in payer. The Holy Spirit does not flow theough methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer!”

This brings to my mind this verse from 2 Chronicles 16:9…

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

What would happen in our church if this was true of us? What would happen in our community…nation…the world?! Are we asking God to anoint our PLANS and ORGANIZATIONS or are we asking Him to anoint US and His Bride? If you are planting a church, how will you pray?

What are you praying for the church?

If we are to see a movement of God in our generation, it will begin with prayer. What is it that we as church leaders are praying for the church? How, exactly, should we pray for revival in the church? Maybe Psalm 85:1-6 is a good place for us to start:

1 You showed favor to your land, O LORD;
       you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
       and covered all their sins.
       Selah

 3 You set aside all your wrath
       and turned from your fierce anger.

 4 Restore us again, O God our Savior,
       and put away your displeasure toward us.

 5 Will you be angry with us forever?
       Will you prolong your anger through all generations?

 6 Will you not revive us again,
       that your people may rejoice in you?

Can God do again what He did in generations past…bringing revival to the church and spiritual awakening to this nation that would become a global movement? Absolutely! he’s done it before, He can do it again. Pray that God would indwell our churches and fill us afresh with His Spirit. May he take each of us this Sunday in our church gatherings and shake us. May we experience His presence in a fresh way. May we never be the same.

Is that your prayer for your church? I think most of us, if we are honest, are afraid of what that might look like. I know I am, but I still want to pray it anyway.

If it’s gonna happen, it will start with prayer. What are you praying for your church, pastor? More people? More money? Buildings? New programs? Or brokeness and revival.

Christmas Cards Live On…

We started something new at our house this year. We’ve talked about it before: What do you do with all those Christmas Cards each year? Well, if you’re like us, you usually throw them away…except for maybe the photo cards of christmas-cardsfriends & family you haven’t seen in a while. That has been our process for years.

Last year we had an idea…actually the idea came from my wife …but it wasn’t until this year that we put it into practice. I took the banner of making it happen and we have started what I hope will become a tradition in our family.

We have a small basket on top of the fridge with all the Christmas cards we received this year. Each week we take one and put it on the family calendar on the side of the fridge. When we sit down to supper, we always have a rotation as to who says the blessing. As the blessing is being said over the meal, we ask God to bless that particular family or individual whose card is picked for the week. We also pray for these families in our family devotions. It is a little reminder to our kids to pray for others as well as a way that we can be grateful for those people whom God has placed in our lives.

A couple of cool things are now happening: The kids have started reminding each other at meal time to pray for the family of the week; and in just the last week, without any prompting, we have been hearing the kids remember these families in their bedtime prayers as well. That’s awesome!

So, if you sent the Whipples a Christmas card in 2008, know that you are being prayed for in 2009. May be something you could do in your home…if you haven’t already thrown those cards away!

I’d love to know, what do YOU usually do with all those Christmas cards each year?