Thursday, October 18, 2012


Lately it seems like I’ve been giving out a bunch of gifts. Every time I turn around I’m handing someone a souvenir from a trip, a present for their birthday, a momento for an anniversary or a thank you note for their thoughtfulness.

All this giving has caused me to spend some time contemplating the whole concept of gift giving and gift receiving, especially as it relates to our relationship with God and His purposes for our lives.

Every time I travel to another country I look around for something to bring back for my wife and kids, you know something that represents the country I visited and will also be something they will appreciate and enjoy.

For my wife I like to bring back a nice piece of clothing, a necklace and some chocolates (she always shares!). For my daughter I look for a doll or a bracelet, or something dainty and precious, and for my son a soccer jersey, a ball cap and more chocolates.

I always look for specific things for them based on what I know they like and based on what I know represents the country I’m visiting. This has been my mode of operation as it relates to gift giving for quite some time now.

On some of the trips though, I’ve veered a little bit in my approach, and for some reason my wife has been less than enthused with my choices. Not so much with what I’ve given her or even what I’ve given my daughter. She has shown concern more about what I’ve brought back for my son.

Maybe it’s her parental instinct, or her elevated maturity level (especially over mine), I’m not totally sure, but whatever it is for some reason she didn’t approach a gift I gave Ethan from one of my trips to Ukraine with as much zeal as I would have hoped.

What was the gift? Well it was none other than a symbol of power that strikes a sense of pride for the Ukrainian and a sense of fear for their opponents all at the same time. It is the national symbol of Ukrainian power; it was none other than a MACE (as pictured in this very famous statue)... Ethan's was a tad smaller but just as pointy (according to my wife).

Now granted my son is young, very active and was one of the best hitters on his baseball team, which didn’t really cross my mind as I cheerfully announced “Perfect, I’ll take it!” to the vendor on that cobblestone street in old Kiev.

So, as I returned home and sat down with my family to reunite and hand out some gifts, her response to the mace was a look that has been forever etched in my cranium.

As I handed Ethan the mace, she gave me a look of “what in the wide wide world of sports were you thinking? He’s a kid, and this is pointy and hard and weapon like.” Ethan was like “sweet, thanks daddy!

I should have filed that one away in my mind for another trip I would be taking to Malaysia, but for some reason I didn’t.

The trip to Southeast Asia was awesome; it was everything I hoped it would be and so much more! I couldn’t wait to do some souvenir shopping to bring back some representation of the Malaysian culture in the form of gifts for my family.

I found some absolutely gorgeous items for my wife and daughter, some great chocolates, some amazing biscuits that are unique to Penang, white coffee that will blow your mind and some other really cool things.

My son sat there and watched all of the items pass by him bound for his female sibling and his mother, and nodded and said “oh that’s nice, wow, pretty”, he was polite and patient but I could tell he was waiting for what daddy brought him this time.

Now you need to understand something, the mace I brought home from Ukraine, had been put to good use by him…it was actually missing a spike at this point. How it went missing we’re still not quite sure.

Anyway, the time finally came for me to deliver the goods to my son. A symbol that would forever remind him of my trip to Malaysia and would serve as a solid representation of Southeast Asian culture of old. The gift was none other than an ancient Malaysian blow dart gun used by the warriors of long ago.

He was like “Sweet, thanks Daddy!” Words that I heard before which actually were accompanied by a look I had seen before, from my wife!

I looked at my son and then looked at my wife, and pretty much gave this lame response to “The Look”.

What, it’s not like they’re poisonous darts!

Yep, you guessed it that wasn’t the response she was looking for, I blew it again!

You know I’m so glad that God doesn’t blow it in His gift giving to His children. He has picked out; hand wrapped and specially delivered gifts for each of us that come with an expectation of use for His purposes.

Think about it, when was the last time you got a gift for your birthday or whatever and you didn’t open it? If you’re like me, that would be never! It’s unheard of, to be given a gift and not open it, but that’s what some people do with the gifts that God has given.

Another scenario would be opening them, nodding and smiling cheasily and then not using the gifts that He has given for His purposes. That too would be a tragedy because the gifts that God gives are all meant to reach out, build up and equip others to help His Kingdom expand.

The more I work in ministry, the more I realize that the gifts that God has given are incredibly diverse and incredibly powerful. There is something truly special about giving back to God with the very gift he gave you in the first place.

As I think about gifts and how they are to be used, I’m so glad that God has such an intricate plan for what He gives, who He gives it to, and why He gives it to them. He doesn’t ever get “The Look” for a boneheaded gift.

He’s the perfect gift giver; it’s up to us to use them wisely with the right motives, in the right ways and with the right power!


  1. Brent, Brent, Brent! I actually laughed out loud at the gifts for Ethan, all the while fully understanding your wife's dismay. Great lesson for you...but remember God's word says we will be known by our love and those gifts don't teach that. I love you deeply anyway!

  2. good point...actually the mace had some good points as well...notice I said HAD...always learning lessons, sometimes the hard way!