THE QUESTIONS...have begun, "Pastor, what do you want for Christmas this year?"  "Pastor Jim, is there a book you've been eyeing we could purchase for you as a Christmas gift?"  "Jim, do you still drink coffee at Barnes and Noble?"  I hear the love and appreciation behind each question.  It's an honest and heartfelt attempt to show appreciation and express affection for your pastor during this holy time of year.  But let me assure you, I can be checked off your gift giving list this year...
 
THE ANSWERS...are simple.  First of all, you have already been generous to me during the course of this year.  The sabbatical afforded me in July was a beautiful symbol of your care for me.  On top of that, last week our staff gathered for our annual Christmas supper.  On the years that budget receipts are healthy, the staff receives a Christmas bonus allocated within the budget you approve and pledge each year.  This year you have been generous to the church and we received a monetary gift - from you.  And finally, I either have or have access to just about everything I want or need.  At this point in life, I always feel a little guilty requesting things for myself.  I've been blessed beyond measure...
 
THE REALITY...is, however, that some of you truly desire the joy of giving.  The aforementioned blessings are too distanced from your hand to generate the blessing that you receive in making personal gifts. Well, if you insist on keeping me on your gift list, then allow me to request what I have requested in years past. In 2012, I will again be participating in a race to benefit the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. In April, I will travel to Tampa Bay, Florida, to compete in the St. Anthony's Triathlon. Your support of this endeavor not only allows me to keep running...but it will benefit hundreds of persons who struggle with blood cancers, as well as, the doctors leading the fight against these diseases.  To donate, simply travel on your computer to my secure donor site.

If you don't like exchanging funds via the Internet, feel free to write a check to Highland Hills Baptist Church and designate it to the Leukemia Society. Again, you've already been plenty generous. Thank you...from the bottom of my heart. Feel free to check me off your list...