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Gifts that Give

AUSTRALIANS ARE great gift givers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics research (Festive Facts and Figures 2008) showed Australians spending $18.12 billion at retailers during December 2007.

Despite the global financial crisis and interest rate rises last year, The Australian said we spent over $20 billion on credit cards alone over the festive season.

We are generous too.

According to the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) in 2008 two in three Australians intended to make a donation to charity at Christmas.

Their research showed that 68.02 per cent of Queenslanders intended giving to charity and 20.81 per cent intended making Christmas gifts for family and friends.

Social Researcher Mark McCrindle said Australians spent $50 million last year on “useless Christmas gifts”.

“Seventy-eight point five per cent of Australians have received a present that they consider to be a total waste of money,” he said.

While it is a wonderful thing to give and receive a gift, not all gifts are things you can hold.

Songwriter and composer Geoff Bullock said God-given gifts, such as musical talent, are inexplicable.

“When we are talking about a gifting we are talking about something that is extraordinary, a little other-worldliness,” he said.

“I remember the night I wrote ‘The Power of Your Love’.

“It was bizarre, especially the second verse. It just arrived in four lines standing at the kitchen bench.”

He said it was important to use God-given gifts wisely and to work on refining your gift.

“And with the gifting may not come the opportunity,” he said. “It is more likely that there will come the responsibility of ‘what are you going to say? Does it need to be said? Are you prepared to polish this gift and take it further?’

“If I wasn’t so lazy when I was a teenager and really learnt to play then I would be writing better songs.”

Gifts such as preaching, teaching, prophecy, openness, and honesty are not celebrated much in our culture but churches are full of these gifts.

“Can you imagine what it would be like if the church didn’t write letters of protest, morality or do-goodism, but simply continually made a plea to politicians and the legal system to have mercy, to be gracious and to express love.

“The expression of the Cross compels us to speak not against, but for, love and grace,” said Mr Bullock.

“If there is a giftedness within you and you have a soul message, you are walking through life with open eyes and an open heart.

“Jesus’ journey with us comes down to a single person making a singular difference.

“I suppose it’s about how I respond in little ways and maybe I’ll be heard in big ways.”

There are free resources at Mr Bullock’s website http://public.me.com/geoffreybullock. Mr Bullock is also available in 2011 to be part of your church journey for a weekend