8 Christmas Gifts that will last past St. Patrick's Day

As someone who is working as a minister, I hate to waste money.  Two reasons: 1) There is never enough money to accomplish everything we want to do in ministry.  2)  Wasting money is addictive and leads to a cycle of materialism that is hard to break.  So I thought it would be good to give our readers some giving alternatives that are guaranteed to not be a waste of your gift-giving budget.  The items that made the list did so because they are great deals or because they have ETERNAL significance.

1.  Gift-a-Verse Cards
The Wycliffe translators created a spin-off company that has the goal of translating scripture into every single language on earth as quickly as possible.  Wycliffe has very strict standards of translation and often takes years to complete an authoritative translation.  In the mean time OneVerse is trying to get "good enough" translations into the hands of missionaries, pastors, and lay people for the purpose of sharing the Gospel.  You can pay for your favorite verse to be translated into your favorite untranslated language (how about "Boma")for $26.  You also get a card sent to whomever you choose, AND a free book. 

2.  Logos Scholar's Library
I've heard this is the best Bible study software in the entire universe.  Give this to your favorite pastor and you will make his job easier.  As a result you may even see a marked increase in the sermons you hear each week!  At $629.95 you may want to go in with your Sunday School class.  Or if you are really cheap there are trimmed down versions in the $150 range (that is if you don't think the Bible is that important).

3.  Handmade World Crafts
The WMU sponsors a ministry called World Crafts Village.  They import handcrafts from impoverished nations and sell them to us rich Americans.  The money helps support artisan groups around the world.  This is the perfect way to shope "Fair Trade" products without feeling you've become a liberal communist.  The added benefit is that these gifts are so unique you can't even find them at Wal Mart!!!!  Not to mention that tribal stuff is always in style.

4. Religious Persecution Action Packs
VOM has a program where you order a baggie from them ($7 dollar donation), fill it with some stuff that persecuted people need, then send it back to be delivered to where it is needed most.  If you don't want to take the time to fill the pack yourself you can just donate $30 to have a VOM volunteer do it for you.  You can do this as a gift to the people who will recieve it or you could sponsor a bag or two in someone else's name.  Hey, you'll also get one of those cool vaccum cleaner belt bracelets made popular by Lance Armstrong.  Except it will be green and and say "Pray for Pakistan" in English and Urdu.

5.  World Hunger and General Relief
Maybe you think that missionaries are people who go to developing countries and take advantage of people wearing grass skirts by destroying their culture and controling them with religion.  If so please come away from your 19th century perceptions and learn about what Christians are doing to meet the real needs of people around the world.  Make a gift to the World Hunger Fund or General Relief Fund to give missionaries resources to meet the needs of the people they see on a daily basis.

6. Guitar Praise
If you've been itching to jump on the Guitar Hero bandwagon (har har har), but aren't so sure about consistently rocking out to worldly anthems, here is a gift that will ease you conscience while still allowing you to rock.  Depending on where you buy it, its around $80.  It's for PC, in case you were wondering.

7.  An Introduction to Open Source Software
This is not really a product, so much as a helpful tip.  Gift the gift of knowledge by helping your technologically emerging friends and family learn about the world of opensource software.  My introduction to this world was Netscape, then Firefox, and now I exist in a world dependent on FREE opensource software.  Osalt is just a site that gives free alternatives to programs that you would normally have to buy.  Maybe you could download a set of these programs and give them to a friend to enjoy.  Yes its legal!

8.  An Introduction to Web Applications: Welcome to Web 2.0...Finally
Much like number 7 this is not a product.  Web Applications are programs that you do not need to download to use.  They run from within your browser.  Webapplist.com gives a list of web apps ready to use.  Many or most web apps are free.  You would be surprised at how much you can do without buying expensive applications and loading them on your computer.  As a gift why not bookmark a collection of your favorite web apps and introduce them to an ususpecting email friend who is still stuck in the world of Web 1.0.  A good place to start is with Google Apps (most people aren't afraid of Google).  Then go from there.

What are your favorite gifts that will last past St. Patrick's Day?
Merry Christmas!!!!

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