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Receiving the Gift


Living in Texas was a great experience for our family. I was serving a wonderful church full time and attending seminary full time. During that time we didn’t have a lot of discretionary income. Eating out was a rare exception unless it involved food paper wrappers and paper bags prepared by teenagers!

One day I walked in the door and Lisa greeted me with a big smile. She began to relay a story about a phone call she received that day that offered a free $25 gift certificate to Bennigan’s restaurant. She was so excited about the possibility of holding a menu and eating food someone else cooked off of plates that someone else would wash.

“What’s the catch?” People usually don’t randomly offer meals unless there’s some form of hoop to jump through.

“We have to go a listen to a time share presentation, but we don’t have to buy anything. Look! I’ve made an appointment.”

So we loaded up the kids and drove to the hotel conference center in Arlington to listen to a presentation about vacation packages we were not going to buy to places we were not going to go.

It was pretty hard sell. With each indication of resistance, a new sales person was summoned to offer with a new tactic. With each refusal, our kids grew more and more restless. After 2 hours of intense guilt induced pressure the final sales person leaned over the table and sneered, “You’re not going to buy anything, are you?” “No,” I wearily replied. “You’re just here for the gift certificate, aren’t you?” he said. “Yes,” I uttered. Thirty minutes later, the company made good on their offer and handed over the coveted prize. I had imagined that moment as something akin to Charlie finding the golden ticket in the chocolate bar, but it was not nearly as climactic as I envisioned.

By this time it was late at the kids were absolutely a wreck. Ironically, the hotel conference center that held us hostage for the better part of three hours was located next door to Bennigan’s restaurant. So we pulled into the parking lot to cash in. I muttered something about the 12 “man hours” our family had put in to get the gift certificate, and added that we had been paid roughly $2 an hour for our time and trouble.

While Lisa ate her meal I wrestled my screaming son in the parking lot. When she finished eating she tagged me and took care of him while I ate my meal. It was cold.

Our life experiences tell us there are no free lunches. With sharply trained senses we constantly look for the hook, reading the fine print as closely as possible.

Then we come to a verse like John 3:16 that declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (NIV).”

How do we receive the gift of Jesus Christ and his promise of eternal life?


That’s the way we receive the gift.



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