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December 30, 2017

The Christmas season is always full of significance for many; both good and bad. There has been a relentless assault on this holiday season from all sides. No matter where you stand in keeping your celebration, it is not always easy to see whether we should remember, or put aside Christmas. Attacking the holiday, for whatever the reason, is to miss the real problem. The issue is not the holiday; the issue is the ‘self’ nature that is given full expression during this time of year. So whether you reject Christmas or embrace Christmas is not the point. Ask yourself whether or not ‘self’ is being brought to death.

To many, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Two millennia ago, God gave up His Only Son to allow Him to live as a Servant here on this earth. Jesus, in His earthly life, modeled the very nature of giving up all to follow the Father; to the point where He gave up His life for us. Jesus’ whole life was about surrendering His all to the Father. Think about that for a moment. Whether you celebrate Christmas or do not celebrate is NOT what is important. Living our lives as Jesus did, giving up all for the Father, is important. Shouldn’t our celebration, or non-celebration over the season, be about giving up all as well? How is it that we have come to a place where we value getting more than giving at this time of year? Or how is it that we are proud of not celebrating Christmas because it was originally a pagan holiday; we instead are piously rejecting that contamination. Regardless, are not both of these reasons rooted in ‘self’? The important fact is not what we do, or do not do; but why do we do what we do?

Many years ago, when our family lived in Sherwood Park, Alberta, God gave me a vivid picture to help me understand how He gives to His people. The picture was a hand; the hand was clenched tight into a fist. What God conveyed to me was this. When my hand was clenched around something and I would not let it go, then He would not and could not give me something else. It was only when I released my grip and opened my hand, He would remove what I had been grasping to give me something new. That ‘something’ could be an object, a person, or even an idea or belief. This was a stark visual to help me understand a core truth of how He works with us. He always respects our free will; to choose to hold onto, or let go of, that which we hold dearly. Even if the something we hold is good, it has to be kept with an open palm; free for God to take if He so desires.

From that day onward, I have understood that God will not give me something new until I have released the old. This was a key lesson for us on our journey. Many times God took away what we had; even if it was ‘good’ in our eyes. He wanted to replace it with something else. He allowed our home, business, vehicles, belongings, extended family, friends, reputation and long held beliefs, to vanish like the morning dew. We were left with nothing. God was killing the ‘self’ nature in us. As that happened to His satisfaction, He would then slowly put back into our hands only those things that He wished to give us. What He returned would now be unpolluted by our ‘self’ nature.

To be sure, the process of removing our all was hard; but that was absolutely necessary to deal a death blow to our ‘self’ nature. It is not an easy process; but imperative if we are to live lives pleasing to our Heavenly Husband. Until ‘self’ is brought low in the wilderness, it will taint everything we touch; especially holidays. When Ida and Fanny were little, our family loved to celebrate Christmas with many gifts and holiday accoutrements. Over time, we moved more towards celebrating Hanukah. We wanted to return to our Jewish roots. Unfortunately, both celebrations were affected by ‘self’; although we could not see it at the time. Thankfully, God took away all of our celebrations in the wilderness. When you are homeless and penniless, even the thought of celebrating is like bathing in ice water. We celebrated very little. Our hearts were not usually in a festive mood and gifts were non-existent.

On Christmas day this year, however, things were different. For the first time since 2008, we really enjoyed a festive celebration. We were able to give each other gifts; the first time in many years. We also had good food and abundant joy. God was returning to our open hands something new. Not Christmas; but the ability to celebrate whatever day we choose. Celebrations free from the slavery to ‘self’. We all felt that this year was different. God gave us a celebration with no ‘self’. It was glorious. What a difference from the past as we experienced a freedom that we had never known before.

Everything we do in this life, even the days we choose to celebrate, flows from our spirit core. If our spirit core is filled with ‘self’, it will defile all that we do; especially holidays. Even if we think our motives are pure and we are choosing to celebrate a holiday as we have meticulously researched the Bible and history; it will potentially be defiled. ‘Self’ is crafty. Do not be deceived. Everything that comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even if it appears good, falls vastly short of the Life that Jesus brings to us. Only when the ‘self’ nature is brought low, will we be truly free to eat fully from the tree of Life; Jesus Himself. All of our celebrations, no matter how holy, will be impacted as long as ‘self’ exists in us. So the problem is not the holiday; but what is in us.

One of the nasty aspects of ‘self’ is its ability to blind us to its very existence. ‘Self’ wants to remain hidden and undetected. It is an evil force. It is constantly driving us to behave without any thought to the motive behind our actions. That secrecy of ‘self’, and our blindness to it, does untold damage; to ourselves and those around us. This is true especially during the Christmas season. God will upend even what we believe to be good, so ‘self’ can be drained out of our “good”. He does this because He can see what we cannot see. Only He is omnipotent. It is important that we trust Him in faith when He does this upending.

Since it is absolutely impossible for us to see ‘self’ in ourselves, we need a Judge outside of us. A Judge to correctly discern what is in us. Only God can see our ‘self’ nature clearly. Others around us may see the fruit of ‘self’; but it is nearly impossible to see the root causes of ‘self’. As we cannot see ‘self’ in us, we cannot remove ‘self’; nor do we have the power to do so. ‘Self’ has no capacity for, nor interest in, its own destruction. Our responsibility is to yield our will to God. Only He can effectively remove this scourge. That surrender, or the yielding of our will to Jesus, is the only way to have the ‘self’ nature removed. Offense can occur when God or others point out ‘self’ in us. The reactionary response is simply a defense mechanism. This reveals just how entrenched ‘self’ is; and how far it is willing to go to defend and ward off any threat to its existence. This is very dangerous. Any offense caused by ‘self’, will move us farther away from God; not closer to Him.

To be truly able to celebrate any holiday with freedom and joy requires a death blow to ‘self’. If our ‘self’-nature is our constant companion, we condemn ourselves to misery and selfishness; whenever and whatever we attempt to celebrate. The greatest Christmas gift we can ever receive from God, is the gift of freedom from ‘self’. Jesus offers that gift to any soul. Let Him take away everything that would keep you from entering into full union with your Beloved. Even though today is not Christmas, we encourage you to accept the gift He is offering you. It will cost you your ALL; but in return you will receive ALL of Him.


Homer and Wanda