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The countdown is on! What do you have your heart set on this Christmas?

Last week I wrote that with the birth of the Babe in the Manger comes gifts. We discovered the first one: He longs to bring to us freedom from GUILT through a restored, loving, shame-free relationship with God the Father.

Forgiveness and a relationship with God bring with them true freedom. With freedom comes all for which we truly long.

As I write this, I am traveling to Dallas to the funeral of my beloved and only Uncle Gene Paul Daniel (please pray for the repose of his soul). He was a Baptist minister and a gentle giant in my life. While his passing has left big shoes to fill here on earth, we are confident that there is much rejoicing in heaven because he died with great hope in his heart and in friendship and at peace with God. His memorial service will reflect that. It will be a "hymn sing" praising God for the beautiful life of grace lived by my uncle.

How can we dare rejoice at such a sad time? Because of this second great truth, one of three spectacular gifts that the birth of Christ ushers in:


If you could be liberated from the greatest fear of all--DEATH--would you attempt more in life? Be more daring? Do more than just try to fit in and survive?

Amazingly, friendship with Jesus, through the relationship He establishes for us with God the Father, gives us true freedom from the fear of death because death is not the final word for those who place their trust in Him. We are promised the hope of heaven. Death is only a doorway we walk through to a place where we will be truly free in the loving presence of the Father.

The Bible states this in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57:

“And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

AHH! Freedom! Liberation from the fear of death! And if you have conquered the greatest fear of all—death--every other fear pales in comparison. God gives us the freedom to live our best life now.

This week’s challenge: close your eyes. Envision ten days into the future. What will you wish you had done or said today? How will you wish you would have lived? Be bold! Invite a neighbor or co-worker to join you for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass. Be courageous to live this present moment in love.

Now envision ten years down the road…

What do you wish you would have done today? This week? This year? What initiatives do you wish you would have undertaken? What is holding you back—fear of any sort? If fear is holding you back from accomplishing this dream, ask God to help you overcome this fear so that you can live in the Source of true freedom—the gift that the birth of Jesus Christ comes to give.