The Redemption of
[Ed Note: This article was first sent out in Dec. 1993 as a circulation letter to the original subscribers to this ministry. Since that time, our family has most years held an annual observance in December apart to the Lord called “Virgin Watch”—a 3-4 day period of fasting followed by celebration in a set apart location where we “replenish our lamps” in preparing our hearts for the receiving of the Lord’s return. In this annual celebration, we have been mindful that at the Lord’s first coming, hardly a dozen people in all of
were “spiritually awake” enough to even receive the Lord. Yet ironically, the month supposedly set apart to remember the Lord’s first coming does more to create spiritual unreadiness for the Lord’s return than any other season in the entire year. Therefore we have chosen a path of worship at this time that we believe is truer to the state of heart on the part of the few who actually participated in the original "Christmas story."] Israel
Vision of the Ants
Would you like to take a ride with me for a moment? Stop what you're doing and come with me for a short journey. Here… come sit with me out on an imaginary planet for a few minutes, looking back at the Earth.
Look at the Earth turning. See it spinning, ever so slowly. Now, look at all the people—so small and so many that from here they appear as a carpet of ants. See them going about their daily business.
Among the overall carpet of black ants, notice the occasional clusters, dots, and strands of white. Those are the white ants. They are the Church on earth going about their ministry among the black ants. See the whole scene move and pulsate and swirl—black and white ants mingled together, going about their affairs. It's all so fascinating to view from here.
Ah, but what is this I see? Suddenly—a fluctuation in the whole pattern. A major shift of action and behavior across the whole carpet. It is now December 1. No. Actually, it's closer to November 24 or 25—somewhere in there. But look carefully at the scene from afar. Look at all the ants change gears. Black ants. White ants. All ants. Suddenly, everyone is unfixed from his or her task of focus, and without discernable purpose.
There is no war, no famine—no crisis to explain the sudden diversion—no apparent necessity. Nor does there seem to be a reason. In search for an answer, some claim it as a time to remember the birth of their god. The white ants do this. Yet their spirit and substance of shift differs little from that of the black ants who claim no such reason. No one really seems to know why they all go through this change—one that lasts about 5 weeks out of every year, the same time each year. It’s like an invisible cloud with a magical spell descends on them.
Then suddenly, almost as suddenly as it started, it all stops—on or about December 26. It's like everything has built to a humanity-wide orgy, then all the ants return to normal. They go back to their last place of focus and purpose. Among the white ants, the birth of the god is forgotten. Among all the ants, all reasons are forgotten. Actually, it’s like the whole experience never happened. The invisible cloud of stupor lifts off the planet, waiting to return the next year.
A Reason For the Season??
Friends, in the arena of spirit vision, perspective is everything. The above scenario is not fiction. The scriptures say we are "seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus" and our "citizenship is in heaven from whence we await the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." The scene we have just viewed together is the earthly scene as it appears from the heavens the last six weeks every year. This representation is designed to get us each as prophetic people to ponder what our true place should be in the face of this annual season as it descends on the earth.
When we look at this winter scene from a heavenly perspective, spiritual discernment requires us to conclude there is no valid spiritual reason for the behavior change. There is no justification that can be explained in terms of God's ongoing purpose for restoring a People who are being sanctified in preparation for the eternal Kingdom.
The "stupor-cloud" can’t be identified as a move of the Holy Ghost. All the forces that move in concert during this period are natural and soulish. Discernment identifies these as a mixture of materialism, fantasy, nostalgia, and tradition, spiced with heavy religious overtones among the "white ants." These together form a brew on which all the earth's inhabitants become "drunk" at this time.
Discerning and Overcoming Soul-Intoxication
The Bible tells us we are to be living in the spiritual realm wherein we are not "drunk with wine, but filled with the Spirit." The wine mentioned here is not only literal, but metaphoric of natural life force as it is found in our bloodstream. (Blood is often typified by wine in scripture and drunkenness is used to indicate intoxication with anything pertaining to natural life. See Mt 26:27-28; I Cor 11:25;Rev 17:4—Lk 21:34.)
We have been called to lose our soul-life (as found in our blood) as living sacrifices, and to instead replenish ourselves by "drinking Christ's blood," partaking of His very Life, symbolized by the communion wine. (Study Mt 10:39 with Lev 17:11; then Rom. 12:1—Jn. 6:53-56.) As we become free from our own "wine" to partake of His "wine," our minds become renewed so as to discern the forces giving the earth its annual "rush".
Our growing life in Christ is at increasing odds with the force of soul life that drives the earth through December. His Life illumines us to and delivers us from the smokescreen of "spiritual" reasons we give ourselves to appease our consciences over our annual binge of self-indulgence ("It's the birth of our god," etc.). No reason for the season, no matter how rationally appealing through spiritual terms, can satisfy our inner conscience of dissatisfaction—not once we obtain a place in Christ free enough from natural life force to see the real reason behind the season for what it is.
The Christmas Spirit: Is There An Alternative?
But where does that leave us? We don't live on another planet. And though our hearts are planted in the heavenlies, we must still walk through this clouded season on the earth. How do we handle this?
Please note that the fact we even have to talk this way about "what to do" shows us we aren't just dealing with a simple holiday, but with a mega-religious force that stands contrary to the
. If Christmas was just a mere innocent holiday in harmony with the mind of God's purpose for the present generation—if it was a celebration born of the Spirit of God—then why is there so much pressure applied against anyone who declines to acknowledge the day ("where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty"*)? kingdomof God
If the “Christmas spirit” is of the Lord, why is it so hard to keep a clear head and stay on spiritual track without feeling forced to conform to traditions, parties, card and gift exchanges, and images of fantasy through decoration? Even those who most promote Christmas on spiritual grounds find themselves yearly confessing their guilt before God for their tendency to lose track of Him during it. Yet they continue praying God's blessings on the busyness that condemns them, and consider "divisive" any who would withdraw from it to really find the Lord.
We easily bypass such holidays as Veteran's Day or Victoria Day or Labor Day. Why can't we as easily bypass Christmas? That we cannot proves the spiritual case against it. No season that forces compliance through emotional guilt for not observing it is of the Lord. No season that competes with the church's prophetic ability to focus on the Lord's unwavering purpose for restoring us to eternal-centered vision is from the Lord.
A New Awakening At Hand—
Still we have not answered the question, "What do we do about the season? How do we get around it?" For the unsanctified or unillumined heart, there is no issue. "What's the problem?" they ask. But for those whose hearts hear the eternal cry to "come up hither," the growing discomfort of the season begs action and increasing non-compliance year by year.
To answer this, we have to recognize where we are in the harvest of God's dealing with us concerning the season. Personally, I believe that an increasing number of saints are developing hearts that recognize the nature of the season for what it is. They see what it does yearly to their pursuit of God.
As we near the end of the age and look for the Lord's return, the increasing sharpness of focus in expecting Him is stirring the hearts of more and more preparing people than ever before. And it is bringing them into conflict with Christmas. Much of this conflict is still secret, still hidden in the hearts—many not knowing why they feel increasing discomfort with the season. They know only that every year, as their hope for Christ’s return sharpens, something feels more wrong about this season than the year before.
—And Eventual Open Conflict
Eventually, I believe the increasing light in the preparing body of Christ together with the evermore-blatant darkness behind the Christmas orgy will come into open worldwide conflict. (By "evermore-blatant darkness" I refer to the gradual name change in the season that has taken place over the years: from "Christmas" to the "Holiday Season" and now to the "Shopping Season"—a purely commercial identification. This is not a corrupting of something that was once holy, but the unmasking of something that has only pretended to be holy.)
At the very end, I actually believe the two companies of God's end time witnesses (Rev 11:3-10) will be preaching against the world's annual winter orgy. It will be during one such holiday orgy that these witnesses will be finally martyred, and it will be because of their death that Christmas that year will give the world's people special cause for merriment as they "send gifts one to another." [Note: this is the one passage in the Bible where I can actually find a reference to Christmas!]
Discerning Proper Timing and Strategy
The time for this great confrontation has not come however. This is a conflict that has to ripen before it can be openly challenged and successfully rooted out of the earth. Because the nature of this evil is so comprehensive and entrenched of old, it will require a mature worldwide body of Christ to stand up to it together.
This will not happen in a year or two. There were many individuals in the Middle Ages who withstood the evils of Catholicism, but not until Luther’s time had a ripeness developed for taking on that system and overcoming it successfully on a worldwide basis.
Through miscalculated zeal minus wisdom, many well-meaning prophetic people and groups who have received the light concerning this seasonal evil have done great damage to themselves, their families, and their followers—having failed to rightly discern the time of their opposition. Such damage has only fueled the fires of those who believe they can sanctify the holiday.
Today, there are prophetic isolates fraught with a bitterness and negativity of spirit in their opposition to Christmas. Their only success is in having exchanged one spiritual bondage for another.
This will not do... confrontive opposition... isolated practice... negative focus... We must have an alternative. For a solution, I would like to draw an example from history.
Learning from the Holiness Movement
One of the most successful moves of the Lord in the 19th century was the holiness revival that spread through the means of camp meetings across the continent. These were conducted under the banner of the National Association for the Promotion of Holiness.
In 1867, a group of Methodist ministers got together who were alarmed at the decline of holiness teaching and experience for which their denomination was noted. Someone had the idea of starting a camp meeting for the promotion of holiness. It was to be a place outside the church where those concerned enough could come together for 10 days of fellowship. There together they could rekindle the fire of sanctification teaching and experience.
Yet it was not a place designed for venting frustration or to rail against the established church. Nor was there any intention of supplanting the church. There was no confrontation against established church leaders. The atmosphere was corporate, not isolated. The focus was on the positive restoration of holiness, not on the negative failures of the surrounding church. Even in the face of criticism, the leaders determined they would not be dissuaded from their focus by turning to engage their critics (compare Neh. 6:3).
From a single meeting at
that summer, the movement spread in less than 5 years coast to coast. It embraced hundreds of meetings, bringing a revival of the sanctification experience to hundreds of thousands throughout the body of Christ. This in turn led to the great Keswick movement in Vineland, New Jersey Englandand . Germany
I see in this a pattern suggestive of how the yearning prophetic church should approach the Christmas situation. Right now the numbers of us who have the same yearning for the "redemption of December" is small. The time for another Luther to deliver the church from this bondage may not quite be at hand. Yet there are enough of us who hear that cry to act together on it in a positive way. And who knows what God might do?
Laying Groundwork for an Alternative to Christmas
This I know: there is neither need nor profit to keep confronting the soul-drunk church.
Spener, Zinzendorf, Wesley, and the Holiness ministers of 1867 did not succeed by confronting the church. Rather, they worked separately from but from within the confines of the most advanced church they could to their time. They ministered to those in it who could respond to their message until it was time for God to move and create a new body out of it.
I also know there is strength in numbers.
Each year I have grown more frustrated and isolated through my increasing inability to bend the knee to the Christmas spirit. Six years ago, as well as last year, I "escaped" to a beach in
. It was wonderful, but still lonely. How I wanted to share the fellowship of that place with others. This year, Sue and I will again go to Florida . But this has its limits. Florida
How much better would it be to have a festival of like-hearted believers who want to gather the last week of December for the "redemption of December" in their hearts, yet without permanently quitting or disfellowshipping themselves from the remainder of God's people. And how much more strength would we find for enduring the earlier part of the season just by knowing of the celebration we would be anticipating?
Finally, I know there is a positive goal to which God is calling us.
God is calling His people to conformity to His son and to the expectancy of His return. He calls us to look forward and to prepare. This is a year-round call that knows no exceptions. December is not exempt as a time in which we are free to vacation from pursuing the Lord's steady vision for us.
What About a New Celebration?
In light of all this, would it not be wonderful to have a year-end celebration of fellowship whose focus is dedicating ourselves to seek the mind of God for the coming year while giving thanks for His fulfilments the year just past? It would be both a time of fasting and separating ourselves to the Lord through prayer—then crowned with a time of feasting and enjoying one another's fellowship.
We would hear preaching on the coming of the Lord, the restoration of the church, and preparation for millennial life and government. We would have both worship and prophetic ministry. We would have teaching on church history and uncovering our heritage, learning from the past to learn about our present and future destiny.
We would have times of activation for ministry and for releasing the work of sanctification into the lives of the saints. We would share a spirit of victory. And without focusing on any of the surrounding darkness, we would welcome any and all who would get wind of and desire to share in our fellowship, reaffirming one another in our present relationships with those at large.
All of this assumes we already have enough of a desire to overcome the force of compelling weight of entering into the normal seasonal celebrations through the prevailing blood ties around us. Is this an idea whose time has come? Or is it still too soon? Am I still just a cry in the dark waiting for a ripeness not yet here? (What price would you willingly pay for this December-tide fellowship?)
When I Was a Child…
Someone may say to me, "But Chris, didn't you once enjoy Christmas? Were you not once a child who desired this holiday and was blessed by it in many ways?" The answer is "yes." As a child, I greatly looked forward to Christmas, like every kid does—and on into my early adult years. In 1982 I was selling Christmas trees and as recently as 1991 I was playing piano in department stores and for holiday parties.
Nevertheless, there has been a growing in me, and the dawning of a greater light over 20 years—one that has increasingly made the spiritual blackness to appear for what it is. As the light has grown, my feelings for the holiday have steadily changed. Gradually I have dropped off some practices while others I continued in without any heart—usually for the sake of others not so convinced; sometimes just for the money I needed to get by.
But now my heart has reached a mature reasoned conclusion that a greater, even more decisive change is needed—one that can accommodate the true light of Christ in my heart and break free from the grave clothes of a spirit power that embalms the month of December, keeping me back from undistracted pursuit of the Lord.
Paul says "When I was a child, I spoke like a child*" He also says " God overlooks the time of ignorance, but now calls all men to repent." What was once all right for me as a child and ignorant believer is no longer "ok." The increasing light within holds me accountable for what I now see and commands me to repent—to change—to seek an alternative way of worshiping the Lord with my family together with like pursuing believers who have come to the same burden through the same light.
Appealing to Those with Common Light
John says, "As we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another." Not all of us walk in the same light; therefore we do not fellowship on the same grounds. I'm not appealing for fellowship to anyone who has not been burdened by the same light. If you are one who does not share my light on this and I have troubled you by this letter, please forgive me. It is not meant for you. But I'm writing for the sake of anyone who has come to the same light, or even sees its pre-dawn glow on the horizon of your conscience.
For me, this is a purpose whose time has come. I'm ready to take action and pay prices to find such redemptive fellowship during the dark season. And though I know I am not the first to come to this place, I know I am not the last. And I believe I am but one more forerunner of what will become a body wide move of the final days to pursue the Lord unhindered even through this season.
Pretty soon—within a few weeks—the orgy will have climaxed, the spirit dissipated, and all returned to normal—and this letter seemingly out-dated and unnecessary. It'll all be over—our heads once again clear—til next year.
Before the time o'erpasses us once more, why not give some meditative consideration to these things? Perhaps I'm speaking only to myself and to the dark. Perhaps not. But if my letter has indeed stirred something of a witness within, and you think it is time for you and your family, let us know. Consider all things together by prayer, and be open to what God might want to do.
Scriptures to Ponder
I leave you with some verses that especially impress me about this time of year, including editorial comment and emphasis.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting (lit. "mental disorientation"), and drunkenness, and cares of this life (it all goes together... intoxication with the temporal), and so that day come upon you unawares—Take heed, watch and pray... lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. Lk 21:34; Mk 13:33,36
Behold, He that watches over
Israelshall neither slumber nor sleep (ie, never takes a vacation from His ongoing work of restoration in His people)—for 's sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof goes forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns... Ps 121:4 Is 62:1 Jerusalem
You are all children of the light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober,...—For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of the light ( let's be who we are! Here's how:) ... proving what is acceptable to the Lord... See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools (ie, "foolish virgins") but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil... Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord (Ah yes! Such fellowship is the answer to darkness and the way to keep awake!) ITh 5:5-8, Eph 5:8,10,15-16,18-19
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind (no disorientation!), be sober (clear-headed, undistracted), and hope to the end for ...the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance (incl. soul-ties):--We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereto you do well to take heed , as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts (ie, Christ's own light/revelation becomes your own, formed in you [Gal 4:20] over any matter. We are to move from walking in the light to becoming the display of light.) I Pt 1:13-14; II Pt 1:9
Let no man therefore judge you in respect of an holyday (ie, "holiday")...
Conclusion: Shall we continue to hibernate every December, sleeping under the mental disorientation and social intoxication of the "shopping season"? Shall we continue to sing "Blest be the Soul-Ties That Bind"...? What do you want to bet the Lord comes back in December??? (Ask the Two Witnesses!)
Give me a call, folks!
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created December 14, 2011