As a small child, I lived in southern Florida. God sent a godly lady by the name of Mary Booth to our home. Mrs. Booth had been a missionary to Cuba before the Cuban revolution. She was one of the sweetest, most loving, and gentle people. Later, as a little boy of five or six, we had moved to Tennessee and Mary would continue to visit us. She and I would hold hands and skip down the back walk in Tennessee. She played swinging statues with my friends and me. She taught me about prayer and worship in our hand-holding walks. She became so close to us we considered her family. I now realize holding my hand was better than a leash because she had to slow me down.

The other thing about “Aunt” Mary I remember is her love for and teaching us about the cross. She recognized that stubbornness, unforgiveness, and anger have no place in a Christian’s heart and life. She always said the answer is the cross. She taught us that when the Holy Spirit points out these flaws in our heart or thinking that we must confess them and repent.

Aunt Mary also taught my mom the lesson of the keen little switch and how to apply it to train and educate little Doyle. Aunt Mary taught us that the old selfish nature has no place, even in cute two-year-old blonde-haired boys. I still remember my mother and father correcting poor attitude choices. They understood that the cross is for everyone. That included me.

Jesus said, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household” (Matthew 10:34-36). A lot of people are disappointed when Christmas arrives that there is no peace on earth. Jesus didn’t want a false peace that ignores problems, conflict, and selfish living. That is not real peace. Peace comes when something wins – righteousness. When Jesus came, he brought a spiritual solution and a practical remedy. When we take our ungodly attitudes and behaviors and command them to die on the cross with Jesus, we are free. Sometimes following Jesus will separate us from those we love. We still are called to love them.

As you celebrate Christmas, are there any wars in your heart? What if you take it to Jesus? Lord, I need You to help me bring to death my love for anger, selfishness,… (you can fill in the blanks for your life). Learn now that Jesus and His love can set you free. Ask Him to deliver you from self-centered living. You don’t want the keen little switch. I’m thankful for that switch. It taught me I could change and encouraged me to repent and choose good attitudes and behavior. Thank you, Lord, for Aunt Mary and parents willing to train me for life. (Please know she taught us good loving discipline. I was never abused.)