The best Gifts – Yesterday our daughter, Heather, and her husband, Jason, gave us our fourth grandchild – Christopher (Christ bearer) Alan (rock). It will be a special Christmas with most of the kids and grand kids present. Proverbs 17:6 says “children’s children are the crown of old men.” I don’t feel that old but I do feel blessed by God.

The birth and the season gave pause to reflect on God’s greatest gift. It is Jesus, but it doesn’t stop there. Jesus is a doorway of redemption into a relationship that never stops. Here’s a story about the gifts that go with knowing Jesus.

The secret – I heard about the secret from a success coach on TV several years ago. It seemed popular in our culture and it had some spiritual overtones so I looked it up on the internet. The first thing I found was one of the originators was “channeling” another spirit. New age deception makes my skin crawl, so when I watched to movie my suspicions were high. The essence of the “secret” is that you can have whatever you want by following certain spiritual/cosmic principles. Your thought life and beliefs about yourself are key. If you believe and picture things in your mind, you invoke a spiritual principle that will cause your wishes to come to reality. Jesus isn’t mentioned and one verse of the Bible is plucked from it’s context and quoted often… I assume to allay the fears of immature Christians.

Prov 23:7  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… KJV

My Doctrine – I smugly contrasted “the secret” with the real gospel. Jesus died for my sins and when I was saved I gave my life to Christ and took up his power to overcome my carnality. I didn’t succumb to any personal desires; I lived for God’s will and laid down my life to serve Him.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures  1Cor 15:3-4 NIV

The Night Before Christmas – I lived out my understanding of the gospel for several decades. I rose through the ranks of our church, planted and pastored two churches, and taught others to give themselves to Jesus too. Now people did get saved, and healed and baptized, but I was a little disappointed in the number of people that grew cold over the years. Many stayed true, but many didn’t make the grade and stopped attending church… and after decades, I got a little tired myself – of course I didn’t admit it to anyone.

Christmas – I want to share a part of the gospel that has only been real to me in the last 5 years of my walk with Jesus.

Note: The “Secret” is still new age… so don’t worry, I’m not going to endorse it. However, a good lie is usually 90% true. I wondered what made it so tempting for the success coaches.

The greatest gift that God gives us through the redemptive work of Christ and our walk with the Holy Spirit is this: He writes his word in our hearts so that our heart’s desire and his will become the same thing. In my prior life, I wouldn’t allow myself to explore the desires of my heart. I was actually denying the resurrection and I was hurting my walk with God… my spiritual vitality was dying the same as those that I had seen fall away from church.

For me “Spirit-filled” used to mean speaking in tongues, having a prophetic anointing, healing the sick, ministering to people, and dancing during worship (I still hold those things dear to my heart). For a few hours each week during the services my heart soared in those activities – my heart was released. And then on Monday, I put my heart back in the prison of “denying self,” took up my cross and went to work.

Now my “spirit is full” and my heart is free to dream and be released all seven days. I’ve found creativity and excitement in my vocational. I’m dreaming about multiplying wealth through business and investments and converting money into ministry. I dream about starting businesses in other nations to facilitate crusades and church plants and ministry that will release an army into their Kingly calling. Truly this Christmas is blessed.

Why is the Secret popular – I think there are two reasons; one big and one small. The small reason is that the enemy would like to sow the new age deception that you can find happiness apart from Jesus. Here’s the big reason; I believe a generation of people are coming to Christ with a hunger to see their life purpose fulfilled. I believe we live in an age when people want to believe that dreams come true. I even believe that God is using marketplace people like Oprah to touch millions that won’t listen to institutional church leaders. She communicates a version of the gospel that includes your dream… your creativity.

Oprah will probably make a few mistakes in the direction of the new age movement… and the traditional church will probably continue to quench a few dreams before we get marketplace ministry figured out… but for me, it’s Christmas. I know Jesus, I’m His friend, and my dreams are coming true. My “secret” isn’t controlling my thoughts. I just asked the Lord Jesus for the desires of my heart. It’s not a secret; it’s the part of the gospel… the reason for Christmas.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  John 15:15-16

Next week we’ll talk more about the responsibility of leaders and mangers in the marketplace sharing the gospel by releasing the dreams of those they work with.

Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.