Excerpt: 'The Christmas Spirit' by Joel Osteen

PHOTO: The book "The Christmas Spirit: Memories of Family, Friends, and Faith" by Joel Osteen
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Joel Osteen is one of the most influential people in the country.

As pastor of the Lakewood Church -- a megachurch located in Houston -- his weekly televised semon is viewed by an estimated 7 million people across the nation, and by millions more in more than 100 countries across the globe.

In his latest book, "The Christmas Spirit: Memories of Family, Friends, and Faith," Osteen presents stories of people who have re-connected with the true meaning of Christmas.

Read an excerpt from Osteen's book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

The Christmas Spirit: Memories of Family, Friends, and Faith

By Joel Osteen

Introduction

When we first talked about doing this book of Christmas memories, one of my family members said that I'd always liked stocking stuffers and this book is my chance to become one! I hope you'll find that it is stuffed with stories that inspire you, deepen your faith, make you laugh, and hopefully call to mind your own favorite memories of Christmases past.

Every family seems to have unique ways of celebrating Christmas. But what really hit home as we put this together was just how much Christmas is a celebration of family -- God's family and our own. God the Father sent His Son to us as the most precious gift of all. Jesus paid a high price to bring the promise of unconditional love, unending hope, and eternal life to every person who believes in Him. Once we'd gathered our favorite Christmas stories for this book and looked them over, we realized that without our planning it, each chapter contains those same themes of unconditional love, unending hope, and eternal life.

Faith in God provides us with those three gifts, and being part of a family helps us nourish them and pass them on from one generation to the next. Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. Jesus is God's perfect, indescribable gift. The amazing thing is that not only are we able to receive this gift, but we are able to share it with others on Christmas and every other day of the year.

Chapter One

Our Father's Gift

We enjoyed the usual Christmas traditions growing up, but like most families, we had our own unique holiday rituals. The Osteen kids, all five of us, slept under and around the Christmas tree on the night before Christmas, telling stories and laughing and trying to guess what gifts we might be getting until we'd finally fall asleep. Still, we celebrated Christmas Day a bit differently from many families. For us it was really a big birthday party because my father and mother emphasized the holiday's Christian origins as the birthday of baby Jesus, God's perfect present to us. If ever there were a gift that keeps on giving, it was this one.

We did exchange Christmas gifts like most families. We laughed and carried on through huge dinners of turkey and all the fixings. One thing we didn't do, though, was eggnog. Instead, real early Christmas morning while our parents were still nestled all snug in their bed, the Osteen boys and girls climbed out of our sleeping bags and made home brew -- coffee, that is. I probably should explain to you first off that caffeine runs in our family's blood. We were a coffee-drinking bunch before Starbucks ever ground its first bean. Every one of us started drinking it at a young age because of our dad, a pastor who started each day with a Bible in one hand and a mug of strong coffee in the other.

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