CHRISTMAS: Friend of Angels and GIVEAWAY

Did you download a copy of The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke for $0.99? (See Wednesday’s post, “The Heart of Christmas” for an introduction to this Christmas classic.) I recommend it. It is a literary treat and a soul-stirring experience.

FrontCoverFRIENDAs I mentioned Wednesday, I first heard it as a teen, when our dad read it to us just before Christmas. What I didn’t say is that he first heard it as a college student. A professor or campus guest (I don’t remember) recited the entire short novel from memory during a special program. The story became one of my dad’s favorites, but it also inspired a thought: What a great idea to write a fiction story revolving around a biblical story! Eventually, Dad did write two such novels. The first–just like Van Dyke’s tale–was a novel about events surrounding the Nativity. Here is a synopsis of this tale, Friend of Angels:

With the visit of an angel, Mary accepted the difficult honor of becoming the mother of the Son of God. With the guidance of several angelic visits, Joseph took on his unusual, taxing, and even dangerous assignment— to protect and provide for them both. Some of the ingredients of Joseph’s story are mentioned in brief gospel narratives of Jesus’ infancy and childhood. Then the record of Joseph goes silent.

After careful research, the author has fleshed out Joseph’s story. Come with him as he takes you under the shadow of Masada, through treacherous mountain terrain, and along bandit-infested trade routes on the flight to Egypt. Follow them home to Nazareth, where Jesus’ peaceful days of growing up alongside his carpenter father were interrupted by Joseph’s untimely—and possibly traumatic— death. Be inspired and awed by this earthly father of Jesus who laid down his life to preserve for us a Savior.

For a chance to receive an autographed copy of Friend of Angels, comment today–or comment on next Monday’s or next Wednesday’s post. The winner will be announced next Thursday, December 20. The winner of the book will receive it after Christmas–an appropriate time to receive a book about what probably happened after Jesus’ birth. (If you prefer to buy one now to give as a gift, please follow this link.

CHRISTMAS: The Heart of Christmas

Heart & traceOne of the traditions of my childhood home was listening to Dad’s reading of a story on Christmas Eve. If the story was long, he would read for several evenings, concluding the story on Christmas Eve. The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke was one of those long ones. As a child, I was intrigued by the plot of that story. As an adult, reading it to my dad whose voice had grown weak with age, I was caught up by the style—language as rich as the tapestries of Artaban’s native Persia. Now, remembering this story, I am struck by the way it captures the heart of Christmas.

It is often said that the spirit of Christmas is giving. And it is.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son . . . (John 3:16, emphasis added).

And the imaginary fourth wise man also gave. He sold his vast possessions to purchase three costly jewels to give the baby king who he believed was the hope of the world. The he gave . . . he gave one gem after another to save the lives of desperate strangers in his path. When he finally found the King, he had no gift to give him. But he knew that he had done what love dictated.

To his great joy, he learned that the King was as pleased by those acts of love as if Artaban had done them for Him.* Because the King of the universe deeply loves everyone he has created, and rejoices when someone—like Artaban—does them good.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV).

The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made (Psalm 145:8-9 NIV).

Yes, God gave . . . because he loved. (For God so loved the world that he gave . . . [John 3:16, emphasis added]).

This year I’m trying not to get so caught up in giving all the right things to all the right people that I bury the love in my heart. That I walk right past folks who need a life-saving gift, thinking I “don’t have” time—or money or whatever—to deal with their needs.

YOUR TURN to Share or Discuss:
• What opportunities have you had to show the love of God this Christmas season?
• Did they interfere with your normal Christmas plans?
• Ten years from now what will really matter—Christmas-as-usual or what you did out of love?
• What will make this a real Christmas?


*I’ve only given you the sketchiest summary of The Story of the Other Wise Man. I hope you treat yourself to this classic. Right now, you can download a Kindle edition for $0.99!

A Short Note

Hello followers and friends,

For the next several weeks you will find one post a week instead of three. I am up to my ears in packing, wrapping up responsibilities in Illinois, and finding new everything (like insurance) in Kentucky. I will make the move the end of this month. Then the settling in begins.

See you on Wednesdays here at New in Every Way until . . . more frequent posts begin appearing again.

Thanks for your patience!


How Important Is Self-Esteem?

Quote People

A quote by Bobbe Sommer:

Having a low opinion of yourself is not “modesty”. It’s self-destruction. Holding your uniqueness in high regard is not “egotism”. It’s a necessary precondition to happiness and success. ~Bobbe Sommer

A quote from the Bible:

4 I . . . [make] mention of you always in my prayers . . . 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus (Philemon, verses 4 & 6 NKJV).

Carefully Designed by You

 Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you.

Sound good? It is a sample of the life-transforming insights you can gain from Stephen R. Covey. His website introduction gives an idea of how amazing his books are:

“Recognized as one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey has dedicated his life to demonstrating how every person can truly control their destiny with profound, yet straightforward guidance.”

This straightforward guidance is in the form of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (#1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century). Among the “spin-offs” of this book are:

Each of the seven habits is introduced on this page.

The first of the 7 habits is “Be Proactive.” Does that sound familiar? If so, it may be because you just read about it in Wednesday’s post “Back on Track.”

By the way, I used The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Stephen Covey’s son, Sean, with my junior high students. It is one the books I have bought in quantity to give away to the important young people in my life. I have loaned it to adults because it gives the condensed version of the 7 habits—and is highly entertaining. I love it! I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book—and learning something whether they intended to or not. Yeah . . . it’s that kind of book.



How to Become a Happy Person

Who doesn’t want to become a happy person? Who doesn’t want others to like them? Michael Hyatt, former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, blogs about both of these possibilities in a post called

“How to Become a Happy Person Others Want to Be Around.”

Click on the title to go to his great blog-site. When you get there, you can either click on a button to listen to his upbeat, practical podcast–or you can scroll down the page to read the text version.

Either way–enjoy the post and enjoy your weekend. Hope to see you back here on Monday.

An Interview with God

I found this imaginary interview on

Author Unknown

I dreamed I had an INTERVIEW WITH GOD.

“So, you would like to interview me?” GOD asked.

“If you have time,” I said.

GOD smiled. “My time is eternity… what questions do you have in mind for me?”

“What surprises you the most about humankind?”

GOD answered…

“That they get bored with childhood, that they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.”

“That they lose their health to make money… and then lose their money to restore their health.”

“That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future.”

“That they live as if they would never die, and die as though they had never lived.”

GOD’s hand took mine… and we were silent for a while.


There’s more to this “interview.” I’ll share it later.


Making It Personal

  • In the interview, which of the things that surprise God is a window into a better way to for you to live?
  • With God’s help, you can make any change you need to. How wonderful will your life be then?    



Crutch Versus Cure

I found an amazing quote. Something short and sweet for Friday–but power-packed.

FAILURES DO WHAT IS TENSION RELIEVING, WHILE WINNERS DO WHAT IS GOAL ACHIEVING.      –  Dennis Waitley (as quoted in Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog)


Making It Personal

  • How do you deal with inner tension?
  • Does your way of coping solve the real need? Or just make it easier to put up with?
  • Is that the kind of life Jesus offers? (Hint: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” [John 10:10 NIV].)


If Birds Could Talk

Speaking of God’s provision and his willingness to aid us in our everyday lives (as we did on Monday and Wednesday of this week), here’s an oldie but goodie that still calms my heart when I read it. Hope it does yours too.






Said the Robin to the Sparrow:

“I should really like to know

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and worry so.”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

“Friend, I think that it must be,

That they have no heavenly Father,

Such as cares for you and me.”

–          Elizabeth Cheney



A Stand-Up Homey + GIVEAWAY

“A Stand-Up Homey”—that’s what best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs calls Ruth in her “Righteous Ruth Rap.” (You know, the Ruth of the Bible—the one we talked about in Wednesday’s blog, “Real Insiders.”)

When you have listened to the hilarious rap summarizing Ruth’s life story, go on over to Liz’ website to learn all about her non-fiction book, The Girl’s Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World. You can pre-order it in paperback or Kindle version for release on July 10.

Do you want God to rock your world? Me, too.

THIS IS THE LAST DAY TO COMMENT (on any post) FOR  A CHANCE TO WIN A BOOK—The Legacy of Frances or From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest.

***Check on Saturday to see if you are the winner.***