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21 Days of Christmas Cover, largeKathy Ide

Q&A with Kathy Ide
21 Days of Christmas
1. Tell us about your newest book.
21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift is the second in a series of Fiction Lover’s Devotionals, published by BroadStreet Publishing. It’s a collection of short fiction stories, all written by different authors—some new, some intermediate, and some beloved best sellers. Each story is followed by a brief Life Application, written by the author of the story, that suggests how the messages inherent in the tale can be applied to the reader’s daily life. It released on September 1st.

2. What’s unique about this series?
A lot of readers today love Christian fiction. But in their quiet times with the Lord, they want something with a little more depth … and something a little shorter than a novel. There are lots of compilations with short true stories out there. The Fiction Lover’s Devotionals are for readers who enjoy fiction. For people who haven’t discovered the joys of Christian fiction, these short stories will be a great introduction to it.

3. Which authors are included in 21 Days of Christmas?
The book has chapters by Joanne Bischof, Jan Cline, Lena Nelson Dooley, Lynn Kinnaman, and more. Bios of contributing authors are featured at the end of each chapter, so readers can get something new from the novelists they already know and love as well as samples from other authors they can add to their favorites list.

4. Do you have a chapter in 21 Days of Christmas too?
I do. It’s a story of what might have gone through Joseph’s mind in the moments after Mary gave birth to Jesus. I loved imagining what it must have been like to realize that you’ve been called to teach God’s Son about God. Based on what Joseph was raised to believe about the Messiah, that experience must have been mind-blowing!

5. What’s one of your most cherished Christmas memories?
When I was maybe ten years old, my mom asked my dad to build dollhouses for me and my two younger sisters for Christmas. He collected scrap lumber, carpet samples, strips of wallpaper, paint, and miniature furniture pieces. After working all day, then waiting for his daughters to go to bed, he stayed up late several nights in the garage, constructing a two-story house with five rooms, glued to a board that was painted green and had little trees and bushes in the wooden yard. The night before Christmas Eve, the dollhouse was finally finished. And my mom asked, “Where are the other two?” What? “You have three daughters, Wayne. You can’t expect them to all share one dollhouse.” After a last-minute shopping trip, Dad stayed up all night and built two more houses—identical in size, shape, and floor plan, but each with different wallpaper and paint and furnishings. When my sisters and I woke up on Christmas morning to three beautiful dollhouses, mine was the only one we could play with right away because the paint hadn’t yet dried on the other two! I still have a picture of those houses, with me and my sisters grinning from ear to ear, on my china cabinet.

6. What’s your favorite Christmas tradition, and why?
Since both of my kids are now grown and living in different states, Christmas at home is pretty boring. So my husband and I fly to Colorado every year to spend the holiday with my parents, my sister, her three kids, and one of my adult sons. The other adult son joins us there every other year with his wife. This year, they’ll be bringing along my new grandbaby. Yea!

7. What are the other book titles in this series?
21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love released June 1. 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships, is scheduled to release January 1, 2016, for Valentine’s Day. And 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Motherhood, is schedule to release April 1, 2016, for Mother’s Day.

8. How do you see people using these devotionals?
The books are being published as beautiful hardcover gift books—small enough to take with you wherever you go, and with chapters short enough to read anywhere. You can enjoy these stories over breakfast, at lunch break, before bed, or curled up in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee or tea. These books could also be used in group settings—for your book club, Bible study, life group, Sunday school class, or just getting together with friends. They make terrific gifts too—especially 21 Days of Christmas! A Study Guide is available for free at www.FictionDevo.com or as a 99-cent e-book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

9. Where can people purchase the book?
10. The print version of 21 Days of Christmas can be ordered online at Amazon, BN.com, ChristianBook.com, Cokesbury.com, and GoHastings.com. The e-book is available from Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, and Google Play.
21 Days of Grace is there too! The books can also be found at Christian bookstores and some Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and Hastings stores.

11. What can readers do after they read the book?
There’s a forum on FictionDevo.com where people can post responses to the book and the stories in it. They can also do that on Facebook.com/FictionDevo. I’m very excited to read about how God is using these stories in people’s lives.

12. Are you looking for submissions for future books in this series?
If the first books sell well, the publisher will continue the series, so we could have several more titles to come. If you follow me on social media, or sign up for my newsletter, or check the FictionDevo.com website, you’ll get updates as they happen.

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Character Matters

I often find myself sounding like my mother, and yesterday was no exception. I was watching a video where a little boy was “hamming it up” and performing for anyone who would watch him. As I laughed at his antics, I exclaimed, “What a character,” a comment I heard my mother make on many occasions.
Then I went from watching a humorous video to a news channel that featured the latest antics of a presidential candidate, someone vying for the position of Commander-in-Chief of our country. And suddenly I wasn’t laughing anymore.
Now I’m not naïve enough to believe that everything a candidate says actually reflects his/her true character. I do believe, however, that candidates for public office at any level should remember that people are watching—not just their 30-second soundbites but their entire lives—and then behave accordingly. I also believe that those of us who are privileged to cast votes to elect our leaders have a responsibility to know as much about our candidate’s character as possible.
So what does that mean? The dictionary defines character as “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” It also denotes “moral or ethical quality.” Quite obviously, then, the word “character” means more than someone “hamming it up” for attention.
My greatest concern as we move closer to election time is that many of us who will be voting haven’t yet realized that character really does matter. And yes, that applies to those of us who are Christians and therefore have an even greater responsibility to learn as much as we can about a candidate’s character before throwing our support behind that individual. Yet I hear so many people saying things like, “Well, I may not like so-and-so, but I sure do like what he/she says.”
Interesting. My father’s family is from Germany, and though my dad came to America in 1929 and became a citizen as quickly as possible, the rest of his family was still in the “old country” when World War II broke out. My dad chose to fight for his new country, while his two younger brothers were conscripted into the German army. (One eventually became disillusioned with the Nazi cause and went AWOL, and the other was sent to the Russian front, never to be seen or heard from again.) After the war, my father sponsored what was left of his family and brought them all to this country. And, oh, the stories I have heard over the years!
My Aunt Gertrude told me more than once about what it was like to be a child/pre-teen in pre-war Germany. She recalled hearing about this particular leader who had recently appeared on the scene and seemed to be gaining a lot of popularity. As she listened to his powerful speeches, she realized why he was becoming so popular: the man said what the people wanted to hear. Germany hadn’t had much national pride or prosperity since they were defeated in World War I, and suddenly someone had burst onto the scene, declaring things that once again gave them hope and made them feel good about themselves.
Aunt Gertrude was no exception. She was quickly enamored of this new political figure and danced in the streets when he was swept into office by the votes of those who believed he was just what their country needed. From then on, when this newly elected leader spoke, she joined everyone else in hailing him with “Heil Hitler” and a straight-armed salute. Like so many other young people in Germany who had been indoctrinated at a young and impressionable age, even as the war drew to a close and the Allied soldiers marched through the German streets in victory, Aunt Gertrude believed it was all part of a ploy, brilliantly engineered by Hitler and his cohorts to draw the enemy into their lair before springing the trap. It took my aunt—and many others—quite a while to finally acknowledge that Germany had lost the war and that Hitler and his hideous dream were indeed dead.
It’s simple in retrospect to look back on that time and wonder how anyone could have been so easily duped by an egomaniac-madman. And yet, as my aunt said many times, “He said what we wanted to hear, and he was passionate about it. It didn’t take long for us to buy into his plan.”
Decades later, we in the United States are at a place where many of us no longer feel good or hopeful about our country. In the last few years, we’ve experienced wars and riots and a seeming paralysis in Washington DC when it comes to fulfilling campaign promises and restoring our sense of national pride and hope. So where does that leave us?
The word vulnerable seems to sum it up. We are understandably disgusted and disillusioned with politics as usual, and we’re looking for something new. But if we are to avoid the mistake of the German people in voting for certain candidates simply because they say what we want to hear, then we must take the time to learn about their character. In this day and age of easily accessible Internet information, we cannot afford to be purposely naïve. We have little excuse if we don’t take the time to find out about a candidate’s life choices. What does the candidate’s personal life/family look like? What causes or issues has the candidate supported or fought against in the past? Is he/she respected for past performance, whether in the political arena or elsewhere? When that candidate speaks, regardless of what’s being said, does he/she come across as an intelligent, humble, truthful, and well-spoken adult—or more like a sneaky person whose word can’t be trusted, or a petulant child who throws tantrums when challenged?
I pray we will all take our responsibility as citizens seriously as we approach what I believe is one of the most critical elections our nation has ever seen. If we will humbly and honestly approach God in prayer for our country and its leaders (see 2 Chronicles 7:14), I believe He will answer accordingly.
But we have to do our part…because character really does matter.

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Godly Sorrow

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Godly Sorrow is Better for Them and Us!
by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller

Several years ago, a friend passed along confidential information about us and we were hurt. It initially felt “right” to wallow in our pain and we wanted to strike out in anger. But then we rehearsed how we could choose to have godly sorrow instead.
When someone sins against any of us, godly sorrow is the loving choice because then we grieve because we know they will suffer from their sinful choices. We grieve, wanting the best for them rather than lashing out in some ungodly way and justifying it. We begin to desire their repentance even if we are never justified, vindicated, and credited with loving them well. Godly sorrow most often includes giving grace and mercy to the person who doesn’t deserve it. This response is godly because it is not about us, it is about God being glorified through treating them with God’s kind of love, forgiveness, and understanding. We may still set boundaries but even that can be a result of godly sorrow.
Of course, Jesus is our perfect example of Godly Sorrow. Notice his heart in the interaction with the Pharisees and the man with a withered hand:

Again he

[Jesus] entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6)

Jesus models for us godly sorrow by being “grieved” by the Pharisees’ “hardness of heart.” He longed for them to enjoy a true relationship with their Heavenly Father instead of the painful consequences of hard hearts. And he longed for them to enjoy the fruits of godly compassion for a hurting man. Jesus’ anger was not sinful because it was purely motivated by wanting the best for them.
All of us have a hard time reaching that level of purity in our desires, therefore what we might want to call “righteous indignation” or “righteous anger” is mixed with selfish desires. But we can grow closer to that level of righteous indignation through choosing godly sorrow.
When we have true godly sorrow, we are motivated by the same love that motivated Jesus: a desire for someone else to enjoy the fruits of righteousness and avoid the destructive effects of sinful choices. Jesus didn’t make it about himself—even though he was being rejected and he should, of all people, receive the respect he deserved. He never took ungodly behavior “personally.” Instead, he grieved for the pain it caused others.
In what way could you seek God’s strength to have godly sorrow toward someone today?
This article is excerpted from Never Ever Be the Same (Leafwood Publishers) which offers Christians hope that they can change their ungodly reactions through identifying their self-protective strategies and trusting God instead. The authors are Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller and includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It has individual and group discussion questions.

Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller are speakers and authors. They have been married 44 years and Larry is a retired police lieutenant. The Millers live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com. Kathy blogs at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions at:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy
CBD: http://bit.ly/1AuJZSX
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1BJz3lC

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He’s All We Need

“For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand.
He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing”

(Deuteronomy 2:7).

I have been a believer for just over forty years now, and like most believers I’ve had lots of mountaintop experiences, but I’ve also spent some time in the valleys. At other times during those forty years, however, I felt as if I were trudging through the wilderness, wandering aimlessly and getting nowhere fast. But that’s simply not true. Regardless of whether I was on the mountaintop, down in the valley, or just walking along, putting one foot in front of another, God was with me. He has promised never to leave or forsake me, and He has been faithful to keep that promise. If at times I didn’t sense His presence, that doesn’t mean He abandoned me.
That promise serves to pull me back into proper perspective. I meditate on scripture verses such as Deuteronomy 2:7, and I realize how God has blessed the work of my hands, most often beyond my wildest imaginings. I realize too that even when it seemed I was trudging through a great wilderness, I lacked nothing. Why? Because the Lord my God was with me—and He is all I need.
That’s true for you as well, beloved. If you have received Christ as your personal Savior and been born into God’s family, then you can cling to the promise that God is always with you, regardless of the circumstances of your life. He has promised never to leave or forsake His children—and that’s truly all any of us need as we walk this earthly pilgrimage on our way home to the Father’s heart.

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Uncompromising Truth

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you [Mary], and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also,

that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35, NKJV).

Someone recently said to me, “I don’t know why the Christian Church doesn’t just admit that Joseph was Jesus’ father; then maybe I could buy into their religion.”
One of the saddest statements I’ve ever heard, for if the Church (God forbid!) should ever confess such a thing, it would be apostate and all true believers would have to disassociate themselves from it.
The very heart of the Christian faith hangs on the truth of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection of Christ. Without those underpinnings, our faith is a futile and dead religion. Though the faithless might then be able to “buy into it,” the faithful simply could not do so.
Years ago, when I first became a born-again believer, a wise old pastor said to me, “Make Bible study and prayer your daily disciplines. As you do so, begin to make a list of things you’re willing to go to war over—things you believe so strongly you would die for them. And then never compromise.” Then he smiled and added, “But keep your list short.”
That was more than four decades ago, and I have never forgotten his excellent advice. I have made my “willing to go to war over” list short and to the point, not including negotiable items such as baptism (sprinkling or dunking), rapture (pre-, mid- or post-), etc. But the few items that are on that list must never be changed or compromised, and the Virgin Birth is one of those items. If we concede that the father of Jesus could have been Joseph, then we have denied His divinity, relegating Him solely to human nature, which is flawed. How then could His death on the Cross have atoned for our sins, if He too was in need of atonement?
No, the Church can never confess such blasphemy, and that means that none of us as individuals dare do so. When we encounter people who say they might be able to “buy into” the Christian faith if only the Church would stop asserting the Virgin Birth as fact, then we must pray for such deceived individuals. For it is for them (as well as us) that Christ came to earth, was born of the Virgin Mary, atoned for our sins on the Cross, rose again—and will one day return to reign.
Those are unchanging truths you can literally bet your life on.

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