Sneak Preview of THE DEVOTED HEART
Since it's Christmas, we thought we would give our readers a little sneak preview taste of our newest book The Devoted Heart. Here is today's download which is the introduction and Chapter One. Also don't forget to like our website and subscribe to our email list, so you can get the latest updates and downloads! Stay tuned for more!
A Modern Nativity
Over the years, I’ve received hundreds of letters on how my novel, “Eli” (a retelling of the Gospel as if it happened today), has changed lives. Some folks claim they make a point to read it once a year, pastors say they preach from it, schools make it required reading. And my favorite e-mails are the ones that say, “I’ve been a Christian all my life and now I finally get it.”
“Getting it.” That’s why I wrote “Eli”—so that readers (myself included) could see Jesus as a living, breathing person, not some distant, historical figure or religious painting. By stripping away the religious varnish we’ve encased Jesus in and putting him in a 21st century world like our own, it sets Him in front of us. It removes the 2,000 years of history we may use to insulate ourselves from the real person, and puts us face to face, with who He really is.
That’s the same reason I’ve written, “Devoted Heart.” I wanted to take Joseph and Mary out of the glittery Christmas cards and to experience what they must have really gone through. I wanted to explore their emotions, their faith, their fears, and their doubts. I wanted to feel what it must have been like to be a young couple given such an astonishing call and who set out to fulfill it despite the odds. Is the book accurate? Hardly. I’ve probably missed the point dozens of times. But if it only captures a fraction of what they went through, if it helps put just a little flesh and blood on the sterile statues and cut-out manger scenes then, at least for me, it’s been a success.
As with “Eli,” this writing doesn’t hold a candle to the real accounts found in Scripture. And if you haven’t read them for a while, don’t waste your time here. The Word of God is infinitely superior to the prayerful imaginings of one man. Also, since I’m in a confessionary mood, let me point out another failure—having to ignore the rich Jewish history that was so important for the real Joseph and Mary. There are many great writers who, over the centuries, have captured that. My purpose was to simply capture the couple’s heart. And if this book can do just a little of that, if it can help us appreciate just a little more deeply what these great heroes of faith may have actually experienced, then it’s served its purpose. That’s what the writing did for me. And what I hope the reading will do for you.
Thanks again, for taking another journey with me,
All right, Joey. Taxi’s here.”
I looked up to see Leroy Burton’s big blurry form come around the bar. We graduated the same year. Played football and basketball together since middle school. Far as I know, we were in the same kindergarten. Town is that small.
I motioned to my glass. “One more for the road.”
“No, you’ve had enough one mores for the night.”
“What time is it?” I looked at my watch but couldn’t seem to see the numbers.
“Time for all good war heroes to call it a day.”
“Don’t call me that. I hate it when people call me that.” He disappeared behind me. “Where’d you go? Where’d you-– There you are. Do you know who the real heroes are? Do you?”
“No,” he said, holding up my coat. “Why don’t you tell–”
“I’ll tell you. Men and women who lost their lives. Who lost arms and legs, those are the real heroes.”
“No argument there.”
“How many arms do you see, huh? How many legs?”
“‘Bout the right number of each, I’d say.”
He held out a coat sleeve for me. “Let’s go.”
It took a couple tries to find it. “It was my fault. I should have known better.”
“Mary. Mary! Are we or are we not talking about Mary?”
“If you say so.”
We should have got married before I left.”
“Come on, man. It’s Mary McDermott. Who would have thought?”
“We were engaged.”
“And you were out of country eleven months.”
“We were going to get married.”
He helped my arm into the other sleeve. “It’s a new world out there, Joey. If guys don’t make the move on chicks by the second date they think he’s gay.”
“It’s Mary. We were engaged.”
“So, I hear.”
“You heard? Does everybody know?”
“That you were engaged?”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t somebody tell me?”
“They shipped her off to some relative before anybody knew. She’s only been back a few weeks.” He slipped his shoulder under my arm.
“Pastor McDermott’s kid. Mr. straight-as-an-arrow, stuffy-butt McDermott.”
“And up we go.” He helped me to my feet. Not that I needed it. I could walk just fine, soon as the floor quit moving.
“It was Johnson, wasn’t it?” We started toward the door. “Todd Johnson always had a thing for her.”
“We all had a thing for her, Joey.”
“All of you?”
“Not that way. She’s everybody’s kid sister, you know that. We all love Mary.”
“Sixteen months and we never even made out.” Leroy opened the door and we stepped into the cold, December rain. “Sixteen months! She said, ‘I want to save myself for our wedding night. I want it to be my gift to you.’ And I believed her!” I tilted back my head and shouted into the rain, “I believed her!”
Leroy opened the car door.
“I’m gonna kill him.”
“Tomorrow morning I’m gonna go right up to his door, knock real politely, and when he opens it I’m gonna kill that son of a–”
“And in you go.” Leroy dumped me into the back seat.
“Hey there,” the driver said, “it’s the war hero.”
I would have called him out on it. Maybe I did. I don’t remember. I barely remember getting into the cab. And I sure don’t remember getting out.
But I remember the dream . . .