Follow the Star: Christmas Stories That Changed My Life


Christmas is a special time of year. Families gather for fancy feasts, and presents are exchanged. But the true meaning of the holiday does not come wrapped in brightly colored paper and bows. Scrumptious meals and special treats are not the reasons for the season. The real gift of Christmas is the birth of Jesus; the celebration is to honor this miracle with those we love. In Follow the Star, T. D. Jakes reminds of us what Christmas is all about. He shares the Christmas stories that have touched his heart and ...
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Follow the Star: Christmas Stories That Changed My Life

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Christmas is a special time of year. Families gather for fancy feasts, and presents are exchanged. But the true meaning of the holiday does not come wrapped in brightly colored paper and bows. Scrumptious meals and special treats are not the reasons for the season. The real gift of Christmas is the birth of Jesus; the celebration is to honor this miracle with those we love. In Follow the Star, T. D. Jakes reminds of us what Christmas is all about. He shares the Christmas stories that have touched his heart and shaped his life. His childhood memories and deeply personal experiences come alive and illuminate the meaning of the season: family stories about the worst of times, when they found the spirit of Christmas despite poverty and hardship; stories about the best of times, and the need to slow down and appreciate the real gifts of fellowship, love, and God. Biblical stories magnify the relevance of this blessed day, and with his unique insight Bishop Jakes lights the way to a deeper understanding of the holiday.

With gentle guidance and inspirational messages, Bishop Jakes takes us on a journey to Christmases past and present, and leads us to embrace fully the magnitude of the miracle as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the holiday hoopla, family gatherings, and exchanging of presents, we sometimes lose a sense of the true meaning of Christmas. In Follow the Star, Bishop T. D. Jakes recounts a personal journey that taught him the miracle behind the holiday. Sharing family stories, he describes how life's worst hardships laid him open for God's greatest gift.
This thoughtful book is the perfect way to relax and remember the reason for the season.
Library Journal
A best-selling author, advocate for women's issues, and longtime pastor of the Potter's House in Dallas, Bishop Jakes (God's Leading Lady) lets us in on the true meaning of Christmas. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425198292
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/2/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 699,553
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.42 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

T.D. Jakes

T.D. Jakes is the author of many bestselling books. His daily morning show, The Potter's Touch, and his weekly broadcast, The Potter's House, air on Trinity Broadcasting and Black Entertainment Network in the U.S., Europe, and South America. Bishop Jakes is the the founder and pastor of Potter's House, one of the fastest growing churches in the nation, where he ministers to an interracial congregation of more than 26,000 members.

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Read an Excerpt

Follow the Star

Christmas Stories That Changed My Life

By T. D. Jakes

G. P. Putnam's Sons

Copyright © 2003

T. D. Jakes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-399-15133-8

Chapter One

Life Is
a Journey

* * *

We were five passengers making our
Christmastime road trip in a fume-filled,
rust-covered, partially broken
rendition of a family car. My parents bounced along the
highway on the front seat, while all three children-my
brother, my sister, and I-were piled up in the back,
wrestling and tussling, giggling and complaining. The
laughter and teasing was always interrupted by someone's
squealing and the clamor always reached its
high point when my brother pinched my sister and I,
the baby of the family, began to whine because I was

The West Virginia mountains through which we
drove were beautiful but often perilous. With my nose
pressed against the car window (during those rare moments
when I did not have to sit in the middle of the
backseat), I saw the winding roads, laced with snow and
sleet, and ice hanging from mountain peaks like stalagmites
in a cave. It looked like a winter wonderland. But
while the beauty awed my mother, the clutter of cars and
the twists in the road aggravated my father. The traffic
and difficult driving conditions were enough to drive a
sane man to the edge of exasperation.

Together, my mother and father played a symphony
of diverse moods and attitudes and comments that
soared toward a crescendo as the journey continued-if
you know what I mean. How well I recall those memorable
experiences when we were all there on the highway,
trying to get to our destination and trapped in
traffic. Even worse, we were usually in a hurry and did
not have much gas. Add to that the fact that my father
had a tendency to get lost and would rather have danced
naked in a roaring fire than admit it. And to top it off,
my precious mother, God rest her soul, had a nasty habit
of informing him that he was lost. Ah yes, it was always
quite a trip.

If my father had only consulted a map, we would
have been able to get where we were going with much
less angst. But left to his instincts (and his unwillingness
to ask for directions), we often ended up traveling
away from our goal instead of toward it! What started
out as a pleasant trip soon ended up wrought with stress
and tensions as time passed and the place we were trying
to reach eluded us. As I remember, usually just about
the time the harsh reality that we were not accomplishing
our goal set in, I had to-well, you know-I had
to go; and that didn't help the situation at all!

Holidays should be a joyful time and family outings
should be fun, but when you are trying to get somewhere
in a hurry on a slick road, surrounded by many
drivers, the trip can be quite stressful. My parents were
not alone in their longing for holiday happiness. Millions
of other people were seeking it too. (I know because
we saw them on the highway!) Some were singing
Christmas carols and some were sullen. Some were
sober and some were not. Some, like we, were rushing
to their destination so that when they arrived, they
could turn around and rush home.

At any point along the way, my father could have
looked at a map or done what he inevitably did, which
was to finally ask someone at a gas station, "Is this the
road to [wherever]? How much farther do we need to
go to get there?" He could have done that, but he rarely
did-not until tempers were flaring, frustrations were
mounting, and patience was wearing thin.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own,
I see that, like my childhood car trips, life is really just
a journey too. I find myself wanting to veer off of the
mangled, tangled traffic jam called life, stop at a spiritual
gas station, and echo my father's questions: "How
far do I have to go get there? Am I on the right road?
Shouldn't I have been farther than I am now?" I could
go on and on and on; I have a thousand questions to ask
the Lord about the journey.

A person really doesn't have to live too long to realize
that life is a journey. Along our way, we often find
that the weather can be inclement and the conditions
around us unfavorable. At times, the hustle and bustle
can be overwhelming, and the noises of daily living can
drown out our own thoughts. Somebody's radio is blasting,
horns are honking, and people are traveling in all
modes of transportation in every direction with every
conceivable expression on their faces. Like the twisted
highways of many large metropolises, life is filled with
exit ramps and entrance ramps, merging traffic, and
cautions. If that is not enough, there are the dangerous
accidents, slick spots, and incessant road-rage drivers
who make the journey even more perilous. It also seems
like everyone is speeding, so we have to go faster and
faster just to keep from getting run over! The worst
part is that the clock is ticking while we journey, and we
are in a race where every second counts. We have only
a certain amount of time to reach our destination, and
each day we live is a day we will never see again.

Given the choice, I think many of us would park our
vehicles under a nice shade tree at a rest stop, if that were
possible, and avoid the chaos all together. You know as
well as I do that, in reality, we do not have the option
to withdraw from the rat race. Like it or not, as long as
we live, we find ourselves seemingly predestined to
travel somewhere. Some will go forward, some will be
stuck in reverse, and some will seem to go around and
around and around like a little puppy chasing his tail.

But unlike a road trip, life's journey does not come
with explicit directions of which way to go, when to
turn, and how long it will take us to get there. It does
not even come with a globe that will allow us to see the
big picture! All of us do not have the same purposes and
the same goals. While we want to go to heaven, ultimately,
we will spend our time on this earth in as many
different ways as there are stars in the sky. Some will
marry and some will stay single all of their lives. Some
will raise children and some will not. Some will enter
into ministry and some will pursue other careers. Some
will work from the left side of their brain and some
from the right. Some will educate themselves and
some will excel in other arenas. Some will travel the
same highway for a season but take different exits. Yes,
we are all on the journey, but each of us has his own
course to run.

The apostle Paul said to Timothy, "I have finished
my course," and that must be your focus too. To finish
the course set before you-not your father's course,
not your best friend's course, not anybody else's course,
but yours.

I think I know what you'd like to ask. You may be
wondering how you can find your way through the maze
of life and keep moving toward your purpose? The answer
is actually quite simple, and it is the same for all of
us. We have to follow our Guide, like the wise men did
in ancient days as they pursued the Baby Jesus. We simply
have to follow the Star.

Where is the Star? Oh, it is not in the sky as it was
for them. The Star we follow is Jesus, and if we let Him,
He will live inside of us and guide us toward our destination.

There is no getting off the road of life and asking for
directions. You can ask directions from your minister or
spiritual advisor. You can consult the only map we have
and the only one we need-the Word of the Lord. But
the best compass you have is the Spirit that dwells
within you. It will get you through the traffic, teach you
when to merge, advise you of your speed, and get you to
the right place at the right time. Even though our family
trips were often longer than they needed to be, more
stressful than was necessary, and a bit grating on the
nerves, I simply cannot remember a single time when
we didn't get where we were trying to go! And the same
is true for your life. My prayer for you is that you would
know in your heart, be at rest in your mind, and get settled
in your spirit, that God knows exactly how to get
you there too-wherever your "there" is.

This holiday season is just one stop on a long journey
toward an undisclosed destination. Much of what
you will face in your life is currently hidden from your
view. No mirrors, windshields, or navigational devices
will let you see everything that awaits you ahead. But remember
that as you travel, if you have a little faith in the
trunk and a little gas in the tank, you will eventually get
there. I'd be willing to bet that you'll like what you see
when you arrive.

Just one more word: Enjoy those whom God has
given you to accompany you on the journey of your life.
Families are never perfect, and if you could ask my parents,
they would tell you that families are full of challenges
and aggravations. But you know what? The people
with whom we share childhood memories, DNA,
and a last name are a real blessing. Take courage, fill up
your tank, drive forward, and enjoy the trip. You are on
the ride of a lifetime. When in doubt, look up; when
troubled, looked within; and when in darkness, always,
always follow the Star.

May your happy holidays begin right now.

Chapter Two

Come, Ye
Thankful People

* * *

There are certain holidays people cannot
ignore, and Christmas is one of them.
Retailers clamor for our attention with
signs and banners and decorations more extravagant
than ever before. Office parties and open houses kick
into full swing, while children nearly burst with excitement
over their upcoming holidays. Fast-food restaurants
replace their paper goods with holiday-themed
napkins and cups, and some people even put wreaths on
their cars. Inevitably, a woman sporting Christmas ornament
earrings (or a man with a tie that plays "Jingle
Bells") will show up in your field of vision. On top of
all that, even if you wanted to take a break and lose
yourself in your regular television schedule, you
couldn't-because most of the shows are preempted by
holiday movies and specials! And then, of course, to be
downright practical, if you checked your calendar you
would see "Christmas Day" printed on the page or the
square for December 25.

See what I mean? Whether or not a person celebrates
Christmas, its existence is undeniable.

Thanksgiving, on the other hand, could almost slide
by with hardly a mention. It could just fall right off the
calendar and some people would barely notice. Now, I
realize that part of the issue with Thanksgiving is that
it does not occur on the same day every year. At the same
time, though, our commercial culture garners little
profit from that particular holiday, so it gets less public
hype. Level with me: have you ever gotten a Thanksgiving
present? Oh, I know that turkey sales peak at
Thanksgiving. No doubt sweet potato revenues increase;
green beans and ready-made graham cracker
crusts probably end up in the black as well. But beyond
the grocery stores, nobody really benefits from Thanksgiving
financially except maybe some florists or other
little gift shops that sell fall decorations.

On second thought, someone does benefit from
Thanksgiving: you. You do, and I do, and so do a whole
host of praising people who know the value and the
power of gratitude. For starters, gratitude reminds us
that we are not self-sufficient. Being thankful shifts our
focus away from our needs and onto our blessings; it
turns our hearts away from ourselves and onto the Lord,
Who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I tell
you that He is the source of every blessing, large and
small. All good things come to us from His hand-the
beauty of a sunrise, the discipline of a job to do, the joy
of having a friend. I could write all day about His goodness,
but I suspect you have your very own list of benefits.
The Bible says that He gives us all things richly to
enjoy, and being thankful causes the demons of lack to
flee and praise to spring forth from the core of our

Expressing our gratitude also keeps us humble. It's
hard to be proud when you are thanking God from a
place of sincerity. Oh yes, it is difficult indeed to be arrogant
or haughty when you are praising Him for rescuing
you from a desperate situation or for working a
miracle in your life. When He does for you what you
cannot do for yourself-and what no other human
being is able to do for you-well, that kind of love provokes
a response of truly humble thanksgiving. Because
God is so good, humility has its own blessings. For instance,
the Bible says, in several places, that God resists
the proud or the scornful but that He gives grace to the
humble. Now I don't know about you, but I cannot
imagine anyone not needing all the grace they can get!

But like humility, the giving of thanks doesn't always
come naturally. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves
and be reminded to be thankful. We have to be mindful
of our expressions of gratitude, just as we have to be
mindful of the observance of Thanksgiving Day. We
have to make an effort to stay grounded in gratitude so
that the swirl of Christmas preparations will not pick
us up and carry us away! I even know people who will
not think of beginning to decorate for Christmas before
Thanksgiving because they are so determined that they
and their loved ones are going to stop on that day and
at the very least, breathe a grateful prayer.

Our family has always been that way For years, we
went to church on Thanksgiving morning, choosing to
give God His praise before we went home to stuff ourselves
with turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce and
sweet potato pie. There was something so special about
those services-special enough that the church members
were willing to excuse themselves from holiday visitors
and press through the peer pressure of hungry
families and gather in the sanctuary for a few glorious
moments. I can still see the bright, smiling faces of the
men and women, boys and girls who joined together to
celebrate God's goodness on those cool, crisp mornings,
when a few remaining fall leaves clung to the tree
branches and caused the West Virginia mountains to
glow like the embers of a bonfire. When it came to material
possessions, we did not have as much as some
people, but oh my, were we ever blessed! When we sang
God's praises, they bellowed from the bottom of our
hearts, and when we said, "Thank You, Lord!" we meant
it with every fiber of our beings.

Because life can be difficult for all of us at times, you
may be weathering your own personal storms right now.
Perhaps there is a trouble in your family, or maybe you
are in such internal conflict that the turmoil is churning
within your very soul. Can I tell you something that
will help you? Praise through the pain. Determine that
you will not be silent and that there is no circumstance
on earth mighty enough to keep you from praising your
Father. If you struggle at first, look for the small, everyday

Excerpted from Follow the Star
by T. D. Jakes
Copyright © 2003 by T. D. Jakes.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Life Is a Journey 7
2 Come, Ye Thankful People 19
3 Exceedingly Abundantly 29
4 You Have His Word on It 43
5 Night-Lights 55
6 Angels Watching Over Me, My Lord 69
7 Bringing in the Sheaves 79
8 Burning Down the Old School 89
9 Be Careful What You Wish For 101
10 Little Things 113
11 A Little Child Shall Lead Them 125
12 God's Timing Is Perfect 135
13 Don't Wait Too Late 147
14 God Always Has a Plan 157
15 God Works with Wood 169
16 Let It Go 179
17 Back to the Future 189
18 'Tis the Season 199
19 The Gift That Keeps on Giving 211
20 The Gift Remains 221
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