The Gospel in Plain English

No formidable words are needed to simply and concisely summarize what the Bible’s says. The message is not complex, but it is anathema to those who desire no authority beyond their own intellect. If there is a God, however, the opinions of men cannot negate his existence. A better use of human intelligence might be to judge scripture in light of the possibility that God does exist.

The Bible starts with an all-powerful God who created everything within the universe, including life, natural laws of order and mathematics and logic, and a moral code. Mankind chose to rebel against it. God is love, but he is also holy, and as Creator he has the authority to judge sin. He must, or he would undermine his own laws. The payment for sin is death.

But God in his compassion and creativity devised a way to take that judgment upon himself. He came to Earth in the person of Jesus, who was fully human and fully divine. He lived a perfect life and therefore was undeserving of death. Because he was human, and because he was perfect, his sacrifice is counted as a substitute payment for the sin of all mankind. Anyone seeking reconciliation with God need only claim this payment. We will still die physically, but Christ’s resurrection has proven his power over death. The Bible promises that the dead will rise. Those who claim Jesus will live in a recreated world free of sin and its effects. Those who reject him will suffer eternal, physical punishment.

Some things to think about:

Would any of this prove too hard for a Creator God? What objective does God’s plan meet? Is it unreasonable that he would share it with men? Is any part of this unfair? Is God inconsistent in character or action? Does history bear out the person and accomplishments of Christ? Does this explanation account for the presence of suffering and death? What does this plan imply about the value of human life? What makes the Bible reliable? Do I care enough to do further research, or am I content with what I think is true? What do I base my beliefs on? And finally, what if it’s true?

 

 

Categories: Faith and Logic, The Bible, Why I Believe What I Believe | Leave a comment

North Vietnam

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Remember this? It’s happening today.

I’ve been reading lately about the atrocities the North Korean government is visiting upon its people. Those targeted for concentration camps are Christians and politically suspicious individuals. “Suspicious”  means anyone remotely suspected of disagreeing with the government along with their extended family down to the third generation. I mean, there’s record of someone who accidentally mopped up a spill with an old newspaper that bore a picture of their “Dear Leader.” And all their loved ones. The guilt is in the blood.

Like Nazi camps, these labor camps are places of torture and death. Life has no value. Prisoners are given minimal rations and worked until thier bodies give out. Women are routinely raped and then “disappear” when they become pregnant. Children are beaten to death or commanded to beat other children. Babies are even bred within the camps for the sole purpose of being worked and starved to death. This is going on TODAY and has been since the 1950’s. Kim Jong Un, the new dictator (2011) and third in this dynasty, is carrying on his father’s and grandfather’s inhumane traditions.

Though North Korea denies their existance, these concentration camps are clearly seen by satellite. And there is a growing body of documented testamony by former guards and prisoners who have defected to China and South Korea. In addition, the UN has released a report of their findings of human rights violations.

I highly recommend the book Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden. It details the life of Shin Dong-Hyuk, the only prisoner who was born into the prison camps to escape the camp and the country. His story will stun you. (It is written from a secular perspective and the subject matter is not fit for children under 12 or 14.)

Be in prayer for this country, its leaders, and those who suffer under them. Be in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith. Please don’t simply look the other way. Educate yourself about what’s going on and pray.

If you’d like more information about North Korea or about other countries where Christians are suffering, visit the Voice of the Martyrs website or request their free monthly newsletter. The newsletter is an excellent resource to help teach our kids about hostile areas of the world. Get involved. Plug in and pray!

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Wisdom

I was reading in Proverbs this morning. I don’t really like the book of Proverbs. Yes, it has a lot of good things to say, common sense things, righteous things, wise things. It’s the delivery I don’t like. I’m a novelist. I like to go into the Old Testament books and read chapter after chapter in the historical stories. I like to pick out themes, judge cause and effect, study characters, ponder creative word pictures, and read up on the cultures in which the stories take place. Proverbs, on the other hand, delivers punch after punch in a short number of verses. It’s too much for me to take in and chew on at once. Too many themes, too many individual thoughts. Too much information. I have to limit the amount I read at one time or I’m completely overwhelmed. So I just read one chapter today.

I must have read chapter 8 twenty times in my life, but I don’t ever recall absorbing verses 22-36. This is Wisdom speaking. The author uses personification to help us get across his point. Wisdom is portrayed as a woman calling out to men from the top of a high hill. Here are some of the points she makes:

The LORD possessed me at the begining of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting.
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth…
When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
When He assigned to the sea its limit…
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
Then I was beside Him as a  master craftsman,
And I was daily His delight…

Did you catch what the author is saying here? God created wisdom before he created the heavens and earth. It’s been established from everlasting. And he used this wisdom in the construction of his cosmos. Wow! I mean, I already know from basic science classes that the universe is ordered according to natural laws. The planets orbit in a certain way, allowing us to measure time with accuracy. Elements behave in predictable ways. Everything is structured according to unchanging laws that provide us with a sure, stable reference in which to live. We take many of these laws for granted. The sun will rise. Certain things will float; others will sink. We will not float away into space.

But God also established moral laws. Laws that come with blessing if they are followed and judgement if they are not. The proverbs are filled with warnings about good and evil, of what will happen if we choose one over the other. At the same time, our natural rebellion screams out, “I have my own mind. I want my own way. I’ll make my own choices.” That is happening today. America is full of these objectors. They reject God based on their own reason, their own faulty understanding, their own disbelief. God does give us the freedom to choose as we will, but these are laws. They have sure consequences just like natural laws. If you leap from a cliff, you will hit the ground. If you put a plastic bag over your head, you will die of oxygen deprivation. If you reject God, there will be judgement.

Lots of people today are also crying out, “What kind of God would dictate our behavior? How can he bring judgement on his creation and still be righteous? That sounds pretty hateful and bigotted to me. Who is God to demand our obedience?” But we forget he has a pretty massive claim to authority. He is the creator of all things. He organized the laws. He knows the natural consequences of them. And he must judge disobedience (sin), because to not do so would undermine his own authority.

The proverb ends with Wisdom saying:

Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
For blessed are those who keep my ways…

Blessed is the man who listens to me…
For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the LORD;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul:
All those who hate me love death.

Categories: This and That | Leave a comment

Discovering God’s Will For Your Life

Oh look! I haven’t posted on here for two months! That would be about when track meets started regularly. Sigh. It was a great track season.

7214575Today I have only a short book review. I received the book Discovering God’s Will For Your Life from author Mike Lutz in exchange for an honest review. I was impressed with how easy the book was to read, how simple Lutz made the process, and how basic his advice was. Here’s the review I posted on Amazon:

Want to know God’s will for your life? Mike Lutz starts with the basics: quiet time, meditation, prayer, Bible reading. So elementary, yet so vital—and so overlooked in our busy society. This book is for those who want to get serious about their faith. Knowing God’s will takes effort, but Mr. Lutz breaks it down into simple-to-grasp steps in this conversationally styled book. Calling on roles models such as Joseph and Moses, he has created a great resource for those just starting out in their Christian walk and for those who need to get back to the simple truths.download

Now my question is, would anyone like me to pass the book on to them? It’s a paperback, and I’ll gladly send it to the first one to email me requesting it. If you’re interested, I’m at misenhoff@hotmail.com. :)

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The Touch

When I posted my Christmas story a few months ago, it started a badly needed editing project. Over the years, I’ve written fifteen Bible stories–most for use in children’s programs at church. I collected them in 2008 and put them into a volume. But when  I looked up that story at Christmas, I realized my writing skills have improved since then. A lot. So when I finished my novel in February, I began editing. The story I’m posting today comes from that collection. It has long been one of my favorites. 

The Touch

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Amos dropped the sack he had been carrying and lowered himself to the ground like an old man. He stretched in the shade of a scrubby tree and rubbed his sore muscles. Sadly, he remembered a time when these muscles had been rock hard, when he could spend a full day toiling under the sun. He had enjoyed a talent for coaxing plants to grow in the most unyielding soil. Even now he pulled up a handful of grass and examined the intricate parts of the wild plant. But his movements were clumsy, and the grass fell from deadened fingers.

“Curse this disease!” he yelled and struck the earth an angry blow.

He leaned against the tree and wiped his hands over his face in a futile gesture. Closing his eyes, he thought back to a happier time. He could see his farm. It hadn’t been much, just a few small acres he could work by himself. His two sons had been young then, but growing like suckling calves. They took care of the chickens and eagerly helped with many small jobs for him and for their mother.

Their mother—Deborah! She had shared his love for the land. Together, they were going to build the farm into a fine place for their sons. The muscles of Amos’ face contracted as he thought of his wife toiling alone. The years of hard labor and the impossible task of raising two boys alone had aged her, but to Amos, she was still the most beautiful woman in the world.

The ruin of his life had begun with a blister, a simple enough matter for a farmer who worked long hours. Deborah had put a poultice on it, yet the sore had persisted. Several days later, she frowned down at the angry wound. “I think it’s grown larger.”

“You worry too much,” Amos assured her with a tap on her nose.

She forced away her anxiety. “You’re probably right.”

But time proved the accuracy of her fears. By the end of the week, there was no doubt the nagging sore had consumed the palm of his hand. Amos saw his own apprehensions reflected in the eyes of his wife as she suggested he visit the priests. He parted from her that night, assuring her that all would be well, but two weeks of quarantine confirmed his worst fears. Leprosy!

Not permitted to return even to his wife, Amos had immediately become an outcast. Avoided and alone, he lived at the outskirts of civilization, granted no human contact for fear of spreading the dreaded disease. From a distance, he watched his young boys grow into men. He could only observe as Deborah wore out her body doing his work. It ate at his spirit even as the disease ate at his flesh.

The only connection he had with his family was when they came each day to leave him food. Deborah had to set it down and retreat to the opposite side of the road while he ate. In a moment, a simple blister had designated him the living dead.

He had, in fact, entertained the idea of killing himself. He knew his existence was a burden to his wife. Separated by an infinite roadway, he was helpless to give anything back. But when he had, in dejection, communicated his intentions to her, she’d become almost frantic in her pleading.

Amos groaned to himself as he remembered her lonely agony. How he had wanted to go to her and cradle her head against his chest, to stroke her hair and murmur comforting words. But he could only watch helplessly and promise to live.

It had been Deborah who, just days before, had brought him a glimmer of hope. The shine in her eyes had taken years off her face. “I have heard of a man who performs miracles,” she had said as she watched him eat. “Some say he’s a prophet. Others claim he is the Messiah. He teaches in the synagogues and drives out demons.”

Amos didn’t even look up from his meal. “I often hear rumors of miracle workers. Such people are popular subjects in my circle. Be assured, there is no truth in what you have heard.”

“Do you think, as your wife, I don’t hear as many rumors as you?”

Amos had never thought of that.

She continued in a low tone, excitement shaping each word, “He has healed Blind John.”

Amos gave a start. “You have seen him?” he asked in disbelief.

Deborah laughed. “He has seen me! He’s thrown away his cane and tells everyone about Jesus. And there are others. Many others. Amos…” she paused and unlawfully stepped across the gravel chasm. She stopped so near that he could smell the fragrance of her hair. “Amos,” she said again and handed him a large sack of food. “Go to him. Find him and come back to me.”

Wordlessly, Amos had taken the package and turned toward Capernaum.

Now he rose unsteadily to his feet. Balance was difficult, and he walked awkwardly, unable to feel the ground beneath his bare feet. Slowly, the disease had spread, killing nerves and tissues, turning his skin a deadly white, robbing him of all sensation. Because pain no longer warned him when he was damaging his body, the flesh on his hands and feet was wearing away. Amos shuddered as he looked at his ruined body. Could Jesus really heal him? It would take a miracle.

He began to encounter people in the outskirts of town and was required to warn them of his condition. “Unclean! Unclean!” he yelled, and unfailingly they made a wide berth around him. He was separate, untouchable, and time never dulled the humiliation.

“Where is the one called Jesus?” he asked. He received blank looks, shrugs, and even angry stares, but again and again he called out, “How can I find Jesus?” At last, someone answered, “Down by the shore!”

Amos continued through town, loudly proclaiming his own disgrace until he could see the waters of Galilee. Gathered on the shore was the largest crowd he had ever seen. How would he ever find Jesus in there?

It proved an easy task. People parted before him like the Red Sea. As he passed between the walls of humanity, doubts assailed him. Perhaps Jesus, too, would want nothing to do with him. Perhaps he would turn him away.

Suddenly, there before him stood a man who did not shrink into the crowd. He was plain; dirty and dark from long hours spent outside, but he radiated purpose and strength. And he waited for Amos to approach.

Amos fell silent. Slowly, awkwardly he knelt, painfully aware of his own unworthiness. “Lord,” he said, “if it is your will, you can make me clean.”

Amos didn’t know what he expected, but he was totally unprepared to feel a hand on his shoulder. He had not felt the touch of another human being for many years. His body jerked but the hand lingered, offering companionship, acceptance, worth—things he had not know for so long. Tears blurred his vision.

“I am willing,” Jesus said. “Be clean.”

Immediately, Amos felt sensation returning to his fingers and toes. Looking down through his tears, he could see that his hands were fully restored. His skin glowed with healthy color. With that one touch, Amos’ world had completely changed. In a gesture of deep gratitude, Amos put his own on hand on top of the Lord’s.

With a smile, Jesus said, “Go show yourself to the priests and offer the sacrifices Moses commanded as a testimony to them. But don’t tell anyone what happened.”

Amos arose and began his journey home with strong, confident steps. He would go to the priests. And then he would take his wife in his arms as he had longed to do thousands of times and tell her that once again those dreams were theirs to share.

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More Problems with Radiometric Dating

Potassium-Argon radiometric dating is a process by which scientists assign an age to a rock sample by measuring the amounts of Potassium and Argon found within it. It is similar to Carbon dating, which can only be used on materials that were once alive. Potassium-Argon dating is used on rock.

Potassium-40 will decay into Argon-40 at a steady rate. So if scientists know how much Argon is in the rock sample presently (which they do), and if they know how much Argon was in the rock sample when it was formed (which they don’t), and if they know the current rate of decay has always been what it is now (which they don’t), and if they know it has never been contaminated (which they don’t), they could get very accurate readings. Since they don’t know all these facts, they make assumptions—guesses. Of course scientists call their results fact and expect us to swallow their results without debate.

But let me share with you some examples of when Potassium-Argon dating has been proven incorrect:

  • Mt. Etna, in Sicily, erupted in 122 BC. The rock formed in that eruption has been dated at 170,000-330,000 years old.
  • Mt. Etna errupted again in 1972. The rock was dated at 210,000-490,000 years old.
  • Hualalai, in Hawaii, erupted in 1800-1801. The rock has been dated at 1.44-1.76 million years old.
  • Mt. Ngaurahoe, in New Zealand, erupted in 1954. The rock has been dated at 3.3-3.7 million years old.
  • Kilauea Iki, in Hawaii, erupted in 1959. The rock has been dated at 1.7-15.3 million years old.
  • Mount St. Helens erupted in 1986. The rock has been dated at 300,000-400,000 years old.

Did you do the math? Is anyone else having trouble accepting these figures? Perhaps radiometric dating isn’t as accurate as we’ve been told.

Categories: Creation, Evolution, and the Flood | Leave a comment

More on Carbon Dating

Most people have heard of Carbon-14 dating, but it is a wide misconception that this method provides proof that the earth is millions of years old. Even if we don’t consider the assumptions on which Carbon dating is based, this process is still unable to provide dates more than 100,000 years into the past. This is because C-14 has such a fast decay rate. Every 5,730 year, half of the C-14 in a specimen will have decayed into Nitrogen. This is called a half-life. In another 5,730 years, another half will have decayed. After about 100,000 years, there would not be enough C-14 present to detect with modern instruments.

There are five other radiometric dating methods that use elements with longer half-lives (uranium-238, uranium-235, potassium-40, rubidium-87, and samarium-147). These are the ones that produce readings of millions of years. But Carbon dating actually undermines these figures.

Wood has been found trapped within lava flows that date into the millions of years. But this wood still has detectable amounts of C-14 in it. If it was actually millions of years old, the Carbon would be long gone. Coal and diamonds have been found in rock layers dated in the millions of years. However, both coal and diamonds were found to contain C-14. It is physically impossible for these things to be more than 100,000 years old.

Let me assert that radiometric dating is not as reliable as we have been told.

Categories: Creation, Evolution, and the Flood | 2 Comments

Horray for Chick-fil-A!

The following was copied exactly from an email I received this week (therefore the funky formatting). It did not have a by-line, and the original sender was someone I do not know named Morrie Tuburgen. It’s a tremendous example of goodness and definitely worth sharing!!
chickFilAGod bless Chick-fil-A !!!!
Media Ignores Chick-fil-A’s Christian Motivated Charity in Ice Storm 

Two years ago Chick-fil-A made national headlines when company president Dan Cathy spoke out in support of traditional marriage.It wasn’t that he said anything “hateful”.  It was the traditional Christian belief he grew up with.  He just stated the same belief, supporting traditional marriage, that Obama claimed he had (in order to get elected).  But that was before his beliefs “evolved”, as he put it, once he was elected.  Yeah, right!  No duplicity there!  Also, you can keep your healthcare policy and doctor. Period.

Liberals and gays became unglued and launched massive protests against the restaurant chain.  Several mayors spoke out saying they would not allow any more Chick-fil-As to be built in their cities.  They tried boycotting the Christian owned company, but that backfired.  Instead, Chick-fil-A had a world record day with many locations selling out of food to the hundreds of thousands of supporters. Is it any surprise that the only news the liberal mainstream media has reported concerning Chick-fil-A has only been the negative? 

Remember last week when the ice storm hit the south?  The mainstream media showed footage of miles of cars stranded on the frozen interstates.  Several national news broadcasts I saw reported about school kids trapped on buses for almost 24 hours because of all of the ice and parents going frantic wondering where their kids were. In all of the icy gloom and doom, I bet you didn’t hear on NBC, ABC, MSNBC about the heroic and generous actions of a Chick-fil-A along Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama, did you? 

Mark Meadows, owner of the Chick-fil-A closed early the day of the storm and sent all of his employees home.  However, the employees and Meadows soon discovered they were not going to be able to get home with all of the stranded motorists stuck on the roads.  Some of the cars near the restaurant had been stranded for up to 7 hours.
Audrey Pitt, manager of the Chick-fil-A described the conditions: “Our store is about a mile and a half from the interstate and it took me two hours to get there.  It was a parking lot as far as I could see.  At one point there were more people walking than driving.” Meadows and his employees fired up the kitchen and began preparing chicken sandwiches as fast as they could.  They prepared several hundred sandwiches and then Meadows and his staff headed out and began distributing the hot meals to the stranded motorists on both sides of Highway 280. 

Some of the drivers tried to pay them for the sandwiches, but Meadows and his employees refused to take a single penny.  Pitt explained why: “This company is based on taking care of people and loving people before you’re worried about money or profit.  We were just trying to follow the model that we’ve all worked under for so long and the model that we’ve come to love. There was really nothing else we could have done but try to help people any way we could.” 

However, Meadows and Pitt were not through with their Good Samaritan efforts.  They helped push cars off the roads, up inclines and whatever else they could do to help.  Then they kept the restaurant open overnight so that stranded motorists could have a warm place to be.  A number of motorists slept in booths or on the benches.
Then in the morning, they again fired up the kitchen and prepared chicken biscuits for their overnight guests and once again they refused to accept any payment.  During that 24 hour period, this Chick-fil-A restaurant opened their kitchen, their doors and their hearts to hundreds of stranded motorists and they did so refusing to accept any payment.  As one source put it, Meadows and his staff lived up to the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:35 which states: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in…” 

Their actions were truly generous and heroic as they also braved the frigid temperatures to hand out hundreds of hot meals to complete strangers.  And I bet you never heard anything about this from the mainstream media.  Had it been a group of homosexuals or atheists, it would have been all over the news from coast to coast.  It was too much against their liberal standards to report a Christian company doing something so positive for so many.
If you live in the Birmingham area (or are passing thru), make sure you stop in and visit the Chick-fil-A near Highway 280 to thank them for their generosity and Christian example.  While you’re there, order something to eat and give them your business as I think they deserve it.
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Story in a Post-Modern World

We’ve been studying the dominant worldviews in our evening services. Last night was postmodernism. It’s characterized by denial of a diety, absence of absolutes, and a great deal of apathy. Sound like America? Yeah, it’s here, all right.

One of the main tenants caught my eye. In place of a moral compass, post-modernists are very wishy-washy on truth. Truth becomes whatever you say it is. If it’s right for you, it’s truth. The guy with the most power (or a majority) gets to decide the truth for society. They’re very clever at twisting language to say whatever they want it to mean (as is happening to our Constitution and our laws about marriage). This language manipulation, at least on an academic level, is referred to as “story.” Story is whatever you want to make up. Story is truth.

Um, does this make anyone else feel like their standing at the bottom of the Mississippi with a hurricane roaring in? How can anyone keep their footing when so many currents are sucking at them? How do you find a safe place? How do you cling to something real?

I was reminded of the parable of the wise and foolish builders. One built his house on sand and the rains washed it away. The other built on rock, and his house withstood the storms. This is my kind of story. This is my kind of message. It’s the truth I root my own written works in. It is an absolute you can stand on, depend on, no matter what is swirling around you.

Forget standing in the drink. Give me a Rock.

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Image courtesy of Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr.

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The Deliverer

I’ve been very lax at posting here lately. Mostly just plain busyness. But this month I want to share a story I wrote years ago. So long ago, in fact, that it took a good deal of editing before I was willing to post it here. I hope it turns your thoughts to the Savior. Have a blessed holiday season!

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The Deliverer

Rebecca collapsed into a chair and heaved a deep sigh. She tucked a few strands of graying hair behind her ears and mopped at the perspiration on her forehead with an edge of her garment. Never could she remember such a week! The town was bustling like a port city, and business was booming!

She allowed herself only a short break before hoisting her ample body from the chair. Supper preparations must begin for those guests taking a meal. She had barely begun when there came yet another knock on her door. Wiping her hands on her apron, she hustled to answer it but saw the stooped figure of her husband already there.

“I’m sorry,” he was saying, “we can’t help you,” and he started to close the door. But someone on the other side pushed it open again.

“Please,” spoke a desperate male voice. “Can’t you offer us anything? I have money. I’ll give you double your price.”

Curiosity piqued, Rebecca glanced around her husband. Before her stood a strong young man, very dark, and covered with dust. He looked like all the others. Then she saw his companion. A woman, a girl really, sat upon a donkey. Her brown hair hung in damp strands around her face, and her shoulders slumped in exhaustion over a very swollen belly. Rebecca clucked her tongue in motherly concern.

“I really am sorry, but I let out my last room days ago. You’ll have to look elsewhere,” her husband said and closed the door firmly.

As he turned to walk away, Rebecca placed the whole of her bulk directly in his path. With hands on her hips, she scowled at him. “Josiah, how could you send that girl away? You know very well there is nowhere else.”

Josiah stood a bit straighter and defended himself. “Where would we put them? We’ve been turning folks away for days.”

“We can at least make them comfortable in the stable. That poor girl is at her wit’s end. Didn’t you see her lip quivering?”

The man stooped again in resignation as his wife pushed past him. He’d grown accustomed to her headstrong ways.

Rebecca opened the door and called to the couple. “We have room in the stable if you don’t mind boarding with the animals.”

Relief flooded their weary faces, and the young man quickly accepted.

Rebecca led them to a small shelter at the rear of the inn, part brick and part rock. “There, there, dear,” she said and patted the girl’s hand. “We’ll soon have you comfortable. I’ll bring blankets and a bucket of water for bathing. Just let me know if you need anything else.”

The girl gave her a tired smile. “We’re very grateful.”

“It’s no bother, dear. No bother.”

Rebecca scurried around gathering the promised items and sent Josiah to the stable with them. Then she returned to her supper preparations, adding enough for two more. The evening passed in a bustle of activity. At last, with her kitchen spotless and all guests settled for the night, she put her feet up before an open window, enjoying the balmy breeze. She sat there long into the darkness, listening to the city put itself to bed, and just as she prepared to do the same, a knock sounded at the door.

“Not again,” she said. She hated turning so many people away. But behind the door stood the young man from the stable, looking extremely uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry to bother you this late, ma’am, but I think my wife’s time has come, and I don’t know the first thing about birthing.”

Rebecca responded instantly. “Don’t you worry, dear. I’ve had six babies myself and presided at more births than I can remember. Go make the girl as comfortable as possible. I’ll set some water on to boil and be along directly. Josiah,” she called, waking her husband. “Fetch some clean linens. Go, go, go,” she said, shooing both men on their way.

The stable was warm and fragrant. The animals made low sounds, and Joseph paced anxiously wherever he found room. Rebecca stayed with the laboring girl, encouraging her and wiping her sweating brow. At last, far into the night, she gave birth to a baby boy.

Rebecca wrapped him in a warm cloth and cradled him in her arms. As she gazed at the tiny face, she felt a familiar fluttering in her chest. “Babies bring such joy,” she smiled as she laid the child in his mother’s arms. “He’s beautiful. What will you call him?”

“His name is Jesus,” said the man hovering at the girl’s side. Love and relief mingled on his weary face.

Rebecca did what she could for the mother, then, with a final, “Don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything else,” she slipped from the stable, leaving the new family alone. Exhausted, she crawled into bed beside the snoring Josiah.

Some time later, Rebecca awoke with a start. Loud shouting drifted in the open window from the street below. Looking outside, she saw a handful of men running up the road. They hurried from building to building, pounding on doors and shouting through windows.

“Josiah,” she whispered anxiously. No response. “Josiah!” She poked him hard.

“Wha…?” The man awoke with a start.

“Did they wake you up too?” she asked sweetly. Now she could hear angry curses being thrown down at the men from bedroom windows. “Go see what’s going on.”

Josiah muttered under his breath as he crawled from under the covers. Rebecca waited only a moment before grabbing a wrap and joining him outside the front door. By now, the men were close enough that she could see their ragged clothes.

“It’s just a bunch of drunks who wandered away from their herds,” Josiah said and went back inside. But Rebecca remained.

One of the shepherds rushed forward. “The angels came!” he blurted. “Thousands of them. They told us the Messiah has been born tonight here in Bethlehem. Do you know where we can find him?”

Rebecca’s heart did a tremendous back flip. Could it be? But the notion was ridiculous. She’d seen the baby with her own eyes. There was nothing special about him.

The shepherd grabbed her by both arms. “You know something! Please tell me. The angel said we would find him in a manger.”

Rebecca’s eyes grew round as the moon. “Th-there is a baby…” she stuttered.

The shepherd let out a whoop. “Over here, boys!” he yelled. Suddenly, Rebecca was surrounded by stinking, jostling shepherds, all babbling at once. “Where’s the baby?” “Have you seen him?” “Where can we find him?”

She motioned for silence. “There was a baby born in the stable out back. We didn’t have any rooms available, so we had to—” but nobody was listening. With shouts of joy, the shepherds ran to the stable, leaving her talking to herself.

“Now just a minute!” she admonished, rushing after them as fast as her bulk would allow. “They don’t need you lot disturbing them.”

She entered the stable prepared to do battle, but the scene stopped her short. The baby snuggled on his mother’s lap, waving a tiny fist in the air. Every last one of the men were bowed in reverent silence. The girl wore a tired smile, and her husband laid a protective hand on her shoulder. Someone murmured, “The Messiah.”

The word bounced off the rocky walls, and Rebecca’s mouth dropped open. She gaped at the young mother who nodded with shining eyes.

The Messiah–born in her barn! With tears in her eyes, Rebecca sank to the stable floor and joined the band of ragged, dirty men celebrating the arrival of the One promised so long ago. What an honor God had granted her. She had helped deliver the One born to deliver her!

Categories: Christmas | Tags: | 5 Comments

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