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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


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Dec. 21, 2010 - The Baby Changed Everything

By T. Ray Rachels

One of the most insightful and illustrative thoughts to the beautiful Christmas story comes from Bruce Thielmann, a Pittsburgh pastor, who tells of Bret Harte’s classic story, “The Luck of Roaring Camp.”

Roaring Camp was supposed to be, according to the story, the meanest, toughest mining town in all of the West. More murders, more thefts — it was a terrible place. A woman in the camp, Cherokee Sal, died while giving birth to a baby.

Well, the men took the baby, and they put her in a box with some old rags under her. When they looked at her, they decided that didn’t look right, so they sent one of the men 80 miles to buy a rosewood cradle. He brought it back, and they put the rags and the baby in the rosewood cradle. And the rags didn’t look right there.

So they sent another of their number to Sacramento, and he came back with some beautiful silk and lace blankets. And they put the baby, wrapped around with those blankets, in the rosewood cradle. It looked fine until someone happened to notice that the floor was so filthy.

So these hardened, tough men got down on their hands and knees and with their hardened and callused hands they scrubbed that floor until it was very clean. Of course, what that did was to make the walls and the ceiling and the dirty windows without curtains look absolutely terrible.

So they washed down the walls and the ceiling, and they put curtains at the windows. And now things were beginning to look as they thought they should look.

But of course, they had to give up a lot of their fighting because the baby slept a lot, and babies can’t sleep during a brawl. So the whole temperature of Roaring Camp seemed to go down.

They used to take her out and set her by the entrance to the mine in her rosewood cradle so they could see her when they came up. Then somebody noticed what a dirty place that was, so they planted flowers, and they made a very nice garden there. It looked quite beautiful.

And they would bring her shiny little stones and things that they would find in the mine. But when they would put their hands down next to hers, their hands looked so dirty. Pretty soon the general store was all sold out of soap and shaving gear and perfume and those kinds of things.

The baby changed everything.

Thielmann says, “That’s the way it is for those of good will. That’s the way it is for those who please God. The Baby enters into our lives, and He slips into every crevice of our experience, until we say, ‘Hark, listen, the herald angels sing!’ God is for us. And Christmas is forever.”

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, NIV).

— T. Ray Rachels served as superintendent of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God for more than 22 years.



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