There is a slight schedule change. Due to not hearing from the person who I thought would be posting this as a guest post, I have decided to post it here instead. There are still quite a few guest posts, interviews, excerpts, and reviews left on the schedule so make sure you keep up with the tour. Enjoy and feel free to share it everywhere, not to promote me and my book, but to spread the Gospel message to as many people as we can.
I have been asked a few times, “Why are you writing A Mighty Fortress? What are your goals for your book?” While I would love to sell lots of books and become a best-selling author, I know that is just a pipe dream. My true goal and the reason for writing my book as epitomized in chapter 16 of my book:
As the weeks and months sped by, the ranch hands became part of the family. Wyatt and Flynn even seemed to relax some. Since there were only four ranch hands, Harriet insisted that the hands eat with the family for meals.
“It’s just as easy to feed eight as it is to feed four,” she exclaimed. “Eating with a family will be good for them.”
Daniel gave up on arguing with his wife about the subject. Instead, he chose to truly make them all a part of the family and insisted that they join the family for devotions after dinner.
Even though Christmas was still a few months away, Daniel felt a burden to share the Christmas story a little earlier than he had planned. After the table was cleared, Daniel opened his Bible to Luke chapter two and began to read.
“In those days, Caesar Augustus…”
Ruth smiled at these words and listened in rapture to her father’s deep, expressive voice. She felt like she lived in the story. This happened nearly every year, but this year was the first time she really put herself in Mary’s place. She felt the confusion, the fear, the pain, the rejection. What would it have been like to be the mother of the Son of God? Would she have been as willing as Mary was?
God, she prayed as her father continued reading, make me a willing maidservant for you. Help me do what You ask when You ask me to do it.
As she prayed, a peaceful contentedness swept over her features. After her prayer, Ruth looked around the table and watched as the men listened to her father read. She noticed a tear slide down William’s weather beaten cheek, skirting his mustache before falling onto his shirt. The looks on the other men’s faces were softer than she had noticed them being before. Ruth wasn’t sure what word would be best to describe the look. Peaceful? No, not quite. Serene? She shook her head. No, definitely not that. Tranquil. Yes, that was it. They all had tranquil looks on their faces. As if, for this one moment in time, something was right in their lives.
Her father finished reading the Christmas story and finished up with a Scripture passage he traditionally read on Christmas Day. “’And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sits on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created…And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard him saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.’” Daniel paused. “Let’s bow our heads and silently worship our Savior.” He bowed his head and the others followed his example.
Ruth bowed her head and praised God for sending His Son into the world as a baby to be her atonement for sin. Silent tears rolled down her cheeks as she considered how unworthy she was and how grateful she was that He still forgave her.
A rough hand on her shoulder made her jump. William stood next to her. “Sorry to disturb you, Miss Ruth,” he whispered, “but I was wonderin’ if’n I could ask you a few questions.”
Ruth’s eyes widened in confusion. “Me? Why me?”
William shrugged and he licked his lips in what seemed to be nervous agitation. “I watched you while Mr. Brookings read. I think you’ll be the best’un to answer my questions.”
Ruth nodded, stood up and went to where her father sat. She leaned her mouth to his ear. “Pa, Will has a few questions. Is it all right if I bring him out on the porch so we can talk?”
Daniel glanced over at William before nodding his assent.
Ruth motioned for William to follow her as she took her shawl off the hook near the door. William grabbed his coat and shrugged into it before holding the door for her to step onto the porch.
Ruth sat on the step while William leaned against one of the posts. They stared at the snow covered mountains in the distance for a few minutes.
William finally broke the silence. “Yer whole family seems ta have a…somethin’ different about you.” He cleared his throat. “What…what’s so different?”
Ruth looked up at the stars. “We all have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Her eyes wandered to William’s face as he looked across at the land before him.
He nodded. “Yer brother explained some about that on the trail here. I know some ’bout Jesus, but I never heard the Christmas story the way I heard it tonight. Yer pa read it as if it were real to him.”
“I realize that now.” He looked down at Ruth, then back out at the landscape. “I just never made the connection ‘tween Jesus’ birth and the celebration and worship, and then to move to the future celebration and worship… Was that part ’bout the last times? When the world ends?” William’s words trailed off.
Ruth smiled and nodded. “About the elders bowing down in worship? Yes. As for the connection between the two, Pa has a tradition of doing that. Sometimes he adds the middle part of the story.”
William’s eyes darted toward Ruth in surprise. “The middle?”
“Yes.” Ruth’s answer was soft as her mind raced, and prayed, for the words to say. “The part where Jesus gave Himself up to die for your sins and for mine. There was no celebration in heaven then. No one worshiped Him. He was forsaken and alone, but He knew what He had to do and He went into it willingly.”
“Why’d He do that?” William asked.
Ruth took a deep breath as she stared unseeing at the barn. “To save you from your sins. Romans 6:23 says, ‘For the wages of sin is death.’ Three chapters earlier, in Romans 3:23, God states that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. Jesus died to take away the wages of sin and restore us to the glory of God.”
“He did that for me?” William looked incredulous.
Ruth stood up and faced him. “Yes. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came as a baby to be born in a humble stable. He was worshiped by Magi, shepherds, old men, and old women. He was born to a carpenter and his virgin wife. He grew up as a normal child, though without sin. He ministered to His people, knowing they would ultimately reject Him. He died to save all mankind from their sins, but He also knew that if there had been only one man alive on earth to save, He would have died for him. He rose on the third day, defeating death and the grave. After appearing to many of His disciples and their friends, He ascended into heaven and will return again to earth someday to again be worshiped and adored as He deserves.”
William listened to Ruth’s passionate summary attentively. He stood in silent thought for a couple of minutes. “How does one have a personal relationship with this Jesus?”
Ruth’s smile widened. “Let’s go inside and let Pa tell you. He is much better than I am.”
William stopped her before she reached the door. “Before we do, I was wonderin’. What were you thinkin’ ’bout while he was readin’?”
Ruth blushed. “What it would have been like to be Mary.”
William nodded. “What else?”
Ruth looked down and scuffed the toe of her boot on the planks. “How tranquil you and the other men looked while Pa was reading.”
“Tranquil?” His voice held a tone of curiosity.
Ruth laughed a little and looked up at him. “Yes, tranquil. Calm, unworried, unharried.”
William smiled. “That describes what I was feelin’ then, too. Though a bit sad for Joseph’s pain and worry, too.”
Ruth nodded as a grin spread on her face. “You are very observant. Many people don’t think about Joseph’s side of the story. I’m glad you could have a few minutes of feeling tranquil. Now, let’s get inside so Pa can answer the rest of your questions.”
William nodded and followed her in to get the answers to the most important question of eternity: What must I do to be saved?
That last question is what I want people to ask when they read my books. If they already know, I pray that they are—at the very least—encouraged to live an active, daily Christian life.
For those who may be reading this and asking what Mr. Brookings told William, let me tell you in the best way I know how: Through the words of Daniel Brookings himself.
William and Ruth walked back into the house with William holding the door open for Ruth. Ruth went straight to her father with a huge grin on her face.
“Pa, William wants to know how to get saved.”
Daniel Brookings looked at the shy young man standing nervously near the door. Daniel smiled and beckoned for William to come closer while Ruth gave her mother a hug before sitting down. William took a hesitant step forward and sank into the empty chair next to Daniel.
“Ruth tells me you would like to know how to be saved.”
William nodded. “Yes, Sir.”
Daniel kept his eyes trained on William, but through his peripheral vision, he could tell that the other ranch hands were listening close. Lord, give me the words to say and give William the understanding he needs.
“William, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” Daniel asked.
William’s hands twisted together in his lap while he thought. A few seconds ticked by before he looked up into Daniel’s eyes. “Yes, Sir.”
Daniel nodded. “In Acts, when Paul and Silas were asked ‘what must I do to be saved?’ Their response was, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.’”
William blinked his eyes in obvious confusion. “That’s all? Just believe?”
Daniel smiled. “Earlier in Acts, Peter told the crowds he was preaching to: ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’
“Repentance means turning completely from your sins. If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for your sins to give you the free gift of eternal life, and you feel convicted of your sins, you are one step closer to being saved. At this point, you have two directions you can go. One, you can ignore God’s conviction and keep living in your sin. Or two, you can turn to him, confess your sins, repent of your sins and ‘go, sin no more.’”
William looked like he was about to interrupt, but Daniel raised a hand for silence. “Now, I do want to clarify one thing before I go on. This does not mean you will be sinless. You will still sin, you will still have problems, but you will also have Jesus Christ, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit in you helping you as often as you need the help and ask for it.”
William stared at his hands for a few seconds before looking up at Daniel with deep conviction in his eyes. “I want that for myself,” he said in a husky voice. “I need that.”
Daniel put his hand on William’s shoulder and looked him straight in the eye. “All you have to do is lay your heart before Jesus’ feet. Talk to him and tell him what you want.”
“I don’t know where to start,” William said, his voice almost a whisper.
Daniel nodded. “Lord, I come before You today with my friend, William. I’ve told You about him before, but today he wants to talk to You for himself. Go ahead, William.”
William cleared his throat. “Hi, God. I’m William. I don’t really know what ta say. Mr. Brookings said ta just tell you what’s on my heart. I’ve sinned a lot. Maybe nothin’ big like murder, but I’ve lied, cheated others, and lots o’ other things I know I shouldn’ta done. I wanna stop it, God. Please come inta my heart and help me to stop sinnin’ and ta live like You did when Jesus came ta here. I’m gonna need lots of help, though, just so’s You know. It’s not gonna be easy for either of us. Thanks fer comin’ to die fer me, Jesus. I really appreciate it. More than I could ever say.”