Author: Dale Heinold

Interview With a Shepherd – Part 6 – Angels

Interview With a Shepherd – Part 6 – Angels

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For two days I bounced on the back of a donkey searching the Judean hill country for a specific shepherd named Samuel. I encountered several flocks along the way. All of them knew Judah’s flock and Samuel, but none knew their location.  I must have recrossed my path five or six times chasing down their suggestions.  Near sunset I crested a small hill.  The lowering sun painted the clouds orange and purple in celebration of the waning day.  In the darkening valley I spotted another flock.  With faltering hope of finding Samuel, I rode down to the nearest shepherd. “Is this Judah’s flock,” I yelled when I got into range.  The shepherd turned looking annoyed, but waved me to come nearer. “Don’t yell like that,” he hissed when I was close enough to hear, “we are getting the sheep settled for
Interview with a Shepherd – Part 5 – The Gifts

Interview with a Shepherd – Part 5 – The Gifts

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Now what do I do? Levi’s half-way through his story about the magi and the donkey’s ready for my shepherd search.  “The donkey can wait,” suggested Levi. I thought for a second and remembered my editor’s advice, “never interrupt a man that’s talking.” “Alright, lets finish the story,” I agreed. “Each of the Magi carried a small chest as they walked in,” Levi began without noticing that Dan had joined us at the table. “For a few moments they stood and admired the baby cradled in Mary’s arms.  Then one of them, the oldest one I think, began to explain their presence.” ‘We have come from a far off place in search of the newborn king of Judea. The heavens foretold his coming and a star led us to this very house.’ ‘We are told,’ began another, ‘that your scriptures prophecy concerning his b
Interview With a Shepherd – Part 4 – The Magi

Interview With a Shepherd – Part 4 – The Magi

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“Good morning Nate, breakfast is ready,” Levi called from the hallway. I moaned as I lifted the blanket.  Yesterday’s search had only yielded achy muscles.  The consensus of the shepherds I did find was that Samuel had moved his flock further south. “Alright, I’ll be right out.” I yelled back. Eating breakfast in the great room was like a geography lesson.  I had fun guessing where each traveler was from and where they were heading. With the census still underway its a bit more challenging given the similar dress and appearance of those from Israel. After Levi had seen to the needs of his other guests he came by to enquire about my search. It didn’t take long to fill him in. “The hills to the south are more rugged, perhaps you should borrow one of the donkeys.  I’ll have Dan get one r
Interview With a Shepherd Part 3 – The Stable

Interview With a Shepherd Part 3 – The Stable

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<<Read Part1>>   <<Read Part2>> The next morning Levi introduced me to his stable boy.  “Perhaps Dan can tell you more about the shepherds,” Levi said by way of introduction. Dan was only about thirteen or fourteen and a bit tall for his age. “Want to see the stable?” Dan asked enthusiastically. In my mind if you’ve see one stable you’ve seen them all. “Sure, why not,” I replied. Dan’s stable was an opening in the rocky hillside, primarily a cave that had been adapted for its purpose.  Walls of stone and mortar separated the various stalls. And yes, it did smell like a stable; pungent manure mixing with dried straw, sweet hay, and dusty animals. All in all, though, it was cleaner than most I’d been in. “This is where they had the baby.” Dan said pointing out a
Interview With a Shepherd – Part 2 – Bethlehem

Interview With a Shepherd – Part 2 – Bethlehem

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Read Part 1 It took a bit of fast talking to convince my editor to let me pursue the lead in Bethlehem. Two things were in my favor; the news desk was slow and I could stay at his uncle’s inn for free. Finally, he agreed. Giving me a letter for his Uncle Levi and a few coins for expenses he sent me on my way. Bethlehem was still bustling with travelers when I arrived, much different than my last visit.  I had stopped by on my way to Debir to chase down a lead about the olive crop failure.  Bethlehem was quiet then, almost drowsy.  It was more like Jerusalem on market day when I began my search for the shepherd. With the letter in hand,  I approached Uncle Levi’s inn and gave the door a few quick raps.  After a few minutes,  I heard a gruff, “No Room.” “It’s Nate from the Jerusalem Journ
Interview With a Shepherd – Part 1 – The Reporter

Interview With a Shepherd – Part 1 – The Reporter

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Today begins the serial release of an 8 part Christmas story.  Imagine if newspapers existed around the time of Christ’s birth and some young reporter went to Bethlehem to investigate. Each segment reveals another aspect of the Christmas story and merges the accounts in Matthew and Luke.  Please enjoy and share this with others.  Expect segments to be released on 12/4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 24, and 28. One morning I was sniffing around the Jerusalem market, not for spoiled artichokes but for a story. Somewhere between Persian spices and dead chickens I ran into Denny, one of favorite sources.  Denny was just a nickname, one he picked up because of his annoying coin flipping habit.  “Denny, whatcha been up too?” “You know I hate that name Squint,” he said in retaliation. Taking out a denariu
The Junk Drawer of Regret

The Junk Drawer of Regret

Encouragment, Stuck
Somewhere in most houses is a junk drawer.  That one place to store trinkets we can’t bring ourselves to throw away. That drawer may be filled with things like half used pencils, three-year-old calendars, miscellaneous screws, a few worn out tools, and small plastic doodads that we picked up at the fair. Most of us also have a mental junk drawer, one that is filled with regrets.  We all have regrets, events or decisions that we are ashamed of but cannot get rid of. Those could’ve, should’ve and would'ves nag us, reminding us of our failures or unforeseen consequences. Regrets are easy to identify, they almost always start with “if only.”  If only I would’ve….  If only they could’ve….  If only we didn’t….  If we are honest with ourselves, there is a piece of sin attached to every one of ou
Everyone Has One: An Opinion

Everyone Has One: An Opinion

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I admit it, I like the NASCAR channel on Sirius/XM radio.  There is one annoyance that I cannot quite get over.  Someone will often call in with some off the wall idea to fix whatever problem or issue is being discussed.  Some fantastic way for the racing to be better, a conspiracy theory on why Johnson always wins, an unheralded engineering fix, or a fantastic rule change that will return NASCAR to the “good old days”.  The problem isn't that someone has an idea, even a crazy one, but when they refuse to consider the wisdom of others in response to their idea. It reminds me of this proverb -  “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2, ESV) We all know people that would fit this description and the games they play.  Games like: “let
Finding Happiness

Finding Happiness

Archive, Encouragment
Happiness can be as elusive as pirate treasure.  As if somewhere buried on the lonely beach of life is something that will make us happy, content, and at peace. So we spend a lot of time, energy, and resources searching for it. Hoping to find that one possession, experience, or relationship that will make us happy. If we only had the treasure map. In a way, Psalm 86:4-5 is a map to the treasure of happiness.  “Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” (Psalm 86:4–5, NASB95)  The first task on this treasure hunt - find the right place to look.  The psalmist suggests looking to the Lord instead of the shifting sand of self or others.  The second task is
The Anchor of Hope

The Anchor of Hope

Archive, Encouragment
A week ago today a tornado ripped through the heart of central Illinois leaving devastation and homelessness in its wake. But, like a tidal wave of hope, people, organizations, and communities gave of themselves to help those in need. In instances too numerous to mention people gave time, money, food, clothing, prayers, and hope. Central Illinois is not unique the same outpouring has been observed in the wake of many natural disasters. Like those other disasters, in a few weeks, a few months, the focus will turn to other things, other events, other heartaches.  The tidal wave of assistance will subside, and it will be up to each individual to put their life back together. That is when the real work begins, and hard choices must be made. It is the time when hope is tested. This test of h
Ken’s Miraculous Story

Ken’s Miraculous Story

Archive, His-Story
In January 2012 Ken was ordained as associate pastor for New Life Community Church.  A few months later Ken dropped by his doctor to have them check out what seemed to be a small problem.  What followed was a journey that few survive. At the doctor’s office Ken described his symptoms to the nurse, simply put, shortness of breath.  After hearing Ken’s description the nurse called an ambulance to take him to the emergency room.  After a battery of tests the doctors decided that Ken needed bypass surgery.  In a classic case of hurry up and wait, Ken’s surgery was delayed for several weeks.  On April 5th he had a triple bypass and began his road to recovery. A couple of weeks after Ken’s release from the hospital on April 14th Linda, his wife, was awakened by a thump.  Since his release Ken
The Oak Leaf: A Story of Memories

The Oak Leaf: A Story of Memories

Short Stories
“One more shelf Emily and we’ll be done” Dad encourages.  While not grueling work cleaning out Mom’s closet is emotionally draining. It took Dad a few years to be ready for it, I know that I’m not. We are both a little wary of this last shelf, its where she stored her keepsakes.  The home of her most treasured memories. We carefully remove each box and explore its contents.  Several are filled with greeting cards, both store-bought and handmade. Some of them make us laugh, a few make us cry. Another box contains trinkets from various destinations around the country. A thimble from the Grand Canyon.  A silver spoon from Wall Drug Store.  A Minnie Mouse hat - somewhere there’s a picture of Mom and me sporting our hats. The last shoe box I pull from the shelf is so light I thought it may be