BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #6

Why do Christians say I want to see Jesus but are afraid to die?

I can understand why. For many human beings, death is the great unknown and people fear the unknown. Once upon a time, I too was afraid to die except that I knew where I was going. You see, I knew that if I suddenly died in SIN at that time, I would end up standing before God and He would have cast me into eternal damnation.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… Hebrews 9:27

Of course, I have been a believer since the 90s and I lost my fear of death because of the Lord’s guarantee of eternal life (Matthew 3:16). In 2015, I went face to face with death when I had to undergo an extremely risky spinal operation. This was in my mind. I wanted to live but not because I was afraid. I was ready to die because it meant I would be with the Lord. But this Bible verse was forefront in my mind.

I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body… Philippians 1:23-24

The Apostle Paul would have loved to be with Christ in Heaven, but for the sake of serving others (the body) as well as those who were lost, he worked hard to stay alive.

When I woke up from that operating table, I was elated not because I was still breathing but because deep down, God still has use of me. And by the way, I am paralyzed and mostly bedridden, but He still cause me to work.

To Him goes all the glory!

If you agree, say “AMEN”

Sketching HIStory #4

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Gen 1 – Creation of the Universe

I welcome you first to open and read your Bibles: Genesis chapter 1. For those who want to read online below are links to Bible Gateway in 3 English translations.

New International Version NIV
Good News Translation GNT  (for Catholics)     King James Version KJV

Here is an observation. Have you noticed that the account of the creation of the universe is covered only in one chapter of Genesis? In my old college library, I recalled seeing 5-6 tall book shelves dedicated to the sciences of our universe. In this age of computers, I’m sure you can find several terrabytes of the same research available in the world wide net. My point is, how is it that the most spectacular cosmological event was limited to less than a thousand words in the Bible? Keeping in mind that God inspired Moses to write it this way, I believe God intended Genesis 1 to be read so that the focus is not so much on the created but more on the CREATOR. This is after all HIS story.

As a storyteller, I always believe that Genesis was meant to be read out loud with a slight theatrical flair. Imagine those times when the Israelites wanted to hear more about Him from their leader, Moses. Besides preaching to the entire congregation from on top of a mountain, I think he would from time to time, join them in smaller groups at their open fires and regale them under the stars, strengthening their faith in God. So, let’s get on with… HIStory.

“Once upon a time…”

Hold on! I know that this is how most bedtime stories usually start. However, God’s story does not start this way.

In the beginning, God… [vs 1a]

As a matter of truth, God’s story didn’t start in Time, but way… way before it, in… Eternity!

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and empty,
and darkness covered the deep waters.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. [vs 1-2]

You know, I would have loved to present to you this part of the creation story from inside my old college planetarium. If I can get my hands on the planetarium’s animation generator, you… while resting in a reclined position, will be looking up into the dome ceiling and will see God’s spiritual hands laying out the heavens, in this case, the blackness of space.

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And in that vast expanse, He also made from nothing the earth. No, I do not mean our planet Earth with a capital ‘E’, but earth or ‘erets’ which means dirt in Hebrew (language of the Old Testament). This dirt is not the same you find on the ground. What is described in verse 2 as being formless and empty implies that this material, being so primordial, is in actuality an integral building block for all existing matter. Take note, so far, we have SPACE and MATTER. There is an acknowledged scientific process that when you take these two then add ENERGY, you get an ATOM. (Who said that the Bible and science can’t go hand in hand?)

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. [vs 2b]

What is God doing over the surface of the waters (by the way, this is not referring to a literal body of water)? He was ‘hovering’!? In other Bible translations, the word ‘moving’ was also used. Can anybody say… Kinetic ENERGY?!

It is right about here that something BIG is going to happen!

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. [vs 3]

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What is bigger than WOW!?

W O W ! ! !

Now, when God turns the light on, we’re not talking about Him flicking a switch and a light bulb comes on. No sir! This light probably and spectacularly lit up the entire universe. By the way, this almost sounds like what scientists call the Big Bang Theory (and I am not talking about the popular TV sitcom).

The Big Bang theory represents cosmologists’ best attempts to reconstruct the 14 billion year story of the universe based on the sliver of existence visible today. Most generally, it illustrates the arc of the observable universe as it thinned out and cooled down from an initially dense, hot state. The Big Bang theory found widespread acceptance for its unparalleled ability to explain what we see. [content from www.livescience.com]

And God saw that the light was good. [vs 4a]

In the Genesis creation story, God saw that what was created was good. In the surface, God was pleased that what He created and set into motion – will do what it was meant to do.

When He created the light (that I’m convinced was the BIG BANG), that event explosively pushed all that cosmological materials out into space forming gas clouds, dark matter, black holes, nebulas and galaxies.

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Imagine again, you sitting in the planetorium blinking rapidly after the effect of that bright flash of light from the Big Bang. Then you watch in wonder, blurred lights slowly float away from where the explosion subsided down to a distant glow. Those lights, as they come closer to you become swirling galaxies. Imagine 14 billion years of moving and expanding universe compressed into about a 10 minute planetarium presentation. I always loved those effects.

Anyway, one galaxy… a familiar one, at that… seem to be getting bigger than the rest. It is our own Milky Way Galaxy. And if it is like every planetarium show I’ve ever watched, we majesticall fly in toward one of our galaxy’s swirling arms to where God is preparing our world. However, before we fly in, let us finish our understanding the rest of Genesis 1:4-5.

Then He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.”

And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. [vs 4b-5]

The passage of where God separated the light from the darkness, besides the obvious, actually have spiritual implications which I will cover more in-depth in later studies. For now, let me explain that the usage of ‘day and night’ which is repeated 6 other times, by the way, in the creation narrative were not meant to represent a 24 hour Earth time period. In other words, God did not create everything in just 6 days. However, I am not saying that God Almighty can not do it in 6 days. Frankly, He could probably flick His fingers and create everything instantly. But His words reflect differently. Remember, Genesis 1-3 was meant to be read as an Exalted Prose – that is, it is neither pure narrative nor pure poetry, but tells a story using a number of poetic features and a clear literary framework like the usage of the transition from night to day. Consider again Moses, as he told each of the creation event at the end of which, he theatrically swung his arm, east to west, with his fingers spread wide open uttering “And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day”.

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The purpose of Sketching HIStory is so that you can get to know Him more personally. We have just read the biblical account of how the universe was made but besides the claim that it was He that created it (which should be enough reason to praise Him), how else can we know Him more? How can we go beyond the intellectual knowledge to the faith building way of knowing Him? I mean that we may experience Him… feel Him deep inside. The answer was already provided to us by God when He created the universe.

The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, said that what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. [Roman 1:19-20]

Do you want to experience Him closely? Then open your eyes and look closely at what He created. Go out where you can escape the light pollution of the city and find a field where you can cast your eyes at the spectacular view of the Milky Way. Or go to the nearest planetarium. Then, I encourage you to believe the words of the Psalmist below.

Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the next post, we will see how God formed our world. See you then.

Sketching HIStory #2

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Introduction – The Road to Emmaus

There is a road that goes from Jerusalem to the coastal town of Jaffa. No, I’m not talking about the modern day highway where folks from Jerusalm make their way to the hip city of Tel Aviv. Nope, I’m referring to some 2000 years ago, an ancient caravan road about 8 feet wide, enough for five Roman legionnaires marching abreast. It was probably stone-paved and metaled built by their own engineers.

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Now, it was mid-day Sunday, the beginning of the week right after the most eventful Passover in history. Two men, Jews, by the way they’re dressed, were just exiting the north-west gate of the city. They were heading back to their home in the village of Emmaus, about seven miles away. After two weeks celebrating in the city, you would think that these two men would look happy to head home, but instead they were quite somber. Even more so, when they walked by a hill just outside the walls. The hill had a gruesome reputation. The occupants of the city knew it as the hill of the skull. It was frequently used by the Romans for crucifixion. The two men paused to look up to find three empty crosses, the center of which still had the dark stain of blood. They quicken their pace.

As they crested a hill, they began discussing the past events. They were so at it that they didn’t notice a third person behind them, listening. That person was Jesus himself. But they did not know it was him, because they were prevented to recognize him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”road-to-emmaus-2-w.jpg

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” he said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.”

“Then some women from our group of his followers,” said the other disciple, “were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” [Luke 24:13-24]

Let me pause the story here.

Sketching HIStory is suppose to be about telling God’s story from the beginning to… well… when it came to Him, there is no end. So, why am I starting HIStory at the time of Jesus Christ’s resurrection?

Because of the questions that were in their hearts.

A good story for me always need a good reason for the telling. Questions have to be asked. Now, on that road to Emmaus, Cleopas and his companion had a lot of questions to contend with.

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Just a week before, they were ecstatic to see Jesus, the Messiah, coming into the city like triumphant king as foretold. His miracles and teachings made him the man to see and to put a lot of hope on. They were expecting great things, but then their own leaders had him killed on the cross. Then, confusion was added to their distress, when the city was stirred with the rumors of his impossible resurrection.

What is going on? How can this happen? Why did he have to die? Then, it becomes more personal. What’s going to happen to me? In the long run, all those questions target God. Questions like…

Why war? …crime? …cruelty? …devastation?

Why is God allowing this to happen?

Does He not care?

Deep inside, we want answers to these questions.

Now, I am going to put my neck out on the chopping block and un-apologetically testify that the source of all those questions can be answered by reading and understanding God’s story. But don’t take my word for it.

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Let’s get back on the road and our story. After Jesus heard the concerns of the two followers, I can almost see the empathy showing on his face and a gleam in his eyes like he knew something that they didn’t. With a knowing smile, he fondly placed his hands on their shoulders and said, “You foolish people!”

No, he is not calling them ‘stupid’! The Greek word of foolish is anoétos (pronounced as an-o’-ay-tos) which means ‘properly, non-thinking, i.e. not reasoning through a matter (with proper logic). In other words, they who were taught the Scriptures since childhood should have known better.

“You find it so hard to believe,” Jesus continued, “… all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures (Old Testament). Was it not clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. [Luke 24:25-27 NLT]

Imagine, them walking seven miles being treated to the best Bible Study they’d ever heard by the best teacher that ever existed. Of course, that’s my personal opinion but an accurate one. I wish I was there with them. Wow!

In my next post, I’ll end this Introduction with a short walk-through about those writings that Jesus talked about. See you the next time.

Click to go to Sketching HIStory #3

Sketching HIStory #1

Introduction -The Life Preserver Lesson

Once upon a time, I was once a drowning man. I was floundering in a sea that I had no hope of keeping a float indefinitely. I was in real danger. Then, someone threw me a life preserver. Now, that was enough to keep me afloat and ultimately save my life… for eternity.

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Of course, I was speaking metaphorically just like the parables told by Jesus Christ. His parables were always relatable to his audience and had in-depth life changing lessons. His words after were always, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” [Mark 4:9 NLT] In essence, the parables, when so desired, can be pondered by those (even) with no scholarly achievements.

So, in my parable, I just wanted to emphasize that in the past, my life was a real mess. Oh sure, on the outside, I presented myself as a ‘happy-go-lucky’ handicap. But it was mostly an act. Don’t get me wrong. I was enjoying life and at the same time I was like ‘going nowhere’. Well, originally, I was heading in one direction but I didn’t realize, at that time, was heading to eternal damnation. Then someone threw me a life preserver.

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It was around 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait which triggered a coalation of several nations who banded together to kick him out. Of course, my wife and I were anxiously watching all this with the only source of TV news we can get in english. (We were living in Manila.) In those days, there were no CNN, cable TV and no internet yet. Anyway, it was when the news started to report that Saddam will use nuclear weapons triggering WW3, I started to think of my own mortality . I remembered asking, if I died that day and I stood before God, will He let me in? It was then I realized that I deserved not to be let in. Like the drowning man, I was very afraid. You see, as a Roman Catholic, it was drummed into us that if Heaven was denied, HELL had to be the only other place I could go and in my heart, I knew I deserved it. I cried out in prayer. It was then a life preserver was cast into the sea to keep me afloat. Now, do you know who threw me that life preserver? … and why?

Well, the answer to that is the reason why I’m writing this blog…

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Sketching HIStory is my effort to tell the story of God. It is a story that saved my life. It is a story I told many times. It is a story that needs telling and is meant to save us all. Why? Jesus said it best, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” [John 17:3]

Once upon a time, someone threw me a life preserver. That task was passed on to us who believed (Matthew 28:18-20). For myself, that was back in the early 90s. Since I have been incapacitated by my current medical condition, I confess that I have been remiss of the privilege that was given me. But lately people I knew (and also a lot of people I didn’t know) have passed away and I have been convicted with the same question of whether they even knew the Lord the way He wants. The emotion, for me, would be like watching someone drowning and yet I did not throw him a line. I express the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Now, I may not be able to preach and teach like in the ol’ days. But I can still tell stories in both my writings and drawings. I pray and hope you would join me as I impart His story and sketch my way through the Bible.

In my next post, I will continue the Introduction with the story of about how God can be really known on The Road to Emmaus told by Jesus himself some 2000 years ago. See you then.

Click to go to Sketching HIStory #2

Sketching from the Neck Up #2

Waiting for an Order

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It was just one of those days, as I was heading home, when I noticed a group of young people waiting on the sidewalk with their bicycles. They all wore the deep pink shirt uniforms of the delivery service of Foodpanda. This was evident from the bulky insulated delivery boxes strapped on the back ends of their bicycles which also were colored a deep pink with a big smiling smiling panda. I have been noticing a lot of them lately through out Bonifacio Global City. According to their website, Foodpanda is the leading global online food delivery marketplace. They have provided users to conveniently discover food around their neighbourhood and directly order their favourite meals online or via their mobile phones. Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, they operate in more than 40 countries across 5 continents. In the Philippines, foodpanda was launched in June 2014 and has since grown to over 1,000 partner restaurants nationwide. [Click here to check out their website]

Anyway, these guys and a gal had their noses in their cell phones. My guess was, they were waiting for orders or playing games. I asked my companion to get his own cell phone out and take a quick picture (after I asked permission, of course).

When I got home, I went straight to work on my Photoshop program. The subject I chose was a young man sitting on the sidewalk with his bicycle propped up behind him. I decided to keep this illustration simple. The first thing I did was cropped out the subject I wanted to focus on. Then, I made the picture go transparent about 50%. After which, I more or less free handed the outline which started out rough. Then, I re-did the outline with cleaner lines. From there, I implemented some Photoshop magic and got the results that I was looking for. The final touch was the pink color of both the bag and the rider’s shirt.

Foodpanda anybody? Enjoy!

An Alleyway Somewhere in EuropeEU-alley-with-steps-w.jpg

Because of my spinal condition, the chances of me ever going to Europe is realistically quite slim. But I am not really depressed about it. I thank the Lord for Google Earth where sometimes I can spend hours touring different parts of the world. One of the features that I appreciate about Google Earth is that contributors had posted thousands upon thousands of photographs of their travels; a great number of which I saved. Well, I was going over those pictures to pick my next drawing exercise. One picture jumped out at me. It was a picture of a quaint alleyway with brick steps going up. Unfortunately, I am not exactly sure where this picture was shot. But I remember was that this place was somewhere in a village in Eastern Europe.

 

This drawing was somewhat a challenge. The photograph was in low resolution and somewhat pixelated. Drawing the outline was a little time-consuming but I managed to get it done in about three hours. In the original photo, it was empty of people. So, I sketched in a man up the alley. All in all, the outline looked good and this gave me inspiration to play with different mediums. Photoshop have a neat filter feature called the Paint Daubs that I wanted to experiment with. It looked pretty good. I wish I could have painted it myself but Photoshop gets all the credit.

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In my next drawing, I used the outline and super imposed it over another image of a brown crumpled parchment. I then applied Photoshop’s charcoal filter and then finished it with light shadows.
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If you like my work and want to support my writing and artwork, please donate into my PAYPAL account [click below]

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Thank you.

Sketching from the Neck Up #1

The Interactive Statuette

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In my world of being a quadriplegic, I have developed an aesthetic appreciation of my surroundings. I look at an object and say to myself, “that would make a good sketch!” I thought about trying to teach myself to sketch and paint using my mouth. After all, there are many PWD artists out there who do exactly that. However, most of those artists have enough muscles in their backs to support their heads, so that they can beautifully manipulate pencils/brushes to create fantastic masterpieces. Here lies my dilemma. Even if I can hold a pencil in my mouth, I am unable to execute the right pencil strokes for sketching. I hated the thought that I could not sketch. Fortunately, by God’s grace, there is a digital solution for me.

One day, a social media penpal of mine from Norway posted a picture of a snow clad tree that I liked. I opened up my Photoshop program and using my camera mouse setup, I proceeded to manually sketch the tree. When I say “manually”, I mean I tried my darndest to avoid using Photoshop’s magical features that automatically transform a photograph into a sketched out drawing. Okay, I cheated just a little.

Anyway, after a number of practice runs, another idea popped into my head to publish my sketches/illustrations into my blog titled “Sketching from the Neck Up”. In fact, that title was actually coined by my wife, Mavis, who is a genius in this kind of thing. As my first subject, I focused on a statuette that I noticed a bunch of little kids having so much fun with. It was a concrete interactive statuette of an oversized chameleon perched on a black boulder. I called it interactive mainly because built on the chameleon sides and tail are almost 400 little rollers each of which had 4 color facets (green, yellow, blue and red). A nearby teacher of the kids would call out saying that the chameleon is standing by a specific fruit like an apple or a banana. She would ask what color would the chameleon be and the kids would laughingly turn each of the multicolored rollers to either red or yellow. This statuette can be found at the 28th Terra Park, Bonifacio Global City. Come and check it out for yourself. Be a kid again and enjoy.

PWD – person with disability

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If you like my work and want to support my writing and arts, please donate into my PAYPAL account [click below]

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Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 3 final)

On the streets of the southern end of Jerusalem next to the pool of Siloam, a young man came out excited, shouting that he can see. Attracted by the commotion, people recognized him as the blind beggar. They were amazed. The power of God was seen in the healing of the young man who was born blind in that day, some 2000 years ago. But it doesn’t stop there. God’s power was seen in another way through the most unlikely representative.

The people asked the young man on how it happened. He told him about how Jesus healed him. Then they took him to the Pharisees because what Jesus did violated a Jewish law. The Pharisees were the fundementalist faction of the leadership of the Jewish people and they met in a judgement center somewhere in the Temple Mount. This is where the young man was brought, to stand before a group of educated old men. They questioned him extensively about Jesus and tried to convince him that Jesus was not from God. Then they threathened and cursed him and finally, they kicked him out (John 9:13-34). Where was the power of God in this encounter?

In Scripture, we find example after example of God choosing the weak to fulfill His will. In this case, here was a young man who was once handicapped and had no formal education stood toe to toe against a group of the best minds in Jerusalem. As they exclaimed that they did not know where Jesus came from, his message to them was simple: “Why, that’s very strange!” he replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Do you remember this verse? …God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT) Do you want to know something? God is still doing this today.

History is filled with examples. Billy Graham was a shy farming boy at the age of 12. He never thought he would become anything until the age 16 when he became born again. He became the most prominent evangelical Christian figure in modern history. He was the spiritual advisors to several U.S. Presidents and even to the Queen of England. Nick Vujicic is a 33 years old painter, swimmer, skydiver, and motivational speaker. He is an inspiration to so many. He is also a Christian born with no arms and legs. Then, there is Joni Eareckson Tada who is an evangelical Christian that became a quadriplegic from an accident. The Lord used her as an inspired author, radio host, and founder of ‘Joni and Friends’, an organization accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community. I wish I can name them all, but I’ll cite one more, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pres. Roosevelt was America’s successful leader that led them through World War II. Did you know that he did all this on a wheelchair?

The day I read Jesus’ words about a fellow handicap that he was the way he was so that ‘the power of God could be seen in him (John 9:2 NLT).’ I was esctatic that maybe I would be used by God one day. And I was, hopefully to the glory of His name.

Thank you.

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 2)

In my last post, the healing of the blind man in the story of John 9 was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? Well, here is the clue that sort of popped into my mind which I believe came from the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the Spirit has that tendency to do that to me from time to time.) Anyway, here is the clue.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

What does the passage of 1 Corinthians 1:27 have to do with the young man born blind in John 9? Let us look at the rest of John 9, just as Jesus was about cure the young man of his blindness. I hope you don’t mind me playing the part of storyteller in this.

After Jesus put mud on the eyes of the young blind man, he started to grope his way toward the Pool of Siloam. The young man was a little confused in the encounter. That morning, his mother helped him to his favorite spot in the marketplace for begging. He was on his way back to his parent’s house, when from out of the blue, a man named Jesus said some words then spread some gooey mud on his eyes. Then he was told to wash his eyes in the pool under southern ramparts of the City of David. You can well imagine what thoughts was going through his mind. Is this a trick or is he the butt of someone’s joke? This young man have probably heard stories of Jesus healing the sick. Maybe, this is the same miracle healer. You can well imagine him quickening his steps to the pool. When he gets there, his hands, shaking just a little, dips into the cool water. He cups the water, splashes his eyes and rinses the mud from his eyes. For a fraction of a millisecond, he hesitates to open his eyes. Then he opens them.

Keep in mind that he had never experienced sight in his entire life. He parts his eyes ever so slowly. At first, he frowns a little because his vision is somewhat blurry. But then his vision clears and the clarilty sharpens. He looks around with wide eyes. Passersby on the busy street stop in their tracks upon hearing a thrilled and excited voice shouting out, “I can see! I can SEE!”

You would think that a grand party would be next at hand. But the story of what happened next will have to be told in my next posting.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 1)

There is one story of Jesus, that when I first read it, I still remember how it had a profound effect on me.

Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of those annual Jewish festivals, the Feast of Booths or the Festival of Shelters. In this festival, the people of Jerusalem would erect a make-shift tent on the roofs of their house to commemorate the time when Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years and lived in tents. At the end of the week long celebrity, Jesus was strolling along with his disciples probably not too far from the Pool of Siloam which was located at the southern end of the city. Then he and the disciples noticed a young man who somehow they knew was born blind. One of the disciples asked Jesus, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:2 NLT)

This actually brought back some uncomfortable encounters with a couple of people who actually approached me and wanted to pray for me. What is uncomfortable about that? Well, like the disciples, they believed that my disability was caused by some sin of my doing. At that time, I was both hurt and angry and I told them “no”. In hindsight, they were not exactly wrong except that their approach was ineffectively lousy. Folks! Please never approach a handicap and outright say that his condition was because of something they did. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

Jesus saw the blind young man and said instead, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Then Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. Jesus told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” So the man went and washed and came back seeing! (John 9:1-7 NLT)

Something clicked inside me. I felt that God was speaking to me and to emphasize this, another Bible passage popped into my head. At first, what raced through my mind was that God was going to heal me the same way Jesus healed the blind young man. I don’t mind admitting that the thought excited me, at least, for a little while. But it was later that I figured out what was the true lesson for me.

Let’s make this clear. The Scriptures in John 9 gave no indication of any universal promise that God will heal me or anyone else. In fact, the healing of the blind man in the story was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? I will continue this in my next posting. Meanwhile, here is a clue.

Do you recall the Bible passage that popped into my head. Well, here it is.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 8 Final)

I think it is quite clear that my JOY comes directly from God. The Holy Spirit had provided the tools I need, one of which is to be joyful regardless what. But it is not automatic.

In my last post, the Holy Spirit let me fly solo on my own. A good pilot never fly unprepared. They actually disciplined themselves to go through a preflight check list before they put their hands on the controls. In many ways, we Bible guided folks have our own lists or shall we say disciplines so that we can accomplish what is important to God. In my case, God wants me to be a witness to His goodness. And I do this with how I conduct myself in-front of others. You see, I want people to get to know the Lord whom I know and I want to do it through my faith and especially my joy. But my joy must not be superficial and fake.

This is where the disciplines come into play like celebrating the Lord’s Supper by properly partaking in the eating of the bread and the drinking of wine. The Lord’s Supper is a practical way of remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross. This is done by the church as a whole. There are also disciplines for individuals to practice like how believers are encouraged to put on the full armor of God daily as a way of protection against the evil one (Ephesians 6). What is the discipline for me to be a harbinger of joy to others? Enter my favorite Bible passage.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials… (James 1:2 NASB).

Allow me to be a Bible teacher for a short while. Let me ask you, What is the action word on the verse above? Many have answered, ‘to be joyful’, which is half correct. The verb of James 1:2 is ‘Consider’ which is defined in the dictionary as ‘think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.’ How would I apply this as a discipline? How does one be joyful in the midst of a trial… in the midst of pain? You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard, ‘It is easier said than done!’ It is true but it is not impossible especially when you have the Spirit of God guiding you.

I do not mind saying this over and over again. If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit in me, I would never be able to discipline myself to choose joy every time. It is He that reminds me of my eternal heritage. You know how I can manage to genuinely smile inside and out as a quadriplegic. I always have a vision of myself… a vision of my body entirely whole… my heavenly body made for us by God himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT). This is one of those things I repeatedly consider as I face an existence of trials. I do this as a discipline but I can honestly say that I also do this to bring the same joy to all of you.

So, I say, let us all ‘REJOICE’! (Philippians 4:4-9)

Thank you.

Johann Q

NASB – New American Standard Bible
NLT – New Living Translation