FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 001

Greetings readers,

Every 2 or 3 days, I will post short segments of a new unpublicised ebook that I am writing entitled, Faithful Encounters (working title). This ebook is a sequential series of short stories of Bible characters who had close encounters with Jesus from during his ministry to until after he ascended. So far, the characters I will bring to this ebook are Simon the Leper, the thief on the cross, young Mary (sister of Martha), the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, John Mark (author of Mark), a priest of the Temple and the demon possessed man (with a legion of demons in him). I will probably add 2-3 other characters as well as this book develop.

I would like to invite your comments with constructive inputs which I’ll look forward to put into good use as I direct my creative thoughts.

I hope you enjoy what I hope will be the product of my Spirit sanctified imagination.

Johann

PS… I am still in the process of activating my Patreon account. Patreon is a way for you to support budding artists like myself so that we can continue put out… in my case, stories… for your entertainment.

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Simon the Leper – S1 – Bethany

The winter was in its last days in the village of Bethany just 2 miles from the busy city of Jerusalem. The last remnants of snow had disappeared around the hillsides surrounding the village. Warmer days will again bring back the greenery.

Simon, a successful and quite wealthy tradesman of barley and wheat, came out of his house just in time to meet with an incoming caravan of a dozen or so donkeys loaded with merchandise from the fields of Gilead.

He welcomed the head drover from the distant free cities up north.

Grasping his forearm in greetings, he asked, “Did you have any trouble on the route?”

“There were a couple of attempts to rob us, but your suggestion to stay close with the Roman patrol was to our advantage,” his friend exclaimed cheerfully.

“You see?” Simon chided, “the Romans are good for some things!” They both laughed together. They were discussing more business when suddenly Simon hears a delightful glee coming from the gates of his house. He turns just in time to catch the embrace of his six year old daughter who came out in excitement pointing at the packed donkeys milling around not too far away.

“Yes, yes Mary,” Simon was laughing. “You and your sister, Martha, have surprises hidden in the packs somewhere.”

“Oh, Abba! Can I see it now?” Mary asks eagerly.

“No no… My little sweet cherub. You and Martha will get your gifts later tonight. Meanwhile, did you leave your sister to do all the kitchen chores by herself again?”

Mary looks guiltily down, her sandalled foot fidgeting the dust on the ground.

Simon chuckled loudly then turns her towards the gate and said, “now, go help your sister and later after supper you can see the gift I have for you.” As Mary neared the gate, he looked around and asked her, “where is Lazarus? He was supposed to be here with me learning about the business.”

Mary stopped short and turned around looking guilty.

“Mary? Where is your brother?”

Mary quickly broke down under his continuous stare and cried out, “oh, Papa… He told me not to tell!”

“Mary? Tell me now.”

Looking down at her feet, she confessed in a quiet voice, “He went to the quarry with his friends.”

“Go a long and help your sister,” he said smiling. “I promise I will not tell your brother.”

Simon spoke to the head drover for another 15 minutes while his servants unpacked two of the packed donkeys. Then he instructed him to bring the caravan to his warehouse in Jerusalem. As he watched the caravan move away, he then turned and walked towards the southern gate of his village.

Bethany is a fair sized village with many large homes belonging to wealthy people some of which were not all Jews. As Simon walked through the busy street into the marketplace near the southern gate, he was fondly greeted by his neighbors.

Simon walked through the southern gate, turn right on a gravel path then proceeded to follow it for several minutes. It was not long until he heard laughing voices of young people just below him. He walked to the edge of the pathway which looked down into the quarry pit which is also the burial sites of his family and the people in his village. There he saw his son showing off to a young girl and six other young people laughing away at his waving arms and balancing act on a loose boulder.

Simon then called out, “Lazarus!”

A young lad of about twelve years looks up then waves his hand in greeting. Simon gestures to him to come up. The young lad says goodbye to his friends and quickly worked his way up the hill to where his father was waiting.

Heaving heavily, Lazarus reached his father with a big grin on his face.

“Well, my son, did you forget that you were supposed to be with me today and learn the business that feeds you and clothe you and give you shelter over your head?”

“I am sorry, father.”

“You are coming of age. You are not an apprentice anymore. You will one day take over the business and I can retire to a ripe old age,” he said chuckling. “Come. Let us return to the village then we go to the city.”

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 1

Chapter 1 – Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Palestine

There was no wind and the fog was thick upon a calm sea. Then from the midst of the fog, a ship emerges like a ghostly apparition. The ship was a Roman galley, a long warship propelled by three rows of oars along the length of its beaten up hull. It had two masts but the sails were furled because of the lack of wind. Protruding from the bow just inches above the waterline is a bronze-sheathed battering ram. The ship was silent except for the usual background sounds made by almost 200 rowers and the vibrating taut ropes that holds the masts up. Then from the stern, a loud horn sounded with two short burst and a long steady blow until it faded down. From a distance another horn blew, then another even farther, several more but fainter. There were other ships out there in the fog communicating their location. As the sun rose higher, the dense fog dissipated and more ships became visible. It was a fleet of twenty ships of varied sizes three of which were of the heavy trireme galley warships.

On the prow of the first galley, stood a man in his late thirties. He was clearly a military man. His armor with its chain-link suit and six intricate molded circlets embedded on his leather-strap vest indicates that he was not a low ranked legionary but an officer. Point of fact, his helmet with its white horse-hair plume arcing left to right says that he is a Centurion of senior standing which elevates him to be in command of three cohorts which makes up of 900 men. In the Roman Legion, a regular Centurion whose helmet would have either a red horse-hair plume or red feathers would only command of about 100 men. To this soldier, it also means his elevated rank points to a special assignment. And it is to this special assignment that he was focused on, deep in thought… in the past.

It was 2 months ago, in the garden of his father’s estate some 30 miles south of Rome overlooking the sea, that a modest ceremony is being held for him.

“It has been bequeath to Centurion Cornelius Metellus the advance rank of Primus Pilus for his successful and long service with the 9th Legion who vanquished the Basque marauders in northern Spain,” his father read the scroll with his chest puffed up high in pride. “No father can be so proud.” He held up the scroll again and sighed.

As the family and relatives retreated back into the coolness of the house, his father led Cornelius to a corner of the pavilion next to a babbling fountain.

“Well, my son, you have gotten your wish after all.” Cornelius’ father said quietly. “Palestine!” He said regretfully.

“Originally, father, it is called Judea. Palestine which means the land of the Philistines was the name originally given by the early Roman conquerors to mock the Judeans some forty years ago.”

“You sound like Jacob your ol’ tutor,” his father chuckled quietly. “Speaking of which…” His father then turns towards a large column engulfed with clinging vines. “You can come out now, Jacob, from behind that pillar where I know you were hiding.”

A short gray-haired bearded man dressed in a long brown homespun tunic gingerly stepped away from the ivy covered pillar and slowly approached them then bowed before them. “Forgive me, master, but I felt that I should be close by…”

“Yes, yes Jacob,” his father said, laughing out loud. “I was about to tell him.”

“Cornelius? It was strongly suggested to me…”, he gestured to Jacob whose head is still bowed on the ground. “…that you must not journey to the most eastern edge of our vast empire lacking knowledge of what you’ll need to be successful in your venture there. Your esteem teacher of many years felt that since he is a Jew after all that you would need his vast…,” he gestured with hands spread far apart rolling his eyes up. “…wisdom.”

“Frankly, Cornelius, If I were you…”, winking at him. “I wouldn’t take him at all!”

“Oh Master!” Jumps up on his feet.

His father laughed out teasingly, “It’s true. When I first rescued you from the debtor’s prison in Athens some 30 odd years ago, even after I paid for your debts, you had the audacity to ask if I would also purchase back all your books as well. You were not a very good slave. To this day, I still wonder if I invested wrong.”

Jacob’s face had that dramatic expression of dejection. Of course, Cornelius heard this same story repeated so many times.

“It was your good fortune that you were classically trained in Greek. For if it were not so, I would never have kept you and trusted you to the education of all my children.”

Cornelius remembered too well how Jacob would teach them Greek history, literature and the language itself, but he would also regaled them with fantastic stories of his people and their relationship with their one God. Though his siblings were entertained by his stories, it was Cornelius who wanted to learn more. So, after gaining his father’s permission, Jacob started to teach him first Hebrew so that he can delve into very same books that his father had purchased back from the debtors. The books were actually a cherished and revered collection of holy script of the Israelites that dated back thousands of years. These Scriptures were usually restricted to the priesthood. When Cornelius asked him, how was it that Jacob had a copy for himself. Jacob told him that the he was once a scribe, a member of the priesthood charged with the copying of the Scriptures. Since there was no more Synagogue in Athens back then, he kept them.

His father placed his hand on Jacob’s frail shoulder. “I will truly miss you around here.” He then turns to his son. “Cornelius. The paperwork is complete. Jacob, as requested, is now legally your bond servant.”

“Father… thank you”, Cornelius was not altogether surprised. He and Jacob often spoke of it. When Cornelius found out about 2 Legions being formed to bolster the already exhausted and dwindled 12th Legion at the region of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. He put in his papers to join them. Jacob, on the other hand, wheedled and cajoled his father to accompany him back to his homeland.

“Come now, Jacob. Leave us alone for awhile. We have much to discuss.”

Jacob smiled and bowed. Then he shuffled back to the house.

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Author’s Note:

Every week, I will post short segments of my ebook, The Centurion’s Gospel, in sequel. If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

Jesus 101 – That you may know God

If there is a goal in my life, it is that I help people get to know God the same way I got to know Him. For the next several weeks, I am going to be both teacher and storyteller. We will delve in the Bible stories of Jesus. We’re going to start with the concept of how to know God through Jesus.

But why Jesus? In John 14, one of His disciples more or less asked him, ‘Lord, show us the Father?’ If you don’t mind, I’m going to paraphrase what Jesus said. “You’ve been with me this whole time, yet you still don’t know me. Well, stick with me kid and watch me closely!” In essence, getting to know Jesus is getting to know God… and getting to know Him intimately.

In John 17:3, Jesus made this statement within His long prayer, “And this is the way to have eternal life–to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” The words seem clear enough. The key to eternal life is to know God. Allow me to clarify that ‘to know of God’ is just not enough. It is too superficial. What Jesus meant was to go deeper. I am reminded of the time when a rich man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT) Jesus’ response to him was somewhat more different than the revelation of John 17:3. He first cited that he should obey the last 6 parts of the Ten Commandments. “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18,19 NLT)

When the rich man boastfully told him that he did obey them all. Then, Jesus dropped the bomb (so to speak) on him. Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21,22 NLT)

Believe it or not, Jesus’ final response to the rich man actually coincides with what he instructed to his disciples. Why was his approach different? Jesus knew the rich man’s heart and gave his answer on how the rich man asked it. You see, the rich man’s error was both fundamental and spiritual. The fundamental truth is this: Eternal Life can never be earned or bought because of our sin problem. Jesus gave him a spiritual solution but the rich man did not go for it.

His disciples asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?” I wonder if their question ‘miffed’ Jesus a little. For in this same chapter of Matthew 19, just before the rich man, there were a group of children that was brought to Him. And when his disciples tried to shoo them away, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

Jesus’ declaration of children shouldn’t have been new to their ears because he had also recently told them similar things when they asked him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. His answer was when he referred to a child and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3,4 NLT)

I don’t want to annoy parents all over, especially since I have no children of my own (except for being a pseudo-parent to my many nephews and nieces). But with what I have observed of kids when they start to talk and reason all the way to the legal age, it is rare for me to use humility to describe them. Even in Scripture, it says, ‘A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness…’ (Proverbs 22:15 NLT) So, how are being like children a key to getting into the Kingdom of Heaven? And how does this match with John 17:3 on how we should know the only true God and Jesus?

To answer this might need a whole extensive Bible Study and probably many weeks of your time to provide adequate fundamental truths. But for this blog, I have to keep it short. So, here is the nutshell version.

Whenever, I tell good stories to my nephews, nieces and to many kids at Sunday School, I always saw and read the same expression of awe and belief on their faces. So, this is what I believe what Jesus meant that we should become like little children. I found that all children have a great capacity to be awed and to express faith. When I, in my late 30s, started to read about God and Jesus with childlike fascination, I felt like I was reaquainting with a long lost friend (except that I was the one who was lost). So, I encourage you to listen more to biblical stories by humbling yourself; by not being so skeptical even before the telling of the story. I have been walking with the Lord for over 25 years and I can testify that I got to believe in Him because I knew Him and I am still knowing Him today. But don’t take my word for it. Open your Bible to know Him and see for yourself.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

‘miffed’ – put into an irritable mood

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

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

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

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

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

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

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 everytime. 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 existance 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

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NASB – New American Standard Bible
NLT – New Living Translation