Sketching HIStory #5

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Gen 1 – God Formed Our World

Again, go ahead, open your Bibles and read Genesis 1:6-19 or click on Bible Gateway links below.

NIV     GNT    KJV

[GNT for Catholics]

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Like the Prophet Jeremiah, Albert Einstein (being Jewish himself) had no problem recognizing God’s hand in the creation of the universe. I recall reading somewhere that Einstein commented that when mankind probes the very recesses of space, they will find God staring back at them (something like that). Anyway, as spectacular as the creation of the cosmos was from Genesis 1:1-5, the verses after gave us no indication of how our own planet was developed. At that matter, verses 6-10 started up with our planet already formed and ready for seeding. Also, if we are to take verse 6 just a little bit literal, our entire planet may have been completely covered with water.

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And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”
So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault
from the water above it.
And it was so.
God called the vault “sky.”
[vs 6-8a]

What is the vault? And what does it mean ‘separate water from water’? Well, a vault is defined as a sloped ceiling like what you find in high domed cathedrals. The vault that God made is, of course, our own ‘sky’. Scientifically speaking, the sky is our planet’s atmosphere and it is made up of several layers. The most outer layer is the Ozone Layer which protects us from the sun’s radiation today. Ozone is a gas, but once upon a time, it was quite different.

God separated the water under the vault… that is the sea… from the water above it… that is the Earth’s stratosphere. God had placed a protective shell of water around our planet. Can you imagine the ‘greenhouse’ long term effect this will have on our planet? For later posts, I ask that you keep this primordial atmospheric condition in mind. For it will explain away a lot of the spectacular phenomenon we will observe until we get to Genesis 6.

And there was evening, and there was morning, the second day. [vs 8b]

Again, this is not an indication that the making of the sky took 24 hours. This part of the narrative is a poetic transition from one creation event to another.

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And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place,
and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
God called the dry ground “land,” and
the gathered waters he called “seas.”
And God saw that it was good. [vs 9-10]

I think the verses above is quite obvious, God caused the land to be raised above the sea. But if you look at the words closely, in the beginning, our world only had one massive land mass not like the seven continents and thousands of islands we know today. This contiguous land mass is known by scientists as the super-continent, Pangaea or Pangea. Pangea, in early geologic time, incorporated almost all the landmasses on Earth.

Now, let me say, that this concept of Pangea was proposed by a German scientist* in the early 20th century. It is interesting to note that this concept was FIRST introduced in a book written thousands of years ago.

[* Alfred Wegener, the originator of the scientific theory of continental drift, in his 1912 publication, ‘The Origin of Continents’]

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Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation:
seed-bearing plants and trees on the land
that bear fruit with seed in it,
according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed
according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit
with seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning, the third day.
[vs 11-13]

According to a Bible commentator, these verses refer to the second creative act. I think I’ll let you read the rest of the commentary.

The first creative act was the calling of matter into existence, which, by the operation of mechanical and chemical laws, imposed upon it by the Creator, was arranged and digested into a cosmos, that is, an orderly and harmonious whole. These laws are now and ever in perpetual activity, but no secondary or derived agency can either add one atom to the world-mass or diminish aught from it. The second creative act was the introduction of life, first vegetable, and then animal; and for this nothing less than an Almighty power would suffice.

Vegetation, therefore, did not reach its perfection until the sixth day, when animals were created which needed these seeds and fruits for their food. But so far from there being anything in the creative record to require us to believe that the development of vegetation was not gradual, it is absolutely described as being so; and with that first streak of green God gave also the law of vegetation, and under His fostering hand all in due time came to pass which that first bestowal of vegetable life contained.

It is the constant rule of Holy Scripture to include in a narrative the ultimate as well as the immediate results of an act; and moreover, in the record of these creative days we are told what on each day was new, while the continuance of all that preceded is understood.

[Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

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And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky
to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs
to mark sacred times, and days and years
and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.”
And it was so. [vs 14]

God made two great lights…
the greater light to govern the day
and the lesser light to govern the night.
He also made the stars.
God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate light from darkness.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day. [vs 15-19]

I feel that I have to reiterate to you that in these passages, God had not literally created the sun, moon and most especially the stars at that particular time period. We already read in verses 1-5, that the stars including our very own sun, our planet and moon were in the process of development. But doubt in the Bible have a tendency of naggingly creep into our minds. I should know, I had those same doubts, at first. But then, I was prompted to look at the literature a little bit closely.

As a rule, when it came to Scriptures, I have been trained to apply the inductive method of reading the Bible as a discipline. Part of that training was to look at the passage to see what it really ‘said’ before I can figure out what it ‘meant’. Keeping in mind that this part of Genesis was meant to be read as part poetry and part prose, I focused on the language style. Let us look at the first part of verse 14, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky”. Whenever, I read this verse out loud, my theater skills kick in. Always, at the words of ‘lights in the vault of the sky’, I instinctly look up. In other words, in a none-poetic way, this could almost be read this way, ‘let the sun, moon and stars be seen upon the sky from where you stand’. Perspective is the key! So, if I was to show God’s intention, I would paraphrase verses 14-19, this way.

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Behold! Look up in the sky! In the beginning, I have set there two great lights to separate the day from the night. The sun is the greater light and will light up your day. The moon which is a lesser light so that you would not stumble in the dark. To help the moon, you will also see in the night sky a blanket of stars laid out from horizon to horizon. Now, from these lights, you will mark your days, years and seasons some of which will become sacred for those who believe. You will read in them signs that will influence your agriculture, navigation, and yes, even your history.

Now, I probably did not do it justice with my paraphrase, but I hope you would look at the Bible in the same inductive method that I used and apply it to the rest of Genesis and the whole Bible.

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Having read how God formed our world, I think it best we have the right attitude toward our Creator, so far. The Prophet Isaiah said it best in his book.

Isaiah 40:26
Lift up your eyes on high: Who created all these? He leads forth the starry host by number; He calls each one by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

In my next post, we complete the Genesis 1 narrative with God bringing life into our world.

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Note: The Crimson Thread points to a connection between Old Testament passages to Jesus Christ.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 017

ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLEfaithful-encounters-cover-w
30 AD – Bethsaida, Sea of Galilee

Jesus climbed unto his boat.

“Peter, push your boat out on to the water just a little ways.” Peter sighed, nodding his assent and pushed the boat about ten feet from the shoreline. Then he tied it off. Jesus called for the people to quiet down and gestured those in the front to sit down on the beach. Then he sat at the edge of the bow and in a very clear voice, he began to teach. Andrew himself sat on the beach with the others.

“Behold, a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seeds fell…” *

* Luke 8:4 NASB

Jesus spoke at length of the Kingdom of Heaven and mostly in parables, Andrew noticed. He spoke in depth and there was richness in his voice. He was so emotional his eyes filled with tears.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon Peter, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”**

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing.” He looked at Andrew then faced Jesus again. Then his shoulders sagged a little. “But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”**

Simon Peter and Andrew pushed the boat out and climbed on. They rowed out about a hundred feet, when Jesus told them to let down the nets. Simon Peter almost snickered at that.

“Be kind. He is not a fisherman,” Andrew whispered as Jesus was looking another way. “Don’t expect him to know that you can’t fish with the sun shining above.”

They let down the nets by the side, instead of casting them. Simon Peter wanted to pull them in easily. But then the nets tugged almost pulling both of them in.

“The nets are snagged on the rocks,” Simon Peter angrily complained.

Expecting to pull up torn up nets, they discovered their nets were so full of fish and tried to pull the catch aboard. But everytime they tried their boat listed dramatically on one side and thought the boat would turn over.

“Ho, James… John… we need you help!” Simon Peter’s voice boomed.

They quickly launched their boat and rowed out to them. John and James grabbed the other side of the net. Then, together all five of them pulled. Then they started to scoop the fish unto both boths. Soon both boats were filled with fish and seem they were on the verge of sinking. Looking at all the fish, they began to laugh in delight except Simon Peter.

He was staring at Jesus with wide eyes. Then, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.”**

His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed and they too got down on their knees on their boat.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”**

** Luke 5:1-10 NLT

When they landed, James called for their father. After some discussion, he took over all the caught fish and dealt with the gathered fish mongers.

Then, they left their boats and followed Jesus down the beach toward Capernaum.

Andrew, being surprised by seeing his brawny tough natured brother humbling himself, looked forward to be surprised where this great adventure will lead him.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 17th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. Here we pause on the story of Andrew and return to story of Simon the Leper 10 years after he contracted leprosy.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 013

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

“John… Are you awake?” Andrew asked.

“I am now,” he said amusingly. “I know what you are thinking. You want to leave here and search for him.”

“I have the feeling that you will argue that we don’t know what he looks like. We have no idea where to start to look for him.”

“Well… I have one idea,” John said. “We stay with the master because he knows who he is.”

“It will be hard to leave him, but I have a strange feeling we are suppose to.”

“I hope we find him soon or else our brothers will not be too happy we’re not back.”

Andrew laughed at that. “I guess we should speak to the master about returning up north before winter sets in. Simon will probably be grumpy if I, that is, we… don’t show up for Fall fishing.”

“I am sure your brother and James are killing each other as well as driving my father crazy over who is the better fisherman.”

They both laughed again. “We better get some sleep, Andrew. The morrow will be busy.”

 

Andrew was carrying some bundles into a tent. John was not far behind also carrying bundles. Then, another of the Baptist’s followers came to them and told them to meet the master by the road.

They found the Baptist talking to some soldiers belonging to Herod Antipas’ palace at Jerusalem.

“Do not extort money from your brethren or even from foreigners. Make no false accusations. And be content with your pay,” the Baptist instructed.

When he saw Andrew and John waiting, he dismissed the soldiers and a small crowd watching. Then, all three meandered toward the shade of a large tree to watch the foot traffic on the dusty road. For a long time, they just stood there looking at the passersby. John and Andrew looked at each other. John shrugged his shoulder. Then, the Baptist took a half step forward, like he saw someone he was looking for.

“Behold,” he said in a soft voice as he gestured with his hand. “…the Lamb of God!”

Both John and Andrew looked towards where he pointed. At first, they were not sure who among the foot traffic was the Baptist pointing at. Then, they noticed a lone individual garbed like what most Galileans wore. He just went off the road and started walking up a hill.

They both looked at each other, then they faced the Baptist.

“Go,” he said. “This is as it should be. Farewell.” Without saying another word, he walked away.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 13th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 5

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Tyre

Cornelius saw that his ship was steering to shore north of the city. He saw anchored in a wide bay many other Roman ships busily unloading supplies and men unto a flotilla of small boats going back and forth to the shore. The other ships of his fleets were beginning to weigh anchor too but not his galley and the two other large galleys. All three ships had furled their sails and started to row closer to shore. At first, he thought the ships were going to be beached, then he saw several floating piers jutting out from the shore. His ship steered itself to one. Flavius who had come up to join him at the bow pointed at the pier ahead. Cornelius had to shade his eyes and peer at what he was pointing at. He finally focused on an officer waiting for his ship to dock. It was his commanding officer, Tribune Arturos, who arrived days earlier with the other three cohorts that sailed ahead of them.

Tribune Arturos was the son of a senator and belonged to one of the high class families of Rome. When Cornelius met him for the first time, he was unsure of the ways of the military. But he liked him. Unlike some high born commanders, he was not haughty and he was willing to learn. Eight months in, training and commanding two cohorts, Cornelius felt he will be a good commander.

“It looks like our young Tribune did not farewell on the sea voyage here,” commented Flavius with a little humor.

Cornelius smiled a little as he saw that Arturos’ armor was noticeably larger for his wiry body. He took a mental note to speak with Arturos that he does not have to use that ornately decorated breast plate except for ceremonial purposes.

“Flavius, you better get our standard ready. Looks like, we will be going formal.”

The ship gently moored itself on its port beam and the sailors secured the gang lines. Then they laid out the gang plank. Flavius, two other sub-officers and the cohort’s Signifer, a legionary garbed with a gray wolf head and pelt over his armor stood attention by the gang plank waiting for Cornelius. The Signifer carried the standard – a tall staff with the cohort’s emblem on the top. The emblem had the carving of Rome’s eagle encircled by a wreath. There were four medallions in a line below the main emblem. Cornelius put on his helmet and worked his way to mid-ship where they waited. Then they followed him off the ship. They formed up and together in step, they marched toward the awaiting Tribune. Then they stopped in precision. Cornelius saluted by banging his right fist against his chest then extended it with his palm facing out.

“Hail, Tribune.”

“Hail, Cornelius,” smiled Arturos as he reached out to shake Cornelius’ forearm. “Well met, indeed. How was the journey?”

“We encountered a storm last week but no ships lost. How was your trip over?”

“I don’t mind telling you. I was sick all the way until we arrived two days ago.” Both of them laughed about it. “The camp is only three miles up the coast. The city of Tyre is about twelve miles south. City is off limits by order of the governor.”

“Tribune?” asked Flavius. “Why did we have to land here? I thought there was a Roman port farther south. What was the name of that port?”

“Caesarea,” answered Cornelius.

“Governor Pontus Pilate wanted to hold court at Caesarea-Philippi in the mountains of Lebanon. Tyre was a lot closer than our base down south. So far, our three cohorts plus five other auxiliary cohorts will bolster the old Ninth Legion there. The rest of the fleet with the rest of our forces will sail south tonight and garrison Caesarea. Meanwhile, Flavius, you disembark the rest of our men from those ships and get them settled at our camp. Cornelius, you and I have a meeting with General Gaius tonight.”

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 007

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DEMACLI, THE LEGION DEMONIAC
25 A.D. in the region of the Decapolis

“Demacli! We have heard about you,” cried a voice in the crowd of laughing partiers.

“True! All of it, true!” said Demacli who raised his glass up, laughing. “Here is to Dionysus, our god of wine!”

“You Greeks always get it wrong. It is to Bacchus, the Roman god of grape that you should praise,” said a fat man whom Demacli didnot know. Some in the party roared in approval while most jeered in laughter.
Demacli, wildly laughing with the group, drunkenly walked out to a balcony. He looked up at the starry night. Then he up-ended his drink, some spilling down the side of his beard. There was a divan nearby and Demacli fell unto it and lost consciousness.

The next day, he was rudely awaken by a cold splash of water.

“Well, master,” said an old man amusingly. “Last night’s party seem to be your most loudest ever. We’ve cast out thirty seven this time, only seven we recognized.”

“Aaarrrgh… Please Habbi,” growned Demacli, as he slowly and painfully sat up on the divan he collapsed on the night before. “You are too loud for this early morn.”

“Originally, master, it is the seventh hour since the sun came up.”

“Food… I need food.”

Habbi clapped his hands and a female slave came in with a tray of food. As Demacli wolfed down his food. From the balcony, he looked out upon the desert city of Canatha.

Canatha was one of the free cities of the Decapolis, a grouping of Greco-Roman centers located on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. Some three hundred years before, these ten cities were founded during the Hellenistic period after the untimely death of Alexander the Great. Canatha was located fifty or so miles east of the Sea of Galilee in the deserts of Syria. It was on a major caravan route with Damascus in the north and an untold number of Persian cities in the far east.

Habbi pulled up an overturned stool and sat on it.

“Master, the rate you are going, you will lose the wealth of your father in two years. Six caravans of your investments were lost to marauders. Those shipments that you entrusted to that lying Phoenician are gone. And the parties you hold practically every night… well, let me put it this way. One day, you will awaken to find everything in this villa gone, stolen by your so called drinking friends.

He pauses. Then, in a softer voice, “Demacli… my dear boy… I have watched you grow up. Your father commanded me to take care of you as you go out into the world to make something of yourself. There is no shame returning home to Hippus and admitting to your father that you were not ready.”

“Enough, Habbi!” Demacli stood up and walked into the house. With Habbi following, he went downstairs, walked across the patio to a garden pond. Then he jumped right in. When he came out dripping wet, he was wide awake. “Habbi, no more lectures. You forget your place. Now, I am going up to change and then I am going out to meet someone who promises that I can gain more wealth.”

The room he entered was smoky and dark except for a lit oil lamp on the floor. There was another light source coming from above that emitted a circle of light around the lamp. The light was so bright, he could not see the walls.

“Come and sit in the circle,” said a deep feminine voice.

Demacli sat on the floor with the lamp before him. Then three cowled persons slowly walked in and sat down before him. Their faces were hidden in the shadows with only a slight glint reflecting from their eyes. The feeling was somewhat erie.

“What do you ask of the gods?”

“I seek wealth. All my ventures have failed and I would give anything to be lucky.”

Together, all three of them asked, “What would you give to the gods?”

“What can I give? Gold or silver?”

“Those things are nothing to them.” It was the feminine voice that spoke.

“Then what?”

“You!”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 7th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 3

 

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Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Palestine

The fleet sailed a southerly course hugging the coastline on their left for better half of a day. Cornelius returned to the bow and watched the sparse land slowly passing by. The land revealed mostly high sandy dunes going down to the water. There were also clusters of short gnarly trees breaking the monotony of sand and rocks.

Cornelius heard heavy steps approach behind him. “The master of the ship says that we have another hour or so before we spot our destination.” The one who spoke was another Centurion.

“How are the men, Flavius?”

“Only two or three are still wrenching from the rough seas we went through yesterday. Most of the men are fairing well but everyone are eager to reach land after three weeks in this bucket.”

“Get the men ready.”

“Yes, sir.”

Cornelius cast his eyes out at the passing barren coast again then lost himself in thought. He was always deep in thought contemplating on the things of life. Even as a child, he would often go off by himself to just think instead of playing. Lately, he had been wrestling with questions of meaning. The search for meaning started when Cornelius was a survivor of his Roman unit that was almost slaughtered by barbarians in the mountains of Spain.

He was an officer under a commander who had no military experience and only attained his office because of his family’s wealth. He was leading about 150 men in search of a brigand tribe that have been harassing Roman villages in Spain. The commander had heard that the marauders eluded him into a canyon. Elated, he ordered his whole unit to quickly march in after them. Cornelius pleaded with him to send in scouting parties first but the commander wanted a surprise attack and a quick victory. But it ended up being a disastrous trap. More than two thirds of the unit were slaughtered including the inept commander. Cornelius then rallied the survivors and fought their way back out of the canyon. He lead them to a nearby mountain lake where a small rocky knoll jutted out on a finger of land onto the water. He saw that the knoll can be defended because there was only one narrow entrance with water and rocky shelf on both sides. But out of the forty men left, only fifteen were still able to bear arms. The rest were wounded with only a few who can shoot arrows. So, he ordered the wounded to the top of the knoll. Cornelius and the remaining men barricaded the narrow track with a couple of big drift wood trunks and some boulders that were easy to roll. They used the extra shields of the wounded and embedded them in a line to form a crude shield wall. By the time of the first attack, they were ready. The barbarians rushed the narrow track but only six to seven can hit the improvised shield wall at a time. Some tried to attack through the water but were hindered by mud and deadly arrow shots. For two days the attacks were repelled and dead bodies were so piled up high that the attackers had to climb over their dead comrades to get to the defenders who fought back ferociously. But Cornelius and the remaining ten soldiers that were still able were exhausted. When he saw the barbarians form again, he knew they were all as good as dead. But no attack came, instead the leader came to shouting distance and called to Cornelius. The leader spoke. Though Cornelius could not understand the language, the intent of the leader was clear when he saluted Cornelius with his weapon. Then he and his marauders disappeared into the dense forest. When reinforcement finally arrived, Cornelius moved among the dead barbarians and his men. He looked at their calm but dead faces and saw that there were no real differences between his men and theirs. So, he asked himself why? Why do men have to die like this? Why did this have to happen? All sorts of why questions raced through his mind but one kept coming back to him even unto this day, ‘why am I still alive?’

When he returned to his home in Italy after four more years in Spain, he confided with his tutor and mentor, Jacob.

“You are not alone in your search,” Jacob said. “I am afraid the gods of Rome will provide you with no answers that will satisfy your desire for the kind of enlightenment you seek.” Cornelius saw a twinkle in his old teacher’s eye and knew what was coming next. “However, the One true God may provide you the answer.”

Cornelius, of course, had decided to study more what the Scriptures had to say.

“Since you were a boy, you have studied and even mastered the books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and the collected histories of the Kings of Israel. The love of history was always your strongest suit. Of course, keeping you awake in the study of the Psalms and the books of Wisdom was always trying. I have to admit that as a boy, I too struggled with the songs, but I persevered and gained a closeness with my God especially when I sing the songs in prayer. You should try it. However, I know you are more into the intellectual and not much into the spiritual. But it is in the spiritual that you’ll gain your answers. The writings of the Prophets is where you and I must venture.”

“You?” Cornelius asked quizzically.

“Of course, my boy,” Jacob said delightedly. “Besides, it had been ages that I closely studied the Prophets. We can journey together.”

“Tyre ahead”, a shout came from above.

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The story continues in my next post a week from now.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 006

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Simon the Leper – 20AD – S4 – An oasis in the wilderness – Judean Wilderness

Simon was standing on a high plateau many miles from the closest village. Looking east, he could see the salten sea. The north, west and south, as far as his eyes can see is a redish brown mountainous wasteland devoid of any greenery. Of course, Simon knew the secret of the wilderness. From the high ridges it may look like a desert but greenery can be found in a number of deep crevices and canyons. And below him was such a one. A hidden gem, known only to few. It was a deep canyon carved out by an ancient water flow. A well hidden track was the only way down to the canyon floor.

He walked along the edge of the canyon until he found the marker he was looking for. That marker was an old petrified stump which he finally found and almost missed because it was overgrowned with several thorny bushes. After he cleared away some of the bushes, he first peered over the stump to find that the path was still there and had not eroded away. The path was natural against the canyon wall and went down a gentle slope for about a third of a mile before it hit the sandy bottom. Because the path was narrow, he had to unload the packs off the donkeys and lead them down one by one. But before he did that though, he took out the ropes and lowered the packs down to the canyon floor. Then he started to guide the animals down. When that was done, he led them to where he lowered the packs. After securing the packs back on the animals, He continued on and followed the narrow canyon on an easterly route for a mile or so. The rocky walls rose some twenty feet up and there was no sign of vegetation except for dry brush. The canyon was mostly narrow, about the width of three men standing a breast of each other, until it opened up.

He paused and took a long look around. Simon was pleased to find that the oasis in the bottom of the canyon was still as green as he remembered it. Originally, it was an oasis in a box canyon about an acre in size. Fruit bearing trees mostly grew on the sunniest side of the canyon. The grass was greener and taller from what he remembered. This is good because the stream is still flowing from the rocks out unto the basin floor just inches under the top soil.

He led the animals to the far end of the canyon where he found the old hunting camp that his father’s father’s father built even before the Romans came. Simon gave a sigh of relief to find the camp still had the rock walls for both his shelter and animal pens. Leaving the animals in the pen, he went farther up the canyon and found the stream that flowed out from a crack in the rock wall into a pool. Then it flowed and disappeared back into the rocks. He knew that the water came from frost and snowfall on the high ridges of the wilderness during the short winter months. His father once told him that when it melts, the water would flow into what he believes were cavernous reservoirs in the mountains.

Simon’s mind was working as he looked at the shallow pool. He had an idea of tilling the soil in the grassy area into plots of vegetable and grain. Those plots will need a regular stream for irrigation. He’ll have to damn up the pool a little higher and then guide the overflow to the plots. He smiled to himself about keeping busy. Deep down, he hopes it will help him forget that he is a leper.

 

Three months later, Simon was awoken by a distant shout. He got up from his sleeping palette feeling a little bit sore. He walked towards the edge of the trees to see who was there. The sun had not risen fully yet. The canyon was still pretty much deep in shadows. Then he saw movement at the canyon’s entrance. It was a single man leading a train of animals. He still couldn’t tell who it was, until…

“Simon!” He recognized the voice. It was Tahan.

Simon walked out into the opening calling out, “You are one month late.” He jumped over a flowing irrigation canal then came to a stop about fifteen feet from his brother.

“Can’t be helped. There was so much people at the festival this year, we were kept busy filling out new orders. By the way, that upper room you rennovated brought in a lot of revenue. Joral knew you’d want to see the books, so he packed a copy in one of the packs.”

The sky brightened a little bit more and Tahan was looking around. He was especially inspecting the tilled plots “You have been busy. I almost didn’t recognize this place. How did you plow these plots?”

Simon laughed, “It was not easy? Those donkeys were not cooperative, but after a week… Mmmmm.”

“Well, I will leave you one of the mules and I also brought two more goats. Have you had any problems?”

“Just some jackals who tried to get my goats last week. Fortunately, I got their pack leader and built up the walls of the pen…”

“I meant… how are you doing?”

“Ah, yes. The whiteness is spreading gradually on my arms, legs and chest. And I also seem to lose some feeling on my finger tips. I mean, I can feel pressure but sharp points, not so much. But I can still work this farm.”

“So, what is your plan, Simon?”

“I work… I pray… I wait…”

“Wait? Are you hoping that the Lord will heal you like the way Miriam, the sister of Moses was healed of Leprosy? Do you recall why she had leprosy?”

“Yes. Miriam angered the Lord by critisizing Moses for marrying a Cushite.”

“Yes! And she knew her sin.”

“Brother, what is your point?” Simon asked.

“In the Torah, she is the only one healed of leprosy. No where else is written or heard that anyone was ever healed of this dreadful disease. Her healing was specific and it was after seven days, so that the lesson would be learned. Do you know why you were stricken?”

“I still don’t know why.”

“I think Nadab is wrong. I think what happened to you is the result of what happened in the garden of Eden. I’m sorry to say this, brother, but what happened was just bad luck.”

“That may be true. But I have to believe. For the meantime, I stay busy.”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 6th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. Here we take a pause on the story of Simon the Leper. In my next post, I will introduce you to Demacli, a Greek man who later get possessed by a legion of demons.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

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

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 005

 

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Simon the Leper – 20AD – S3 – Exile – Bethany to the Judean Wilderness

Three days later, two donkeys loaded with supplies and two goats tied to them were waiting outside the gate. When he came down from the roof, the halls and courtyard were empty of servants.

Then he faintly heard, “Bye Abba.” He looked up to see both Mary and Martha peaking out of the window. It wrenched his heart. When he went through the gate, Tahan and Lazarus were waiting for him.

“My son, if I do not return, you will be the man of this house. When Mary reach of age, it will be up to you to choose her husband. As to Martha, Tahan, do not pick someone too old.”

They both chuckled lightly. “Do not fret, Simon. I will be there every three months with supplies.”

“I hope you still remember how to get to the canyon. Well, I better be off.”

Simon untied the lead donkey and had to tug a little hard to get it going. As he led the animals away, he dared not look back. The few neighbors he saw hastily shut their doors and shutters as he passed their homes. He could not help but feel hurt for many of them were his friends. When he reached the village square, it was crowded with people. He covered his face. Then he pulled on the animals and headed for the main gate. There was one other thing he had to do whenever going through a crowd which he dreaded. It was a requirement from the priesthood.

In a loud voice, he called out, “Unclean! Make way. Unclean!” He had to repeat himself until he cleared the crowd.

Practically everyone in the square turned towards him in surprise and quickly made way. They were surprised because they didnot expect to find a leper in their village… in their very midst. Then the gossips began.

As Simon made a straight bee-line for the gate, mumbling voices trailed him. “You see… it is Simon!” “Simon the leper…” “Simon! But I thought he lived such a blessed life.” “What sin did he do?” “Some one as rich as him has to have done somethin’ wrong.” “I heard he cheated his partners.” “His poor children…” And it went on and on. Simon quickened his pace.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he went through the main gate unto the Jericho road. He paused to look right. That dusty road zig-zagged down the Judean Highlands to the city of Jericho and the Jordan River Valley. He would have trekked south along the west bank of the sunken salten sea for two days until he reached an area in the vast wilderness his father showed him decades before. Then he looked left where the road led to the big city. He decided to go left.

 

About two hours later, he was on the crest of the Mount of Olives with a spectacular panoramic view of Jerusalem. But most importantly, he had a clear vantage point of the Temple. The sun was still very high in the sky and it’s glare was reflecting off the gilded moldings on the crown of the tall majestic edifice which housed the most sacred place in the entire world, the Holy of Holies. Grayish smoke rose from within the temple complex. Simon could picture his usual place in the only area where Israelite males were allowed to congregate in the Temple complex, the Court of Israel. From his former place, he had a clear view of the large burning altar which sat to the right of the Temple’s golden double doors about thirty feet away. The altar rose about four feet off the ground. Twenty priests could stand around the platform around the large fire pit. During the annual festivals, a continious thick black smoke would fill the skies for a whole week from the tens of thousands of animal sacrifices offered. On the Passover, the most important of the festivals, the priests of the altar would pass a bowl of the collected blood to the High Priest. He would then carry it through those double doors to seek forgiveness for the entire nation.

Tears came to his eyes. As a practice, he used to give his offerings for his family once every week before the Sabbath. As he watched his offering being put on the fire, he would get down and bow low to the ground and worship. Because of leprosy, he had not worshipped in weeks. Because of his unclensed condition, the thought of not being again part of the most holy of festivals had wrenched his heart. Simon went down on his knees and gave a curdling cry of despair. After an hour of crying, he got up and headed south.

 

About three hours from the city, he came upon the path that he remembered led to the leper colony. He decided to swing by for a quick look see. When he was younger, he used to accompany his father a few times to bring food supplies to this colony. He would say that the rich should always show compassion to the needy. Simon had continued the tradition with his own son.

The leper colony was actually located in a wide ravine that had extended caves where the residences take refuge from the elements. Simon followed the track that went up a rocky knoll. When he reached the top, he saw the ravine below him. Smoke from several campfires rose from the ravine opening. As Simon came close to the edge of the ravine, he saw on the other side, men unloading food supplies off a cart. They are Levites from a nearby village vowed to serve the priesthood and the people. They loaded the food on a wide basket that was strung on wooden crane built on a rock ledge. When the first load was full, they then swung the crane over the edge and lowered it down about twenty feet to an eager group of shabbily dressed lepers that could still walk.

From what Simon could assess, the number of lepers have doubled since he was here last. Rickety make-shift tents lined the far wall. He could see a number of them going in and out of the cave entrance. Where once a stream fed a pool that was in the middle of the ravine, now a stinking greenish stagnant pool is left and the stream dried up. There were bodies lying around the pool, some moving, some not. Simon turned away feeling a sense of pity and helplessness. He continued north, traveling on rarely used paths mostly avoiding the villages on his route. Four arduous days later, he reached his destination in the Judean wilderness.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 5th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 2

Chapter 1 – Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Palestine

“My inquiries have come back from the Senate,” he spoke in a conspirator voice. “The governor general position of Syria and Palestine had been given to Pontus Pilate.”

“I don’t know him,” Cornelius said.

“I met him once in Rome. He is a career politician who is also trying to impress Tiberius and the Senate. The talk is that with the volatility of that region… with its increasing insurgent problems and foreign intervergence, the eastern trade supply had been steadily strangled. For Pilate, this governorship may be a career maker or breaker. He is taking a real risk.”

“Father, what have you heard about my sudden promotion? I don’t think I am senior enough in the roster to merit the Primus Pilus position.”

“All I know is that a General Gaius had put in the request. I remember meeting him many many years ago. He was a Tribune then but quite popular among the public masses because he also rose through the ranks.”

“General Gaius is in command of my division. I don’t remember ever meeting him in Spain nor in Rome,” Cornelius sat down on a marble bench. “So, why would he petition for my promotion especially a rank usually reserved for men in their fifties.”

“Ah remember… this rank is also awarded to those who have special skills. I believe you have been chosen for a task that is unique only to you. This assignment may advance you or break you. Be wary.”

“Be wary,” Cornelius repeated to himself as he stared from the bow of the ship blankly looking out into a foggy sea.

 

“The wind!” A voice shouted from the stern which brought Cornelius out of his deep thoughts to the present. He looks around as several commands were shouted unseen from the stern and he watched the sailors run to their stations; a number of them climbed the rigging like monkeys. Then they would precariously crawl out to the ends of the yard arm with both ends extending out about thirty feet from the center. The massive sail unfurled which slowly expanded and fluttered in the wind. Things became clearer as the fog swirled away and steadily dissipated. Cornelius could now just make the other ships in the fleet. The galley started to roll on increasing swells. Another unseen command was given and sailors as well as loitering legionaries from his own command were mustered roughly into two line on opposite sides of the ship. One line faced the stern with each man grasping a thick rope. The other line was facing the bow also grasping a rope.

The command was given. “Heave!”

The two lines started to move in the respective direction with every hand pulling and grunting. Cornelius looked up as the yard arm ponderously pivoted to the port side in a more or less 45 degree angle allowing the fluttering sail to suddenly balloon as it caught the wind. Another command was given and the ropes were secured. Cornelius felt his balance shift as the ship picked up speed. The other sail smaller than the first was also set until it too billowed into the wind.

Cornelius turned again and looked out into a hazy horizon. He knew there is land there and sure enough a voice from above, a look-out on the crow’s nest, on top of main mast hailing, “Land ho!”

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The story continues in my next post a week from now.

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

 

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.”