GOSPEL part 2

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? [pg 1]

In my last posting, I asked…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

But how? This is where the GOSPEL come in.

The Gospel in Greek is ‘euaggelion’ which means ‘good news’. In the Bible, the term ‘gospel’ appears about 99 times. In essence, it is the sum total of God’s message for all of humanity; a message of salvation.

But yet a greater number of people have rejected His gospel… His good news. I include myself some 40 years ago. I heard His message from many who willingly shared the gospel to me but deep down I could not connect.

For myself, I could not connect because I did not believe I needed salvation. I’ll reserve my detailed testimony for later posts. For now, let me just say that my mind was changed for the good because of what I discovered from this question:

What makes good news ‘GOOD’?

Again, for myself, it was when I understood how the BAD NEWS affected me, I saw the true value of the gospel and I acted upon it. So, from here, we have to seriously look at the bad news. This is not going to be easy because each of you have to take a very hard look at your own spiritual condition.

In my last post entitled, ‘DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?’, in the end of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus gave a ‘nutshell’ picture of a prophetical end time scenario of those people who pleaded to enter eternal life. They thought they were secured but instead they were rejected by Jesus.

“I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” [Matthew 7:23]

Ouch! I don’t think anyone want to hear that! But Jesus intended everyone to seriously take heed especially those who were first to hear of it on the Sermon of the Mount. You see, his audience, some 2000 years ago, stood on a small mountain not too far from the ancient city of Capernaum, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, all believed that because they were the ‘chosen’ people, they were ‘OK’ in God’s sight. Every Jewish child grew up with this basic principle.

But Jesus had a rude awakening for them.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]

Among the Jews of the first century, the Pharisees were the super-religious of the people. However, super-religious or not, they… as well as all mankind… have a SIN problem.

Buckle-up, people! This is going to be a bumpy ride for you. By definition, anything that goes against God’s will is SIN. And SIN is the core of the BAD NEWS part of this message and mankind… you… will be affected by it.

Sin fact #1: Everyone sinned…

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3:23 NIV]

…everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. [Romans 3:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

No matter what we believe, we all have and continue to sin for as long as we are still in this world. And because we are not able to avoid sin, we fall short of God’s ideal.

Jesus described it as a great chasm between you and God… that is unreachable by you and me.

Sin fact #2: Sin = Death

For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23 NIV]

For sin pays its wage–death… [Romans 6:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

Here we go. This is going to be hard for you to take in. But keep in mind the truth of the word and take on a position in humility. (Trust me, this will free you. I’ll explain later in my other posts.)

Sin brings on death and it started with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. We are the inheritors of this.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned… [Romans 5:12]

What is Death? Death is the permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions or the end of life. We have seen it. We know about it. We fear it. And we eventually expect it to happen to us. There is no escape!

And by the way Romans 3:23 implements the term ‘wages’, because of sin we EARNED death. We deserve death!

Ouch! Take a deep breath for we had not reached the worst part of the BAD NEWS.

Sin fact #3: Sin = The Second Death

Death is not just physical! When we die, we don’t just cease to exist. When God created mankind, He created us in His image. That means (according to His word) we are not just physical creatures, we are also ‘SPIRITUAL’ like Him… well, not exactly like Him for God is without sin. Eternity is our destiny. The only question is DESTINATION.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 NIV]

But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars–the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 Catholic Bible – GNT]

The final place for sinners is the second death… that is HELL!

This is the place that every sane person should fear. But I have met a great number of people who have a nonchalant approach to hell. Some have even joked that hell was a place to party. I truly fear for them. The Bible provides a much more scarier description besides being the lake burning with fire and sulfur.

From the oldest book of the Bible (Job) to the last book (Revelation), darkness is consistently associated with hell. Job writes of a “land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder,” (Job 10:21-22) a “realm of darkness” (Job 17:13), even a “day of darkness” (Job 15:23). Other references throughout the Bible include:

“Realm of darkness” (Nahum 1:8)
“Thrown outside into the darkness” (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13;                                   Matthew 25:30)
“Blackest darkness” (Jude 1:13)
“Plunged into darkness” (Revelation 16:10)

For myself, this verse in Isaiah 66 scared me the worst. Boy, do I hate the thought of worms eating in me forever.

“…the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” [Isaiah 66:24]

To sum it all…

“Hell is total, conscious, eternal separation from the blessings of God. People think of it as a lake of fire and that certainly is a biblical image. Also, the Bible describes hell as lashing or scorpions or darkness where there’s great gnashing of teeth. There’s not just one biblical image of hell. Hell is a place for the soul of extreme torment by being separated from the blessings of God.” [by Bryan Chapell, Christianity.com]

In Hell, there is no reprieve… no pardon… and there is nothing any person can do. Just an eternity of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. (Matthew 13:50)

I truly hope you now understand how the BAD NEWS involves you.

In my next post, I will lay out for you why the gospel is GOOD! FANTASTIC! Until then, I offer you this iconic verse for you to analyze and meditate on. It will blow your mind.

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

 

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 3

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

He went over to his desks and lit several oil lamps. He stared a long time at the top sheet of a stack of parchments. It was the passages of the suffering servant that he translated. Since the battle, his mind kept returning to that nagging desire for understanding ‘why the Messiah had to suffer so and die?’

The problem here is that this particular chapter seems to contradict all the other chapters that he had so far read of the Messiah in the whole book of Isaiah. The contradiction is that the Messiah is alive to usher in the new kingdom of which all of the nations will be affected. His logical mind tells him that since those chapters in bulk out weigh this one particular chapter, he should just disregard it. At most, if this is the passage that Jesus wanted him to find, then can it be that his task is to prevent it? That seems right, but yet, somehow in the deep recesses of his heart there is this lingering doubt in his logic. It was maddening.

He so wanted to speak to Jesus. On their way to Emmaus, they went through the town of Jericho. He made some inquiries on the whereabouts of Jesus. They said that he was there staying in the house of a tax collector that seem to have repented of his sins. But he and his followers left with no indication of where. Cornelius was tempted to swing by Bethany but he had to reach Emmaus by night fall. So, now, here he was unable to sleep trying to figure out an enigma.

He decided to read through the passages again.

On his third pass, one phrase seems to jump out at him.

If he would render himself as a guilt offering… [Isaiah 53:10b NASB]

He recalled that the guilt offering is an animal sacrifice for one to make himself right with God whenever that person sins. The ritual is for a person to symbolically pass his sins onto the animal by laying his hand on its head. Then the priests would slaughter it and offered its carcass on the burning altar. Cornelius knew he was forgetting something important; something about the animal. Oh yes, he remembered. The animal, whether it be a ram, an oxen or even a lamb, was to be male and with no blemish. That is the crucial condition that God required. It is written through out the Scriptures.

Cornelius realized that he may be on to something. He had to ask, what did the animals represent? And what is the connection between the sacrifice and Jesus? He went over to the corner of the large tent where the baggage was stored. He pulled out a big chest that carried his collection of books and scrolls. When he opened the lid, he rummaged through it; pulling out five big books. Cornelius had not read these books since way before he joined the Legion. They were the first books that Jacob helped him translate into Greek when he was still in his teens. It took them six years. They were the books of Moses.

That whole night, he poured through the books jumping from one story to the next, always writing down notes. He did not know when he finally fell asleep, but when he woke up and opened his eyes, he found that Jacob was there looking over some of the notes that he wrote. There was a tray of food and drink next to him.

“You have been busy, I see,” Jacob said as Cornelius was stretching his arms up. Pointing at his notes, he asked, “You have listed about twenty five references to the type of animal sacrifices from the story of Abel to the laying of Levitical ordinances^^. What do you hope to conclude from your research?”

^^ Levitical laws are found in the book of Leviticus, the 3rd book of Moses

“I have been working off a premise.”

“And that is?”

“That Jesus is offering himself as the guilt offering,” Cornelius answered. Jacob looked at him questioningly. “But I needed a better understanding of guilt offerings, hence my pulling out the Book of Moses to see where it all started. I tell you Jacob. It was like my eyes have opened up. I cannot explain it, but I began to see this book in the way it was meant to be seen.”

“What do you mean?”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 1

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius walked into his quarters saddle soar. For a whole week, he and a contingent of twenty cavalrymen have doggedly followed the defeated army back to their mountain stronghold where the legendary city of Petra, a city built into the rock, lies. Upon returning to the fort, he was surprised to find that the Governor General was there with General Gaius Alto. He had to quickly freshen up and report to the Governor’s quarters.

As he entered the governor’s tent, he saw that Tribune Arturos, Flavius and other officers were standing relaxed listening to General Alto talk. Pilate was sitting on a plush divan with Tribune Marcianus standing behind him.

“Aretas will not be so bold as to gamble again for a long while,” Alto said, as he was finishing his assessment for the benefit of the officers. “He clearly underestimated your small force. Very well done on your first campaign, Tribune. I am sure your father will be pleased.”

“Thank you, sir.” Seeing Cornelius enter, he added, “Of course, sir, I could not have done it without my second in command, Centurion Primus Cornelius.”

“Ah yes, Centurion,” Pilate stood up and joined them. “I have read all the reports. It is most fortunate that General Alto had convinced me to allow you to rejoin your cohort for this minor campaign. I did not think that Aretas would go so far as to try to gain a toehold in the Decapolis and be a thorn at my side if he captured Gadara. It is a good thing that you were an important asset to your tribune, for I did not need anymore headaches.” Cornelius could hear in Pilate’s tone that he was not pleased with him about something.

Sensing the same thing, Arturos dismissed the other officers. As soon as they left the tent, it was Arturos who asked, “Governor, what has happened, sir?”

“What happened was? I was caught off guard because I had no intelligence to warn me three weeks ago!” Pilate angrily said.

“Allow me, governor,” Tribune Marcianus haughtily said. Pilate sat down fuming. “Three weeks ago, the governor was in Jerusalem for business. He was entertaining a delegation of senators when a loud mob formed on the Temple court and started shouting protests. As I understand it, the mob was incited by men from Galilee. Hence, the reason why the governor was not pleased with you, Centurion. You were not there to give him any warning. If he knew, he could have head off the protest.”

“Sir, may I ask what was it that they were protesting about?”

Marcianus turned to look at Pilate. “They were protesting something about the aqueduct project.”

“The aqueduct? Sir, the aqueduct was completed last year,” Arturos said. “I heard that the city turned out and celebrated. How was it that they were protesting a year later?”

“Those ingrates!” Pilate threw his goblet across the room. “I had a secret arrangement with the priesthood. The money to build it came from them.”

“From the Temple treasury, sir?”

“I assume so, but what does that matter? Annas and I had a deal! It was suppose to be a secret. Some priest must have told the Zealots. There they were, disrupting my business and they dare to call me names!”

“The governor wanted to send in the troops.” Marcianus cut in. “But I felt it was prudent to mix twenty of our men in disguise among the crowd to quietly separate the ring leaders. Well, when the signal was given, our men were somewhat zealous in their execution of the orders. I believe forty or fifty Jews were killed in the process.”

“But that is not the last thing I have heard on this!” Pilate brewed. “One of the senators informed me that the Jewish leadership was sending a delegation to Emperor Tiberius to have me ousted.”

General Alto stepped in, “Fortunately, Governor, you have this victory to report to the Senate.”

“Yes! Thank you for reminding me, Gaius. A triumph like this will gain me some support.” Pilate poured himself another goblet of wine. Then he lifted it up and toasted, “To the victory!”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #23

Gen 22 – God tested Abraham

gen-22-abraham-tested-w.jpg
Some time later… probably when Isaac was a pre-teen… God tested Abraham.

He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [Gen 22:1-2]

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Where is Moriah?

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Note: This mountain is the future place of Solomon’s Temple.

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Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. [Gen 22:3]

gen-22-abraham-isaac-w.jpg

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. [Gen 22:4-8]

gen-22-abraham-offers-isaac.jpg

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” [Gen 22:9-12]

gen-22-ram-w.jpg

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

gen-22-crimson-thread-w

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. [Gen 22:13-19]

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What was in Abraham’s heart as he was about to plunge the knife?

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:17-19

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 8

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

The battle raged on for another three hours. Though the Roman lines held, Arturos was worried on how long they can hold out until they are finally pushed back. The legionnaires were exhausted. All the reserves were used to bolster the lines and the reinforcements were an hour over due. So far, Aretas had only used the Nubians. He still had two thousand Arab forces in reserve. The last attack was almost a disaster when the Nubians broke through the shield wall of the left flank which almost resulted in a route. But a counter attack led by Arturos himself and Cornelius pushed them back.

Then Arturos ordered his cohorts to slowly advance. The Nubians withdrew about a hundred yards to regroup. In a bold move, he signaled his lines to quickly open up, then his cavalry of two hundred men quickly rode through the opening and formed up for a charge about twenty yards ahead. Then the cohorts formed up into two wings. Arturos commanded the left wing while Cornelius led the right wing.

The Nubians did not expect a charge and they panicked as walls of mounted spears were bearing down on them. The cavalry easily caught up to the retreating Nubians and carved out a wide swatch down their middle. Then they wheeled to the left effectively cutting off their left flank. In the confusion and panic the cut off flank turned and ran toward Arturos’ advancing left wing. They clashed and a pitched battle went under way. Cornelius had to halt his wing to keep them abreast to the left wing to make sure that they can support them if need be.

Then Cornelius heard multiple horns being sounded from the enemy side of the long valley. Thinking that Aretas had finally committed his reserves, Cornelius rode his horse to a nearby knoll to asses the situation. What he saw was the Arab forces withdrawing further back where they came from. Aretas’ command pavilion on the ridge was being struck and all he could see were his flags also withdrawing. The reason of which became obvious when upon hearing trumpets blaring behind him, Cornelius shifted his gaze back at the gap and saw a massive formation of cavalry. The relief force had arrived.

They have won the field.
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #22

Gen 21 – Isaac is born & the fate of Ishmael

gen-21-birth-of-isaac-w.jpg
Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” [Gen 21:1-8]

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crimson-thread-w

CRIMSON THREAD

Luke 3:23,34

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph… the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham…

Another Christmas parallel:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah… and his wife Elizabeth… Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant … [Luke 1:5-7; 11-13; 24]

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gen-21-ysmael-mocking-w.jpgThe child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking… [Gen 21:9]

gen-21-hagar-castout-w.jpg

…and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. [Gen 21:10-14]

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God’s Promise Connection

 

vs 12  – “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 

Gen 12:3   “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

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She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. [Gen 21:14-21]

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 7

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Then Cornelius heard his name called from below. It was Jacob clambering up the path to their ledge supported by Cestus who saw him ride in. The old man was frantic when he got to the top of the ledge.

“It is Trax! He is not anywhere in the fort. According to a guard, he saw him marching out with the twelfth auxiliary unit.”

“Sir, the twelfth auxiliary is on the south slope,” said Cestus.

Cornelius quickly scanned the south slope and saw that the defensive units are holding their positions. But the Nubians are gaining ground. Then he saw fresh forces scaling the south slope and he feared that they will eventually be swamped. He quickly went over to Arturos and asked permission to get the reserves up. Arturos knowing the situation told to him to go.

“Cestus, bring up the eighteenth and the twenty first unit to join me at the south slope. Move!”

Telling Jacob to stay on the ledge, he quickly went down to the valley floor and raced to the other side. Trumpets were blaring. Cornelius was quickly joined by Cestus followed by about a hundred or so men up a winding trail that went up to the top of the south ridge. When they got to the ridge they were above the defensive positions. Sure enough the defensive line was breached. The archers had retreat to regroup higher up. The auxiliary units were being pushed back leaving small clusters of soldiers surrounded by enraged black warriors. A group of twenty was bravely making a stand forming a shell fighting off about sixty Nubians.

Cornelius sounded the advance. The re-grouped auxiliary units that fell back joined his advancing line of steel sweeping down toward the original line. The Nubians that broke through were the first to be overwhelmed. Cornelius saw that the surrounded cluster of men was now down to fifteen. They were now desperately beating off the Nubians as they stood with their backs against a rock wall. That was when he saw Trax in the midst of that cluster.

Cornelius took Cestus and twenty others and started to push and fight their way to the beleaguered group. When they were ten yards away, the attacking Nubians started to back away. To his surprise, Trax lead the remainder group and lunged forward to press a counter attack on the retreating Nubians. Hearing encouraging shouts from Cestus and a number of the men who knew the lad, Trax tackled two big Nubians who went to face him. Ducking under a clumsy swing, he drove his javelin into the abdomen of one of them. Then, with his shield deflecting the other warrior’s thrust, he jabbed forward with his short sword and cut a wound on the warrior’s shield arm. The Nubian was wary, thinking that Trax was an easy kill because of his small frame. He did not expect Trax’s determination. As they swung and parried, Trax manage to push him to the edge of a steep drop. The warrior made a desperate lunge which Trax quickly parried. Then he jabbed the bottom edge of his shield and caught the Nubian on the forehead. With a despairing cry, he fell backward unto the jagged rocks below.

Cestus and the other men cheered for the lad while Cornelius looked upon him with pride. The lad stood there bruised and with a slight bandaged cut around his arm breathing heavy. And as the adrenaline drained away, the boy started to shake. Then he bowled over, wrenched and threw up. But it did not matter for the men as they laughed their approval. The lad straightened up with a shameful smile of embarrassment. Then he saw Cornelius and approached like a puppy who knew he did wrong.

“Are you angry with me? Sir?”

Cornelius could not help but laugh out loud and placed his hand on the lad’s shoulder. “Yes lad? I am angry. But I am also proud of you, son! Extremely proud.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

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Thank you

Johann Q