FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 025

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
31AD – Bethanyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

Mary always liked butterflies. This is why she had pots of colorful flowers on her window. There was one particular butterfly that she was paying very close attention to as it hovered over a lavender flower that still had its morning dew. It had orange wings with little black spots. The body was grayish with black stripes on its abdomen.

“Well, my winged friend, what adventure has the Lord have for you this fine day?” Mary asked with dreamy eyes. Then she looks past the butterfly, that had finally landed on the flower to extract the nectar, to the blue skies. After a long while, she whispers to the sky, “Lord, what new adventure have you for me this day?” She smiled.

But her revery was soon intruded upon by a demanding voice. “Mary… Mary! The food in the kitchen will not be done by itself!” It was the voice of her oldest sister, Martha.

Mary flinched at the thought of helping out another day in the kitchen with Martha ordering her around. She can just hear her in her head. ‘Mary, do this! Mary, do that!’ Ever since Lazarus left about two weeks ago, Martha had been ruling the household like a queen.

“No! Today, I am sneaking out like a thief,” she said to herself.

And snuck out, she did. Avoiding her sister and the servants, she dashed out the back gate hearing her sister shout for her. Feeling free as a butterfly, Mary giggles as she skips and a hop straight to the village gates. She knows she’s not a little girl anymore but she was so happy to escape, she didnot care if she acted a little childish.

She headed for a hill that overlooked the road. There was an old oak tree there that she liked to sit under and daydream. As she got there, she sat down on her favorite spot which was a cushion of grass between two roots. From her vantage point, she can see the road wind down the highlands. She can almost see the great river that divides the green region of Judea and the brown arid region of Perea. There was hardly any traffic on the road except for a lone wagon heading for the city and what looks like two men riding donkeys still some distance away.

Mary wondered if that could finally be Lazarus returning home with her father. He said he was going to where father exiled himself and bring him to that healer they heard rumors about. That was about two weeks ago. She had hoped and fantasized he would be miraculously healed. But then she could not help remembering Martha’s words saying that no leper had ever been healed. Even her uncle didnot believe the stories coming down from the north.

“Oh Abba! I miss you so,” she sobbed and her eyes were teary. She got on her knees and turned at the direction of Jerusalem, to where the Temple of God sat on that holy mountain. She bowed down and prayed, “Dear Lord… I beseech you again for your incredible mercy to bring my father home. I recall the story of how your servant Elijah lain upon the dead body of a boy and brought him back to life. Oh Lord, oh Lord. If Elijah can bring a dead boy back, well Lord… I am sorry, Lord. I am too presumptuous. Forgive me, Lord. I am not deserving. I am just a girl who misses her Abba.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 23rd 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

JESUS 101: Was God in Error? [part 2]

JESUS-101-003-w

When the Creator ‘formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being,’ (Gen 2:7 NASB) He made a very special garden for man to be safe in. In that garden, the natural laws were supernaturally suspended. Man need not fear the wildness of animals nor any plant life. He was safe. He had food a plenty. He had purpose and eternal life was for them as intended. Then, the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” [Genesis 2:16,17 NASB]

Some had questioned the fairness of this command. Why had God given a command that had doomed the rest of us? Were we set-up to fail?

First things first, why did God have to give such a command? Was that command really needed? Whenever a why question come up in Bible studies, I have learned (for years) to counter by using a similar question but replacing it with a ‘why not’. So, the counter question would be like this – Why would God not have given such a command? This question made more sense. For it positioned God in the rightful place of sovereignty. I am talking about ultimate authority. There are enough verses in the Bible about God’s authority. Psalm 135:6 best suits our purpose – ‘The LORD does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.’ (NLT)

Let’s go back to the garden. The Garden is His! And as the Creator, He has every right to lay down any laws He deems right. Think of it this way. In your own home, it is you that set certain rules and parameters on how visitors should conduct themselves. Again, since the Garden is His, He sets the rules. The only difference is that His rules are for our ultimate good and benefit.

So, now, let us look closely at his commandment. One question bears asking. Could Adam have successfully kept the commandment? I believe yes. First, God is a benevolent Being. He would never had given this commandment to him if it was impossible to do. Frankly, if I had all the fruit of the thousands of thousands of trees available against one tree that will surely lead me to eternal damnation, I don’t think it will be that difficult. But yet Adam and Eve failed. Definately something to discuss in my later posts.

Until then blessings to you,

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 024

SIMON THE LEPER
31 AD – Cleansed – Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

Then, the pounding stopped and he heard like a long roaring sound. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw were beefy legs. He looked up in wonder to find what he thought was a giant of a man swinging his staff in a wide circle driving the angry attackers back. Then, the angry voices quieted down.

He slowly and painfully stood up amazed as he watched the Nazarene calmly walking over to the giant and placed his hand on his arm. He looked up at him half-scoldingly and said, “Peter…” He didn’t have to finish the sentence. The big man returned a half grin and a shrug. He smiled shaking his head and then turned his attention to Simon.

Simon took two steps forward and then like he realized who he was facing threw himself on the ground and asked, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

“I am willing; be cleansed.”

Then the Nazarene started to reach down and was actually going to touch him. The crowd simultaneously gasped and Simon flinched back. But the Nazarene was quicker. Before Simon could back away, his right hand was on his back, his left was gently grasping his arm and helping him up.

Simon felt a warm sensation through out his body. Then the first thing he noticed was that he had feelings in his feet. He actually could feel the grass under his toes. Even his fingertips were tingling. He looked at his arms to find normal skin color rather than the expected sickly white flakes and bleeding sores.

“Look at his face!” exclaimed an awed voice from the crowd.

Simon hesitated for just a moment, then lifted trembling hands to his face. What his probing fingers revealed was a whole nose restored and no sign of sores.

Then, the valley was filled with celebratory singing and dancing. Lazarus, who had witnessed everything from among the crowd, went directly to his father and embrace him. They both wept.

“Come, follow me,” said the Nazarene.

Simon, still hugging his son, followed the rabbi to a nomad tent under the trees.

“Please, sit down,” the rabbi gestured to a matt on the ground. He went over to a low table and poured water into three clay bowls. He served the two bowls first to them, took the third bowl and joined them on the matt. “Drink first, then we talk.”

A woman brought in a large plate of flat breads, fruits, some meats and placed it in the middle of them. After they ate, the rabbi called for the men that were just outside the tent. Twelve men entered including the big man called Peter.

“Andrew, please take a couple of men and follow this young man to their camp and bring everything back here.”

“Yes, master.”

When they left, the rabbi gestured for the big man and two others to sit down with them while the others sat in other parts of the tent.

“Lord, what is your name? I only know of you as the Nazarene.”

“I am Jesus.”

 

In the morning, Simon came out of his tent feeling invigorated. They were planning to pull up stakes and make the return trip to Bethany.

“Well, father, when we get home, we have to tell as many people that we found the Messiah… and show them how you were healed… and then…”

“No, I will not.”

“What! What are you saying, father? People must be told.”

“I agree, but it will not come from me.”

“Why, father?”

“Because the master asked me,” Simon said solemnly. “His words to me last night were ‘Tell not anyone about this. Go, instead to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering as is according to the law passed down by Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. It is most important that this will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.’ ”

“We cannot even tell the girls?”

“Of course, we can.”

“Good. I cannot wait to see Mary’s face when you get home.”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 24th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. We will take a pause on Simon the Leper’s story and visit him again some 20 years later. Our next story is about young Mary, daughter of Simon the Leper.

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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 5

City of Tiberius, GalileeCG-book-cover-w

“Ah Centurion, welcome my Roman friends,” he said grandiosely in Latin with both hands raised high.

Cornelius saluted and said formally, “Hail Tetrarch! We bring greetings from Governor Pontus Pilate. He sends his warmest regards.”

“I am sure he did,” he said a little too sweetly. “I have received a dispatch that your unit will be policing my region of Galilee. I am so gratified to hear this. This region is crawling with Zealots determined to uproot my good relations with Rome and my good friend Caesar Tiberius. They are ever a thorn at my side. Why, just last week, they attempted to despoil the statue I erected of our beloved emperor. My own name is besmirched by these wild brigands among my people.”

“May I ask, Tetrarch? Who are these zealots?” asked Cornelius.

“I am sorry to say that I don’t know. I have no specific names to provide.” Cornelius noted some reluctance in his voice. “I have reports of wild religious fanatics rousing the countryside that a king from among them will lead them to freedom. In the jurisdiction of Jerusalem, there is a highwayman, a self-proclaimed man named of Barabbas, said he was a Zealot and had made a reputation of himself by robbing your tax collectors even in daylight and eluding your pursuits. These zealots are everywhere.”

As Herod drone on with his prattle, Cornelius so wanted to meet the prophet before Herod takes him down south. “Ah, Tetrarch?” he asks. “I have heard that you are holding a dissenter here. I have orders to question all insurgents.”

“Oh… How did you… Ah well… He is not an insurgent. He is just a desert teacher. He is harmless.”

“Why is he your prisoner?”

“He is not! He is a guest but under guard… for his protection, of course. He will not reveal anything because he does not know anything.”

“Nevertheless, Tetrarch,” He brings out his baton. “I must see this man!”

“Very well, Centurion, I will arrange a translator.”

“No need, Tetrarch,” Cornelius said in fluid Aramaic.

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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 023

SIMON THE LEPER
31 AD – Cleansed – Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

The hill was a little steeper, so Simon had to slow down his descent. Lazarus was following a short distance behind. He looks up and saw that the Nazarene was already in the valley approaching the creek, working his way through the crowd. He was approaching the edge of the crowd on his side of the valley. He paused to figure out where to go. Should he skirt the edge of the gathered mass of people? It looks like the only way to get to him was through all those people. Simon hesitated.

“Father, what is going on?” His son asked as he gasped for air.

“I have to see him, Lazarus.”

Lazarus looked at him then he looked at the crowd.

“Father… No! Those people will kill you! You do not have to see you him today.”

Simon looked at him then said, “Yes, I do.”

Simon started to walk towards the crowd who were still about thirty feet away. Lazarus, not able to block or physically detain him, followed from behind.

When he was about ten feet from the crowd, Simon started to shout out to them. “Unclean! Unclean! Make way! Unclean!” At first, no one turned around, but then a young woman heard his shout. She turned around and screamed out loud. Apparently, Simon’s veil was uncovered and all the woman saw was a leperous face with no nose. Her scream came to the attention of other women and they too joined in the screaming. When people saw a leper walking purposely towards them, they scrambled out of his way. Simon managed to successfully penetrate through the crowd, so he thought he was going to make it. But then their initial surprise and panic quickly turned into anger.

Simon had to slow down because the angry shouting crowd was not moving aside as much. Then, they started to pelt him with stones. Some of the bolder ones started to come at him with long sticks. One of them hit him in the back of the head and Simon collapsed on his knees. Then they started to pound on him, hitting him on his back and his head.

Simon was dazed and his head was ringing. At one time, he thought his son was calling for him but his voice sounded so distant. Then, the pounding stopped and he heard like a long roaring sound. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw were beefy legs. He looked up in wonder to find what he thought was a giant of a man swinging his staff in a wide circle driving the angry attackers back. Then, the angry voices quieted down.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 23rd 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 022

SIMON THE LEPER
31 AD – The Sermon – Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

Simon thought he ended his sermon there, for the Nazarene paused for such a long time. But then he spoke of entering God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate and then of being wary of false prophets by deeply checking their fruit. Somehow, the delivery was a little different and Simon wondered if the narrow gate had something to do with him.

And sure enough, the Nazarene spoke of himself and said something that may be construed as blasphemous.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” [Matthew 7:21-27 NLT]

Then, the Nazarene stood up indicating he was done. The people started to clap and call out to him.

For Simon, the words of the Nazarene was heaven in itself. He had almost forgotten that he was stricken with a flesh eating disease that will sooner or later take his life. He so wanted to live not because he was afraid. But because he wanted to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven. He watched the Nazarene work his way down the hill through the crowd. It looked like he was making his way to a copse of low lying trees on his side of the stream. It was then he noticed some tents among the trees. A thought occured to him.

Suddenly, he was up and rushing down the hill with his son asking a little surprisingly on where he was going.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 22th 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

JESUS 101: Was God in Error? [part 1]

JESUS-101-003-w.jpg

The President of the Philippines paraphrased his version of the Adam and Eve story into his speech, after which he was bluntly colorful in his criticism of God. After he laid out how Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the president stipulated that God basically set them up for failure. How? By putting in the garden dangerous elements such as the Serpent and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that would eventually tempt them to sin. Then, there is the commandment itself. Why would God give such a command? With these questions hanging unanswered, the president concluded with a question, “how can you rationalize a God like that?”

As a believer, I have to, at least, try to provide an answer.

First, allow me to tackle the president’s critism aspect on God’s being. This whole episode reminded me of another person who was critical of how God handled things. His name was Job.

Job was a wealthy man and was considered “blameless” and “upright” according to God. One day, the devil came before God where He boasted about Job’s goodness, but the devil argued that Job is only good because God had favoured him extravagantly. In the long run, after some cajoling by the devil, God had allowed the devil to put Job to the test to see after the devil’s torment if Job would turn and curse God. Job passed the first test, when after losing his business to marauders and all ten of his children to a devastating catastrophe, he still blessed God in his prayers. But then the second test was when the devil had inflicted upon his body with horrible dibilitating skin sores. At first, he seem to accept his circumstances, but after having a lengthy poetic discourse with what he thought were his friends, he bemoaned the injustice that God allowed evil people to prosper while he suffered. Job wanted to confront God and complain. Now, it would seem that Job may had gotten the upper hand of the argument, but God had a big lesson for him.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” [Job 38:1-4]

So, what is the lesson for us? I don’t know about you, but if God decides to come to correct me in the midst of a whirlwind, there can only be two logical ways for me to face him, with fear and humility. Why? Fear is easy enough. Anyone capable of controlling the weather is worthy of fearful respect. As the Bible says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…’ [Proverbs 9:10] As to humility, the question that God brought up about where was Job… or that matter, where was I or you… when He laid the earth’s foundation… well, you have to see the logic. It is arrogance of any of us to be critical of God, especially when first you don’t have His power and lack the experiential knowledge of Creation. Fortunately, Job learned his lesson and he was blessed beyond imagining.

Meanwhile, there are many people who still wonder whether God erred and why we are paying for it? We will tackle this in my next post.

Until then blessings to you,

Johann Q