FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 006

faithful-encounters-cover-w.jpg

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

 

Jesus 101 – That you may know God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

‘miffed’ – put into an irritable mood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Johann Q

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

NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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

NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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

NLT – New Living Translation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Johann Q

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

NASB – New American Standard Bible
NLT – New Living Translation

Where does my JOY come from? (Part 7)

In 1990, I became ‘born again’ and I wish I could cite the hundreds of Bible verses that speak of what I gained when God sealed me with His Spirit. However, for this part of my self story of where my joy come from, there is one verse that I’ll focus on that is pertinant, Galatians 5:22-23.

On the first five years of my walk with the Lord, I underwent what I call the ‘School for Baby Christians’. Let me tell you, in that school, I learned a lot about the Holy Spirit and He taught me like a mentor. And one important lesson was that the Holy Spirit is real and not a figment of my imagination nor the brainwashing of others. You see, when the Spirit of God entered me, there was proof according to the Apostle Paul, the inspired author of Galatians, who wrote that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]

To emphasize this lesson, God took very good care of me like a mother hen who had gathered her chicks under her wings. I recall in those early years that I hardly underwent any negative effects of any trials that came our way (that is, my wife and I). It was like all life problems were suspended, at least for a short period of time. We were blessed. One aspect of His blessing was the incredible sense of peace I had. Where once the thought of death scared me, I had peace because I know where I’ll go when my time comes. As to anxiety and stress, well, one time, my wife returned with the news the our car was rear ended. My wife was upset but I was unusually jovial about the whole incident. One of the things I noticed was how much I can love unconditionally especially to those who the world would deem unloveable. I was even more impressed by how the Spirit worked on my self-control through which I became a disciplined student. I wish I became born again during my college days. I was such a lousy student then. Other hard trials happened, but instead of emotionally breaking down, the Spirit helped me learned and I grew in faith. So, much so, when the time came, I was ready to fly on my own.

In 1994, the bottom fell off from under me. That was the year, when the peso’s value went so low, I lost a lot of work in the broadcast production business. For awhile, my wife and my savings was down to a few thousand pesos and we had bills and rent to pay. You can imagine, how my mind tried to play tricks with discouraging thoughts. What sustained me emotionally was a promise of God in the Bible’s Old Testament. It read like this. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” [Joshua 1:8 NLT] So, I did. I continued my daily meditation of the Bible and went to numerous Bible Study classes. Some thought I was wasting my time. I was even approached by a family member who took my Bible from my hand and slammed it on the table in front of me and said, ‘it will not put food in-front of me.’ Funny though, the Bible did feed me, so to speak.

One lesson I learned was that God always keep His promises. Less than a month after our bank account went very low, first my wife got hired on a new job and then, money (when needed and unlooked for) would come our way from unexpected sources. You see, by faith I acted upon on Joshua 1:8 and as promised, the Lord prospered me, so to speak.

I have been now walking with the Lord for more than 25 years and I have yet to be disappointed in how the Lord had led my life direction. Sure, it could seem to others that my life story was heading downhill. Since 1994, I have not been able to gain work (except for sporadic projects). Then in 2001, my body started to slow down to a point where I began to depend on an electric scooter. I graduated to a joystick controlled chair when my left arm… my working arm… lost all strenght in 2010. Then my legs gave out and I needed another machine to transfer me from my bed to my chair. By 2015, excruciating pain invaded my body and I was diagnosed that my spinal cord was being dangerously compressed. Today, it is 2018 and I am a quadriplegic unable to be independently mobile like in the old days.

I could be depressed but I choose to be grateful and joyful… an after effect of a Spirit filled life.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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

NLT – New Living Translation