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4

We come today, to the pool of Bethesda. Here we see something that, by today’s standards—western standards at least—seems bizarre. Our story is in John 5:1-9
 
This pool—the name means House of Loving Kindness—had five porches surrounding it. Daily, hundreds of lame, sick, blind and paralyzed people gathered here hoping for a miracle.
 
John tells us the people were waiting for an angel to come down and stir up the water. When the water stirred, the first one in the pool won a free trip to physical health.
 
Some Bibles mark this angel part as a later addition to the text. It all feels a little superstitious doesn’t it?
 
Was it really an angel? What it one of God’s? Perhaps a demon? Perhaps some strange sort of witchcraft?
 
But you know what—Jesus didn’t comment on it. So—I’ve already said too much I suppose.
 
I'm also struck by Jesus's choice to heal one man this day. So often in the gospels we read the story of Jesus healing them all. For instance, the evening after the Sabbath when He healed Peter’s Mother-In-Law. That night He came out after sunset and healed everyone in the city. But not here at the pool of Loving Kindness. At least it’s not recorded. Again—just one of those things to notice.
 
Jesus approaches one man.
 
Why this man? Maybe he was wearing his thirty-eight year perfect attendance pin. Maybe he was the sickest, or most hopeless. More likely (and at least this one is scriptural,) He saw His Father healing this man. (See John 5:19 - just down the page.)
 
Whatever the reason, Jesus approaches this man who has been sick for some thirty-eight years.
 
Let’s talk about this interchange for a minute.
 
Jesus asks him a simple and seemingly obvious question.
 
He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" - John 5:6
 
This is a great place to start.
 
Our churches and gatherings draw a great many folks who never quite get into the water. They sit in church, and sings the songs, but never set their affections on the One Whose name they take. They sit under the sound of good preaching, but the Word of God never finds good soil in their hearts. For these reasons, and other, they bear no fruit.
 
It’s time to put the question to them, and to ourselves…
 
Do you wish to get well?
 
Though to me anyway, the answer seemed obvious—the man actually makes excuses.
 
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." - John 5:7
 
It strikes me that this man’s answer has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus’ question.
 
I wonder if he was answering the question he had heard a thousand times before—the question he expected this mild-mannered man to ask. The question his family and friends had asked him over and over. Even his pool-side companions would ask him this question. It was the question he could not face.
 
“Why do you sit here, day after day?”
 
But that’s not what Jesus asked.
 
In our last installment we met a man who asked the wrong question. The Royal Official asked Jesus to come to his son’s bedside.
 
This time Jesus asks the question and the sick man gives the wrong answer.
 
But there' some good news here. His non-answer didn't drive Jesus away. Jesus opens the healing door for him, no matter how bad his answer was.
 
Are you thinking, "Jesus didn’t offer healing, He simply healed the man?"
 
But did He?
 
He gave the man an imperative—a command.
 
Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." - John 5:8
 
What would have happened if this man gave excuses now? Was he healed and didn’t know it, or did the healing take place as he obeyed the Master’s command?
 
I think sometimes we consider ourselves people of faith all the while sitting at the side of the pool making excuses. Perhaps, like the man, we believe in healing. We believe God does miracles. We believe God wants to save the lost. We know Jesus mends broken hearts. But we sit and make excuses.
 
But this pool-sitter obeyed!
 
He got up and took up his bed and walked, and everything changed.
 
Thirty-eight years of going through the motions, over in an instant.
 
It’s time to “Get up” friends. It’s time to receive the life God has for us. It's time to step out of our pool-side life and step into a life in the Spirit. Jesus promised a river of living water flowing through us, and we sit beside stagnant waters making excuses. [Tweet This]
 
I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know it’s right on the other side of obedience. Think back to the last thing He spoke into your life.
 
Now, get up and do it!
 
Lord, would you bring to our memory that last Word. Would you give us opportunity to obey and step into the life to which You’re calling us? I know You have more for us. Give us the courage to get up and walk!
 
Hey - thanks for stopping in.
 
See you again soon.
 
Ben
 
PS - Get up and walk.

Healing the royal official's son by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752.

A Royal Official

“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” my wife said when she realized Jesus was our only hope.

My son was sick—dying really—and the doctors gave us no hope. They couldn’t even give a name to his malady. He couldn’t keep his food down, and breathing caused such pain it made him shudder. For the last week, he’d had no more than a few cups of milk. He was dying. My little Marcus would leave this life as a twelve-year-old, and leave his mother and me broken.

It came on him suddenly, just three months ago. At first, we thought he had the flu. There were times we thought he would melt from the heat his body produced. Food was harder and harder for him to hold down. The doctors tried everything. I called in doctors from all the neighboring towns. Each one had the same advice. “Try to keep him comfortable.”

I’m a Roman, noble by birth. I’m part of Rome’s occupying force here in Galilee. I’m not military. There are many of Rome’s military forces spread over the region, but I’m here to create Roman culture. My counterparts and I come to these satellite conquests and live Roman lives. This way the people of our new territories can see what Roman life looks like. We live in relative luxury when compared to the rest of Capernaum. This luxury includes the servants we brought with us from Rome. I miss my homeland, though, and have wondered more than once if Roman doctors could heal my son.

My butler brought his family with him from Rome when we moved here four years back. They lived together in a suite of rooms in the servants quarters, off the main house. He is my most trusted confidant. I speak with him about things I would not even share with my wife.

Three days back, my butler mentioned that Jesus, the healer, was back in Galilee—in Cana. We had talked about taking my son to him a few weeks ago, but the reports had him in Jerusalem and around Judea. My son was too sick to travel that far. But Cana—Cana is only a few hours from here.

We first heard of this healer a few months back, when my butler took his wife to find him. It was one Saturday night after the Jew’s Sabbath was over, right here in Capernaum. He told me, the next day, there had been dozens of people waiting outside the home where Jesus spent his Sabbath. When He emerged He healed every one of them. Not one person went home without a touch from this healer, including my butler’s wife. She had been suffering from vision loss since he came into my service. In any practical sense, she was blind. But when he came back in that night, there was a ruckus in the servants quarters. I went to see what was going on and found a full-blown party going on. When he saw me, he didn’t even apologize for the noise or seem concerned. He ran over and gave me a hug. His eyes were wet with tears.

“She can see,” he said through his tears.

I looked at her across the room and our eyes met, and she was nodding. It was true. She was completely healed. She could see.

So when he told me Jesus was back in the area, I told him to get my horse and carriage ready. Then I ran to my son’s bedside. I found my wife holding him, tears running down her cheeks.

“What is it?” I asked.

“He’s gone,” she said.

“Dead?” I asked.

“No,” she answered, “but close. He’s not responding to anything anymore.”

“I want to take him to see the healer—up in Cana,” I said.

“He can’t travel. He’ll be dead before you get him in the carriage.” She said.

“But the healer is back in Cana. He can save him, I’m sure of it.” I urged.

“No. I won’t let you take him,” she insisted.

“Well, I’m going anyway,” I told her.

I threw on my cloak and rushed for the door.

“You’re leaving now?” she asked. “It will be nightfall by the time you reach Cana.”

“Look at him,” I said. “He’s at death’s door. I must see this man as soon as possible.”

“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” she finally agreed.

I ran out the door and found the horse and carriage ready for me in front of the house. I briefly explained I was going alone. We separated horse and carriage and saddled him. I was off for Cana.

My last look at my son panicked me. His body seemed limp, his color, gray. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I had to find this healer and all I knew of his whereabouts was Cana.

When I got to the town, I headed toward the magistrates building near the town center. But before I got there, I saw a crowd gathered in the square. In the center was a man who seemed to have everyone’s attention. As I approached I began to understand why. His words drew me like a bee to a blossom. The sound of His voice seemed to exude peace if that’s even possible. After two hours riding in panic, a calm from without began to press its way into my soul.

When the crowd saw the royal insignia on my horse, they made room for me. I dismounted and walked through the assembly to Jesus.

He stood before me in silence.

“My son is at the point of death,” I began. “He may be dead already, but I’m sure if you will come with me to Capernaum, you can make him well.”

Jesus turned from me to address the crowd.

Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.

Sir,” I almost barked, feeling the panic rising again. I gathered myself and started again, this time with a forced calm. “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus said, “Go; your son lives.

The confidence in His tone—in His words—banished my fear and I believed Him. Three words turned my fear—panic—into peace. I turned and headed back toward my horse. I stopped. I realized I hadn't thanked Him. I turned to go back but He had His back facing me, holding another man in the crowd who knelt before Him.

As the evening hurried toward night, I found an inn at the side of the road. I slept well all night long, and that surprised me. I hadn’t slept that well since before my son fell ill.

I started awake, disoriented, forgetting where I was. For a split second, worry pressed upward from the depths. Then I saw my cloak and gear and remembered everything.

Only minutes after I left the inn, my butler and I met in the way.

“Master, master, your son lives!” he was calling as he ran to meet me.

We rejoiced for no short time, and then I asked, “When? When did things change?”

Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him,” came his answer.

“It was Jesus!” I said with confidence. "That’s when He spoke the words."

“Words?” he asked.

Your son lives,” I answered. “Those three words saved Marcus’ life. Three little words. Your son lives.”

We would be a few more hours on the road, but there was no gap in our talk of this fellow, Jesus. My servant told me of the things he had seen in Capernaum, and I told him my story again, and again, and once more.

Your son lives.” His words resound in my mind.

When we arrived at home, my son greeted me at the end of the walk. He started telling me what happened at home, while I tried to tell him what Jesus had done. In the end, I told my story to everyone in the household. I told my son, my wife, my other children. I called all the servants together and told them to bring their families. I then recounted the miracle for them as well. 

All who heard believed in this Healer from Nazareth.

~~~

To read the original story, see John 4:46-54.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more like it in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes you, as you read, from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon.

If this story encouraged you, would you do me a favor? Would you share it? It would be a great honor to me and would get the word out about the book.

Thanks so much for taking the time to spend here with me.

Walk with Jesus,

Ben

A royal official hears that Jesus is back in Cana. Perhaps he had been at the wedding, or met someone who had been. In any case, he comes to Jesus because his son is sick and near death.

Not only had he likely heard of Jesus’ turning the water to wine, by now, news was spreading across all Galilee that Jesus was healing the sick.

A man’s love for his son makes him so some things that he might no normally do. In this case, we can assume that the man has exhausted his natural resources to save the life of his son. Hearing that this miracle worker is in town, he heads to Cana. From the way the story is told, it seems he may have had to travel a day’s journey.

At first Jesus makes a comment that might put many off.

So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe." - John 4:48

It seems as though Jesus is bemoaning the fact that people want to see signs, and other wise will never believe. But is that wrong? Is it a bad thing? Isn’t that the premise for John’s gospel?

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:30-31

And, in fact, Jesus doesn’t begrudge this man his sign. Those standing by would not see this one, but the royal official would experience God’s power and glory first hand. Not only that, we would get an understanding of the power of the kingdom of God over space and time.

But, as I mentioned in the first installment of this series, Mary told us to do whatever He tell us. So let’s check out the imperative in the story.

The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."

Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:49-50

Just before we look at the red letters, notice that the man’s request pulled on Jesus to work in a way the man could understand. How often do our prayers try to pull God into the box we’ve created for Him?

He says, “Sir, come…” In this royal officials mind, Jesus needed to be present in the flesh to “fix” his problem, to deal with his issue.

What was he expecting? He wanted Jesus to come to his son’s bedside and pray, or touch him, or speak words of life, or perhaps like Elisha did lay on the child, mouth to mouth, eye to eye and hand to hand.

I’m not sure what he was expecting, but Jesus didn’t even pray. The truth is, you never see Jesus pray for the sick. You see him heal the sick. But, that’s a message for a different day.

What did Jesus do? No matter how you search you’ll be hard pressed to find him doing anything in this story. He just tells the man to go.

Jesus said to him, "Go; your son lives." - John 4:50

At this point we see some remarkable faith in the royal officials life. I want you to get this. Jesus is the truth. When He said “your sone lives,” that was not a wish, or a hope, it was true. Jesus, said it and the royal official believed the word.

The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. - John 4:50

This Word from Jesus was a seed, and the man’s heart was good soil, prepared to receive the word with gladness, and move in faith at that moment.

He did not come back with any BUTs.

I might have. How about you?

Jesus, are you sure you can’t come with me. I want you to touch my son, I want you to pray for my son, lay hands on him, cast his demons out, hold him, coddle him. Why won’t you come?

We learn the mans son was healed right then, at that moment. With the word spoken and received, the healing, a days’ journey away, was already manifest. “Your son lives!”

What Jesus speaks comes to pass.

What has Jesus spoken life to in your world?

What have you laid before Jesus hoping for Him to come and touch and heal?

Have you heard Him say, “Go?” Has He already released the answer?

Your son lives.

Hallelujah!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Keep shining,

Ben

When did I know for sure?

I can still remember the day—the day my suspicions about Jesus shifted to confidence—the day the light dawned in my heart and I knew that I knew God’s chosen Messiah stood before me.

My name is Andrew and I’d been following Jesus for a few weeks. One morning He woke us early and told us we were going to a wedding. It was before Matthew joined our group so there were only six of us then. It was early in the spring. I remember how crisp the air seemed as we packed up and headed to Cana. Mary, Jesus' mother, had some family in Cana. She told Jesus there was room for all of us to stay for the full week to enjoy the festivities.

That was a particularly rainy spring. When we arrived in Cana, we were a mess. At Mary's urging we found the stone pots set aside for washing. They were massive stone tubs filled with water. When we found them, there was a line at each one. Many others arrived as we did all caked with dust and mud from their travels. Each of us took care to get the mud and filth off our feet, hands and faces. Then Jesus led us off to present ourselves to the wedding party.

On the second day of the wedding celebration, John and I began wondering why we were spending the week here. Usually our days consisted of gathering groups to hear Jesus teach. Sometimes we’d go to a synagogue in a small town. Afterwards, Jesus would walk us through the passages they read in the meeting and share His amazing insights. It always seemed to me that He knew the scriptures far better than the local rabbi. He wouldn’t talk about some ancient rabbi’s thoughts, like they do in the gatherings. He would compare scripture to scripture. He’d point out the similarities in the messages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, or the final outcome for Nineveh in Nahum. I could never keep all those prophets straight in my mind, but it was as though He knew them—personally. For Him the history of our people, Israel, seemed to be recent memory, as if He lived through it with them. When I learned those old stories as a boy growing up, it all seemed so long ago and far away—like a story-book. When He taught us, it played out like He was in the middle of each event. He would bring the scriptures to life for us.

It is was mid-afternoon that second day when John said, “I thought He wanted us to see something. So far He hasn’t even done one of His—Let’s talk about…—things in the evenings. He just seems to be enjoying the wedding.

That’s when things started to get interesting.

One of Mary’s relatives and I sat not far from the cooking tent as she told me her story. She and Mary had been pregnant at the same time. I came to find out later that this was, in fact, the mother of John the Baptizer. He mentored me before Jesus came on the scene.

That’s when one of the waiters approached Mary. He looked nervous. I couldn’t hear what he said, but she went right over to Jesus. She started talking with Him, gesturing toward the waiter.

She seemed agitated when she approached Him. At first He turned away, as if ignoring her panic. She turned to some waiters who stood with her. At this point she was facing us, and I could hear her say, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” They followed Him.

That’s when He gathered us together and said, “They’ve run out of wine.”

Peter started right in. “What can we do about it? Do any of you know Cana? Is this even our problem?”

Jesus silenced Him with a turn of His hand and went on, “Help the waiters. They’re filling those stone washing tubs we used when we arrived. That should be plenty.”

Nathaniel, a little confused, asked him, “Plenty of what? What are you going to do with those filthy pots?”

Jesus moved on as if He hadn’t heard him.

In short order we brought Jesus over to 6 of those basins, full to the brim. These water pots—tubs, really—were used for the ceremonial washing before each meal and as a place to clean up after a journey as we had done. This washing was more than a practical cleanse. It indicated setting aside the spiritual filth we’d been walking in. We Jews like to keep short accounts with God. We wash before every meal to remind us of our need to stay in good standing with God. It keeps the corrupting nature of the world in the foreground of our hearts and minds.

There we all stood looking at those filthy tanks of water. I didn’t know what to expect next. Would He have us scrub them out, or dump them. What was He thinking.

But He didn’t do anything. He stood there quietly looking into one of the pots, and then looked up and said to one of the waiters, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."

The two waiters who were there with us looked at each other, as if to ask why. Nothing had changed. We were still looking at one hundred eighty gallons of water sitting in six filthy tubs.

They stood there for a few beats. Jesus gave a sharp nod toward the water, and the server to the right reached over for ladle. He filled it with the water, and two of them turned and started walking toward the headwaiter. They went about three steps and paused to look back at Jesus. He motioned them on with a gesture. They again started toward their employer. One of them sniffed at the liquid in the ladle, hoping for something more, but disappointed. He shrugged and went on.

From where I was standing, I couldn’t see what was in the spoon. What I could see was the two men look at each other with a start, just as they reached their master. Then they held the ladle up to him, and pointed back to the water pots. That’s when I realized the pots that stood before us no longer contained water. They were brim full of deep rich wine, gallons and gallons of beautiful red liquid.

The headwaiter took a sniff, then a sip, then he swallowed the rest of the wine in the spoon. He started back toward us. It was then I realized the father of the bride, our host, stood beside one of the tubs. The waiter came to him and said, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.

The waiters began to fill bottles from the tubs so this new wine could take its place at the tables.

When I finally got a taste of the miracle wine, tears came to my eyes. Standing in the midst of these festivities I saw the picture He had painted for us, for me. Most of the guests enjoyed this good wine, but I saw the source. I knew this wonderful vintage, transformed from that vile water, looked a lot like my life. If He could make this water, contaminated with the offscouring of life’s filth, into this fine wine, couldn't He transform my life too? Couldn't he take the filthy water of my sin crusted past, and turn it into something beautiful and full of joy?

I wanted to tell everyone that it was Jesus, my mentor, my friend, who made this wine, but He pulled us aside. He did not want to make a big deal of this with the people.

I knew then. Jesus is the Messiah for whom we've waited.

~~~

To read the original story, see John 2:1-11.

 

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017 all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Jesus, you might enjoy my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

4

Coming Clean

Zaccheus

“What are you doing here? We paid your abusive fees just two weeks back. You can’t possibly want more already.”

This is not the first time I received this reception. I may be the most hated man in all Jericho—maybe all Israel.

“Please let me in. I’m not here to take, I’m here to give—no—to return what is rightfully yours.”

Finally, the door cracks open.

“May—may I come in?” I ask.

Slowly the door swings a bit wider and Ethan, a well-to-do businessman, allows me to step inside his home. We stand in his foyer. He invites me no farther.

I understand. I’ve been collecting his taxes since he moved here from Jerusalem eight years ago. Truthfully, it’s men like Ethan who have made me the rich man I am today—or should I say, I was yesterday. The tax Rome requires of Jewish businessmen like Ethan is high to begin with, but I didn’t become rich taking just what Rome demands. I am allowed to take as much as I can get, and that’s what I’ve done—for years.

Ethan, and others like him, filled my accounts.

He broke the awkward silence. “What do you have to give me, Zaccheus, next month’s tax bill? Why not send one of your lackeys with it, like every other time?”

“Ethan,” I began, “It’s not like that. Today, I’m here to make things right.”

Ethan chuckled, “How could you possibly do that?”

I’ve found, in the past week, the best way to fix all these broken relationships in my life, is to come right out with it. It’s on me, so best to just get it off. Since the day Jesus came through Jericho, I’ve spoken with a dozen local businessmen. It’s always the same.

“I’ve been stealing from you,” I said.

“What?” he replied.

“I’ve been taking far more from you than Rome requires,” I continued.

“You’ve been what? You’ve been robbing me? And now you stand right here in my home, for what? Are you here to mock me?”

As his anger mounted, he yanked open the door and motioned for me to leave.

“Get out!” He was shouting now. From the corner of my eye, I noticed that his wife sidling up to hear what was happening. I stood my ground. This was not the first angry man I faced recently.

“I’m here to make it right,” I repeated.

He stopped pushing but did not close the door.

“I’m here to return what I’ve stolen, and to ask you to forgive me. I’ve grown rich through over taxing men like you, honest hard-working businessmen, who have earned their wealth through hours and days of planning and hard work. I’ve slithered in and taken every penny I could manage.”

As I spoke the truth He seemed to be softening.

“So how can you make this right?” he asked.

“I keep meticulous records,” I said. “I know exactly what I’ve taken, and today, I’m returning four times as much as I have over taxed you.”

I handed him the bag of coins.

“It’s all there,” I said, “6,400 denarii. Eight years worth of my dishonesty in a bag. I pray you’ll forgive me.” I said. He opened the bag and ran his hand through the coins.

“I-I don’t understand,” Ethan said, quietly now. His wife approached. He showed her the bag.

She looked at me, head shaking.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked.

I answered with a question of my own.

“Have you heard of Jesus the Nazarene?”

“I’ve heard the name, one of those Messiah pretenders, isn’t he?” Ethan replied.

“I saw him the day He came through town,” Ethan’s wife said. “I needed a few things and went down to the market. As I shopped the square filled with people, and a procession flooded the streets. The man you mentioned, Jesus, walked in the center of it all. Crowds of His followers filled the streets in every direction. People pressed toward him, calling out. People all around me told the most unbelievable stories. Healings. Miracles. I heard one person say He raises the dead. I didn’t know what to think about all of it.”

I say, “He picked me out of the crowd, or should I say, out of a tree.” I stifle a laugh as I remembered how strange it all seemed at the time. “The day He came through town, I too wanted to see Him. The crowds, as you say, were such that I couldn’t see anything past the second or third row. I looked farther down the path He was walking and noticed a sycamore tree, and had an idea. I ran ahead and climbed the tree to gain a vantage point.

“I thought I was hidden there, but as He approached my perch our eyes locked. He saw me. And this was no glance. His eyes seemed to be calling me, and not just down from the tree. His eyes were calling me out of my past, out of all the lies and cheating, out of my very identity. It unnerved me.

“The next thing I knew, He was actually calling me.

“Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house,” Jesus said.

“At the sound of His voice, I scrambled down the tree, and we headed off to my home. Once inside, away from the eyes and ears of the crowd, He sat with us. He had me call my whole family in. He asked if we had any bread and wine. He broke the bread and we shared the wine. It felt like the Passover festivities of my youth. We have not celebrated Passover since we have been here in Jericho.

“My childhood rushed back to me as I ate the bread He offered. In my father’s house, we always celebrated Passover and every other feast and fast of our people. I can remember hearing the story of the slaughtered lamb and the night our people ate in haste and fled Egypt before Pharoh’s army. My love for the Almighty grew in those years.

“As I took the cup from His hands and touched it to my lips, I heard my own voice, forty years earlier, calling out to the Almighty, and promising to walk in His ways all the days of my life.

“With this memory came a flood of shame for all that I’ve become. I sat there, surrounded by all the things my lying and thievery had won me and began to weep. It was then our eyes met once more.

“Drink,” He said. “Drink and be clean. This cup is redemption for you and your household. You can be pure again. That’s what my name means—pure—Zaccheus and that’s when I broke down.

“I wept there for what seemed like an hour, and He gathered Himself, and started to leave. We walked out the door together, and the crowd was still there. I gripped His arm and looked up into his eyes one more time.

“I said, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.

“His face seemed to say He knew I would. Then He turned to the crowd and said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’

“Since that day I’ve been making things right. It seems I owe almost everyone in Jericho something. At first, I was afraid to approach those I had cheated. I thought I would find hostility. But it has been the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t know the strength of money’s hold on my heart. The more money I had, the more fear surrounded me, and the more greed grasped at my heart. Once I broke the hold riches had on my heart, it changed everything.

“Now these visits fill me with life. Giving back what I have taken from folks like you brings joy and freedom. I never would have imagined giving could be so fulfilling.”

As I finish my story, I can see that Ethan and his wife are both on the edge of tears. I turn to leave and Ethan approaches and embraces me. “We do forgive you, Zaccheus, and I will be looking into this Jesus. If He can change you, He might just be the Messiah.”

His wife touches my hand and says “Thank you,” and the door closes behind me.

There is nothing more satisfying that walking in His ways.

~~~
To read the original story, see Luke 19:1-10.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017 all rights reserved.

Encounters With JesusIf you enjoyed this brand new Encounter With the Jesus, you might enjoy my book, Encounters with Jesus. It is a collection of forty stories told in similar fashion, from the conception of Jesus through His resurrection. It's available now in paperback or kindle versions.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by

See you again soon.

Ben

4

Hi all,

When I started blogging in 2012, I knew basically no one in the WordPress community, but I wanted to write. So, I like many others, just started to write. I'm not sure how it happened exactly, but one day I started getting lovely, encouraging, and sometimes hilarious comments from my now dear friend Stella. She had a different name, but the same sweet and friendly way.

She's a brilliant poet, and her prose will draw you into the world she has created. Check our her blog here.

Well, she recently reviewed my book, Encounters With Jesus, and I wanted to share her review here, with you all.

So - here goes:


Book Review–Don’t Miss This One!

Ben (Benjamin) Nelson, of Another Red Letter Day—a man I may never meet personally, but am proud to call brother—has written and published an anointed book.  Encounters With Jesus is beautiful, from cover to lovely cover.  Ben takes us through “40 days in the life of Jesus…through the eyes of those He touched”.

I first came across Ben’s blog six years ago and was impressed with his knowledge of the Bible, as well as his clear, concise, and engaging writing style.  In his book, he’s written the short “encounters” to reflect a distinctive new shimmer on the Biblical passages from which Ben has drawn them.

Throughout each “encounter”, Ben intersperses a verse or two from The Message Bible which adds to the “you are there” feeling you’ll enjoy as you read.  And although Ben suggests you not read the book in one sitting—but rather one story per day—I found it’s really hard to stop, once you open the first page.

I rarely do book reviews—and yes, I’m a little biased, but not over-much. This book will bless you in a way that warms and lights you up inside…and it makes a wonderful gift, too.  It’s available on Amazon.com—so treat yourself to something special!

I’m already looking forward to Ben’s next book—that’s how good Encounters With Jesus is.

© Stella Carousel, 2017 ~ All rights reserved.


Here's the link to the review in its original habitat.

Thanks so much Stella! As I have told you before, your encouragement during my earliest days of writing online is a big part of why I decided to put Encounters out there in the first place.

If you've not gotten your hands on a copy of Encounters With Jesus, what are you waiting for? This is a great time to walk through the life of Jesus. March 1st is he beginning of Lent this year, and those 40 days would be well spent taking a fresh look at the life of Jesus.

Get your copy here. It's available in paperback and kindle.

If you want to use it for a Bible Study or discussion group, quantities of 5 or more, email me (Ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com) and I can get you a price break.

Thank you all for stopping by.

See you again soon,

Ben

12

Healing the royal official's son by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752.

A Royal Official

“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” my wife said when she realized Jesus was our only hope.

My son was sick—dying really—and the doctors gave us no hope. They couldn’t even give a name to his malady. He couldn’t keep his food down, and breathing caused such pain it made him shudder. For the last week, he’d had no more than a few cups of milk. He was dying. My little Marcus would leave this life as a twelve-year-old, and leave his mother and me broken.

It came on him suddenly, just three months ago. At first, we thought he had the flu. There were times we thought he would melt from the heat his body produced. Food was harder and harder for him to hold down. The doctors tried everything. I called in doctors from all the neighboring towns. Each one had the same advice. “Try to keep him comfortable.”

I’m a Roman, noble by birth. I’m part of Rome’s occupying force here in Galilee. I’m not military. There are many of Rome’s military forces spread over the region, but I’m here to create Roman culture. My counterparts and I come to these satellite conquests and live Roman lives. This way the people of our new territories can see what Roman life looks like. We live in relative luxury when compared to the rest of Capernaum. This luxury includes the servants we brought with us from Rome. I miss my homeland, though, and have wondered more than once if Roman doctors could heal my son.

My butler brought his family with him from Rome when we moved here four years back. They lived together in a suite of rooms in the servants quarters, off the main house. He is my most trusted confidant. I speak with him about things I would not even share with my wife.

Three days back, my butler mentioned that Jesus, the healer, was back in Galilee—in Cana. We had talked about taking my son to him a few weeks ago, but the reports had him in Jerusalem and around Judea. My son was too sick to travel that far. But Cana—Cana is only a few hours from here.

We first heard of this healer a few months back, when my butler took his wife to find him. It was one Saturday night after the Jew’s Sabbath was over, right here in Capernaum. He told me, the next day, there had been dozens of people waiting outside the home where Jesus spent his Sabbath. When He emerged He healed every one of them. Not one person went home without a touch from this healer, including my butler’s wife. She had been suffering from vision loss since he came into my service. In any practical sense, she was blind. But when he came back in that night, there was a ruckus in the servants quarters. I went to see what was going on and found a full-blown party going on. When he saw me, he didn’t even apologize for the noise or seem concerned. He ran over and gave me a hug. His eyes were wet with tears.

“She can see,” he said through his tears.

I looked at her across the room and our eyes met, and she was nodding. It was true. She was completely healed. She could see.

So when he told me Jesus was back in the area, I told him to get my horse and carriage ready. Then I ran to my son’s bedside. I found my wife holding him, tears running down her cheeks.

“What is it?” I asked.

“He’s gone,” she said.

“Dead?” I asked.

“No,” she answered, “but close. He’s not responding to anything anymore.”

“I want to take him to see the healer—up in Cana,” I said.

“He can’t travel. He’ll be dead before you get him in the carriage.” She said.

“But the healer is back in Cana. He can save him, I’m sure of it.” I urged.

“No. I won’t let you take him,” she insisted.

“Well, I’m going anyway,” I told her.

I threw on my cloak and rushed for the door.

“You’re leaving now?” she asked. “It will be nightfall by the time you reach Cana.”

“Look at him,” I said. “He’s at death’s door. I must see this man as soon as possible.”

“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” she finally agreed.

I ran out the door and found the horse and carriage ready for me in front of the house. I briefly explained I was going alone. We separated horse and carriage and saddled him. I was off for Cana.

My last look at my son panicked me. His body seemed limp, his color, gray. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I had to find this healer and all I knew of his whereabouts was Cana.

When I got to the town, I headed toward the magistrates building near the town center. But before I got there, I saw a crowd gathered in the square. In the center was a man who seemed to have everyone’s attention. As I approached I began to understand why. His words drew me like a bee to a blossom. The sound of His voice seemed to exude peace if that’s even possible. After two hours riding in panic, a calm from without began to press its way into my soul.

When the crowd saw the royal insignia on my horse, they made room for me. I dismounted and walked through the assembly to Jesus.

He stood before me in silence.

“My son is at the point of death,” I began. “He may be dead already, but I’m sure if you will come with me to Capernaum, you can make him well.”

Jesus turned from me to address the crowd.

Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.

Sir,” I almost barked, feeling the panic rising again. I gathered myself and started again, this time with a forced calm. “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus said, “Go; your son lives.

The confidence in His tone—in His words—banished my fear and I believed Him. Three words turned my fear—panic—into peace. I turned and headed back toward my horse. I stopped. I realized I hadn't thanked Him. I turned to go back but He had His back facing me, holding another man in the crowd who knelt before Him.

As the evening hurried toward night, I found an inn at the side of the road. I slept well all night long, and that surprised me. I hadn’t slept that well since before my son fell ill.

I started awake, disoriented, forgetting where I was. For a split second, worry pressed upward from the depths. Then I saw my cloak and gear and remembered everything.

Only minutes after I left the inn, my butler and I met in the way.

“Master, master, your son lives!” he was calling as he ran to meet me.

We rejoiced for no short time, and then I asked, “When? When did things change?”

Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him,” came his answer.

“It was Jesus!” I said with confidence. "That’s when He spoke the words."

“Words?” he asked.

Your son lives,” I answered. “Those three words saved Marcus’ life. Three little words. Your son lives.”

We would be a few more hours on the road, but there was no gap in our talk of this fellow, Jesus. My servant told me of the things he had seen in Capernaum, and I told him my story again, and again, and once more.

Your son lives.” His words resound in my mind.

When we arrived at home, my son greeted me at the end of the walk. He started telling me what happened at home, while I tried to tell him what Jesus had done. In the end, I told my story to everyone in the household. I told my son, my wife, my other children. I called all the servants together and told them to bring their families. I then recounted the miracle for them as well. 

All who heard believed in this Healer from Nazareth.

~~~

To read the original story, see John 4:46-54.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more like it in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes you, as you read, from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon.

If this story encouraged you, would you do me a favor? Would you share it? It would be a great honor to me and would get the word out about the book.

Thanks so much for taking the time to spend here with me.

Walk with Jesus,

Ben

2

Encounters With Jesus just received another 5 Star review! Thank YOU!!

Here's what quierofuego has to say about Encounters With Jesus.


 

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

I remember a period of time when the gospels came alive to me. I read through

 

them again and again, thinking "I finally get it! It's all about Jesus' compassion! Jesus didn't just heal people and do miracles to prove that he was God. He showed us what God's heart is."

In "Encounters With Jesus," Ben Nelson shares stories from the gospels from the perspectives of the people Jesus touched. This work is semi-fiction, as scripture only gives limited details its stories. It certainly doesn't contradict the account of scripture, but it helps us to imagine what the people who met Jesus thought and felt.

"Encounters With Jesus" often brought me to tears as I considered again the wonderful compassion and nature of Jesus--God in the flesh, God come as a man. This is a great resource to help you meditate on the nature of Christ and to let his goodness and compassion transform you.


Thank so much, if you have reviewed Encounters. It's such an encouragement to me and helps others find it, too.

If you're not familiar with Encounters With Jesus you can read a couple free chapters here (Blood in the Sheets) and here (What I found at the Well), and see what others are saying in their Amazon reviews here.

If you would like to order yours, it's available in paperback or kindle from Amazon. For orders of five or more copies - email me - Ben@AnotherRedLetterDay.com and I can offer you a better price.

Thanks for stopping by and please forgive this shameless commerce post.

You are a blessing.

Keep the light shining.

Ben

 

 

4

James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary,
his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him.
Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts:
gold, frankincense, myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

A Star Speaks

Magi

Last night I had a dream—at least I think it was a dream. An angel stood before me and told me not to trust Herod, but to leave without passing back through Jerusalem.

In days past, my nation, Babylon, took captive many people from many places. Most of the people we conquered were content to be alive and, over time, assimilated to our culture. I don’t suppose anyone liked slavery or living in foreign lands. But our king in those days, Nebuchadnezzar, would have our captives evaluated. He believed it was a waste to put great minds in the fields or strong bodies in the counting house. People were not as likely to revolt if they were capable in their occupations.

You’re probably wondering who I am and what I’m doing here in Bethlehem.  Some call my sect stargazers; some think we’re magicians. In reality, we’re students—students of the wisdom we’ve gleaned from the cultures we have conquered.

When I finished my apprenticeship about five years back, I took on the writings from a peculiar people, the Hebrews.

The strange thing about these Jews is that they would never assimilate. They never became Babylonians—not even Babylonian captives. They were Jews and only Jews. They kept their customs and their ways. They dressed alike and stayed together. There were some, of course, who intermarried and some who left the worship of their God. Some even mixed their religions with others in our massive melting pot of culture. But most Hebrews held tight to their traditions and to their God.

One notable Hebrew captive was a young man named Belteshazzar. His Hebrew name was Daniel. I call him “the dreamer.” He and a few of his fellow Jews rose to places of great influence in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He was a seer. He could read dreams and was able to see into the future. He often spoke of a coming messiah revealed in the Hebrew writings. This deliverer would come to release captive Israel. He spoke of a king for the Jews who would come when the time was right.

One night about two years ago, a new star appeared in the heavens. We called it a star, but it was unlike any we’d studied before. Most of the other stars circled the night sky, but this star was always right overhead. We observed it for a few weeks, and there it stood every clear night, shining bright and strong.

We began calculations to determine what it might be and what it might mean, and everything pointed to Israel.

We brought this information to our nation’s leadership. They wanted nothing to do with a king born in the land now occupied by the Romans. Our day had past, and Rome was a force far beyond our grasp.

My fellow astronomers and I began to look to others to support a journey to see what this star meant. As we told of the ancient stories of a king born in Jerusalem and sent from the Hebrew God, many listened. There were many who still held to the religion of the Hebrews.

They donated supplies for our journey and gifts for this king—most notably gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It took a few months more to gather enough support to make the nine-hundred-mile journey. By the time we were ready to travel, we had not only accumulated much to offer this new king, but we’d gathered quite a following.

We decided to take the route used by Israel when they made the trek back to their land. 450 years ago, Ezra led many Hebrews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and their temple. Rather than heading straight across the desert toward the star, we traveled northeast along the Euphrates and then south along the Jordan River.

We arrived in Jerusalem three days ago and met with Herod and his counselors. They directed us to Bethlehem. He offered us a handsome reward if we returned and guided him to this young king. I see now that he was plotting to destroy the child and this threat to his own reign.

Yesterday, after almost two years of planning and travel, we met with this child king. I was beginning to fear that the whole thing was a huge mistake, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

It was late afternoon by the time we reached Bethlehem. We asked around, yet no one knew of a boy king. We stopped and considered the star once more as evening approached. It seemed to be guiding us. I can’t explain how we knew, but we followed this guide right to the house where Jesus was staying.

We knocked on the door. The man who greeted us seemed unsure what to make of our foreign garb and the entourage that followed after us. I was not sure what to say either. My heart raced.

“Is this the home of the King?” I asked, unable to contain my excitement.

When I said it, I saw the tension leave his face.

“You must mean the child, Jesus. Wait here,” he replied.

I could see that the home was far too small to welcome our company, so we waited without while the man of the house left us. Moments later, he returned with a couple and their young child.

“This is Joseph of Nazareth and his wife, Mary, and her child, Jesus.”

Mary’s eyes grew when she saw our troupe, and she drew Jesus behind Joseph.

“What business do you have with us?” Joseph said.

I then fell to one knee as I looked upon the child. He looked like any other Hebrew boy, but there was something different in the air. I sensed a calm flowing out of the house. The curious boy peeked around Joseph’s legs and stared at us, his little head cocked. I’m sure we looked strange to these Jews, with our camels and colorful robes.

“We have come to pay homage to the One born King of the Jews. Is this the child? Is this the One the prophets foretold, the One called Emanuel?” I said.

“Yes,” Mary said. “His name is Jesus, and His miraculous birth was foretold by our prophets for hundreds of years.”

“We have come to worship this Messiah of the Jews with gifts from our nation.”

Then we presented our many gifts. The gold we carried made a fitting offering for a king and the frankincense a worthy homage to a holy man. The myrrh was a curiosity to me, because it was so melancholy. Yes, it was a precious and costly gift, but it spoke of death, which did not seem a fitting gift for child or king.

Our gifts accepted, the young couple took us into town to find a place for our party to stay the night. The inn was full but offered to let us rest in their stable. Before they left us for the night, Mary told me this was the place of the child’s birth.

How could it be that One so important, foreseen for centuries, could be born in such lowly surroundings and to such common people? Their house was tiny, and there were no attendants or servants to care for Him. This child of peace and grace should be in Jerusalem, in the great palace there.

It was as I slept in the hay that I had the dream. A man—an angel perhaps—stood before me and warned me not to return to Herod, but to go home another way. We returned to the house the next morning and told the couple of my dream. Some wanted to stay in Bethlehem and serve the young king, but his parents insisted we go, for our safety and theirs.

There is something within me that does not want to leave. This place has a hold on me. The child has captured my imagination. I don’t want to leave, but how can I stay?

What will become of this young king?

~~~

To read the original story, see Matthew 2:1-12.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2015

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

The story above is a chapter from my book Encounters With Jesus, which is a compilation of forty such stories. It takes you from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon.If you want both you can get the Kindle version for only 99c when you buy the paperback on Amazon.

2

Truly I say to you,
this poor widow put in more than all of them;
for they all out of their surplus put into the offering;
but she out of her poverty
put in all that she had to live on.
Luke 21:3-4

All She Had

A Widow

I still remember the first time I saw this one they call Jesus. Who could forget that day? It’s been just about three years. My husband Ari was still alive then, but he was not well. We barely collected enough money to buy a pair of turtledoves this year, let alone a lamb like we did when the kids were young.

Passover was always my favorite time of year. All the children were part of it and Ari always made sure we did everything, every game and story for the children, every glass of wine for the adults, every song for all of us.

Passover wasn’t simply a remembrance of days gone by to Ari and me. We often dreamed of a day when Israel would be free again. It’s true, Rome lets us sacrifice in the temple and have our meetings. But we prayed that the Lord would come and restore the true worship, as in the days of King David. In those days worship toward the Lord God would be offered twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Ari used to tell me the prophets spoke of a real son of David sitting on the throne again. We longed for those days.

That was before Ari got sick. But three years ago, when we came to the temple to offer our sacrifice, it was to be just two turtledoves. Our family was scattered and would not come home for Passover.

Just as we were getting ready to purchase our offering, that young man, Jesus, started dumping tables. Ari pulled me back as we looked on in shock as table after table went tumbling, coins rolling this way and that.

At first, I was angry. Why was this young rebel disrupting our worship? We had come, as we have been coming for forty years together, to worship the Lord.

From where we were standing I could see His face as He drove sheep and cattle out of the gate, and let the doves and pigeons out of their cages. His actions were angry and violent, but in His eyes—well—his eyes were wet with tears.

His voice echoed around the courtyard.

"Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business."

It almost seemed His heart was broken over what He found in the temple.

As I said, that was almost three years ago now. My Ari died the next fall.

Initially, when he passed on, I thought I would be all right, I thought I could make what he left for me last. I sold the little shop where he and I sold butter and cheese. The young man who bought it from me lets me stay in one of the back rooms. But he can’t afford to feed me, so I’ve been living on the few eggs my sweet hens lay.

This last winter was so cold and long—you remember, don’t you—I had to trade my few chickens for firewood to keep the stove going in my little room. Now I have nothing left.

I’ve decided to give myself to serve in the temple. They take in widows and let them keep the courtyards clean. This way I can make my whole life about worshipping the Lord God. Maybe I’ll never see the son of David on the throne or public worship day and night, but at least I can worship Him with the rest of my life. He has kept me through these hard times and cares for my every need. My few remaining years are the least I can give back.

My landlord and his family received news of my decision to leave with mixed feelings. His wife was expecting, so they really needed my room for their growing family.

I really had nothing in the room that I wanted except one small box. Enclosed within were a few letters Ari had written to me decades earlier. We were betrothed, and he was serving in the army when he wrote them.  I think I read every one of them one hundred times before he came home to me. Since his passing, I’ve taken to reading them often. Now when I read them, I think about him waiting for me to come home.

The box also contained two tiny copper coins. These were a remembrance of that

A bronze mite, also known as a Lepton (meaning small), minted by Alexander Jannaeus, King of Judaea, 103 - 76 B.C. obverse: the blooming lotus scepter of ancient Egypt in circle, reverse: star of eight rays.
A bronze mite, also known as a Lepton (meaning small), minted by Alexander Jannaeus, King of Judaea, 103 - 76 B.C. obverse: the blooming lotus scepter of ancient Egypt in circle, reverse: star of eight rays.

day in the temple when the young prophet Jesus dumped the tables. As we stood out of the way, in the midst of all that chaos, these two mites rolled up and stopped at our feet.

We looked up to see who they belonged to, but in the tumult, there seemed nothing we could do.

As I looked at the two stars pressed into the copper, I knew just what to do with them. They were intended for worship that day in the court. I’ll put them in the treasury as an offering to the Lord.

I headed out the door for the last time, just this morning. We said our goodbyes with hugs and tears. They wished me the Lord’s best, and I touched their unborn child and spoke a blessing over it.

As I approached the temple I noticed that the booths and vendors were outside the temple gates, selling doves and sheep for the offerings. Even the money changers were outside the gates exchanging Roman currency for the temple coins.

I stopped and spoke to a boy selling doves at the side of the road.

“Why are you outside the temple court today, boy?” I asked.

“That Jesus person is in the temple again today,” he replied with annoyance. “He drove us out on the first day of the week after His little procession.”

I wasn’t sure what procession he was talking about, but it sounded like that young prophet was back in Jerusalem for the holy days again this year. My heart pounded a bit as I wondered whether I would see Him again today.

I wanted to take care of these coins before I talked to the temple administrators about  keeping me on as a caretaker in the temple. Once I put them in the offering, I could honestly offer myself to the service of the Almighty without any ties to this world.

As I entered the women’s court of the temple I found crowds of spectators at the treasury. During the holy days, the rich come to fulfill their pledges while the crowds are in town for the festivities. People love to stand and watch as the rich come and make their donations. I wondered if I would be shunned from this group of givers.

Each of these wealthy men before me had their servants surrounding them. As they gave, they would have a crier announce the amount they were giving. Some gave more in one offering than our whole village could earn in a year.

Part of me wanted to go back to my village. I didn’t belong here among all the rich and powerful people. But I knew I had to give the Lord my tiny offering. After one large entourage stepped away from the treasury with great fanfare, I quietly approached.

My nerves were on high alert. I could feel the eyes of many watching as I fumbled with my two tiny copper coins. I knew the money would never make any difference to the temple, but my heart hoped that the Lord would be pleased with my offering. I had to keep reminding myself that I was not meeting a need, but honoring my Lord.

I heard some people laugh as my coins dropped into the box, and wondered if they were mocking me. I didn’t care. I would go my way and give myself to the service of my Lord.

As I walked away from the treasury and headed toward a priest I had seen near the East Gate, I felt a deep peace. A peace that started in my belly and rose, lifting my spirits and filling me with joy.

It was as though giving my last possessions to the Lord set me free somewhere deep inside.

~~~

To read the original story, see Mark 12:41-44,
Luke 21:1-4 and John 2:13-21

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2016

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon. The kindle version is on sale for $1.99 for a limited time.

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