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Encounters with Jesus: Forty days in the life of Jesus through the eyes of those He touched. Paperback – March 21, 2015
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From the Author
I love stories. I love to hear them, and I love to tell them. It's what we do in the Nelson family. Any time we're sitting around the living room or dinner table with friends or family, we're telling stories. Some of the stories we tell have been told a hundred times, but we still tell them, embellishing all the right parts and forgetting those embarrassing details. But it's no use trying to pretend you didn't break that bowl, set fire to the carpet, or wander off and get lost at that park. Someone at the table will remember.
Jesus was a storyteller. He used stories to teach about the kingdom of God. He used stories to convict and convince. He used stories to help us draw conclusions and to leave us scratching our heads.
The Lord saw fit to fill His Word with narratives--stories--to teach us the wisdom of the ages. We have the stories of ancient Israel. We learn of their victories and their defeats. We learn about great men of faith like Daniel, Noah, Job, David, and Elijah. We learn of villains like Ahab and Jezebel, Sanballat, Sennacherib, and Nabal. We see the good side of folks and their bad side as well.
So when I read the Gospels, I see stories inside the stories. I wonder what it would have been like to be there and see Jesus heal a blind man or cast out the devil. What would it have been like to hear Him say "Hush!" to the storm or to have Him reject you as unfit for the kingdom of God?
This volume contains forty such stories, forty encounters with Jesus. In each I take on the voice of a character from scripture. Some Jesus touched; others observe Him at a distance; each is impacted by his or her encounter with Him. They are not meant to replace scripture, and there are times I make bold leaps into fiction. They each have some basis in the Gospels. The stories are arranged chronologically, for the most part, though some cover a period of years, and others express a story inferred by one verse in the text.
About the Author
Ben is a writer, speaker, teacher, blogger, storyteller and student of the Bible. He serves as a lay leader in the local church in northern New Jersey. His heart is to see men and women reconciled to the Father and walking in all He has created for them.
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One of the stories that truly got to me was the story of Gilda, the woman with the issue of blood from the story "Blood in the Sheets." In this vignette, the author shows this account from her perspective, and he makes her real and relatable. During this particular time period, if you had a bleeding problem, you could no longer live with your family, because you were considered unclean. So this woman is completely alone in the world. In the story, she says, "I was Gilda the olive girl. I sold olives in the market. I was beautiful. People always remarked about the color of my eyes. They said my eyes matched my olives. ... I can't remember the last time anyone even looked at my eyes. Now I am forgotten." (Who can't relate to this? Don't we all feel like this sometimes? Don't we all feel unseen and unknown at times, but Jesus comes in and reminds us that we do matter to Him.) After she hears about Jesus, hope starts to arise in her once again, so she searches Him out for her healing, and the rest is history, as they say.
In this book, you'll find that the stories and characters from Biblical times will come alive for you. These people will become your friends, and you'll be able to relate to them in a new way. And hopefully, through their stories, your hope will come alive again or burn brighter, as you see your life through their lives. I pray you find out how much compassion and love Jesus has for you, like He did for them, as you read this book.
Let Jesus heal you through this book.
It's difficult to take such well-known stories and retell them in a new, exciting way, but Ben Nelson manages to do just that. I found myself drawn into the stories because they're told from the perspective of common people who were blessed to experience Jesus's miracles firsthand. A few of the stories were new ones to me, which made it all the better.
Ben is a talented writer with a clean, crisp style. You'll feel like you're reading from a journal written by personal friends, but don't hurry through it. Take the stories one at a time and savor each one. You'll feel Jesus all around you, which is exactly the author's intent. Enjoy every blessing this book will bring to you. I know I did.