John was inundated with obtrusive thoughts. Each thought worse than the one before it. All of them unmentionable in any context, John’s flight or fight response had been triggered.
John’s heart was racing, his thought flitted, and it was getting hard to breathe. A weight pushed on John’s chest, a full panic attack was on the way. Why does this feel so wrong, John pondered while walking to his car? John takes a deep breath to help calm his nerves, then a second, and a third.
His attention turns to the Church; something seemed different about it now. The building looks macabre and twisted, repelling John away.
John hurried to his car. He started the car and drove off leaving a streak of rubber and an audible chirp that echoed in the empty parking lot.
It seemed as if all eyes were on John. It seemed as if every car he passed was looking at him in disapproval. Pedestrians glared, children pointed, and not a single person smiled.
The ice building on the roads wasn’t helping either, traffic was slow, and the city was doing the best it could to stay ahead of the storm. Minneapolis can handle any amount of snow, but ice can be tricky.
John had just been given permission to marry Emily, and was offered a job that most any Pastor would want. But he wasn’t happy. Tim’s words kept repeating “just follow your heart John”. Why is this all so unsettling? This is the job I have always wanted, I wonder if I’m doing it for the wrong reasons.
In less than eight hours everything changed. Just this morning John was living an entirely different life. John will never know the word carefree again. He’s now in a spiral that ends usually in death or retirement.
John made it home, at last he thought. He opened the car door and gathered his belongings. John likes to stay packed; he stages his backpack in the office and notices a familiar glow.
John has new messages. Emily left a message; she had some great news to share. Mike left a message; he would be arriving tomorrow around three o’ clock.
The weather was going to be the deciding factor. The warm front that had stalled over town was being threatened by a blast of Canadian air from the north, and a secondary rain system forming in the south.
John hurried to the bathroom to take a sedative for his panic attack. The sedative and a relaxing shower made John feel like himself again. A change of jeans and a warm shirt made everything better. John grabbed his laptop out of his backpack and went through his email
John had an email from Emily confirming dinner at 8’ o clock with a smiley face. An assuring email from Mike that he had everything we needed for two days of camping. And a compelling email from an anonymous source that the end is near.
The author was going on about giants in the Bible, UFOs, and the return of Jesus. Before John could delete the email another one came in, it was from Matthew. The subject “Sunday’s Sermon, A reflection of the true church”
Oh dear, John thought; I don’t want to deal with this now. He printed the Sermon and placed it in his backpack. As hectic as the day has been, John had forgotten to pray. John prayed silently for guidance, wisdom, and strength.
A soft knock at the door disturbs John’s solace; He went to the door and looked though the peephole, it’s Tim. John opened the door, “Tim come in out of the weather my friend.” Tim came in from the cold, “you look rather serious tonight my friend, please have a seat.”
“Can I offer you some hot coffee or chocolate?”
“No, I’m fine thanks John.”
“To what do I owe this honor Tim? It was really good seeing you today.
“Let’s make ourselves comfortable at the kitchen table, here, let me take your coat please, John said.”
Tim laid two small brochures on the table and slid them my way. John read the titles ‘Free to be, Just a Christian’ and ‘Thoughts on Punishment of the Wicked’. Tim cleared his throat to get John’s attention. John could see the seriousness in his eyes.
What is it my friend, John asked?
“John, I was moved to come over and talk with you this evening. I understand that you are taking over for your Father now as Senior Pastor. I suppose congratulations are in order on your promotion.”
“Well if I can be honest with you for a moment it was very uncomfortable accepting the offer. Something didn’t seem right about the way Dad was acting. And you know Matthew. What do you think of all of this Tim?’
“You’re not honest with me all the time Johnny? Tim was trying desperately to break the ice with John. “I’m just kidding John; you know we go way back you and me, I’ve known you since you were a child. I have been a Christian for a long time John. When I was your age, I accepted most of what I learned from my parents and what was passed along through the traditions of men, most of us learn this way.”
“But when you really go looking for answers in the Bible it can lead to a serious awakening. For example, the Greek word Ekklesia that I asked you about earlier today? You said that it meant Church, and while I agree it is one of the translations for Ekklesia today, that is not the original meaning. In fact the word is not even a religious word; it is a political term that literally means the calling out, an assembly, like in Jesus day.”
“A town crier would call an Ekklesia, which is basically a lawful assembly, or a congregation of people. When King James authorized the translation of the Bible there was a set of rules on translation he enforced. Rule number three states that old ecclesiastical words will be kept. In other words, Ekklesia was not allowed to be translated into its correct meaning of assembly or congregation.”
It is my belief John that when the Holy Spirit used the Greek word Ekklesia that it was meant in its correct context. And that context is those belonging to the Lord, or an assembly of believers.”
“Let me ask you this John. Do you think God really wants you to go to church every week to sit idly in the pews and then go about your week living life as usual? Or do you think perhaps that God wants a one on one personal relationship with His believers?”
Tim grew quiet after the last question. John honestly didn’t have an answer, so he faked one. “I believe a combination of those two would lead people down a great path.”
Tim handed John the Bible he was holding and asked him to turn to the chapter and verse that talks about building a church building. John immediately went to a few verses that he thought would answer the question, but it didn’t. People were either meeting at the synagogue or assembling together in homes or wherever they were. “I don’t know what to say Tim. I’m a little confused by all of this”.
“It’s just the beginning of your journey John. Read what I left with you when you get an opportunity. The document on Hell not being eternal punishment will ruffle many feathers. I got fired for handing this out with Bibles on a mission trip. It sums up what I believe to be true about the church.”
“There is so much more I want to tell you John. But let’s start with this, promise me you will at least read it and think about it.”
“OK Tim; I will, I am heading out on a camping trip tomorrow. But I will take it with me.”
“Here’s electronic copies John”; Tim placed the USB stick in John’s hand.
Tim left and closed the door behind him. John felt a little confused, but he trusts Tim. John had never really been challenged like that about the church. Something inside told him it would get weirder before it gets better.
Tim has a way of making you think. John carefully went through Tim’s brochure and found himself agreeing with the contents. John gave the document extra credence as Tim got fired for handing it out. The brochure begins by stating we are all Christians if we believe in Jesus and have called upon his name to be saved. I’m OK with that I thought.
Tim’s brochure continues stating there is no mention in the scriptures of worship service, the collection, placing of membership, sermons, men only as Deacons, and finally Deacon as an office. In 1 Corinthians, the collection being made was to help the poor and needy in Jerusalem. It wasn’t a weekly collection to fill the church coffers.
John grabbed his Bible and attempted to refute this new information. But it couldn’t be done without proof texting, stringing a bunch of verses together from different books of the Bible and using them out of context to arrive at the answers we were all taught.
John knew in his heart that the simple message that Tim had left him was true. He got down on his knees and prayed for God to show him the truth. And John asked God to use him in any way He sees fit to accomplish His goals on Earth.
John was moved to say the Sinners prayer, and to ask Jesus into his heart again. John had been a Christian his entire life; he was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins. But the urge was still there. He dropped to his knees and I asked God into his life and intohis heart at that moment and asked God to send him the Holy Spirit.
John asked secondly for wisdom and understanding in interpreting the scriptures. He didn’t want to be fooled anymore by the spins of doctrine of demons, or of men, and their traditions. From here on out, we’re doing it Gods’ way.
Then the greatest sensation of love and the spirit of God overcame John. Like the feeling when you go over a hill too fast and your stomach tingles. The outpouring started at my head and worked its way through my body sending waves of sensation through John’s entire body.
John remembered this feeling; from being baptized. But this was more amazing and John could feel God’s presence in the room. John just started talking to Him like he was a friend and his Father. John told Him how confused he was and asked for wisdom to understand everything that He wanted to teach me.
Then John sang a song of praise to God before his presence left him. John was dizzy and still intoxicated by what happened; but he knew in all of his being that God was there and He was going to fill in the missing pieces for him along the way. The answers to John’s questions would soon be on the way.
In the mean time John reflected on his faith anchor; something that happened to him, and him alone in the Unites States Navy boot camp in Great Lakes Illinois in the 80’s. It always brought a smile to John’s face because he just happened to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an afterlife. I wonder how many people would go through what John did, for that faith anchor.
John only shared this personal story with Mike, but he has had three supernatural experiences in his life. John had two experiences before the age of eighteen, and one involving Mike’s Mom when she participated in a séance. She was possessed with a disembodied spirit.
Every fake church in town kicked us to the curb, but we would soon find a deliverance church. A deliverance church is the kind of place where they deal with demon possessions and other spiritual sickness on a daily basis.
Deliverance churches cast out Demons and get rid of spirits, to make you whole again. This made John ponder Jesus’ mission on Earth, most of His ministry was based around casting out Demons. It’s easy to forget these basic Bible truths when things are prosperous.
Daydreaming, John find himself again in boot camp, He was seventeen years old when he joined the United States Navy. John had a three year hitch before he went to college in South Carolina.
One day in boot camp after six weeks of basic training things started to lighten up a bit. John was taking a smoke break and chatting with a gentleman from his sister company. They were getting to know each other and John had mentioned that he was a Christian.
He trumped John by saying he was a preacher; the title is misleading as he ran the church of Satan. So a Satan worshiper was standing straight in John’s face. His reaction, prove it?
The dark stranger had a very odd and excited smile. John thought he was kidding him, and then he asked John what frustrated him about boot camp.
With his spiritual guard down, John told him that he was unable to talk to his girlfriend, and that was the toughest part of all. With a smile he said he would take care of that for him. He asked John his full name and hometown, and his girlfriend’s name and hometown, and then wished him a good evening. Of course, John forgot about the entire event as fast as it happened and it didn’t cross his mind again until he went to sleep that night.
It was right after John closed his eyes. Something grabbed him from the base of his neck and yanked his spirit right out of his body. He was pulled straight through the mattress into a different world, a different dimension.
John remembers the darkness and the feeling as he was descending. John could see the layers of earth moving as if he was in an elevator. He had at least three demons that were encircling him and pulling him down. They were black silhouettes and totally flat in appearance. They all kept their hands on John while pulling him down.
Then, John remembered the Satanist who promised to help him communicate with my girlfriend and he knew he was in trouble. Immediately after that realization the demons started laughing and pulling John faster. John started to smell smoke, and he heard screams that ripped right through his spirit. He started screaming for Jesus to help him. It was at that exact moment, that he was let go.
John sat straight up in his bunk, soaked in sweat from head to toe. He had a long talk with God that night and thanked God for pulling him through.
The next morning, during break with their sister company again. John went looking for the Satanist to ask him what in the hell went on.
When he couldn’t be found, a lanky recruit spoke out. “You won’t believe what happened last night. Shortly after the lights went out, the roaming watch found him in the laundry area with a pentagram, burning candles, and in the middle of a satanic ritual.
John was obviously the sacrifice for his stupidity. He doesn’t know why God saved him that night, and he thinks about it every day. This is how John knows there is an afterlife; but this isn’t a story he can share with his church.
The phone ringing brings John out of his daydream.
“Hi it’s me”
Emily was silent for a few moments, “what’s going on” John said.
“My father is on the way over to your place right now, and he is bringing your dad along. I’m not sure what’s going on but I think we better reschedule dinner for this evening.”
“That’s too bad, I was looking forward to seeing you tonight honey, what is going on Emily?”
“This day easily meets the requirements for oddest day ever.”
“It’s about to get odder”, Emily said.
“I don’t know what’s going on; and I don’t suspect you will be able to tell me tonight either. Go ahead and do what you have to John. Tomorrow is Thursday and you and Mike have camping plans. Make sure to not forget your phone again so I can call you OK?”
“OK honey, I love you”
“Be careful John.”
Emily hung up and John was left pondering his next step.
With John’s evening cancelled and business on the way now would be a good time to look over my prewritten lesson. John grabbed the printout and looked through it briefly. As John flipped through Sunday’s sermon, he found the UFO and giants email warnings as well.
John gets odd emails like everyone else. Sometimes people believe it is their duty to email what they believe to be the truth. John begins reading aloud. “Many have trouble rectifying the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament who walked this world. The fact of the matter is that we have been lied to. Not all of the books made it into the Bible. In fact the books of Enoch, Jashar, and Jubilees, had all been kindly disposed of. These books tell of the Fallen Angels in our past, present, and future. Their activities continue even today.”
“I encourage you to look it up; the pieces of this puzzle are right at your fingertips. These fallen angels and their children are still with us today, some are called demons, and some disembodied spirits. In Genesis 6:4, the Bible mentions the Nephilim; your Bible may say giants. Now look at the very next verse, God decides to destroy the earth. The fallen Angels of Genesis 6:4 mated with earth women and their offspring were the Nephilim Giants. “
“Angels take the appearance of humans. The Bible tells us that people have entertained Angels without even knowing it. So they must be able to pass for normal people. They are spirit beings; they can take over a body just like a spirit and use it for the kingdom. The catch; only benevolent spirits can possess a believer with RH – negative blood”.
“The Bible tells us that in the end days a great delusion will come upon the earth, so well-orchestrated that it will deceive even the very elect. Would a false religion do this to a Christian? No. It has to be something so big that most Christians themselves will be fooled by. They will abandon the faith. First, there has to be a falling away.”
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
“There are many, many, credible witnesses that have seen UFO’s, and I for one believe in them very much. The deal is; they’re not really aliens, they are demons. Just picture a mass disclosure that UFO’s are real.”
”There are UFO’s in the skies, some landing all over world. And they have a special message for Earth. “
“We seeded your universe a long, long time ago, and been watching you for a long time. We are here to help you ascend; to help you make that next step in the fulfillment of your destiny. We are the gods that your ancient texts speak of!”
“In short, Pastor, the tribulation will be upon us soon. New age religions and Satan himself are going to use disclosure to fracture the Christian community at the core. Most believers will fall as soon as the ships are in full flight. Sadly, they won’t require a landing as an excuse to abandon their faith, and sadly many people have abandoned it already. Please search for Nephilim giant images on the Internet and you’ll see what I mean. The email was signed “blessings, Lynn M.”
John went to his computer and opened a web browser, John typed in “Nephilim giant images” hit enter. Wow, right here in front of John were images of giants dug up all over the world. Some giants were as tall as 33 feet tall. The conspiracy folks call it ‘Smithsonian Gate’ as this evidence is suppressed, and denied. The giant skeletons all looked like they met their untimely endings against their will. John booked marked the web site for future study and printed out a copy to share with Mike.
As John tucked all of this in his backpack the knock came to the door; time to find out what this is all about. John opened the door and Matthew and Austin came in from the cold.
“Sorry to barge in on you this evening John”, Matthew said.
“There is trouble brewing son”, Austin said.
“Pastor Brent may be involved physically with an eighteen year old who has been coming to the church for just a short time. She called me directly John, since you’re senior Pastor and you need to know.
“What do we actually know Matthew”?
“She called late today John and informed me that she would be bringing it to the attention of the Church soon.”
“It doesn’t look good John”, dad said. “I just know somehow that Satan is behind this.”
“I agree Dad; I believe we are in a war between good and evil than most people would care to believe. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I think we need to get this out in the open fast before it festers.”
“I don’t agree Matthew said, I understand you will be on a camping excursion for a few days. I will handle it while you’re out and bring you up to speed when you get back.”
“No Matthew”, John said, “you made me senior Pastor for a reason I assume? I would hope one of those reasons would be my discernment. I’ll be at the Church tomorrow morning to talk to Brent, and I’ll let you know where we take it from there, understood Matthew?”
Matthew paused for a moment; he looked straight at John for almost a minute without saying a word. In the end, John was the better salesman and did not offer the first words. John won the age old battle of he who speaks first loses after a closing question has been asked.
“OK John, Matthew said, we’ll try it your way, I hope you understand that my loyalty is to the Church and my interests lie in not losing membership because of something rather tragic like this.”
“I’ll be out in a few Matthew”, Austin said. Matthew walked outside and closed the door behind him. Austin finally started to open up. “Son let’s talk for a moment, today has been pretty weird don’t you think?”
“Yes it has Dad, first the promotion and now this explosive situation with Brent. And you still haven’t told me how you feel about me being promoted to senior Pastor?”
“John, there are some things you’re going to have to learn quickly. First of all, as much as you think you know about the Bible, you’ll need to follow certain unspoken guidelines if you wish to continue as senior Pastor.”
“Listen to his story; listen to everything he tells you. Then talk to me, I will tell you what your next step should be, trust me son. Do not talk with Matthew until we have an opportunity to go over this in detail.”
“OK dad I will talk to you tomorrow.”
“Good night John” dad said as he closed the door.
John walked bewildered into his bedroom and lay down. He prayed and then fell fast asleep.