When John woke up this morning, his memories returned one by one in rapid succession. The apartment was cold and crisp; just like John liked it. He swung his feet from the bed down to the cold floor. His morning smile turned to a frown when all the details from yesterday were processed. But a smile returned.
John’s first stop was usually the computer, before moving on to coffee. John sat down at the desk to check his email. John wrote Tim’s an email to confirm his message was received. Once John started typing he wouldn’t stop until he told him about his promotion, forwarded Mike my research on giants, and lamented about Tim and Brent.
An email from Matthew arrived. Brent would be available at 10 o’ clock to talk with me today. John emailed Matthew with a confirmation that he would be there and thanked him for his notice. John sent his father a copy of the reply as well, better safe than sorry John thought.
It was getting late; John sprang into action and into the shower. The soft water landing gently on his face was relaxing, his mind drifted back to a day when giants ruled the Earth, before the flood. It wasn’t a pretty picture; the giants quickly consumed all of Earth’s resources and turned on the humans
“Why have I never heard anything about this in history or Bible College?” Instead John discovered their existence from a random email. He found pictures, expert articles, and theories to back it up. “It makes me wonder, what else is being covered up?”
John dressed professionally today in dark blue slacks and a white dress shirt, but he packed his hiking boots and cold gear for a quick change. John ground some fresh coffee and started that brewing when the phone rang, great it’s Mike I thought as I answered the phone.
“Hello, whose calling”.
“Hey, cut that out”, Mike said, “What’s going on this morning? I got your email a few minutes ago, giants, UFO’s, oh my.”
We both laughed at Mike’s nostalgic wit this morning. “I’m glad to see that you’re coming around to the truth. It’s been buried under our noses for thousands of years” Mike said.
“So you don’t have any problem with the material I sent you Mike?”
“Heck no” Mike replied, in fact, you’re just peeling back a layer of the onion. Let’s do some studying this weekend and I will peel back the rest of the layers if you really want to know what is going on.”
“I have been studying this for the last few years on the Internet and it is fascinating John, what’s out there. Just remember to pack your bags; we’re going on a mind trip. Also, slight change of plans on our location for this weekend, I have a new destination. I will tell you more when I pick you up at your apartment. Bring your laptop, a Bible; and PDF copies of Enoch, Jashar, and Jubilees from the Internet.”
“Ok Mike, understood, I’ll get all of that together. I’m running late because of an interview I have to do with our outreach Pastor. It appears he had an affair, with a eighteen year old new convert. I honestly don’t know what I am going to say to Brent. The elders want me to talk with him since I am the head pastor now. He has a lovely wife and three lovely children and everything is shattering in all of their lives now.”
“Wow, that’s tough John; but remember, there are forces at work here that many people do not understand. Remember Ephesians 6:12 John “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.””
“Christians don’t talk about this much. But we are being told who the battle is with and who is causing us grief. The evil spirits are specifically what we are battling and in a very real way. I have wanted to talk with you for a while about this; can I offer some assistance in dealing with Brent?”
“Please Mike; I can use any advice that you have.”
“When you talk to him take your time to find out what really happened. Try to find out how and why he got distracted from his family, God, and out of touch with his life.”
“John, do not fire this man if you sense involvement from an evil source. The primary reaction of many church members would be to fire and excommunicate all involved parties, but this just serves to help the enemy reach its final goal”.
“That goal John is to fracture the church into two groups, and start them fighting against each other. Since you’re the new lead Pastor, put Brent on paid leave immediately and send him off to find God again, and hopefully some healing for him and his family, have him stay out for that time, like a sabbatical. Congratulations by the way on your promotion, you sure picked a good time to start.”
“Thanks Mike, that sounds like some very good advice and I like it for this reason, it is bound to put me at odds with the elders. Makes for an interesting start to a new career don’t you think?”
“I do John, and it is the Christian thing to do because in the end Brent and his wife are both Christians and are both children of God. It’s been a long time since we got together.”
Mike laughed, “I hope you have the same opinion of me after this weekend. See you later John.” Mike hung up and I settled in for a hot cup of french roast coffee, a bagel, and a little more research before I head to the church this morning.
John opened a web browser and in the search field he put aliens are demons to see if the random email he got last evening had any research behind it. The search returned about 1,140,000 results, John’s auto suggest feature in his web browser had it as the number two recommendation.
“Looks like I am going to need a little time to go through this.” John sipped his coffee and ate his bagel. He read a couple of short articles that basically all said the same thing; aliens are not an extraterrestrial event at all. They are evil spirits or fallen angels and apparently, John’s the last person to figure it out, John chuckled.
John searched for the books of Enoch, Jashar, and Jubilees that Mike mentioned and I found them easily available in PDF for free download to his computer. Enoch, John thought to himself, that’s Noah’s grandfather right? The one the Bible said was taken away because he pleased God. John was being deluged with information faster than he could process it. At that moment John remember praying for wisdom in all things the night before.
John wondered if this is where “Be careful what you ask for” came from. John looked at the time. “Darn it, its 9:15, better get going”. John shut his laptop and placed it with his binder in his backpack. John wore his backpack like a professional traveler, just the left side hooked on the shoulder. “This is going to be an interesting weekend.” John stopped everything and got down on his knees to pray for Brent and the wisdom to discern.
The sky was very dark and an ominous shade of black on the drive to work today. It’s warmer than freezing at the moment; a freezing fog blankets the area. John pulled into the parking lot without incident today. He parked in the Senior Pastor spot since Austin left it open for him. This is a very strange day indeed. The darkest clouds were directly over the church.
When John walked into the office Janet was waiting for him.
“Good Morning John, congratulations on your new promotion.”
“Thank you Janet, I’m going to drop my jacket in my office real quick.” “John please let me take your coat for you; we’ve already taken the liberty of moving you into your Dads old office. We did our best to make you feel right at home.”
Janet was more professional today, and frankly a little curt for John’s taste. “Please go ahead and check out your new office if you like and I will be down in a few minutes to bring you up to speed, would you like some coffee John?”
“Yes I would please Janet, thank you very much for offering.”
Walking down the hallway everything seemed in slow motion, every step closer seemed even farther away from John’s destination. John’s footsteps echoed down the long hall.
“Wow”, John said as he entered his new office, fantastic! Everything is arranged almost exactly as John would have arranged it himself. John’s desk was moved by the fireplace, where they were talking just yesterday. The desk overlooks the lake and woods. John was admiring the view when a large thud came from under the desk. “Excuse me sir, it’s David from security. Sorry to startle you this morning” David said, bumping his head under the desk.
David is in charge of security; the Crystal Cathedral gets its share of trouble running as a national ministry. John extends his hand to help David to his feet. “Nice to meet you David, we’ve seen each other but I’ve never said hello, my apologies. What’s going on under the desk David?”
“I was installing a silent alarm under your desk as part of the security upgrades we are going through. If you ever get into trouble press this silent alarm, if anyone on staff cannot respond to you in 2 minutes or less the alarm calls the police and announces that there is a situation. They respond in ten minutes or less is my understanding after meeting with the chief of police.”
“Thanks for the run down David; I wasn’t aware that this was the type of job where we needed this level of security.”
“I never thought it would come to this either David said, but if there is ever any trouble please don’t be shy. Also John, here is portable trigger for your key ring; in case you are away from your office.”
“I’ll need you to pick a passphrase John; you’re a celebrity now. You have a unique vantage point, and the security team needs to know when you’re in danger.”
“How about infiltrator, John said?”
“Agreed John, when the security team hears infiltrator, they’ll deploy to protect you.”
“Even during a Sunday worship service, in front of the congregation?”
“During the service is the only time we think you’ll need the keychain John. We live in a weird world these days, you know? We all carry concealed weapons and wear suits as you know, after all of the church shootings one can never be too careful.”
“And John, if you ever need anything just let me know.”
“Thanks David, were in the spiritual business here, and the enemies are not always apparent. I need to know that the security team can protect me in case a church leader is possessed or some other unforeseen circumstance where my life is in danger.”
“John, no one has ever asked me this before, are you suggesting we might have to move against someone who is a member of this church?” “I’ll let you know”, John said, “and you’ll be sure because they will be using a weapon of some sort. We never use any theatrics or drama in our service, so it should be pretty straight forward.”
“Okay John, David shook John’s hand, we’ll protect you to the best of our ability here.”
As David left the office he met Janet at the door and told her the introduction was complete. “Thanks David”, Janet said. “Please contact the alarm company to secure John’s home as soon as possible.”
Janet brought John coffee on a large silver platter. “When will you be returning from your camping trip John?”
“I’ll be back before Sunday morning Janet; could we do the install later in the week?”
“As you wish John; I must tell you I’m very nervous about this weather and you making it back on time, you will be back on time?”
Janet set the coffee on the table by the fireplace, “Your father will be in to see you in a few minutes, and you might get a visit from Matthew. Matthew sends his apologies if he is unable to make it back in time to meet with you. He is meeting with the lawyers’ downtown over this issue with Brent.
It’s just terrible don’t you think Janet asked? “I do” John replied, this is one heck of a first day.”
“John, everything will be fine” Janet said “you have twenty minutes before Brent arrives.”
“Thanks again Janet” John said. Janet left the office and shut the door behind her.
John poured a cup of coffee, the aroma had been teasing him for the last few minute, very good John thought. Austin knocked and barged right in, it reminded John of being thirteen again.
“Good morning son”
“So are you looking forward to your camping trip and seeing Mike?”
“Yes, I’m really looking forward to this getaway; we have had it planned for a while. Please have a cup of coffee with me real quick Dad?” John poured Austin a cup of coffee.
“I’m proud of you son. How are you planning on handling this situation with Brent?”
“Well, I was planning on listening to what Brent had to say, and to try to understand what caused him to follow the path he did.”
“Do what your heart tells you Johnny. You do realize that Matthew is meeting with the lawyers this morning? If Brent admits guilt you understand the pressure will be to let him go, and to ex-communicate him from the Church, correct?”
“I realize that is the way it has been handled in the past Dad, but let me ask you this. Does it make sense to throw a person away, possibly helping destroy their lives, and at the moment they need you the most? That just doesn’t make sense to me.”
“So here is my plan; I’m going to just listen to Brent, and see what in the heck happened. If Brent just had an affair, that’s fine, and I’ll fire him. But here is what I suspect; Brent has been set up by the powers of evil to split the Church. If I get a reasonable suspicion of evil playing a role in this, I’m going to send Brent away on paid leave, a sabbatical, while I sort this all out, can i do that Dad?”
“Sure John, the elders will have to meet to overrule your decision as head of the flock, but you will buy some time for now and I think that’s what you need. Be careful with Matthew, but don’t be afraid of him either. Tell him what you told me, it’s a good point that he will not refute immediately without stringing Bible verses together, and that can take some time.
My Dad is so wise; John thought to himself and a smile found its way to John’s face. “I’ll see you soon Johnny, you’ll do fine. Dad sat his empty coffee cup down and showed himself to the door.”
Janet knocked on the door, and let herself in. She brought John a stack of reminders for members that had missed three weeks of Church in a row. “John this is how I have always done this, so let’s start with this and if you want to change the process later, I am open to ideas.” Janet also presented the daily prayer list; “it’s customary for the senior pastor to personally pray for everyone on this list. When you have finished just drop it in your outbox. I will pass along to the elders and the prayer teams.”
“Next John, sign the stack of reminders to encourage these members to return. The ministry software generates the missing list weekly and prints these message reminders. Just sign them all please and leave them in your outbox. I will be back to pick them up later. Thanks John, I’ll send Brent down at ten o’ clock.”
How impersonal John thought, a software program decides when I need to interact with a member? John signed all of the reminders and placed them in the outbox, for Janet. He looked over the prayer list and prayed for some to be healed, for some to find jobs, and for some dealing with sick and dying loved ones, and some praises for prayers that had been answered.
The intercom beeped, distracting John from his prayer. It was Janet; “Brent is on his way down John.”
“Thank you Janet”
John prayed again asking for God to give him wisdom and understanding while talking with Brent and thanked Him for all of my blessings. A knock came to the door, come in John said. It was Brent; John stood up and walked over to meet him. Brent looked terrible; he hadn’t eaten or showered in days. He just stood there with his head hung in shame.
John didn’t know what to say right away but when he saw the tears running from Brent’s eyes he knew he was suffering terribly. John threw his arms around Brent, Brent hung on to John with everything he had, it was apparent to John he already knew he had lost everything.
“Come over and set down by the fireplace and let’s talk” John said, gently guiding Brent. “Have a seat and take a moment to think about what it is that you want to say. I understand that you had an affair, but I am not here to judge you about that. I am here to help you if I possibly can.”
Brent was choking back the tears. “Lisa kicked me out, I don’t have family here and most of my friends are in the Church. I have nowhere to go and nowhere to turn. It’s all a setup I tell you John.”
“What do you mean Brent when you say it was a setup?”
John, you have to believe me: I never meant to ever do anything like this. I love Lisa and the family so much.”
“What led to this happening?”
“I was working the college outreach program last week that was sponsored by the church. Kara approached me; she wanted to get to know Jesus. She was an orphan who had just started college. Kara told me she needed consoling, help because of the passing of her parents.
“John I taught her about Jesus and she responded to the Gospel and told me that she asked Jesus into her heart. Of course I was very excited to see our outreach program making a difference in the lives of people, but with Kara in particular. She seemed so interested in God’s word and I spent half a week working with her every evening after work at her apartment.”
“Brent how could you put yourself into this kind of situation? Why didn’t you use the church instead?”
“John, after two or three evening she started opening up to me about her life and some of the things she had done in her life. I felt like I was finally helping someone break through and bringing them to Christ. At the end of Kara’s third visit she fell apart in tears and asked me to hold her which I did. I was crying with her about her parents, her trials, and her conversion to Christ and it was at that moment when I thought I had finally made a difference that everything changed for me.”
“I had become aroused by the hug; I’m sorry, I’m human. I tried to leave but she told me she would never believe in God if I left her at this time of need. Kara looked deep into my eyes while holding my head and I stared into her eyes. I became powerless, she kissed me John and I swear that it sent electricity through me entire body and I was paralyzed. I tried to speak; just to say the word no, and couldn’t get it out.”
“I was under a spell, I didn’t want anything to do with this, but I was powerless say no. I just lay there in a state of paralysis while Kara made love to me. I can’t say that I was making love to her as I was not in control, not until it was underway. And I couldn’t stop, an appetite awakened inside of me. I don’t know, I already thought I blew it with the family. So it didn’t matter anymore.”
“After it was over, Kara told me to look into her eyes, which I did. Her eyes were endless and I got lost in them so fast. This time I grabbed her and threw my arms around her. The chemistry between us was so strong that the hair on my arms actually stood up. For the rest of the evening I forgot who I was for the most part as i made love to Kara over and over. It has never felt so real to me. No connection had ever felt so strong.”
“I went home and slept on the couch that night and had terrible nightmares about my decisions. I avoided Lisa in the morning and quickly got dressed and went to work. After work I went to Kara’s apartment to talk with her about what happened last night. But she was already gone John, the apartment was vacant, all of her furniture and personal effects were gone, mind blown. This is sure to ruin my life.”
“What happened next”, John asked?
“The next thing I know Kara has an attorney and I get a call from Matthew, he tells me that I have to talk with Lisa before he does and gives me a deadline of the end of the day. Not knowing what to do I talk with Lisa and she flew into a rage and kicked me out. I have been living in my car ever since and I have been praying, but it seems like God isn’t listening to my prayers right now.”
“And here I am at the end of my rope fully expecting to be fired, ex-communicated, all when I need the church more than I ever have in my life.” Brent broke into tears and John embraced him while he cried.
It sure seems suspicious that Brent was unable to say no. But it does take two; it appears Brent was led into this situation. While I do find fault in what has happened, there are enough unknowns to warrant an investigation before ending Brent’s career John thought to himself. John stood up and looked deep into Brent’s eyes; a lost man stared back at him.
John reached into his pocket and took off an extra key he had made for the apartment and gave it to Brent along with all the money he had. “This is the key to my apartment; you can go there after I leave for my camping trip late this afternoon. There is a spare bedroom on the right. Make yourself at home.”
“Shower, relax, and get your head together. You’re on paid leave until this is sorted out. Leave now and don’t talk to anyone on the way out. Dodge Matthew like your life depends on it and Brent, God bless, I will be back before Sunday.”
Brent hugged John and left quickly. “I need to get ready as well” John said; he packed his backpack and headed for his car.