When I Woke Up This Morning Chapter 2 – Reflections
Chapter 2 – Reflections. John’s brain overflowed 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 triggered.
John’s heart was racing, 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? While walking to his car, John pondered the meeting. He takes a deep breath to help calm his nerves, then a second, and a third.
His attention turns to the church; something seemed unusual about it now. The building looks gloomy, repelling John away.
John hurried to his vehicle. 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. As if every car he passed was looking at him in disapproval. Pedestrians glared, children pointed, and not a single person smiled.
The ice sticking 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.
Chapter 2 – Reflections – John had just received permission to marry Emily and 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? It’s 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. He will never know this carefree life again.
John arrives at home. He opened the car door and gathered his belongings. John likes to stay prepared; he stages his backpack in the office and notices a familiar glow.
John has new messages. Emily left a recording; she had some great news to share. Mike also left word; he would be arriving tomorrow around three o’clock.
The weather is going to be a problem; it appears. The warm front that had stalled over town threatened by a blast of Canadian air from the north, and a secondary rain system was forming in the south.
John hurried to the bathroom to take a sedative for his panic attack. Valium 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 of the world is near.
Chapter 2 – Reflections – 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 was Sunday’s Sermon, A reflection of the true church.
“Oh, dear,” John said. “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 through the peephole, it’s Tim. John opened the door. “Tim, come in out of the weather, my friend,” John said. 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 terrific seeing you today.”
“Let’s make ourselves comfortable at the kitchen table, here, let me take your coat,” John said.
Tim laid two pamphlets on the table and slid them to John. 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 said? He 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 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, that is not the original meaning. The word is not even a religious word; it is a political term that means the calling out, an assembly, like in Jesus’ day.”
“A town crier would call an Ekklesia, which is 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 must be in use. In other words, Ekklesia was not allowed to translate into its correct meaning of assembly or congregation.”
“It is my belief John that when the Holy Spirit used the Greek word Ekklesia, it meant those belonging to the Lord, or an assembly of believers.”
“Let me ask you this, John? Do you think God 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.”
Chapter 2 – Reflections – Tim handed John the Bible 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 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 these 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 are 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 thought about the church like this before.
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.
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 offering was to help the poor and needy in Jerusalem. It wasn’t a weekly collection to fill the Church coffers.
Chapter 2 – Reflections – 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 right. 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.
Chapter 2 – Reflections – John felt moved to say the Sinner’s prayer and to ask Jesus into his heart again. John had been a Christian his entire life, buried in baptism for the forgiveness of his sins. But the urge was still there. He dropped to his knees and asked God into his life and his 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 doctrine of demons, or men, and their traditions. From here on out, we’re doing it Gods’ way.
The 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 his head and worked its way through his stomach 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 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 come.
In the meantime, John reflected on his faith anchor, something that happened to him and him alone in the United States Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, in the ’80s. 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.
Chapter 2 – Reflections – 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 became possessed with a disembodied spirit.
Every fake church in town kicked them to the curb, but they would soon find a deliverance church. A deliverance Church is the kind of place where they deal with demon possessions and other spiritual infirmities daily.
Deliverance churches cast out demons and get rid of spirits, to make you whole again. John ponders Jesus’ mission on Earth, most of His ministry based around casting out demons. It’s easy to forget these fundamental Bible truths when things are prosperous.
Daydreaming, John finds 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 shady stranger had a very odd and uneasy 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. With a smile, he said, “I’ll take care of that for you. What is your full name, and where do you live? What’s your girlfriend’s full name and her hometown?” The stranger wished him a good evening and went on his way after John answered his questions. 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 in the middle of his back and pulled his soul right out of his body, 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 move as if he was in an elevator. He had at least three demons that were circling him and pulling him down. They were black silhouettes and flat in appearance. They all kept their hands on John while dragging him down.
Then, John remembered the satanist who promised to help him communicate with his girlfriend, and he knew he was in trouble. Immediately after that realization, the demons started laughing and tugging John faster. John began to smell smoke, and he heard screams that ripped right through his soul. He started screaming for Jesus to help him. It was at that exact moment that he was set free.
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 the break with their sister company again. John went looking for the satanist to ask him what in the Hell happened.
When John couldn’t find him, a lean 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 the sacrifice for his stupidity. He doesn’t know why God saved him that night, and he thinks about it every day. It’s how John knows there is an afterlife, but this isn’t a story he can share with his church.
The phone rings, bringing 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?”
“Today easily meets the requirements for the oddest day ever,” John said.
“It’s about to get odder,” Emily said.
“I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t expect 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 not to 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.
Chapter 2 – Reflections – With John’s evening canceled and business on the way now would be a good time to look over his 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 think to be the truth. John begins reading aloud. “Many have trouble rectifying God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament who walked this world. Not all of the books made it into the Bible. Specifically, the books of Enoch, Jashar, and Jubilees. 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 miss it. 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.”
“Many, many, credible witnesses have seen UFOs, and I, for one, believe in them very much. The deal is; they’re not 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 the world. And they have a special message for Earth. ”
“We seeded your universe a long, long time ago, and have 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.”
Chapter 2 – Reflections – John went to his computer and opened a web browser. He typed in ‘Nephilim giant images’ and 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 thirty-three 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 bookmarked the web site for future study and printed out images to share with Mike.
John placed everything in his backpack, the knock came at 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 he has been teaching at the college outreach program. She called me directly John since you’re senior Pastor, and you need to know.
“What do we know Matthew,” John said?
“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 with Dad; I believe we are in a war between good and evil. A war that most people would choose to ignore. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. We need to get this out in the open fast before it rots.”
“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?”
Chapter 2 – Reflections – 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.
“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 my promotion 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 Brent’s 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 walked outside and closed the door behind him.
John walked into his bedroom and lay down. He prayed and then fell fast asleep.