Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Remedy

Here's a fairly new one for me. As you might recognize, the scenario my character faces is an age old dilemma. The other day, I was teaching a course on ethics and we discussed a scenario very similar to this story line. To my amazement, 38 out of 40 individuals readily accepted they would compromise their standards under similar conditions. I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic and I hope this story challenges you.
Thanks,
TWI

The Remedy

In the still, cold hours of a predawn morning, Chris Chance ground his teeth in dissent to the agony pulsing through his veins. His eyes were crystalline, his forehead wrinkled from too many frowns. The crow’s feet which adorned his face were all too familiar.

He stood in the shadow underneath an extinguished lamp post, whose light had since yielded its source months before. He was dressed in a leather jacket and slacks, his boots were polished but worn. The hat he wore shrouded his eyes from any who would bother to notice him. He had not moved except to fidget in place, his legs ached from endless hours of standing motionless.

His keen eyes observed movement from the shadow near a dark street corner, and he watched as a man dressed in shadows stoically approached him. They each regarded the other in silence for the length of a minute before the man queried, “Have you decided?”

Chris faced away from the man to spit before responding. “I’m almost there.”

“You’re there. You just haven’t accepted it yet.”

His lips curled in anger. “Yeah? What do you know about it?”

“I know plenty. I’ve seen this before you know. You’re not the first one to stand underneath this lamp.”

“You don’t know me,” Chris said with disdain.

A soft chuckle. “Oh? I don’t know, you think you’re the only one who’s ever had to make hard decisions?”

Chris growled. “Look, Pal, you don’t know me, and you’re not going to know me, so mind your own P’s and Q’s or I’ll find a way to mind them for you.”

“Touchy, touchy. Aren’t you full of vinegar tonight?”

“Yeah? You wanna make something of it?”

“Easy does it, tough guy. You’ve got plenty of people to fight without putting me on your hit list.”

“Then back off and cut your meddlin’.”

The stranger paused. “Well? What’s it going to be? I’ve got other fish on the line who need reeling in. I can’t spend all night with you.”

“You’ll wait. When I decide you’ll be the first to know.”

The stranger tugged at his sleeve. “I have a few minutes to invest. What’s the hold up?”
Chris didn’t respond.
“I see,” the man probed. “You’ve never lived on this edge before. You’re a nice guy.”

“Yeah? And what of it?”

“Oh, just an observation. That’s all. You are clearly not the type of man who keeps the shadows company. You’ve never gotten your hands dirty.” He allowed his words to register before continuing. “So, what’s the issue?”

“None of your concern,” Chris replied tersely.

“Hmmm. Must be money,” he mused. “Is that your purpose here? Is it money?” The voice was taunting him.

“I could care less about money. What I want can’t be bought.”

“Is it for sale?”

“What did I just say? It ain’t for sale.”

“Maybe it’s a woman. Is that your game? Are you looking for some action?”

A hard edge tore through Chris’ response. “I have no interest in other women.”

“Other women?” he questioned. “Ah, I get it. You’re here for the medicine.”

Chris spat again. “And what if I am?”

The man shrugged. “I don’t care what you want, because it makes no matter to me. All I need from you is a decision.”

“You’ll get it once I’ve got it.”

The stranger laughed. “Still playing that game, are you? In your heart you’ve already decided what you’re going to do. You simply need to tell yourself it’s okay.” Chris had no response. “So, how bad is she?”

“Bad enough.”

“For how long?”

Chris paused. “Four years. She’s been sick for years.”

“Let me guess. You tried to get the medicine, but they won’t consider your application.”

“Okay, smart guy. Tell me the rest of the story, since you know so much.”

The stranger smiled at his harsh words. “I’ve seen this struggle so many times. You think you’re the only one who’s ever had to make this decision, but you’ll find out that you’re keeping company with a host of others. It always starts out simple. That nagging little ache right here,” he touched his abdomen below his liver, “that won’t go away. At first, it’s hardly noticeable—simply a discomfort. After a few months, the pain becomes a dull ache that nags at you like a mosquito in the night. A few weeks later, the ache becomes a pain, which develops into a crippling, bitter monkey on your back that won’t leave you alone. Before long, you know you’ve got it, but there’s no way you can get relief. The only help you can find is with them.” He turns to look at a large window on the storefront immediately across the street. “They have the cure, but you can’t get it. You try anyway, desperate for a cure. You fill out the forms and submit your doctor’s reports, but they still deny you—and keep your nonrefundable application fee. They tell you that there is only one dose left, and it’s ear tagged for someone else. Sometimes they go so far to tell you that it’s for a little girl down the street who has her whole life in front of her.” He took in Chris’ face with one knowing glance. “That’s what they told you, right?”

“Yeah? So?” Chris’ voice was loosing the harsh undertones. Hearing his story repeated was breaking him down.

“So, do you tell your wife she can’t have the medicine? Do you tell her that a guaranteed cure exists, but you can’t get to it? Can you face the disappointed look that will smear her face with tears? Can you face the fact that she’ll die without that medicine? Can you…”

“Enough!” Chris heard all he wanted. His breathing was labored and he was weak from years of struggling.

The man wrapped in shadows laughed menacingly. “And now you are standing here and looking beyond that glass window at the last dose of the medicine that can cure your wife. You’re staring at it and trying to decide.”

Chris faced the man squarely. “So, smart guy, what am I trying to decide?”

He shrugged without caring. “You might be struggling with whether or not to steal the medicine, knowing that it violates all of your beliefs. You might be weighing the lesser of two evils in your heart. You might even be struggling with whether or not God has appointed a day for your wife to die. And, you might be wondering if God will honor your faith in Him if you violate your principles. However, I know that you’re struggling with whether or not you can break that glass.”

A snarl curled his lips into question marks. “Why are you here? Why are you tormenting me? Don’t you have something better to do?”

His laugh penetrated Chris’ heart. “Oh, I’m here for you. I’m the only one who can help you. You know the stories about that glass. You know it’s the only glass that can’t be broken. But I know how to get through that glass shield that is preventing your wife from dying.” He leaned forward. “When will she die? Tonight? Tomorrow?”

Chris’ hands surrounded his face in frustration. “Stop it! Leave me alone.”

“If I leave you alone, you won’t get through that window.”

As if standing on a high dive and taking a gulp of air before plummeting to the depth of the waters below him, Chris drew in a deep, satisfying breath. “Fine. Show me how.”

“You see? That wasn’t so hard, was it? It’s not hard to violate your principles once you start. Just out of curiosity, how do you justify your decision?”

Chris, now relieved to be free of the struggle replied with passion. “She and I are one. There is no other relationship that is more important than the two of us. Not our kids, not my friends, and not my family. It’s a reminder of something bigger than me. I refuse to allow her to die.”

The man taunted him. “And what about that little girl who will die when you steal her medicine?”

“Who am I to decide whether or not she lives? I have my wife to consider and I’ve made my decision.”

“Good,” he replied with a throaty growl. “You’ll need this.” He reached into his pocket and produced a hammer.

“What’s this?”

“Like I told you earlier. That glass won’t break. You could hit it with a rock, you could shoot it, but it you hit it with this hammer, it will shatter on demand.”

“Why?”

“Because I designed the glass. I know how to defeat it. This is no ordinary hammer. You can only use it once.”

Chris turned the hammer in his hand. It was surprising light, and didn’t seem to weigh more than a few ounces. “And what do I owe you for this?”

“I’ve already been paid.”

Without further consideration, Chris walked defiantly to the large window and touched the glass with the hammer. It shattered under his touch and he realized the hammer had dissolved in his hands. He stared at the medicine sitting on the shelf in the back of the pharmacy, inviting him to finish its bidding.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Final View from the Section 8

Mission N0. 26.
May 28th, 1944
Went to Magnebourg Germany and bombed the railway marshalling yards. We were hit by flak in the Dumar Lake Area, but not much damage was done. Made it onto the target where we were hit again by flak and knocked a hole in No 1 engine oil cooler draining all the oil from the tank. Was unable to feather the prop leaving it to windmill, and were unable to stay up with formation and hold altitude so we had to jettison all armor plating, guns and ball turret. Thought for a while we wouldn’t be able to make it back to the enemy coast but the old ship just kept on flying. So we made it back to our base. Here we are ready for another smashing good raid.


This week marks the 64th anniversary for George and Martha Pruitt, barely weeks following George’s death. I’ve made several pitiful attempts to bring honor to an honorable man and his family, and I can’t help but surrender to the fact that some people’s lives can’t be reduced to a few paragraphs in an article. Who George was, and who he became, begat an entire legacy of Christian values and noble patriotism which leaves indelible marks upon many generations—both those present and those to come. I’m thankful that my children had the opportunity to sit in his lap and share his kind, gentle smile. It is with a heavy heart that I announce this will by my last post about a war hero turned family man. If you haven't seen the other stories of the Section 8 and its crew, I invite you to glance through them in my previous posts in this month and last month. I now offer you two of his journal entries that must be shared with freedom loving people throughout our nation. For without him, freedom wouldn’t be possible. For if everyone held the belief that protecting our country belongs to “other people’s children,” then no one would have stood up to defeat the evil Axis powers. He knowingly and deliberately stood to his feet and drew a line in the sand indicating that Americans would not bow, nor would they slumber in the face of tyranny.

So many others stood with him and made that same declaration. My own grandfathers fought with him in that great war. Unfortunately, they were reluctant to discuss their lives during the war, and we have no record of what they faced and overcame. PFC Travis Boyd Inman served in the 303rd of the 97th Infantry Division during their Pacific Theater action and the subsequent occupation of Japan. Guy Bairrington, who served with both the 82nd Airborne, and the 101st Airborne, was one of those who parachuted into France on D-Day. He also returned with a purple heart. I’m proud to think that George and Guy were both in the same air at the same time, fighting the same enemy. Now, all three of these noble warriors have gone into eternity, leaving their families to follow in their examples. I pray that we don’t fail them or dishonor their contributions.

Mission No 30.
June 6, 1944
Completion of my last tour of duty. Didn’t get any sleep last night. Briefing at 10:30 pm. Take off at 2:10 am. Bombed beach head 8 minutes before invasion troops landed. Never saw such perfect timing and teamwork as was displayed by our air and ground forces this morning. Everything worked perfect. We bombed at 7:22 am and troops landed at 7:30 am. We landed back at our base at 9:45 am. Every available airplane in the 8th and 9th Air Force were flying. Here’s hoping those boys over there the best of luck in seizing and establishing their stronghold. God only knows they're apt to need it.

And with those words, I leave you to contemplate such great men. I pray their lives will influence my children to be as convicted as were they.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

IRON POET--BATTLE CIRCUS

If you want to witness a bizarre poetry contest, then visit Alison's blog--and vote on your favorite. I'm certain you won't be disappointed.
www.alisonb1974.blogspot.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another View from the Section 8

Another View from the Section 8

George Pruitt passed away in Lubbock, Texas on July 5, 2008 following a massive stroke. He was surrounded by family and died with honor. May we shake hands when he greets me at the Pearly Gates.

George certainly came from the mold that pressed out heroes. I’m not implying that he was a perfect man, and he’d be the first to agree with me about his lack thereof, but George was a mighty man of valor, and his deeds are worthy of recording. In his latter years, he was a man of faith, and never once backed down from his love for Christ. He was an excellent father, husband, and grandfather. In fact, he passed away being surrounded by family—and there is no better way to go. The love and devotion demonstrated by his family lends insight to his character because those are the ones who knew him best. In honor of his life, I’m going to continue his epic struggle against the Nazi invasion of France. So, buckle in, it’s going to be an enjoyable journey.

This account is taken from his very own war journal, which was recently made available to me by Martha, George’s bride from 64 years past. George kept meticulous notes concerning the missions he flew and various odd details about each one. We know from his records that he was very generous, having lent many hundreds of dollars to his fellow airmen—most of them paid him back! I’ll share with you bits and pieces of his journal, and I’ll start with a mission he flew two-thirds of the way through his tour of duty.

Mission No. 20
April 29, 1944
Hit Berlin, Germany. On the way to the target number 2 engine started acting up, forcing us to pull military power to keep up with formation. Over target—number 3 engine was knocked out, loosing oil pressure and were unable to feather propeller. As a result, we had to let it windmill. As we were leaving target, number 1 engine was shot out, leaving us with only two engines. We were unable to stay with any of the returning formations and we were losing altitude. So, we threw out all our guns and ammunition. The ship was shot to pieces by flak. So, we were coming in “on a wing and a prayer,” just hoping and praying we’d have enough gas to get out of enemy territory, and praying we wouldn’t be intercepted by enemy fighters. And our prayers came true. We weren’t intercepted and we got out of enemy territory. But as we were crossing the North Sea, flying at about 4,000 feet, our two faithful engines run out of gas, forcing us to dead stick land in the water. The pilot made a beautiful landing and we all got out uninjured. We were in our dinghies 40 minutes when the air sea rescue picked us up. Our plane floated 57 minutes, which is believed to be the longest period of time any US Army/Air Force plane has floated. Lt. John R. Jeans, our navigator, got a few chips of glass in his eye when the plexiglass nose was hit by flak. Thanks to Lt. Suckow’s beautiful land and the wonderful work done by radio operator SSGT Joe C Spermbaur in contacting air Sea Rescue.
Now, there were some corrections he penned into his journal in a different color ink than he used originally. One of the changes documented that they weren’t in the English Channel when they went down, but in the North Sea. Either way, it’s a remarkable story. At his funeral on July 7, 2008, his photo was posted near his casket. In the photo, he wore a boyish smile on a warrior’s face. You could see in his eyes the determination that he was were he was supposed to be and he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. I asked him once if he was worried about going to war. He never hesitated in his answer, “No. We knew we were going to win before we ever left,” which reminds me of a quote from Sun Tzu, “the victorious warrior wins first, and then goes to war; the defeated warrior goes to war first, and then seeks to win.”

Along with his photo, was a small laminated card the size of an actual playing card, which documented his enrollment into the Goldfish Club. For more information on this exclusive group, see:    http://www.geocities.com/b24gunr2000/Goldfish_Club.html Thanks to the Pruitt family for allowing me insight into a wonderful story and an incredible man.

Learn more about the crew of the Section 8 and their mission over Normandy on D-Day by clicking here: D-Day, A View From The Section 8.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Rebuke Part II

“Great, then let’s vote. All in favor raise your hand.” Black frowned. “What’s the matter, David?”

“A salivation message should be about sin, not happiness.”

“But sin causes unhappiness, David.”

“Yes, Dr. Aziz, but…when I was a sinner, I enjoyed my sins--a lot.”

Reverend Black cleared his throat, “what if we added a second line that says, ‘God knows the true source of your problems: sin.’ Would that satisfy this argument?”

Dr. Jonas nodded in approval. “Truly, God has given you wisdom beyond your years.”

“Nonsense,” Black waved him off and blushed.

“We should include something about a God shaped vacuum.”

“Excellent suggestion, Stoney.”

“Excuse me, sir?”

Black’s patience seemed beyond end, “Yes, David, what is it?”

“I only have one last comment about happiness before we move on.”

“Very well, try to be brief, we are on a schedule.” He pronounced it shedule.

“Of course. Gentleman,” David began, “If we make our focus on happiness, then we are limiting our message to only those who are unhappy.”

“But that is everyone who is unsaved.”

“Not necessarily. As I tried to mention before, I was having the time of my life when I got saved. I was very happy in my sins.”

“Well, you weren’t truly happy, it was a false happiness.”

David grimaced, “Regardless. I loved myself and I loved my life.”

“Then why even bother to get saved?” As soon as Parvo spoke, he wished he could have retracted his statement, but it was too late. He looked down as David smiled.

“Exactly my point. Why get saved if it’s all about happiness? I was happy when a street preacher in San Diego, California warned me that I would die and face a judgment. Then I became unhappy. He pointed out my sins by using the Ten Commandments.”

“The Law?” Parvo snorted while Aziz gasped dramatically. “You expect us to use the Law and the Old Testament in a modern Gospel message?”

“Why not?” David countered? “You use the Old Testament every time you preach on tithing.” Parvo started to stand, but Reverend Black put a hand on his arm and David continued. “The Law is a schoolmaster that is used to reveal sin in our hearts. After a sinner trembles under the wrath of God, we should apply grace. Only then will a sinner truly understand what he was saved from and why he was saved.”

“I was preaching the faith message before you was born, Pastor,” special emphasis on pastor. “I hardly need you to preach to me about salvation.”

“Gentlemen,” Reverend Black cleared his throat, “I know that Brother David’s intentions are good. Technically, he is right. The Law is a schoolmaster.”

“Not only that,” David, encouraged by Reverend Black’s incidental support, continued, “Psalm 19 says that the Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…”

“I don’t care what Psalm 19 says, sonny. I want people saved.” Parvo was visibly shaken. Anger burned deep in his eyes.

“I have to agree, Jack. Jesus himself said that he came to heal the broken hearted.”

“Not only that, Dr. Aziz,” Stoney interjected, “He also came to bind up and heal the broken hearted. If we attack in the spirit, I know that souls will be saved. We need to bind Satan.”

“You mean, the broken hearted, right?”

“How’s that, David?”

“Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted, not to bind up Satan, right?” A hushed whisper grew in the auditorium.

“I hardly agree. Matthew 18:18-19 says that whatever we bind on Earth is bound in heaven.”

“Alright, Stoney, maybe you can answer this question. How long does a bind last?”

“Huh?”

“How long does a bind last?” The entire panel was staring at Stoney eagerly awaiting his response to a question that none of them could answer.

“Well, I…uh. Well, I’m not sure that your question is valid.” Then he smiled as he came up with an answer, “It’s up to God.” He adjusted his tie.

“Fine. My next question is this, if we have bound Satan, then why is he loose right now?”

“Well, he is strong, and we have to fast…”

“Are you telling me that there is not a Christian in this world who fasts enough to bind Satan?”

“Well, I do. Fast that is.”

“Great. Then why isn’t Satan bound?”

“Well, because someone else has loosed him.” He was pleased with himself for answering the question.

“Then you are saying that God isn’t sovereign. Either God has given us authority over Satan or He hasn’t. If we have that authority, then why isn’t Satan bound? You know what I think?” The panel nodded, eager to hear him continue. “I think that we have been teaching bad doctrine, and I believe that we have been preaching a corrupted salvation message by not addressing sin, repentance, God’s wrath, judgment, forgiveness, redemption, and the blood of Jesus. Happiness, deliverance, prosperity, healing, and knowledge are all great, but sinners most need forgiveness.”

The panel began to speak all at once, each furiously arguing against David Simple. The auditorium began to growl and fight with each other. Reverend Black tried to gain control, but the panel had been turned upside down. David endured these foul accusations for a few minutes, but gathered his items and stood to his feet.

“Hah!” Parvo snapped. “Brother Simple can’t stand the heat. Going home?”

“No, I’m going to save the lost.” David realized that his answer was trite and snobbish, but he desperately needed to make his voice heard. “Brother, you have a unique opportunity to reach the lost, but you seem to be so focused on money and faith that the Gospel is compromised in your ministry.”

“How dare you judge me?”

“No, Jack, he’s right. All you ever preach is money.” Aziz pointed a boney finger at Parvo.

“Ah, Doctor Aziz, you had a great heart for evangelism at one time, but now you have your own name and picture on every bill board in Dallas,” Parvo fired back.

“The people need to know who I am so that I can heal them,” he defended himself and then he realized what he said. “Well, so that Jesus might heal them through me.”

David turned to walk away, and then he stopped. “You know, I’ve already burned my bridges, so I just as well make this a bon-fire. Stoney, you so glamorize the occult and Satan that you give out the appearance that Jesus is less important. Spiritual warfare is a game to you. And please stop selling those trinkets on your radio program. Why do we need an ‘I fight demons’ T shirt? I would swear that Satan is your best friend. You spend more time talking about him and to him that I think you have forgotten that Jesus is sitting on the throne. I can only imagine that in your home you have little stuffed demon heads mounted on your fireplace. The finished work of the Cross gave us the final victory. When was the last time that a sinner actually repented because of your ministry?”

He turned to Dr. Jonas, “with you, it’s all in your head, Doctor. I don’t think that Jesus is in your heart. The goodness of God leads men to repentance, not the knowledge of God. God is not a matter of the head; he is a matter of the heart. You have failed to close that little eighteen inch gap from your head to your heart, which, by the way, is the same distance from heaven to hell.” He sighed and addressed the whole panel. “Gentlemen, you are so busy raising money and promoting yourselves that you fail to minister. My church is flat broke because all of my parishioners send their tithes and offerings to your ministries so that they can get that super big return on their investment into your little kingdoms that you continually promise. Whenever I preach against that, then they get mad and quit and join the next big popular church down the road, where they can be happy. Jesus was a fisher of men, not of riches, and so should be your focus. Get back to basics, gentlemen, I may be a hungry preacher, but at least I can sleep at night.” He turned and walked off the stage, silence permeating the auditorium.

A lone figure in the balcony stood to his feet and began to clap. Slowly, the entire hall soberly endorsed the rebuke.

“Why that ingrateful brat!” Parvo snapped.

“Ungrateful,” corrected Dr. Jonas.

“Absolutely,” agreed Parvo, oblivious to the correction.

“Doesn’t he realize that we paved the road for him years ago?” growled Aziz.

“Well, I’m going to bind him up and cast him out, that little ingrate,” Stoney retorted.

“What we have here is a man that has not been to seminary and to learn the most modern theology. He is lost in the old and stuffy traditions of men like Charles Finney and Charles Spurgeon.”

“Well said, my friend. Well said.”








And with that, I subject myself to your thoughts and criticisms.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Rebuke Part I

I'm sorry that I've been slow in posting new stories the last few months. We've been distracted with life recently. Like Bilbo Baggins, "I feel stretched out and thin, like butter spread over too much bread." I appreciate all of your encouragements to get back on track, and I always enjoy hearing your feedback. I want to present to you a story that I've been hesitant to submit. This attacks many popular opinions, and when you attack the popular, you become very popular yourself--but maybe not for the reasons you want!

The Rebuke


“Okay, people, people!” A distinguished elderly gentleman in a dark suit was standing at the end of a long table that was sitting on stage in the center of a large coliseum full of excited people. “Hello? Everyone? Can I have your attention, please?” He taped on his lapel mic to ensure that he was being heard. The roar of the crowd began to fade as five men emerged from backstage and began to find their places around the enormous table. “I’m pleased to see such a large crowd. It touches my heart to see so many that have a heart for the lost.” His voice was drowned in a chorus of amens and clapping hands. “As you all know, my name is Reverend Black…” again a round of cheers and applause. “Thank you, my children, you humble me.” He held up his hands to contain the clapping. “As you all know, I have assembled a panel to discuss our concerted efforts to win this world for Christ in this new DECADE OF HARVEST!” On queue, the crowd erupted and settled down only when Reverend Black demanded that they do so. “In my panel, I have requested that Brother Jack Parvo, whom you all know and love from his television broadcast, which reaches over 13 million people daily, to be present.”

Jack Parvo stood and the crowd went wild. He waved them down and said, “If you’re not careful, I’ll take up an offering!” He was greeted with laughter.

Black continued. “I also invited Dr. Ben Aziz, whom you know as the cutting edge of today’s healing ministry.” The crowd roared when Aziz stood and laughed when he pretended to lay hands on Reverend Black. Meeting expectations, Reverend Black pretended to be slain in the spirit, stopping short of actually falling to the floor. The crowd ate it up.

“I am also pleased to introduce Dr. Paul Jonas, founder and CEO of Jesus University, now proudly announcing an attendance of 20,000 students.” Applause greeted him as he stood, but he was too stiff to entertain the crowd. He sat down awkwardly.

“Next to him, Mr. Stoney Henchman, host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show, ‘The Violent Take it by Force.’” The multitude loved Stoney. His program was radical and confrontational with frequent debates from occultists and demonically influenced guests. His program was sensational and exciting.

“Finally, just to keep us humble, I have requested the presence of a young man whom I think you will appreciate as much as I do once you get to know him. He is the associate pastor of a small church in West Texas. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Pastor David Simpul.” An obligatory applause trickled through the auditorium. Embarrassed, David lifted a hand to the crowd.

“Now, as we get started, I want to ask the crowd to control its clapping, as we will try to record this session. After all, this is an historic gathering of the greatest minds in Christianity today. Now gentlemen, as you know, the members of the Unified Christian Movement, which includes all of us present, are requesting that we develop a unified salvation message. This message will take a tract form and will be used in our new Decade of Harvest efforts to evangelize the world. Our goal tonight will be to pool our experience and knowledge to develop a perfect Gospel message. Brother Parvo, why don’t we start with you?”

“Thank you, Reverend. First, let me say how much I appreciate an opportunity to serve on your board. It is both an honor and a privilege to be included with such giants of the faith.”

“You’re welcome, Jack. Tell us, what do you consider the most important message out there? Over the years, you have influenced more people than all of us combined. What is your secret?"

“Well, God, of course.” The panel nodded reverently. “We try to tell the world about God’s love. Just that simple.”

Dr. Aziz cleared his throat and spoke in his characteristic Jewish accent. “God’s love is sufficient. It’s his love that draws men unto Him. That is why we must proclaim God’s love through healing.”

“Amen brother.” Parvo redirected his thoughts. “Not only healing, but also His promises. After all, the riches of His Kingdom are available at our fingertips. We only have to ask of Him to receive.”

Stoney Henchmen spoke. “God does promise us prosperity, but He also promises us a victorious life that is free of demonic oppression!” The crowd cheered.

“Yes, of course,” Reverend Black pointed to Dr. Jonas. “What do you think, Doctor?”

“God also promises wisdom. If we present God to intellectuals, they will want to know about the knowledge that God will grant them.”

“Knowledge is fine, but their lives, homes, and bodies are broken. They need healing first!”

Jonas sighed. “Dr. Aziz, I must surrender your point, but how do they get healed unless they first know how to be healed?”

“Just what I was saying,” said Parvo. “God’s riches abound in His healings. Perhaps we should present a message on how God can prosper them.”

“What good is prosperity if they are in bondage?”

“Well, Stoney, that is why we should give them God’s wisdom.”

“Yes, Dr. Jonas, it is the love of God that leads men to repentance.” Reverend Black glanced down at David Simpul. “Pastor? We haven’t heard from you yet.”

“What about sin?”

“I believe that God is against it!” Jack Parvo nodded to the crowd, who was clapping furiously at David’s expense.

“I mean,” David waited for the crowd to settle. “I mean, shouldn’t our message be about sin and repentance?”

“Well, of course, my dear boy, but all in due time.”

“Thank you, Reverend,” nodded Aziz. “After you pull someone out of a wheelchair, they are willing to listen to you about sin.”

“Not to mention God’s riches.”

“Of course, Jack. They need to understand that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives.”

“Great idea, Reverend. Why don’t we start our message with the Jabez Prayer?”

“Excellent idea.”

“Amen.”

“But?” David interrupted. “The Jabez Prayer isn’t meant for sinners. In fact, an entire theology has been developed around two little verses in the Old Testament. That verse has nothing to do with a call to repentance or salvation. The Bible says that all men have sinned…”

“I can see why you brought this young man into our discussion, Reverend” Dr. Aziz interrupted. “The Jabez Prayer won’t do. The world is sick. It needs to be healed.”

“What better way to heal them than to present God’s wisdom on the subject?”

“Wisdom? Sure,” Stoney’s tone hinted sarcasm. “They will know wisdom once they are set free from demonic influence. Free from their deception, I say.”

“I was deceived once; most miserable experience of my life. I was very unhappy.”

“Now you’re on to something, Jack. Happiness. That’s the common thread.”

“Amen, Reverend. We all want to be happy. Our experience and our life…, well it all boils down to happiness.” Jack nodded at Dr. Jonas for approval.

“Well,” he reasoned in his mind. “Knowledge can produce happiness. I’ll go along with that.”

Black looked over at Aziz. “What say you, Doctor?”

“Amen.”

“And you, Mr. Henchmen?”

“Amen, you aren’t happy when you are in bondage.”

“And for the last member of our committee, Pastor Simpul.”

David cleared his throat nervously. “It’s been my experience that an individual, who can’t do anything by himself, joins a committee so that they can do nothing together.” After several amens, he continued. “It seems to me, that happiness is the wrong approach. Jesus didn’t really come to make you happy, He just…”

“Well, now, I don’t know about you, Reverend Black, but Jesus has made Jack Parvo plenty happy.”

David nodded. “I’m sure. If I were as rich as you, I might have fewer things happen to me to destroy my happiness. But where you happy last year when you were under investigation for embezzlement?”

A shocked, hushed crowd leaned forward to watch Jack Parvo react. “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” His eyes flashed for a moment, and then he caught himself and immediately softened his tone and waved nonchalantly. “Of course I was happy, because I knew that Christ in me would prevail.”

“What about you, Dr. Henchmen, when you were sued for millions by the Church of Satan?”

“Was I happy? Naturally. It was an opportunity to demonstrate the deliverance of God.”

“Dr. Aziz,” David redirected. “Were you happy when your daughter died of pneumonia?”

“Well, I…” he hesitated. “I can’t see how that figures into this panel of discussion.” The panel and the crowd were all frowning in disapproval of David’s blatant attack against the character of these super giants of the faith.

“Gee, I don’t know,” David shook his head. “Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see a lot of happiness in Paul’s life, or even in Jesus’ life. Ya’ll seem to be better off than Jesus himself.”
Dr. Jonas waded in. “Paul said that for him to live is Christ. He had Jesus in him. Of course he was happy. ‘With joy I run the race set before me.’”

“But, Doctor, the other half of that verse is, ‘to live is Christ, to die is gain.’ Would a truly happy man perceive that dying is better than living? Wouldn’t he want to enjoy his happiness as long as he could?”

“Paul wrote about happiness while in prison. Why, Philippians is all about happiness.”

“No, Dr. Aziz, its not. It’s about joy, not happiness. Paul was stoned, shipwrecked, snake bitten, whipped, beaten, and imprisoned on numerous occasions. In II Corinthians 1:8, Paul was so happy that he wanted to die.” He looked around at the frowning panel. “Well, Jesus himself told us ‘what great things we would suffer in His name.’”

Reverend Black jumped in. “Well, you can see why I like David so much.” He swallowed. “Now, let’s get back on track here. We all agree that the world lacks happiness, right?” The men nodded in agreement. David, who was looking confused, didn’t acknowledge the question. “What if we said something to the effect of, ‘has the world got you down? The trials of life can be overwhelming, but God is the true source of happiness?’”

“That works for me.” Parvo interjected.

“Great, then let’s vote. All in favor raise your hand.” Black frowned. “What’s the matter, David?”




TO BE CONTINUED.....