More Secure, Part 2

                Stephanie stood by the window and sighed.

                “Can’t sleep?” her new husband, Richard, asked.

                Stephanie looked guilty. “Sorry,” she said, “it’s been two years I should be over it, I just—”

                Richard silenced her with a kiss. “You’ve been through a lot,” he said, “the pain will be there. It means you’re human.”

                Stephanie smiled back at him. “Yeah, but Mark needs both his parents.”

                Richard hugged her. “He’s got both of them,” he stated. “You know, maybe we should take up that preacher’s invitation.”

                “You think it would help us?” she asked.

                “It might,” he answered. “It’s worth a shot, anyways.”

                They arrived the following Sunday for morning services.

                “Welcome folks, I’m Daniel. We’re glad to have you.”

                “Thanks,” Richard stated. “I’m Richard; this is Stephanie and our son, Mark.”

                “Find yourselves a seat; we’re not picky,” Daniel stated. “We’re glad to have you.”

                “Thanks,” Richard said as they moved to a pew.

                “Been a while since I’ve been inside a church,” Stephanie said. “Either of us, really.”

                Richard nodded his head as he studied the bulletin. As soon as the piano began, Richard perked up. “Haven’t heard these songs since Sunday School, either,” he stated.

                “Please take your hymn books and turn to number 300,” the pastor announced. “Number 300; please stand.”

                More secure is no one ever/Than the loved ones of the Saviour the congregation began singing.

                Stephanie leaned towards Richard. “This was my mother’s favorite song,” she said.

                “My aunt loved this song,” Richard whispered, “she sang it all the time.”

                “You folks from around here?” Daniel asked after the service.

                “Other side of town,” Richard answered.

                “Mr. Thomas, glad you could make it,” the pastor stated as he walked over.

                “Pastor Garcia, thanks for inviting us,” Richard said.

                “Please, it’s Jose; and we’re glad to have ya.”

                “That first song has a history with our families,” Stephanie remarked. “We thought it special.”

                “Yes, it’s one of my personal favorites too,” Jose stated. “You two come from Christian families?”

                “Not exactly,” Richard answered. “Couple family members, that’s all.”

                “You don’t know what to believe, do you?” Daniel asked. “You feel unsure; bad history with a previous church?”

                “You could say that,” Richard said. “How’d you know?”

                “Daniel’s a friend of mine and an FBI profiler,” Detective Miller answered as he walked over.

                “Didn’t know you attended here, detective,” Stephanie stated.               

                “Mrs. Thomas,” Miller greeted her. “Glad to see you’re doing better. How’s the little one?”

                “He’s not so little,” Stephanie said, pulling Mark from behind here.

                “Hello little fellow,” Miller said, moving to Mark’s line of sight. “How are you?”

                The families continued to talk for a bit before heading home. Richard sat on the porch swing later that evening, pondering.

                “Penny for your thoughts?” Stephanie asked.

                “You think there’s anything to what the pastor said?” Richard asked.

                Stephanie sat down beside him. “I don’t know; my mother always seemed to think there was something to religion.”             

                “What about Miller?” Richard asked. “You trust him?”

                “He’s done nothing to make me not trust him,” Stephanie stated.

                “Really?” Richard asked. “Cause he still hasn’t found the killer.”

                “Sometimes people can’t be found,” Stephanie stated.

                “Or he’s already dead,” Daniel stated, as he and Miller came up from the sidewalk.

                The Thomas couple looked at them.

                “How long have you known?” Richard asked.

                “We found him four days ago,” Daniel stated, handing them a photo. “He was found in Texas on Thursday.”      

                “Why didn’t you say anything?” Stephanie demanded of Miller.

                “I told him I would,” Daniel said. “Anthony McNab was wanted on other charges in two other states. Since the FBI took him down, I told Miller I would tell you.”

                Stephanie put her hand over her mouth. Richard put his arm around his wife.

                “Where is he now?” she asked.

                “In Hell, I’m afraid,” Miller stated. “I had to put three bullets in him when we found him.”

                Richard looked up at Miller. “Is that what you actually believe?”

                “You go to one of two places when you die,” Miller answered. “Heaven or Hell. Anthony wasn’t prepared for death; he had a chance and didn’t take it.”

                “He shot at two other agents,” Daniel said. “With a twelve-gauge shotgun. Miller had to take him out or we wouldn’t have come out of there alive.”

                “How do you do it?” Richard asked. “You’re both Christians; how do you do your jobs?”

                “It isn’t always easy,” Miller answered. “But putting away bad guys is what I do.”

                “Does your faith help?” Stephanie asked.

                Daniel nodded his head.

                “I know that if I die, I’ll go to Heaven,” Miller stated. “I can look down the barrel of a gun and have no fear because no matter what, it’s in God’s hands. The guys I put away, however, they don’t have that courage.”

                “How do you do it then?” Richard asked. “If you believe shooting someone will send them to Hell, how do you do it?”

                “I give them enough of a chance to surrender, “ Miller said. “I know that when I shoot someone, they’ve had their last chance to fix their life. They made that choice to go to Hell; the ultimate prison cell.”

                Richard stood up. “Thanks Detective. For everything. And for the spiritual advice. It means a lot.”

                “Anything I can do to help,” Miller said, handing Richard a business card, “let me know.”

                Richard nodded. “We will.”   

More Secure, Part 1

                Stephanie Richards admired her small, clean kitchen. With the baby soon to be born, it was nice to relax a minute and prepare for the future.

                Stephanie woke up to see her husband Steve standing in front of her, smiling.

                “Tired?” he asked.

                “Sorry; I guess I was,” she replied, holding her hand out to him.

                Steve took her hand and sat down next to her. “It’s fine,” he stated. “You’re fighting for two people these days, it’s bound to wear you out.” He kissed her cheek.

                Stephanie smiled. “Yes but that doesn’t mean I can abandon my husband,” she said.

                “I’d find you if you did, trust me,” Steve replied. “But dinner’s ready if you’re hungry.”

                “Oh, you made dinner?” Stephanie asked, delighted. “Thanks.”

                The two sat down to a quite meal and caught up on their day.

                A few week later, Steve entered the hospital room and looked at his three-hour old son. “Sorry I’m late; traffic these days,” he stated.

                Stephanie smiled. “He looks just like you,” she stated.

                Steve smiled at his son. “My life has begun to change again,” he stated.

*                                             *                                             *                                             *

                Steve sighed to himself as he walked out the back door at the office two years later. “Another long day and nothing to show for it,” he muttered. “And the mortgage is due, too,” he added, opening the car door.

                Click!

                Steve turned to see the barrel of a pistol in his face, a masked man on the opposite end of the gun. “Give me your money—and if you move, I’ll shoot you,” the man ordered.

                Steve slowly moved for his wallet. “Here, take it,” he stated, handing his wallet over.

                The man took the wallet. “Good. Sorry, no witnesses; bad for business.”

                Bang! Bang! Bang! Three shots rang out as bullets hit Steve in the chest and stomach. Collapsing to the ground, Steve looked up at his attacker. “Why?” he sputtered.

                “Because I ain’t going to jail—and you’re the only witness here,” the man growled, before delivering a final shot to Steve’s head.

                The next morning there was a knock on the door of the Richards house. Stephanie opened to find Detective Miller standing there with a somber look on his face.

                “Is there something wrong?” she asked nervously.

                “Mrs. Richards?” the detective stated, “I’m sorry to tell you, your husband’s been found shot at his office.”

                “What? No, it can’t be,” Stephanie began to panic. “He didn’t come in last night but I thought he was working late; he’s been shot?”

                “I’m sorry,” Detective Miller stated.

                Emotion overtook Stephanie as she began sobbing violently. Her life was falling apart.

                “We’re doing everything we can, but the killer was masked; it may take a while,” the detective stated.

                “You have to find him,” Stephanie said through gritted teeth. “So I can see him fall.”

                “I’ll do the best I can,”  Detective Miller assured her.

                The family had a quite funeral, placing Steve’s grave near his mother’s as was his request.

                “I’ll get him, Steve,” Stephanie vowed as she stood by the grave. “I’ll see the man who killed you behind bars before I die; I promise.”

One in Forty

                Now it came to pass, about nine hundred years ago, that there was a king who wished to find a wife for his son. Therefore, this king commanded that a census be made of all the virgins in the city. When this census was completed, it was known that there were forty women that were available for the king’s son.

                Whereupon the king called in his son and said, “My son, you must go out among the people and select a wife for yourself.”

                “Father I will go,” replied the young man, whose name chanced to be Collin. “And I will return with her afterwards.”

                So saying the father and son took leave of each other, and the boy departed for to seek a wife.

                Now the father had prepared an escort for the son, which included twenty and five soldiers and four servants. These accompanied the prince and carried a list of names of the women for whom to speak to.

                The first was the daughter of a rich landowner. She wished to be excused so that she might inherit her father’s land.

                Another was a rich merchant who loved the riches of the city rather than that prince’s love.

                And so the search continued for many days. Some wanted nothing to do with the prince. Other some wished only to get into the castle, but wished to live their own life. Some wished to finish their own plans before joining the prince, and still others didn’t see a need of change in their lives.

                And so the names on the list were blotted out as the search continued. As the names on the list dwindled in number, the chances became smaller for the prince to find a wife.

                Now it came to pass on the last day of August, that the search reached its thirty-first day. All the names on the list had been blotted out save one: a girl by the name of Cornelia.

                Now Cornelia at twenty-one was a year younger than Prince Collin. She was the daughter of a poor farmer whose wife had been a harlot, and whose son had been a thief. As Cornelia was their only daughter, she was tenderly loved by her parents.

                Now this same Cornelia had been placed on the bottom of the list, the king’s scribes supposing that the prince would not want to see her. But Collin persisted in fulfilling the mission, and so went to see her.

                Upon arrival to the place, Cornelia’s father came out trembling. Falling on his knees before the prince, this same farmer asked that the prince spare the family and not grieve them worse than what had already befallen them.

                “I came,” said Collin, “out of mercy. I request to speak to your daughter Cornelia.”

                “But sir,” spake the farmer, “you will not want my daughter for your wife. She is much too poor to join you in yonder castle.”

                Nevertheless the prince prevailed with the farmer to speak to Cornelia, and the farmer brought in the prince to see Cornelia. The prince expressed his desire of marriage.

                “Nay,” said Cornelia, “I cannot be your wife. I am too poor to join you and have no garment fit for the castle.”

                “Nothing is required of you, dear girl, but to love me with all of your heart and soul and mind and to follow me withersoever I lead you.”

                At this one of the servants shewed a garment which was as white as snow. “This garment shall become yours,” said Collin.

                “If you can love me,” said Cornelia, “then I will love you.”

                Therefore, the day was set for the wedding, and the two arrived at the castle three days afterwards.

                The two were very happy, as was Collin’s father, the king. Cornelia was accepted by all of the servants, and many were certified that this same poor girl had become the king’s daughter.

                But it came to pass after three years had gone by that Cornelia was taken in the act of stealing by one of the servants. When asked what he would do, Collin requested to speak to Cornelia privately.

                “My dear,” said he, “what is this that I hear of thee? Thou art said to have stolen money.”

                “My lord,” said she, weeping bitter tears, “I am sorry. The door was there and no one was watching. I wanted a little extra money; forgive me.”

                “I truly believe thou art repentant,” said he, kissing her fondly. “Thou art forgiven.”

                Now some indeed thought Cornelia should be put out of the castle, but Collin refused, saying that she had been forgiven.

                But in the process of time, Cornelia was brought to Collin. “Your wife,” said a servant, “was taking a silver cup from the café.”

                Collin again spoke to her, upon which she repented and was forgiven.

                But when Cornelia was apprehended stealing a silver spoon from the kitchen, Collin placed her in ward for a week.

                “My dear,” Collin said when he released her from prison, “take heed what you do. Forty lashes shall be given you if this occurs again. Steal no more, for worse punishment shall be given you.”

                “Sir,” asked one which worked in the court, “why do you not divorce your wife and bar her from the castle?”

                “Because,” said Collin, “she is my wife, and shall always be. I love her, and she truly loves me and does not want to steal. It is a battle for her to resist it. I believe she will not be found to steal again.”

                Now it came to pass in the process of time that as Cornelia was walking along the fields that she happened upon some wildflowers. “How pretty,” said she, as she began picking them. “These would look nice on our table.”

                Now a certain robber was also on the trail and traveling towards that castle. This same robber happened upon Cornelia as she was carrying her bouquet to the castle. Seizing her by the arm, the robber demanded her money, and threatened to slay her if she refused.

                “Help!” cried Cornelia. “Collin, help! A robber!”

                Collin immediately appeared with his sword drawn, while two other soldiers were not far behind. “Leave her alone!” he called out, “lest I smite thee.”

                Whereupon the robber quickly withdrew, leaving the two in peace.

                “Oh my love,” Cornelia said, “Thank you.”

                “Thou art surely welcome,” said Collin. “Thou never needest to be afraid to call upon me. I will always be there.”

                “And I, my lord,” said Cornelia, “shall always remember this day, and shall never again put my hand to steal.”

                “I believe you, my love,” said he, kissing her.

                The two walked home in peace.      

Knock, Knock

                “So we have this street?” I asked.

                “Uh, yes,” Steve replied.

                “Well, these two houses are for sale,” I said. “And they both look empty. And Elder Nathan said that we’re to avoid house number 114, which is that one.”

                “Well, let’s try this one,” Steve said. We walked to the door and I rang the doorbell.

                “Good evening, sir,” Steve said. “We were in your neighborhood and thought we’d stop by.”

                “Well, it’s good to see you,” the man replied. “My name’s Collin Martin and yours is?”

                “Steve Johnson,” Steve replied.

                “Richard Davidson,” I replied, shaking his hand.

                “Anyways,” Steve continued, “we came to offer you our latest Watchtower magazine. This one has an interesting article about ‘Maintaining Your Marriage.’ We’d like to leave this with you and also offer you a free home Bible study.”

                “Well I’d be happy to take this magazine in a minute,” Collin replied. “But can I ask you a few questions first?”

                “Alright,” Steve replied hesitantly, looking at me.

                “Who is your final authority?” Collin asked.

                “Well, it’d be the Bible,” I answered.

                “If I could prove, from the Bible, that Jesus is, indeed, God, and not Michael the Archangel, would you believe it?”

                “You can’t,” Steve challenged. I, for one, was eager to see if someone could, since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, not God.

                “Well, let’s turn to Isaiah 9:6,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

                For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

                “Well,” Steve countered, “it says ‘Mighty God’; not ‘Almighty God.’”

                “No,” Collin replied firmly, “it says ‘The Mighty God’. Your Society agrees with the King James Version; they still use it today. The King James says ‘The Mighty God’.

                “Turn to Isaiah 7:14,” Collin continued. He turned to the passage and read:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

                “Look at Matthew 1:23,” Collin said. “Steve, will you please read it?”

                Steve looked at his Bible and read:

“‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel,” which means, when translated, “With Us Is God’.”

                “With us is God,” Collin repeated. “Look at that: even the New World Translation calls Jesus God.”

                “Well—” Steve began.

                “Turn to John 5:17-18,” Collin said, “and let’s read it:

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

                “We have to go,” Steve interjected. “Have a good day.”

                We turned and took several steps away from his house. “Don’t be late for your next appointment!” Collin called after us. “For eternity in Hell is a long time to be wrong.”

                I paused briefly, then continued walking. What did he mean?

                “He must be one of those born-agains,” Steve told me a little while later.

                “Maybe,” I replied.

                A couple of weeks passed. I kept reading those verses over and over, pondering what Collin said. “Don’t be late…long time to be wrong.” What did he mean? I knew we would use “another appointment” when we could see that the person was not listening during a Bible study. Is that what Collin was referring to?

                “Brother Davidson, good to see you,” John Tyler greeted me after a meeting. “I suppose you heard Rachel Bevins was disfellowshipped?”

                “Rachel Bevins,” I repeated, trying to recollect who John was talking about.

                “You remember,” John said, “the girl who got pregnant—“

                “Oh her,” I said, remembering. “Disfellowshipped, huh? Poor girl, she has no money.”

                “That’s her fault,” John said. “If she’d kept in line, she’d still be here.”

                “True,” I said. “Well John, I’d better be going.”

                “Alright. See you next time,” John replied.

                As I drove home, I thought about the disfellowshipping process. The person was brought before three elders, faced the charges, and then punished accordingly. Disfellowshipped ones were not to be spoken to, helped, or contacted in any way. “And people like Rachel, I don’t think it will take long for her to get back in line,” I said to myself. Those who repented were often welcomed back into the organization sometime later. I had faced that committee of three elders once myself: until I finally dropped all contact with my born-again uncle. He had been a JW, but was converted…

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A Final Night

                “Well,” I stated as we returned from Grove Hill, Alabama, “this is the last night, I guess.”

                “Yeah, I guess so,” Felicity agreed.

                We grabbed our things and headed inside.

                “Good evening,” Pastor Mast greeted us. “It’s good to see you again.”

                “Thank you,” I replied.

                The prelude began at 6:27 that evening.

                “Well good evening,” Pastor stated when the service began. “Let’s open with a word of prayer.”

                Everyone bowed their head.

                “Lord we thank You for this day and for Your Word. Bless this service we pray and give us traveling safety when we leave tonight. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

                “Please take your hymn books and turn to hymn number 489; hymn number 489, ‘Glory to His Name’, please stand.”

                “Down at the cross…” we started.

                “You may be seated,” Pastor stated when the song was done.

                We all sat down.

                “Now, we’re going to do things a little different tonight,” Pastor Mast began. “As anybody does, we have questions. So before we close, we’re going to give everyone a chance to ask a question, and we’ll try to answer it. Afterwards we’ll sing another song, take a general offering, and then we’ll close and the refreshments and cookies will be available after the service.

                “So what we’ll do is rotate speakers for the questions,” Pastor explained. “We’ll give each speaker a chance to answer three questions at a time, and if you have a specific question for a speaker, ask it at his turn, and if any one of you speakers has a comment on a specific topic, feel free to voice your opinion. So Brother Antoine, you’re first.”

                “Turn me loose on the audience, eh?” Antoine asked.

                Several laughed.

                “Who’s first?” Antoine inquired.

                Someone raised their hand. Antoine nodded.

                “Um, when this conference started,,” the person began, “you talked about Charity Ministries; could you explain exactly who that is?”

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http://baptistreporter.com/baptist-report/a-final-night

A Wedding

Okay, so perhaps this isn’t your typical Bible conference post, but at any rate, I thought I’d share it with you.

                Now, as many of you know, I don’t normally share personal stories. But after a little thought, I decided to ask Antoine about this. As you remember from A Day with the Millers, my family and I spent an entire day with Brother Antoine. It was then that he shared this story with us while we were on tonight’s topic. Antoine told us this story, and linked it to the subject. So after talking to him, I decided to release this story.

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