Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Controller - Installment #17 in which Allen and Jenny pray on company time

Allen drives home to his big empty house. For the first time ever, he imagines little children running to meet him, a woman standing in the doorway to greet him. He shakes the picture away.

At the office on Monday morning, Jenny has their itinerary drawn up and printed on his desk when he arrives.
“Is the schedule okay?” she wants to know.
“I’ll trust your judgement.”
“Well then, we're visiting the local outlets Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Allen nods, “Let’s plan our strategy. We can kind of experiment with how to go about this, find a best plan, and keep it in mind for next week. We can always revisit the local places again if we have to. What do you think?”
“Honestly? Do you want my honest opinion?”
“Of course.”
“We should pray.”
“Always.”
“I mean right now, here, together, about this plan. God already knows what is going on in the company. He can show us.”
“Humm…praying on company time?”
“Saves time.”

Mork and Marvel are flying cartwheels in the sky above the office. Hallelujah, all praise be to God in the highest.

Jenny and Allen begin praying in tongues. Then Jenny breaks out in English, “Lord, give us your wisdom. Show us what’s happening….give us insight into what Nick is doing….”

“And, just what is going on here?” Nick is in the office.
Startled, Allen and Jenny look up. They are both blushing a deep pink.  They can't even guess how long Nick has been standing there.
“Praying,” Allen says softly.
“This is an office. I shouldn’t have to remind you.” 
“Praying speeds things up.” Jenny ventures.
“I can see you are both getting a lot of work done.”
Jenny skedaddles to her own office, closing the door behind her.
“I’ve always thought you a man of good judgment, but now I wonder.”
“I won’t let it happen again,” Allen mumbles.
Persecution can make or break a person. Of course, this is not major persecution by any stretch of even the human imagination, but this sort of thing makes a human choose his path. 
“I’ll pretend it never happened and expect it never will.” Nick says. “I was hoping you’d be able to help me with something pronto. I went to the bank to ask for a major loan for my ‘other’ business venture and they said I could use the company as collateral. I need business statements.”
“There is something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” Allen says.
“Does it have anything to do with this?”
“Yes, in fact it does. Our business is showing a downturn in this last quarter. I’ll be visiting a lot of the outlets in the next few weeks to get to the bottom of it.”
“I’m sure there’s nothing a little tweaking can’t fix. How soon can you get these business statements?”
“That’s just it. The way things look at present no bank would give you a loan based on the latest figures. The direction things are headed doesn’t look good on paper.”
“Sh#% Allen, I was hoping for half a million to build that plant in Brazil. Our own refinery would increase our profits exponentially.”
“The very soonest we could come up with positive figures would be three months from now and that is pushing it.”
“You couldn’t fudge the figures just a little.”
“And, go to jail, no thanks.”

“I was kidding.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Controller - Installment #16 in which Allen picks up his assignment

By the time Allen returns to the sanctuary, Pastor John is well into his sermon.

“Every one of you should be thinking like a servant. Jesus was the biggest servant of all. He washed people’s feet. Nothing was too humble for him. If your pastor asks you to clean the washroom, you should be only too happy to do it. You know why? Because you will be like Jesus, willing to do whatever it takes. And you will be blessed. Don’t think God doesn’t notice this stuff. The best servant is a willing servant. Don’t do whatever you are asked to do with a grudging spirit. Do it with all you might, cheerfully. And your reward will be great in this world and the next.”  
He goes on talking about armour bearers and about serving with an attitude of unquestioning loyalty. “If I ask you to carry my Bible you should jump at the chance. You are showing God that you do not despise His anointed.”

Allen shifts uncomfortably in his seat. He looks around. The people around him don’t seem to be bothered by Pastor John’s track. Allen is glad Melanie isn’t present to soak up the words. Melanie, his naive little sister….
“God, what do I do?”

Be here for her.

Allen sighs. He tunes out most of the rest of the sermon, all the while praying under his breath, he prays for Melanie and for all those at Powerhouse who could to be taking every word that comes out of Pastor John’s mouth as direction from God. He prays that their spiritual eyes and ears will be opened, that they will recognize the truth and that the truth will set them free.

After the service Allen can’t wait to get out into the fresh air, but decides he better find Melanie first or he could be waiting out in that parking lot a long time. He follows several young women down a hallway which, as he guesses, leads to the nursery. Melanie is busy signing over young children to their parents. He catches her attention and signals that he will wait for her outside.

Once out, he leans against his car which fortunately is parked in the shade of a tree. He watches as small groups of people exit the church and either turn to walk up the the street or head over to the cars in the lot. One after another, car doors slam, engines roar and the lot is empty except for his car and one next to the entrance. It is a good twenty minutes before Melanie arrives. “Sorry I kept you waiting. Pastor didn’t pick up his little boy until just now.”
Allen lets that pass. “Where would you like to go? I’m taking you out for lunch.”

They decide on Eddy’s. Neither Melanie nor Allen have been there for years. “I wonder if they still have those amazing brunches? Remember when Dad and Mom used to take us?” Melanie says.
At lunch Melanie asks the obvious, “So, what do you think of the church?”
Allen chooses just then to take a big bite of banana covered in chocolate sauce.

‘Lord, what do I tell her?’

He chews very deliberately, then shields his mouth with his hand. “Well, let’s see. It takes a bit of getting used to. You’ll have to give me a few more weeks before I can answer that question honestly.”
“Allen, you don't have to come to Pastor John's church if you don't like it. I thought you had a church?”
“I do or I did. It just doesn’t satisfy me anymore. Everything is so ritual. There is no, no real life. You know what I am saying? I’m looking for a place that connects with Jesus.” He stopped himself from saying anymore. 
“And you think Powerhouse might be the place?”
“I said I’m looking,” he takes another big bite of banana. Then he remembers the white-shirted man. Once he’s finished chewing he asks, “Melanie, there was this tall man, receding hairline, shiny forehead, white shirt and tie this morning. Who was that?”
“Shirt and tie? Nobody at Powerhouse wears that. Nobody.”
“Well there was somebody this morning.”
“I have no idea. How old was he?”
“I don’t know.”

The spent the rest of their time together reminiscing about their childhood. Afterward Allen drops Melanie back at the church, “We’re practicing for that play.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Controller - Installment #15 in which Mork appears

On Sunday Allen drags himself back to Powerhouse. He arrives earlier this time before the Sunday morning hoopla begins.
His sister greets him in the foyer, “Allen, I just knew you would be back. Next thing you know, you’ll  join.”
Allen hesitates, “I was thinking about that.”
“Really and truly?”
“Well, I am…considering...” 
“Here, let me introduce you to Pastor John.”
The pastor strides up with his hand out, “You must be Melanie’s brother. I can see a resemblance.” He grabs Allen’s hand and shakes it heartily.
“My brother is thinking about joining our church.”
Allen cringes and shoots up a silent prayer, ‘Lord, do I have to actually join?’
Pastor John holds onto his hand for an eternity, “Well, I sincerely hope you enjoy our presentation today. Just keep coming and we’ll consider you one of the flock.”
Silently Allen thanks the Lord that he doesn't have to sign anything.
“I'm on nursery duty. I'll catch you after,” Melanie says as she heads off. 
Allen sits in an aisle seat halfway up. He observes as all across the room people raise their hands and jump up and down to the banging of the drums. He wants to praise the Lord, but he can’t make himself become part of this. He closes his eyes and prays quietly, ‘What am I doing here? I love you Lord like the song says. I do love you Lord. Lead me. Guide me. Direct me.’ Surprisingly he feels warmth and a quiet joy. He smiles. 
Mork, the ever attentive angel, hovers.  Here comes trouble.
Three young men approach. One of them taps Allen on the shoulder. “Allen, would you like prayer?” Allen recognizes these fellows as the prayer team Pastor John introduced at the beginning of worship.
“Right now?”
“No better time.”
The young men surround him, placing their hands on his shoulders and back and begin softly muttering. Suddenly, one of the men speaks clearly and directly, “Come out of him in the name of Jesus. Slumbering spirit you are evicted. This man will praise loudly and freely.”
Allen opens his eyes as the young men withdraw to the back of the room.
How did they know his name?   Allen prays, “Dear Lord was that real?” He waits, listening with his spirit. 
You will know me by my love. 

At this point Mork initiates human formwith added glow. God did suggest creativity.  He pulls up a chair on the aisle side of Allen. Hey buddy, I heard what they were praying…a little disconcerting. Those boys have good hearts, but they’ve had some rather poor guidance lately. Pray that they will see the truth and be set free. I know the Lord has sent you here for a purpose. Pay close attention to His direction. Pray often and I will help you as much as angelically possible. He picks up his chair and is gone.

Allen definitely wants to ask this fellow some questions. He looks around, and heads toward the back of the church, searching faces. In the dim light it is difficult to make out anyone’s features and in his mind he doesn’t have a solid image of the man. He remembers a white shirt and tie, and a slightly receding hairline. 
Maybe the fellow went outside.  Allen tries to walk past the greeters at the door, but one of them confronts him, blocking his way.  “Are you leaving sir?”
“Did you see a tall fellow in a white shirt go out just now?”
“Nobody has left...we'd know.”

Allen shrugs and returns to the sanctuary. He makes a mental note to ask Melanie about the man. He should have asked him his name.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Controller - Installment #14 in which Allen and Jenny plan a road trip

The rest of the week Allen has lots to deal with at work. The figures for the quarterly report are pathetic. He double checks to see if all the numbers are actually recorded. They are. Income is down, very down.
He calls Jenny in to his office, “I’ll have to visit our outlets. I know it’s not in your job description, but could you draw up a schedule for me? I can do the two here in the city next week and then do a bit of a tour through the province the following week.  Give me about five outlets per day...I know I can't possibly do them all. Skip the ones in North Bay, Sudbury and Marathon, all the ones up north…they seem to be doing okay.”
“Shall I let them know you are coming?
“No. Surprise visits will get me to the bottom of things faster. Actually it might be better if you come along? An extra pair of eyes won’t hurt.”
“Shall I book accommodations?”
“Of course.”

They are all earthly business now, but wait until they get alone together in the confines of a vehicle for all those hours and then those evenings together. More work for Marvel and I coming up I do believe…

Nick revisits the office on Friday. “Looks like I won’t need this.” He flips the $10,000 ABC cheque onto Allen’s desk. The case is all but settled. Gold will be flowing our way by as early as next week.”
“What about the refinery?”
“We are still looking for investments for that, but for now I’ve made a deal with a place in Sudbury. They will be able to help us initially. Okay have to run. ”

Nick is out of the office before Allen can even hope to talk to him about ABC.  At least  the cash flow is back in good order. This will make his next few weeks somewhat easier.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Controller - Installment #13 - trepidation, peace and more trepidation

Monday morning, his first day at the office after the one-week hiatus, Allen uncharacteristically tells Jenny about his week away.
“And, the Lord has asked me to attend that excuse for a church, Powerhouse...for a season.”
“Are you sure?” Jenny asks. “How can you be sure?”
I heard his voice in my mind.
“It could be the enemy talking to you.”
“Really? It sounded like God.”
“How did it make you feel?”
“Filled me with trepidation, that’s for sure.”
“Scummy or slimy?”
“No, just unprepared and unsure.”
“Did you ask Him if it was Him?”
“No.”
“Well, ask Him.”
“Right now?” 
“Why not?”
“Okay...Lord was that you telling me to attend Powerhouse?”
My ways are higher than your ways. I am with you always. Trust me.
Allen feels a settling peace as Mork gives him a mighty angel hug.
“There is no way this isn’t a God thing,” Allen concludes, but, to tell you the honest truth, there are a lot of places I'd rather be than Powerhouse.
“What did God say?
“He said His ways were high and to trust Him. 
Jenny nodded. “Sounds like you have an assignment. When you're following God's direction, there's nothing better.
“I guess I'll find out.

Later that morning Nick pops in. “I see you looked rested from your holiday. Where did you go, the Caribbean?”
“No, I’m afraid it was a working holiday.” As soon as he says it, Allen regrets what sounds like misgiving in his comment. “I mean I did a lot of necessary stuff around the house.”
Nick ignores this entirely. “Good news, Gold is going up in the markets. We’re richer than we think.”
“How’s the court case?” Allen asks.
“Not so good. We need more money. It seems the lawyers have to have some documentation released and it all takes funds. Nick reaches out his left hand, palm up and rubs his thumb back and forth across his fingers. I have to raise about $10,000 before Friday if we want to maintain our timeline. I'd like to borrow it against the company.”
“This could severely challenge your cash flow if it goes beyond the new year.”
“Oh, I’ll have it paid off way before the new year. Not to worry.”
Allen draws up a cheque for $10,000 and Jenny co-signs.
After Nick leaves, Jenny knocks lightly on Allen’s door. “Can we talk? I am concerned.”
“About?”
“Nick.”
“Nothing we can do about it. He is the boss. It’s his company.”
“And our jobs.”
“I think we'll will be okay. He has lots of time to pay the money back into the company and he’s got the potential to do it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Don’t worry Jenny, this will come out with us on top. I may even invest in that goldmine.
“You better pray first.” Jenny heads back to her desk.

Allen has a pile of emails to answer and doesn’t give the issue another thought. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Controller - Installment #12 in which Mork frolics in gleeful anticipation

That evening Allen decides to walk through his house as if he is seeing it for the first time. He sees the worn and shabby furniture. He sees the pictures on the wall that haven't been changed since he was a child. He sees the layers of dust which have settled after Melanie moved out. Where did that girl put the duster? Regardless, Allen knows the place needs more than a good dusting. 

Allen books a holiday-week to purge his house. He cleans and sorts, chucking things he doesn't use and replacing things he considers tired or tacky or just plain worn-out like his mattress and bed coverings. By the end of the week, the house is a different place although he still hasn't done anything about the wallpaper....  

“Now what?” he prays.

This is a picture of what I am doing in your heart.

Allen tours his home once again, this time asking God about his heart. In the master bedroom he allows himself to fall into the luxurious new pillow-top mattress on the king-size bed he inherited from his grandparents. Allen wants to stay here forever. 

Rest in me. 

After several minutes, he reluctantly gets up and heads toward the upstairs bath where he admires his new shower curtain and the freshly painted walls. He thinks briefly about the Jacuzzi Shirley had mentioned. That would mean tearing a wall out and giving up a spare bedroom.

Your sins are washed away. 

Downstairs in the living room where he has eliminated chunky side tables, along with several extraneous chairs, and three ancient lamps, he sees that his remaining furniture has to be rearranged. The way it is, the large-screen TV has become the main focus. This won't do. He shoves a few things around until the room is centred on the brick fireplace crafted by his grandfather.  

I am your centre.

The dining room looks good. Allen thinks he should use this room more often. He remembers the days gone by and special family dinners when they all gathered round the large oak table laughing and feasting on his mother's roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and three kinds of vegetables. Those were the days. These days, he mostly stands at the kitchen counter eating out of the pots. 

I am the bread of life. Feast with me.

When he gets to the kitchen Allen knows he has to remodel. The the cupboards are decrepit and the drawers stick. Surely, he can afford a new kitchen.   

I am making all things new. My ways are higher than your ways. 

Allen feels convicted. “God your ways are higher than my ways. What do you want me to do? Anything, Lord...I'll do it.” 

Sunday morning the spirit of God impresses upon Allen to attend Powerhouse. He groans. The conviction to do whatever the Lord asks is not quite so strong this morning. 

I have an assignment for you.

“God help me.” 

By the time he crosses the threshold at  Powerhouse, the service is already going strong. Pastor John is in the midst of delivering a mini-sermon on the joy and rewards of giving. “You can’t out-give God. The windows of heaven are set to pour blessings into your life. All you have to do is tell God you are ready to receive. Tell him by giving. The more you give, the more you get. It is a law of nature.”
Allen, who had found a place in one of the back rows, lets the collection plate slip past.
When the worship music begins he sees Melanie near the front with her hands raised. Despite everything else, he wishes he could worship that freely. Nobody was demonstrative in his denominational church.

I’m asking you to change churches.

Lord please don’t ask me that. I don't like this place.

Only for a season. They need you here.

Allen’s heart is in turmoil. He prays in tongues under his breath. 

Mork on the other hand is flying around the church in gleeful anticipation. What an assignment. right in the heart of enemy territory.


Allen's misses most of the rest of the service. He leaves during the benediction in which Pastor John tells his flock to go out and be blessed. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Controller - Installment #11 in which Allen delights the angels


Mork leaves Allen to make his own way home. He surfaces directly into the throne room.
Yes, God.
I see your frustration, Mork, but things are about to break. Be attentive. Jenny will be praying for Allen in the next little while. Your instructions will be rather vague, so be creative, take liberties. Now, go enjoy your assignment. 

The next day before Jenny shows up, Allen bounces into work with a bouquet of red and white carnations which he arranges in a vase and sets on her desk with a note, “Thanks for listening.”

Mork, more attentive than ever, waits for a clue, any clue for action on his part. What in the world did God mean by take liberties? Surely God didn’t want him to act on his own. He needed to minister to his person. Mork knew better than to initiate anything. Look where that got Satan. He would have to wait for instructions and maybe use creative liberties in the initiation of those instruction. God wasn’t legalistic but he had his standards. Justice and mercy.
Marvel appears that morning with the glow of joy, which Mork recognizes as the joy of angel work. He tells Mork that Jenny had skipped breakfast. She’s decided to fast and pray for the next three days. Powerful. Mork is impressed. There is hope.

For three days nothing much else happens to match the expectation in the air. Then on the third day, Allen kneels beside his desk. Tears stream down his face. “Lord forgive me. Lord, forgive me. Lord, forgive me.”

Mork cradles him in his wings and whispers forgiveness. Jenny can obviously hear the commotion but stays at her desk, praying under her breath in tongues. Her language is the language of angels. Mork and Marvel understand every word and listen in amazement as Jenny, who doesn't know what she is praying, prays clarity into every one of Allen’s dilemmas. She even prays answers to dilemmas he doesn't know he has.
In that instant Mork and Marvel have a salad-plate full of assignments. They clap their wings and fly around the offices in delight. Allen gets up speaking in tongues which he has never in his life done or even wanted to do.

“Jenny, I have to share this with you. I feel so free. I feel clean. My life is so worth living. I have dedicated myself to do the Lord’s will. He spoke to me. He said...” and here Allen chokes up, “He said He loves me. And, and He forgives me for living without him. Funny, all this time I thought I was living with Him, but really I’ve never even heard Him before.”

Mork flies around the room again. Glory, glory, glory, glory Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Controller - Installment #10 in which Mork gets called up

 “I pray when I am having trouble deciding about stuff,” Jenny says matter-of-factly as she sticks a baby tomato on her fork.
“I did that. But, I still have to decide.”

Pray, shmay, hello, It’s two-way.

Jenny tries a different track, “How many ingredients do you have in this salad?”
“About seven. Maybe six.” Allen knows he is not going to mention Shirley. I think I’m in a rut. I live in this big old family house, by myself—now that my sister has moved out. I go to work every day, the same work, year after year….”
“And?”
“Now I have a chance to change things up a little. I think I’m stalling. Maybe I don’t like change.”
They each take another bite of salad. “You still haven’t really told me anything about what you are looking at,” Jenny says.
“For one, the house. Melanie wants her money out of the house. She has every right to that. On the other hand, I’m her big brother and I’m not too sure she would be all that wise with her money especially looking at the church she is attending. I don’t trust that place.”
“A church? You don’t trust a church?”
“Maybe I’m off, but they seem to be a lot about giving money and as far as I can see they don’t have any causes except themselves.”
“Have you been there?”
“Once.”
“I see.”
“So, do I buy her out, sell the house, fix up the house or what? Do I buy a condo? Should I be looking for someone to share my life with? I always thought I would have a wife and kids. I’m 37 now and the clock is ticking.”
“Sounds like mid-life crisis.”

These people, they have a label for everything. When they don’t live to their full potential, of course they get bored.

“I could invest in Nick’s gold mine and use the money to start my own business.”
“Your own business?”
“Just a thought.”
The main course comes. They eat in silence. “I like this. Thanks so much,” Jenny says. “I haven’t been out much lately, since I broke up with my boyfriend.”
“I didn’t realize….”
“Let’s just say he was a jerk.  I found out he was cheating on me—a lot.”
“I’m sorry. You never said anything.”
“I didn’t want to bother you with my personal stuff.”
As they walk to their cars back at the office, Allen thanks Jenny for listening.
“Sorry, I wasn’t able to help more.”
“It was just good to get it out.”

Man, your life could be so much more exciting. Please God give me a better assignment next time.

Mork, report to the throne room.