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.”
“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?”
“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.”
“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….”
“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?”
“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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Controller - Installment #9 - in which Allen tries to make decisions

Allen quietly prays, “Oh God, help me with this.” Then he grabs a notepad and makes three columns. At the top of the page he writes, 'decisions to be made.' He labels the columns, past, present and future. On the left side he writes 'issues,' and underlines this. Then he sits and thinks. Finally, he writes in the present column, 'sell house' and under that he writes 'buy house.' He draws a line under that and writes 'dress up house' and under that he writes 'renovate.' He works his way down the page: 'invest in gold mine,' 'find a new job,' 'ask Shirley out.' He doesn’t know why he has written past, present and future as everything hinges on his present.
Allen walks around contemplating his list. In the front hall, he notices the mail scattered across the floor where it always lands when the mail carrier pushes it through the slot in his front door. He gathers up an assortment of flyers and several envelopes. One of these appears to be from Powerhouse. He rips it open. Inside he finds a note.

Dear Mr. Jenkins,
Thank you for visiting our church and filling out our questionnaire. We hope you get to know us in the near future.
Pastor John

Allen goes back to his list and writes 'keep an eye on Melanie.' 
“Lord help me to make some decisions.” Allen is feeling himself getting annoyed. 
He stares at his list and can’t make up his mind on any of it. If only he could talk this over with someone. He thinks of Jenny. She always has a listening ear about work-related stuff. She might be able to help him sort through this. He’ll ask her tomorrow. Maybe take her out for dinner after work.
The next morning Allen seizes the opportunity when Jenny tells him she had had a rather mundane evening catching up on laundry and politely asks about his evening.
“Well actually, Jenny,” Allen says,  “I was trying to make some decisions. I didn't get anywhere. I guess that never happens to you.”
“What kind of decisions?”
“Personal.” He looks at Jenny with pleading eyes.
“You want my help?”
“How did you know?”
“That’s the look you give me when you don’t understand something in my bookkeeping.”
“Maybe we could go some place for dinner. I’ll pay. Allen says. And, you could help me by listening. I used to talk about these things with my sister, but not since she moved out. I hardly see her any more.” Suddenly Allen feels foolish. Why is he allowing Melanie to see this personal side of him?
Melanie appears to be thinking about it.
“Okay, after all, my laundry is done.”

Mork and Marvel exchange glances.

At 5:30 Jenny and Allen leave the building. ABC headquarters is in Unit 6 of row 5 in an industrial complex. Allen locks the door. They decide to walk to a chain restaurant a short kilometre away.

 Mork and Marvel follow two steps behind, smiling their angel smiles.

"Table for two?" the hostess asks. She shows them to a booth in a corner. 

There is plenty of room for Mork and Marvel to fill in beside them. 

While munching on garlic bread appetizers, Allen works through what he might say. He blurts, “This was a dumb idea. Why would you want to hear my personal dilemmas…they aren’t even dilemmas. I’m just having trouble sorting through some decisions that I need to make.”
“Fire away. I’m generally a good listener, or so people say.”
Allen looks down at the table, “It’s like this salad. Lots of stuff going on at the same time. Different stuff but it all works together and I want to sort it out, but it gets all scrambled up together. Why can’t I just put it into a spreadsheet and see the obvious?”
“A real man’s problem,” Jenny says.
“What does that mean?”
“Men like to compartmentalize.”
“And you don’t? Miss Bookkeeper.”
“You got me there.”

Mork here. I would love to add some clarity to this conversation. These earthlings don’t know much. Wisdom from on high is at a whole other level. Sure, Allen has been been sending up prayers, but as I mentioned before he doesn't listens for the answers and I don't think he even expects them. He could be sitting here totally at peace knowing that God is on this.
Marvel here. Don't underestimate my girl Jenny. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Controller - Installment #8 - in which Mork complains

Back at the homestead, Allen walks through the various rooms, musing about his life. Did he want to stay here? He could buy a condominium...sell this place. What would he get for this old house? Probably a lot more if he spruced it up. Never mind selling, he needed to update. There were only so many times you could glue the wallpaper edges back down. Maybe he should talk to a decorator.

Allen inadvertently finds an opportunity to do something about his home, when he calls Nick’s designer friend to have a look at the offices. Alphonse waltzes into the workplace first thing one morning, takes a quick peek around, then drags a chair into a corner where he sits with his laptop. “Don’t mind me, I like to get the feel of a place.” Two hours later he leaves promising to have the work done while the office is closed on the weekend.

The following Monday, Allen and Melanie have a hard time recognizing their offices: the walls have been painted, the floors recovered throughout and the furniture rearranged.
“Everything is so bright and fresh,” Melanie declares.
Allen looks around sceptically, “I have to get used to having my desk over here by the window.”        
Yet, it takes him less than a day to realize that Alphonse is a genius. His filing cabinet, his computer, everything is in exactly the right place.
At the end of the day, Allen phones Alphonse to thank him. “And by the way, do you do homes?”
They arrange for an evening consultation.

At the appointed time, a trim, attractive young woman knocks at Allen's door.
“And, who are you?” 
“I’m Shirley, I work for Alphonse. Pleased to meet you,” she extends her hand.
 Allen feels electricity.
Shirley steps in and looks around, “I love these old homes.” She rubs her hand down the rich wood oak trim of the door frame into the living room. 
“The place needs a bit of something possibly,” Allen says suddenly wanting to apologize for the wallpaper.
“Is it okay if I wander through? I like to take pictures if that's okay.”
Allen nods.
Later, they sit down at the kitchen table. “You keep a very neat home…but it does need some attention,” Shirley lays out several options from the cheapest simple advice to the most expensive complete overhaul by Alphonse. They settle on a middle ground with Shirley providing a plan. 
I assure you the added value on your home will more than pay for this,” Shirley says. They shake hands and again Allen feels a tingle.
Shirley shows up the following week with two plans. The first is a simple cosmetic makeover, paint and up-to-date accent d├ęcor. The second plan involves renovation options for a new kitchen and an expanded bathroom with a whirlpool tub on the second floor.
Allen decides to think about it. 

Okay, Allen you’ve been so busy that you haven’t even had time to give me a stitch of work. My next contract I think I’m going to ask the Lord for someone who takes this spiritual realm seriously. My friend Leman over in China is getting a lot of amazing work right now. His human is one of these guys without a material concern in the world. He doesn’t usually know where his next meal is coming from or where he is going to be sleeping. Leman is constantly arranging divine appointments and setting up miracles. The last ‘almost work’ I had was getting Nick out of  Allen’s office. What kind of assignment is that? I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t just call me into a special project. I’m next to useless here. 
Wait a minute...look at this…a small miracles: Allen is praying. Praise be to God. Although he's probably praying about what kind of tiles to buy for the kitchen. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Controller - Installment #7 -- a bite to eat

After church Allen invites Melanie out for a bite to eat. They decide to walk to a little place around the corner.
On the way, Melanie asks Allen what he thought of the service.
“Not really my style, sister. I think your pastor is a bit of a showboat, as mom would say.”
“He’s really caring and I like him. He listens to what God tells him and speaks it out…Hey, look there’s that old yellow dog the pastor mentioned.”

After they order lunch Melanie surprises Allen with a question, “What should we do about the old place?”
“I live there!”
“Well, mom left it to us, both of us, and  I moved, so shouldn’t you be buying me out or something?”
“I thought you might be moving back, after you got this out of your system.”
“I don’t think so, bro. No offense but I can’t see myself living with you for the rest of my life. And, you’ll be wanting to get married sometime.”
“Who, me? There is no one like that in my life.”
“Right now, maybe not, but there could be.”
Allen decides to bring the topic back to a comfortable place, “You are saying you want me to buy you out?”
“Or, we could sell the place and divide everything. That would be fair.”
“Let me think about it.”

 If I’m not mistaken—and I rarely am—this is a God set-up. Allen would like some money to invest with Nick. Selling the house would get him that. These are big decisions. Is he going to pray about them? More critically, is he going to listen to what God tells him? Or, is he going to need his guardian angel to rescue him as some future point?

After lunch, Allen pays the tab, “My treat.”
They walk back to the church parking lot together. “Do you want a ride anywhere?” Allen asks when Melanie stops to say good-bye.
A few of us are practising for a play.
It's a fundraiser. We are putting on as a fundraiser. Do you want to come to it?
If you're in it...maybe. What's it for?
I told you to raise funds.
The church of course.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 6 in which Allen is introduced to his sister's "church"

When Allen gets home that evening he finds Melanie, his sister, packing her things. Melanie and Allen have been sharing the living space in the family homestead ever since their mother died three years earlier. “I’m moving out.” Melanie tosses her long blonde hair sideways as she throws the things on her dresser into a box.
“Don’t worry. It’s all good. You know that church I’ve been going to…well a place in a house a few streets over from the church opened up and they invited me to live with them. It will be so much handier to get to stuff.”
“You sure this is a good idea? You already spend most of your spare time at that place.”
“That’s just it. Now I can walk there.”
“It’s your life, but….”
But, what?” 
Never mind.” Allen leaves her to it in her room and heads for the kitchen. He doesn’t want to say too much, after all he has never set foot in Melanie’s church. He just knows church has become a very big chunk of Melanie’s life since she started there a few months back.
Melanie pops her head into the kitchen, “You should check my church out sometime. You might really like it. The music is great. So is the pastor. He is so funny.”
“Okay, how about this Sunday?”
That settled it. They arrange for Allen to meet Melanie at Powerhouse Church that very Sunday.

Mork here, again. I’ve been talking to Mercy, Melanie’s guardian. Mercy has had her work cut out for her.

Sunday comes and Allen sets off for Powerhouse. He gets there just as the worship team finishes the sound check. Drums, electric guitars, huge amps…soon the place vibrates with sound. People, mostly young people start jumping up and down to ‘There is no God like Jehovah.’ Melanie finds Allen standing at the back of the darkened room. She leads him to a seat about a third of the way up in the long narrow room. She almost shouts as she introduces him to the young man in the seat next to her. “This is Ian. He lives in the house next to the one I live in.”
Five songs later, the pastor stands up and introduces himself as Pastor John and asks visitors to stand. “We’ve got a gift for you.”
Two ushers sweep the room handing out little packets to the visitors sprinkled throughout the congregation. Allen tries to stuff his packet in his pant pocket.
Melanie stops him.  “You are supposed to use the pen and fill out the questionnaire.” 
Obediently Allen follows her instruction. Pastor John is doing a talk on tithing, the best way to get favour with the Lord. He is rather passionate. When the collection plate comes by, Allen slides in his questionnaire with a $5 bill. He knows Melanie gives something as well, just how much Allen can’t tell.
Pastor John, head down, struts back and forth across the stage at the front of the church. Finally on his third pass he stops dramatically just left of centre stage. He lifts his finger and points at a woman seated directly in front of him. “You,” he says, “Yes, you. God wants you to know you need to make a clear decision. Don’t let anyone sway you. Not your parents, not your pastor, not anyone. You have to know in your heart what you have to do. It may not be easy, but sometimes you have to let go of things that are dear to you.”
The pastor puts his head back down and continues strutting. Then he turns, points at the drummer, “Hit it.”
The worship team members, who have been standing as still as idols, spring to life with, “Where you Go, I will Follow.”
After the song the worship team quietly leaves the stage and it becomes the Pastor John’s show. “I was walking to church today when I met some boys out there close to the church. They looked about ten and they were all looking at that old yellow dog that’s been hanging around here. I thought maybe they were thinking about hurting the dog so I asked them, ‘What are you doing to that dog? One of the young fellows told me, ‘This is a stray dog and we all want him, but only one of us can take him home. We decided that whoever tells the biggest lie can keep the dog.’
I was a little taken aback and told them they shouldn’t be telling lies and told them what God thinks about that. I told them that when I was their age I NEVER told a lie.  So they gave me the dog. He’s out in the parking lot.”
Melanie pokes Allen’s rib. “See, I told you he was funny.”
Allen grimaces, “Heard it before.”

The pastor is rambling on and Allen looks like he's somewhere else. I can tell he is thinking about Nick’s offer. Guardian angels can sense these things. Humans are in some ways very predictable. You basically have to watch the body language. His eyes are down and every once in a while he rubs his chin.
I can also see that Pastor John is sensing he is losing his audience—time for another joke. Ohhh, sorry, I got that wrong. He is saying something shocking instead.

“So that church the worship team and I visited last week, we don’t want to go there again. No siree. Not with the way the head pastor there is using the backroom to roll the secretary.”

He has the people paying attention now and he’s going right on with his sermon. Half of them are wondering if he actually said that.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 5 in which Mork, the angel, acknowledges frustration

A month later, just as Jenny and Allen finish inventory and Allen is ready to call Nick, Nick breezes in. He looks around. “I see the decorator hasn’t been here yet. Here’s his number...better give him a call.” Nick pulls out his phone and rattles off a number. “His name is Alphonse.”
Allen obediently writes the number on a notepad. 
After they go over the list of company assets, Nick leans across Allen's desk, “I have to get your take on something...be truthful with me.” He fixes his smoky blue eyes on Allen. “Years ago I made a major investment in a goldmine in South America. Well, it’s paid off. They hit a major vein. It looks very much like I’ll have returns rolling in for at least 10 years. I want to invest that money into this company.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“So, I’m counting on you to come up with an extensive expansion plan for ABC. Think big. We will have the money.”
“Right. Is next March still soon enough?” Allen asks.
“Sure. There is just one other thing.” Nick sits down in front of the desk. “I need to set up a way to get my money out of Brazil and into Canada. That involves the courts. It’s just a regulatory thing. Anyway I need about $5,000 to get that done. I am wondering if I could borrow from this company. You know a temporary loan, a month at the most.”
Allen sits down and writes the cheque. He calls Jenny in to co-sign. He hands the cheque to Nick.
Nick waves the cheque on his way out, “here’s to a bigger and better company.”

Mork here. Sitting on my hands. What is the use being a guardian angel that can’t do a bloody thing? Excuse the language. Allen could have said at least one little prayer before he handed over that cheque. Not that the money doesn't actually belong to Nick, but a word of wisdom would be helpful here. All I can do is watch my boy fall into a trap. 
A month to the day Nick comes back to the officeagain waving a chequethis time it is one that he made out to the company. “Here is the $5,000.  The money will be flowing now. And the gold vein is richer than originally predicted. That mine is worth at least $14 million and possibly over a billion. Listen if you have any extra money looking for a place to invest, let me know.”
“How so?” Allen's curiosity is piqued.   
Nick sits down to explains, “To get maximum benefit out of our mining operation we are setting up a refinery—our own gold refinery right on site. That takes an initial investment, but by my calculations our own refinery will easily double our profits. Any investment you make at this point will bring in one hundred percent profit for you within two years, guaranteed.” Nick stands up to leave. “Let me know. I’m only making the offer this generous for a few insiders, so to speak.” Before Allen has a chance to respond, Nick is out the door.

Okay he better pray about this one is all I have to say. Well, look at that he is.

Allen looks down at his desk, “Lord, what should I do with this?” he mutters.

That’s a start. Now, listen for the answer buddy. You might be thinking a prayer like that would give me some work to do, but I will have to wait and see. In a case like this the Lord just might speak to Allen directly, in fact that’s what I’m thinking he will do. He really likes talking with his children. He calls it communing with them. If, say, He tells Allen to invest $10,000 and that the money will be there for him to invest, then He will definitely be telling me to go about helping Allen get the $10,000 to invest. Fat chance that will happen though, and I will tell you why. I suspect Nick doesn’t have a gold mine. We’ll have to wait and see, but all the signs are pointing that way. I also suspect Allen is in for a life lesson here. Hopefully he learns it.
Okay, I see the Lord’s answer coming in. The Lord’s answer is one word: nothing. The problem is  Allen is already finished praying. He's back on his computer. 

Jenny comes in a little later surreptitiously to check some figures, “I couldn’t help but hear what Nick was saying. So, what are you going to do?”
“I think I just might invest a little something. This sounds like a once in a lifetime deal.”
Sounds like something you should think about...maybe even pray about.
Allen looked up at Jenny. I actually did say a prayer."
What do you mean, and?"
“What did the Lord say?
“Nothing, of course.” Allen looks somewhat confused,  Jennie, I'm a bit concerned about you. God is real, but he doesn't actually talk to us. 

You see what I have to put up with? 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 4 in which Nick applies his charm

The next morning Nick shows up with Star Bucks' for both Allen and Jenny. “I don’t know how you two take your coffees.” He pulls a handful of creams and sugars out of his suit-coat pocket. While they are fixing their coffees, Nick agrees that Jenny take notes during their meeting. “It will keep us accountable. I think this company has to run on integrity.” 

Like the good book says, "Evil people say things to make themselves look good, but they keep their evil plans a secret."*  Mork is standing in the window frame behind Allen's desk. 

“This company has always valued integrity.” Allen reminds Nick of the company motto, ‘Rental equipment you can count on.’ When your dad was alive and running this place...." 
Nick cuts him off. “I’ve been thinking, I would like to change our name…not right now but within a year or so. ABC is so...so basic.” Nick looks at Jenny. Maybe you could come up with a name.” He smiles a warm friendly smile and leans back in his chair to sip his coffee.
“So, Allen, what I want to know from you is exactly what this company is worth…a list of all the assets, so to speak. I also want to make it worth more. Whatever it is worth I want it to grow.  And, that is where I need advice from you. What is the best way to move forward?”
Now it is Allen’s turn to lean back in his chair. He strokes his chin. “Well, there are a few things to consider. This is not a simple question." 
“I'm not expecting an immediate answer. How long do you think you need?”
Jenny waits, ready to write whatever Allen says.
Allen continues to stroke his chin. “He looks at his calendar. We have inventory coming up this next month. After that would be a good time to formulate a plan. Something like this needs some solid research.”
Nick pulls out his phone. How about I set a deadline for next March, six months from now?”
Allen nods.
Nick smiles and finishes his coffee. He sits back and looks around the office. “You should get your office spruced up. I know a decorator. I’ll send him over. You just tell him what you want it to look like.”
Allen looks around as if he is noticing the surroundings for the first time. “Really Nick, I don’t need this place redone. It is perfectly functional.”
“I insist—we can’t have my most essential employee working out of a hovel. I don’t want to hear no for an answer. Besides, this decorator owes me a favour.” With that Nick stands. On his way out he turns to Jenny, “When he’s here, you tell the decorator how you want your office done as well.”

"Many people are nice to a generous person. Everyone wants to be friends with someone who gives gifts."** Nick knows a few things.

Allen and Jenny make sure Nick has left, before they speak. “Well, things aren’t looking so bad,” Jenny comments as she looks over what she has written. “He wants a list of assets and recommendations on how to grow the company, not to mention a spiffy new look around here.” She slaps her notes down on Allen’s desk.
“Thanks Jenn.”
“You are more than welcome. I’m going to mull over a new look for my office.” She skips out, once more nearly tripping. 

Marvel catches her just in time.

* Proverbs 26:24 ERV
** Proverbs 19:16 ERV

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 3 in which we glimpse the inner workings of the workplace

Allen bows his head and then looks up. “Jenny, we may be in trouble...Nick is our sole boss now.”
“He told me the board is a thing of the past.”
“So maybe that's good. No more waffling on decisions. There is only one guy to say what goes.”
Allen strokes his chin. “And no one to stop him from doing whatever he bloody-well wants. There are over a hundred happy people in this company. I want it to stay that way. This has always been a good place to work, even if the decision-making process is...was a little convoluted.”
“I think you are just a typical accountant. You want things to be predictable.” She smiles a little knowing smile. “We’ll just have to pray that all goes well.” With that Jenny bounces out of the office.

For a moment there, I thought I might have something to doAllen actually looked like he was going to pray...wishful thinking on my part perhaps. Well, maybe, there will be something heading down the pipes. I can feel it in my wings. If I know humans, and I’ve been around for thousands upon thousands of years and seen a lot of them, I judge that Nick could get a little sleazy. Too bad I can’t warn Allen...might save some grief. That’s the thing about my BOSS, he always holds out for the best to show up in everybody, and I mean everybody.
Hitler is a prime example. That guy was one bad apple. Yetand I still don’t truly understand itGod gave that man every chance under heaven to turn his life around. That’s another thing about God: He is true to his Word. He said He’d give man charge over the things in this world and that is what He does. It’s totally up to them to ask for His help or He stays out of it even if Satan gets in there messing things up.
I just hope Allen asks for more help than he has been or this will not go well and I have to be here sitting on my hands doing absolutely nothing. My boy's spiritual ears, are closed and his spiritual eyes are totally undeveloped. What's an angel to do?  At least he reads his Bible…when he has time. 

A week later Nick calls Allen, “Listen I need some advice. Do you have time to see me?”
“Sure, boss. Any time that works for you.”
They decide Nick will come in first thing the next morning. “It shouldn’t take more than an hour, I don’t think.” Nick says.

 I can see that Allen is somewhat baffled. He goes back to work, but every ten minutes or so he looks up, ponders, wrinkles his nose, twitches, and generally looks confused—you get the idea.

Finally Allen rings Jenny to come in. “Jenny, tomorrow the boss is coming in to seek my advice.”
“He is?”
“Don’t look so baffled. I give sound advice.”
“I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but since when does he take advice?”
“Well, that’s why I want you to be involved. I’m thinking this might be the start of something good. I'm guessing Nick has realized he needs us to make this company run smoothly. The thing is we both know he doesn’t always...how shall I say it? He doesn’t always come away from a situation with an understanding of what took place. A little ADHD possibly. So...I would like you to be taking notes. Of course, I’ll ask him first. Tomorrow morning if I call you into the meeting that’s what I would like you to do. Any questions?”
“Okay, I’ll be there with my steno pad...and I thought you hired me for bookkeeping. Good thing I’m flexible.” She winks at Allen and leaves. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Controller - Installment # 2 in which Mork introduces angels

Allen reaches for the intercom and asks Jenny, the bookkeeper, to come into his office.
Jenny is one door away. I like Jenny. She comes with Marvel who gets more work than I do. That’s because Jenny can be a little clumsy…big feet. Here they come.
The door falls open and Jennie would have tripped on the sill where the carpet begins, but Marvel is there to lift her foot that extra few millimetres.
Very dexterous, that Marvel. You might be wondering why Marvel can help Jennie with stuff like that and I don’t have the pleasure with my human. Marvel is allowed to be a very attentive guardian angel all day long because every morning when Jennie awakes, she prays to the Lord for help. Marvel told me about his daily instructions. I am so jealous. The instructions even vary from day to day, absolutely engaging for Marvel. He has the liberty to be creative, not quite like humanswe angels can’t make thingsbut he has a lot of answers to implement. 
Helping Jenny not to trip on the way into the room is not an exciting big deal and you might call it mundane, but any work is better than no work and is probably an answer to the prayer, ‘keep from being clumsy today’ or maybe ‘send your angels to guide me today.’ We angels love work and thrive on it. Of course the bigger the assignment the better. I'm patiently waiting for some juicy assignments.
You may be wondering why I refer to Marvel as ‘he.’ It’s a preference that’s all. We’re sexless angels so using sex-differentiating pronouns doesn’t entirely work, but to refer to one of us as an 'it' would be totally inappropriate. We’re not things, we are beings. We serve. 
I love our job. Well, I'll admit mine is a little boring right now, but there is potential in my human…especially if Jenny has a sayI’m not holding my breath but that could happenthey might even become romantically attracted. They are both single. He’s a little older. They look good together, would make a good couplejust my opinion of course. He is clean shaven, with trusting brown eyes, square chin, thick wavy hair, square shoulders, slight dimple in one cheekwhat else can I tell you?strong hands.  She is tall, slim, with short blonde haircute really, always smiling. I already told you about the big feet. The two of them actually have the same shoe size, something they haven’t yet discovered. 

Marvel and I are secretly rooting for them as a couple, not that we have a say. We are the servants, and content with that. 
We angels realized just how good we have it when we saw what happened to those who weren’t satisfied. You’ve heard of Satan? I don’t know a human who hasn’t. Well he wasn’t satisfied with the servant thing. He wanted to be the BOSS and he actually got what he wanted, sort of. He is a boss now…boss of a lot of us. He was able to convince one-third of all the angels to go for his spiel.  It is hard to blame them. What he said sounded so plausible at the time that I almost got taken in. Basically he lied. He said anyone who followed him would have it made, no more servant stuffnot true. Anyone who followed him could know everything God himself knowsnot true.
 I am grateful everyday for not following him. All those angelsdemons nowhave to listen to their new boss and resent every minute of it. Most of them take it out on you humans. That’s where a lot of our work comes in these days, undoing the work of demons. Take Nick for instance. He came in here with a couple of demons. Not the really bad ones, just a few minions. That’s the way it starts. A person attracts the minions who influence him until he asks them for help and they call in the bigger guys, the strongmen, and pretty soon there is this huge fortress we can’t access unless the person seriously wants out and asks God for help. I could tell you stories about battles. No time now, looks like I may be needed here.