Conspiracy of Deception: Chapter 20 – Pastor James

Nick’s breath sucked in so hard it pained his chest. He read the poem again. It was exactly how it was written in the dream; at least that is what he assumed.
He sat reading the poem over and over again trying to find a meaning. The crows circling above reminded him of the church.  Nothing else made sense. He was beginning to believe that his dreams had meanings; at the same time, he had doubts. It was time to call the one man he dreaded to speak to…Pastor James. Being that he was a spiritual man, he might be able to help Nick.
Nick had met Pastor James a couple of times. Alissa and David, at times, would drone on and on about what a great man of God he was, his expansive knowledge of the Bible, and so on. Nick thought the man carried an arrogant air. Maybe he wasn’t as bad as Nick thought; at least he offered his help when Nick and Lisal were having marital problems. He might be able to help Nick now. He just didn’t want to deal with being preached to, as Pastor James was known to do.
He found his number and dialed. His wife answered. Nick had met her too; she was a petite quiet woman with dark circles around her eyes. She appeared to be ten years older than her actual age. From Nick’s experience, it was common in many churches for women to be submissive to their husbands. Some men weren’t too overbearing, but Nick could tell that Pastor James took the Biblical passage of the man being the head of the household to the extreme. Nick was very opposed to this belief, and thought men and women should be treated as equals. Deep down inside, he despised men who treated their wives as servants.
“Hello.” Came the shy voice on the other side.
“Hi, may I speak with Pastor James?” Nick asked, unsure if he was doing the right thing.
“Hello!” Pastor James said in an almost over friendly tone.
“Hi, this is Nick, Lisal’s husband. Can I meet with you?”
“Sure, tell me a good time, and we’ll get together.”
“ASAP. This is important, and I need to discuss it quickly.”
“All right, can you come over now?”
“Sure thing,” Nick was glad for the offer.
“I’m at my camp by the lake, I’ll give you directions.”
Nick took down the directions and drove out to meet with the pastor. It seemed nice that the sun was shining strong for the first time in a few days. The pastor’s cottage was a huge house by the lake. Nick wished he could afford a house half the size, and this was the pastor’s second home. It was a lengthy paved driveway he had to drive up. On the left hand side, was a well-trimmed volleyball court, and in back of that was a tennis and basketball court. The house itself appeared to be wooden with a red oak color to it. Nick remembered his wife attending some of the picnics held by the church at the pastor’s camp. Although she would invite him to go, he turned down the offer.
Pastor James was waiting on the porch and waved Nick over. He went up to the porch, which had a magnificent view of the lake. It was a relaxing atmosphere with the sound of boats, children playing by the shore, and the light waves brushing onto the beach. Off to Nick’s front-right there were cliffs which rose several feet from the water. Nick watched as one teenager made a daring leap from the cliff. In the distance Nick could see a lighthouse. It was too far away for him to notice any details. A gentle breeze blew across the water, bringing in a slight smell of dead fish, which Nick thought was the only unpleasant thing at this camp.
Nick and James exchanged hellos and small chitchat, until Nick worked himself around to the reason he came there. “Do you believe dreams have a meaning?”
“It’s possible, in the book of Joel it discusses that in the last days many people will be having dreams and visions.” James replied.
Nick went on to explain the dreams to him, but left out parts involving Deacon Boomhower. Deep down, Nick was afraid that Pastor James wouldn’t consider anything he had to say if Boomhower was mentioned.
Pastor James looked thoughtful as Nick was speaking, and was patient to hear him out. Pastor James’ eyebrows rose when Nick explained the dream with the creatures among the church congregation.
“At least the big angel was watching over me.” The Pastor said with a nervous chuckle.
“I want to know what you make of it?” Nick asked hoping to get to the point.
“I’m not sure, most likely they are dreams from your stress.”
Nick grew frustrated. “I don’t believe that is true. I’ve never had dreams so vivid. Also, the poem beside my bed.” Nick wasn’t expecting to be put off so quickly. From what he was told, Pastor James was good about hearing people out.
“Yes, I have to say, that the poem is rather bizarre, but are you sure you didn’t write it in your sleep or something?”
Nick grew more frustrated. “Like I said, it wasn’t my handwriting; it was neater.”
“Have you ever seen those movies where a character seems to be fighting against another, yet in the end, it was only himself all along?”
Nick was exasperated. “You’re not saying that I have…”
James interrupted, “Nick, I’m no psychologist so I can’t give you a diagnosis. What I am saying, is that you have to look at it from every angle.”
“But you disregard what I’m saying!”
“I’m not disregarding anything. I’m just trying to come up with the most likely scenario. And, in your case, I think you need to seek help. This is nothing to be ashamed of, after all, the trauma you are dealing with, with Lisal being gone.”
“I don’t think that is the case.” Nick was not sure if he wanted to ask his next question, but maybe Pastor James would listen to this one, so he asked anyway.
“Do you believe in Ghosts?”
Pastor James was taken back by the sudden question. “Um, no. I believe ghosts are demons posing as familiar spirits, why?”
Nick explained his encounter with Lisal’s ghost, and how she was persisting him to commit suicide, so they could be together.
“Lisal’s ghost huh? You said that it wasn’t acting quite like Lisal which indicates that it probably wasn’t her. It sounds like a familiar spirit attempting to pose as Lisal, if what you are telling me is true. As far as suicide goes: not a good idea. The demon knows that you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, and if you go through with suicide, Satan will have victory, as he has brought another soul to the eternal fires of hell.”
The one thing that drove Nick crazy about people like this was the belief that they were all “right” in God’s eyes, but everyone else would end up in hell. Nick didn’t believe in the concept of a loving God sending a majority of people to burn for eternity, because they haven’t figured out the “right” answers in their lifetime. Yet he had another question for Pastor James, so he was not going to debate.
“What happens if what the ghost said is true, and that God has been misunderstood?” Nick questioned.
“Well, I have been studying theology for years, and am certain the Bible is the Word of God.”
“I still don’t know about that, it has already been scientifically proven that we live on an old Earth and not a young Earth as the Bible illustrates.”
“Proven? I don’t think so. Let me point something out. They approximate that comets usually burn up in around 10,000 years, yet there is no source for the making of comets.”
“Yes there is,” Nick interrupted. “The Oort cloud.”
“Has anyone seen this so-called Oort Cloud?”
“No, but how do we know that the source of comets just hasn’t been discovered yet or fully understood?”
“We don’t, but you’d think they would have found it by now if there was such a thing.” Pastor James continued, “How about Earth’s magnetic field? It has progressively been getting weaker. They began measuring it in 1829, and since then it has significantly decreased. They say that around 20,000 years ago, the magnetic force would be so strong that it would be virtually impossible for life to exist on Earth.”
Nick was ready for this one, thanks to all the research he had done when searching for his own faith. “Who says the decreasing of the magnetic field has been consistent? The Earth’s magnetic field is heavily affected by the changes in the Earth’s core, some of these changes increase and others decrease the magnetic field. In fact, ancient volcanic rocks give us evidence that the magnetic field is not steady. What is your take on Carbon-14 dating?”
“I believe that before the global flood in Noah’s days, the water was held in the atmosphere, which could have possibly had quite an effect on C14. What about the complexity of creation such as a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, and on top of that there is Fibonacci Ratio.”
“What about it?”
“The spiral formed by the Fibonacci ratio is found all throughout nature such as the arms of galaxies, horns on animals, the curl of the spider web, in plants, the inner ear of yourself, sea shells, the halos of DNA, and on and on.  Having this curl or spiral doesn’t offer any evolutionary benefit.
Nick through up his hands, “You got me there, however, I never denied that there was a creator, I just don’t believe the Bible is his or her word. In fact, I agree that everything we see didn’t happen by chance.”
“Well, Nick, there are several accurate prophecies made throughout the Bible, and also scientifically accurate statements such as when it says “the Earth hangs upon nothing” in Job. Science of that time, taught that the Earth rode on the back of some giant animal.”
“Yes, but there are also unscientific statements, such as, insects having only four legs.”
The pastor gave him a puzzled look. “Four legged insects, where do you find that?”
Nick remembered this one. “Leviticus 11:20-23, plus prophecy can be self-fulfilled. No one is really sure if the prophecies were fulfilled the way they said they were fulfilled.”
“Nick, what you don’t understand, is that the Bible isn’t a science text book, it is a spiritual book, and if you continue in the path you’re on, you’ll never understand it. Repent and believe the gospel, Nick.”
Nick did not want to drag this on any further. “All I know is that I saw her ghost, and it was telling me to commit suicide.”
“You have children, Nick. Their mom is already missing; don’t you think they would be devastated if you went through with something like that?”
“Slow down man, I never said I was going to go through with it, and I love my children dearly. I know what it is like to have a father commit suicide. It hurt me for years.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” The pastor paused leaving an awkward silence, then went on. “I’m glad that you are not going to go through with it. For all we know, Lisal might be alive. I will do what I can to help and keep you informed. If you have any more dreams or visions, you know where to reach me.”
Nick wasn’t sure if he would go to Pastor James again if he had any dreams or visions. It felt like much of the conversation was about him getting chastised for not believing the same things The pastor believed.
Nick thanked Pastor James and left. When he arrived at his house, he noticed that there was a message on his answering machine. When he pressed the play button he heard Derek’s voice, sounding very glum say; “Nick, Officer Derek here. I have some awful news to tell you, but I would much rather tell you in person, please give me a call.”