Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part 2 - the other side of things...

And so, it begins…

By Peter Douglas

"Where is our Beloved, the one we created to be with us?

He has gone missing.

I must find him.

And so, it begins...

"There! He is laying alone in the dark, covered in mud. We must find a way to bring him back to us. He was created to walk with us, but he has forgotten how."

"We must remind him."

"We must teach him once again. My Son, you must go. Bring back the connection that once was, but is no more. I must warn you, it will be hard, but I will be with you until the end, and then again after the end."

And so, it begins...

I came to the place we had created, now tainted by the enemy. The shadow of his influence manifested itself in repugnant garbage littering the ground. Everywhere the eye landed was covered with darkness and filth. Clouds of flies buzzed ominously across the sky. Evil had become tangible. This was a dangerous place.

I could feel my Father's presence in my soul, guiding me in the paths of safety as I searched for our beloved. As I picked my way through the mountains of trash, I thought of another road I walked, one that would be continuously strenuous, marked with pain, but ultimately yield the greatest reward. Yes, we would be united once more, but in this place governed by time, patience would be the key. The process would be long and grueling, but in the twinkling of an eye it would end. And then, then it would begin again, and oh, what a glorious beginning it would be. My heart burned to be reunited with this one lost child.

Ah! There he was, lying on the road, oblivious to my presence, not taking in anything but himself. Standing beside him, my heart broke to see his pitiful, emaciated form, moaning and crawling about, blind to the world around him. Oh, he was meant for so much greater things! We were meant to know each other intimately, like I know my Father, but this one knew nothing of me. This had to change. I would die to see this man restored.

"PETER!" I yelled, "Arise, I AM here."

As he became aware of me, I could see the battle raging in his heart. The enemy clung to him so tightly that the slime sticking to his skin seemed antagonistic, trying to blind him to my presence.

"Be gone, evil one," I commanded, "Your work here is ended, my time for this one is now."

The film covering his eyes immediately drew away, revealing bright blue underneath. In those eyes, written plainly, was the desire I was hoping to find, the desire I needed in order to work.

Gently I asked, "Walk with me?"

To my sheer joy, Peter, whom I loved with every fiber of my being, reached toward my outstretched hand.

"I want to, but how?" he said.

"Just one step at a time, my beloved"

And so, it begins. I cleansed Him from head to toe, clothed him in a radiant tunic of the purest white linen, and gently took his hand. Here he was, unstained and uninhibited, the man that our plan revolved around. This was him! My heart leapt for joy as I beheld him the way he was meant to be, free from the enemy's filth and ready to walk.

Ah, but what cruelty, his strength had been leeched out of him by the years of wallowing in the muck and mire. His pitiful frame made my heart ache for him. His legs and arms looked as if they had never been used, frail and lean. His bright eyes were sunken in a gaunt, drawn face.

"We must strengthen Him" was my quick prayer. In the quiet of my heart I called out to my Father. "Abba," I said, "give this little one strength as he learns to walk with us. My desire is for him, this you know." And with that, I led him forward. As with all children, he began by falling on his face, and as with all fathers, my Father was overjoyed that he was learning.

How great was my joy when he took his first step! My heart turned violently inside my chest as I saw, in his heart, the burning desire to follow me. I could see in his eyes the longing to run, to leap, and it filled me with unspeakable excitement. I too was eager for those days, to run through my Father's golden fields. Oh, how I longed to walk in the cool of the woods with him, or to gaze off of the beautiful mountain peaks at the rolling plains below. My heart burst with a craving for this man's fellowship.

"He must learn to walk first," my Father quietly interrupted, "see, he has to concentrate his entire mind on staying upright."

"Of course, Papa. You are right."

A small sigh escaped my mouth as I turned my mind back to the task at hand. He had to learn to walk without thinking before he could really know me.

"Look how far he has come! Abba, he can take many steps now. Yes, they are unsure and faltering, and he falls yet again, but soon, soon he will be able to follow us wherever we lead. Soon we will know each other."

We both knew that day would come, but Peter had one thing standing in his way. His body had been cleaned, but it was not yet strong. Even now he was on the ground, covered in the slime once again. And while he was there, the enemy had the power to entice him.

Yet something was different this time. This time he was not taking my hand. The enemy had convinced him that walking was not worth the pain of learning. He had given up.

"Peter, Arise!" I pleaded, but the enemy had stopped up his ears with the muck of the earth.

"I am here my child," I said, reaching out to him. But I could tell his heart was no longer searching. As he rolled about on the ground, his eyes became clogged with garbage once again, blocking out our light.

And so, it begins…

He has been in this state for some time. At first he would try to walk again, but he did it alone, and was so blinded that he would collide with things and cause more pain than good.

As the long months went by I begged my Father to let me intercede. Often, Peter would smash into walls in a headlong fall, or crawl into a thorn-bush, and his pain would become mine. I would weep with him and weep for him, longing to intercede, to save him from his own foolishness. Yet he had rejected my help, and I would not go against his will, for I loved him. My Father and I agreed that the best way would be if he were to come to me of his own choosing.

And yet I was able to steer him away from the more dangerous obstacles that he encountered. The enemy sought his life many times, yet we were able to thwart him, although often our limited influence could not completely protect him. Now he is battered and bruised to such an extent that he barely moves. His spirit is broken; I fear he will lose the desire to live.

But there! What was that? Was it? Could it finally be? Yes! There, in his mind, was regret. There was remorse over his falling away! Oh Abba, Yes! There was the desire there for reconciliation! Joyous day! The long awaited moment had come.

"Now is your time, my Son," spoke my Father's voice.

Simultaneously, joy filled my heart as sorrow invaded my soul. I knew what I had to do; in fact, before I found him I knew I was going to have to do this. I was desperate for the restoration it would bring, and yet I dreaded the steps I would have to take to achieve it. I drew together my resolve, steadied myself, and began praying to my Father as if my life depended on it.

Reaching down to Peter, I spat in my hand and began to massage the fluid into the layers blocking his eyes. Slowly the crusty dirt clouding his vision began to dissolve away until he stared at me once again with those sapphire eyes. I flooded my gaze with all the passion, desire, and longing that I felt for him until it spilled over into my voice as I reached out my hand.

"Walk with Me?"

Tears welled up in his eyes and he looked away. "But, I gave up. You still want me?"

It was then that he began to realize the love that I had for him. It swept over him, penetrating deep into his soul, washing him with my desire.

The moment he reached out his hand to mine, my hesitation at the cost passed. Relief washed over me and tears of joy sprang to my eyes, and I gently enclosed his hand in mine and pulled him to his feet.

The enemy screamed with rage. "You cheat!" he yelled, "that one was rightfully mine!" Haughtily he leered, "You are righteous. You cannot steal from me. Return him!"

"Who said anything about stealing? This was a trade, a life for a life."

And so, it begins...

The grime on Peter began to flow; with a vicious tenacity it attacked my hand, searing my flesh with an acidic hatred. The pain grew. Down my arm it came, burning all the way. Never had I felt this level of pain before. My body began to shake violently. Across my shoulders it crept, leaving an acrid stench in my nostrils. The enemy's laugh rang out over the sizzling of my flesh. Peals of triumphant laughter echoed in my ear drums as the pain intensified and I dropped to my knees. The slime was now down to my waist, dropping toward my feet, consuming my skin like a horde of hungry ants. I could feel it moving slowly up my neck, burning like a thousand tiny fires. It went first toward the sensitive areas of my body, burning with an intensity that turned my stomach. Waves of nausea crashed over me and threatened to make me faint, and yet, I did not. The enemy, in his evil, had caused the acidic slime to move slowest toward the vital parts of my body, in order to extend the pain as long as possible. Even now my head and heart were free of any contamination. It felt like hours of continuous burning before the slime finally reached them. At that moment the pain up to that point had paled in comparison. It touched my heart as if a thousand flaming brands were driven through my chest, searing away flesh but exposing the screeching nerves. I'm not sure what happened next, but I found myself screaming in pain from the depths of my soul, writhing on the ground in agony.

And then the worst part came. The slime reached my head. Agonizingly, it closed over my face, blocking out everything. Everything! I could not feel Him! My Father! Where was He? That comforting presence that had always been there was gone! All that was left was pain, throbbing along my every nerve, piercing through my innermost being, and aching in every muscle, all at the same time. But that was nothing. I could easily have endured with my Father there. But He was gone. He had turned His back and forsaken me. I was alone for the first time in my life. The cold dark enveloped me as even the memory of everything good and whole was driven from me. The anguish added to the agony and I felt like I was being torn apart from the inside. Everything I had left poured out of me, crying for my Father to return. And then… it ended. I was empty, dying. As my life ebbed away, silence replaced the pain. And then... Oh glory, He was back... “TETELESTAI!!”

Time stopped, I was now both alive and dead. I felt nothing, saw nothing, and heard nothing, but I knew. I knew that it was finished. I knew the pain was over. I knew the enemy was defeated. I knew all that was left was to claim the victory. Then it came. The power of the Most High filled me like a rushing river, and I came alive. With a burst of light, everything refocused. I could see Peter again! He was down on the ground, awestruck, blinded by the Father's glory. The enemy was gone; all that was left was the earth we had created. But this man, Peter, the one I loved, the one I died for, this man was free!

I continue to teach Peter, we are walking, now more easily than at first. There is so much we have yet to see, my heart is content to guide him. But there are more lost people, people that need to learn to walk. I want them all. They are rightfully mine and I love them. I am jealous for their love. My heart yearns to walk with them, to show them the wonders of this world. And so, I am constantly searching. I look for those, like Peter, willing to take my hand. My Father has given them the desire to walk. I will find them, I will claim them, and I will love them like they cannot begin to imagine. I want you. I AM coming.

And so, it begins...

Some creative writing... enjoy!

“Walk With Me”

By Peter Douglas


These thoughts attack me out of the silence. "You are a FAILURE! You will never amount to anything; you just can't stay on your feet."

"Where are you, God?" I cry out, "Why do I keep falling when I am trying so hard to walk with you?"

"My son," He answers, "it is because you are learning to walk that you fall."

The truth is, I have come quite far. I used to live my life crawling naked in the filthiness of the ground. All I knew was dirt and grime, wriggling around on my belly like a worm. Then one day, a Man walked up to me. He WALKED up to me! I had never seen a person walk, and I wanted to learn! He picked me up onto my feet, those feet that were atrophied from disuse; He cleaned me off, purified me of all the dirt sticking to my skin, the stains from years of crawling on the ground. Then He gave me clothes to cover my shame, bright, shining, pure clothes, as radiant as his own.

He looked into my eyes and asked, "Walk with me?"

"But how, Lord?" I replied, "I don't even know how."

"One foot at a time," was His kind answer.

And so I tried. I took a step. My foot slowly, falteringly, rose from the ground. As I lowered it, I thought triumphantly, "Aha! I am walking! This isn't hard at all." Distracted by my pride, I slipped on the trash cluttering the ground.

Bang! My head thudded onto the concrete. The pain from the fall slowly receded, and I found myself back in the filth of the earth. Regret washed over me, followed quickly by condemnation. I had failed. This walking thing was hopeless. I would never get it right. I might as well give up. But then the Man came alongside of me, "Take my hand," He said, "walk with me." I reached up, anxious to try again.

He helped me to stand, brushed off the dirt, and said, "This is how we learn to walk, beloved. You must always get back up."

And so I did. As the years slowly dragged by, I grew to know the pain of failure. My head developed bruises from cracking against the ground so often. At first I eagerly got back up, he would cleanse my clothes, "Try again," he would say.

And so I would step again, focusing intensely. Cautiously I would lift my foot forward, careful to avoid the slippery refuse on the ground. As I placed it down I would begin to put more weight on it. At first the leg would give out and I would fall. Back on the ground the thoughts would attack me.

"HA! You are a loser. You can't even stand on your own two feet." The laughter rang out all around me.

But the Man would always be there to help me back up. For some reason, He didn't care about my failure. He didn't care that I kept getting these new clothes dirty, in His hands they became clean again.

"Aaaaaugh!" Crack! And down I go again.

"I just got back up!" I thought, "How could I fall again so soon? It hurts so badly. I don't know if I can take this any more. Every time I get back up, I fall again. I can only walk a few steps at a time before Wham! back down I fall. It hurts so badly."

Ever so slowly, I began to rest more on the ground. I would wait longer to get back up, making excuses to the Man. The ground offered no pain, it was only a little dirt, and on the ground I couldn't fall. So eventually, I refused to get back up. I just stopped caring.

But then it all changed.

"Ugh! What is this?" Someone had defecated in the middle of the road, and I had crawled right through it. The reality of my situation suddenly crashed in on me. I had abandoned the only one who ever cared for me. I was crawling around in human waste, and what was worse, it didn't bother me.

Tears sprang to my eyes, I couldn't believe it. How could I have let myself fall back so far? I had been walking! I could take several steps before I fell. But now I was so caked with garbage that I could barely see. The Man had probably left me when I refused to get up. He must have gone on to find other, better people.

Curled up in the fetal position, my body shook with sobs of remorse. The anguish of my failure once again threatened to crush me. Hope was gone and I felt totally alone, worthless even in my own eyes.

Then, all of a sudden, pressure started to build up on my eyelids, as if someone was pushing in on my eyes. The caked dirt covering them became mud, and slowly dissolved away.

It was the Man! As his hand came away from my face, I could see he had been there all along. He was there! And He was reaching out once again. "Walk with Me?" He gently asked.

"But Sir, I gave up. I don't deserve to walk anymore."

His eyes were full of sorrow and love as He looked at me, gently holding out His hand, and I realized, I wanted to walk with Him again. This Man who had first believed in me; He was the one I wanted to be with more than anyone else. And so I reached out, grasped His hand, and He pulled me onto my feet.

But what was this? The dirt from my hand had moved over to his. By reaching out to me, He had soiled Himself. I watched, horrified, as the slime started to spread. It crawled down his fingers, growing and spreading like a mob of hungry ants. His eyes gazed deep into mine, filled with a resolute sorrow, as if He had known this would happen. Then, suddenly, excruciating pain gripped the Man's face as the grime began to coat His body. It moved from His hand, searing up His arm, across His shoulders, and spreading across his chest. Wherever it moved, the white of His clothes began to lose its luster and an acrid smoke rose off of Him. As the mess reached His heart He bared His teeth in a contorted grimace, and let out a howl, full of agony, loss, and Holy rage. His voice embodied all the pain, all the shame, and all the frustration that I had felt, all in that one, long, gut-wrenching scream. I mashed my hands over my ears and clenched my eyes shut, trying to block out the pain, but His anguished cry cut into the core of my being. The pain flew through me, rending my body and soul, reverberating around inside me. It felt like it would tear me apart if I didn't let it out. So I began to scream as well. This pain that the Man was experiencing radiated in my heart, and I knew then that it was I who had killed Him. By choosing the ground, I had killed Him. That revelation only added to our pain, the noise rising to a crescendo of agony and remorse. Then, in the chaos of the noise, a voice spoke in my head. It was unnaturally calm, but immensely powerful.

"Open your eyes" it said.

My eyes sprang open. To my amazement, the crust of dirt that had covered me for so long was melting away. The weight of a hundred bricks was flowing off of me like water!

I looked, and indeed, it was flowing. But to my horror, it flowed not to the ground, but across my hand, and over onto the Man. He was no longer white but covered in oily green, black, and brown. All of my filth was now on Him. Only His eyes could be seen now, burning with an intense passion beyond the threshold of human capability. Those eyes bored into mine as more and more muck piled on to Him, weighing Him down. He stumbled and fell to His knees under the weight as a demonic cackle broke out around us. It seemed to be coming from the slime itself! Still the filth continued to pour off of me and onto Him. It felt as if my entire being was draining. The maniacal laughter echoed around as the Man writhed in pain, now thrashing on the ground, shuddering, His body wracked with obvious pain. His back went rigid, arched in an impossible curve, as the scream got louder and louder. I wanted to escape. The sorrow gripped me then and my wail took on the realization of my real failure. The mocking laughter reached a crescendo when, fighting through the pain and caked slime, with His last breath, the Man’s scream morphed into a word, a single word imbued with all His majesty and power, louder than anything before, the triumphant shout, “TETELESTAI!”

Then, as quickly as it started, it was over. The Man lay still. The laughter had stopped. Silence reigned.

I looked down at myself. I was clean. The Man had transferred my filth onto Himself. I was still wearing the clothes He had given me so long ago, but now they were as pure as the driven snow. Tears began to well up within me. "What have I done?" I screamed at the sky, but there was no answer. I knew the only one with an answer lay dead at my feet.

Suddenly, the sludge on the ground shifted. Steam started rising from it once again, and it began flowing together. Then, it started creeping forward again, only this time, it was headed back toward me!

I tried to turn, tried to run, but fear kept me rooted to the spot, and the slime was closer. This evil creature that had killed the only Man ever to believe in me was now coming to finish me off. Closer, closer it came, bubbling and popping as if intent on smothering me. I didn't want to go back to that life! Hadn't I been cleaned? But now the one who could protect and clean me was gone. Closer it came; it had almost touched my feet!

But then it stopped. It flattened out, as if it had hit some unseen wall. The muck spread along this invisible barrier until it completely surrounded me, but it couldn't come any closer than a few feet. Puzzled, I took a step forward. The barrier moved with me, shoving the filth aside. I took another step...

...And instantly the world around me exploded in a flash of light. Everything was gone, drowned out by an intense, throbbing explosion of blinding white light. I fell back onto the ground in shock, dazzled by the light. And suddenly there was laughter, the beautiful, joyous laughter of a thousand children ringing out in ecstatic pleasure. The liquid emotion of the moment tugged at my heart, begging me to join it. As the light slowly faded and my vision returned, my tearstained eyes saw a hand reached out to me. It was Him.

It was the Man that had always been there for me, who had stayed with me even when I rejected Him, Who saved me from myself, who had taken on death for me. He was back, and the Man I had killed was offering me His hand in reconciliation.

Hesitantly, I took it. His solid, familiar grip reassured me that this was indeed my friend of old. His skin felt different, somewhat rough where the slime had burned Him, but nevertheless, the same love was there.

"Walk with Me?" He asked.

A smile lit my face and tears ran freely down my cheeks as I responded, "Yes my friend. You are all I need. You are all I want. I will walk with you."

We have been walking for a while now, and I am growing stronger every day. I still fall regularly, and still have doubts, as you saw earlier, but I get up, walk on, and fall less. Now I can fellowship with my Friend, instead of focusing on staying on my feet. But this friend of mine does not want anyone left in the dirt. That means you too. He wants to teach you to walk and one day to walk alongside you. He is reaching out His hand asking,

"Walk with Me?"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Leadership Development Institute

Dear Friends,

Over the past year, I have been actively involved in Teen Mania’s Honor Academy, based in Tyler, TX. I have been invited to join a team to establish a similar program in Uganda. Our plan is to leave in the first week of November and develop the internship over the next year. I am asking for your help.

The president of Teen Mania, Ron Luce, and his wife, Katie, began in 1985 with the dream of bringing young people back to the Lord. They started the Honor Academy, an internship that draws young adults from across the nation with the purpose of reaching their peers for the cause of Christ. It was developed to be a place where young adults could learn how to stir up their generation to passionately pursue Jesus Christ and take His life giving message to the ends of the earth. The ministry of Teen Mania, operated by interns, orchestrates global teen mission trips to dozens of countries, plans, staffs, and operates a summer camp on their campus, and conducts nationwide youth conventions, known as Acquire the Fire. Last year alone, we sent over 2,800 kids across the world, and reached 132,000 kids in 33 different US cities with the Acquire the Fire events.

This year, we are planning to expand even further. We have partnered with Pastor Martin Ssempa, a long-time friend of Mr. Luce’s and an active figure in Uganda’s AIDS prevention movement, to further the reach of the Gospel in East Africa. We see the passion of his people, their burning love for the Lord and desire to reach their nation, yet they lack the structure and training they need. Pastor Ssempa saw what Mr. Luce was doing in America and asked if he would help in Uganda. Thus the idea for an Honor Academy Uganda was born. Through the program of the Honor Academy, Ugandans who love the Lord can learn the skills and techniques they need to spread the good news of Jesus to their country.

With your help, I will be a part of the team training them. I will take the leadership skills that I have learned and teach the participants in Uganda the same lessons. My role, though not entirely defined yet, will entail leading a small group of men, focused on learning accountability and community living, as well as a managing part of the logistical side of the ministry.

The transportation and living cost for the fourteen months will total $15,000. My target is to find thirty people who are willing to invest $500 in this project. With your help, we will equip the Ugandans achieve their vision for the Kingdom, to be lights in the dark nation of Uganda, and in time, to teach others to do the same. I look forward to partnering with you in this.

God Bless,

Peter Douglas