Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"BURNING" (a fictional story about revolution, love, and overcoming the darkness) - Part 1

Journal Entry 1

In the darkness of that cold October night I found that evil was as terrifying and relentless as a nightmare that never ends.  The emotion that one feels in a dream can be overwhelming.  A dream often pursues the senses until every last one is held captive to its intimidation.
            A dream is a funny thing to those who no longer dream because of the evil inside of them.  For those who still have nightmares, who still feel and think, dreams can be either a prison or an escape.
            How do I know this wisdom?  I have stood face to face with the darkest of evils.  I have stared into the eyes of something bigger than my own self.  These eyes have seen the hatred and spectacle of torment and pain.  My feet have walked through rivers of blood spilled by the innocent who did nothing but stand for a cause they believed in.  I have seen evil and evil has seen me.  My only hope, my only prayer is that someday I will see the good once again.
            Tonight, I start anew the long journey ahead of me.  This will be a journey in which I will face many hardships and tribulations.  My companions are few and my fears are many.  Nevertheless, fear has kept me on my way and has pushed me down this path.  It is unclear to me where it will lead.
            My story began in the great city of Indianapolis.  During World War II or the “Dark War” as it came to be known, Indianapolis was called the “City on the Rock”.  Its name came from the strength of its people to resist the Ameri-Nazi League.  It was the last to fall under the tyranny of that vile and evil military force. 
            When all the towns and cities around the country had fallen, it remained free until the League finally drew its forces in full and unleashed its horrible wrath.
            The League secured the city after a great struggle.  Some have said that the sounds of that battle could be heard throughout the entire country.  Some have even said that the blood of those who defended the city stained the skies both day and night for weeks after the siege.
            My memories of such events are mysteriously cloudy.  They are not unlike the dim recollection of a childhood dream that is ever distant.  This has plagued my thoughts for the last several nights.  I can not explain why my memories of such a recent event have faded so rapidly.  Perhaps my mind has subconsciously pushed them away because they were so terrible. 
            Yet, a midst the turmoil that the Nazi leadership brought upon the citizens of this city, arose a man with a passion that surpassed all others around him.  His strength was stubborn and ambitious, his lust was for leadership and power, and it lived deep inside of his heart as a bear would inhabit the caverns of a cave.  Soon he would emerge, the predator moving out from the cave, thirsty for the hunt.

CHAPTER ONE

            The coldness surrounded his body like a pack of wolves encircling their prey.  Its harsh unrelenting sting grew stronger with each passing moment. 
            He had been running for most of the night.  Trying to escape death is an exhausting endeavor, but one finds strength in times of such crisis.  
            Finding it hard to breathe he sat there in the shadows of an alley way trying to fill his lungs with life-giving, refreshing air.  The night passed slowly and rest was a luxury he didn't have at the moment.
            The sound, the horrifying sound of dogs and angry soldiers drew near to his temporary sanctuary in the shadows.
            Grasping on to a few more breaths of air he arose from the damp ground and made his way to the dimly lit street once again.  Looking to the east he could see a nightmarish ballet of shadows dancing on the buildings down the street.  His pursuers drew closer.
            Moving from doorway to alley to doorway he cautiously made his way down the street.  Every door was locked and every window closed.  His only hope was to make it to the city’s border and hope that he could find a way across.
            With the rise of the Ameri-Nazi League came the rise of great walls around every major city in the country.  No one made it in or out without the League knowing about it.  His chances were slim but he had to try. 
            As he struggled to keep moving the soldiers behind him quickened their pace.  He wondered if they knew why their commander had ordered this pursuit.  Did they call him the slang term developed by the League for Christians “the Minority”?  He hated the term and anyone who used it.
            The sound of the soldier’s footfalls echoed between the buildings causing his heart to beat even faster with fear.
            He found a shadow within the doorway of an abandoned bank and stopped to see if he could catch site of the men behind him.  They came around the corner like a flood bursting through a weakened dam. 
            He took one last breath before running once again from the shadows.  His legs felt like heavy weights and his heart felt as if it could explode out of his chest.  He ran with all that was in him. 
            A noise from behind sounded so loud that it stopped him in his tracks.  His hearing left him instantly and the world around him seemed to switch to slow motion.  Feeling as if he were in a dream he fell to his knees in stunned shock.  Then a stinging sensation moved through his back, and then a strange warmth.
            Moving his hand slowly so that he could feel his back, he touched the spot that was warm and realized it was blood…his blood.  He had been shot from behind.  He was dying.

            Then he spread his arms out and looked to the sky as if remembering something he had forgotten long ago.  He dropped the rest of the way to the ground as the soldiers surrounded his body like water circling down a drain.

PLACE: Abandoned church building on Meridian Blvd.
TIME: 11pm

“We can’t just let these so-called Ameri-Nazi people continue to gain more power.  We have to do something and we have to do it now…tonight!”  Jack Davis voiced his opinion as loudly as he could.  He was one of the church’s most outspoken and robust members.
            Pastor Jacobs, who was standing behind the pulpit, asked, “What are you proposing, Jack?”  He had been the pastor of this congregation for nearly ten years and had developed a humorous, yet cautious attitude toward Mr. Davis.
            Davis responded, “What I’m proposing is some kind of action!”
            “You mean a violent takeover of the League?  They’ve already dug their trenches, Jack.  They intend to stay for a very long time and I doubt that we could ever muster enough weapons and men to overthrow them.”  The pastor knew how much Jack loved to start arguments and it was beginning to drive him crazy.  As the pastor it was his job to be the mediator.  There were moments, however, when he hated it.
            Bob Hill, a straight forward and open member of the church spoke his peace, “Jack’s right, Pastor.  If we don’t do something to knock these Nazis off their rocker then we are as good as dead.  We all know what they did to the Jews overseas.  If we don’t act soon we might be next!”
            Some of the other members in attendance applauded in agreement while others shouted out counter arguments.
            The Nazis had directed their hatred towards Jews in Europe and there was growing fear among the Christian population that they would be next in line.
            Every night the national and local news reports displayed the might of the new government’s army as they marched through the streets in grand parade fashion.
            Huge rallies routinely took place under the steady eye of the newly formed National News Syndicate.
            All regular programming was interrupted on a nightly basis in a blatant attempt to indoctrinate the population with Nazi ideals and fundamentals.
            Finally, Ed Jenkins asked, “But what about your children, Bob?  What are they going to do if you get killed fighting some fool war that you got no chance of winning?”
            Bob’s response was immediate, “They’re the reason I’m saying this.  If we don’t take up arms and the Nazis kill us off, what are they going to do to our kids?  They’ll probably brain wash them and teach them how to be good little Nazis.  I don’t think any of us want that!”
            Pastor Jacobs was glad to hear Ed Jenkins speak up.  He was one of the more quiet members but he also had a reputation for being a man of wisdom.  So when he talked, people listened.  He did, however, see the logic in Bob’s thinking, “You’re probably right.  We have other things to consider as well.”
            His comments seemed to hush the crowd that had crammed into the large, abandoned church.  Jacobs felt that it was in quiet moments like this, moments where an entire group of people are driven into a solitary place void of sound and hesitant to even breathe that God’s voice could most readily be heard.
            Jared, an energetic young man, never afraid to speak his mind, cut through the silence with his deep and powerful voice, “It’s impossible to avoid bloodshed and we can never consider everything no matter how hard we try.  At some point action has to be taken!”
            Jared was one of the brightest and strongest young men who had grown up in the church over the last twenty five years.  Its members were proud of him.  They saw in him the hopes and dreams they had somehow lost down through the years.  Many of them valued his opinion and were often swayed by his sometimes over zealous attitude about the way things were or the way they should be.
            Jack Davis seemed to gain energy from Jared’s approval, “The way I see it there are only two options: sit around and hope they don’t kill us off, or take up arms against these Ameri-Nazis and fight them the only way that will ever make a difference…with weapons and force!”
            The crowd erupted into applause.  This time a greater majority joined in approval.  The pastor scanned the congregation and met the eyes of Jonathan Everett.  His eyes looked heavy with contemplation.  Jonathan was also one of the brightest young men in the church, Jared’s best friend.  His military service had aged him and he looked about five years older than he was.
            There was just as much potential in him for leadership as there was in Jared.  His was more subdued and quiet as if held by a shorter leash.  There was also something in his eyes that seemed to possess wisdom beyond his years that Jared lacked.
            Pastor Jacobs continued the debate, “I can not condone any type of civil uprising against the Ameri-Nazi League.  Let’s remember, folks, they haven’t taken away our right to gather for worship.”
            “Not yet, Pastor!  But you can be sure they will!”
            Jacobs stepped out from behind the pulpit and walked to the edge of the stage, “There are other more tactful ways of expressing our beliefs to the government.”
            Jonathan sat on the edge of his seat as he strained to hear the words of his pastor and friend.
            Pastor Jacobs’ eyes never left the floor as he spoke, “If it becomes absolutely necessary and if I feel that our duties as Christians can no longer be performed without the danger of bodily injury or death…then we will have no other choice but to go underground.”
            Silence had found itself a home once again inside that old church sanctuary.  It was so thick that you could have cut it with a knife.  No one moved.  No one breathed.  Everyone in the room felt the tension. 
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, it was Jonathan’s turn to speak his mind, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my short time on this earth, with my experience in the military it’s this: that no matter what the circumstance, what the future may or may not hold, God gives us the step-by-step guidance we need to make it through.
            “When I served during the war, I found out what fear really is.  I discovered its true intensity and power.  I also learned how to control it, use it for my advantage.
            “We have to do the same thing tonight.  If we take action against the government too soon they could wipe us out.  Even worse, we’ll risk destroying ourselves because we acted out of fear and suspicion rather than wisdom and patience.
            “I say we wait until they take away our freedom to worship.  Then and only then will our options be clear to us.”
            Jonathan could hear his own heart beating like a pounding drum inside his chest.  His breathing seemed to him as a rushing wind of a storm making its way out to sea.
            Jared put his hand on Jonathan’s shoulder.  The two had grown up best friends but over the past few months had gradually grown apart.  He spoke gently to his friend, “Nice speech, Jonathan, but there comes a time when we have to do what is necessary.  Now is one of those times.”
            Pastor Jacobs interjected, “I think you’re wrong, Jared.  By not fighting the League with weapons we wouldn’t just waist our time sitting around.  We would be fighting the battle in a far more powerful way…with prayer.  This battle is not just physical; it’s a spiritual battle.  A spiritual battle can never be won with weapons and violence.  It’s won on our knees.  I believe that God is more powerful than any army ever created by the sinful minds of men.  This fight will not be won with physical force but by a force much greater than you or I.”
            Jacobs looked around the room one more time and realized it was late, “Why don’t we all go home and get some sleep.  I’m sure we’ll all feel a little different after a good nights rest.” 
            Without another word being spoken, the meeting came to end.  People quietly and slowly made their way out of the room and out of the church.  Everyone’s mood was somber and respectful except for those who had raised their voices in defense of an all out attack against the League.
            Pastor Jacobs followed them as they exited the building but noticed that Jonathan was still seated in one of the pews.  Figuring that he just wanted a few minutes to gather his thoughts, the pastor turned the lights off in the sanctuary.
            The moon light shining from the tall, stained glass windows painted a pristine picture of elegant colors upon the pews, floor and opposite standing wall.
            It was then that Jonathan remembered that it had been two days since he last slept.  Something was stirring inside his heart.  Something that he could not escape from held his spirit captive.  He had been experiencing intense memories of the war but felt that there was something more to it then just that.  If only he could get a hold of it, draw it from the depths of his mind.
             He heard the voice of Pastor Jacobs behind him, “Something on your mind, Jonathan?”
            Jonathan smiled but remained silent knowing that Pastor Jacobs was gearing up for one of his legendary pep talks.
            The pastor stepped into the light shining from the first window, “There are two kinds of people in this world, Jonathan.  Those who think and those who dream.  Which one are you?”
            Jonathan leaned forward and rested his arms on the back of the pew in front of him, “What’s the difference between the two?”
            Jacobs began to walk the long aisle, the light passing over him as he made his way to the front towards Jonathan, “A thinker,” he said, “Creates his ideas out of reality.  They evolve out of reality, what he thinks is possible, and he merely comes up with more reality.  A dreamer, on the other hand, can look beyond reality.  He’s not limited by what other people think but by what he believes is possible.”
            Jonathan sighed, “That’s just what I needed to hear.  Now, what does it mean?”
            Jacobs smiled and answered, “It means, Jonathan Everett, that something inside of you is stirring and it’s up to you to find out what it is.  I can’t help you figure it out.”
            The young man thought for a moment and said, “Maybe God is preparing me for something that’s about to happen.”
            “Perhaps.”
            With a sigh, Jonathan stood to his feet as did Jacobs.  They stood there for a moment in shared appreciation for each other’s friendship and fellowship.  Times were hard and getting harder everyday so a moment with a friend was something they didn’t want to take for granted.
            They embraced each other in a brotherly hug and headed for the exit.  As they opened the door, an explosion erupted in front of them knocking them off their feet and on to their backs.
            Another explosion rocked the building as they tried to regain their focus.
            Jonathan was the first to regain his strength, “Pastor! Get up!  We need to get out of here!”  He grabbed Jacobs under his arms and began dragging him towards the front of the sanctuary towards the stage.  As he did, more explosions pounded the church around them.
            He pulled the pastor on to the stage realizing only too late that they were trapped inside.  Fire was all around as Jonathan felt the stained glass window above the stage on his back.
            Inspiration struck him instantly.  He grabbed a heavy wooden chair and threw it into the window.  It shattered into thousands of tiny pieces; a rainbow of dangerous glass shards fell down on top of his head.  Jonathan picked Jacobs up and over his shoulder and crawled out of the window.  
            As they made their escape from the building they continued hearing the horrible thunder of explosions behind them.  It seemed as if an army was attacking the church.
            The pastor slowly began to regain his senses, “What happened?  Who did this?”
            “I don’t know, but we need to get to safety.”  Jonathan saw that the pastor could now walk without assistance so he allowed him to move free of his grasp. 
            Jacobs looked back in stunned disbelief at the destruction that was taking place to his church.  Jonathan could only try to contemplate the immensity of sorrow that must have been raging in his friend’s heart.
            Then Jacobs spoke in a soft, faint voice, “Who would do such a thing?  Who would want to destroy a church like this?”
            Indeed, thought Jonathan, who in their right mind would find value in the destruction of a church building?

           
            The sky overlooking the city was filled with storm clouds.  An unusual darkness had blanketed the city ever since the first church had been destroyed.  The sky grew darker each day.
            Church after church mysteriously caught fire or was intentionally destroyed by rioters in a perverse, chain-like reaction.  Fear was spreading as fast as the fires and it was just as destructive.  The people of Indianapolis were beginning to face the realization that something terrible was happening to their city.  The most horrible part of it all was that there was nothing they could possibly do to stop it.

PART 2 coming soon!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Story...The Real Story.

My name is Brian T. Donahue and I am a Christian.  That's right!  I freely admit it!  I am a Christ follower.  I believe a personal relationship with Jesus (making Him ruler of your life) is the only way to get to heaven.  If you don't like that or you don't believe that then it's up to you if it's worth your time to keep reading the rest of this post and you don't have to follow me on Google+ or Facebook or Twitter.  Just stop reading and click on some other blog.  You won't hurt my feelings and surely you are a strong enough person to be able to hear an opinion that varies from your own opinion on religion.

I am also a husband.  At times, I'm a pretty terrific husband!  I do most of the housecleaning and laundry, do the dishes, do the yard work, I even cook from time to time.  My desire is to please my wife and treat her like the amazing gift from God she is.  This husband tries to honor his wife as much as possible yet I am the first to admit that I am not perfect in this. 

I am a musician and a vocalist.  I love to sing and play the piano, flute, and drums.  I have even recorded a Christian music album (in 2006) entitled "Show Me The Truth."  If you're interested, you can hear some of my music at www.reverbnation.com/briantdonahue.  Shameless plug?  Yes.  I am working on a collection of songs for a second album that is tentatively titled "Burning."  It will be a collection of worship songs and personal reflection/prayer songs.

I am a pastor.  To be more precise, I am a youth pastor at Jackson Friends Church in Massillon, Ohio.   I have a passion for teaching young people about Jesus and His Word (the Bible).  I love helping youth discover their identity in Christ and I really love seeing them come alive in Christ!  What does all that mean?  Christian mumbo-jumbo?  Maybe if you check back to this blog in the future I will explain that more, but right now I need to get back to me.  After all, this post is titled "My Story."

Everything I just listed and described to you is true about me.  However, there is one label that many people never give themselves when describing themselves, especially if they claim to be "Christian."  That label is "sinner." 

Brian T. Donahue (the T stands for Thomas) is a sinner.  I make mistakes and sometimes I make those mistakes intentionally.  Brian has lied, he has stolen, he has cheated, he has lashed out in anger, he has used foul language, he has been jealous, he has acted upon his lustful passions,  he has committed adultery (according to Jesus' definition in the Bible), he has been lazy, and he has not forgiven others.  The list goes on and on.

He...I am a sinner.

Why would I admit this in a public forum?  Why would I admit this at all?  Because maybe, just maybe you are one of those people who find Christians to be fakers or at the very least hypocritical.  Christians can sometimes, perhaps often times say one thing and do another.  They know how to put on the mask on Sunday morning but come Monday they are just like everyone else?  Have you ever thought that about Christians?  I have and I'm one of them!

Well, I admit that I am not perfect.  I make mistakes.  I sometimes make really big, ugly, and bad mistakes.  That's why I need a Savior.  That's why Jesus makes so much sense to me and is so real and alive in my heart.  What's more, is that He is alive in my life!

You see, Jesus is much more than just an important historical figure or religious icon.  I believe that Jesus is God.  That's what the Bible teaches and that's why some people have a problem with the Bible.  They like the stories, they can't find anything wrong with what the basic teachings of Jesus encourage people to do.  What they can't wrap their minds around is this idea that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven.  So they nit-pick obscure and culturally difficult passages and verses so that they don't have to truly examine the question that is really gnawing at them, "Could Jesus really be the only way to get to heaven?" 

But I digress a little.

Why is Jesus alive in me?  Because the evidence of His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness, and His great love for me is overwhelming...at least to me.  You see I have done everything to ruin my life.  I created habits of laziness as a young man that seeped into adulthood and hindered me from reaching my full potential.  I allowed lust (pornography) to become a major influence in my life, which helped turn me into a liar and an adulterer.  I flunked out of college because of my laziness and lack of work ethic (when it came to studying).  I believed that my natural talent was all I needed to make it in life.  The problem was...I was failing miserably.

My life looked good on the outside, but the inside was hiding darkness and personal sin that threatened to destroy me as a man, as a Christian, as a husband, and as a pastor.  I'll get into some of that stuff in future posts, but all you need to know right now is that I was messed up.  My hidden sins, the things I had become a master of covering up, eventually became unbearable and I cracked.

I have a good friend who recently reminded me about the importance of brokenness as a Christian.  This is another concept that many non-Christians don't understand because it's totally counter-cultural.  I had to come to the place of total brokenness before God.  I had to realize that my sin, the stuff that I allowed to grow in my life, the things that I refused to let go of, that I was trying so hard to keep secret, were actually the things that God wanted me to acknowledge before He could really have His good and perfect way with me. 

It was hard to face my great number of imperfections and even harder to face my dark, ugliness...it was hard to face my sin.  But it wasn't until that moment in time, that single and sudden realization that my way was leading me to death both physically and spiritually. 

Perhaps one of the reasons you aren't sure about all these Christians is because we have a "greater than thou" attitude about everything.  Maybe the term "holier than thou" would be more accurate?  I try to avoid this attitude at all cost...most of the time (remember, I'm not perfect).

Jesus has redeemed me and washed me clean of my past sins!  His sacrifice on the cross paid the price for my sin.  He loved me so much that he was willing to die...and rise again from the dead so that I could have an everlasting relationship with him.  Because the Bible says that my sin separates me from God.  Therefore, Jesus had to pay the way for me to be with Him.  The Bible says He bore the full weight of the world's sin upon his own self and exchanged his righteousness and holiness, something we could never come close to doing on our own, for our sin.

Anyways, Jesus is pretty amazing in my life because He has totally changed me and given me a reason to be a good person on this earth.  I am not a "ticket Christian" who just accepts God's free gift of salvation, gets their ticket to heaven, and then lives their life the way they want to.  I strive, with all of my passion, and through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit (I will talk about the Holy Spirit in future posts, too!) to live my life like I belong to Jesus.  He is my King and I want to please Him because He is a good King who desires good things for those who serve Him.  That's what the Bible teaches!

So, if you read all the way through this post, I congratulate you!  But I hope that it has encouraged or even challenged you to be more than just a plain old, boring Christian.  I hope it has challenged your faith!

If you find yourself in the category of readers who really don't have anything good to say about us Christians, I hope you will find some people who really live what they believe and that my story and future stories (hint, hint...come back now, ya hear?) will at least open up the door in your heart and mind to hear about the Jesus I follow and love.

Until next time...have an amazing day!