Read Divided Together (Chapter 36)

Read Divided Together (Chapter 36)

IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.

Chapter 36

Saturday July 28th, Morning, FBI Headquarters

I asked Pete to be in my office before the kids arrived, so he was there at 8:45.

Pete and I had been in my office for only fifteen minutes and I couldn’t handle him anymore. I asked, “Pete, why are you so hostile towards Billy and Sammie?”

“They believe lies, Jack. They judge others, they narrowly view life, and then if that weren’t enough, they spread those lies to an ignorant public.”

I sat there just looking at him with his unnatural rage and wondered why I never noticed it before. To me it seemed like a rage without logic. He had what seemed like ‘reasons’ to him, but in my judgment, they were hollow. Today would be interesting and I’d have the opportunity to see how good pimply-faced Billy and his future girlfriend really are.

Thinking about Billy and Sammie’s relationship I chuckled, and Pete squawked, “Are you laughing at me, Jack?”

“Don’t be silly, Pete. If I were going to laugh at you, I’d do it behind your back.”

To which he laughed and said, “I’m a little agitated.”

“You think?” I said and then grinned.

My old friend was doing what he accused them of doing. He was judging them.

Billy and Sammie arrived at 9:00 right on the dot, but there were a number of procedural things Pete wanted to discuss about this case, so we went over them before I let Billy and Sammie in.

 

Billy and I met downstairs and we took the same elevator up to Jack’s office. We had to wait outside his office for nearly an hour. I was wondering if we were going to be in a big room with both teams of agents, one from the FBI and one from Homeland Security.

I don’t know what I had expected. I guess I thought Billy and I would simply report our findings, to a very appreciative group of agents, answer their polite questions, and then leave.

It was not to be that simple.

I was relieved as we entered Jack’s office and the occupants were only Jack and Pete Beecham, who I learned, was in charge of Homeland Security.

The only way I can describe Pete, having never met him before, is a man with a scowl-filled face which made me look to see if handcuffs were at the ready. I wondered how long Billy and I would be there before we got hauled off to a jail cell. Pete looked like he was ready for a fight.

We sat down and Jack made introductions and then he asked Billy to give them the report, “Tell us why you and Sammie believe Perps #4 and #5 are not Perps.”

But before he could begin, Pete attacked them. “Let me tell you where I’m at before you even get started, Billy.” And then he turned to Jack. “I have looked into this kid’s background. He’s no different than the Perps we are trying to put away, Jack.

Jack sat there silently as Pete disdainfully went on. “He is one of these Bible-believing fools, who in my mind are untrustworthy at best, and at worse, are probably willing to distort facts to protect those like themselves.”

Jack took a deep breath and responded a lot nicer than I wanted. He said, “You may be right, Pete. But I think it’s best if we let the kids speak for themselves. They can give us whatever facts they’ve got. And we can figure out how to interpret them. Then we can decide what actionable steps are next, okay? Are you willing to cut the kids a little bit of slack?”

“Jack,” Pete said, “These two can say whatever they want to. I just wanted them to know my view of this so-called report before they begin.”

Jack nodded to Billy and me to begin. And I was so proud of Billy.

“First let me say Mr. Beecham, I agree with almost everything you just said.”

“Don’t patronize me, Billy,” Pete growled.

“I’m not, sir. I mean it. I see your attitude all over churches when they find out I have anything to do with politics. It’s amazing, Mr. Beecham because they believe that they have the same right to judge me, as it sounds like you think you do. It’s completely uncanny. You are doing to me what Christians do to those with whom they disagree. Even some they go to church with.”

Pete sat there with his mouth open. Jack was smiling with his eyes, and I was proud of Billy, but scared to death.

Billy smiled and then said, “It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it?”

He paused for a beat or two and was a bit too flippant when he spoke again, “I’m sorry, did you want to talk religion?

Jack cut in immediately, moving him along, “Billy.” He nodded towards Billy’s papers. “Get on with your briefing.”

Billy apologized and said, “Let me begin, gentlemen.”

“After looking at the questions and the suspicions you have had about these five Perps, and then the conclusions you have come up with. . .”

“Seven Perps now, including you and Sammie,” Pete said.

“Pete, calm down and give the kid some room.” Jack was now getting impatient with Pete.

Billy went on without skipping a beat. “You’re right, Mr. Beecham, seven of us.”

“After analyzing the data your teams were looking at, I realized there was one central figure who touched all of the Perps.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, Billy, we know this, Clyde, the Warner Robins Air Force Base Counterintelligence. . .”

“No, sir,” Billy interrupted. Jack and Pete were surprised by this.

But Billy and I agreed; while the Perps were obvious, and the end result was obvious, the central player was less obvious, until we connected all the dots.

Then Billy told Jack and Pete our conclusion. “The Prayer-Guy, Dr. Dale is the one who is at the center of all of this, and he doesn’t even realize it. But, once we figured out his role with all the principals, everything else fell into place, including which ones are your Perps and which ones are not.”

“Jack, are you serious?” cried Pete. How long do I have to listen to this kid?”

“Pete let’s see where this goes. To be honest with you, I don’t know where he’s going either. But I trust Billy’s intuition enough to give him a few more minutes. Very few though.”

Pete sat back, temporarily.

“What!?!? Only a couple of minutes,” I thought. “How is Billy going to explain what we have spent three months analyzing and organizing?” I was stressing. I know Pete wanted to get up and leave and while he’s at it, arrest us!

I looked at Billy and I ushered up a quick prayer. I could tell he was contemplating the same issues, and then he made me proud again.

“Do you know why Jude and Issy collaborated on that document, gentlemen?”

“So, you’re admitting that they did, Billy?” Looking at Jack, Pete went on, “What more do we need?”

Billy continued confidently as if speaking only to Jack. “Of course, they did, but do you know why?”

Pete seemed to realize that he may have just stuck his foot in his mouth. Quietly he eased back in his chair but kept his arms crossed over his chest.

“Issy’s boss, the Chief of Staff, Priscilla Ellsworth gave her permission to collaborate with Jude.”

Out of my file I pulled an email from Priscilla to Issy relieving her of any contractual responsibilities, if she and Jude collaborated on this one, specific project.

“And Jude had to get permission from his boss too,” I added and pulled out copies of that approval too. “By the way, the project was named, ‘News Outlets and Religious People.’”

As soon as I was quiet, Billy plowed on.

“Would you like to know why the Prayer-Guy comes to D.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday and never varies those days?”

Billy had their attention and he nodded towards me.

Out of my file I drew six pages. They were Dr. Dale’s last three months calendar, from his computer. I had two copies of everything, so I handed three pages to Jack and copies of the same three pages to Pete. On each page I had highlighted the two days each month Dr. Dale was in town.

“By the way,” Billy added, too arrogantly in my opinion, “Did you know he is meeting with Warner Robins counterintelligence officers right now?”

I rolled my eyes.

Jack shook his head.

But Pete blew a head gasket, as my father would say. Pete’s face got red with anger and he spewed out venom when he bellowed, “How do you know he is meeting with them?”

And in the same breath he turned to Jack and demanded, “What are you doing about this intel? Have you warned them, Jack?”

“I didn’t know anything about this, Pete,” replied a concerned Jack Jones.

“This is why I can’t trust you, Billy. Did you even think to warn Warner Robins or were you too busy trying to figure out how to exonerate your friends?”

Pete shook his head with disgust, “You had no clue you should have warned them, did you, Billy?” And then he looked at me. “Nor did you, did you Sammie?”

Billy seemed to put on a tone of command and said, “Mr. Beecham, I completely understand your fear. Like I tried to tell you earlier, I see it in churches all the time. You’re acting just like the church folk I see on Sunday.”

Billy went back to his documents. I looked at Pete who seemed to not know what to say, and Jack, who was shocked by Billy’s boldness. But, I kind of got the sense that Jack’s shock was laced with pride for his young protégé.

“Sir, Mister Beecham,” Billy went on, “There’s nothing for you to be concerned about and let me explain why. Look at the calendars that Sammie just pulled out of her file and gave you.”

This is a longstanding prayer meeting Dr. Dale does twice a month at his church. And why are these bigwigs from counterintelligence there? Simple, Dr. Dale is their chaplain. He visits with them weekly and has developed relationships with them, just like he has with elected officials and staffers on the Hill.

Jack and Pete were looking intently at their copies of the calendars.

“Billy,” Jack asked, with interest, “What are these things marked ‘CC’ and then a name after the two initials. They are on his calendar every Monday, Thursday and Friday. But they are absent on Tuesday and Wednesday, the days Dr. Dale is in D.C.”

Billy looked over at me and I was happy to share. “Gentlemen, I was tasked with running these initials down.” I paused and then added with as little of a smile as I could. “They stand for ‘Conference-Call.’ The names after the ‘CC’ are those people who are on those weekly conference calls with him.”

“What does he do on these calls? Do you know?” Pete said. I thought he was a little snarky. Then he added “And just why are you smiling, Sammie?”

“They are Prayer Conference Calls, sir.” I simply said, choosing not to look him in the eye.

Jack raised his eyebrows.

Pete spoke in a subdued tone, finally, and he just said, “This guy is more serious about prayer than anyone I know.”

Billy and I just sat there trying to look humble, but we were both pretty proud of ourselves.

We walked through a number of other issues and questions they both had, not the least of which were posts that appeared to be written by Jude and Issy, which they claimed were not.

“Did you compare them?” I asked.

“Why?” Pete asked, as if this was a trick question.

“Because,” Billy said with a slight scowl himself, “You should have picked up that they were the same posts, simply written from a different perspective.”

“One person writing two posts?” Pete asked, humbly.

“Yes, sir. We think so,” I said.

After an hour and a half of this type of back and forth, Jack stood up. “It’s lunch-time and I’d like us to go into my conference room, away from here, since we will be returning to this. Grace has already ordered for us.”

“Our documents?” Billy questioned.

“You can leave them here. If anyone enters, Grace won’t let them leave.”

He chuckled, but I’m not sure why.

 Saturday July 28th, Lunch, FBI Headquarters

I was very proud of Billy and Sammie. Not only had their organization of the material allowed them to do some quick thinking, but Billy played hard ball with the appropriate amount of intensity. He also refrained from being disrespectful regardless of the treatment he received.

I liked this kid.

Sitting at lunch, Pete had completely settled down and being the professional he is, put the pertinent discussion aside. In fact, he was talking to both Billy and Sammie as if they were old friends.

There were some more “I’s” to dot and “T’s” to cross, but we would do that after lunch. I was grateful my judgment to let these two kids go where they wanted to, even my files, was vindicated.

Pete then asked a question I too was interested in. “Billy, why do you keep comparing my concerns, my legitimate concerns, and my anger, with the irrational fears of those people you call Christians?”

“Mr. Beecham,” Billy started, and then was cut off.

“Just ‘Pete,’ Billy, you’ve earned the right to call me Pete.”

And then he looked at me and asked, “Jack, how do they address you?”

“Sir,” I responded a little harshly. But I laughed and so did everyone else.

Billy picked back up. “Mr. umm, Pete, when I hear you judge my fellow Christians, I hear you judging them just like many of them are judging their fellow Christians, whose only ‘sin,’ so to speak, is voting for someone they do not like”

“And sir, Pete,” Billy went on, “It’s embarrassing.”

“Embarrassing? Why, Billy? If they are acting like idiots why is it embarrassing to you?”

“Because sir, they are a part of what we call the Body of Christ, like me and Sammie are. When they act like idiots, it is a reflection on all of us.”

“Aren’t you being a little harsh?” asked Jack.

“No sir, you see, we have no excuse. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us who gives us the grace to live above our pettiness, if we want to.”

“Are you talking that born-again stuff, Billy?” Pete asked with some hostility.

And then Billy did it again, he disarmed Pete. “Are you a John Fogerty and CCR fan?”

Pete looked at me and I just shrugged my shoulders. I had no idea where Billy was going.

“I am, yes,” Pete responded, clearly weighing his words.

“Then you can accept that, what did you call it? That ‘born-again stuff,’ because in the song, ‘Centerfield’ Fogerty says, ‘We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field. . .”

“What a stretch, Billy,” I said.

“I know. I was trying to be funny. I guess I wasn’t,” he said sheepishly but kept on talking.

“Yes, Pete,” Billy continued. “I’m talking about when Christians are born-again.”

Pete sincerely asked, “Well, clearly I have been wrong about a number of things thus-far in this case, but Billy, shouldn’t I be allowed to have some passion, even some anger about the things I see which are wrong?”

Billy responded, “I have an old friend who is a pastor and has been for over 40 years. He often says, ‘Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you open your mouth.’”

“Huh,” Jack snickered, “You only have to be married ten minutes to begin to learn that one!”

Sammie piped in and said, “Pete, you’re making the exact same mistake that you claim Christians make. But you’re right about the fact that Christians do this, too.”

“You lost me Sammie,” said Pete. “What are you talking about?”

“Just because you’re right, Pete, you are giving yourself the right to judge others. And that’s not the way Jesus says we’re to live, even if we are right.”

She was on a roll and she kept going. “You only have to look at the political mess Jesus was in. . .”

“I didn’t realize Jesus was in a political mess,” interrupted Jack.

“Nor did I,” added Pete.

“Yes,” said Billy. “The reason Judas Iscariot was a traitor was because Jesus didn’t take the political path he wanted Him to. We say, ‘Judas was looking for a political Messiah.’”

“And here in the USA two-thousand years later, during our elections, we have people who claim to follow Christ (and probably do) but instead of putting their trust in Him, they are putting their trust in their political candidate. It’s embarrassing.”

Jack chimed in, deciding to take a turn. “You two have said that a number of times now, words to the effect that, ‘the way some Christians are acting is an embarrassment’ or something they should not be doing. But isn’t that kind of passion the way we’re wired? What’s wrong with having strong opinions?”

“Nothing, as long as your passion doesn’t break your fellowship with fellow believers. Too many Christian’s political passion manifests itself as arrogance and then results in the breaking of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s wrong, even if the reasoning is right.”

Billy continued, “Looking into Dr. Dale’s posts I found a great video he did on arrogance and politics, and he isn’t talking about the arrogance of the politicians.”[i]

“Of which there is plenty,” scoffed Pete.

Sammie picked up, “The New Testament apostle, Paul, wrote twelve or thirteen books in the New Testament and a number of them talk about politics. He gives a clear foundational understanding for this particular issue we are discussing.”

We were hanging on her words now. These two kids really knew their stuff.

“When Paul wrote the book of Romans, do you know who was controlling the nation of Rome and all its neighboring states?”

Pete and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.

“It was Nero.” She continued, “Did you know that Nero used to light Christians on fire and stick them on the top of poles for his night lights? The fascinating thing in my mind is that Paul never wrote about how terrible and ugly the leaders of his day were. In fact, he says they were there because God wanted those leaders there.”

“Let me quote it,” she said. “In the thirteenth chapter of Romans, in the first two verses, Paul writes this, ‘Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resist the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.’”[ii]

I questioned her. “I hear that, Sammie, and I think that is a very difficult teaching, if what you are saying about Nero is true, but how does that relate to us today?”

“I don’t know this for sure, guys, because I’ve never asked them, and they’re so humble I would never embarrass them by asking. But I suspect a husband and wife team, who go to church together, and support diametrically opposed political sides are getting a lot of grief from men and women in their church, even though God has made it clear that whoever ends up in the Oval Office is there because He put them there.”

“Your point?” asked Pete.

“The point is this, gentlemen,” Billy was now up. “God expects us to honor and give respect to those He puts in office, because we can trust Him, God.”

Billy continued, “Your unbridled judgmental attitude, Pete, has caused you to demonstrate hate and rage toward those you disagree with.”

Billy smiled and told us, “There’s a great story about Jesus going into a village and the people of the village rejecting Him. Instead of calling down judgement on them, like some of His disciples wanted to do,[iii] He and His followers simply walked on to another village.”[iv]

“Men, Christians don’t have an excuse for judging those around them or treating them (or anyone else for that matter) badly. God promises us the grace to live above that.”

Pete got wound up in a flash and said, “How can you say that Billy, when so much has been caused by those two so-called Christians. . .”

“Clyde Smith and Pastor Mortenson, right?” interrupted Billy.

“Yes, those two hypocrites. Look at how they have acted and treated their own kind. I’m not going to feel the least bit bad about putting them behind bars.”

“You shouldn’t, Pete,” Billy said, matching Pete’s rising volume.

“I won’t,” he responded even louder.

“Good,” Billy said, slowing the conversation, and then chuckling with that laugh which puts everyone at ease. “There are consequences to our bad choices and they will experience the governmental justice which is coming to them. And let me go further, Pete. I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you have this passion you do. I’m just glad Sammie and I were here to help you see this the right way. If you don’t mind me being so bold.

I added, “Actually, Pete, I think you’re making their point. There are many people, Christian and non-Christian, who willingly choose their own direction over God’s. That’s why you and I have a job.

 Saturday July 28th, Afternoon, FBI Headquarters

We went back to my office, and Pete and I had a few more questions. But Billy and Sammie had done an excellent job and brought us a perspective which was way beyond our ability to comprehend, including the reason Pastor Mortenson had given so much money to both of these candidates.

Pete started the questions, “Why did Dr. Dale say calling him a terrorist was accurate?”

Billy responded, “I’d have to guess on that one, but I suspect it’s because in a sarcastic sense, you might say he’s a fanatic for fundamentalism, not Jihadist fundamentalism, but Christian fundamentalism. Dr. Dale often quotes a guy by the name of Leonard Ravenhill. He used to say, ‘Our nation’s problems stem from a faulty Christian fundamentalism,’ which I think Dale is doing his best to correct.”

I asked, “The enlisting of men and women really does have to do with just a Bible study or Prayer meeting, or something like that?”

“Yes, sir. And when he talks about wrestling, he’s talking about wrestling in prayer, the way Epaphras did in Colossians 4:12.”

Jack turned to Pete, “Doing prayer warfare is a term I have heard my mom use.”

“Spiritual warfare,” Billy corrected.

“Whatever,” said Pete, slipping back into his grumpy mood.

I’m going to have to remember this quirk about him. Pete does much better when he is around food.

Sounding like his sails had just been deflated, Pete asked a question which sounded more like a statement, “So, Dale’s efforts in D.C. really have no covert purpose?”

“Correct, sir. He just wants to help the elected officials and their staffers. He calls it bearing their burdens.”

Pete sat back thinking, and then said, “In one of the conversations we’ve heard from him, he says, ‘When I sit across from these elected officials, they all think I want something from them. They often give an audible sigh when they realize I don’t.’”

“We’re not used to people like this, Pete.”

“I agree.” Looking at Billy and Sammie, Pete continued. “I have a lot to thank you two for. It all makes sense now.”

With a big smile, Billy simply said, “Our honor, sir, Pete, Mr. Beecham. Our honor.”

“By the way,” Pete asked, as if he were starting a brand-new conversation. “How did you two kids know these were the questions we had?”

After some hesitation and squirming in his seat, Billy looked at me and started to say, “Well, Pete. . .”

And then I cleared my throat loud enough to get Billy’s attention, indicating for him to stop, but Pete immediately began to laugh.

An expletive went through my mind, I am embarrassed to confess.

Everyone else was quiet until Pete finished laughing and then looking at me, he said, “Billy hacked you, didn’t he, Jack?”

I changed subjects, “Pete, you and I now have to reinvestigate the cyber hacking with intent, making our focus Perps #1 and #2.” Pete acknowledged this, but he clearly wanted more details on Billy’s hack.

When he saw there was no further info coming on that front, Pete assured Billy and Sammie that he’d get together with each Chief of Staff and assure them their Religion Consultants are squeaky clean.

I saw Billy and Sammie give a big sigh of relief. I even think Sammie might have brushed a tear from her eye.

I stood up and motioned for the two kids to get up, but before they left, Pete stood and admitted, “I would never have expected to say this,” and then looking at Billy and Sammie, he said, “You know, for two young kids, you two are kind of smart.”

Playfully, but with a serious edge to it, Billy said, “When you want to talk about that born-again stuff, Pete, just call me.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said Pete. “I’m not interested in the born-again stuff unless it’s from John Fogerty.”

“I’m not going to beat you over the head with it, Pete.”

Billy was on a roll, so he continued. I thought it was good strategy.

“Before we go, may I make one more point about the way so-called godly men and women act, specifically with regard to their fear.”

“Of course, Billy. While I didn’t come to Jack’s office for a Sunday School lesson, I do admit I’ve enjoyed the knowledge you and Sammie have on this Christian stuff.”

Billy continued, but with a clearly, heavy heart. “So many of my. . .” He looked toward and included Sammie before he went on, “So many of our Christian brothers and sisters are fearful, and that fear is never more obvious than when they pray. As we were investigating Dr. Dale, we found a challenging post and video of his which shows that Christians’ fear actually has them calling God a liar.[v] May I be allowed to be a little bit bold, one more time?”

I’m not sure, but I think I saw Sammie reach over and squeeze Billy’s hand, as if for some moral support.

Pete completely missed it though. He was the most focused I had seen him all day with his eyes riveted on pimple-faced-Billy. “Pete, your fear this morning had you calling people liars when the truth was so near.”

He added quickly, “I’m not saying that to pound on you, but just to tell you I’m concerned for you, and Sammie and I will be praying for you, if you don’t mind.”

And then he nodded at me and said, “And we’ll be praying for you, even if you do mind.”

The two kids left, and Pete and I decided on a plan of action to gather and review all of our evidence against Clyde Smith and Pastor Mortenson before we arrested them. It might keep them on the street for a few more weeks, but it’d be better to have our two cases in perfect order.

“Can you believe that kid?” Pete marveled. “He’s tough as nails, for a kid. I don’t think he would be fearful, even if the administration going into the presidency had the expressed desire of taking away all he and his kind hold meaningful in their lives.”

I added, “To me, it makes sense that they would have the right to be fearful, but you’re right, I don’t think that kid or his girlfriend would be.”

Pete smiled, “They’re not a couple yet, though, right?”

“Correct.”

“I admire their work ethic, Jack. I like them; can I have them?”

“In a word, Pete, no!”

 

[i] https://MarkMirza.com/politics-arrogance    

[ii] Romans 13:1-2 (HCSB)

[iii] Luke 9:54

[iv] Luke 9:56

[v] https://MarkMirza.com/calling-god-liar

Read Divided Together (Chapter 36)

Read Divided Together (Chapter 35)

IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.

Chapter 35

Lately Issy and I are ships, passing one another in the night. We are each putting in fourteen to sixteen-hour days. We are on calls all over the country, dealing with emails, and generally being good servants, constantly helping wherever the respective campaigns need us.

I’m not complaining. We are both committed to our jobs and our candidates, but there has been noticeably less couple-time this summer. I mentioned that to Issy last night as I was rubbing her back and stroking her long dark hair. A few years ago, she let her hair grow out and now she adds soft caramel highlights in the spring and auburn highlights in the fall. Personally, I think the colors are quite fun.

It was Sunday morning and I had just turned off my alarm.

I leaned my head close to Issy’s ear to tell her how much I missed cuddling and then I heard a snore. And it wasn’t a fake one. It was a real snore, from my real tired wife.

So, I let her sleep another half an hour. When she woke up, I had already gotten our coffee. Then we read, “Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary. . .”[i]

 January A.D. 30, Consequences of Raising Lazarus

This was a very troubling time for us. We had troublemakers and informants all around us. We really had no idea who we could trust.

You would think it is a good thing to raise someone from the dead. It was an amazing trick. I still don’t know how Jesus did it. And the reaction of those around the tomb, their surprise, that was amazing, too. I wanted to say, “They can’t be that good of actors,” but they must have been.

Nevertheless, Jesus ends up on the short end of every difficult situation. Mind you, I’m not feeling bad for Him. I think He has a gift for getting into trouble. But I’d be less than honest if I didn’t confess that I think He also has a gift which He could use for the good of our nation if He wanted to.

It is still astonishing to me, how many people put their trust in Him[ii] because of His works. I think they are wrong. I think they should put their trust in God, not Jesus, but, my point is that He has an army of believers. If He would, He could just unite them into one blazing, glorious purpose and throw off this yoke of bondage the Romans are using to strangle us.

At any rate, later in the evening, a number of us who were in the crowd went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done.[iii] I decided a long time ago it was important to make sure the Pharisees got the real happenings from an insider, namely me. These other people may see bits and pieces of what is going on, but I am able to correct any errors. I’ve never told Jesus I do this, but I suspect He’d be glad to know the Pharisees were getting the truth, and no exaggerations.

After I shared details and corrected people’s errors, I stood in the back and listened to Caiaphas tell a strange story and an even stranger prophecy. I am not sure if I was scared of him or excited for his willingness to make a situation which was deteriorating, into a real blessing for our nation and for the scattered Children of God.[iv]

On the face of it, his words were pretty harsh, but as I thought more about them while walking back to our camp, I realized Caiaphas was doing some deep thinking.

“He has a brilliant mind,” I decided. Then I saw Jesus walking up to me with His three favorites. They make me sick sometimes.

“Judas,” Peter called out, “What are you doing up so late?”

“Oh, you loud, arrogant, ignorant fisherman,” I thought, but of course I held my tongue. Instead I simply said, “I was out praying. What a blessed day it was, seeing Jesus bring Lazarus back to life.”

Peter, James and John were exhausted, but Jesus just looked intently, and yet, lovingly at me.

“Does, He know where I’ve been?” I wondered. “No, He can’t. Because if He did, He’d have said I was lying.” After all, that’s what I would have done.

He laid his hand on my shoulder and looking deeply into my soul, his eyes, which tonight had such a green shine to them, said He loved me. I can’t explain it. No words were conveyed, but I knew, Jesus loved Judas Iscariot.

That night we stopped moving about publicly among the Jews. Instead we camped in the desert, in a flea-bitten village named Ephraim. I hate the desert!

 Sunday, July 22nd, Arlington VA

When Issy finished reading, I shook my head and said, “Can you imagine, Issy, what it must have been like in Jerusalem during all of this? Just think about how the evil one uses people. He used Mary’s friends to ‘tell on Jesus.’ He used Caiaphas who started talking about Jesus’ death long before this passage. And he used Judas Iscariot, of course.”

I was still shaking my head when Issy said, “I don’t think it’s any different today, babe. Look at Harold’s attitude toward you, which is just now changing, and it’s taken months. Look at the industry we work in, we see Harolds everywhere. People whose passion leads to intolerance and then to anger and then to rage.”

“And that’s inside the church,” I wisecracked.

We had sat there thinking for a minute when Issy went on, “What is it you always say, babe? ‘These things show sataN’s incredible ability to deceive.’”

“I prefer my other saying, ‘Church would be great if we didn’t have to deal with people.’”

We both laughed and then she picked up again, “Look at all that is going on here in the USA as forces arise to fight against the candidates, yours and mine.”

“Yep,” I said.

“And then we have to deal with various groups wanting influence,” she added.

I sighed and agreed, “And some of those influencers are trying to buy influence on both sides of the aisle so they are not left out in the cold.”

I was contemplating all we were talking about when I said, “Compare what we see, Issy, and you and I are in the background. Can you compare our situation to Jerusalem, a few months before Christ’s death?”

“You’re losing me,” she said.

“The first two verses of the thirteenth chapter of Romans make it clear.” I said, “God is in control, and those in office are there because God put them there. In just a few months, the person God wants in the highest office in this land will ascend. And they will have the job because God wants that person there.”

“Yes,” she said. “What’s your point?”

I continued, “The evil one is doing everything he can to influence the voting to get what he wants. You and I see that all the time. But God is using the evil one to get what He wants in November.”

“Look at how he used Caiaphas two-thousand-years-ago to do the same thing. He even allowed such pride in Caiaphas that his prophecy had more meaning than he could have ever realized.”

I pointed the prophecy out to Issy, “Can’t you just see Caiaphas talking about a sacrifice that will bless the whole nation? Little did he know that Christ’s death would in fact be a blessing to all nations. Caiaphas got what he wanted, but not what he intended.”

In fact, what happened was according to God’s plan and that’s what’s going to happen here, at the ballot box, in a few months, babe.”

Issy added, “That’s a good point Jude, and that’s why our Christian friends need to vote their conscience, trusting God, not their politician.”

We were both silent and then Issy said, “Wow, that’s a tough one to swallow.”

“I know,” I said, “But that is the way God works in the nations.”

She then closed her eyes and prayed, “Lord, forgive me for my arrogance. I often think I have a good bead on life, but it is You who is in control. Forgive me for wanting You to do my will before I will submit to Yours.”

I jumped in, “Father, I don’t have to be scared of those who disagree with me. I don’t have to be scared if Issy’s candidate wins, because, Father, I trust You.”

Issy finished our prayer, “And Lord, because You love us, we trust You, even if Jude’s candidate wins. Amen.”

 “My surprising challenge and unusual promise are the same, namely, trusting God for the right results, even if it’s different from what I believe to be right,” I said.

“Interesting, Jude. Mine comes from the last verse of this passage. Jesus was a good steward of what he did for the remaining three or so months of His life. The passage says, ‘Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews[v]. . .’ Baby,” she continued, “We have got to be good stewards of every little thing we do. If people don’t like what we do or stand for, let it not be because we were arrogant or prideful, sinful or stupid.”

“That’s why I love Ephesians 6:7 and Colossians 3:23. Everything you and I do, Issy, is to be done as if we are doing it unto the Lord, and not our candidate. This means we are to do everything with excellence. So, no one can find fault in what we do.[vi]

Issy leaned over and gave me a long slow kiss and then in her most seductive voice said. “If we don’t get going we’re going to be late for church.”

I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to say, “Let’s skip church today.”

 Billy’s Church, Sunday Morning

I’ve been attending Billy’s church now for a few months. I suppose this is something we’ll have to tell Jack about. But truthfully, I never think about it when we are in his office.

I arrived for the morning service late and the worship music had already started. I liked that because with everyone standing, I could find Billy, sit next to him and fewer people saw us together. When I scooted beside him, he quickly squeezed my hand and then let it go.

I can’t wait for the campaign to be over.

I motioned him to lean over so I could whisper, “Billy, on Friday, Jude showed me some posts which were made under his name and he asked me to help him run down their source, which I started doing yesterday. He’s afraid they could compromise his job. He didn’t write them but wants to find out who did.”

“I know, Sammie.”

“How do you know? No one knows. He even said he would not tell Issy.”

“Because Issy came to me with the similar fears. Apparently, there are some posts out there with her name on them which she did not write.”

I was shocked and nearly lost my balance. Billy’s soft hand grabbed and held my arm but I didn’t even notice. “Billy, this poor sweet couple is in a big mess and if we don’t help them, it’ll get worse.”

“I know.”

“There’s another problem, Sammie. Both of our bosses, not the candidates, but the Chiefs of Staff, contacted Pete Beecham at Homeland.”

I gasped and started to tear up.

After church, before we went outside, we stopped in a corner where we could talk.

“Let’s meet tonight, Sammie. I have found some of our answers which can clear the Prayer-Guy.”

I immediately jumped in, “I’m not worried about him, Billy.”

“Shush,” he responded soothingly and touched my arm so sweetly.

Am I falling in love with this guy?

He was saying, “Sammie, did you run down those initials?”

“Yes,” I said. I think I was pouting. How foolish of me.

“Sammie, let’s focus on these posts by Jude and Issy and clear them of any suspicion.”

“How will we do that?” I asked.

“I have a couple more things to run down this afternoon, so after church tonight, we’ll go to the safe house, okay? Bring those posts Jude gave you.”

I sighed, “Okay.”

“I know you’re worried, Sammie, but I think we are very close to clearing both.”

We went our separate ways and for the first time in a while I felt relieved.

 Sunday Afternoon, FBI Headquarters

Pete called me, “I told you someone was trying to cover up Jude and Issy’s unlawful actions. Well, we have them on tape and we know they have a safe house. They plan to meet there tonight to discuss clearing my Perps.”

I sat in my Lazy-boy and didn’t say a word. The Nats were leading the Atlanta Braves, in Atlanta 4-3 in the eighth inning when Pete called and ruined my afternoon.

“Are you still there?” he asked.

“Yeah, I am.” I answered slowly, shaking my head. I was afraid this would happen.

After another long pause I asked, “How much do you trust me, Pete?”

“Right now, only as far as I can throw you, Jack.”

I chuckled, but he didn’t.

We talked for another twenty minutes, enough for me to miss the rest of the game. But eventually he agreed to my request. Reluctantly, but he agreed.

 Billy’s Church, Sunday Night

I wasn’t late for church tonight, but I still waited in the back until people were standing and singing. Finding Billy, I made a beeline for him and this time I reached out, interlaced our fingers for the first time and squeezed his hand.

He was shocked, and embarrassed, but he smiled and held my hand for a full minute before releasing it.  Very special.

We were enjoying the long moment when someone behind us said, “I don’t know if I should be proud of you two kids, or embarrassed, like Billy here.”

I knew that voice. We knew that voice. It was Jack Jones from the FBI. We turned to look at each other and then looked back at Jack who was standing there as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

In a hushed voice, Jack said, “Homeland wanted to pick you up tonight, before you went to Safe House-3 and discussed the documents you are using to clear Jude and Issy.”

Looking at Billy he said, “You’ve been a very naughty boy, looking for notes in my Trello and OneNote.”

My eyes grew to the size of saucers, but Billy’s didn’t, and Jack noticed.

The worship team started another song and we remained standing. I was trembling.

Jack shook his head comprehending what I did not. “You knew it would be bugged, didn’t you, Billy. You wanted me to know what you two were doing.”

Billy tried really hard to hold back a grin, but he couldn’t. He was proud of himself. I wasn’t sure if I was too, or if I was just irritated with him.

Now Jack smiled. Then he said, “Listen kids, you have until this coming Saturday morning to put everything together. Either you have it sewn up, or the wrong people are going to jail, beginning with you two.”

Everyone was clapping with the music and Jack stood back and clapped with the music also. We turned back around to the front.

I had a million questions and I didn’t do a good job listening to this evening’s sermon.

When we sang our closing song, I turned back to ask Jack a question, but he was gone.

As we walked out of church we agreed we’d work our tails off this week. We would be ready to show up wherever Jack wanted us to on Saturday.

“This Thursday night is Prayer night. I think I’ll be here for it.”

“Me too,” I said.

We clasped hands as we said goodbye. Both of us were very nervous.

 

[i] Luke 11:45a

[ii] Luke 11:45b

[iii] Luke 11:46

[iv] John 11:51-52

[v] John 11:54a

[vi] 2 Corinthians 6:3

Read Divided Together (Chapter 36)

Read Divided Together (Chapter 34)

IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.

Chapter 34

Thursday July 12th, Washington D.C.

I was in Washington D.C. to continue the process of strengthening ties with the two candidates and their CoS.

Today’s visit should make the path straight and prepare the way for the anointed one,[i] who I humbly accept is me.

“Hallelujah,” I shouted to myself and then smiled big.

Anthony drove me to my first appointment and I got out of my SUV-Limo with an envelope in my purse. I actually had two envelopes, one for each campaign. Today’s copies of checks, again from two completely different businesses, were only two-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars each. But combined with my previous envelope it should keep their interest while I make them think I have a genuine concern for their advertising needs.

Earlier in the week, I Skyped Clyde while at my office and we talked. “Boss,” he said to me with great excitement, “I think our documents are being looked at.”

During the last few weeks my attitude towards him has been changing. For that matter, my attitude towards lots of people had changed. It was a little disconcerting, because on the tip of my tongue would be a sharp rebuke and something weak would sneak out of my lips.

I felt like something was preparing me from the inside out and I should just trust it.

“That’s it,” I said, “My sixth sense is preparing me and my attitude for dealing with the ultra-powerful people I will be connecting with and rubbing shoulders with soon.”

“How exciting, praise the Lord,” I thought.

Immediately my all so familiar purr began in my gut and worked its way out of my mouth.

I smiled, somewhat kindly, even courteously at Clyde on Skype. I was surprised at myself.

And it surprised him, too. “Boss, are you okay?”

I sighed deeply and said, “Yes, Clyde. Get on with your briefing.”

But I didn’t call him a moron, or a buffoon, or anything I normally would have. It was really weird.

I opened the file he had couriered to me and we looked at this round of documents which were in both Religion Consultants’ files. We then looked at the location on the internet where they had written similar things which would irk their bosses. Of course, Clyde had written them and signed their names, including their electronic addresses, so there’d be no question as to their source.

When I needed to, I would reveal these posts’ existence and confirm my worth. Then I would move in, once I knew which candidate would be elected, of course. I didn’t set all this up to be a part of the losing team!

“Remember, ma’am, when you go to D.C. you are only there to begin to cast suspicion, to shine, and to look beautiful.”

When he said this, he seemed to blush a bit and then hurried on.

“You are strengthening your credibility with this visit.”

“I know you moron. I made the schedule and the timetable. I know what I’m doing, you idiot!’

All that went through my mind, but what came out my mouth was, “Thank you Clyde. Good reminder.” And I disconnected from Skype.

Something else was weird. Last night at church, a number of people came up to me to talk and I didn’t make excuses to get away from them.

“Bizarre. Very bizarre,” was all I could think.

Clyde had found the employment agreement for both Religion Consultants, which were very similar. And in both of their contracts were two points we intended to now exploit.

One area is that they both agreed to not collaborate on anything religious, while under their current employment contract. And the other was like it. They could not post anything religious without the consent of the Chief of Staff.

I was ushered into the Chief of Staff’s office. But before I met with the candidate and gave my next seed-offering I had decided to plunge into “Operation Judas” by throwing some suspicion onto the Religion Consultants.

Burnt coffee was brought to me, along with a stale scone, but I was charming, sitting there talking to the Chief of Staff.

“How are things going with your Religion Consultant?” I asked very innocently.

Watching the uncertain response, I thought to myself, “This is very exciting, for the suspicion wheel has already started turning.”

Inside I grinned wide. It was eerie. If the smile I had inside was on my mouth, it would be wider than my entire face. It was really weird, but really pleasing, even intoxicating.

And then that low masculine purring began again. I quickly asked the Chief of Staff for a cup of water. I needed to control myself.

An aide brought in some water for me and I decided to raise the temperature of traitorous suspicion a little bit higher.

“I have thought your Religion Consultant’s recent posts quiet, umm, interesting. They really “push the envelope,” I think it’s called.”

The Chief of Staff looked surprised and then I added casually, “They sure were hard to find though.” I could tell I was having an impact, which made me tingle, an odd, but satisfying sensation.

About that time, we were ushered into the candidate’s office. After some small-talk and my promise to always be supportive, however I was needed, which I said while looking at the Chief of Staff, I spoke directly to the candidate. “I remain here for you. By the way, I had another conversation with your ad agency and have a copy of our decision to move forward on another group of ads.”

I was brilliant. And I was sure it would go this way after lunch, when I saw the other candidate.

The only difficulty I had today was when I had lunch with that Prayer-Guy, Clyde found. I think Dr. Dale is very odd. Of course, I think he played right into my hands. I will tell Clyde to give him another donation. After all, he’s a man. He’ll be easy to manipulate.

However, Dr. Dale did say one interesting thing, and I am not sure if I can believe him. He said when he goes in and prays with Senators and Congressmen, or women, he doesn’t care about their politics.

I don’t think he was just saying it. I think he meant it. That’s when I decided he is peculiar. He said his job in D.C. is merely “to bear these men and women’s burdens.”

“Galatians 6:2,” I said.

“Yes, pastor, exactly,” he responded. I could tell he was impressed.

And then he said, “I’m sure you experience the same thing when you are in a hospital praying for one who is hurting.”

I just smiled at him. I didn’t want to burst his bubble and tell him I don’t do that. I have other pastors for that kind of stuff.

Anyway, he went on and told me of examples where after he prays, he watches these folks cast their burdens upon Him who cares for them.

“1 Peter 5:7,” I said.

He just smiled and continued, “And then I watch a peace descend upon them, which clearly transcends their understanding.”

He paused, looking at me, waiting for the reference.

“Philippians 4:7, of course,” I said and laughed. He did too.

He seems to have a humility which cannot be real. And then, if his fake humility was not enough, he thwarted my questions when I asked him who he meets with.

“Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am. I am not able to say.”

I was a little indignant and asked, “Why not? I’m a pastor too.”

“Oh, I know,” he said, again very humbly which I decided is a well-practiced device. And one I may try and develop.

“You see,” he went on, “I have made a commitment to these folks which I fear I have to take great pains to protect.”

“Of course,” I said with my most magnanimous voice.

Anthony, who I had waiting at another table was now heading toward me. Lunch was coming to an end. “Thank, God,” I said to myself, and just then Dr. Dale reached out his hand to mine, bowed his head and started to pray.

Well, that was nearly too much for me. I pray in church all the time, but not in public like this, around all these people I don’t know! Now I knew that I definitely didn’t like Dr. Dale.

I was even feeling uncomfortable inside me. Instead of the soothing purring I had come to enjoy, there was a rumbling of explosive anger.

I can’t even tell you what he prayed. I was just glad to hear him getting near an “amen.” The restaurant we ate is huge and is in the basement level of one of the House Office Buildings. It is wide open, but now it was feeling very claustrophobic. As I was leaving, he offered me directions to get up to the next level and then out to the proper exit door.

I laughed and told him, “Anthony is here all the time. He knows the way. But, thank you.”

I just wanted to get away from Dr. Dale.

Fifteen minutes later I was ready to throttle Anthony because we still had no idea at which entrance our limo was waiting.

Finally, I made it to the next Presidential Candidate’s office, which went just like the first.

By the time I left Washington D.C. I knew each Chief of Staff would be annoyed, maybe even irate at their Religion Consultant. A good day’s work, I decided. The only question was, what would they do next?

From the SUV-Limo I called Clyde and told him to monitor the Chiefs of Staffs’ emails. I wanted to know what steps they were taking after I left these breadcrumbs of incrimination.

I was so proud of myself.

 Same Day, FBI Headquarters

Pete called me and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but both CoS, for both candidates called me this afternoon, suspecting their Religion Consultants of violating their employment agreements.”

“What did you say to them?” I asked.

“I said the exact same thing to both of them. I said, ‘Fire them.’”

I chuckled, which Pete didn’t like and said so in no uncertain terms.

Regaining my professionalism, I asked, “You didn’t really say that, did you?”

“Of course, I did, Jack!”

“You fool, Pete!” I thought but didn’t voice it. Instead I asked, “What was their response?”

“That’s what surprised me, Jack. They both said the same thing. They said, ‘I can’t, my boss likes and trusts them too much.’”

“I came so close to telling each of them that these two are in our cross-hairs. . .”

“Don’t you dare,” I said. Maybe I screamed the words, because his response was quick and humble.

“I didn’t. I won’t. I’ll wait. But if this goes sideways on us, Jack, I have all my documentation that you have held me back on this.”

“Anything else?” I asked, ignoring his threat.

“Yeah, one thing. My cyber spooks tell me someone else is crawling through the computers of Perps #4 and #5.”

I was instantly alert, but didn’t want him to know, so, trying to be as nonchalant as I could, I asked, “Is it actionable or just some Junior High kid in a basement trolling?”

“They don’t know yet, but it is being watched. We’ll get ‘em.”

“Good, Pete, good,” I said and hung up.

I’m sorry to say, an expletive left my mouth as soon as I hung up with Pete. I’m very careful to never do that. But I know they are seeing Billy and Sammie’s tracks.

I stood up and walked to my window and looked out at the Mall. It is green and beautiful, as always, but what caught my eye was Ernie, the hotdog vender below me. I love his hotdogs, but, I’m sorry to say, my Cardiologist said, “No more,” at my last checkup.

Dr. Joseph is in charge of cardiology at George Washington University Hospital. He has a great laugh and he loves to let it bellow. It comes from deep in his chest and you can always tell when he’s near your exam room, even if the door is closed. Anyway, he put a halt on all my high sodium foods. So, as much as I wanted a dog from Ernie, I returned to my desk and ordered a salad.

But first I sent a short text to both Billy and Sammie.

“You’re getting sloppy.”

I think they’ll figure it out.

I received an interesting text from my mom that evening, “Hello, Jacky. Don’t want to bother, just encouraging you that I’m praying for you and perhaps I can suggest you go to church and find some nice friends away from work. Just an idea. Love you bunches, Jacky.”

 

[i] Isaiah 40:3

Read Divided Together (Chapter 36)

Read Divided Together (Chapter 33)

IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.

Chapter 33

Tuesday June 26th, Washington D.C.

I was on my way to work when I called my mom. I was behind a woman who was putting her face on while she was driving. It made me wonder when state lawmakers will expand their driving and cell phone use laws. “Hey, Mom, just checking in with you.”

“Good morning, Jacky. How are you doing, Son?”

“Not bad. Good.”

I heard her grunt and then she said, “Uh-huh, what’s bothering you, Jacky?”

After a few quiet moments I said, “I’ve got a busy day today and there are a lot of religious issues on the table and Mom, I need wisdom. That’s what I tried to tell you about last week.”

She then said, “If it’s wisdom you want, you’ve come to the right place, because I pray for wisdom for you all the time.”

“I know you do, Mom. I know you do.”

“What else, Jacky?”

“Well, from our call last week, I got the impression I can’t ask for wisdom unless I’ve been, what’s it called, ‘born-again?’ Isn’t that what Chuck Colson called it?

Mom was silent which is unusual.

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings last week, Son.”

“I know, Mom.” I was getting weepy all of a sudden. Where was that coming from?

“I love you, Son.”

“I love you too, Mom.”

“And Jesus loves you, too.”

I didn’t respond. I just said, “I need to go. Good to talk to you.”

“You too, Jacky.”

All throughout the day I received updates on who the Prayer-Guy was visiting. And he visited a lot. We estimated he walked about ten miles. He also never took the elevators, which must have winded our agents.

Except for lunch with Pastor Mortenson, where “she left clearly flustered,” he spent the entire day visiting Congressmen and women’s offices. Apparently, day two he spends on the Senate side of the Capitol.

At the end of the day I sat down with Pete’s surveillance notes. After each stop he would speak into his phone and leave a brief note based on his stop, or activity, or prayer. It was actually great because we picked up on the details of each stop, without having to do any voice surveillance and run the risk of getting caught recording an elected official.

I put the file down but reread, “She left clearly frustrated,” which means to Homeland that she is being ordered around by Dr. Dale.

“I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right.” I laughed at myself thinking about these things and then decided my mom needs to pray a lot more for me.

I understood Dr. Dale’s note-keeping organization. I do something similar. When you are making twenty or twenty-five stops a day, you have to record some brief notes of each visit or by the end of the day their comments and your words can be inaccurate. When I’m on the Hill meeting with these folks I do the same thing.

He basically had three different types of notes. The first is a simple “P.C.” which has nothing to do with “Political Correctness.” Rather, they are his Prayer Cards. We heard him say to someone in the hallway, “These men and women may be brilliant attorneys or doctors, but they’re not theologians. So I leave my version of P.C. which are my prayer cards to remind them how I’m praying for them and their staff this month.”

The second kind of note had to do with when he prayed with a staff person, or more than one. Listening to some of his comments after he had prayed was very interesting. This Prayer-Guy seemed to be focused on encouraging the people he prayed with. I don’t think he was very creative, though. I looked it up and there are about 31,000 verses in the Bible. But he seemed to use the same one, over and over again.

I Googled the verse. It was Romans 15:13 which says, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” I’ve been told this is the version King James used back in seventeenth century England. But according to Dr. Dale’s notes, people were very grateful to hear him pray for them. I guess that if something works, you stay with it. I don’t know. After all, there are 31,000 verses!

The third set of notes referred to when he prayed with Congressmen and women. I made sure we did not keep a record of those notes, but I read them before they were destroyed. Many were very personal and they were all very different. Most had to do with family. Some had to do with friends and once in a while they had to do with work in Washington D.C. which I found surprising. I would have expected there to be more praying for their D.C. or district work.

It was eye-opening to read the report on him. He seemed genuine, as genuine as anyone can be, in D.C. There was one problem though, his meeting with the Atlanta Pastor.

They ate in the lunchroom under the Longworth House Office Building and there was too much noise there to use a directional mic and pick-up anything worthwhile. Pete’s people think this was a deliberate maneuver to cover their conversations.

“But to what end?” I kept asking myself.

“What does he want with her? It doesn’t add up.”

I ate an early dinner while I finished reading the surveillance notes. My throat was feeling a little scratchy, so I had a chicken noodle soup. It’s an old favorite which works for me every time.

After I finished with my soup and crackers, I made some notes:

Perp #1, Pastor, arrogant/mean/rich

Perp #2, Counterintelligence/hacker

Perp #3, Prayer Guy

Perp # 4, Religion Consultant for Candidate A

Perp # 5, Religion Consultant for Candidate B

Intersections of the Perps:

Perp #1: employs Perp #2, has lunch with Perp #3, meets boss of Perp #4 and #5

Perp #2: employed by Perp #1, meets and communicates with Perp #3, met and has periodic email contact with Perp #4

Perp #3: meets with Perp #1, meets with Perp #2, meets with Perp #3, meets with both Perps #4 and #5

Perp #4: met Perp #2, including periodic emails/texts, met with Perp #3

Perp #5: meets often with Perp #3

NOTE TO FILE: Perp #3 is the centerpiece to all of this. The question we need to figure out is what he wants with all of these folks.

I thought about this and the number of times the Prayer-Guy has met with Perp #5 made me amend my notes to include, “What do Perps #3 and #5 gain from this mission, if they are even guilty of a mission?”

While making my notes I got a call from the Safe House-3 transcriber.

“Sir, you need to hear this.”

She then wired me in to a meeting in progress, in Safe House-3. It was Billy and Sammie again.

“How did you get it, Billy?”

“Well, it took longer than I expected, but when I couldn’t find anything on Jack’s hard drive, I had to deduce it was because his documents were in a safe, not on his computer.”

“This is scary, Billy.”

“I know, Sammie. I know.”

“But keep going. Did you find his passwords?”

“Yes, that was pretty easy, but that was when I realized I had another problem. You see, none of his passwords got me closer to the documents I now have.”

“I’m confused, Billy. If the documents were not in his computer, but in his safe, did you. . .You didn’t. . .”

“Open his safe? No. I just started looking for his notes. One of the first days I was in his office, I noticed a few apps light up on his phone because I have them too.”

“Which ones? Which apps, Billy?”

“There were a number, but only two were needed. He has the OneNote app and the Trello app. I simply got into those two apps, got around their firewalls and found an abbreviated version of his case notes. I think he works on a case and speaks into his phone to record notes which probably eventually make it into a report.”

I heard Sammie laughing tentatively in the background and I called Grace to have her get some agents over to these two thieves and drag them in here, handcuffed. But when she came on the line, I didn’t say anything to her. I just kept listening to Billy and Sammie.

“Sir?” Grace said a couple times before I hung up on her.

I had changed my mind. “Connect the dots you two. Connect the dots.” I said to myself.

My Safe House-3 Transcriber was still on the phone. I told her, “Leave them alone. I don’t want them touched, but bring me the raw transcript immediately after they leave.”

“Yes, sir.”

I called Grace back, “Grace, I’m going to be here all night, go home.”

She was saying, “Yes, sir,” when I hung up.

 Same Evening, Safe House-3

Billy had really done it this time and we could be in big, big trouble, if we or he is ever caught.

I confess though, it was also kind of exciting.

Billy laid his documents out with a bulleted cover document on top. He wanted to walk me through them but I said, “Your hacker who has been getting in to snoop on Issy’s computer is no longer just looking.”

“Yes, I know,” he said. “He’s doing a combination MitM attack, gaining control of her computer, for the purpose of stuffing in more and more documents, supposedly hers. He’s also continuing the SQL Injection hack to read the data he’s interested in. Is that what you’re seeing?”

“Yes,” then I described the documents which I had found.

“Interesting,” he said, “Very Interesting.”

There was a long silence when he said, “Sammie, I think our window for helping Jude and Issy is rapidly closing.”

I nodded my head and he continued.

“From Jack’s notes I can tell that he is not sold on Jude and Issy being dirty.”

“Whew,” I said more loudly than I meant to.

“But he is reading Homeland’s conclusions and doesn’t have alternative explanations.”

“We need to give them to him, Billy.”

“I know, Sammie.”

“What are those alternative explanations?” I pressed.

“Well, we clearly have a few of them, but these regarding Dr. Dale, the one they call the Prayer Guy, are still beyond us,” he said, clearly frustrated.

I was getting frustrated too. I was concerned for two very decent people, Jude and Issy, and scared for two hackers, me and Billy.

“Sammie, we need to work, double time quick. I think that’s what they say in military lingo. And, you and I have the advantage, Sammie.”

“How so?”

“They are looking at all this through the lens of people who are ignorant when it comes to things of the Lord.”

I must have looked a bit perplexed because Billy explained, “They aren’t looking at any of these ‘facts’ of theirs through the lens of Christian interaction. We can.”

I nodded my head slowly and asked, “So, where do we go next?” nodding to his list.

He got a big grin, a cute grin, a grin I realized I liked more and more, then he said, “This is your list. I think that if we translate these ‘facts’ of theirs with our knowledge as Christians, we can give Jack an alternative perspective and turn their investigation around.”

“I get that,” I said, a little short with him. “Again though, where do we go next?”

I could tell I had hurt his feelings a bit, but he just kept on. He turned the cover document around to me and pointed to the bottom.

“The bottom of this list has the points of entry into the Prayer Guy’s data, as well as Jude and Issy’s, which you already have. Based on what I showed you before, we need to look at the places on social media Dr. Dale has given us, to find out what he is all about. If Homeland is looking at these things, I don’t think they are correctly discerning what they are seeing.”

“I think you and I should look over everything. . .”

“Duplicating each other’s work? Isn’t that a little inefficient? I interrupted.

“Yes, but,” he said without hesitation. “I think two eyes seeing the same documents gives us a better opportunity to analyze it more accurately, although it may take a little longer.”

“But time is not an option we have, Billy,” I responded.

“Correct, you’re right. We’ll continue to divide the work,” he said.

He showed me the first item on his list. It read, “Why is Perp #3 determined to visit D.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday only?”

“Now look at this,” Billy said, as he passed me over the last three calendar months from Dr. Dale, AKA the Perp dubbed, “The Prayer-Guy.”

I looked at it for a few seconds and then let out a short squeal of laughter. I was embarrassed, but Billy just kept looking at me with a smile creeping onto his face too.

As I looked up my face started to flush. I was getting angry. And he could see it too. I am finding this new friend of mine already knows me well, probably better than anyone I have ever met.

He reached over his hand covered mine. It was nice and soft and I relaxed a bit.

“Sammie, it is obvious to us why Dr. Dale comes here the days he does, but don’t be angry at Homeland or Jack. They wouldn’t give this the same importance which you and I understand it deserves.”

He was right, of course. I agreed and said so.

“You see these initials?” he asked.

I nodded.

“They need to be run down. That’s your first task.”

“Okay.”

“Sammie, I also need you to start looking for every document Jude sends outside of the Campaign team. Where is it going, what are the contents, and can it jeopardize his employment in any way?”

“Let’s get at it,” I said, and we left Safe House-3.

Standing by the door to leave he said, “Sammie, you go first. I think we need to leave at different times, not just different exits.”

“That makes sense,” I responded, “But how did you come up with that?”

“Red 3. The latest Bruce Willis espionage action movie.”

I just chuckled at him and said, “Okay.”

He stuck his hand out to me to shake and I responded likewise. Looking at it I said, “When this Presidential Campaign is over, we should, umm.” I hesitated. I didn’t know what else to say.

He was smiling big now, and said, “We should go on a date.”

“Yes,” I agreed.

 Same Night, FBI Headquarters

“Yes, please, put yourselves out of your misery,” I agreed, listening to the end of their conversation.

“But wait until the campaign is done. I don’t want Homeland to start an investigation on you two, too.”

Sammie had gone when I heard a mumbling in my earpiece. It was Billy. He sounded like he was talking to himself. I turned up the volume.

“Oh, Lord,” he was saying, “Your Word says that when we need wisdom, we are to ask of You, and You will give it to us generously.[i] Sammie and I really need it. And Lord, so does Jack as he directs this flawed investigation. In Your Son’s Name I pray, Amen.

 

[i] James 1:5

Read Divided Together (Chapter 36)

Read Divided Together (Chapter 32)

IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.

Chapter 32

Wednesday June 20th, Ocmulgee River Park, Macon GA

“Why are you calling me from Macon, you fool? I wanted an in-depth report from you today, here in my office.”

Why do I pay this man so much?

“Clyde, did you meet with this ‘Dale’ guy?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Can he do the dates I want or not?”

“No, ma’am.”

“No? Did he say ‘No?’”

“Yes, ma’am, but his. . .”

I cut him off. “It was a rhetorical question, Clyde. Shut up while I think.”

After a few moments, I said, “Get up here so we can talk before church tonight.”

Then I hung up.

 Same Day, 8pm, FBI Headquarters

A special report from Homeland Security was delivered to my office late this afternoon.


OPERATION: JUDAS I.

Surveillance Report:

20, June – All Morning, Macon GA

Transcript:

Attached

Summary:

Perps #2 & #3 met in park where lots of line of sight issues played havoc with our listening devices. Perps seemed to coordinate this with great precision.

Attached transcripts are helpful, but critical details are missing.

Distribution:

Classified, Director Pete Beecham

Copy, FBI, Eyes Only: Jack Jones

I read through all the transcripts and the report’s author was correct. I had to piece together what happened, based on these disjointed transcripts and ancillary ‘notes to file’ which were already added.

Both men were being tailed, by two crews of three agents and two cars each, which meant, when they got to the park there would be four cars, twelve agents and the two Perps.

I shook my head and said, “They were doing it again; looking like Keystone Cops.”

I could imagine the park with a few stay-at-home moms and their children, and what it must have looked like with twelve agents in four cars plus the two Perps.

I leaned back for a moment, rubbed my eyes and shook my head in disgust.

I read the transcripts wondering how quickly the surveillance was blown.


PERP 2: Dale, I’m glad you could meet me.

PERP 3: Hey, I’m glad that you were able to work around my schedule, Clyde. I come out here most days now that I’m not working at the University anymore. I try to run and walk for about an hour and a half every day. Don’t worry. Today is a “walk-day.” I only run twice a week.

PERP 2: I’m disappointed, Dale. I brought my running shoes and shorts. I’m up for a run.

PERP 3: LAUGH; Well knock yourself out, Clyde. I’ll wait for you back here. The older I get the more careful I am about how I exercise.

PERP 2: No problem. I really didn’t want to run anyway; LAUGH

PERP 3: Let’s walk this way.

NOTE TO FILE: They deliberately walked towards the trees. Anticipate covert conversation/s.

PERP 2: Dale, Pastor Mortenson wants to meet with you and she’s planning a trip to Washington D.C. soon. We’re wondering if we can coordinate that with you. When do you plan to return to D.C.?

PERP 3: As a matter of fact, I will be there the week after next. And as usual I’ll be there on Tuesday and Wednesday; I think that’s June 26th and 27th.

PERP 2: Dale, I was wondering if you can switch your trip to Thursday and Friday, you know, to accommodate the pastor?

PERP 3: I wish I could, Clyde, but there is a very important reason why I always go on Tuesday and Wednesday. You see, I. . .

UNINTELLIGIBLE

NOTE TO FILE: The two perps appeared to deliberately stand between 3 trees, so we had no line-of-sight for our scanners and directional microphones.

PERP 2: Oh, that makes perfect sense, Dale. I understand that. We will work around your dates.

NOTE TO FILE: Why did Perp #2 back off so quickly? Does Perp #3 have something over Perp #2?

SILENCE AS THEY WALKED

PERP 2: Dale, may I ask you about your leaving the University?

PERP 3: Well, you know I didn’t leave, Clyde, don’t you? I was fired.

PERP 2: I know, Dale, I just didn’t want to say it that way. But from what I read there were some assertions of links to terrorism, weren’t there?

PERP 3: LAUGH; Calling me a terrorist was accurate. My focus has always been. . .

UNINTELLIGIBLE

PERP 2: Dale, tell me about your men’s prayer meeting.

PERP 3: I’d love to. What do you want to know?

PERP 2: Well, first of all, how do you recruit men to participate and then keep coming back?

NOTE TO FILE: Check files for possible definition/s of code word “Prayer Meeting.”

PERP 3: The most critical point I’ve learned, Clyde, about getting men to enlist is that we are relational beings, contrary to modern psychobabble. When we pray together, I tell them to get into groups, but I let them get into and then lead their own prayer groups. I have found they return for more, because of the relationships they forge.

PERP 2: I’ve asked around and found that you have been successful recruiting women also. How?

PERP 3: You have done your homework, haven’t you, Clyde?

PERP 2: When you work where I do and for whom I do, you learn to be thorough. The women?

PERP 3: Yes, women have become an integral part of our mission. I confess I was reluctant to bring women into our group for a long time. But they do a great job and I’m proud to have them on the team. They can pray from a part of their gut men cannot. And they do spiritual warfare with an intensity and confidence I wish I had.

PERPS 2 & 3: Next 30 minutes miscellaneous discussions of nothing mission critical. See Transcripts B & C for exact details

Just to be thorough I checked the transcripts. Really, I just skimmed them. Then I went back to the pertinent documents and read the remaining transcript.

PERP 2: Dale, we are all interested in having some clout, if you will, in D.C., specifically on the Hill. How are we going to achieve it, some influence, I mean, and how can you help us there?

PERP 3: Good question, Clyde, because I want to make sure we get this absolutely, correct. Okay? If this part is handled incorrectly, every single trip I have made to the Hill will have been for nothing. And I’ve invested too much to see that happen.

NOTE TO FILE: Obvious agitation/excitement seen in both perps.

PERP 3: Regarding influence, control, power, authority, etc. I am very particular. I want. . .

UNINTELLIGIBLE

NOTE TO FILE: Very odd that during these critical issues our line-of-sight was impaired. The complete answers we did get are in some sort of code. Their tradecraft was brilliantly executed.

CONCLUSION:

According to Delta Airline, as of today, Dr. Dale is scheduled to be in D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday, June 26th and 27th. He is booked on DL#2638, arriving DCA 9:14 am

No flights yet for Perps #1 or #2

This subversive activity and relationship has to have been a very longtime in the making. Also, their tradecraft leads us to conclude they know they are being surveilled and are behaving as if they are “new-meets” just getting to know each other.

DISTORTION INFERENCE CONCLUSIONS:

Days of Perp #3’s visits; Unknown, due to recording distortions. Why he is unswerving about those days, we do not know, but his reasoning is significant enough to cause Perps #1 & #2 to work around Perp #3

Terrorism Label; Unknown, due to recording distortions. But Perp 3 admits it fit him, even sounded like he was proud of the label

Purpose of Male & Female Recruitment: The real meanings of his words are still unknown, but both male and female are integral to operational success

Influence/Control: Unknown, due to recording distortions. We do not know the commitment made by Perp #3, but execution seems to be well underway and protected by Perp #3

I stood up looking out my window over the Mall. It was now completely dark except for the lights along the walkways.

I hated this. None of the conclusions from Homeland felt right, but what else could they be? To the best of my understanding there could be a serious breech already here or just around the corner.

NOTE TO FILE: I may have to reach out to the candidates. JJ

I sent an encrypted email to Pete:

Considering reaching out to the candidates. Do not; I repeat, DO NOT preempt me.

Jack

 Same Night, Atlanta GA

“Clyde, did you get all our questions answered?” I was a little calmer today than normal. For some reason I didn’t want to rip his head off.

“Yes, but let me begin with the travel plans. He can only go there June 26th and 27th.”

Even that disappointment didn’t bother me. And I could tell Clyde was surprised I didn’t yell at him. Something had come over me and I wasn’t sure what it was.

For the next hour, we walked through the questions and answers I was interested in. When we were done, I stuck out my hand, shook his, thanked him and then sent him on his way.

Okay, that I didn’t like. It was too, umm. . .nice. I was just getting ready to find a reason to call him back and yell at him when a voice inside me said, “Wait. . .patience. . .that’s my girl.”

It wasn’t the same voice which wanted me to yell at him, but it had the same feel as the masculine purring that had been coming over me more and more lately.

“Oh, yes, holy spirit. Whatever you say.”

 Same Night, FBI Headquarters Parking Lot

I was heading to my car when the crazy thought of asking for wisdom came into my head.

“God, my mom asks for wisdom for me all the time. Can You give that to me? Please? This Jude and Issy thing is driving me crazy and, well, I thought that since it has to do with Religious Consultants, that must be right up Your ally and You could help me, maybe, if You want to.”

After a couple steps I added, “Oh, Amen, over and out.”

I called my mom as I got closer to my car, “Hey, Mom. I just talked to God, I think.”

“Oh, Jacky, I am so glad. Oh honey, I have been praying for you to give your life over to Christ for so long. Tell me about it, please.”

“Umm, Mom, I have an important call coming in; I need to take it.” And I hung up on her.

That’s not what I expected from her. Then I wondered, “Is that Born-again stuff a prerequisite for talking to God?”