The Harry Potter Palaver

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To be clear, this discussion’s crosshairs are trained on my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d like to open up a double-standard dialogue that seems to be swept under the rug often. Let me set the table.

Star Wars films, Lord of the Rings: Trilogy, The Hobbit: Trilogy, The Avengers films, Shazaam!, Aladdin. What’s a common denominator in all of these great works of art? Magic is present.

  • Star Wars—The Force
  • Lord of the Rings—Wizardry
  • The Hobbit—more Wizardry
  • The Avengers—Magic and Sorcery
  • Shazaam!—more Magic
  • Aladdin—even more Magic

Now, I’m not trying to advocate what you choose to watch versus what you stay away from. That’s your business. Quite often, I hear church folk say to kids, “If Jesus was in the room, would you be watching that?” My intent is not to condemn or accuse you of hypocrisy in regards to your choice of movies. This is more a question I’m hoping will actually invite conversation.

The aforementioned films and trilogies are considered cinematic classics and desirable movies to watch, based solely on their content and storylines. No self-acclaimed movie buff would dare turn a scowl toward the movies on the list. In truth, it’s the fantasy elements that make most of these movies entertaining. We all enjoy the mesmerizing action and human emotional elements of these films.

So why is it that the Christian community has declared war on the Harry Potter films and their spinoff prequels? Usually, when I ask this question of some of my Christian-friends, the immediate answer revolves around the Potter films promoting dark magic. But, when I bring up something like, “Well so do ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films; so what’s the difference,” I’m usually met with either a subject change, or an awkward stare.

Personally, I always thought the Potter films were about the never-ending struggle between good and evil, just like the rest of the films and trilogies on my list. It just seems, in my opinion, that while we Christians take no issue with Doctor Strange mastering the dark arts in the name of protecting humanity, or Gandalf the Grey (or the White depending on which trilogy you’re in) wielding magic in defense of the light, we are up in arms about Professor Dumbledore teaching Harry Potter to be a Wizard.

How exactly does that work, without being hypocritical?   

Personally, the Harry Potter films don’t bother me, because I’ve watched them along with everything else on my list. It’s entertainment. I don’t really think there was any malicious intent involved in the creation of any of them any more than C.S. Lewis had, while penning The Chronicles of Narnia. I think my question is more pointed at the “why”. Why were the Potter films blacklisted among the Christian community where the others were not? Why are the Potter films deemed dangerous, where the other films are not? Why is the House of Gryffindor more of a threat to our spiritual growth, than The Jedi Temple?

I think what I’d like to see is a hard stance from the Christian community regarding such entertainment. I’d like to see Christians take one stance or another, either completely for fantasy, or totally against it. See, I witnessed a Pastor condemn the Harry Potter films in front of a group of kids, but enthusiastically post photos of his family at the theater on opening day for one of the Star Wars movies. That’s not confusing? Like I said, I’m all for the entertainment of the films. Fantasy is my favorite genre of story, so I like them all. But, I think it sets a bad example and maybe even confuses kids if we begin to pick and choose which fantasy movies are fine to watch, when they all contain the same content.

I enjoyed watching Harry grow up learning his craft, back in the day. I think it would be interesting to see what his children’s adventures would be like today. The thing is, I understand that it’s all entertainment, just like the Wizards of The Lord of the Rings, or the Sith and Jedi of Star Wars, or the Genie of Aladdin. It’s all entertainment. That’s why we watch it. It entertains.  

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Drop a comment, and let me know how you feel about it.

The Power In Prayer

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I’m an action/fantasy-movie fan. I love all things Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Matrix involved. When I was 11 years old, I must’ve watched “The Neverending Story” dozens of times. My dad managed to record it on VHS tape. As I sit here writing, I’m thinking about opening a box of Junior Mints and watching the Blu ray now, like I don’t have to get up to go to work in the morning!

C’mon, be honest. I can’t be the only one.

There’s just something about the “fantastic” in the root of fantasy that takes me to another place. I’m a dreamer at heart. Always have been. My head is so far into the clouds, I swear sometimes I dream of flying and the feeling of weightless flight resounds as familiar within my body and soul.

I’m often amazed at how people can quickly accept the power of “The Force”–which is totally made up, by the way–but just as quickly reject the power of the living God. If you don’t know who Luke Skywalker is, you’ve either been in a coma since the early 70’s or you’re an alien visiting from outer space. If you’re an actual alien, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, you don’t truly exist. Everyone knows the fantasy lore of Luke. But, not everyone knows the actual history of Jesus: the only begotten son of God.

What I love most about fantasy is watching characters develop special powers, and then growing mature in the use of those powers. It’s kind of like when a baby Christian learns to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit–totally real life stuff here–and then matures in the use of those powers. Prayer is definitely one of those Spiritual gifts available to everyone.

Christians are often reminded of the “Power of Prayer” but when I think about prayer akin to fantasy movies, I marvel at the very real power in prayer. Prayer is not science fiction or fantasy. It’s very real; very accessible; very attainable and extremely powerful.

There was a time when Jesus sent out his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons among the people. But they ran into a problem. They encountered a boy possessed by a stubborn demon. They had to go get Jesus to cast the demon. When the task was completed, by the Lord, his disciples asked (in Ennis-vernacular),

“Say man, we heal people and cast out all kinds of demons! How come we couldn’t cast this one out?”

Mark 9:29 (NIV) tells us that Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Now, for my friends who struggle to believe in God, let me tell you that history supports the life and miracles of Jesus Christ as depicted in the scriptures. Yes. Actual history. I can’t make this stuff up. On top of that, I know personally what the power of prayer can do to breathe new life into a troubled marriage. I think prayer gets such a bad wrap when we start to talk about Spiritual things.

“Have you prayed about it?”

“What’s that gonna do?” *Sigh*  “Sure, I’ll give it a try.”

That’s usually how it’s received; as the last resort to problem resolution. What if we were a people who actually believed in the miracle work of prayer before a problem even exists? What if we were a people who prayed for the things we need, believed that God would give them to us, thanked him in advance, and then celebrated when the blessing showed up? I mean…doesn’t that sound like fantasy stuff?!

Except it’s real. It works. It happens all the time among the believing body of Christ.

In this social media saturated age, we are big on chain-challenges. So, I’m going to propose one this morning. I’m daring my readers, friends and family to take this Prayer Challenge. I challenge you to pick one thing–be it a desire, a need or one in the same–and focus on it. Be specific, now. Don’t be lazy about this. For the next 25 days, I challenge you to pray on that thing, need, or desire. Here’s where it gets difficult for some. I want you to set your heart on believing it will be done, in the name of Jesus. I want you to thank him, in advance, for seeing it done. And for 25 days, I want you to simply trust in him to make it happen.

The real power in fantasy, is not that we accept it’s actually real life, but that we choose to buy into its allure temporarily. The real power in prayer is not its temporary fulfillment, but concrete lasting affects in our lives (that’s a-ffects with an “a” scholars). Prayer really works. I dare you to try it. I’d like to hear what happens in your lives at the end of the month.

 

~Always~

 

Paraclete’s Promise- Chapter 5: Light In The Darkness

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Chapter 5 wraps up our little hero’s first adventure. If you need to be brought up to speed, I encourage you to visit the previous chapters. If you truly like what you’ve read thus far, why not consider buying a copy of my book. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple. Thanks for sticking by me, friends.

Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4


 

5—Light In The Darkness

The dive helmet proved to be the coolest piece of equipment, of the entire suit. Once he slid the helmet over his head, the familiar computer voice spoke within the helmet’s audio system, as the device automatically ran through a series of diagnostic checks. Inside the bug-eye visors, a checklist scrolled down, accompanying the voice.

OPTICS AT 100 PERCENT; AIR FLOW NOZZLES AT 100 PERCENT; SEALS ENGAGING.”

Tim’s ears popped as the helmet gently squeezed around his neck; and under his jaw.

AIRTIGHT SEALS AT 100 PERCENT; READY FOR DIVING, MR. SMITH.”

Jonah’s voice filled the hidden speakers within the helmet.

“Let’s go. Time’s wasting. I’m setting the wet room to submerge in 20 seconds.”

Tim descended the ladder into the wet room. The inner floor hatch, with the peep hole in the center, slowly closed and sealed with an airtight woosh.

“Wet room submerging in 5, 4, 3, 2,” Jonah counted.

Oval slates along the smooth stainless steel walls opened, sending a flush of sea water into the tiny room. A flash of panic ran up Tim’s spine as the room quickly filled. He groped for something to hold on to, and braced for the cold shock of sea water.

“I never understood why this always frightened you, Tim.” Jonah said. “After dozens of missions, you’re still jumpy when the wet room fills.”

As the water rose over his waist, then his chest, and up to his helmet, Tim closed his eyes and held his breath, waiting for the helmet to spring a leak and fill with salt water. When he couldn’t hold out any longer, he inhaled deep, breathing in cool, clean air. He opened his eyes in time to see Jonah swimming out of the wet room, through the bottom hatch, into the darkness of the sea.

“The water’s not freezing,” he said.

“Of course it is. The suit’s regulating your temperature, you dope. C’mon, let’s go.”

As he followed Jonah through the open hatch, his fingers again performed a series of unknown, but familiar taps, pressing buttons on the left side of his belt. The hatch slowly swung shut locking them outside of the pod’s protective hull. At the same time, Tim’s helmet lit up a brilliant green inside. The shrouded darkness of the sea could now be seen in a green hue that showed everything within a radius of 200 feet, as clearly as daylight topside.

“I see you! I see the cave below. Wow!”

Tim stopped stroking and hovered in place. He spun from side to side, looking every-which-way possible, in awe of the sights to be seen in this strange new world. Everything was alive with activity. Deep sea sharks, 100 feet above the pod, swam around in their own patterns just as the fish at the Coney Island Aquarium had done when he’d gone to the park for his 6th birthday. The base of the mountain was out of sight, but he could still make out bubbles floating up from what must be its bottom.  Jonah hovered a few yards out from Tim’s position, anxiously awaiting his partner.

“Tim, I’ll feel a lot better if you save the sightseeing for later. We’ve got to get the treasure back to the pod.”

“What’s the rush Jonah? I’m just getting used to this. Besides, it’s not going anywhere I don’t think.”

“I’m not worried about the treasure walking off without us, Tim. I’m worried that we’re not the only intelligent creatures alone down here anymore.”

The crocodile; how had he forgotten so soon? Terror settled over Tim again. He was aware of the vast emptiness surrounding them both. That creature could be watching them right this moment, just outside the range of their hyper vision goggles. Tim punched a sequence into his belt’s computer. The system responded.

EMERGENCY THRUST PROPELLERS CUED; READY FOR ACTIVATION.”

Against his hips, two tiny triangular slots—like inverted pop tops he’d seen on the table salt canisters Mom bought from the grocery store—suddenly flipped open on the belt. Miniature ports drop down out of the slots. In the far corner of each bug-eye visor, an energy gauge displayed two vertical bars; one for each thrust propeller. Tim’s helmet hummed as the tiny engines prepared to fire.

“Easy on the throttle, Tim. We’ll need to save energy for the journey back up to the pod, while we carry the chest together. Use just enough boost for a quick start, okay?”

“How big is it, Jonah?”

“Well, let’s just say we’re both going to have a time dragging it out of the cave.”

Tim stretched out in a diving pose. He glanced at Jonah, giving him two thumbs-up.

“Thrusters fire,” he said.

ENGAGING THRUSTERS.”

The belt tightened against his waist as the thrusters exploded, propelling him through the water at a blinding speed. There was a sudden jerk on the top of his helmet, as the leather flap extended. Tim turned his head left, toward Jonah. His suit responded by changing his trajectory, speeding him toward his partner.

“Watch yourself, Tim!” Jonah yelled over the radio. “Get it together, bro. What’s gotten into you?”

Tim shifted again, turning his head in the direction of the cave below. It was hard to keep his limbs in line with the target at such speeds. Behind the visors, a number display read 70mph and continued climbing. The cave entrance, a distant speck a moment ago, now seemed as large as a Ferris wheel circle.

“Back off of the throttle Tim. We can swim the rest of the way into the cave.”

“Roger than, Jonah. Thrusters stop.”

THRUSTERS DEACTIVATED.”

The two explorers swam for the mountain cave, frequently watching over their shoulders for any signs of movement. Close to the entrance, a light-bulb fish appeared from behind a high crop of mountain rock, startling Tim.

“Stay sharp, Tim. I think this cave might be the beast’s lair. We’re in dangerous territory here, so let’s watch each other’s backs.”

As they swam up the hollowed shaft of the cave, the walls closed in. The ceiling and floor of the cave also condensed. The girth of the huge cave slowly diminished.

“Jonah, I don’t like it. We’ve got nowhere to run if he’s here.” Tim fought against the fear rising within his heart.

I am still with you.

“Who said that?” Tim shouted, as he stopped stroking and spun around.

“Who said what?” Jonah asked. “C’mon, stay with me here. It’s just the two of us.”

“Jonah, someone else has been speaking to me since…well since I woke up back at the control console.”

“I knew it!” Jonah yelled.

“Well who is it? Whoever he is, he’s beginning to creep me out.”

“I knew you fell asleep while I was down here alone! Tim, that crocodile could’ve eaten me alive while you were snoozing up there. You have to watch my back at all times.”

“Jonah, I’m telling you, someone’s been talking to me.”

“Okay, let’s pretend you really are hearing voices besides mine, thousands of feet under the ocean. What are they telling you while we’re busy swimming up an underwater tunnel, in search of lost treasure?”

Tim felt heat in his cheeks; anger rising. What was it that Dad said, back at home? Just then, an idea came to mind.

“That’s it. I’m dreaming. I must’ve gone to sleep at home. Yup that’s it, all right! I fell asleep in the box. None of this is real.”

Tim heard Jonah sigh over the radio.

“Now I’m your imaginary friend. That’s awesome. We’ll see how you feel once we’ve found the chest, Tim. When we return to the surface, you’re going to the doctor to get your brain examined.”

An alarm beeped inside his helmet, directing Tim’s attention toward a wire frame digital diagram showing the terrain of the cave, projected through his visors. The explorers were swimming toward a vertical wall at the back of the cave. As they approached, Tim saw jagged protrusions jutting from the vertical surface.

“Are those steps I see, Jonah?”

“It looks that way, yeah. I think, at one time, this area of the cave was a huge air pocket. You noticed we swam up through the tunnel, to get this far. Maybe, this wall wasn’t always underwater. Someone would have needed a way to get into the upper cave.”

“Upper cave; I thought this was it?”

“No, we’ve got to swim up a ways, before we find the air pocket.”

The vertical turn was easy enough to maneuver. Tim kicked while his padded fingers gripped each jagged step; 18 in all. Jonah reached the top first, climbing out of the water, onto a ledge.

“Watch your step up here,” Jonah said. “The deck is a bit slippery. You won’t need your helmet anymore. The air is a bit stale, but breathable.”

Tim reached up, penetrating the water’s surface for the first time in weeks, his memory told him. Jonah gave a hand, pulling him out of the depths, into a cavernous hollow. Large stalactites and stalagmites of differing shades and colors were everywhere. Off to the far right of the hollow, Tim saw a bright glow emitted behind a large rock wall. Judging by the pathway of trampled and crushed dripstone, Jonah had previously walked in that direction. But the pathway of destruction of the natural formations was far too wide to have been caused by Jonah alone. Tim deactivated the helmet’s hyper vision.

“Jonah, I—”

“Yeah, you see it don’t you? That crocodile’s been in here. I didn’t have to disturb any of the dripstone formations to get to the chest behind that crusted wall. The creature’s been guarding it. Looks like it hasn’t returned, so let’s get what we came for.”

“Roger that,” Tim said. The duo walked further into the cavern, toward the far rock wall. “Sure is spooky in here.”

“Hey, God did not commit to us the spirit of fear,” Jonah recited. Tim smiled wide behind his helmet.

“But of power, love, and sound mind. Thanks, Jonah.”

“Momma’s bible study, every Sunday evening for as long as I can remember. She made me memorize 2 Timothy 1:7, knowing I would someday be an explorer.”

“Dad likes that one, too. He makes us say it every night before bed.”

Tim suddenly missed home. He missed his siblings and his parents. He remembered this was all just a dream, and soon he would wake up. As they approached the wall, he squinted. The golden light on the other side was so bright!

“Jonah, did you leave the box opened when you left the cave?”

“No! I shut the lid; made sure of it, because I had to figure out how we were going to move the whole thing through the water without losing a single piece. I latched the clasp and shoved a small piece of dripstone through the lock hole, to keep the lid shut. As soon as I closed it, the light was locked away inside the chest.”

Tim ran for the wall, with Jonah quick at his heels. The duo rounded the edge of the wall. Standing before them was a large wooden box trimmed in tarnished golden ribbing. Its ancient hinges were rusted from ages of sitting in the damp air. Its wood had taken on a soggy and splintery texture. Barnacles encrusted the bottom of the chest, onto the floor of the cave. Behind the chest, golden light flooded the tiny chamber formed by several close cropped walls and a low ceiling. Tim’s eyes were fixed on the chest, unable to look away.

“It looks just like my toy chest back home, except for the gold stuff along the edges and the old wood. It’s the same.”

Tim brushed a gloved hand over the lid of the chest. A fresh wave of sadness washed over him as he pictured home in his mind.

“Tim, take a look at this.” Jonah stood ten feet behind the chest, hands on hips, gazing at the cave floor. “I promise you, this was not here before. I don’t know where it came from. I’m not even sure of what it is.”

The urgency in Jonah’s voice broke the allure of the chest. Tim slowly walked toward the back of the cave shielding his eyes from the onslaught of brilliant light pulsing from what looked to be a large oval of light in the floor.

“Jonah, what in the world?”

“I just said I don’t know what it is, Tim! It wasn’t here before.”

“Whatever it is,” Tim started, “I feel like I’m supposed to…”

I am with you,

“What?” Jonah asked. “Tim, you’re supposed to what?”

“I don’t know. Feels like it’s calling me, somewhere deep down inside.”

Jonah turned away, walking back toward the chest. Tim heard the latch squeak and the hinges creak in protest; metal on metal grinding. The cave, already alight by the hole in the ground, now blazed a magnificent golden yellow, as Jonah pushed the lid back. There was a loud thunk, as the lid collided with the back of the chest. It was filled to the brim with golden nuggets resembling peanuts, cashews and walnuts.

Tim walked to the chest and scooped a handful of the little nuggets. The duo glanced at one another, before exploding in laughter. Tim stuffed a handful of nuggets into the hidden pockets of his suit, laughing hysterically.

“I can’t believe we found this! We did it, Jonah! We actually found the lost treasure of the pirates of Camoon! Now we have to figure out how—”

A great splash and enormous thump ricocheted off the walls of the cavern, shaking the nuggets within the chest. Tim crouched while Jonah reached for a small stick strapped to his right leg.

“Stay put, Tim. It’s here. I’m going to draw its attention away from the chest, while you make a run for the water. Get to the pod as soon as possible! Do you understand?”

“Jonah, I’m not leaving you behind. We figure out how to go together.”

Jonah thrust the stick out. Two thin shiny blades popped out of both ends of the handle. Inside the visor-goggles of Jonah’s helmet, Tim watched the hyper vision light activate, then turn a shade of red, as Jonah took up an attack stance.

“Seriously Jonah, you’re going to charge that thing! Are you insane? There has to be another way out of this cave without facing it.”

“There isn’t, so wait for my signal. When I yell, go for the water. Trust me, if you’ve got a better idea, I’m all ears.”

A guttural roar alerted them to the creature closing in on their position. Jonah sprinted for the edge of the wall, screaming like a warrior; the double edge spear lifted high above his head. Another monstrous roar resonated through the cave, and Tim heard Jonah screaming in fear as he tore up the opposite end of the cavern. Stalactite and stalagmites crushed into powder under the creature’s advance.

“Now, Tim! I’ll see you on the other side!” Jonah yelled.

There was a sound like metal reflecting off stone. Jonah fought the beast somewhere within the cave! Tim was petrified, once again unable to move. Somehow he mustered the courage to take a shaky step toward the edge of the wall separating the chest’s hiding place from the main cavern. One step became two. Two steps became a slow trot. The trot gained momentum until he was running around the wall straight for the entrance pool.

Come to me, Timothy. I’m still with you.

“No, not again!” Tim yelled. His small hands went to the helmet, trying to cover his ears. “Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?”

Come to me, Timothy.

Tim looked over the devastation of dripstone debris leading toward the darkened end of the cavern. Deep within that darkness arose the sounds of battle and destruction. Tim whispered.

“Combat vison.”

COMBAT VISION ACTIVATED.” The computer responded.

The helmet’s hyper vision lit the visors a brilliant red hue, illuminating the cavern before him. There was Jonah, racing back toward Tim. His broken spear dangled in his right hand, a crack in one of his visor-goggles, a tear in his suit along the left arm. He’d never be able to make the swim back to the pod with a ruptured suit and busted helmet! The freezing water would kill him within minutes. Behind Jonah the crocodile beast slithered snake-like with incredible speed, gaining on him. Shiny blue scales and massive sharp yellow glowing teeth bore down on Jonah.

“I thought I told you to swim! What are you waiting for? Go now!”

“Lord, I don’t know what to do,” Tim screamed, as he looked toward the entrance pool a few yards away. Even if they made the water, the creature would have them captured in the tunnel.

Come to me, Timothy.

Beyond the fear that gripped his heart, Tim found a quiet, peace rising within his spirit. Suddenly, he knew where to go. It made no sense, but he knew it was the right thing to do.

“I told you what to do, Tim,” Jonah barked. “Run for the—”

Tim darted back toward the chest hiding behind the far wall. His heart pounded, His mind couldn’t focus as he ran. He knew he needed to get back to that little hiding place.

“Don’t stop, Jonah! Follow me,” he yelled.

Jonah couldn’t believe what he was seeing, as he banked left to follow his partner back toward the treasure chest. They were going to die down here. He was sure of it. Tim had lost his nerve and his senses. Jonah’s last idea was to make a final stand in the back of the small hiding hollow. He ran with all his might. When he rounded the wall, the beast was so close, Jonah could feel the breeze from its chomping bites push against his back. Tim was airborne, head first, diving.

Tim, rounded the wall, still following the direction of the voice.

That’s it. Come to me, Timothy. I’m still with you.

Without so much as a second thought, he threw himself into an awkward headfirst dive over the opened chest, sailing straight for the pulsing yellow hole in the ground, behind the treasure. Screaming through the air, Tim shut his eyes just as he connected with the light of the hole. Somewhere close behind, echoed the screams of Jonah and the enraged roar of the beast.


 

So faithful fans, now you have a feel for Timothy and his amazing adventure thus far. What happens next? You’ll have to read the book!

 

 

Paraclete’s Promise – Chapter 4: Partners & The Prize

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Hi faithful fans. If you have yet to read the previous chapters of my book, I encourage you to visit these posts before reading chapter 4:

Chapters 1&2

Chapter 3

As always, I really appreciate your support and feedback. Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies Of Timothy is the first book in the Paraclete’s Promise saga. While this book is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple, the second book is in progress. Enjoy.


 

4—Partners And The Prize

Tim was petrified; heart pounding, breathing shallow. All around him, bleeps and blips of the electronics on the console sounded off, running through routine pod operation. Static lit through his left ear again.

“Unlock the hatch buddy. I’m on the way up. I don’t think it’s safe to turn on the lights yet, so keep an eye out for me.”

Tim’s heart rate slowed. Shallow breaths became long tugs. His hands steadied.

“Tim, are you there?”

“Roger that; I’m keeping an eye out for you.”

Tim rolled the captain’s chair within reach, and slowly sat down. The soft stretch of the supple leather and pneumatic hiss of the chair’s cylinder, under his weight, were welcomed sounds. He rolled the chair up to the control panel and pressed a sequence of buttons, activating Jonah’s personal tracking device. Just above the control panel, the on screen readout placed Jonah approximately 700 feet away from the pod, and he was moving fast. His heart rate was slightly elevated, but otherwise his vital signs read normal. Tim set his arms against the soft armrests, and reclined. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.

How’s your adventure coming along? Much more exciting than a video game, I’ll bet? I’m with you.

Tim was so startled by the voice resonating in his head that he flipped the entire chair over backwards, crashing to the floor. But his trained muscles responded. With a quick roll, he was back up on his feet poised in a defensive stance, feverishly scanning the control room for another person, he hadn’t seen before. He pressed the com-link button as his eyes searched the room, top to bottom.

“What was that Jonah? I didn’t read; over?”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t say anything. Closing in on 250 feet; over?”

“Uh,” Tim faltered for a moment. “Yeah, roger that; 250 feet and closing.”

His eyes fell on the floor monitors to his left. Lying there, almost invisible against the high definition darkness of the ocean, was his bible. In the drab light of the dimly lit control room, the stainless steel hard cover book was a welcomed sight. He picked it up, opened to the last page and read the custom inscription written across the back cover.

To my brave explorer: May the Lord’s word be a shining light when you are surrounded by the darkness of the cold world.

Love Mom.

Tim’s thumb absently parted the pages. Flipping through, he smiled at the scripture he found. Dad once said the Holy Spirit would always watch his back. First Samuel 14:7 was a comforting scripture to have handy, alone in the dark.

“‘Do all that you have in mind,’ his armor-bearer said. ‘Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.’”

The words washed over his heart. The remnant of his fear seemed to melt away.

“If God is with me, who or what can stand against me?”

Scriptures flooded his mind, strengthening his spirit as he continued to recite miscellaneous lines from different books of the bible. Courage surged within his soul. He remembered bravery comes after great fear.

An alarm beeped, letting him know Jonah was within 50 feet of the pod. Tim set the bible onto the console, and ran through the control room door toward the rear end of the pod. He jumped and dodged miscellaneous cargo and equipment still cluttering the hallway. As he reached the wet room, toward the pod’s rear end, he flipped open a wall panel and punched in a sequence of commands on the illuminated key pad. A loud flush reverberated through the pod. Beneath his feet, a small room filled with ocean salt water. Glancing between the keypad monitor and the sealed peep hole beside his left foot, Tim watched the water level swallow the entire wet room, before closing the water jet ports. The monitor read out blinked a confirmation message across the screen: WET ROOM FILLED.

“All set up here, Jonah. I’m opening the hatch now.”

“Roger that, buddy. I’m at the hatch. Waiting for the pop.”

A large button on the keypad pulsed brilliant red. The monitor read out blinked, and Tim saw an overhead video feed of Jonah wading underneath the pod. A new message scrolled over the video feed: ESCAPE HATCH READY. Tim mashed his palm against the red button. The whole pod shook as the pneumatic cylinders of the hatch swung the three-piece sealed doors out toward the ocean floor. Tim watched Jonah swim up through the opening, then sit down on a stainless steel bench molded into the smooth circular walls of the wet room. Tim smiled as he recognized Jonah’s diving suit. It was amazing to see the body molded flat air tank, the high tech diving helmet with its polarized lens, the retractable flippers and personal water jets protruding from his belt.

“Ready when you are.” Jonah said. “While I decompress, get your suit ready. You’re gonna want to come back down with me.”

“Did you find something good?”

“Oh yeah, I did!”

“Sweet! I’m setting the decompression sequence now. Have a nap for ten minutes.”

“You read my mind, buddy.”

Tim tapped at the keypad. The doors of the escape hatch shushed closed, shifting the pod again. Behind the steel bulkhead to his left, he heard a whooshing sound as the machinery simultaneously pumped the water from the wet room and decompressed the chamber. He watched the monitor read out for a moment, making sure the sequence progressed slowly. As the water pumped out through the jet ports, recessed in the walls of the wet room, oxygen filled the damp room.

“Hey, do me a favor, will ya,” Jonah said. “Try not to decompress me too fast. Last mission, you almost made my head explode.”

Tim laughed, as a memory of Jonah screaming like a baby suddenly filled his mind.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I rushed through the process. Looks like you’re decompressing at a good rate, this time though.”

“Good. Go on and get geared. I’ll keep an eye on the sequence from down here.”

“Roger that, Jonah.”

Tim looked down through the peep hole. Jonah flashed him two thumbs-up. A renewed wave of excitement came over Tim, as he walked up the narrow hallway toward his locker. He gently lifted the latch, slowly opened the vented door and marveled at the sight of his very own dive suit.

“Whoa, sweet,” he whispered.

Tim stroked a finger across the shoulder pad of the suit, hanging from a hefty steel hook. The material felt like soft leather, but was rigid like plastic. The whole one-piece suit seemed to be fashioned out of emerald scales. Each scale shimmered as his finger rubbed down its blunt edge, and pricked his finger, as he trailed back up against the scales. As he pulled the suit out, the hook retracted into the sidewall of the locker and a small compartment opened. A stainless steel shelf slid out of the open hole, with a dive helmet resting atop it.

Tim draped the suit over his shoulder and watched the helmet slowly spin on top of the shelf. Two bug-eye shaped polarized lens, two tiny holes on the nose bridge, and a glowing open slit across the mouth made the helmet look like an alien head, from a comic book. The ears were shaped as small bubbles; speakers for the radio. Across the top of the helmet, he saw a leather fin stretching from the crown to the back of the helmet. Retracted now, it looked like a flat green ponytail. But, Tim knew that fin opened up in the water, to help maneuver his suit while swimming. He lifted the light weight helmet from its spinning stalk, and the shelf retracted into the sidewall of the locker. As the compartment closed, another compartment opened on the opposite sidewall, revealing an air tank shaped like a flattened book bag.

Tim saw a green light pulsing on the yellow metallic surface of the tank.

“Fully charged and ready for use,” he said.

He set the helmet on the floor beside him, and removed the tank from its magnetized charging hub, with his free hand. The compartment closed, and a computer voice chimed.

DIVE SUIT DIAGNOSTICS COMPLETED. FULLY CHARGED AND READY FOR USE. HAVE A NICE SWIM MR. SMITH.”

The locker closed automatically. As the latch clicked shut, a small stainless steel bench slid out from the wall behind Tim. He sat down and climbed into the suit, feet first. The inside was lined with a warm, soft material that felt like silky fur against his body. As he pulled the zipper up to his chin, he gasped as the suit compressed against his body, to form a tight yet comfortable fit.

“Wow, this is so cool.”

Tim lifted the air tank from the bench and slid his left arm through the shoulder strap. The tank seemed to move with a mind of its own, centering itself across his back with an electronic hum. The right shoulder strap automatically flipped over his right collar bone, across his chest, and magnetically connected to the left shoulder strap.

“Whoa,” he yelled.

A retractable belt cinched around his waist, from one side of the tank, to the other. As soon as the belt pulled tight, Tim saw a series of tiny lights strobe across his waist. A computer voice chimed from the belt.

TANK SECURE. POWER LEVEL AT 100 PERCENT, MR. SMITH.”

Everything fit perfectly and comfortably, as if the suit had been specially designed for him. He looked at his gloved hands and noticed the rubber webbing between the fingers. He watched the light-show reflecting from his utility belt. He was so enthralled with the technology of the suit, that he didn’t notice Jonah standing directly in front of him.

“Ha! You’re looking at that thing like it’s the first time you’ve ever put it on!”

Tim looked up. His mouth fell agape and his knees suddenly unhinged. He dropped to the floor, never releasing his gaze on Jonah. He could have been staring into a mirror at the moment.

“Hey, are you alright?” Jonah dropped to his knees and reached for Tim, who skirted backward. “Tim, it’s okay. It’s just me; your ole pal, J-Man. Take it easy.”

Tim mumbled as he stared into the hazel eyes of his twin. The wisp of freckles across the bridge of his nose; same bushy black eyebrows; same dimpled cheeks; same haircut; Jonah was the perfect clone. His mind struggled to register what his eyes were seeing.

“Jonah?” he finally mustered.

“Yeah, buddy. That’s the name I was born with.” Jonah flashed a smile. “Breathe slowly.”

Tim shut his eyes and shook his head, silently praying that God would make sense of this whole experience. When he opened them, Jonah stood above him; a gloved hand reaching to pull him up off the floor. Tim slowly reached for his hand. Jonah yanked him from the floor, to his feet and clapped him on the shoulder.

“There ya go! What was that all about, brother?”

“Sorry. I…I was…just…surprised to see me…you…standing there…staring at me.”

“Hey, if you liked my little stealth approach, you’re going to love what I brought back with me.”

Jonah reached for a thigh pocket weaved into the left leg of his suit. As soon as the snap was undone, a yellow glow illuminated the hallway. Jonah reached into the pocket and palmed something that he’d found on his excursion outside of the pod. The glow seemed to radiate from both ends of his closed fist as he raised his arm over his head triumphantly. He tapped a button on his diving belt and the pod’s ceiling lights switched off.

“Wow. Jonah, what is it?” Tim raised a hand to shield his eyes from the light.

“I found it, Tim! I’ve found a whole chest full of these things down there in the cave. I opened that chest and almost went blind from the golden glow of the stuff. I think opening the chest probably alerted the beast, you know? Like he was some sort of watch dog for the stuff or something.”

Tim shielded his eyes with both hands now as he tried to get a closer look at the object.

“Jonah, how in the world did you ever get close enough to grab one?”

“That’s the funny thing,” Jonah said. His eyes were ablaze. “Move in close and you’ll see what I mean.”

Tim moved closer, still cupping both hands over his brow. At the same time, Jonah opened his hand and swung his arm down to waist level. The closer he moved toward Jonah’s hand, the object began to take shape, no longer shrouded by intense light.

“Can you see it? Tim, it’s as if these things were calling for someone to find them. The farther away I was from the opened chest, the brighter they seemed to glow. The closer I stepped toward them, the luster changed from gold to yellow and the glow faded just enough for me to see that they were shaped like—”

“Peanuts? This thing looks like a golden peanut, Jonah. A box full of golden peanuts! We’ve found the lost treasure of the pirates of Camoon!  Let’s go get them all!”

“Yeah, now you’re talking, brother!” As Jonah turned toward the wet room, he flipped the golden peanut through the air, toward Tim. “Your good luck charm. Hang on to it. There’s a lot more, where that one came from.”

Tim shoved the peanut into a small pocket on the arm of his suit. He scooped up the dive helmet from the floor, and quickly followed Jonah to the wet room. Somewhere below them, a lost treasure awaited.