This morning I read the 2nd & 3rd chapters of the last book in the Bible.  Revelation is, in the minds of most people I’ve encountered in over 20 years of ministry, a very weird & crazy book!  The prophecies and symbolic imagery can be really confusing and controversial.  Often, when people read things in the Bible that are confusing and controversial, they either ignore those parts or they interpret them according to their own preconceived opinions.  This is always dangerous to the cause of truth, because we humans are so easily swayed in our opinions by the lure of compromise.

Compromise has to do with efforts to make peace between two opposing loyalties.  In the sense of our relationship with God, it most often has to do with trying to control the rule of God’s Kingdom in our lives so that it doesn’t negatively impact our relationship with the world we live in….or the things that give us pleasure.  All throughout the scriptural history of God’s relationships with people, compromise is the evidence of betrayal of our allegiance to God as Lord.  We tend to WANT God for the things He can give us, but AVOID Him for the things He requires us to do, or not do, for Him that we think will “spoil our fun.”  As followers of Jesus, any time we find ourselves holding onto something that doesn’t please God…trying to keep it away from His rule in our lives…we end up suffering the consequences of compromise.  This isn’t because God is against us….but because He is FOR US, and is molding us into the image He created us for.

The messages given by Jesus to the 7 churches named in Revelation 2-3 are not confusing at all, but they are definitely controversial and challenging to us still today:

  • Make “Seeking God” the first priority in your life
  • Stay away from sexual immorality and worship of other gods
  • Persevere and pray when you are ridiculed and marginalized for your faith
  • Love and serve others in the Church and in the world
  • Find peace in the hope we have in Christ’s coming return, not in the pleasures of this world

Social justice or moral correctness?

So often, followers of Jesus fall into one of two categories… Those who exert for social justice, and those who emphasize moral correctness. The Lord embodies both, and calls us to be the same.  James 1:27 – “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”


Helping Hands

I was really encouraged and inspired by one of our volunteers last week.  Carol came out to help with yard work at the Kepler Project about 2 weeks ago, spending most of the day with almost 40 other volunteers doing various tasks in the weekend heat wave – It was 97-degrees that day.

That evening, she went to an artisan’s fair at McMenamin’s Edgefield in Troutdale.  She shared her story of the project, the people, and the work of Catalyst, with an artist named Tom.  He was so inspired by her story that he gave her this beautiful “helping hands” piece he created, donating it to Catalyst for the ways we reach out our hands to help others in need.  She delivered the gift to me last week, and we talked about how important and powerful it is to share God’s love with others through our HANDS.

With our hands we create, we work, we put food & drink into our mouths, we clean, we give comfort, we brush our teeth, we drive…the list goes on & on.  Our hands also bear the marks & wrinkles of their wear & tear, as well as scars from times we have suffered.  I was pondering this, and remembered how essential it was to Doubting Thomas to see the nail-holes in Christ’s hands so that he could believe.  It’s an interesting correlation that, when we suffer on behalf of others, and bear their burdens with our hands, we demonstrate the living presence of Jesus in the world…often in ways that remove barriers and inspire people to believe.