Chapter 3

Pergamos and Thyatira

Present day, Windermere, FL. Monday 9/15, 8:00 A.M. 1st of the last 7 years of the end of days.

"Don't forget poor Jed this morning" Sam's mother said. "Jed'll be fine" Sam said, as he wolfed down his breakfast. His goal of course was to leave before Jed showed up. "You are not going to Diss that boy again, are you?" His mom said. "Aww mom, I promised some guys I'd pick em up this morning, and they'd just pick on him, besides, his mom will take care of him anyway, she won't let him walk, he might melt." Sam's tone was becoming more sarcastic. "You guys used to be inseparable" his mom said, "what happened?" Sam was silent as he finished his breakfast and was out the door in a flash. What happened was Sam's attitude and personality changed after his parents divorced. He no longer trusted God, his mom, or his friends. His life was turned upside down. He would never admit that of course, to Sam it was a matter of being his own man. He was the man of the house after his dad left, he had to grow up faster than most kids, that meant leaving behind childish things. Unfortunately childish things according to Sam included God, his best friend, and his relationship with his mom. All took a back seat to Sam's new life. A life of the big man. A life of new bigger and badder friends, drinking, smoking, and in his mind, running the house. His mom still ran the house of course, but it made Sam feel bigger to set his own rules, and his mom was sick of fighting with him. The story was different on the weekends, his dad ran a tight ship. Kevin Johnson was a no nonsense dad now that he "found The Lord" as he put it. Before the change, his parents fought non stop and at times the cops were called in to keep the peace. Now that his parents were divorced, his dad was nicer and calmer. This was another reason he blamed his mom for his life being turned upside down. His dad had told him that it was nobody's fault, but Sam never believed him. His dad and his new wife, Lillian, were very religious Sam thought, and that's why his dad was so stern to him on the weekends when he had custody. That would all change in about a week , Sam would turn 18 and be able to do what he wanted. It's bad enough to be 18 and starting your senior year, but it was worse having to answer to your parents all of the time in 2 different homes. "Major dysfunction." He thought as he pulled the car out of the driveway. "1 more week, and I'm outta here." The plan was set, Sam would be moving in with his girlfriend, Jess, who was a college freshman. Sam would be a freshman too had he not been held back in an earlier grade. That's what made him the big man on campus. His age and size made him the most popular kid in school, but he'd trade it all to be with Jess. As he checked his rear view mirror for Jed, he was relieved. "No Jed yet" he thought, speeding up to get out of the neighborhood as soon as possible. The 2 guys to join him were of a like mindset, one by one they got in the car, greeting Sam with the customary offer of a cigarette. Sam quickly forgot his problems now that his friends were there. The upcoming "bash of the century" as they put it, was the only topic of discussion. As they pulled into school property, Sam scanned the schoolyard for any signs of Jed. Not seeing him, the three bolted to their usual hangout spot before school started. It only remained calm for ten minutes before Sam spotted Jed heading toward him looking angry. Jed stopped and detoured however when Sam flashed him the most evil look he ever gave someone. The look merely meant, "don't come any closer and try to start anything or you'll be sorry." How Jed took it was unknown to Sam at the time. All he knew was it worked, Jed took off for class without incident. 10:00 A.M. Sharing first period science class with Jed didn't make him happy either, but he made the most of it, avoiding eye contact the whole time, texting Jess about the party, and not listening to or comprehending the teacher. That is until Jed spoke up out of nowhere. "What'd he say?" Sam asked the kid next to him in class. "Something about Jesus." He said back to Sam. "And Mrs. Jennings ain't happy about it." He continued, "and when she ain't happy, we all get it!" Sam wouldn't admit it, but he was kind of proud of him. He had no idea what he said, but the reaction of Mrs. Jennings told him that Jed was being bold and rebellious, a quality he never saw in Jed. He wanted too see how it would turn out when the bell rang to end the period. Because he sat in the back of the class, Sam was the last one to exit the room. As he got to the hall all he saw was four kids ganging up on Jed. It started out as the usual picking on the bible thumper, but it quickly escalated to just short of physical. Before he knew it, Sam was jumping to Jed's defense. "Stop picking on him." Sam said. He regretted it as soon as it came out of his mouth. "Who said that?" The biggest kid who was picking on Jed spoke up. Sam had committed himself now. "I did." Sam said "wanna make something of it?" The other kid was getting more and more confrontational,"what's up with you, you're no holy roller, why are you defending him?" Sam , who felt as if the least he could do was stop Jed from getting picked on, replied, "because he's not hurting anybody, if you want to get tough, get tough with me." Being the biggest and most popular kid in class, Sam knew the challenge would not be taken up. "Fine" the bully said, "I'll remember this next time I throw a party, you ain't coming." The first boy to start picking on Jed chimed on,"yeah right, like anyone would come to your party if you didn't invite Sam. Lets just leave bible boy alone, we're gonna be late for class anyway." As they all walked away Jed said,"thanks Sam, The Lord used you in a big way." His tone suggested that he had forgotten all about Sam not picking him up earlier. "The Lord is not here Jed, but if I wasn't, you'd be toast right now, stay out of trouble, I'll see you later." "You want to come over later and play a little one on one?" Jed said, always hoping their friendship was still a reality. "No" Sam said, "people to see, things to do." As Sam walked away, Jed couldn't help think that if Sam didn't get his act together, or if The Lord didn't somehow get to him, Sam would be lost forever. The closer Jed got to The Lord over the years, the farther Sam got away. Sam still went to church of course, but if Jed only knew that it was only due to threats and intimidation from his dad. In Sam's mind, being dragged to church once a week was more than enough. But it was enough for him to call himself a Christian. Just like Pergamos in the first century, so was Sam Johnson today.

96 AD, Island of Patmos.

"Sin" John whispered. "how could it be more powerful than God's love?" The question was redundant, he knew the answer. In fact, John was also a sinner. As the Lord said, "All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God." John's problem wasn't sin, it was how anyone could knowingly choose a life of sin over what the Lord had provided. Worse was the idea that they could still claim the Lord's favor even though they willingly chose a life of Sin. How have the warped the word of God into their own creation in such a short time? As John wondered, his thoughts also drifted to all the people in generations to come that would, in similar fashion, create an idolatrous God to worship in their minds. Thyatira would sew the seeds of Idolatry to a disturbing level. Telling themselves that there sin would be overlooked by a holy God would not only delude them, but all who came after them. John prayed as he wrote, "Let them see the truth before it is too late.

Present day, Windermere, FL. Monday ,9/15 7:00 A.M. 1st of the last 7 years of the end of days.       Tim Gordon started this day like every other day, alone. "Frankie, Frankie..." There was no answer. Frankie had gone to work without so much as a goodbye. Although they had been together for 6 months, Frankie was a bit distant still. Tim rolled out of bed, showered, dressed, and went downstairs to eat, alone. As he prepared breakfast his thoughts were, as always, scattered. From Frankie, to his mom, to growing up in Windermere, Tim never stuck to one subject. He would never be accused of being a good multi tasker. His thoughts were muddled just like his life. "Why does Frankie always leave before I get up?" Was thought number one. He liked Frankie enough to move in together, but they had grown distant recently, a fact that had made Tim even more insecure than normal. "What have I done wrong this time?" Was the second thought. Reflecting on a string of too short, too empty relationships. Tim always blamed himself, of course, that was just his way. Always worrying, always fretting, never arriving at an answer or conclusion to any question or problem. "Maybe I should call mom." He thought. His mom had always been his sounding board for all his problems. "No, dad's still home, can't risk it." His dad and him haven't spoken in years. The product of a macho dad, a man's man, finding out that his son was gay, was too much for him to take. Disowning his son seemed far more easier than accepting or dealing with a topic that he had avoided all of his life. Especially his life now since Tim dropped that little bombshell of information on him over ten years ago. His mom had always been supportive, however, a fact that had always irritated his father to no end. "Why do you talk to that boy?" He would tell his mom, always making sure Tim could hear him through the phone. "How's he ever going to learn how wrong he is if you keep coddling him." This is what started his confusion, "dad says its wrong, mom sticks with me" all his life Tim Gordon has been living in a state of confusion. The worst part of it were Christians. They were the most judge mental people he knew. Christians at his church were o.k. It was the far right Christians that were the worst. They always wanted to change him, help him, or save him. "Thank God for my church." Tim thought. Tim's church was a liberal church that didn't focus on sin, they made sure only Jesus' love and compassion was present. No sin, no judgement, and certainly no saving. This is why he chose Sacred Palm, and Pastor Matthews. Church was one of the only 2 places Tim enjoyed. The other was at work. His job was rewarding, he worked with many people at the hotel and no guest or co worker ever judged him. These were the only places that let him be himself. Tim called himself a Christian, mainly because his church made him feel so good about himself. Jesus loved him, God made him this way and loved him no matter what. That's why he was so happy that it was his day off. Today, on the advice of a co worker, he was headed to the local Christian book store. There was a book he wanted that would not only explain his life but also solidify his Christianity. So off he went, finishing his breakfast while running out the door. All his muddled thoughts went, as usual, unanswered and unfinished. The drive to the bookstore was no different, with thought after thought going in and out as he switched radio stations ten times in a half mile drive. As Tim pulled into the parking lot it was no different. Even finding a parking spot seemed to be a monumental task, but still paled in comparison to the task at hand. Tim approached the counter feeling more self conscience than ever, but he would not be denied. "I'm looking for a book titled, 'God made me this way', do you carry it?" Despite his obviously disgusted look, the clerk responded, "aisle thirteen, bottom shelf" asking for a book on homosexuality, albeit a Christian book, was a big step for Tim, especially in a Christian bookstore where he knew he would not be received well. However, a book about how God accepts him just the way he is was just what he needed. As he followed aisle thirteen he returned to his insecure feeling as he noticed it ended at the back door, by the rest rooms, and the dumping ground for the clearance and unwanted merchandise. "It figures" he thought. "Where else would they put it?" The bookstore was meticulous, except for aisle thirteen. disorganized and unkempt. which is just how he felt most of the time. It's not that he doubted his friends or pastor Matthews, it was all the Christians who shunned him or showed him passages in the bible that told him homosexuality was bad, and how God hated him for practicing it. "But then why would God make me this way?" Tim would say. And then, there it was, his book simply titled, " God made me this way" Bringing the book to the register was more uncomfortable than asking where it was located in the first place. The look from the clerk showed his disgust. Not all Christians were full of the love that Tim had been taught at sacred palm. Tim hoped that with this book, he could gain the acceptance that he had always looked for, and he couldn't wait to read it. Like Thyatira of the first century, sin would always be o.k. Because, as they thought, God loved all and forgave all.

96 A.D. Island of Patmos. As John wrote to the church at Sardis, he confirmed his belief that a good reputation was not enough to earn salvation. While saving grace was a free gift not based on works, still, this church had a reputation of solid works and should be among the first in line for salvation and eternity with The Lord. However, as he wrote, he realized that their reputation was all that they had. They had earned their reward already. They had fallen short on all other counts and The Lord had desperately wanted their repentance before it was too late.

Chapter 4