Are You “Over the Rainbow”?

You’ve probably seen them. The cute little rainbow stickers on the back window of the car in front of you proclaiming “gay pride”. The idea is that many colors (i.e. sexual preferences and orientations) are all a part of big, beautiful collage of colors. But from where did this rainbow thing originate? Was it dreamed up by some graphic artist sympathetic to the homosexual community? As a matter of fact, yes! According to this website, the Rainbow Flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco artist, who created the flag in response to a local activist’s call for the need of a community symbol.  Each color represented a different tenet of gay rights (pink = sex, orange = healing, yellow = sun, a sort of new age approach to sexuality). The design has changed a few colors over the years, but remains essentially the same. Starbucks proudly flew an 800 sq. ft gay pride flag over its headquarters in Seattle. Silly us, we thought they were a coffee shop.

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The original gay pride rainbow flag.gaypride2-200x200Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 11.23.13 AM

Starbucks headquarters

According to the Bible, the original rainbow (along with the ones we see refracted in the sky today) were birthed, not from Gay Pride, but from God’s Promise. Following Noah’s Flood, which destroyed every violent and immoral person on the planet (estimated in the billions), God placed a first-ever rainbow in the sky, made possible by the rupturing of the water vapor canopy which previously filtered out the sun’s ultraviolet rays in the antediluvian earth (Genesis 1:7). God created the light and water particles that uniquely make up what we now know as the “rainbow”. But the reason He did it was to communicate something to all creation – that He would never flood the earth again by water. This is known as the “Noahic Covenant”.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; andnever again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”(Genesis 9:12-17)

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Gay people didn’t intentionally invent the rainbow flag as a snub to God and the Bible. Though they have embraced this symbol as their primary logo, I doubt seriously that Genesis 9 was even remotely a part of their original motivation.

Even so, we see a lot more homosexual rainbow symbols than scriptural ones. When’s the last time you saw a rainbow sticker on a back windshield with the phrase “Remember God’s Promise” emblazed across the bottom? Rainbows aren’t going away – either on flags, stickers OR in the sky. So maybe we should get over how people use (or misuse) them and get back to why God gave them to us in the first place.

Every rainbow that appears in the sky (you know, the one we Instagram and Pintrest to death) is meant to comfort, remind and warn all humanity.

Comfort – God will never flood the whole earth again to wipe out humanity.

Remind – God rescues the righteous prior to global judgment.

Warn – God is patient, but His wrath will eventually be unleashed on sin. Therefore, run to the Ark!

You can believe that the gay rainbow symbol is an innocent design or some subversive Satanic plot to undermine and replace God’s definition of the rainbow. But I believe we should go a step further. The God of the Bible invented colors and God made the rainbow. So, at least in your own mind, why not steal this symbol back and redeem it for Him, returning it’s meaning to the rightful Owner. Every time you see a rainbow, whether pasted on a windshield, waving in a gay rights parade or shining in the sky overhead, remind yourself about it’s original meaning. Thank God that His promises remain true, even thousands of years later.

And that the God who floods also forgives…

…you.

For more clarity about what the Bible says about homosexuality, forgiveness, love and the flood, check out As It Was in the Days of Noah.

For the most beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, here’s one of my favorite guitar players, Tommy Emmanuel.

 

Are You “Built to Last”?

I come from a legacy of carpenters. If there’s one thing my dad and older brother taught me, it was the skill of wielding a power tool. So when my sons came along, I naturally wanted to put that skill to use in building something special for them. I’ll never forget the day a lumber truck pulled up to our house, dumping a huge load of 2×6’s into our driveway. Staring at that stack of lumber, I remember thinking, “Now I’m committed. There’s nowhere to park the car, so I’d better get busy with building this thing!”

Coincidentally, my mom and dad were visiting from South Carolina at the time, so I had some extra expertise from dad in the initial stages of the project. Sawing, drilling, fitting, attaching, nailing, and some intense back pain were all a part of the next few Saturdays. At the time, my 3 sons were all under 5 years old, so foremost on my mind was constructing something that would be both safe and fun for years to come. 

By the time it was finished, the Kinley boys had a swing set (complete with a double-facing swing), cargo ladder, rope swing, playhouse/fort and sandbox. We would spend countless hours playing together out in the backyard, having fun and bonding together. Sometimes we caught them playing naked in the sandbox (hey, they’re boys!). And of course, we proudly flew a skull and crossbones pirate flag from the top. 

clayton 2Covered in cardboard for a Pirate B-Day Party.

That was 1993.

I loved that house, even though we only lived there 2 years. God called us to move out of state, and we left White Oak Lane (and the pirate fort playground) behind.

Then last year, one Saturday my wife and I were checking out some estate sales in our area and noticed there was one on White Oak Lane. Turns out it was our old house. Even though we had spent a relatively short time there, some concrete memories flooded my mind as I walked through the one story, ranch style home. The long hallway where I wrestled and played football with the boys. The front yard where early t-ball skills were honed. The sunken playroom where we wrestled and watched movies together. The tiny TV room where we religiously watched “Rescue 911” every Tuesday night after dinner. The corner of my bedroom where my oldest climbed into my lap one evening and asked me how to get a new heart to replace his sinful one. Those mental videos still play in my mind with vivid, ultra high resolution.

A lot of lasting memories were forged in a short time.

On a whim, I decided to check out the back yard to see what it looked like. Sadly, the previous owners had let the grass die, but to my surprise, the old wooden playground was still standing! 20 years later and looking weathered and worn from sun and neglect, it remained just as solid as it was back when 3 little Kinley boys climbed on it and swung like monkeys from its swings, ropes and rafters. I insisted on a picture to document my awesome building prowess.

Built to LastStill standing!

I didn’t know it at the time, but my sons would turn out to be 3 of the most awesome men I’ve ever known. Like the old treehouse fort, I think when you build something with quality, it tends to stand the test of time.

Noah built something, too. By faith. And his project would need to stand up against a fierce storm. It would have to last on the turbulent, open sea for over a year. A lot depended on the quality of its construction. It was built well.

And it lasted.

Are you building the kind of life, the kind of family, that is solid? Are you putting in the time? Are you doing the daily, important things necessary to ensure that what you’re constructing will endure through many storms. And are you doing it alone, or are you allowing your Father to give you what you need all along the way?

The Psalmist wrote, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1)

Together, I believe you and He can make something awesome. Today.

For more on how you can build a daily, solid lifestyle of faith, pick up a copy of As It Was in the Days of Noah HERE.

 

Getting the Most Out of Your Church

I didn’t grow up in church.

The better part of my childhood and adolescence was spent sleeping in on Sunday mornings. Up until my salvation, I was (what we now label) “unchurched”. But when I became a Christian, all that changed. I quickly went from “unchurched” to “uber-churched” in a heartbeat. As a 16-year old baby believer, I was up at the church several times a week – Sunday mornings, Sunday afternoons and nights, Wednesday nights, and even dropping by the church during the week just to see what was going on.

I was a church junkie.

I didnt’ set out to be one. It just kind of happened all by itself. I mean, I had this insatiable craving for truth, and the church had a butt-load of activities, meetings, programs and ministries to meet that hunger. On top of that, I (and the awesome 16-year old friend who had led me to Christ) started a Tuesday night Bible study for our Christian and non-Christian friends. That was in addition to the Wednesday morning 7am Bible study we attended at a crosstown youth pastor’s home, along with regular early morning prayer gatherings with Christian friends from my high school.

To be honest, I simply didn’t know any better. I thought every christian should be as involved and committed as I was. Looking back, all that activity actually served me well. I was SO hungry that no amount of gatherings or number of books could keep me full (I read over 50 books the first year after my salvation experience).

In college I was forced to be a bit more selective and strategic about my schedule. Classes and homework helped me focus on my purpose for being at college without neglecting my spiritual life. I cut down to two Bible studies a week and church on Sunday (sounds like someone trying to quit smoking!)

In grad school (seminary), I was in class 7-8 hours a say, then afterwards reading, studying and writing another 5 hours after dinner each night and working 3 jobs in the in-between time and the weekends. Church was limited to Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights (where Bev and I led a jr high Bible study in our home). This went on for 4 years.

For the next 17 years, I served as a pastor in two different church. Needless to say, I was very busy with “church”. Then Bev and I reached a point where we decided to walk away from all that “activity” so we could focus on what was really important in ministry. We left with zero regrets, knowing we had never placed church or ministry before our family and my commitment to our boys.

The church I now pastor meets one time a week.

One.

I know. Weird, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I do lead a men’s discipleship group on wednesday nights and and a long-distance Skype discipleship on Tuesdays. I am “busy”, but just with the really important things a guy like me should be doing. Philosophically, we believe the church shouldn’t gobble up your time like some Jabba the Hut monster. It’s never satisfied, but always wants more of you.

On the other hand, you really need to avoid being “that Christian” who shows up at church 1-2x a month, or only when it’s convenient for you. Sorry to break the news to you, but if that’s you, you’re stranded on the highway of growth, and you will go to your grave with many regrets.

So why not just instead make the time you do spend together (at church) meaningful and actually worth the investment of your time?

In other words, the church can be a means to a greater end for you. I told my men’s group this week to “use the church” and our study group as a tool to help them accomplish their life objectives. Instead of becoming a “church-slave”, turn the tables and use what the church offers to assist you in reaching your life goals of bringing honor to God by making disciples.

But doesn’t this feed into a “consumer” mentality? Not at all. Doing this better equips them to serve and give to those in the church and in the world.

This is the key to church NEVER becoming an obligation or a burden. After you’ve trimmed down to what’s really necessary and wise in terms of your involvement in your awesome church’s activities, programs and ministries, decide to PARTAKE of what you truly need SO THAT you can more effectively GROW and GIVE to others.

Make sense?

Sure, you may need some time to “detox”, but in the end doing this will save you from burnout and from becoming a “church junkie” It may also make your church a bit more attractive to your friends who need a spiritual family.

So, what’s in your toolbox?