5 Things Christians Should Know About ISIS – Part 2

The full text of my first post addressing this horrible, pre-apocalyptic crisis can be found HERE.

In summary, here is a biblical explanation of why there are people like this and why it is happening now.

1. There have a “seared conscience”.

2. They have no restraining Spirit influence.

3. They have been abandoned by God.

4.  They Are Storing Up Wrath for Themselves – Paul also writes that those who blatantly reject God’s grace are “storing up wrath for the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5) because of their “stubbornness and unrepentant heart”. If there are degrees of rewards in Heaven, it stands to reason there are degrees of punishment in Hell (Matthew 10:15, 11:21-24; Luke 12:42-48). How ironic that those who commit such heinous crimes against humanity are actually increasing their own punishment in the afterlife. And the horror of horrors for these radical Muslims is that the Judge sending them to this Hell will be the Jewish Messiah!

5. They Are Helping Pave the Road to Revelation – In recent history, Bible scholars have struggled with Revelation, largely due to the fact that so many scenes and events in that prophetic book are bizarre and difficult to imagine. But with modern technology, the reemergence of Israel as a nation and a growing one world government (just to name a few contributing factors), a portrait of the end times is much more in focus now than it even has been. But one verse particularly stands out. Revelation 20:4 speaks of “those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God”. I believe the activity referred to here takes place during the Tribulation period. These Christian martyrs will literally have their heads taken off (the Greek word for “beheaded” only appears in this verse and means to “hew or cut with an axe”). I find it interesting that the chosen method of killing believers in the Tribulation parallels that of first century Rome. But what is even more amazing is that this method of execution is making a comeback right now through radical Islam. This brutal method of chopping and sawing off the heads of Christians has laid dormant for 2,000 years, but is enjoying a growing resurgence in the last days.

ISIS, though clearly an indication of an unholy marriage of demonic activity and the total depravity of man, is evidence of Satan overplaying his hand once again. Having chosen to use more deceptive means to accomplish his purposes in the past, he is now unmasking himself and coming out of the shadows through this barbaric behavior. This terrorist group isn’t technically a biblical sign of the end times, but it is an indication that the kind of evil prophesied to thrive in the last days is already upon us.

 One more thing: Believers can expect this type of activity to get worse as we continue ramping up to Revelation. 

So how does a Christian respond to all this? Should we panic? Cower in fear? Run and hide? What does the Bible say? How can you live a courageous and victorious spiritual life in times like these? And is there any hope? 

Interested in knowing more about the age we live in, and how it relates to the end times? In my book, As It Was in the Days of Noah, I uncover several additional striking similarities between Noah’s generation, the end times and our day. Plus, discover what God would have His church do in the meantime. 

AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH is available at Barnes&Noble as well as Amazon, or anywhere books are sold.

5 Things Christians Should Know About ISIS – Part 1

The shocking, ongoing murders and beheadings of women, children, Christians and American citizens by the Islamic terrorist group ISIS has captured the headlines in recent days. World leaders have condemned such grizzly acts, but it remains to be seen what will actually be done about it. Meanwhile, decent humans across the globe are outraged that such barbarism could be committed by so many. They can’t believe this depth of pure evil could be perpetrated, and in the name of religion. Everybody is shocked and stunned.

Everybody except Jesus Christ.

When asked about the sign of His coming, Jesus told His disciples that prior to His return, earth would resemble the “days of Noah” (Mathew 24:37). As we rewind to Genesis 6, we get a clearer picture of what He was referring to. Fast-forwarding to Revelation 5-19, we see it again. One of the marks of Noah’s generation was a rampant spirit of violence throughout the earth (Genesis 6:11-13). This brutality and violence is one specific reason God cited for unleashing global judgment on mankind.

What we see happening with ISIS is a replica of that same spirit of violence. But have you pause to wonder “why”? Haven’t you asked yourself how thousands of human being could ever be so evil? Fortunately, the Bible shed light on this situation. Here are 5 reasons why people could act like this:

  1. They Have a “Seared Conscience” (I Timothy 4:2) Paul wrote that it’s entirely possible for human beings to reach a point in their sin where it literally doesn’t bother them to commit evil. There is no guilt. None. No remorse. In fact, they celebrate and rejoice in it! Sin dulls their sense of right and wrong so deeply they are totally numb to morality. There is a complete inversion of what is right and wrong (Isaiah 5:20). The devaluing of human life becomes a natural next step. This same type of barbarism happens over 125,000 times a day in abortion clinics all across the world.
  1. They Have No Spirit Influence – One of the telltale signs of the very last days is the removal of the “Restrainer” (2 Timothy 2:6-7). Pauls says that the Antichrist will not be revealed until “he who restrains … is taken out of the way.” I believe this “Restrainer” is the Holy Spirit living in believers (the Church). Once the Rapture occurs, there will be nothing to hold back evil from exploding all over the earth. But even now, Paul says, this “mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Timothy 2:7). In a land like Iraq where Christian influence is all but extinct, and where a controlling, wicked religious group is possessed by a spirit bent on bloodshed, it is no surprise that these activities are occurring. When the Church loses it’s influence in holding back sin in a society or culture, that’s a sign things are about to get really bad.
  1. They Have Been Abandoned by God – Romans 1 outlines the process by which God abandons humans and humankind. After rejecting the revealed truth about Him through creation and conscience, men create substitute gods and pursuits. Immorality becomes inevitable and even encouraged. Finally, God’s patience comes to an end and He declares, “Enough is enough”. At this point, He literally and judicially delivers them over to a “depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28-29). One of those “things” is that they are “full of murder”. There is no God among these people. You might wonder, “But could an ISIS member be saved? Perhaps like the Apostle Paul, who murdered Christians prior to his conversion?” Yes, is it possible with God. But probable? I don’t think so.All indications are that these men are reprobates, and have disqualified themselves from salvation by rejecting God’s grace (Galatians 5:4).

Check here for the final two reasons these atrocities are happening. For more on the last days, get a copy of As It Was in the Days of Noah.

Hey Jesus, Why Noah?

Sitting on a hillside outside Jerusalem a day or so before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus Christ answers His disciples’ questions about the last days and His return to planet earth.

But of all the analogies the Lord could choose from to describe the last days, why does He land on Noah and the Flood? What’s the parallel here?

One reason is because Noah lived in the “end times” of his own world and generation. Second, Noah’s life and work were a prelude, leading to global judgment. Third, there were numerous, observable prophecies made in Noah’s time and in the generations leading up to the Flood. And finally, the condition of mankind in Noah’s day best illustrates what life will be like as we approach Christ’s return.

Specifically, Jesus says, like in Noah’s day, people in the end times will be going about their lives, doing “business as usual,” just doing the things they ordinarily do. They’ll be living for themselves, without giving God a passing thought. Those in Noah’s day had chosen to ignore and reject God’s message. Likewise, His future judgment will come when unbelievers least expect it. The Flood, judgment, eternity…none of this was on their radar.

Jesus also described additional direct parallels between Noah’s day and the last days. For more on how much our current world resembles those generations, dive into AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH at your local Barnes&Noble, or whoever books are sold.

Getting Stronger

Last Saturday, I made some repairs to the stone wall that lines part of our backyard. I’d recently been observing (actually creeping by) a stonemason who’d been upgrading a wall in my neighborhood, thinking to myself,  “Hey, if he can do that, then so can I!” So after doing a bit of research, I gathered my materials together and bought a bag of masonry cement. Saturday rolled around, and eager to get on with my project, I hoisted the 80-lb. bag of rock dust to the back yard to prepare the mix and get after the repairs.

What I did not anticipate, however, was the sheer weight and awkwardness of lifting that bag while in a bent over position. The result, though not immediately noticeable, was several days of back strain and pain, made more tolerable by my pal, Mr. Ibuprofen and 3 of his siblings. Sure, 80-lbs. may not seem like that much, but lift it the wrong way and you’ll quickly discover how brutal such an exercise can be. Truth be known, I have a weak back to begin with. In college (among many other foolish decisions I made), one Friday afternoon I jumped out of a fraternity house second-floor window and landed in a pile of sand (Don’t ask why I did it. It was supposed to be a joke). Upon my encounter with the sand, I discovered the joke was on me as my back was bent into an inhuman position. Let’s just say my chest and knees came together with extreme pressure.

 I stayed in that position for 3 days.

 Alone in my college apartment while all my friends were away (including my roommates and girlfriend), I languished in bed all weekend, unable to walk, eat or find any pain medication. There was no food in the fridge and the cupboards were bone dry (college life!). This was also in the days of no cell phones (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), so if someone wasn’t at home, it meant you couldn’t contact them (imagine that!). In my  72-hour delirium, I do recall crawling to the bathroom once. That wasn’t much fun.

 Upon my girlfriend’s return to campus, she found me in bed, emaciated, in the fetal position, and not smelling too fresh. After feeding me from my favorite burger joint, she got me some medication and a heating pad. Miraculously, in a few days, I no longer walked around like a elderly chimpanzee.

 All that to say, this is one big reason why I have such a weak back.

 Weak muscles can’t bear much weight or lift heavy things. Strong muscles can.

Weakling

 I think faith is as much like a muscle as anything. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. The stronger it becomes, the more weight you can bear and lift.

Some believers have weak faith. They have trouble trusting God for the smallest things. And when the big weight of life lands on them (as it often does), they crumble under the pressure. Some of these people are weak because they are afraid to really let go and give God everything…everything about themselves and their lives (family, career, future, finances, emotions, etc). They are living in disobedience and their spiritual growth is hindered. They are like adults who still suck on pacifiers and throw tantrums. They are miserable people.

Others are weak because they are simply young in their faith and haven’t developed strong muscles yet. Some are plagued by reoccurring sins or areas of immaturity. But in time, they’ll be ok, as long as they keep growing and trusting.

Some Christians are weak because they subconsciously convince themselves they can do life without other believers. These people are very deceived and secretly full of pride. They haven’t realized yet that one great source of muscle-building is being in community with fellow weight-bearers (see Gal. 6:1-3). They haven’t yet learned how important it is to be taught the Word of God in the context of their spiritual family. These people do not have a bright future, spiritually-speaking. That’s one reason why their marriages fail and their families disintegrate. It’s why they can never seem to make progress in their lives. Doing it alone, they sadly have no idea how great life could be if they let God work His mighty strength through them and through His body. They don’t know that even in their weakness, they could experience strength (2 Cor. 12:9) Instead, they get “stuck”, bogged down in a life where their biggest goal is merely to survive and “get by”.

Paul-Anderson

Living here on Planet Earth can be carefree at times. It can also be heavy and burdensome. But whatever life sets before you – light or heavy – He wants you to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph 6:10). Practicing that daily choice to trust Him won’t always be easy, but it is within your reach.

Even right now.

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?

Is America in Bible Prophecy?

Those who dare to think, and to dip their toes in the river of prophecy eventually end up scratching their heads and muse, “I wonder where the United States is in the end times? Are we even mentioned in the book of Revelation? Why don’t we hear more about America when prophecy is taught?”

Those are natural questions to ask, given that our country is one of the world’s largest superpowers and (at least in the past) has enjoyed economic prosperity among developed first world nations. But if we are so big and powerful, why wouldn’t John’s apocalyptic vision mention us? There are several possible reasons, some more plausible than others. Here are a few theories that some Bible teachers, authors, and prophecy scholars have proposed

1. America didn’t exist in the first century, therefore not a known world to John, and he would have no reason to mention it.

2. America is no longer a superpower or “player” on the world stage in the last days.

3. Related to #2, given the fact that the United States is currently teetering on the brink of a financial meltdown due to unwise leadership, out of control spending and plunging us deep in debt to China (to the tune of some 14 trillion!), we may indeed implode in an economic meltdown from which there is nor recovery. This would make the Great Depression look like a trip to Disneyworld by comparison. In this scenario, The USA would possibly be on life support from a conglomeration of European nations. “America the great” would be no more.

4. Some have postulated that Russia will launch a nuclear attack on The U.S. as a preemptive strike to get us out of the way before it attacks Israel.

5. There are other theories as well, but perhaps the most biblically plausible is that Jesus Christ will return to snatch away His Bride (genuine disciples) before a seven year season of catastrophic judgments are released on planet Earth. Imagine the chaos and calamity that would follow as tens of millions suddenly disappear from our country. Think of the mortgages that would go unpaid, the collapse of banks, people who are in leadership and public positions are gone, heads of companies and corporations vanish, entire families are missing (or perhaps only certain family members), widespread panic fills the streets of literally every city in the country, birthing an epidemic of looting, violence with perhaps many thousands taking their own lives out of desperation.

America crumbles. Martial Law is enacted and new governmental regulations are passed in an attempt to restore civility. Terror and uncertainty fill the hearts of those who remain. Grocery stores have no food. Suppliers have no way to meet the demand. Phone service is inoperable and internet servers crash due to traffic. Highways are clogged as terror-filled travelers scurry to locate loved ones. Inflation skyrockets prices of food and provisions. It becomes a survival of the fittest. And man’s sin nature is unleashed – violent crime and unrestrained immorality exponentially increase. Religious leaders are left to concoct yet another unbiblical theory why this is happening.

Atheists become extinct as even the most hardhearted fool now needs someone to blame for their ruined lives. They finally concede and admit what creation, conscience and Christians had been telling them all their lives: God exists. And worse, He’s the Christian God.

But amazingly, instead of repenting of their sin, they furiously shake their fists at Him, cursing His name (Revelation 9:20; 16:11).

Could this scenario really happen? And if so what’s preventing all this from occurring?

I believe the true church (those individuals who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit – not necessarily organized churches) is what currently restrains immorality and holds back a global tsunami of evil (2 Thess 2:6-7). Once the Rapture occurs, the Holy Spirit will effectively remove Himself and His restraining influence through believers. 

Literally, all hell will break loose.

So how close are we to all this? Are there any biblical or cultural clues? What hope is there for us right now? Is there any good news? And what should I be doing in the meantime?

Interested in knowing more. Click HERE to get your copy of As It Was in the Days of Noah today.

 

What’s Your Faith Made of?

Christians talk a lot about faith. A lot. But have you ever stopped to consider what your faith actually is? Ever wondered what your faith is really made of? In other words, if you were to dissect your personal faith, what would you find? And when your time here is over, what will others discover when they eulogize your life, specifically as it relates to your faith?

Some people’s faith is more sentimental than solid. The enjoy the romantic ideal of “having great faith”, of being thought of as a “good Christian”. But just like the transition from courtship to marriage, they quickly realize it’s not all that fun at times. Reality sets in, and they find out that real “love” goes way beyond that nice feeling you get when you’re with your love interest or spouse. Love means processing wounded relationships, giving even when the other person doesn’t and demonstrating forgiveness even when it hurts. Love can be hard work.

Other people’s faith is sort of like a fireworks display – big, loud, impressive, but short-lived. I’ve known hundreds like this. They come on like a storm, and they talk big about what they’re going to do for Jesus. Like Peter, their mouths write checks that their faith (and life) can’t cash. “I’m not going to let my boss make me work on Sundays anymore.” “I’m only going to date people who are as committed to Jesus like I am.”  “You can count on me to be at church every week, Pastor!” 

Yawn.

Honestly, people like these bore me. And I can usually identify them before that promise to God is finished leaving their lips. I don’t doubt their sincerity. It’s just that those who don’t understand the nature of true faith in Jesus are blind to how empty such promises really are. It would be like me saying, “I’m going to RUN in a marathon.” Nice thought, Kinley, but you and me both know that’s not going to happen anytime soon…if ever. 

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These faith “professors” are the first to crumble under the slightest pressure. That’s because their faith is more facade than fact. And it’s built on emotion and good intentions, not founded on the Rock of Jesus Himself (Matthew 7:21-27).

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Their faith-boasts produce quick “fruit”, but it quickly withers in the blazing heart of the sun. It fails to take root because it was faulty from the start. And as James so eloquently put it, “Faith without works is dead (faith) – James 2:26. On the contrary, 

Real faith lasts.

Real faith perseveres through opposition.

Real faith pushes through times of confusion and drought.

Real faith triumphs over feelings.

Real faith does it’s talking with action, not mere words.

Real faith does whatever it takes, no matter what the cost or sacrifice.

Real faith isn’t pretty and neat, but bloody and messy.

Real faith believes when there seems to be no reason for it.

Real faith risks.

Real faith is daily.

Noah was a man with real faith. His deep trust and dependence on God was a rare jewel, and something we need more of today. Can you even imagine what would happen if we had more “Noah-like” faith in the church?

What about you? How’s your faith? What does it look like today? What’s it really made of?

For more on how to have a faith like Noah’s, dive into As It Was In the Days of Noah

Cactus Christians

Ever wonder what people think about you? Sure you do. But you tell yourself it doesn’t really matter, right? I mean, who cares what people think? We tell ourselves, “It only matters what GOD thinks about me,” simultaneously affirming ourselves with an emotional pat on the back. Usually when you say something like that to yourself, you’re thinking about people who don’t treat you right, or who have an unflattering opinion of you. Some people just “don’t get” you. Others are stupid and clueless. (I see you nodding in agreement) After all, if you let what others think of you sink in, you’ll be so busy trying to please everybody that you’ll never really know who you are. So, yes, what God thinks about you actually is the only opinion that ultimately matters. 

But the question is, “What does God think about you?”

The answer is not as simple as you might think. We’re programmed to proclaimed “God loves me unconditionally!” and rightly so, and then we move on our merry way. But God also has other thoughts about you. He loves you just the way you are. That will never change. But He also loves you too much to let you stay that way. He doesn’t jut think about the “You” you are today, but He is actively planning the “You” you’ll be in 5 years if you keep faithfully following Him. He thinks about you growing. Changing. Becoming. Being better than you are now. Stronger. More mature. That’s because He’s not finished making you yet.

na- construction stat- body

Bottom Line: He wants you to be like His Son, so much so that He has ordained it from eternity past! (Romans 8:29). In reality, God thinks lots of thoughts about you. For example, He wants you to show amazing, unusual, countercultural love to His children – your brothers and sisters in Christ (John 13:35). He says this is even more important than feeding the hungry, serving in the community or caring for an orphan (Galatians 6:10). It’s a matter of priority. We begin with the family and move out with love in concentric circles from there (Matthew 22:37-39).

Being a loving person first means knowing you are deeply loved. It means you His love in you overflows to other believers.

Is that what others think about you?

Some “Christians” I know just don’t give love. It’s not one of the tools in their toolbox. They’re rough and “prickly”.

Gimme a Hug

Others are so insecure, they insulate themselves, preventing anyone from really getting close to them.

Insulated

These people are also difficult to spiritually hug.

It makes me wonder if they have ever truly experienced God’s love.

So what does God think of you? If we could interview Him, would He say you’re becoming a loving person?

After all, you can’t give away what you don’t have, right?