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?

10 Reasons Why Christians Are “Bored with God”

Have you ever wondered why your faith doesn’t mean more to you than it does? Why so many professing believers appear to be no different than anyone else? Why a small group of elite Christians appear to really be “on fire” for Jesus? I mean, if God is so great, why aren’t of His own people more passionate and excited about Him?

Good questions.

I know a lot of people who think of themselves as “Christian”. So do you. But other than a few moral standards and the fact that they occasionally attend a church, there’s not a huge contrast between them and their non-christian counterparts. Deep down inside, their hearts are just as empty, their families just as dysfunctional, their lives equally without direction and meaning.

So why are these so-called “followers of Jesus so mediocre? Why so bland? So uninteresting? So B-O-R-I-N-G?

Though the list below isn’t exhaustive, here’s ten reasons for you to chew on:

1. While most Christians struggle with the challenges of life, many live defeated lives, never achieving the “more than conquerers” victory that’s supposed to be the normal experience of those who have been redeemed.

2. Many professing Christians simply stop growing, the process of sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is often short-circuited by sin, Satan or self. They end up as spiritual children living in adult bodies.

3. Many have never taken the time to really understand salvation – what took place at the cross, contemplating their dark, sinful condition and future outside of Christ, and bathing in the infinitely deep ocean of God’s grace and love. Understanding how and why God saved you is fuel for a very happy life.

4. They don’t know how great their Lord is. I mean, how could they? They rarely, if ever, crack open the Book God wrote to reveal Himself to them. Ignorance of the mind-blowing truths in Scripture concerning who God is and how amazing His attributes are is a guaranteed one-way ticket to Bland Land. True theology is never, ever boring, but rather it infuses our hearts with awe and wonder, producing pure, explosive heart-worship.

5. We like comfort. Living for Jesus is hard, and most don’t have the lungs for the long, uphill race. So we rest comfortably by the snack table, occasionally admiring those who jog by on their way to maturity.

6. We refuse to exercise faith in the daily challenges of life, and almost never branch out and trust God for something truly supernatural, especially if it might cost us a bundle. We run from sacrifice and suffering. Fear rules our decisions. Not faith. Safety and security becomes our style, influencing everything from friends to finances. And that makes GOD yawn…and grieve. 

7. We love the idea that God is Love, but fail to grow past that one, sentimental attribute. Godly discernment, on the other hand, may lead us to actions that others may interpret as unloving. So we continue enabling people in their immaturity and sin – and do it all in the name of love. But in reality, hidden behind this “love” is simply a weak and impotent heart. Boring.

8. We ignore the direct application of God’s Infinitely-Wise Word where it really matters – on the job, at home, in our marriage and in our parenting. And we wonder why we’re so screwed up. We trust in ourselves because having faith seems to complicated and intangible. We settle for “what works” – expediency, pragmatism and peace. And when we do look for advice and counsel, it’s usually from sone just as messed up as we are. Logical?

9. The average Christian only checks into church 2x a month, way too little for it to ever have any real, life-changing impact on their lives. Truth is, there is always a “good reason” to prioritize something else over gathering with your spiritual family – sleep, work, friends, fun, movies, sports on TV, etc.

10. We want God to entertain us. Could we really be honest enough to admit that? We prefer that He act like we want Him to and at the time of our choosing. And when He consistently fails to deliver, we become bored with His “ways”.

But what if…WHAT IF…you resolved to reverse the above trends in the only life that really matters – YOURS?

A boring christian doesn’t necessarily mean that his/her God is boring. But it sure does scream that to the world. 

From where I sit, there appears to be 2 options available:

A. Change your God.

B. Change your understanding of Him and your devotion to Jesus.

So, what’s your plan to change your Christian boredom factor?

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. 

house-built-on-sand

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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).

1363044720_29111024

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?

7 Ways to Know You’re in the Right Church

 People often share with me their struggle to find the right church for them. Typically, these people are either unchurched or “formerly” churched, meaning they bailed on the idea years ago. Their reasons are varied, but include:

A) It was intellectually/spiritually uninteresting. “The pastor simply couldn’t hold my attention.”

B) It was shallow. “I got sick of ‘How To’ sermons and messages to make me feel good.”

C) It was too impersonal. “I got lost in the crowd and felt like cattle shuffling into the pen each week.”

D) It was too “entertaining”. “If I wanted a concert venue, I’d go see a real band perform. Plus, the pastor tries too hard to be funny and ‘hip’.”

E) It was small, but nobody there my age. “I had trouble connecting, and the people weren’t that friendly.” 

E) “I hate mornings. Period.”

mega-church-bus-from-sacred-sandwich

There are other reasons, of course. But those are some of the biggies I hear. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I left because those people were just too loving. They cared about me personally. The messages were just so biblical and relevant to my life, I had to leave!” 🙂

So what’s a person to do? Should you give up on church altogether? Just sit at home and worship God for 5 minutes and then go walk the dog? Keep in mind, there are no perfect churches, because after all, it’s just people coming together, right? It’s also not about how BIG or SMALL a church is. You can find community in a big church and you can stand in the corner alone and be ignored in a small church. That said, I understand the dilemma. But I still think its worth the long search. My wife and I attended a church while in grad school that gave us a chance to serve, but the pastor (though a great guy) was a sleeping pill in the pulpit. We weighed the options, and since it was temporary, stayed there. Another church we attended for a year had awesome preaching but was a bit too liturgical for my spiritual taste buds. They did the same ritual every week. But it was good for us at the time.

confused-girl“So what’s a girl like me to do?”

Obviously you don’t want to become a serial “church hopper”, either due to your inability to commit or your eternal search for that perfect place of worship. So here are a few things to think about. Seven ways you can know you’ve found the right church for you.

1. You gladly lay aside other (good) priorities and fun pursuits to faithfully be there each week.

2. You call them ‘family’ because that’s exactly what it feels like to you. You find yourself not “going to church” anymore but rather coming together with other believers out of a real need to do so.

3. You are excited and motivated to tell your friends (who need a church) about yours.

4. You look for ways to uniquely serve others in that body with your gifts and personality (doesn’t have to be in an official “ministry”, either).

5. You don’t think twice about regularly sacrificing a portion of the finances God has blessed you with, so that the work there can survive and thrive.

6. The “church service” truly enlightens, deepens and challenges you in your relationship with Christ.

7. You are confident that Jesus and His Word are honored above all else (programs, ministries, presentation, music, pastor, etc)

If you identify with these 7 things, then there’s a really good chance you’ve found your church home. If not, then keep looking. You’re in the wrong church. There’s a group of people out there who need you! There is a church for YOU! If you find yourself in a search right now, go beyond just “visiting” a church this Sunday. Stick around for a while to get the full effect. Give it time. Come back a few weeks.

Keep seeking God and go find your spiritual family this week!

How to Take Criticism

  Anytime you write a book that gets national attention, people contact you. Sometimes those who’ve read the book and are impacted by it send you an encouraging note or even a small gift. A very nice cattle rancher from New Mexico sent me a CD he’s recorded. He’s a cowboy singer and had a song about the Flood. I appreciated his kind gesture and music. Another man sent me a copy of a book he had written and self-published. I really enjoy feedback from my work. It’s nice to know that what I do with my life makes a difference in people’s lives.

  Then there are those who write me with not so nice things to say. One man wrote to inform me that I had no idea who Jesus was and that he hoped me and my “followers” would burn in hell (but what do you really think!). He hadn’t actually read the book, but rather stumbled on an online article/interview. I usually don’t respond to hate mail, but this guy needed some special love, so I wrote him back, and included an excerpt from AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH that contradicted what he thought was true about God’s truth (and me).

crit_crop380w

  There are also religious people who occasionally write to me or post comments on my Official Facebook Page. Sometimes they just want to point out what they see as a minor “mistake” in the book, but a few have taken the opportunity to let me know how wrong I am about the end times and Jesus coming back. Some have quirky views about the last days, and of course, theirs is the only “correct” interpretation. While I acknowledge in my book that there are other viewpoints held by sincere believers, mine didn’t come to me just because it made me “feel good”. A few of these guys try and hair me into the boxing ring to debate minutia about the end times. Again, most of these guys haven’t actually read the book, but rather collect their info from sound bytes or online articles. But either way, I’m not interested, nor do I have the time to waste, arguing with all the Post-tribulationists or A-millenialists out there. It’s not my job to correct the world.

  But this doesn’t mean I don’t ever need correcting, or even an occasional rebuke. In fact, I received one last week that I’ll share with you. BTW, raw, anonymous criticism is generally useless, and you should file it in the “water off a duck’s back” category. The internet is crawling of mean-spirited trolls who get some kind of self-righteous buzz from drive-by verbal stonings. It’s the nature of the internet, and you shouldn’t get drown into it (maybe that’s why they call it the worldwide “web”) It’s just verbal noise pollution. So ignore. On the other hand, you constructive criticism is beneficial if it comes from those who genuinely know you and care about you.

  Case in point: I have a friend in another state. He’s a businessman who is a dedicated Christian. He loves Jesus. He’s also a smart guy. I also like him. We laugh a lot together. The other day he said something to me that moved me (and rebuked me). The conversation went something like this:

Him: Hey Jeff, can I give you some constructive advice?

Me: Sure, fire away.

Him: As I’ve watched you and gotten to know you, I’ve come to believe that God has placed you as a very special spokesman for this generation. You are God’s man for the hour, and He is using you greatly. But your problem is that you need to embrace that. You are just too self-deprecating and overly humble. I think you need to accept God’s big role for you, and move forward with more confidence and faith. Stop asking God for merely the little things or the “next step”. He’s a big God who is honored when we launch out and ask for huge things in His Name. Things that are “God-sized”. So quit with the “golly-gee, I’m so humble” routine and step up to the throne in confidence.

Me: (Silence)

Those are precisely the kinds of things you need somebody ELSE to say to you. And his words struck a chord in my heart (they also stung a bit! – see Proverbs 27:6). But he was right. I do think about myself too much, and in the wrong way. Humility doesn’t mean you’re unimportant. It just means seeing yourself as God does, and submitting to Him. I needed to be reminded that when I ask big, it’s not really for me (though I do benefit, and there’s nothing wrong with that). So I took his words to heart. It was “iron sharpening iron”.

Me: Thanks, brother. I needed someone to say that.

After our conversation, I immediately sat down to write out some goals – big things on my heart I desired God to do for His glory and my good. I ask for “Noah” to break into the Top 100 Best Selling Books in America, and it happened. I ask for the book to reach the #1 Best Sellers spot in Prophecy, and it did. I wrote down that I wanted to appear on a certain show with a massive viewing audience, and within the hour my phone rang. It was that show’s producer calling to ask me to be on the show!

God’s not showcased by lame prayer requests. He wants to do stuff in our lives that display His power and glory

I still struggle a bit with “self-promotion”. But I’m getting better, thanks to a gentle rebuke and someone who believed in me and really wanted to help.

What Can Prophecy Do for Me?

Someone has said, “Knowledge is power”, and when it comes to studying prophecy, most assuredly so. Knowing about prophecy as revealed in Scripture enables your mind to engage “history in advance”. This influences your thinking, which affects your decisions and emotions. As you become more familiar with what God says is going to take place on planet Earth, you’re equipped and able to move forward just like Noah, realizing your purpose and fulfilling your destiny! So what does knowing about prophecy do for you? Here are 15 benefits to get you started!

  1. Helps you understand the times in which you live (I Chron. 12:32;
  2. Calms your fears about the future (Matt. 28:20; John 14:1-3, 27)
  3. Gives you confidence, courage and comfort in the present (I Thess 4:13-18; John 16:33)
  4. Increases your faith in God who’s in control of earth’s story (Isaiah 40:12-26; Psalm 115:3; Daniel 4:35)
  5. Helps you see the relevance of your Bible to life, both for now and the future (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
  6. Builds expectancy and anticipation for what is to come (Rev. 22:10; Matt. 6:10)
  7. Gives you positive hope in a hopeless world, rescuing you from despair (Titus 2:13-15)
  8. Keeps you centered in an age of doctrinal error, heresy and apostacy (1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1-17)
  9. Blesses you as you listen and obey Scripture’s prophetic words (Rev 1:3)
  10. Motivates you to be urgent about your mission here on earth, not wasting your time on worthless pursuits (Eph. 5:15-16)
  11. Fuels the fire of your desire to see others know Jesus (2 Cor. 5:10-13; 6:2)
  12. Gives you perspective on the temporary nature of suffering (John 16:1,4; Rom 8:18)
  13. Helps you prioritize spiritual things over physical things, living wisely (Psalm 90:10-12)
  14. Purifies your life as you prepare yourself as Christ’s Bride (I John 3:2-3)
  15. Helps you know what to expect as you live for God in an increasingly hostile world (John 15:18-23)

When asked by His disciples, “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”, Jesus spoke directly to them,  prophesying many of the events found in the book of Revelation (Matt 24:1-39). Then He took their minds back to another ancient prophecy regarding the days of Noah. For them (and us) understanding the past is key to making sense of the future and navigating the present.

I encourage you to reject the passivity that prevents many Christians from living with confidence, direction and hope by engaging in what God says about your future!

To get you started, I’d like to offer you a Free Sample Chapter Download of As It Was in the Days of Noah.

To purchase the entire book for yourself go to Amazon.com or your favorite local or online retailer.

Saving Noah

Poor Noah.

 Nobody seems to be able to get his story right

For decades he’s been imprisoned by Churches in preschool rooms, caricatured and confined to children’s ministry murals. I’m sure this great man of faith would be shocked to learn that his life’s work had been reduced to a cartoon theme about smiling animals.

We’re talking about a man who announced a message of repentance, judgment and salvation for the entire earth. God’s champion of earth’s “last days”.

And now, finally, a big movie about Noah has been released. The biggest yet, as in 130 million dollars big.

hr_Noah_6-1

Confession time: I am a HUGE Russell Crowe fan, and I love Anthony Hopkin’s acting. I’m also a movie guy. I’ve been looking forward to this one for some time.

The story of Noah is one of the most epic tales in all of human history, demanding that any movie made about him also be equally epic.

So would somebody please explain to me how then can you make a movie this flat, given the amazing source material available?

It seems you would have to intentionally try hard to mess this one up.

In a related story, I am also not a huge art connoisseur, though I have enjoyed repeated trips to London’s National Gallery. Recently I returned from the Louvre in Paris. There, I gazed at ancient artistic portrayals and interpretations of scenes like the crucifixion of Jesus. And though there was a certain level of creativity and artistic license taken, I could still appreciate the effort of the painter to portray the spirit of the event he was painting. After all, art does stimulate the imagination.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if Daren Aronofsky (NOAH’s director) even tried to be artistic. And that makes me sad. Instead, he just made stuff up, as in unbelievable stuff that gutted this movie of its inherent credibility. While watching, I really tried to connect with the Noah character and the story line, but instead found myself rooting for everyone else! Noah wasn’t the faith hero the Bible portrays him to be in Hebrews 11. Nothing like you have imagined him. This Noah is pictured as a troubled soul who never really figures out the real reason for the Ark (other than saving innocent animals, obviously not affected by the fall of man and entrance of sin into the world). Again, the credibility factor was virtually nil. Because of this, I don’t expect any person, Christian or otherwise, to walk away mislead about the biblical story. It’s so unbiblical as to make it unbelievable, even in it’s errors.  

Now I definitely think non-Christians can make biblically based movies and do a great job.  That’s not an issue with me. Nor does it bother me that they have to fill in the blanks where the Bible is silent. Literally every “Bible Movie” does this, but the average viewer doesn’t mind or notice because of the allegiance and similarity to the main story. That’s necessary in adapting a book or story into movie. I get it. I have a high tolerance for adaptations of book-to-film projects, even biblical movies.

But giant rock demons? (Imagine the Ents from LOTR meet the Fantastic Four’s the Thing) Middle Earth, yes. But no matter how you slice it, fallen angels becoming big brothers to Noah to help him build the Ark? I don’t think so.

This movie’s portrayal of man’s sin seemed to be directed at what humanity had done to the planet, not so much to one another. While on the Ark, Aronofsky’s Noah turns into a psycho wannabe killer of babies. He’s a man unsure of who he is and confused as to God’s basic mission for him. Where they conjured up this portrayal I’ll never know. It’s almost as bad as what Churches have done to him over in the kid’s ministry. The writer and scholars Aronofsky consulted may have been inhaling that magic herb potion Noah used to put the animals to sleep for a year.

 I’m not a movie critic, just an average moviegoer with an opinion, but I don’t see this as one of Russell Crowe’s better roles (insert unsmiley face here). It may be that Aronofsky truly is a brilliant director but that action/history epics are not his forte. I’ll let others ultimately make that judgment.

I’m not upset, angry or going into “boycott mode”.

I’m just really, really disappointed. I wanted to cheer NOAH on. To be an advocate. I wanted it to be EPIC. To be a home run. Instead, it struck out.

There are literally too many places to mention where the movie missed the mark – biblically, historically, chronologically and theologically. It wasn’t even a good movie.

Ticket

So what can we redeem from this movie? Here are a few things I appreciated about it:

It did get Noah’s name right.

The movie trailer is really awesome.

People were bad on the earth as the Bible states.

Noah thought himself a sinner (so much so that it clouded all perception of mercy).

There was a global flood.

Noah built an Ark.

People were destroyed.

A dove brought an olive branch.

There was a rainbow at the end.

Cinematically-speaking, I thought the actual flood part was pretty spot on, with tsunami-like violence (as it must have been with subterranean explosions of water everywhere). I thought the crudeness of the Ark’s construction was visually stimulating as well.

So what are we to make of all this? Does this give us more ammo to demonize Hollywood? More reasons to be skeptical, negative and critical of those who attempt to bring faith-based stories to the big screen. I hope not. Even in the midst of overall failure, I still believe in a God who allows no accidents.

While being interviewed on a radio show this week, this thought popped into my head and I remarked, “Noah’s story is one Jesus related to the last days of planet earth. Curiously, at no time in human history since Noah’s day has it been possible for his message of coming global judgment to be broadcast to the whole world . . . until now.”

Though not epic, the timing of this movie may not be a coincidence after all. Despite being a pretty lame movie, I still don’t believe its lack of biblical accuracy is a threat to our faith. Instead, it’s more of a gift, really.

 Should believers go see this movie? Probably, if for no other reason than to draw your own conclusions.

Some Christian reviewers and bloggers have said that it’s pointless to even use NOAH as a conversation piece to start discussions about God, the Bible or the real story of Noah. I disagree. I believe that a part of engaging our culture (as Jesus and Paul did) is discerning the times with an understanding of what to do (I Chron. 12:32). It’s always easier to be negative. Anyone can do that.

On a positive note, the movie NOAH does portray the Creator as a God who judges an evil world, while rescuing his chosen ones from the wrath to come. And that’s real truth we can take and run with.

So back to our original dilemma. Who will free Noah from nursery walls and sub-par movie portrayals? Who will tell the world the truth?

Will the rocks cry out? Or will it be you?

 

For more about the real Noah and how his generation relates to ours, pick up a copy of As It Was in the Days of Noah – Warnings from Prophecy about the Coming Global Storm.

Or better yet, blow the dust off your Bible and read it for yourself.

That story really is EPIC.