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#PrayForOrlando

#PrayForOrlando#OrlandoShooting If you’re an alleged Christ-follower, and you don’t have sympathy for the folks gunned down in Orlando, something is fundamentally wrong with you. But if you think the people who were killed and wounded somehow deserved what they got...

God Before Me

I’m very grateful to be chosen as a guest writer for Patheos.com for the new movie Me Before You. The movie is a love story about a young couple – and the extraordinary challenges they face when things take an unexpected turn. What does it really mean to...
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Exclusive Interview with Dr. James Dobson – Did Donald Trump Recently Accept Christ?

– EXCLUSIVE –
INTERVIEW WITH DR. JAMES DOBSON
DID DONALD TRUMP RECENTLY ACCEPT CHRIST?

JUNE 29 UPDATE . . .

EXCLUSIVE: Q&A With Pastor Michael Anthony On Trump, Christianity, and Religious Freedom, The Daily Wire, released moments ago.

JUNE 27 UPDATE . . .

CNN LIVE: Michael was interviewed about his interview with Dr. James Dobson that went viral. Continue reading this blog for more commentary, and to listen to the actual audio interview that got the conversation started.

CNN LIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL ANTHONY ON WHETHER OR NOT HE BELIEVES DONALD TRUMPRECENTLY GAVE HIS LIFE TO CHRIST - AND WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN THE UNITED STATES AT THIS KEY TIME IN HISTORY.

CNN LIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL ANTHONY ON WHETHER OR NOT HE BELIEVES DONALD TRUMPRECENTLY GAVE HIS LIFE TO CHRIST – AND WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN THE UNITED STATES AT THIS KEY TIME IN HISTORY.

June 25 update (Original post below) . . .

It’s been a whirlwind day, with the news in this blog getting picked up by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, Charisma, The Blaze and literally dozens of other news outlets. The story was even a trending topic on Facebook – and sparked thousands of tweets. (You can read mine at @Godfactor. Catch me on Facebook at Facebook.com/Godfactor). Additionally, this blog post was viewed over 50,000 times today alone as a result of the report I provided within. Clearly, people are interested in this story. But what is the REAL story?

I’m thrilled about how widely the story is being spread – not because I care about clicks on this blog, but because I care about the message of this blog. And that message is this: Regardless of what somebody thinks about Donald Trump and whether he did or didn’t surrender his life to Christ, salvation is real and available to all. What excites me isn’t the political discussion, but the spiritual one — all across the country, people are talking about how Jesus saves. And Christians, I hope, are praying and repenting – as I urge at the end of this piece – not just for Trump but also for our nation. My prayer is that we would, as a church, embrace repentance and welcome revival to our land. Because it is urgently needed. (This is a key reason why the upcoming October 30 – November 6 National Week of Repentance is so vital, and why that is so heavily on my heart. Visit RevivalMatters.com to participate and spread the word).

If you have a moment, help keep the conversation going and share this blog – or one of the stories linked to above. Let’s flood the web and social media with the truth that all of us — from presidential candidates to ourselves – need not only to accept Jesus, but to worship and follow Him. If, after all the debate, we miss this important truth, we will have missed THE REAL STORY. That, would be tragic.

And, no, this is not an endorsement of Donald Trump or any political candidate. It is to bring the Bible to bear on a relevant topic for everyone, so we can all THINK, PRAY and live for Christ in a day when doing so is very much out of fashion . . . 

HERE IS THE ORIGINAL JUNE 24 POST AND INTERVIEW THAT’S GONE VIRAL . . .

I WAS AT TUESDAY’S HISTORIC “CONVERSATION WITH DONALD TRUMP AND BEN CARSON” at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway.  About 1,000 evangelical leaders attended this historic event. While there, I met Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk. I asked Dr. Dobson his views on the meeting and he shared some things that will not only blow your mind, but should also have you on your knees, praying for Mr. Trump and our country with a fresh perspective. Click here or below to listen to this “you heard it here first” interview.

MY THOUGHTS, WITH A CHALLENGE TO ALL CHRISTIANS, ARE BELOW . . .

Dr. James Dobson claims that Donald Trump recently gave his life to Jesus Christ as his Savior. If true, this could be a game-changer. in how you pray for Mr. Trump and the United States.

Dr. James Dobson claims that Donald Trump recently gave his life to Jesus Christ as his Savior. If true, this could be a game-changer. in how you pray for Mr. Trump and the United States.

I was also interviewed along by the American Family Association, here. My comments come at the end. Here it is:

And, Cortney O’Brien from Townhall.com interviewed me on my thoughts. You can read the interview here.

DONALD TRUMP, with Gov. Mike Huckabee serving as moderator for the historic

DONALD TRUMP, with Gov. Mike Huckabee serving as moderator for the historic “Conversation with Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson” on June 21, 2016 in New York, NY.

Here are my thoughts – whether Trump did or did not accept Christ – and what YOU should consider and do no matter what:

I remember when I accepted Christ, it took me two years to begin to understand what God did in me. Two years. My walk with Christ was more akin to a crock pot than a microwave. It is for many Christians. And then, even when we think we are walking with Christ we have blindsides. I think anyone who doesn’t realize this doesn’t really understand the depth of our sinfulness.

In regard to Trump, I think – if he really accepted Christ – that it is important to understand 1 Timothy 1:12-16:

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

Saul wasn’t at all like Christ when he began his journey. He spent 14 years in Arabia, so that God could get a hold of him before he began ministering as “Paul.” See Galatians 1. Often, we expect instantaneous change – complete and absolute change – in a person. When, in reality, God’s work is often gradual. It is often dramatic in some areas, and subtle in others. If Trump really gave his life to Christ, it is already changing – in ways that neither you nor I can see, but God sees. And, people closest to him, will see. It can take a long time to see a dramatic change in someone who has so dramatically missed it. But, in the end, haven’t we all, if we are really honest?

Check out Acts 9:26-27:

“When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.”

 

If God gets a hold of Trump, it won’t be the first time people didn’t believe it. It won’t be the first time that a terrible person who lived completely against Christ, came to know him. Saul, who became Paul, is a great example. I’m not saying Trump is a real believer. I don’t know. But if he is, there will eventually be fruit. In the meantime, it’s not surprising to see people be skeptical. They were with Saul/Paul until they could begin to see his change in behavior. If you are a Christian, pray for Trump. See 1 Timothy 2:1-5. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a command to do so for all who really know Christ. In fact, anyone who doesn’t believe they weren’t a terrible person, a sinner, before accepting Christ, doesn’t really understand the Gospel. One sin is all it takes to make one a sinner, in need of forgiveness.

Pray for Trump, whether he really accepted Christ or not. He needs it. Let’s not make excuses for him, but let’s also not belittle what God can do through a man.

America needs a bath. This is why the October 30 – November 6 National Week of Repentance is so vital – and YOU need to participate. Every single person on American soil should. True change begins in God’s House, not the White House. participate by signing up now at revivalmatters.com.

GULLIBLE OR BIBLICAL?

Is one gullible to believe God could save and transform Donald Trump? Maybe so. But, then again, God has done so in the past. Maybe, just maybe, believing it’s possible is to believe more in God than in man after all. This is what it means to pray for change, see it happen, and then believe that God could do what man cannot. This is what biblical faith looks like, after all.

Wouldn’t it be classically ironic (and hypocritical) of all of us who say Trump needs to change, if we who prayed for that change wound up not believing when/if God actually answered our prayers?

To those who keep screaming about “tolerance,” and rail against hatred – are you intolerant and hateful? Do you love your enemy, as Jesus commanded? Or, are you selective in who you love, editing the commands of Jesus? Do you love only progressives? Only conservatives? Jesus commands you to love everyone – especially your enemies – if you say you “follow” Him. We are to love our enemies and pray for them. 

And when you pray for your enemy do you pray with bitterness and hatred or true concern, compassion and brokenness? The whole idea of praying for an enemy is to pray without enmity. If you pray with enmity for an enemy, you miss the whole point.

Pray for Trump. Regardless of where he stands with God, it’s not stupid to pray for him and believe God can transform him. It’s actually exactly what biblical praying and faith looks like. if you ridicule this practice you don’t understand the Bible in the most basic of ways, and are, in the final analysis, a very poor Christ “follower.”

#prayfortrump and #prayforamerica. WHAT DO YOU THINK? ARE YOU PRAYING FOR DONALD TRUMP? are you praying for America? do you love your enemies or hate them? HAVE YOU READ 1 TIMOTHY 2:1-2 LATELY? IT WILL INSPIRE YOU . . .

Is Your Bible Reading Plan Turning You Into A Pharisee?

Is Your Bible Reading Plan Turning You Into A Pharisee?

There’s something powerful about going through the Bible verse-by-verse. Eventually, every conceivable topic gets covered. The Bible remains a timeless, practical handbook for life. This is why I practice what’s known as “expository” preaching. Even if I am doing a topical message, I teach it from the Bible, verse-by-verse. I simply think God has said more than I could ever say. Yesterday, I reached a milestone, delivering my 101st expository message through the Gospel of Luke. It might surprise you to learn that Bible reading plans concern me. Deeply.

Is your Bible reading plan turning you into a Pharisee? If you’re not careful, it could. In fact, it may have already done so. That’s not the really scary thing. What’s more scary is that it may have happened and you may not realize it.

If you or I had to face a Pharisee in an Old Testament knowledge contest, I’d put my money on the Pharisee. With the modern equivalent of a PhD in Old Testament, the Pharisees had it down.

There were about 6,000 Pharisees during the time of Christ (Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus) – but consider this:

  • Jesus did not choose one Pharisee to be an Apostle.
  • Not a single Pharisee was chosen to write so much as a single word of the New Testament.
  • Not a single Pharisee was called to plant a single church.

When you really take time to think about it, this is outright disturbing.

THE PROBLEM WITH BIBLE READING PLANS

The problem with Bible reading plans is that they focus on speed and quantity. When we focus on reading through the Bible in a year, or thirty days, or whatever self-imposed timeline we may embrace, we miss the objective out of the gate. If the foundation is askew, the roofline will follow.

The Pharisees read the Old Testament – often. Think about what Pharisees did with their “Bible.” They . . .

  • Memorized it
  • Quizzed each other over it
  • Rewarded each other for knowing it
  • Took great pride in what they knew about it
     

So, you’d think the Pharisees would be über-prepared for the arrival of Jesus, able to recognize Him from a mile away. Nope. They not only missed Him, but also resisted Him. Ironic? Tragic. If you’re not careful, this could happen to you.

Luke 24:27 teaches that all of the Old Testament is about Jesus:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

John 1:1-2 says

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Then, in John 1:14, we read these words about Jesus that should stop us in our tracks every single time we revisit them:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us . . .

Tragically, when the Word who became flesh arrived on the scene – the very One about Whom the Old Testament is written – the Pharisees not only missed Him, but they were also strategic in having Him crucified. Ouch.

Is your Bible reading plan producing a modern-day Pharisee? Are you merely becoming increasingly familiar with the Bible, but missing Jesus – and the application of Jesus – to your own life and the lives of people with whom you encounter?

Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me . . . ” (John 5:39)

CAREFULLY CONSIDER . . .

  • The purpose of all Bible reading and study is not to merely know more of the Bible.
  • The purpose of a sermon or Sunday school lesson is not to simply provide information about Jesus and the Bible. (It drives me nuts that many sermons and “lessons” today are, at best, merely a compilation of facts and information provided from commentaries. Rarely do they rise to what Peter, the man who preached that spectacular sermon on the Day of Pentecost where 3,000 souls accepted Christ, says about the messenger and his message: “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God,” 1 Peter 4:11, ESV).
  •  The purpose of a home Bible study is not to simply sit around and discuss what the Bible teaches.
     
YES, READ YOUR BIBLE. Just make sure you think deeply about what you read, and apply it to your life as if your life depends upon it. In many instances, it does.

YES, READ YOUR BIBLE. Just make sure you think deeply about what you read, and apply it to your life as if your life depends upon it. In many instances, it does.

The purpose of all Bible reading and study, all sermons and all listening to the Bible is to encounter Jesus Christ – and to be transformed in the process so that we don’t merely learn about Him, but become more like Him. This is what it means to be a “Christian,” which means “little Christ.” We cannot become like Christ in nature, but the whole point of following Him is so that we become like Him in character

James 1:22 says it well:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves

Have you deceived yourself? Is your Bible reading plan producing a Pharisee? Be careful, it could happen to you. By all means, READ YOUR BIBLE. BY ALL MEANS, STUDY IT. Just make sure you think deeply about what you read, and apply it to your life as if your life depends upon it. In many instances, it does.

Jonah’s Problem Wasn’t A Whale

When I was five years old, my father took me on my first fishing trip off the Jersey shore, in a party boat. I wouldn’t call what happened on that boat a “party” by a long shot. To this day, it remains one of the longest days I’ve had to endure. I got so seasick that traditional chum was not needed to lure the fish. I recycled my breakfast into the ocean, offering the fish my bacon and egg breakfast, complete with orange juice and buttered toast, thickly smeared with jam.

There were too many other fishermen on that boat with iron stomachs – and every single one of them was there to catch fish. No chance they would turn around and bring me back to the docks.

He kept me somewhat stable as the boat swayed, the ocean sprayed and the sickening stench of diesel fumes, mixed with cigarette smoke filled my gut.

Dad figured he might as well make due. To keep me from stumbling overboard, and to accomplish his goal of fishing, he wedged me between his butt and a bench. He kept me somewhat stable as the boat swayed, the ocean sprayed and the sickening stench of diesel fumes, mixed with cigarette smoke filled my gut. I fed the fish again and again. Why Jesus didn’t use this imagery to describe Hell beats me. I love the ocean – from the beach.

JONAH'S PROBLEM WASN'T A WHALE . . .

JONAH’S PROBLEM WASN’T A WHALE . . .

When I am at the beach, my mind invariably drifts toward the story of Jonah and the big fish (it wasn’t a whale). The problem with the biblical story of Jonah isn’t in figuring out how a grown man could be swallowed by a big fish. It isn’t in figuring out how Jonah could survive inside a fish for three days and nights. The problem is how much I am just like Jonah – and I don’t like it any more than diesel fumes on a rocking boat filled with smoking fishermen. Jonah’s problem was that he was more concerned about a doggone plant than human beings. How is that even possible?

After finally obeying God and preaching to the people of Nineveh, Jonah took time to see if the people would respond to God’s message spoken through him. Here’s the account in Jonah 4:6-11 (ESV):

Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’ But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you do well to be angry for the plant?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.’ And the Lord said, ‘You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?’

The only thing worse than diesel fumes, cigarette smoke and recycling a bacon and egg breakfast on the open sea, is to be called by God and not care about people. To know the love of God – to receive His favor and calling – and to not care that others receive the same is more disgusting than a seasick venture on a temporarily full stomach. It’s far too easy to sail through life and have more affection for things than for people.

Jonah’s problem is my problem, and it needs to make me a bit sicker than I am these days. What about you? Can you identify? Is it easier for you to care about things, and your own comfort, than it is to care – to truly care – for people?

The honest to God truth is that I’m far more like Jonah than I am Jesus. I bet I’m not alone, am I?  

#PrayForOrlando

#PrayForOrlando
#OrlandoShooting

If you’re an alleged Christ-follower, and you don’t have sympathy for the folks gunned down in Orlando, something is fundamentally wrong with you. But if you think the people who were killed and wounded somehow deserved what they got because they were among the LGBTQ community, that takes things to a whole new level – and you should be ashamed. More than that, you should feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and be moved with compassion for those who were hurt.

If Jesus teaches us anything, it’s that it’s not only possible, but also probable to genuinely love people who disagree with you. You may not have much in common with the LGBTQ community. You may even be on the opposite side of the spectrum in regard to what they believe and practice – but when someone is bullied, brutalized or butchered a real Christ-follower follows Christ. A real Christ-follower cares.

Janet and I want to express our heartfelt sympathy to everyone in Orlando who lost a loved one. We are praying for everyone who was injured and may either be fighting for their life or be badly wounded. Your life matters to God – and it matters to us.

For those who may not have entered into the pain of what folks in Orlando are experiencing, let’s remember a few key things Jesus teaches that apply in this exact situation:

Matthew 11:19 (ESV):

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.

Mark 12:31 (ESV):

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Colossians 3:12 (ESV):

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience . . .

Do you care about the loss of life, the pain and sorrow for folks in Orlando? What is God teaching you through this ordeal?

Orlando Convergence: A Perfect Storm

#PrayForOrlando

Can we have an honest talk about violence and the real issue here without adding insult to injury? The answer lies in how you, my readers, will respond – because I’m going to try to apply some common sense to the perfect storm that erupted in Orlando: A homosexual nightclub with 49 killed and dozens more wounded by a Muslim perpetrator who purchased guns legally. What happened surely has haters salivating, because it was such a juicy convergence.

Everyone is salivating. Homosexual haters. Muslim haters. Gun haters. People who support concealed carry rights. People who hate America. Excuse me while I grab a towel. This blog has unexpectedly become a very wet experience.

. . legislation cannot address the breeding ground of violence, and that breeding ground is the human heart. We should be talking about the heart right now, because the heart is the matter.

You can’t make this stuff up – and this is the point. Orlando is the new America. But new does not mean improved. As long as we keep putting bandages over infections, the festering will continue. Have you ever seen a festering wound? It’s not pretty – and neither is the new America. Hold on to your seats, folks, this wound is going to become far more colorful until we get to the heart of the matter. Literally.

People are exceptionally creative – and violence is in our DNA. We will find ways to kill each other with butter knives.

America needs a nice, long bath. The danger in saying so is that many in new America will misunderstand me and go out and buy bubble bath, excited with the suggestion. (Yes, I too have fond memories of childhood bubble baths). Pleasure and entertainment are central to how Americans think these days – and it’s clouding our thinking. The kind of bath America needs involves a lot of soaking, a lot of soap and a vigorous amount of scrubbing.

To be clear, I’m being figurative. No amount of soap and water will scrub away our filth. 

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Our cleansing begins with a serious self-examination of the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says it well:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus says

What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

There is a high probability that the violence displayed in Orlando will happen again in America – and no amount of legislation will prevent it. Why? Because legislation cannot address the breeding ground of violence, and that breeding ground is the human heart. We should be talking about the heart right now, because the heart is the matter.

Gun haters are already using Orlando as a soapbox to demonize guns and gun owners. They conveniently ignore the possibility that maybe if a few folks in the Orlando club had been concealed carrying, the murderer would have been instantly marginalized. In fact, had he known that clubbers were likely packing, he might have been deterred altogether.

About ‘3 percent of murders and crimes are committed with guns from people who actually (legally) purchase those guns. — Joe Scarborough on Friday, October 2nd, 2015 in a broadcast of MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’

97% of guns owned by Americans are being used legally and responsibly. We could outlaw all the guns in America. All that would do is make the law-abiding people sitting ducks. What’s often touted as #gunsense is usually nonsense. 

Consider these facts:

  • Cain killed Abel – and a gun was nowhere to be found
  • Peter used a sword to lop off Malchus’ ear (John 18:10)
  • Stephen, the first martyr, was killed with stones (Acts 7:45-60)

We could rid the world of every last gun, sword and stone – and violence would not vanish. People are exceptionally creative – and violence is in our DNA. We will find ways to kill each other with butter knives. Remember WWI? It was called “The War To End All Wars.” Was it? Do I really have to answer that question?

Rant about gun violence all you want. Use Orlando as your soap box. I’m going to address the human heart – because that is exactly what Jesus did. My own heart proves Jesus right, and if you’re really honest with yourself, so does yours.

Stop fixating on the symptoms, whining every time a Christian stands up and points us to the biblical Jesus as the solution. And when you tell me I cannot speak about the biblical Jesus, because doing so will offend those who have recreated Jesus in their own image – a false Jesus – your irony will come full circle. You, who brand yourself as so deeply concerned about violence, are really the ones unwilling to seek the real solution to all violence, Jesus Christ.

Your thoughts?

Top banner photo courtesy of Doug Clifford/The Tampa Bay Times via AP

God Before Me

I’m very grateful to be chosen as a guest writer for Patheos.com for the new movie Me Before You. The movie is a love story about a young couple – and the extraordinary challenges they face when things take an unexpected turn. What does it really mean to “live boldly” as the movie encourages? When is a live worth much – or not much at all? Here are my thoughts – which I’m sure will make you think about what it means to “live well” . . .

BRAND NEW GUEST BLOG ON THE NEW MOVIE

BRAND NEW GUEST BLOG ON THE NEW MOVIE “ME BEFORE YOU.” What does it really mean to “live boldly”?

Have you seen “Me Before You”? What are your thoughts about when a life is no longer worth living? Who can make such decisions? What does it mean to “live boldly” and to “live well”?

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