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Attached to Jesus

Attached to Jesus

WHY IS OUR EXPERIENCE OF JESUS, AND CHURCH, SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE TYPICALLY SEE IN THE BIBLE? Take, for instance, the second chapter of Acts. Today, it seems like the best we can do is market a biblical brand of Jesus and Christianity – but when it comes to making...
Why I Went to See KISS

Why I Went to See KISS

IF THE TITLE OF THIS POST CAUGHT YOUR EYE, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SEE — BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU MAY NOT HAVE A SERIOUS VISION PROBLEM.  I was there, in Portland, Oregon, for the “farewell tour” of the (in)famous rock band, KISS.[1] If you’ve never seen KISS,...
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Attached to Jesus

Attached to Jesus

WHY IS OUR EXPERIENCE OF JESUS, AND CHURCH, SO DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE TYPICALLY SEE IN THE BIBLE? Take, for instance, the second chapter of Acts. Today, it seems like the best we can do is market a biblical brand of Jesus and Christianity – but when it comes to making good on the promise, we struggle with the delivery. I think it boils down to the fact that the first believers understood what it meant to be attached to Jesus. Today, we seem clueless.

 

The companion audio for this blog is coming this Thursday afternoon.
Find it here, or by typing “Attached to Jesus” in our search bar.

 

Acts 2:42 says,

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” — ESV

The Greek word translated as “devoted” has lost so much of its meaning today, in our individualistic, segregated, divorce-ridden world. We think we know what it means, but the truth is that we all need a refresher. The Greek word for “devoted,” could easily be translated as any of the following:

  • To wait on
  • To be faithful to
  • To busy oneself with
  • To hold fast to
  • To persevere in
  • To spend much time in
  • To give constant attention to
  • To attach oneself to

The phrase I love the most is that last one. Don’t you? When inserted, Acts 2:42 is resurrected with magnificent practicality:

They attached themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

I think a main reason we don’t experience Jesus the way the early believers did is because we’re not attaching ourselves to Him. Instead, we are attached to so many other things. What are you attached to more than Jesus?

We expect God to move in power on Sunday when we haven’t been attached to Him all week long. It’s time to take a second look at Acts 2:42-47 and land the plane. What I mean is that it’s easy to look at that passage as it applies to church life – but we have to remember that church life is a reflection of each of our lives. We need to look at Acts 2:42-47, not from the 50,000 foot view, but from the landing strip of our own lives:

They attached themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” — NIV

We want God to show up in power in our churches on Sunday – and that can happen, but only if we refuse to live lives that are detached from Him throughout the week. I think we need to be discontent with God’s absence in our personal lives and families the other six days of the week. If you and I became attached to apostolic teaching (putting the Bible into practice), spending quality time with our family and friends, and drawing near to God in prayer, I think we’d see Jesus in our midst much more when we all gather together. It’s not magic. When individuals become attached to Jesus, and those individuals come together, the group is attached to Jesus, too. Jesus shows up.

Acts 2:42-47 isn’t socialism. It’s real, biblical Christianity. Socialism is merely Christianity stripped of the Holy Spirit’s power, without the presence of Jesus or His Kingdom agenda. If we want the impact of our money reduced to pennies on the dollar, we ask (and even welcome) the government to take and redistribute it. But government redistribution of money is no substitute for what God alone can do through people who are truly attached to Jesus. If we want the power of God manifest in ways that lead people to the feet of Jesus, we need to be attached to Jesus – individually and in our families. When that happens, the discrepancy between our experience of Jesus and church, and what we read in the pages of the Bible, will disappear.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry for the kind of Christianity that shaped history.

What about you, your family, and your church? Isn’t it time that you became attached to Jesus in the same ways the first believers were? Is there anything you or your family is attached to more than Jesus?


Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME:
Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

My first book, published by Thomas Nelson, is slated for release in March, 2018. For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or to explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

Why I Went to See KISS

Why I Went to See KISS

IF THE TITLE OF THIS POST CAUGHT YOUR EYE, YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SEE — BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU MAY NOT HAVE A SERIOUS VISION PROBLEM.  I was there, in Portland, Oregon, for the “farewell tour” of the (in)famous rock band, KISS.[1] If you’ve never seen KISS, and you claim to be a Christ-follower, I’m pretty sure you’re not as motivated for Jesus as you would be if you went to a show. Surprised? I bet you are, and that’s part of the problem.

You may be wondering why I, a pastor committed to accurate and practical Bible teaching and complete surrender to Jesus Christ, with a well-read blog, radio program, forthcoming book, and a large church (which I love), would dare attend (let alone brazenly admit) that I attended a KISS concert. Couldn’t such behavior and openness be undermining to my ministry? Not at all. In fact, attending that concert was one of the most devil-stomping things I’ve ever done in my life, for reasons that may surprise you. You see, I went to the show not because I’m a KISS fan, but exactly because I’m not. I wanted to learn a thing or two about success and motivation from four guys who were, arguably, among the most successful and motivated people in history.

WHAT KISS CAN TEACH US CHRISTIANS ABOUT VISION, PASSION AND BEING SOLD OUT FOR JESUS CHRIST:
  1. MONEY, SEX AND FAME ARE HUGE MOTIVATORS – BUT THERE IS AN EVEN BIGGER ONE YOU SHOULD EMBRACE. When KISS first formed, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons knew they were not stellar musicians, and that they needed something to make them stand out from the crowded pack of rock ‘n roll wannabes.KISS took “whatever it takes” to an entirely new level – and we Christians can learn a thing or two about commitment to Christ by considering the commitment of KISS to sex, money and fame.If money, fame and sex can motivate people to dress up in crazy costumes and make-up, what’s our hang-up with doing whatever it takes to really live for God and reach people for Christ? The God of creation is the greatest of all motivators to live right, righteously, and with the greatest of all passions.
  2. IF PEOPLE WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN WRITE HISTORY, WHAT’S OUR EXCUSE? We Christians have been washed in Christ’s blood, fully forgiven and given the gift of the same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead. Through Christ, we have access to more power than the members of KISS did at the height of their career – but we often behave as if we’re powerless.
  3. VISION EVENTUALLY DETERMINES REALITY. The members of KISS had a vision to be superheroes, not simply rock stars. Knowing they were not the best of musicians, they set out to create an unforgettable live experience. KISS began with this vision and sustained it, letting it shape every album, every concert, and every single decision they made as a band. Their vision fueled their success.If you’re a parent, do you know where you want your children to arrive when they are done with the eighteen or so years they will have under your authority? If you’re a pastor or church leader, do you know what you want your church to look like 5, 10, 20 years from now?What’s your vision for your life, your career and your ministry – and does it truly glorify God?
  4. STOP STOOPING FOR LOW-HANGING FRUIT. KISS reached for the moon, and they became stars. Too often, we Christians settle for the bare minimum when it comes to God’s glory and living in line with His agenda. Of all people, we should be more motivated and committed to our God and our mission than anyone else for any other cause. Have you settled for far less than God’s best, or is your life a shining example to others of giving 110% to Jesus Christ?
  5. IF HANDLED PROPERLY, SETBACKS ARE ACTUALLY OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMEBACKS. KISS had many setbacks through the years, including the eventual loss of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss due to their abuse of drugs and alcohol. But Paul and Gene kept rocking. What setbacks have you allowed to hold you back, when, instead, they should be propelling you forward, enabling your comeback?

NOW IT’S TIME TO HEAR FROM YOU. HAVE YOU SETTLED FOR LESS THAN GOD’S BEST?

Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME: I hope my blogs give you a solid truth or two that encourage, challenge and inspire you to squeeze the most out of the only life you’ll ever have this side of eternity. I typically publish my blogs from Tuesday through Friday. Your comments are always appreciated because they not only encourage my family and me, but most likely others, too. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

[1] The tour was the last to feature the original line-up of Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter. Clearly, while the original lineup never toured again, it was not at all the “farewell” to KISS. Yup, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are master marketers.

 

Love, Lava and Crocodiles: Imagination In A World Captivated By Nonsense

Love, Lava and Crocodiles: Imagination In A World Captivated By Nonsense

LAST NIGHT, MY BOYS AND I TRANSFORMED OUR GUEST ROOM INTO A FICTITIOUS LAND OF BUBBLING LAVA AND CROCODILES. As we lay on the bed, I would give the suspenseful countdown signaling it was time to begin another round – ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two-and-a-half, two, one-and-a-half, one, GO! In our version of last man standing, each of us would then try and push each other off the bed (which had become a raft), and into the waters of the crocodile infested Amazon. When we grew weary of that version, the magical “raft” acquired heat-resistant qualities, and took us down a molten river of lava.

As our frenzied fun-fest began, we realized we needed to move all breakables into the hallway, safe from the harm of our havoc. Once we did, the fun went deeper. We yelled loudly (even screamed), and cried “uncle!” in despair – repeatedly. The sweat, pouring from our pores, coerced us to dig deeper and wrestle with greater fervor. We carried on, laughing hard as we slapped, pinched, and pushed each other off the bed and onto the floor that was only a “floor” in the real world we abandoned earlier. Never did a game of father-son conquest feel so good.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” said Einstein. “Knowledge,” he said, “is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Brother, was he ever right.

Life is so serious these days – and we’re so accustomed to be being entertained from without – that we’ve forgotten the incredible power of the mind to relieve stress, deepen our relationships and help us live and love. For all our achievements in the modern era, I think one of the most tragic is how we look for amusement outside of us, when all along it is within.

Life is short, and time flies fast. Before you know it, it will be over. People, not things, are most important. What matters most is how we love, because one day, nothing else will matter.

Slow down. Use that great mind God has given you. Love, love, love. And stop treating time as if it were in abundance. It is the most priceless, irreplaceable resource we have at our disposal. Dispose of it wisely.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? ARE YOU MAXIMIZING YOUR IMAGINATION?

Michael Anthony Blog - Godfactor.comABOUT ME: I hope my blogs give you a solid truth or two that encourage, challenge and inspire you to squeeze the most out of the only life you’ll ever have this side of eternity. I typically publish my blogs from Tuesday through Friday. Your comments are always appreciated because they not only encourage my family and me, but most likely others, too. Don’t be shy. Chime in.

For more about me, click on the image or here. If you’d like to request an interview, or explore the potential of my speaking to your group, click here.

 

Do This And You’ll Be Free

Do This And You’ll Be Free

When God breaks His silence, it’s because He has something big to say. One of the key traits of a Christ-follower is to develop the skill of listening to God – and to immediately adjust that part of life to what He says. If this is not a primary objective of your life, it’s a good indication you are not following Jesus Christ. 

The word that summarizes this approach to life is “repentance.” It is to a lifestyle of repentance that Jesus calls everyone when it comes to being His disciple. Without a lifestyle of repentance, it is not possible to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the final analysis, each day will take its place as a tile in the mosaic of our lives. We are either following Christ or someone –- or something –- else. The lie that we believe is that there is satisfaction apart from God. The truth is that God is the author of all satisfaction. To live a surrendered life is to live a life of divine satisfaction. When we compromise surrender, we forfeit fellowship with God, and with it the satisfaction that He alone gives.

SILENCE SPEAKS
There was a season when God was silent for 400 years.
The silence of God was between the time of Malachi and the opening words of Jesus Christ, recorded in Mark’s Gospel. (Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet of the book that bears his name. You can find it at the end of the Old Testament, right before Matthew’s Gospel.)

When God is silent, it is only because He is preparing to say something significant. In other words, the silence of God is the silver platter upon which the golden apple will be set. Never, therefore, belittle the silence of God. The Master, even in silence, speaks.

Remember, Jesus is indeed God, and it was not merely the Father, but also the Son who was silent for centuries. Jesus’ first words in Mark’s gospel are staggeringly significant. It is the way God broke His silence that should stop us in our tracks – and as a result, move us forward. Jesus’ words reveal our need for the transforming touch of God, and how fundamentally out of alignment we are without it. His words are simple, but by no means insignificant. They are meant to change everything about us, from the inside-out.

Here are the words, carefully selected and masterfully delivered by Almighty God Himself, when He came on the scene and broke His 400 years of silence:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:15 (ESV)

The verb tense in the Greek language that Mark used would be better translated into English as “repent and keep repenting” and “believe and keep believing.” This magnifies the significance of Jesus’ words. A richer, truer understanding of His words reads like this:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and keep repenting, believe and keep believing in the gospel.”

FIRST STEPS, NEW LIFE
Everyone who is now following Jesus had an initial moment of repentance and belief.
There is a first time when a person comes to terms with Jesus being God, Savior and friend. But that is simply the new beginning of an entirely new life – an entirely new way of living.

The life of a Christ-follower is to be characterized not merely by belief, but by daily, and moment-by-moment, repentance. Repentance, in brief, is a change of heart, mind and behavior. It is to do a “180,” walking away from the ways of the world, the desires of the sinful nature, and the temptations of Satan.

Everything a Christ follower does is to be marked by a continually turn from selfishness, worldliness and the pursuit of things that don’t matter, to selflessness and things that matter forever.

In short, we need to turn from the sins of self-glorification and of self-protection. All sin can be categorized into one, or both, of these practices. Everything we think, dream and do is to be marked by belief in the Son of God, Jesus, as our Master and Savior in everything. And, when we are really following Jesus, we can no longer take lightly the places we would otherwise go in our minds, hearts and walk. A newfound love for God compels the real Christ-follower to follow.

Surrendering fully to God never limits us. It sets us free. Perpetual repentance and belief are the new calling for the man, woman, boy or girl who has truly heard the Master’s voice and is responding in simple, but vital, obedience.

What about you? Are you repenting and believing throughout each day? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m sure others would, too. 

The Shortest Distance Between God and Me: Change From the Inside-Out

The Shortest Distance Between God and Me: Change From the Inside-Out

Here’s a blog worth sharing on your Facebook wall. It may set your friends free . . . 

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO CHANGE, YOU’VE GOT TO CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE-OUT. All other change is only temporary. When change comes at a heart level, in the deepest recesses of who we are, our behavior falls into alignment. I am continually amazed, even awestruck, that there is a book that cuts to the chase, reaches into my heart, and speaks to me every time I pick it up. Every time I read the Bible, I learn something new — or revisit something I used to know, but temporarily forgot. The Bible is unlike any other book because it is the handbook for character transformation — from the inside-out.

“Amazingly, when I confess my sin, I find that the distance between God and me vanishes — instantly. “

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with thoughts about God. I tend to blame Him, while all along He is innocent against my charges. I’m in a season in my life right now where I am struck by how wayward my thoughts are toward God. I’m struck by how, if I’m not attentive, my mind drifts into auto-pilot against God. But it’s not just my mind that struggles. My heart is the real source of my woes. What I need is to be changed from the deepest recesses of who I am. The only problem is that I find that I am incapable of changing myself. I need a heart surgeon to do the deep work within me, to rescue me from myself. Do you have this struggle, or is it mine alone?

WHY NOT SHARE THIS ON YOUR FACEBOOK WALL,
SO YOUR FRIENDS CAN BE ENCOURAGED?

One of the reasons why I love the Bible is because it lays out the shortest distance between God and me. Whenever I read it, I am convicted of sin — but that’s not all. Through it, God also shows me how to stop sinning — and it all centers upon the attitude residing in my heart. This is significant, because I don’t merely need to be reminded of my shortcomings. I need to know how to straighten them out.

There is life-changing power in the Bible because it is not just a book. It’s a literal portal to the heart, mind and presence of God. As Isaiah was changed when in God’s presence (Isaiah 6), I find that I, too, am changed when standing before the King. The way to get there is through the Book of books, the Bible He provided.

Take Psalm 66:18, for instance. It says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened . . .” (NIV). Sin obstructs my ability to enjoy God. It will do that to you, too. It does for everyone. Sin is no respecter or persons — it affects all of us. But so does the Word of God, if we let it. This morning, as I read Psalm 66 (slowly, which I have to force myself to do in this fast-paced culture), I was reminded of how I had allowed myself to tolerate wrong thinking about God. How ironic, don’t you think? That I would accuse the One Who no longer accuses me, courtesy of Jesus’ sacrifice? How quick I am to turn on the One Who has turned His wrath away from me, when I really deserve its full weight. Amazingly, when I confess my sin, I find that the distance between God and me vanishes — instantly. This is good news for someone with a heart problem.

The more I am in the Word of God, the more my sin is confronted — head on — and the more my thoughts are conformed to what pleases God. I’d be in such a sorry state without the Bible and it’s unique ability to straighten out my crooked ways. I need God to do a deep work in my heart — and one of the key tools He’s given me for an “inside job,” a work from the inside-out, is His very Word, the Bible. It’s His remedy against sin, softening my heart so that I don’t become hardened against the Lover of my soul.

CAN YOU IDENTIFY? I’D LOVE TO KNOW THAT I’M NOT ALONE IN THIS . . .

Your Marriage Isn’t About What You Think It Is

Your Marriage Isn’t About What You Think It Is

IF YOU THINK YOUR MARRIAGE IS ABOUT BEING FAITHFUL TO YOUR SPOUSE, YOU’RE WRONG. The longer you’re married, the greater the chances are that you will drift from understanding what your marriage is really about. This is counter intuitive, because one would think that as time passes, the more we would realize the number one secret to having a solid, growing, healthy marriage. Having counseled a lot of couples through more than two decades of ministry, I have seen couple after couple get it wrong about their marriage as time passes. Can I be honest? I’ve even seen myself tempted to miss what it’s all about. I bet I’m not alone. Your marriage isn’t about what you think it is.

Don’t forget to share this post on social media
and share your comments and questions, below . . .


“I PROMISE TO LOVE, HONOR, AND CHERISH YOU — in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health . . . ’til death do we part.”
We all made some sort of similar vow when we stood at the altar and pledged our love and faithfulness to our mate on our wedding day. If we’re honest with ourselves (and honest to God), you didn’t understand all that was involved in our marriage vows on the day you made them. If you did, you might not have have gotten married in the first place! It takes a lifetime of commitment to even begin to understand what we are really promising to do through the covenant of marriage. But that shouldn’t deter you. It should inspire you to discover the secret to a great marriage as quickly as possible so you can get busy enjoying its fruit. Here is the secret: You’re marriage will soar when you understand it isn’t only about being faithful to your spouse, but about being faithful to God.


STRUGGLE LESS IN YOUR MARRIAGE

If you struggle with loving your spouse, your real problem isn’t with your spouse — it’s with God. This is because marriage is not primarily about loving your mate. It’s about loving God. If you love God, you’ll love your partner. Love your spouse and keep your part of the bargain. If you understand that your commitment to be faithful to your spouse is really a byproduct of your commitment to God, you will bring renewed passion to your marriage — courtesy of God Himself.

Your spouse isn’t perfect — and neither are you. Imagine being God. He IS perfect, yet He is patient with you. If you keep waiting to find your fulfillment in your partner — to find fulfillment through your partner that can only come from God, today is a great day to recognize that and begin to ask God to do what only He can. Your spouse can certainly provide some of the fulfillment that can only come through marriage, but your spouse is not Jesus Christ. If you’ve made the mistake of making your spouse your savior, today is a good day to cut them some slack, repent, and get back to worshiping God, not your mate.

Your mate is fallen, limited, imperfect and yet loved deeply by God. The cross of Christ proves it. When you said “I do,” you said you would be faithful to God — and in the process be faithful to your spouse. If you know someone who is about to take the marriage plunge, help them understand what it’s all about, so that they can get their relationship off on the right foot. You’ll help set them up for success from day one.

Love your spouse and keep your part of bargain. Marriage isn’t just about being faithful to your mate, but about being faithful to God.


HAVE YOU MADE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING MARRIAGE IS ONLY ABOUT LOVING ANOTHER PERSON? HOW HAS THIS POST HELPED YOU?
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