MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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PS: Don’t forget to get involved in the upcoming National Week of Repentance. Learn more, here.
We’re sleeping at a time in world history when we should be wide awake. World events have many chattering about the return of Christ – but it seems to be for all the wrong reasons. It’s not because we can’t stand to be apart from Him for another minute. It’s because it’s all become about us, not God.
What is wrong with us? What has happened to Christianity in the United States of America?
We’ve finally reached the tipping point, at least in America, where we’ve spiritualized our idolatry en mass – and we don’t even realize it. We want out because our lives are being inconvenienced, not because the thought of life apart from God is an agonizing prospect. What is wrong with us? What has happened to Christianity in the United States of America?
Our lives seem more characterized by fear than faith. According to Romans 14:23, we have embraced sin as the norm, and that’s not good: “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
Birth is usually a celebratory spectacle – but not this time. The whole world seems to be in the delivery room, giving birth to . . . something unattractive. Yet unlike the typical exuberance accompanying the birth of a baby, many of us feel unsettled. Hesitant. Fearful. All around us, the waters of hardship have broken. It seems that nothing can stop them. How do we celebrate an ugly baby?
“The question is: how can you keep yourself from spiraling downward – and how can we turn things around?”
Consider the following:
- Racism is alive and well, and on the rise – everywhere. Whether in Charleston, SC, the Middle East, Europe or anywhere we turn, it isn’t pretty. We’re being reminded that racism isn’t a matter of color, but of the heart.
- Economically, we’re all being squeezed – and there doesn’t seem to be any good economic news on the horizon. Where does a person invest their money these days? The American unemployment rate, recently published to be just over 5%, does not take into account all the people who have given up looking for work. Nor does it take into account those who are underemployed, having taken jobs that don’t match their education level or skill-set.
- Politically, the whole world is lacking common-sense, humble, courageous leadership.
- Spiritually, we’re like superman in a house of kryptonite.
- Morally, we’re in a free-fall.
But this isn’t a gloom and doom blog post. If you’re reading this, you already know what’s happening, at least in part. The question is: how can you keep yourself from spiraling downward – and how can we turn things around?
“We need a true move of God across this nation, beginning with you and me. WHAT WE NEED IS THE PERSON OF GOD.”
First of all, we must wake up and realize that while you and I are the problem we are also the solution – under God. What I mean is this: our actions and inactions are the reasons why we’re in this mess. We are not depending upon God personally, in our families or in our houses of worship. So, why would we expect the national situation to look different? It’s merely the sum of the parts. Revive the parts and maybe the whole will fall into place.
Everyone loves a good shower or bath after a hot, sweaty day. This is what we need on a massive, national level. We need a national week of repentance. Yup, I said week. The attention span of the average American (and the average American Christian, as well) is so short that one day is hardly enough.
We need a true move of God across this nation, beginning with you and me. WHAT WE NEED IS THE PERSON OF GOD. There is no hope for this nation without true revival – and it begins with you and me on a grass roots level.
“Clean people don’t need soap. Dirty people do. It’s time for an American shower, one person at a time. It’s time for God to shower us with the revival we really need – across the nation. “
“What?” you ask. “Not me, I have a pornography problem” you say. But more than half of all people, regardless of their religious affiliation. “Not me, I struggle with anger” you admit. Congratulations, and welcome to America. Maybe you marginalize yourself, saying “Not me, I did something terrible in my past.” Do you struggle with jealousy, hatred, greed, sarcasm, bitterness, lust, unforgiveness, and more? Yes, we all do.
Remember the idea of being rescued? It’s central to the Gospel – and to being a real disciple. We need to mourn over our sin as we see God’s people doing in the Bible whenever He moved powerfully. You and I will never move forward with God if all we do is merely acknowledge our sin. We need God to come and rescue us from it. We need to invite Him to move on our behalf – and His.
Clean people don’t need soap. Dirty people do. It’s time for an American shower, one person at a time – beginning in our houses of worship and people who claim to have faith. It’s time for God to shower us with the revival we really need – across the nation. And what’s to lose? Even if the whole doesn’t get any better, you will still be better off. Confession is good for the soul. All the time.
TURN ON THE WATER
We need to clean house, starting with ourselves. Repentance is not up to God. It’s up to the individual. Does this resonate with you? If so, learn more about America’s very first “National Week of Repentance” at RevivalMatters.com and get involved now. It will take place October 11-18, 2015 – and you can participate wherever you are. It’s for you, your family and your house of worship. (Click here for information)
Will your participation in The National Week of Repentance change the world? Maybe not. But maybe it will. It absolutely will change your world for the best. We need a good shower, each and every one of us. At this key time in American and world history, we could all use a good bath. Get that water running.
A penny for your thoughts . . .
Talk is cheap. We know something is wrong with our country. It’s time we DO something about it – beginning with ourselves. It’s time for a GRASS ROOTS national week of repentance, October 11-18, 2015. In this podcast, I share what it means to “move that bottle” as it pertains to the condition of the United States.
We definitely CAN do something. We can move that bottle!Click here for the PODCAST THAT WILL GET YOU STARTED, delivered on August 23 at Grace Fellowship of York.
It’s time you become a bottle mover, for such a time as this.
For more information on The National Week of Repentance, visit www.RevivalMatters.com or check out social media:
Anyone watching this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) was quickly reminded that we’ve reached the tipping point in America. But what does this mean for you, your family and for your house of worship? Practically speaking what can you do? What should you do? Do you duck and cover, head for the hills or quake and shake in your boots? God provides the solutions, and they are more practical than you may at first imagine.
We are told in the Bible that moral decline will be the norm in the “last days.” Consider 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (ESV)
Moral decline has always been our problem. But in the last days, moral decline will be incredibly deep and wide – everywhere we turn.
Here are some suggestions on what you, your family and your house of worship can do in these last days:
1. DUST OFF YOUR MIRROR. The “revival” we need doesn’t begin “out there.” It begins with you and me. The Christian community, of which I am a part as the pastor of a large church, needs to repent – big time. The truth is, we love our ministries, buildings and accomplishments (all of which, ironically, are because of the undeserved grace of God), more than God Himself. More than people. We love comfort and convenience more than lost souls.
We want God’s blessings without a godly lifestyle. Does it grip you to read this, or do you find yourself wanting to move on to another blog, web site or activity? It’s time most of us began to wrestle with God over our own sin and stop looking at the sins of others as if they are worse. They aren’t.
“Spiritual leadership is about overflow – or else it’s about hypocrisy.”
2. REMEMBER THAT WE NEED SPIRITUAL AWAKENING, NOT JUST “REVIVAL.” The word “revival” implies a turning back to something. Most of us don’t need to go “back” to where we were with God as much as we need to go forward with Him, into new territory, fresh surrender and deeper worship.
3. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND SPOUSE. Stop farming out the discipleship of your children, and the growth of your family, to other people. Be the leader you were called to be in your family by walking with God, truly, and leading others where you are. Spiritual leadership is about overflow – or else it’s about hypocrisy. Recent Christian scandals remind us of this again.
“A Christian is a Christ-follower, then a leader.”
4. GET REAL: STOP PLAYING CHURCH. If you are a pastor, elder, deacon or in some form of Christian leadership, remember the “Christian” part of that leadership. A Christian is a Christ-follower, then a leader. Our churches have become adept at programs, but inept at drawing people into the presence of God. Remember, Paul said one of the traits of the last days would be people “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).
That verse troubles me. If you are a Christ-follower, it should trouble you, too. I don’t think it was written for people outside the church – because godliness isn’t even on their radar. I think it was written for those within. We church people can be kind, polite, accommodating, perhaps even politically correct – but it’s all too possible to be these things without the power of God.
Is your life, family, church or ministry characterized by something other than the power of God? If so, why? What has become more important than God’s power in these last days?
CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED. It’s coming up fast – but not fast enough. We can’t wait any longer. It’s time. Tell everyone you know, and don’t forget to participate yourself.
Everything else in life can wait, but this cannot. It’s time. It’s time for a national week of repentance. Not next year, but in a few weeks, from October 11-18. We created and launched a new web site dedicated to this historic call. It’s RevivalMatters.com. Check it out for complete details, and start spreading the word . . .
All around us we see the signs. Moral decline. Racism. Financial collapse. Fear. Hatred. A leadership void. All of these are symptoms of a deeper problem. Our national woes are the sum of our personal and family problems. They are reflections of spiritual dryness. Our nation is broken, and we know it. The question is, “what can we do about it?”
Seventeen years ago I was pastoring my first church outside Portland, Oregon. It was a difficult assignment. One day, as I was out and about, I was driving out of the parking lot of a shopping mall. I quickly found myself in an unusually long line of cars on their way to the mall exit. At first, I was at the end of the line, but as more shoppers joined in, I took comfort in knowing I was not alone. I was absorbed into the growing mass of people in pursuit of their next task for the day. The line absorbed me, and as I inched along I realized this was no ordinary line. Something strange was happening up ahead.
“There, in the middle of the parking lot, someone had left an empty Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle – neatly placed in an upright position. . . Seventeen years later, I still have that bottle, in all its filthy splendor.“
In the distance, I could see car after car do exactly the same thing when they reached precisely the same spot in the parking lot. Each car would slowly swerve to the right, cut back to the left, get back in line, then exit the parking lot. Car after repeated this odd dance, stirring my curiosity. As the feat was mimicked again and again, and we crept along at a turtle’s pace, my blood pressure rose and my emotions simmered. “What is going on here?” I demanded. When I finally came to the curious spot, I could see exactly why the line existed and why everyone was slowing down and swerving to the right. There, in the middle of the parking lot, someone had left an empty Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle – deliberately placed in an upright position.
A DIFFERENT CHOICE
Now, it was my turn to do the dance, follow the crowd and swerve to the right. I had things of my own to do that day. After all, everyone else was doing the same thing. “Insanity,” said Einstein, “is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” The identical choice of driver after driver did nothing for the drivers who followed. In fact, the decision to swerve, rather than move the bottle, guaranteed a slow-moving, lengthening line. Insanity.
“Why doesn’t someone move that bottle?” I asked, as if conversing with an imaginary passenger. “What is wrong with people?” I followed up. I don’t know how many minutes or car lengths passed, but it wasn’t too long before I heard a still, small voice say to me “Why don’t you move the bottle?” The idea was revolutionary. I would swerve to the right, stop my car, open my door and pick up that Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle. And that’s exactly what I did.
“Insanity,” said Einstein, “is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
Seventeen years later, I still have that bottle, in all its filthy splendor. I purposely left it exactly as it was. It rests in my office, reminding me that in order for things to change, people must.
TALK IS CHEAP. REPENTANCE IS PRICELESS.
It seems that our talking heads and media outlets do nothing more than stir the pot. They share the bad news, shake their heads and point their fingers, declaring “Something’s gotta change. Things are getting so bad.” We know that.
If you’re reading this, you probably agree – and you’re absolutely right. Something needs to change. But in order for things to change, people must change. Change begins with you and me.
Sadly, we leaders in our houses of worship aren’t providing much leadership, either. We’re the first ones who need to repent. Many of us are sticking our heads in the sand, going on as if it were business as usual – during very unusual times. Others of us think we’re helping matters by reminding our people that things are really, really bad. Again, we know that. Still others are waiting for a divine bail-out. They are using the “Rapture” or the second coming of Christ as “escape clauses” for personal responsibility and leadership that they were never meant to be. God’s timing and work are up to Him. Our work – and what we do with our remaining time – is up to us. The truth of the matter is that we are acting out of our minds to keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them. It doesn’t take an Einstein to recognize that. What we haven’t tried is courage – and humility. Often, these two work together.
Our nation is broken because it’s a collection of brokenness. Broken lives. Broken families. Broken houses of worship. We’ve lost our way. It’s time for confession, apologies, forgiveness and repentance. It’s time for healing, restoration and genuine revival. The National Week of Repentance is designed to help you, your family and your house of worship experience God’s healing, renewing touch – but it is also far more. It’s a national week on purpose – because a single day just isn’t enough.
WE CAN NO LONGER WAIT. NOW IS THE TIME.
The first National Week of Repentance is scheduled for October 11-18, 2015 – because we just can’t wait any longer. Lord willing, additional weeks will follow in 2016, and more and more individuals, families and houses of worship will catch the vision. Why? Because repentance is an ongoing work. And right now, we could all use a lot of time to reflect on our ways – and then to change. That’s what repentance is all about.
More details are coming quickly. We will be scrambling to mobilize people. It’s time to spread the word. Everything else can wait. This cannot.
Join the movement. Be part of The National Week of Repentance, and spread the word. And, if you live in or near York, Pa, make sure you come and visit this Sunday and beyond at Grace Fellowship. I love pastoring this flock, and we’d love to have you join us.
Do you think America needs a spiritual awakening or two?
This weekend would be a great time to reverse the likely trend in your life of working too much and praying too little. A new study shows that people who work 55 hours a week or more are 33% more likely to have a stroke, and a higher chance of heart disease. Research also shows that people who practice selfless prayer are more likely to experience more happiness, peace and an overall sense of well-being than those who don’t. In other words, many of us should work less and pray more. Now is a good time to make your change, before your health, and life, are compromised.
“People who work from the early morning until well into the evening, and whose work intrudes into the weekend, tend to harm their health.”*
People who pray for others are physically more healthy, and are better able to handle financial stress.**
“Emotional connectivity is escaping us these days – because we think life is about work. It’s not. Life is about life.”
You probably know that you need to work less and pray more. How can you succeed in making the changes that will improve just about every area of your life? Here are some suggestions:
- Make the Decision to Work Less. Have one day of the week where you disconnect from all “smart” and electronic devices – entirely. Including your phone. Take a sabbath, literally, from all electronic devices. Do this every single week. Read a book, go for a walk or a drive in the country. Go out for coffee or a meal with a friend. In the long run, doing too much will set you back, not get you ahead.
- Separate Your Work Environment From Your Home Environment. Too many of us take our work home, when our homes are meant for family, rest, rejuvenation. Make your work place your work place and your home the place where you enjoy meals, laugh, relax and emotionally connect with family. Emotional connectivity is escaping us these days – because we think life is about work. It’s not. Life is about life.
- Get Into the Good Habit of Selfless Praying – Daily. Learn how to implement the 7 Day Revolution in your life. And, don’t make most of your prayers focused on you. Focus on adoring God and praying for others. Research suggests that selfless praying comes back to you in great ways. In other words, you benefit when you do not focus on yourself.**
- Stop Running Sprints; Start Running a Marathon. Life is more akin to a marathon, not a series of sprints. Pace yourself in work and prayer. As a cancer survivor who burned many candles from both ends, simultaneously, I learned the hard way that doing too much in human power, apart from enjoying God and people, is a bad boomerang that will come back to hurt you. Retrain yourself. Start treating life as the marathon it really is.
Are you working too much and praying too little? If so, it’s time to make some changes. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.