MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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No one wakes up in the morning and thinks “Yup, today I’d like to be a hypocrite.” Be careful, however, because hypocrisy is the auto-pilot of life. If you want people to soar, you have to be in orbit . . .
Listen to a companion podcast by the same title, here, on iTunes, or with the free Godfactor App.
Being in a leadership position doesn’t make you a leader.Neither does having a leadership title. These things only suggest that you might be a leader. They proclaim potential, not success.
There are two essential questions for people holding leadership titles and positions. The first is “Am I really leading people?” The second is “Should people really follow me?” Both questions lead us to an especially potent third question everyone in a leadership position should ask before it’s too late: “In the eternal scheme of life, am I worthy to be followed?”
Think about that third question, because it’s a game-changer. It may entirely revolutionize the way you lead – and who you follow.
Before you continue reading, let these three questions really sink in, and answer them in light of the past three months of your life. Are you really leading people?Should people really follow you? In the eternal scheme of life, are you worthy of being followed? Then, make these three questions part of your ongoing self-evaluation process as a leader. If you cannot answer with a resounding “yes” to all three questions, you are merely a person in a leadership position, or possessing a title, with only the opportunity to lead. Or, you may have slipped from the height in which you once soared. You are not living up to God’s potential for your life. But don’t despair. There is hope for you.
THE MAGNETIC DRIFT The drift toward unintentional hypocrisy is stealthy and magnetic. It’s difficult to see coming because it usually happens gradually, by nearly imperceptible measurements. The slide is difficult to resist because with the passage of time – and some success – we can begin to lead on auto-pilot. We can begin to tell other people what to do, and how to do it – while neglecting to do the very same things ourselves.
What exactly is hypocrisy?Why did Jesus warn against it? Why is it so dangerous? In Luke 12:1-2, we read these words that should make everyone in a leadership position sit up and take notice:
“In the meantime, when so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he (Jesus) began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.'”
Yikes. Thank you, again, Jesus, for hitting me in the head – and the heart – awakening me to my potential drift, as a disciple, toward hypocrisy. In other words, Jesus warns His followers that they too could begin to behave exactly as His arch enemies, the Pharisees. A Pharisee was a hypocrite. And, by Jesus’ words, a disciple could evolve into the same. Watch it. Hypocrisy is the auto-pilot of life.
THE RIGHT KIND OF TRANSFORMATION Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to be transformed – but what and who we transform into is of paramount importance. As a leader, you have to be vigilant so that your transformation honors, and doesn’t disgrace, God. (I hesitate to even write this, for obvious personal reasons. But if I intend to go deeper with God, to continue to develop as a leader, the buck stops here, with me. I am responsible for my spiritual maturity. I am responsible for how I develop as a leader. Great leadership begins and ends by being a great follower. I must follow Jesus, or I won’t become like Jesus. And if I am not like Jesus, in character, and dependance upon my Heavenly Father, no one should follow me – regardless of my position or title).
There are plenty of people in spiritual leadership positions who shouldn’t be followed at all. Are you one of them?If you are not following Jesus, you won’t become like Jesus. And if you are not like Jesus in character, with dependance upon your Heavenly Father, then why in the world should anyone be encouraged to follow you? And, why in the world are you even remotely interested in spiritual leadership in the first place? These are good questions that might serve as good additions to the three above. Are you in danger of being a hypocritical leader? If so, you must do something about it. Not tomorrow. Today. Right now.
WATCH IT!The word Jesus uses to warn His disciples against the drift toward hypocrisy is beware. In other words, if they were not proactive – if they were not diligent and vigilant – the drift toward hypocrisy would run its course. The same is true of you and me.If you’re human, you’re vulnerable. The best of people have been unwittingly fashioned into the mold of a hypocrite. No one strives toward hypocrisy. It’s what automatically happens when we’re not careful.
WHAT IS IT? Spiritual hypocrisy is best defined not merely as play-acting, pretending to be spiritual when you are not. It is better understood as being misguided in your understanding of what God wants from you – and others. Spiritual intimacy is what He wants. He is not interested in mere behavior if the behavior does not have spiritual intimacy with God as the objective. Let’s get this through our thick skulls, because people’s spiritual livelihood is at stake here, beginning with our own. If something can’t be done for the glory of God, as a means of drawing nearer to Him and honoring Him, then it simply shouldn’t be encouraged. Let’s make sure we aren’t heading in the wrong direction – and leading others along this misguided path with us.
Spiritual hypocrisy is also being inept, even unintentionally, in understanding that the primary reason for the Word of God, the Bible, is to bring readers into a growing intimacy with God. When a person in a leadership position, holding a leadership title, loses sight of what God wants (is misguided), and what the Bible is about (becomes inept), and they continue to influence people, he or she cannot help but be entirely incapable of spiritual success. When this happens, hypocrisy comes by default. What’s worse is that they begin to replicate.This is the real heart-breaker for God. But it should also break our hearts, and lead us to repentance. The position of leadership, and the leadership title, may remain – but titles and positions don’t guarantee ongoing success. A spiritual leader is always one decision away from unintentional hypocrisy, and one decision away from having people follow the wrong example that will lead them away from what God desires. Many are unintentional hypocrites, but are hypocrites nonetheless. Jesus makes no excuse for His disciples in Luke 12. He makes no excuse for us.
IT’S A TRAGIC IRONY Why did Jesus warn against hypocrisy?Because it is the exact opposite of the truth, authenticity, and the very nature of God. Spiritual hypocrisy is the greatest, most tragic, devastating form of irony possible. This is why hypocrisy bakes Jesus’ biscuits unlike any other sin. It’s seriously sobering. When you think about it you’ll understand. You may even need to repent. Your future leadership and spiritual success may depend upon it.
HYPOCRISY IS DANGEROUS Why is hypocrisy so dangerous? Because it leads people into a counterfeit spiritual pursuit that Jesus absolutely detests. Think about this, too, and you will realize that making people think they are doing something worthwhile when all along it is worthless to God, is about as dastardly a thing as anyone could endeavor. But again, we don’t need to be intentional in the endeavor to engage in it. Hypocrisy is the auto-pilot of life. Beware the dastardly leader lurking within. He’ll never go away.
THERE IS AN ANTIDOTE The antidote for spiritual hypocrisy is perpetual repentance and unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ. Daily. Hourly. Moment by moment. Let your transformation be in the right direction, or it will be in the wrong direction, by default. We have Jesus’ word on it. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” says Jesus. Now, it’s up to you and me to take His words to heart . . .
Momentum = Driving power or strength.* Right now, you have momentum. It’s just a matter of what kind and to what degree. Creating and sustaining positive momentum takes careful, prayerful tending. Momentum, different than speed, takes time and attention.
We all want momentum – in the right direction. The question is: how do you create and sustain it? Here are three things you can immediately do to create and sustain positive momentum:
1. STOP LIVING LIKE IT’S ALL UP TO YOU. God usually births and develops momentum among groups, or teams, of people. Yes, you might be a key leader – and God may use you to spark momentum in your team or group – but it is not all up to you, alone. If you’re not a team player, you’re not on God’s side of history. The momentum is up to your team, not only you. Take a breath of relief and realize that insight into what comes next may not come from you. And that is a very good, healthy thing. Be open to solutions coming from others. Be open to God using someone else, not just you. In fact, you must do this if you are a leader. If you’re doing God’s work, it’s not just your work.
2. BEHAVE AS IF IT’S ALL UP TO YOU, AND THEN REST AS IF IT’S UP TO SOMEONE ELSE. If a team of people adopt this attitude, momentum is an absolute certainty. Act responsibly. Own up to your God-given potential. Do what you can with what you have. Do ALL you can, as if it ALL depends upon you. Then move on and rest. One secret to creating and sustaining positive momentum is to take personal responsibility for it, and to refuse to allow the outcome – for better or worse – to keep you up at night. Work hard. Work smart. Give it your ALL. And rest in the same way. When you rest, really rest. Rest hard. Give your times of rest ALL you have. Behave as if it’s all up to you, and rest as if everyone else has it under control.
3. STOP RUNNING WIND-SPRINTS. Life is a marathon, not a series of wind-sprints. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, God says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Pace yourself. Run life like the marathon it is. Exchange your idea that momentum must be created quickly for the idea that momentum that lasts often takes time to create. Yes, there are certain things in life that must be started quickly, but the majority of things that are worthwhile take time to build, time to sustain, and time to enjoy. Pace yourself. If you don’t you’ll soon find yourself on the sidelines. You will have lost your momentum – all because you confused speed with momentum. Momentum is not about speed. Speed is about speed. Momentum is about forward motion. Think about that.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11. Through the resurrection, we have God’s definitive statement on the life, message and identity of Jesus Christ. To dismiss the resurrection is to dismiss not merely Jesus Christ, but God Himself.
Man’s opinion of God is fluid; God’s opinion of man is fixed. Trust and obey or rust and decay. These are the words Leonard Ravenhill wrote to me in a letter years ago. Though dead, through his words, Ravenhill lives. God’s verdict is unchanging. He made his statement on the ministry, the message and the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ with the resurrection. The resurrection and the cross join hands to make God’s definitive statement about the human condition – and His solution.
We have a problem called sin. But God handled that problem through the cross of Christ. How do we know? Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is God’s definitive statement of approval of the ministry, message and Messianic identity of Jesus. Jesus was sent by God, is God’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, and is THE way God provided for the forgiveness of sin.
Here are some Bible verses to explore, which reveal God Himself raised Jesus from the dead, and that Jesus, therefore, had the full endorsement of God:
1. John 2:19-22 2. John 10:17,18 3. Romans 1:4 4. 1 Corinthians 6:14 5. Acts 2:24 6. Acts 3:15 7. Acts 4:10 8. Acts 5:30 9. Acts 10:40 10. Acts 13-30-37 11. Galatians 1:1 12. Ephesians 1:16-20
You may ask “so what?” Let me answer that question with a few questions of my own:
1. If God raised Jesus, what statement was He making?
2. Would God resurrect someone who misrepresented Him? Why would God resurrect a liar, or a crazy man making false claims about Him? Consider 1 Corinthians 15:14-22
3. How could Jesus predict His own death and resurrection, speaking on behalf of God, if He didn’t have certainty that God would act on His behalf, and raise Him up?
It’s no small thing to dismiss the resurrection. Before you do, think deeply about the above. Consider that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not only the greatest event in history, but that it is also the greatest verdict, the greatest statement made by God. Through it, we understand that the message of Christ is true: repentance is necessary. Accepting Him as Messiah, Savior, is essential. Doing so, and only doing so, removes all of our sin. The verdict is in. Jesus is God’s messenger, with God’s message. It’s time to consider the verdict of the resurrection, and what it means for you.
Listen to the companion podcast, The Verdict, through iTunes or our free Godfactor App.
About the Author: Michael Anthony is the Founder of Godfactor, the creator of the free Godfactor App (search for “Godfactor” in your app store), and the Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa. He loves the resurrection of Christ, because it’s God’s verdict – that belief in the ministry, the message and the identity of Jesus as God’s Messiah, leads to the forgiveness of sin, every single time, for every single person.
Escape was within reach. Why didn’t Jesus RUN?
We have two free, sharable resources for Good Friday and Easter. They are a sampling of some of the new, free resources we’re beginning to churn out through Godfactor.
Watch Why Didn’t Jesus RUN? by clicking here.
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- Enjoying Jesus.Understand how enjoying Jesus is where life starts.
- God’s Calling On Your Life.God has plans for you. Embrace it. Live it.
- Did Jesus Call You To Do It?Many “voices” may be calling you, pulling you, distracting you. Only One voice is important.
- Our True Revival series shot on location in the Solomon Islands. Renew your life, your family or your congregation buy watching these brief videos on spiritual renewal.
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Enjoy our resources, and enjoy Resurrection Weekend! And, if you live in or near York, Pa, come and visit us at Grace Fellowship for what we call the “Grace Awakening.” God is moving, and we are moving with Him.
With Passion Week here, I’ve decided to encourage a good listen to my most recent podcast, “The Death of Death.” You can find it in the “Recent Sermons” area of our free Godfactor App, on iTunes, or in the “Sermon” area at graceyork.com. Take some time to comprehend the death of death. Doing so could help you live.
You might think you understand what Jesus went through on the cross. But have you considered what He endured beforehand? And why? “The Death of Death” podcast will help you appreciate what Jesus went through, so you can soar.
I’d love to hear your comments, too. And, don’t forget to join us this Friday night (April 18), for our special Good Friday Awakening Concert at 7 pm, and again on Easter Sunday at Grace Fellowship in York, Pa.
Everything the devil does is reactive. The best he can do is react to what he sees God doing. But that’s nothing to belittle. It’s serious. You need to understand the devil’s tactics – and your own – which seek to undermine the abundant life God has in store for YOU. All of us have our own understanding of what an “abundant” life is, but God’s definition is the one we need to embrace and enjoy.
GOD STILL DOES MIRACLES, and yesterday we witnessed a real one at GraceYork.com. To relive it, listen to the companion podcast to today’s blog post (see below). You’ll be blessed, significantly. It involves the true story of a woman who stole money from the church offering basket on two occasions – and was caught. She repented, and then experienced the blessing of God in a dramatic, life-changing way. In turn, we were all blessed. It was a huge win for everyone, as repentance often is. Repentance opens the door to reconciliation, healing, wholeness and the blessing of God. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. I’m still jumping with joy over the black eye the devil got yesterday as God’s people at Grace Fellowship did the right thing, the right way, and pursued the glory of God in a difficult scenario. Had we not, the abundant life that is found only in Jesus Christ would have eluded not only the person who stole, but also our whole church.
Most of the time we hear of church “discipline”, and it’s more akin to a church brawl than “discipline.” I prefer the word “restoration” over “discipline” because only God can really discipline His children. It’s our job to pursue restoration and reconciliation. Restoration and reconciliation are hard work – but they are God’s work, and therefore the most important work. There is nothing more important in life than restoration and reconciliation. Life is relationships. Try to separate any area of life from relationships and you will see that it is difficult to do. Eventually, everything in life has a way of impacting relationships, for better or worse. When we prioritize healthy relationships, everything in life gets better.
Some of us have a hard time with Jesus’ words in In John 10:10. This is where Jesus says something that should stop us in our tracks. We may have heard it before, but that’s the problem. The more familiar we are with the words of Jesus, the more we think we understand what He means – when we really are only scratching the surface. Jesus’ words deserve to be read, re-read, applied and re-applied perpetually – or we will miss out on God’s best. Read the words of Jesus, again, for the first time:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
We have a problem with the word “abundant.” But we need to get over it, and embrace God’s deepest desire. God’s desire is, indeed, to give you an abundant life. To really understand what that looks like, you really need to read and apply the blueprint for living that He authored, the Bible. It’s where God’s definition of abundance is defined and offered to us again and again and again.
What about you? Do you want an abundant life – the kind of life Jesus envisioned for you before the beginning of time? How badly do you want it? It’s yours for the taking. Jesus wouldn’t offer you something He can’t deliver. Read the Bible – but don’t stop there. Put it into action. This is what makes all the difference in the world, and the world to come. The Bible is God’s blueprint for an abundant life. Why wait to fulfill your destiny?