MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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Sometimes it’s good and wise to turn the other cheek. Jesus commanded we do so in some key ways (Matthew 5:38-45). But there is one area of life where we can’t afford to turn the other cheek. We’ve put it off long enough. It’s robbing us of our joy, peace and success. It’s also robbing others because we’re putting it off. We can turn things around. We must. Not tomorrow, but today. Right now.
The one thing we can’t afford to keep putting off is leadership. You and I have looked away for long enough. We’ve done this in our families, our churches and this nation. We’re suffering because we’re not leading. We’re turning the other cheek on our problems – expecting someone else to step in, say something and make some changes. Instead, we should each be the change we want others to initiate. We’ve been looking away for so long that we’ve forgotten what leadership is.
What you and I need to do today is get on our knees, humble ourselves before God, and ask Him to help us turn our cheeks toward, now away from, the problems. A leader doesn’t look the other way. A real leader looks at the problems with humble courage – and takes action to be the agent of change.
Yes, leadership is hard. But you know what’s harder? Not leading.We will have problems in life whether we lead or shrink back. But the solutions that come from courageous leadership birth solutions that far surpass the turmoil that results from doing nothing and waiting for someone else to do what is within our power to change.
How have you been turning the other cheek – in the wrong direction? What problem(s) are you facing in your personal life, your family, your church and even this nation which might be resolved (or at least lessened) if you were to take responsibility and lead? What are you waiting for?
We’re thankful for Joshua Reich and Innovate for Jesus or making today’s great guest blog possible. Just in time for your weekend, this blog will help you pace yourself. Remember, we’re not called to run sprints, but a marathon for Jesus Christ. Joshua’s insights will help you do precisely that. Enjoy – and share it with you friends who need to sloooooow down and get focused.
My book Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living Morecomes out next month, and I’ve been asked by some people how to know if they should read the book. How do you know if you are too busy or getting tired in life? My response often is, “Well, if you are asking if you are too busy, you are probably too busy.”
But just in case, here are a few ways to know you’re too busy and need some Breathing Room:
1. WHAT IS NORMALLY EASY IS NOW HARD. This is one of the first things that happens. For me it centers on preaching, sermon prep, reading leadership books. Whenever I find myself not feeling motivated in one or all of these areas, I know I am past the point of running too fast in life. To combat this, I take periodic breaks from preaching (I try to not preach more than 10 weeks in a row), and I work in books that have nothing to do with sermon prep or church ministry to give my brain a break.
2. SLEEP IS HARD TO COME BY. For many Americans, sleep is hard as it is. We go to bed too late, we don’t take enough naps, we spend too much time on technology and get worked up. I try to get to bed by 10:30. I try to not look at social media or texts after 8pm so that my brain is able to take a break. If you have to take sleeping pills, watch TV to fall asleep or find yourself going to bed at midnight or staring at the clock at midnight, you need to work on your sleep.
This is counterintuitive to us because we think if we’re tired we should be able to fall asleep quickly, but that is often not the case. We have pushed ourselves so hard, our brains are not used to shutting off. We have pushed ourselves past 10pm on a regular basis, getting our “second wind,” that our body is accustomed to it. Getting back to a normal sleep pattern will take some time.
3. IT IS HARD TO GET GOING IN THE MORNING. Some people are morning people and can’t wait to get going; others are not. I’m not a morning person. But when I find myself having a hard time getting going in the morning, needing multiple cups of coffee to stay awake or to focus, that’s a warning sign. Think about this morning: how hard was it to get out of bed? The harder it was, the closer you are to burning out.
4. YOU GET ANGRY FAST. When you are tired, you tend to get angry fast. Your fuse is shorter with those closest to you: family, friends, and coworkers. Your reaction to situations does not match the situation. You get angry at small things or cry without knowing why.
5. YOU STRUGGLE TO MAKE SIMPLE DECISIONS AND FIND YOURSELF PARALYZED AT MAKING A CHOICE. It is amazing how when we are tired and too busy, normal everyday decisions can become agonizing mountains that appear like we can’t get over them. Decisions become tiring and life altering. The mood swings we have when we make a decision we regret become huge mood swings. An example for me is I’ll struggle to know what to watch on TV, what I want to eat. As silly as that may sound, it is a sign I have not taken care of myself.
6. MOTIVATION IS HARD TO COME BY. It is true that you are more motivated and alert at certain parts of the day. For me it is first thing in the morning, which is why I reserve that for sermon prep and not meetings. It is when I am most creative, and I need to give that mental time to the most important part of my job: preaching. When I find that motivation not there, I know I have a problem.
7. YOU HAVE IMPULSES TO EAT AND DRINK, AND YOU STRUGGLE TO CONTROL THEM. You may also use things to calm down. This might be food, sex, porn, exercise, drugs, smoking, alcohol. While these things calm you down, and all of these are not necessarily sins, when used to calm us down or help us relax or sleep or “take the edge off,” we have a problem. If you think, “I just need ____ to calm down or feel better,” you have a problem.
8. YOU THINK SHORT-TERM INSTEAD OF LONG-TERM. You can’t get past today or what is right in front of you, and you feel completely overwhelmed by it. All of the decisions you make are simply focused on right now, and you talk about “getting through the day” or “if we can just make it to bedtime” or “if only we can make it til the weekend.” What happens is this becomes our new normal, and everyday is about making it to the weekend or the next break where we simply collapse from exhaustion.
9. YOU DON’T LAUGH AS MUCH OR HAVE FUN. This is connected to what we’ve already said, but if you can’t remember the last time you laughed and had fun, that’s a problem. When you are tired, the last thing you have energy for is fun or community. You are more irritable and have less courage. People are draining, and the only thing you want to do is be a bump on the log and watch TV. If you are an introvert, having fun with people, especially when you are tired, feels so taxing.
*This is an excerpt from Josh’s upcoming book, Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living More. Click on the link to purchase it.
This post originally appeared on Josh’s blog.
If you want to change some things in your life, you’ve got to change some things in your life. Life is short. Time is limited. You don’t have time to dink around with the only opportunity you have this side of eternity, to make the most of who you are. In light of this, here are three suggestions to help you change your life, immediately:
1. TAKE TIME TO THINK, PRAY AND REFLECT – OFTEN. No amount of the wrong solution will compensate for the absence of the right solution. The reason why we throw wrong solutions at problems is because we fail to take time to think, pray and reflect. They are lost arts that need to be revived – not in the lives of others, but in your life, right now.
You cannot afford to go through life without taking time to think, pray and examine your own heart, thinking and actions. If you don’t take such time, you will draw wrong conclusions about the root causes for problems you are facing. This will cause you to throw the wrong solutions at your problems. The result? You will spin your wheels unnecessarily when you would otherwise soar.
Failure to diagnose the root reason behind a problem will keep you from reaching your greatest potential. You don’t have time for that. Take time to think, pray and reflect – often – because your life will positively – and immediately – change.
2. PLAN YOUR DAYS WEEKS, MONTHS AND YEARS WITH A TIME MANAGEMENT TOOL. Do you have something the rest of us don’t – an unlimited amount of time? No, you don’t, so why act like it? Time is the most precious gift we’re given because it’s limited. Once it’s gone, we won’t get any more. The hectic pace of life, with all the things that present themselves as important, demands that you steward, with resounding success, the only life you’ll ever be given. Simply put, you cannot do this without a time management tool. Even if you are retired, unemployed, a home-maker, or you find yourself with a lot of free time on your hands. You need a time management tool because with it you literally manage your life.
The issue is not time. It’s life. Are you making the most of it? If you are taking time to think, pray and reflect often (#1, above), then you will begin to discover more and more ways to make the most of your time. You’ll begin to treat your time with respect. Don’t squander the most precious asset you’ve been given, your time. Use a time management tool to squeeze the most out of your days, weeks, months and years. Someday, they’ll be gone.
3. DON’T CONFUSE THE WRONG SOLUTION FOR THE RIGHT SOLUTION. Failure to recognize the root issue of a problem will not merely get you nowhere, it can get you to the wrong place and could set you back big time. Is your problem spiritual? Then no amount of a non-spiritual solution will fix it. The truth is, many of our problems have, at their root, a spiritual issue.
We overeat, overspend, waste our time and indulge in unhealthy things all because we try to fill the “God-shaped void” in our lives with cheap substitutes. Boredom, frustration and real problems begin when we don’t fill the God-shaped void with . . . God.
CONCLUSION:You have one life, and limited time. It’s not for others to soar while you sit on the sidelines. It’s too priceless to let it be ruled by boredom, frustration and confusion. If you take time to think, pray reflect and use a time-management tool to guard and maximize the only life you’ll ever have this side of eternity, there is a much higher chance you will begin to rightly diagnose the root problems in your life. And that, my friend, is the start of all true and lasting change. Everything about you will begin to soar.
Have you taken your life for granted? Are you squeezing the most out of your days by making time to think, pray, reflect and use a time management tool? It’s time for you to soar, don’t you think?
Why did Jesus weep – and what is the significance for you and me? This was a tough message to deliver because of what happened to me the night before. But God showed up, true to His reputation. In this brand new podcast, entitled “Why Would He Weep?” you’ll understand Jesus like never before. And, you’ll understand what it means for your life right now.
Enjoy it now on the Godfactor App (iTunes or Google Play) through our iTunes audio channel, or right here, onGodfactor.com. I always love getting feedback, since it keeps me sharp and encourages others, too. You can share your thoughts at the end of this blog, like all my posts. I do my best to respond to every comment, too.
Today is the day to remember eternity. It’s where we’ll spend most of our time.Don’t miss this week’s other blogs to help you go deeper with God and make the most of your life.Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and enjoy us on Instagram.
PS: It’s not too late to be involved in The National Week of Repentance. Learn more, here. Download the free resources and go deeper with God.
Lubrication reduces friction and makes things move more easily. Your car needs it. I know this first-hand because the front wheel of my first car, a 1973 Plymouth Valiant, came completely off – right after I had been driving on the highway. Scary. I cringe when I think of what might have been if only I were on the highway a few minutes longer. You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog.
My car wheel came off because I didn’t keep it lubricated. But cars aren’t the only thing that need lubrication. Our lives need it, too. What is the “grease” of life – that one essential component that keeps us moving forward with God and with people? You may be surprised, but by the time we’re done, you’ll be convinced.
Life is relationships. Think about it. There is no area of life that is not in some way impacted by relationships, for better or worse. Even time we spend alone is impacted by what is happening between us and people, us and God. The quality of our relationships affects everything. When things are going well with God, things go better with people. And when things are going well with people and with God, all of life is wonderfully lubricated and things run smoothly. Haven’t you found this to be true?
Repentance is the “grease” of life. Without it, we don’t go anywhere with God – and we don’t go anywhere with people.
WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
Jesus’ first sermon began with these words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Interestingly, the original language conveys continuous action, not a one-time event. It would be better translated as “repent and keep repenting and believe andkeep believing.” What a lesson! To “repent” means to continuously change your heart and mind to such a degree that behavior changes. Any simple study of repentance in the Bible will lead you to this same conclusion. It’s possible to change a behavior and not change an attitude of the heart or mind. But when change happens on the inside, at a heart and mind level, it makes its way to how we live.
“. . . repentance is what supernatural living is all about.”
WHAT PREVENTS REPENTANCE?In a word, repentance is prevented by pride. It’s the original sin, and we’re so very good at it. It’s our default mechanism, but that doesn’t make it right or good. That’s what makes it so deceptively devastating, so we must be on our guard against falling into what comes so naturally. Repentance, by contrast, is what supernatural living is all about.
Until repentance becomes a way of life (try being a Christ-follower without this), we are living out of character with our new identity, our new nature and our new direction as followers of “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Without the grease of repentance, life becomes an unnecessarily complicated uphill battle.
HOW DO WE REPENT?
Repentance requires honesty. We’ll never repent if we don’t acknowledge the truth. We need to be honest with God, ourselves and others. Jesus said “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37, NIV). If you want a well-lubed life, a life that is easier, less stressful, more productive, more enjoyable and more God-honoring – a life that more positively impacts everyone you encounter and everything you do, repentance needs to become your new best friend. Without it, you’ll get . . . stuck. And, you’ll stay stuck until you add the grease of life, repentance.
Repentance happens when we deliberately recognize that it’s simply not good, wise, healthy or productive to go through life on autopilot. Repentance is agreeing with God about what He already knows. It’s a life of transparency before God and people. It requires apologizing and changing behavior to reflect the sorrow. 2 Corinthians 7:10 describes it perfectly: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”Repentance will set you free.
What about you? Could you use a little more lubrication in this journey of life? It’s all possible through the grease of life, repentance.
The National Week of Repentance is underway, this week.Lubricate your life with our free resources. They will help you, your family and your house of worship go deeper with God and further with people. We even offer tips on how to apologize.After all, repentance is the grease of life.
Last week, Janet and I were in Atlanta with our sons for private time with Dr. Ravi Zacharias. We have a profound respect for him and are exceedingly grateful for the time he took to be with us in the midst of his incredibly busy schedule. We wanted to spend time with him because we are modeling our lives and ministry around his integrity and intentionality. What’s amazing is that he wanted to spend time with us. He’s the kind of man I hope to be when I grow up. 🙂 I’ll blog about the deep impact of our time with him soon, but today I’m writing about something that’s very heavy on my heart: Why you cannot afford to not pray.
“I don’t want a life that is humanly possible, do you? What I really want is a life that is only possible through the grace, mercy and power of God.”
This morning I awoke, while it would still be dark for many hours, with the overwhelming sense that I have so much to do that it cannot humanly be accomplished. Despair overwhelmed me and quickly morphed into overpowering insomnia. The blessing of a God-sized vision is the curse of human limitation. But the curse is also a blessing, because it’s what drives us to God. Until we are fully engaged in a God-sized vision, we will always default to reliance upon everything but God. This must grieve God’s heart – but it must grip our hearts as well – to the point of making some fundamental changes.
God’s work can’t be done in human power. How easily we deceive ourselves, put a Jesus “sticker” on things and say “Look what God did!” Not so fast. Life is fast, yes. But a life that’s filled with dependence upon God is not an accident – and if we’re not careful, we’ll miss it.
“. . . up until this point I’ve depended far too much on my own power to accomplish what can only be done in the power of God.”
This morning I was overtaken with the complexities of what needs to happen in order to accomplish everything on the spinning plates I seem to be juggling while walking a tight-rope. As the morning skies were still black, a ray of hope broke through the clouded weight of my worries: I really need God. This is a realization that cannot be fabricated. At the end of the day, I don’t want a life that is humanly possible. What I really want is a life that is only possible through the grace, mercy and power of God. What about you? Don’t you want that kind of life, the kind of life that is truly dependent upon Jesus Christ?
“Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:5
Until we are out of our element, we’ll keep relying on our own strength. There’s nothing eternal, nothing epic, nothing God-honoring and nothing exhilerating about that kind of life. Boredom and distraction may be signs of losing dependence upon God.
I’m now at the point in life where things are happening so fast that I can’t afford not to pray. Don’t think I’m spiritual or godly because I wrote that. I’m not at all, and that’s the point. Another way to say it is that up until this point I’ve depended far too much on my own power to accomplish what can only be done in the power of God.
What is more important than prayer? And, what is prayer? When properly exercised, prayer is complete dependence upon, and intimacy with, God. What on earth is more important than these? If we are accomplishing things without enjoying God, without being genuinely dependent upon Him, then what on earth are we doing?
The National Week of Repentance is here. Don’t miss it. Download your free resources at RevivalMatters.com now, and get back to what it means to enjoy God and be dependent upon Jesus Christ. Your life and family – and our nation, are at a crossroads. Only genuine dependance upon God will get us through.