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You Need This To Succeed

FIND THE RIGHT WAY – AND LIVE IT Michael Anthony Godfactor Blog RSS “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” This is the observation of D.L. Moody about the Bible, and he was absolutely right. I’ve been enjoying the book of...

CONTRADICTIONS IN THE GOSPELS?

contradictions in the gospels? Michael Anthony Godfactor Blog RSS Many people have tried (and keep trying) to discredit the Gospel accounts because they differ in detail. Some suggest that the differences are “contradictions” that demonstrate the Bible to be, at best,...

Like Your Life Depends Upon It

There’s a terrible tragedy taking place across America – but it isn’t a new one. It’s probably not what you think it is, either, given all that’s happening in our nation these days. The meltdown of America is a symptom of a deeper problem, a weakness that’s been...
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Pulling Teeth From a Roaring Tiger

PULLING TEETH FROM A ROARING TIGER

One of the reasons America is in such a mess is because we Christian leaders don’t seem to give a darn about the damned. The level of mistrust, competition and disinterest between pastors works against the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17:23:

I IN THEM AND YOU IN ME, THAT THEY MAY BECOME PERFECTLY ONE, SO THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW THAT YOU SENT ME AND LOVED THEM EVEN AS YOU LOVED ME.

In light of the moral decline, racial division, financial turmoil and political nonsense we are seeing this election year, I’ve been reaching out to pastors and Christian leaders, trying to get us all on the same page – God’s page – so that we can fulfill Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and actually reach the lost. Here’s what I’ve found: getting Christian leaders together these days is about as easy and comfortable as pulling teeth from a roaring tiger.

We don’t need the devil to derail us. We are doing a find job all by ourselves. Isn’t it ironic that we are pursuing church growth and “ministry” without prioritizing unity – the most important ingredient for church and ministry success? At the end of day, we’re shooting ourselves in our own feet by diminishing the importance of Christian unity. No wonder the world yawns when we open our mouths. Can you blame them? We don’t practice what we preach.

POWERFUL PERSUASION
We don’t seem to believe what Jesus taught: people are persuaded about the love of God in proportion to the unity among Christians. The greater the unity, the more irresistible God becomes. The more divided we are, the less people care about Christ. If our objective is to get people to follow Jesus, we have to start following Him ourselves. Until we do, we are nothing more than hypocrites. We want people to love and follow a Jesus we’ve left behind.

It’s not complicated. Our disunity reveals that we Christian leaders don’t seem to really care about reaching the lost. If we did, we’d be doing far more to be unified, because unity convinces people that God is real and the message of the cross is true.

MISSING IT
A few months ago, I asked my assistant to reach out to senior pastors from neighboring churches, asking if we could “set up a time to meet in regard to the state of the nation and how churches can cooperate together in unity.” Here is the ironic response of one such pastor:

From what I know about Mike, which is not a lot, he and I probably think differently about these issues and how churches should/can respond. So I’m not sure how fruitful a meeting about this subject would be. But if Mike wants to meet together as two pastors in the same community, to talk shop, I’d certainly be open to that. God’s very best to you . . .

Is that really God’s “very best”? We make false assumptions about each other that keep us at arms length – in the same city, at this pivotal time in American history. What is wrong with us? We leaders have lost our way. How is it possible to talk “shop” without the shop itself? If we keep talking about all the other issues we face, except the most important issues of the day, aren’t we merely postponing the inevitable day when the circling wagons will achieve their goal? Aren’t we wasting precious time – and precious souls – in the process?

We pastors and Christian leaders all need to repent – big time. We’re too divided to be of any use to the Jesus we say we want other people to follow. The National Week of Repentance is coming October 30 – November 6. Get involved and be part of the solution to the division that is so obvious within the Church. Visit RevivalMatters.com and sign up, now.

ARE YOU A CATALYST FOR UNITY, OR ARE YOU SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT at this key time as history is being written? do you give a darn about the damned?

 

 

You Need This To Succeed

FIND THE RIGHT WAY – AND LIVE IT

“This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” This is the observation of D.L. Moody about the Bible, and he was absolutely right. I’ve been enjoying the book of Proverbs and I can’t tell you how much it’s been like fresh water to a dry sponge. This book is absolute must reading if you want to make the most out of your life.

Proverbs 16:25* says,

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it is the way of death.”
 

So true! The greatest need we have is for wisdom that comes from the throne of God. Too often, we settle for merely human wisdom, and fall far short of what we could have, if only we sought the heart and mind of God.

If we look around, it’s obvious that divine wisdom is the great need of the day, isn’t it? Is this the case in your life? Do you need wisdom? God offers it to those who will simply ask. Hard to believe, but foolish to ignore, God will dispense priceless insights to anyone willing to seek them throughout their lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I want God’s wisdom, not my own.

“Lord, don’t let me live without your wisdom! Please give it to me day by day, moment by moment. Do not let me be deceived into trusting in my own ways that I think are right but could be so wrong. Do not let me deceive myself, but let me lean on you – fully – so that I might live. But help me not only for my own sake, but also for the sake of every other person I encounter today. Help me to speak life, hope, love and encouragement into the lives of everyone I meet. Help me to live with your wisdom and then I know what happens in the overflow will be eternally significant.”

I cannot afford to go through this day without true, divine wisdom. Can you?

IS THERE A WAY THAT SEEMS RIGHT TO YOU? WHAT IF YOU ARE WRONG? ARE YOU LIVING THIS DAY WITH DIVINE WISDOM OR YOUR OWN? WHY NOT STOP, RIGHT NOW, AND ASK GOD FOR HIS WISDOM. SOME DAY, PERHAPS SOONER THAN YOU THINK, YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU DID.

The National Week of Repentance is coming October 30 – November 6. Get yourself and your people ready at RevivalMatters.com. It is time for the hope and change only God can deliver. The humble courage we so desperately need will only arise if there is a real move of repentance in America, and it needs to begin with you and me.

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.

The Magic of Wisdom

THE MAGIC OF WISDOM

At the end of the day – this day – you will have had a good many chances to be a sexy, magnetic, a person of high moral character whom others find irresistible. You’ll also have many chances to be the exact opposite. Which will it be? The choice is largely up to each of us. Today, that choice is up to you. 

Wisdom is magnetically . . . sexy. Yes, sexy. It makes us irresistible. It transforms us. If you think about it, you’ll agree. When we detect wisdom in a person, we’re drawn to them with a magnetic pull that’s indescribable, likely because we each realize our own need for what they have.

We all want wisdom, and when we get it, we become the kind of person others seek. We become sexy – without doing a single thing to alter our physical appearance. Wisdom is a really magical thing.

Proverbs 15:2* says,

“The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.”
 

Throughout the Book of Proverbs, a foolish person is synonymous with the person who lacks discernment, knowledge, integrity and high moral character. It is the fool, for example, who is impatient and has a short tempter (Prov. 14:16, 17, 29) that drives other people away.

When we see people who lack intelligence, integrity and good moral character, we’re typically turned off. We find foolish people repulsive. Yes, certain celebrities and Twitter personalities have done well attracting a following precisely because of their deviant lifestyles and comments, but other people follow them not because they want to be like them, but because they are looking for a source of twisted entertainment.

Foolishness is a freak show. No one, for instance, fantasizes about marrying a fool. Wisdom is respectable.

HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF MORE ATTRACTIVE
No one wakes up eager to show the world their morning face. We all do our best to present our best face to the rest of the world, because we know that without it the day will be an uphill battle. Why add insult to injury by making life, which is already hard, more difficult? Looking good simply makes things easier, better, more enjoyable.

These days, wise speech is so uncommon that when we hear even mildly wise words, everyone sits up and takes notice. One of the best ways to make yourself more attractive is to make sure the words that come out of your mouth are words of wisdom. This is what Proverbs 15:2 is all about. There is nothing more attractive than wisdom rolling off the tongue of a mere mortal, no matter how otherwise unattractive he or she may be.

If you want to make yourself more attractive, consider the words that come out of your mouth. Are they self-centered? Do you tear down other people? Do you gossip or slander? Do you lie? Do you whine or complain? Do you do what Proverbs 12:16* says by showing your displeasure immediately?

“A fools’ displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible” – Proverbs 12:16*

 
Sensibility is another trait of a wise person. Every day is filled with opportunities to be sensible or to become incensed. Opportunities to become insulted abound – but if you are wise, you will not immediately show your displeasure, but learn how to master the fine and rare art of overlooking an offense, as Proverbs 19:11* reminds us:

“A person’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense” – Proverbs 19:11*

What kind of person will you be, today? Will you be wise and sexy or foolish and ugly?

WHAT’S ONE THING YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK TO BE WISER, AND MORE ATTRACTIVE, LESS LIKE A FOOL?

TODAY’S TIP: Try one chapter from the Book of Proverbs each day, first thing in the morning. There are 31 chapters, more than enough wisdom for every month of the year. Proverbs will help you learn the traits of a wise person – an irresistible, intelligent, moral, magnetically attractive person – and move toward becoming one.

The National Week of Repentance is coming October 30 – November 6. Get yourself and your people ready at RevivalMatters.com. It is time for the hope and change only God can deliver. The humble courage we so desperately need will only arise if there is a real move of repentance in America, and it needs to begin with you and me.

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.

 

CONTRADICTIONS IN THE GOSPELS?

contradictions in the gospels?

Many people have tried (and keep trying) to discredit the Gospel accounts because they differ in detail. Some suggest that the differences are “contradictions” that demonstrate the Bible to be, at best, an inaccurate account of the events surrounding the life of Jesus Christ – or at worst, an outright attempt at deception and lies.

A FEW GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETATION
Here are two simple but vital guidelines when reading and interpreting Bible stories, especially in regard to the eyewitness accounts recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John:

  • An incomplete account is not automatically a false account. A story is not false or inaccurate simply because it does not contain every single detail. Every historian writes from a particular perspective, with certain emphases, omitting certain details. This is impossible to avoid in any historical account conveyed by one person. Likewise, with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
     
  • Differing accounts do not mean they are false accounts. For example, Matthew’s account says that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary “came up and took hold of his (Jesus’) feet and worshiped him” (Matt. 28:9), while in John 20:17, Jesus tells Mary, “Do not cling to me . . .” Which is it? Both. Upon holding Jesus’ feet and worshiping Him, Mary was told by Jesus to stop. More importantly, notice that in neither account were the women told it was improper to worship Jesus!
     

If the “logic” used by some people to discount the accuracy of incomplete or differing biblical narratives were applied in weighing secular history, we’d have difficulty drawing conclusions about many historical events we know to be true. Incomplete or differing accounts do not at all equate with falsehoods.

If you pay attention, you will find that there are many differences between, and many omitted details within, the gospel accounts, such as John mentioning two angels in the resurrection account while Matthew mentions only one. Matthew did not say there were not two angels – he merely records that there was one angel who spoke. If there were two angels, there was obviously one – and one of them was the spokesperson, with both angels appearing as witnesses.

The differing gospel details actually make them complimentary, well-rounded, emphasizing certain aspects that help us understand what took place as a matter of real history. Be careful you don’t doubt an account merely because it is different from another. Postpone final conclusions until you’ve done thorough research from multiple perspectives.

The most important thing to grasp is that the differing accounts present no contradiction or differences whatsoever in doctrine/theology, the identity of Jesus or how we should and must live as a result.

CONCLUSION
Rather than discrediting the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible, the different views of the resurrection and post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus presented by the Gospel writers demonstrate the legitimacy of there being multiple, credible eyewitnesses to the events. These aren’t made up stories at all. The ways in which they are told demonstrate the fact that there were real eyewitnesses telling what actually transpired.  

The different nuances and emphases in the Gospel accounts don’t discredit the Bible – they, help support the conclusion that it is reliable. When different people witness an unexpected, dramatic event, we would expect them to tell their stories in disorganized, different ways. Seeing a resurrected Jesus, after being beaten and crucifies so violently, certainly qualifies as an unexpected, dramatic event. It is the shock of the unexpected that led to the different ways of telling the story, as even then, the people were still processing what they had witnessed.

There would be no need for different writers if all of them told the same story with the exact same details. The differing details we wound up with actually provide credibility to the story.

If the Gospel writers were attempting to deceive readers, we would have most probably seen one uniform, sanitized story. If that were to have happened, we would most likely see the same people who insist that the Bible is only a book of fairy tales – a conspiracy – suggest that the uniform story were obviously crafted to mislead. It’s been said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion, still.” A skeptic, wanting to discount the identity of Jesus and the events surrounding His life and ministry – and looking for every excuse to continue life without any change – will find reasons to do so no matter how the story is told.

By the time we carefully compare all four gospel accounts, we see that they come together exceptionally well, and that they strongly agree on the most important fact in all of history: Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and on the third day – exactly as He predicted – rose from the dead! The resurrection is God the Father’s verdict that Jesus’ sinless life and sacrifice was – and is – acceptable to Him for the forgiveness of every single sin committed by anyone who will simply accept Him.

That’s God’s story, and I’m sticking to it. You’ll find life will go much better if you stick to it, too.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? HAVE YOU LET YOURSELF BE DECEIVED, THINKING THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS ARE DECEPTIVE?

 

For a more exhaustive treatment of the details and various explanations, please see John Wenham’s work The Easter Enigma.

 

 

The Leaders We Deserve

We’re Getting the Leaders We Deserve
(And We’re Getting 2 Chronicles 7:14 All Wrong, Too)

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CROSSWALK.COM AND PATHEOS.COM]

Can we please stop the insanity? We’re praying for the wrong people. The problem with our view of “revival” is that we think it’s exactly what everyone else needs. We are getting 2 Chronicles 7:14 all wrong:

“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (ESV)

2 Chronicles 7:14 – the most popular verse cited when the topic of “revival” stirs – is not a call for intercession, it’s a plea for humility and real repentance among God’s people. We American Christians have not yet begun to humble ourselves and repent the way we must if we hope to see things turn around. The biggest threat to America is not an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP). It’s unrepentant, arrogant Christians. Before you dismiss this, consider that our arrogance is far more subtle than we realize.

THE ENEMY WITHIN
The root problem in America is not “out there” – it’s within the walls of our churches.
The control, gossip, slander, hypocrisy and lack of love for God and people has become so commonplace, so normal, that we have finally succumbed. We’re okay with it now. But God isn’t. If we are really honest, we have to admit that the leaders we’re getting look exactly like us. You would never know this by the look of our “church faces.” But you would if you were a fly on the wall in our homes, where we do and say things far worse than anything Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump have done or said public.

But it’s not just our behavior that’s the issue. It’s that we’re okay with our behavior. We don’t see any real need to change our ways. We only see the need to maintain our public appearance of being nice, polite, respectable people. And yet we have the audacity to demand better presidential candidates.

RADICAL?
Today’s “radical” is the Bible‘s presentation of basic faith. We no longer understand that the total denial of self is what it means to have basic faith– not “radical” faith – in the Bible. Our problem is that we don’t even realize what we’ve done or what we’re doing. God, however, does – and it grieves Him. Still, it doesn’t, grieve us – because the best we do is keep calling for “intercession” for America.

It also amazes me that God’s seemingly elect keep thinking that this election is the most important in our nation’s history. No, the response by Christians – or, should I say, the lack of response – to all that is happening at this vital time, is the most important in our history. We are detached and apathetic.

MAKE THE CALL
We should be calling on God for mercy – not for people “out there” but for ourselves. We need to. We need real, deep, penetrating moves of God – not among the lost, but among the saved. In fact, I would go so far as to say that American Christianity needs to be… saved.

Neither Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump nor any other presidential candidate is going to make our nation greater, or great again, if we keep thinking mere mortals are the solution to our woes. They never were, are not now and never will be. America has problems ahead, regardless of who the next president will be – and those problems will worsen as long as we keep thinking everyone else needs to change.

Real change does not begin in the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court or the White House. Real change begins in God’s House, among Christians. It begins with real repentance. 

STOP IT
Let’s all stop quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 as if it is a verse on intercession. For the love of God, it isn’t. It’s a red-alert plea for humility and real repentance – starting with you and me. Let’s stop simply signing petitions and start petitioning God. I mean really petitioning Him. And, get your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. If America doesn’t see real movements of God spring up across the land, no elected official will do anything more than give us more of the same old, same old.

The National Week of Repentance is coming October 30 – November 6. Get yourself and your people ready at RevivalMatters.com. It is time for the hope and change only God can deliver. The humble courage we so desperately need will only arise if there is a real move of repentance in America, and it needs to begin with you and me.

DO YOU THINK WE’RE GETTING THE LEADERS WE DESERVE? HAVE YOU MISUNDERSTOOD 2 CHRONICLES 7:14?

 

Like Your Life Depends Upon It

There’s a terrible tragedy taking place across America – but it isn’t a new one. It’s probably not what you think it is, either, given all that’s happening in our nation these days. The meltdown of America is a symptom of a deeper problem, a weakness that’s been present for several decades in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I think that weakness has reached its full effect.

Despite our God-given, Constitution-recognized freedoms, we Christians don’t exercise them very well at all – and we haven’t been for years. The tragedy that’s been taking place across America is that while we have every conceivable translation of the Bible available to just about anyone, while we have more Bible-teaching Seminaries, Bible Colleges and Bible-preaching churches than any other nation on earth, we just can’t seem to get past reading the Bible primarily for informational, educational purposes. The purpose of all Bible reading, however, is for application and transformation. Understanding this difference will revolutionize your Bible reading. It will revolutionize your LIFE. If this understanding were to gain traction, we’d see a revival – a real revival – in the United States of America. It would begin with you and me.

Which bible translation is best?

“Which Bible translation is the best?” This is one of the most frequent questions people ask me, and it’s a good one. My answer is always this: The best version of the Bible is the one you read and apply. Merely reading the Bible – even studying it – will have little effect on your life unless you are bent on applying it with fervor. If you’re not so inclined, you will be well on your way to becoming a Pharisee or scribe. Remember those guys? Not one of them was chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle, and they passionately insisted Jesus be crucified. Chilling thought if you really marinate in it – because those guys were Bible scholars. They had the modern equivalent of PhDs in the Bible of their day, and in messianic theology – but they missed the Messiah when he was standing right in front of them. The same can happen to you and me.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

If you want to think about something that has the potential of making you question your faith, in a good way, here it is: in the final analysis, it may not make much practical difference that most evangelical Christians believe that the Bible is the word of God, the first and final authority in all matters of faith and lifestyle; most believe it is “every word inspired” and adhere to “plenary, verbal inspiration” of the original Bible manuscripts. (I believe these, too, and so does the church where I shepherd). People have parted ways over differences in these important doctrinal bedrocks, understandably so. In the end, however, such parting may have been all for naught.

The inspiration of the Bible, whether one believes it or not, is a huge deal. If we are honest with ourselves and honest with God, however, after all the hub-bub – after all the smoke clears from our hot debates defending the inerrancy of Scripture, for the most part it really doesn’t make much practical difference for the average evangelical. It absolutely should, but in practice it really doesn’t.

Why? Because there is practically not point in believing that the Bible is the word of God, the first and final authority in all matters of faith and lifestyle, that it is “every word inspired” if you aren’t diligently looking for ways to put it into action.

The problem in America is that while it’s easier than any place on earth to find a Bible, we don’t look for ways to apply the Bibles we have right underneath our noses. Perhaps our familiarity has bred contempt. Maybe we don’t love God, and His Guidebook, as much as we say we do and know we should. Maybe, just maybe, for all our talk about the importance of the Bible, we have missed the most important aspect about it: it’s the Book of books, a gift from God for the primary purpose of knowing Him, understanding life, and applying what we learn through it.

The purpose of all Bible reading and study is not for merely educational and informational purposes, but for application and life-change. If you have missed this truth, it really doesn’t matter if you believe the Bible is the word of God or not. You’ll end up living just like someone who is merely a moralist, without the power of God and the fullness therein. We need a shift in our thinking in the American church in regard to how we use our Bibles. It is God’s tool for transformation, and brother we need a lot of that these days, don’t you think?

Have you been reading the Bible for information purposes only? Have you confused education about God with application for the glory of God?

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