MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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This Little Thing Is Huge
You can be undermining yourself and not even realize it. We tend to think power comes with money, formal education, a degree or a promotion, but it really comes down to something everyone has, regardless of our social class, financial status, education, race, or anything else. Chances are very high that you have something you were born with that is very small and exceptionally powerful – but you may not have mastered how to use it to your full advantage. I’m talking about your mouth. If you don’t learn how to use it for good, well, that would be very, very bad.
Your entire life could be suffering for no other reason than the way you are using your little, tiny mouth. That’s huge.
Proverbs 21:23 says,
By all means, think about your mouth – but do far more. With great intention, learn how to use it for good – great good – and not a single shred of evil.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) says,
James 3:9-10 (NIV) says,
The words you speak to others (and yourself) affect far more than you may have ever realized. Take your quest for success to a new level: master your mouth. While you are working hard to get a better education, put food on the table, get ahead or whatever it is you think you need to do to succeed, don’t overlook the power of your mouth.
Until we learn how to use our mouths so they speak life and blessing to other people and ourselves, we are undermining God’s very best. We are working against Him, no matter how we may think we are working for Him. You and I can be causing calamity rather than calm, creativity and the culture of goodness that greatly honors God. Your own mouth can cause more problems than anything and anyone else in your entire life.
Learn to use your mouth for good, because that little, tiny thing is actually pretty huge.
Has this blog helped you? we’d love to know . . .
Lead, Follow – And Get Out Of The Way
You may have heard the saying, “Lead, follow OR get out of the way.” I think it’s time for us Christians embrace a new mantra, and here it is: Lead, follow AND get out of the way. I don’t write this as if I’m outside the problem. I think we pastors are part of the problem – perhaps even the epicenter. I think it’s time we became so sick about the condition of the Church (not simply the nation) that we start to lead, follow and get out of the way – out of God’s way.
Yes, it would be wonderful if we had a wise, godly man or womanelected to the presidency this year. Yes, it would be fantastic if wise, godly senators and representatives were elected as well, and if wise godly judges were appointed to the courts. But are these the places where real hope and change begin? Does real change really begin in the White House? I think it begins in God’s House – and if you really read your Bible, you’ll agree.
I think this election year we have it entirely backwards. This reversal needs to be reversed, and it needs to begin with us pastors, elders, deacons and Christian leaders.
In a very unfortunate way, many of us want the world to love a Jesus we aren’t even following. We want others to follow a Jesus we don’t truly love. This is not a small matter. It is the most serious problem facing America.
More and more, I hear pastors, Christians and Christian leaders referencing 2 Chronicles 7:14 – no doubt because we all recognize our nation is slow jamming out of control. But each time I hear this verse referenced, it is almost always misinterpreted. Nearly everyone uses it as a call to intercede for America. Intercession is good and biblical, but 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not a call for intercession. It’s a call for repentance – not among the world, but among God’s people.
If we, the leaders in the Church, aren’t discerning the times and interpreting the Bible correctly, how in the world can we expect the world to do so? No wonder we don’t have a plan of action. God, however, does.
2 Chronicles 7:14 says,
“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.”
The word “intercession” doesn’t appear in this verse. It is an “if-then” statement – and it all has to do with a serious (re)discovery of genuine, biblical repentance. It’s a call for deep changes in mind and heart that lead to changes in behavior – among God’s people, not the world. If a saving move of God is going to happen in this nation, it must begin within the Church. Thinking otherwise is backward.
Yes, the original context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 was to the nation of Israel, not America or any other nation or people. Yes, there are limitations about how much of a one-for-one parallel we can expect today in the U.S.A. or in any other nation that is broken. But what we should not be debating is the unchanging nature of God, and that He absolutely does wait at certain times for His people to move before He does. If God is anything, He is a gentleman. He will not force Himself upon people who are not eager for His company.
America needs a big time bath, but it needs to begin with us pastors, elders, deacons and church leaders. We don’t get it – and until we do, others won’t either. We need to begin to thoroughly repent for
- Seeing each another as competitors instead of brothers and sisters;
- The spirit of control that we allow to guide both us and ministry rather than the Holy Spirit;
- Depending on our own strength instead of God’s strength;
- Being more interested in speed, size and numbers than real moves of God among our people;
- Teaching the Bible as if it has no relevance for 21st century living;
- Being fearful of being called “political” when the truth is that many politicians have hijacked theology and the issues we, Christian leaders, should have been addressing all along;
- Isolating ourselves from the world when we should be engaging it head-on, and
- The racism and division in our own churches. America is simply a reflection of what we tolerate Sunday after Sunday, and each day in between.
The only agents of change are God and us sinners working together. This divine-human partnership has always been God’s way. He has been waiting. Don’t you think we’ve kept Him waiting long enough?
TIME FOR ACTION
I am humbly calling for the people in every church throughout America to engage in a morning of humility, fasting and prayer to confess our sins and ask God for forgiveness this coming weekend. Leaders, call your people to a solemn time of repentant prayer and dependence upon God during your worship gathering. Start doing this in your church every single weekend from now on. We need an unwavering commitment in the same direction – for as long as it takes.
And don’t just pray for America. Ask God to break you, to start a real spiritual awakening in your own life. When God has answered your prayers, Plan A will be underway. Remember, there is no Plan B.
It is time for the hope and change that only God can deliver. Remember, America, there is no Plan B. Lead, follow and get out of the way.
What do you think? Should we keep God waiting any longer?
Are You “TransChristian”?
America is a “transChristian” nation – and it’s killing our witness. It may be killing yours. The need for real, penetrating spiritual awakening in the United States has never been greater. This week’s shootings of two black men by police, one in Minnesota and another in Louisiana, and yesterday’s sniper attacks that killed or wounded at least 10 Dallas police officers, should convince us. It is the same thing, different day, in America.
Hatred, division and racism are at all-time highs – and so is hypocrisy. If the downward spiral is not reversed by a real move of God, the move of men will triumph. God may not be dead, but if we marginalize him by our actions – and inaction – haven’t we achieved the same end?
TIME TO SAVE OUR FAITH
A “transChristian” is someone who self-identifies as a Christ-follower but whose actions contradict their confession. Look around and you will notice that America is filled with transChristians. Look in the mirror. You just may find one staring back at you.
American Christianity has been hijacked by an inside job. Inside each professing Christian, there seems to be a still, small voice that embraces compromise, complacency, comfort and convenience rather than biblical surrender that alone can save the faith.
Ironic, isn’t it, that Christianity needs to be saved? It’s true. If Christianity isn’t saved, our nation will be truly lost. America in 5-10 years will not be recognizable. If you merely think this is unfortunate, you aren’t thinking deeply enough. You should be cut to the heart – and this is the problem. Most professing Christians living in America have a heart problem. We are not yet cut to the heart over what is happening to our nation. Christian, where are you?
SUNDAY’S BIG GAME
If you plan on attending church this Sunday, ask yourself what you plan to bring to the event. Will you enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, or with a critical spirit ready to analyze the music and critique the preacher, the modern equivalent of Balaam’s donkey? Balaam beat his donkey. (See Numbers 22). Don’t pummel your preacher. God, like Balaam’s ass, may be speaking through your pastor.
Pastors, have you forgotten your high calling? 1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God” (NIV). If you are preaching anyone’s words but God’s, please do everyone a favor and step away from the pulpit. America is burning. We need to hear the thunderous, inspiring and transforming voice of the Almighty, not your clever attempts at rhetoric and prose. In as little as six months from now, no one will remember what you preach this Sunday – unless God shows up when you open your mouth. Your messages need to count here and now by bringing eternity into temporal lives. If they don’t, please don’t waste anyone’s time. The pulpit is your chance to mobilize your flock to become a mighty army for the glory of God. Don’t squander it.
Elders and deacons, do you fight with your pastors? Do you seek control rather than a real move of God among your people? Is your own reputation and opinion more important than that of Jesus? Can we really afford to be divided any longer? Have we forgotten what Jesus warned when He said,
“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25, ESV)?
Division among church leaders at this time in America is spiritual suicide. Stop infighting and get focused on the real enemies of the faith – the world, the flesh and the devil. If you haven’t noticed, they are doing a number on America. The reason? You’ve lost your focus.
IT’S NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM
A transChristian is someone who self-identifies as a Christ-follower but whose actions contradict their confession. TransChristianity is responsible for the slow, agonizing death of America. The political freak-show that is now upon us shows no sign of going away any time soon – and it won’t without real revival across America.
We need to stop talking about and praying for “revival” as if it’s something everyone else needs. The truth is that our nation needs a big-time bath, and it’s time for you to draw up your own water and grab a bar of soap. This fake brand of Christianity we’ve all embraced has killed the faith that needs to be resurrected.
The only way to resurrect real Christianity is through genuine, biblical repentance as a matter of lifestyle. Jesus’ first words on the scene were
“’The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15, NIV).
The verb tense of the Greek of Mark 1:15 would be best translated as “repent and keep repenting” and “believe and keep believing.” Biblical belief can’t be separated from perpetual repentance.
If you’re not in the process of perpetually repenting throughout each day – changing our ways, your thinking and your lifestyle so that they really reflect the ways, thinking and lifestyle of Jesus Christ – you are living as a transChristian. You’re merely self-identifying as a Christ-follower, but aren’t actually following Him at all. It’s time to rediscover – or perhaps discover for the first time – what it really means to be a Christian. You simply can’t be one if you aren’t following the Leader.
The National Week of Repentance is coming. It couldn’t come soon enough. You need to participate in this national event from October 30 – November 6, because Christianity in America has been hijacked and it’s time she was saved. To participate, visit RevivalMatters.com – and spread the word. It’s time to crucify the transChristian movement that has overtaken our nation and choked the source of all real hope and change.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR READERS. WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAS CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA BEEN HIJACKED? ARE YOU “TRANSCHRISTIAN”? DOESN’T OUR NATION NEED REAL REVIVAL – AND DOESN’T IT NEED TO BEGIN WITH YOU?
It’s one of the most important questions you’ll ever face. The answer, therefore, is even more important. After all, what good is asking a question if you can’t find the answer? More importantly, finding the answer to this key question is vital if you really hope to sop the most out of the only life you’ll ever live.
Here’s the million-dollar question: how can I maximize my faith, so that I reach my greatest potential? How can I squeeze every last drop out of the sponge of my life, so that when it’s over I’ve wrung all I can out of it?
Here’s the billion-dollar answer: to build your faith, lift your Bible.
To get the life of Christ flowing out of you, the Word of Christ must dwell within you. One can achieve many things in this life, but it’s always important to remember that we only go around once. We cannot afford to miss the vitals along the way. Colossians 3:16 says this:
There is simply no substitute for a steady diet of God’s Word, the Bible. Consider what Romans 10:17 says:
To build your faith, lift your Bible. You absolutely can do something very practical, no matter who you are, to build your faith and change every day of your life. You can read your Bible. It’s God’s prescription for filling the reservoirs of belief, hope, and faith.
I keep a Bible on my nightstand. It helps me reach for it in the morning, first thing, and at night, last thing. In this way, I can “sandwich” my days with the Word of God. I have found that when I start and end my days in the Bible, everything in-between goes far better. I’ve learned this by trial and error, constantly reminded of the great grace of God, who is so very patient despite my lapses – and I’ve had many. But God used even those lapses to teach me this very simple, very powerful truth: there is power in the Word of God, the Bible. Like no other book, it builds faith – and who can’t use more faith in these troubling times?
Begin your day with the Bible
Read it and seek to apply it. This is what will keep you from becoming merely more familiar with the Bible. God’s objective in your life is that you become a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2), not a walking contradiction. The best way to become a living sacrifice is to read the Word of God with a keen eye and open heart for ways in which you can apply it. It’s the application of the Word that will transform your life. If you don’t believe me, ask any Pharisee. Though there were thousands of them during the time of Christ, not only of them was chosen by Him as an Apostle. In the end, Jesus chose “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13) to pick up His mantle and change the world. The same is true today. If you are an unschooled, ordinary person, God can use you.
End your day with the Bible
One of the secrets of Bible memorization is to read it right before you turn out your light and lay your head on your pillow. Your subconscious mind and the Holy Spirit are great bedfellows. They work well together while you rest. If you read your Bible – distraction free – and really pay attention to what you read, and do this as your very last thing each day, you will be amazed at what you retain. In the morning, you’ll remember what you read the night before. It will have sunk into deeper depths, a ready reservoir from which you will be able to draw throughout your day.
Wring all you can out of the life you’ve been given by soaking in the handbook for life, the Bible. If you do so, yours will be a life worth living – and one that others will want to emulate. Why? Because they will see in you a living, breathing example of what it means to live by faith in a very fear-filled world. They will see in you a solution to the same problem you once had – the problem that began with the question “how can I maximize my faith, so that I reach my greatest potential? How can I squeeze every last drop out of the sponge of my life, so that when it’s over I’ve wrung all I can out of it?”
Life is happening. To build your faith, lift your Bible.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to know.
Is Your Bible Reading Plan Turning You Into A Pharisee?
There’s something powerful about going through the Bible verse-by-verse. Eventually, every conceivable topic gets covered. The Bible remains a timeless, practical handbook for life. This is why I practice what’s known as “expository” preaching. Even if I am doing a topical message, I teach it from the Bible, verse-by-verse. I simply think God has said more than I could ever say. Yesterday, I reached a milestone, delivering my 101st expository message through the Gospel of Luke. It might surprise you to learn that Bible reading plans concern me. Deeply.
Is your Bible reading plan turning you into a Pharisee? If you’re not careful, it could. In fact, it may have already done so. That’s not the really scary thing. What’s more scary is that it may have happened and you may not realize it.
If you or I had to face a Pharisee in an Old Testament knowledge contest, I’d put my money on the Pharisee. With the modern equivalent of a PhD in Old Testament, the Pharisees had it down.
There were about 6,000 Pharisees during the time of Christ (Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus) – but consider this:
- Jesus did not choose one Pharisee to be an Apostle.
- Not a single Pharisee was chosen to write so much as a single word of the New Testament.
- Not a single Pharisee was called to plant a single church.
When you really take time to think about it, this is outright disturbing.
THE PROBLEM WITH BIBLE READING PLANS
The problem with Bible reading plans is that they focus on speed and quantity. When we focus on reading through the Bible in a year, or thirty days, or whatever self-imposed timeline we may embrace, we miss the objective out of the gate. If the foundation is askew, the roofline will follow.
The Pharisees read the Old Testament – often. Think about what Pharisees did with their “Bible.” They . . .
- Memorized it
- Quizzed each other over it
- Rewarded each other for knowing it
- Took great pride in what they knew about it
So, you’d think the Pharisees would be über-prepared for the arrival of Jesus, able to recognize Him from a mile away. Nope. They not only missed Him, but also resisted Him. Ironic? Tragic. If you’re not careful, this could happen to you.
Luke 24:27 teaches that all of the Old Testament is about Jesus:
John 1:1-2 says
Then, in John 1:14, we read these words about Jesus that should stop us in our tracks every single time we revisit them:
Tragically, when the Word who became flesh arrived on the scene – the very One about Whom the Old Testament is written – the Pharisees not only missed Him, but they were also strategic in having Him crucified. Ouch.
Is your Bible reading plan producing a modern-day Pharisee? Are you merely becoming increasingly familiar with the Bible, but missing Jesus – and the application of Jesus – to your own life and the lives of people with whom you encounter?
Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me . . . ” (John 5:39)
CAREFULLY CONSIDER . . .
- The purpose of all Bible reading and study is not to merely know more of the Bible.
- The purpose of a sermon or Sunday school lesson is not to simply provide information about Jesus and the Bible. (It drives me nuts that many sermons and “lessons” today are, at best, merely a compilation of facts and information provided from commentaries. Rarely do they rise to what Peter, the man who preached that spectacular sermon on the Day of Pentecost where 3,000 souls accepted Christ, says about the messenger and his message: “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God,” 1 Peter 4:11, ESV).
- The purpose of a home Bible study is not to simply sit around and discuss what the Bible teaches.
The purpose of all Bible reading and study, all sermons and all listening to the Bible is to encounter Jesus Christ – and to be transformed in the process so that we don’t merely learn about Him, but become more like Him. This is what it means to be a “Christian,” which means “little Christ.” We cannot become like Christ in nature, but the whole point of following Him is so that we become like Him in character.
James 1:22 says it well:
Have you deceived yourself? Is your Bible reading plan producing a Pharisee? Be careful, it could happen to you. By all means, READ YOUR BIBLE. BY ALL MEANS, STUDY IT. Just make sure you think deeply about what you read, and apply it to your life as if your life depends upon it. In many instances, it does.
When I was five years old, my father took me on my first fishing trip off the Jersey shore, in a party boat. I wouldn’t call what happened on that boat a “party” by a long shot. To this day, it remains one of the longest days I’ve had to endure. I got so seasick that traditional chum was not needed to lure the fish. I recycled my breakfast into the ocean, offering the fish my bacon and egg breakfast, complete with orange juice and buttered toast, thickly smeared with jam.
There were too many other fishermen on that boat with iron stomachs – and every single one of them was there to catch fish. No chance they would turn around and bring me back to the docks.
Dad figured he might as well make due. To keep me from stumbling overboard, and to accomplish his goal of fishing, he wedged me between his butt and a bench. He kept me somewhat stable as the boat swayed, the ocean sprayed and the sickening stench of diesel fumes, mixed with cigarette smoke filled my gut. I fed the fish again and again. Why Jesus didn’t use this imagery to describe Hell beats me. I love the ocean – from the beach.
When I am at the beach, my mind invariably drifts toward the story of Jonah and the big fish (it wasn’t a whale). The problem with the biblical story of Jonah isn’t in figuring out how a grown man could be swallowed by a big fish. It isn’t in figuring out how Jonah could survive inside a fish for three days and nights. The problem is how much I am just like Jonah – and I don’t like it any more than diesel fumes on a rocking boat filled with smoking fishermen. Jonah’s problem was that he was more concerned about a doggone plant than human beings. How is that even possible?
After finally obeying God and preaching to the people of Nineveh, Jonah took time to see if the people would respond to God’s message spoken through him. Here’s the account in Jonah 4:6-11 (ESV):
The only thing worse than diesel fumes, cigarette smoke and recycling a bacon and egg breakfast on the open sea, is to be called by God and not care about people. To know the love of God – to receive His favor and calling – and to not care that others receive the same is more disgusting than a seasick venture on a temporarily full stomach. It’s far too easy to sail through life and have more affection for things than for people.