MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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IF YOU THINK YOUR MARRIAGE IS ABOUT BEING FAITHFUL TO YOUR SPOUSE, YOU’RE WRONG. The longer you’re married, the greater the chances are that you will drift from understanding what your marriage is really about. This is counter intuitive, because one would think that as time passes, the more we would realize the number one secret to having a solid, growing, healthy marriage. Having counseled a lot of couples through more than two decades of ministry, I have seen couple after couple get it wrong about their marriage as time passes. Can I be honest? I’ve even seen myself tempted to miss what it’s all about. I bet I’m not alone. Your marriage isn’t about what you think it is.
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“I PROMISE TO LOVE, HONOR, AND CHERISH YOU — in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health . . . ’til death do we part.” We all made some sort of similar vow when we stood at the altar and pledged our love and faithfulness to our mate on our wedding day. If we’re honest with ourselves (and honest to God), you didn’t understand all that was involved in our marriage vows on the day you made them. If you did, you might not have have gotten married in the first place! It takes a lifetime of commitment to even begin to understand what we are really promising to do through the covenant of marriage. But that shouldn’t deter you. It should inspire you to discover the secret to a great marriage as quickly as possible so you can get busy enjoying its fruit. Here is the secret: You’re marriage will soar when you understand it isn’t only about being faithful to your spouse, but about being faithful to God.
STRUGGLE LESS IN YOUR MARRIAGE
If you struggle with loving your spouse, your real problem isn’t with your spouse — it’s with God. This is because marriage is not primarily about loving your mate. It’s about loving God. If you love God, you’ll love your partner. Love your spouse and keep your part of the bargain. If you understand that your commitment to be faithful to your spouse is really a byproduct of your commitment to God, you will bring renewed passion to your marriage — courtesy of God Himself.
Your spouse isn’t perfect — and neither are you. Imagine being God. He IS perfect, yet He is patient with you. If you keep waiting to find your fulfillment in your partner — to find fulfillment through your partner that can only come from God, today is a great day to recognize that and begin to ask God to do what only He can. Your spouse can certainly provide some of the fulfillment that can only come through marriage, but your spouse is not Jesus Christ. If you’ve made the mistake of making your spouse your savior, today is a good day to cut them some slack, repent, and get back to worshiping God, not your mate.
Your mate is fallen, limited, imperfect and yet loved deeply by God. The cross of Christ proves it. When you said “I do,” you said you would be faithful to God — and in the process be faithful to your spouse. If you know someone who is about to take the marriage plunge, help them understand what it’s all about, so that they can get their relationship off on the right foot. You’ll help set them up for success from day one.
Love your spouse and keep your part of bargain. Marriage isn’t just about being faithful to your mate, but about being faithful to God.
HAVE YOU MADE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING MARRIAGE IS ONLY ABOUT LOVING ANOTHER PERSON? HOW HAS THIS POST HELPED YOU?
IF YOU WALK WITH GOD TODAY, YOU WON’T FIND YOURSELF RUNNING FROM HIM LATER. Never was a nail more squarely hit on the head than the one John Bunyan nailed when he said, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” He was speaking about the Bible. What we tend to forget is that to read the Bible is to have a personal encounter with God — every single time. How many of us would love to have just one clear word from God? The truth is that we can have repeated words from God — as often as we want, any time we want, simply by quieting ourselves down, opening our hearts and minds, and reading the Bible. This can be your reality throughout the entire journey of your life. You can have as much of God as you like, starting today.
Walking with God is not difficult, though it will seem strange at first. This is natural, as Romans 8:7 says: “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” I’ve found that the more I read the Bible, the more I want to read the Bible. The more I want to read the Bible, the more I want to follow God. The more I enjoy Him. I begin to think His thoughts, treasure the things that matter most to Him — and the way I live begins to change. It directly affects my attitudes toward people, and if you haven’t noticed, people are a huge part of life. Walking with God changes everything because it changes me.
“No one who truly surrenders to God will ever live to regret it . . .”
The same can be true for you, no matter who you are and what your past or your present. You can walk with God. Today will take its place as a tile in the mosaic of your life. Why not walk with God, today? If you make this your daily practice, you’ll find little time to run from God. Running from God only messes things up more. It’s worse than rubbing salt in the wound. At least, after rubbing salt, the chance of infection is diminished — but when we run from God we never make things better. Running from God always makes things worse — because when we run from Him we refuse to let the Miracle Worker do what He does best by straightening out what we’ve made crooked.
Yes, some things in life can take a while to straighten out once we’ve made them crooked. Walking with God doesn’t always mean there will be an instant fix (which is why it’s important to walk with God in the first place. It will reduce your need to start over, apologize, make amends, and get back on track). Walking with God is an ounce of prevention worth the pound of cure, and then some. But you shouldn’t let the thought that getting back on track (or getting on track in the first place) is not going to be worth the surrender.
Think of it this way: If you don’t walk with God now, what more painful problems will you be inviting into your life? Things always go better when we walk with God. Even if you made your path crooked, and that path may take a while to straighten out, the alternative of continuing to run from God will never lead you to the place of peace. Running from God always leads to more hardship, pain, difficulty, stress, loss and all kinds of negativity.
Ultimately, running from God costs us now and it can cost us forever. Consider these words of Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV), who knew a thing or two about encouraging people to walk with God while they still had time:
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved — even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
There are eternally significant consequences of walking with God. Those consequences begin today. No one who truly surrenders to God will ever live to regret it. That’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way — and it helps me moment by moment, throughout each day, so that I remember the best choice I can possibly make is to walk with God. The other option always leads to loss.
Walking with God is a topic I love to address when I speak to groups. Maybe your church or group would benefit hearing me address this personally through a live message. If so, click here and we can explore some possibilities for your people.
HAVE YOU BEEN RUNNING FROM GOD? TODAY IS A GREAT DAY TO REVERSE THAT TREND AND START WALKING WITH HIM. WHAT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY THAT MAY INSPIRE SOMEONE READING THIS TO WALK WITH GOD? AND, DON’T FORGET TO SHARE IT . . .
ASH WEDNESDAY . . . “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” — Genesis 3:19 (NIV)
REMEMBER: TODAY WILL TAKE ITS PLACE AS A TILE IN THE MOSAIC OF YOUR LIFE. LIFE IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT HOW LONG WE LIVE, BUT ABOUT HOW WELL WE LIVE WHILE WE’RE ALIVE. God formed man from the dust of the earth, and when we pass from this life, our bodies return to dust — at least for a little while. Ash Wednesday is a good reminder that death is inescapable. The real question, in the meantime, is are you really living the life God envisioned for you? Are you in any way:
- Limiting yourself?
- Living in the past?
- Settling for mediocrity?
- Allowing yourself to live a defeated life, when you could be walking in victory?
Today is the day to remember eternity — it’s where you’ll spend most of your time. What’s holding you back from living a life entirely surrendered to God? Why limit yourself, and God’s best? Why postpone living the kind of life Jesus envisioned for you when He hung on the cross? Too often, we allow the opinions of people to influence us, when all along the only opinion that matters is that of God. After all, we will not appear before the judgment seat of our mother and father. (We won’t even appear before the judgement seat of our mother-in-law. Isn’t that a relief?) 🙂
Each of us will appear before God and give an accounting of our lives (2 Corinthians 5:10). Are you living in light of this eventuality? It’s the only one that really matters. You and I should be living amazing lives — lives that greatly glorify God, enrich the lives of other people, and are personally rewarding. When we live in light of eternity, daily, this becomes a growing reality with increasing momentum.
Sadly, many of us allow our lives to be influenced by forces and factors that do not matter in the eternal scheme of things. The good news is that you can stop allowing yourself to be influenced by the wrong things — if only you will let God change your thinking and your heart, courtesy of the Bible. It’s God’s remedy for what limits us.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”– before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim . . .” — Ecclesiastes 12:1-3 (NIV)
WHAT ABOUT YOU? YOU HAVE ONLY ONE LIFE, AND SOON IT WILL BE PAST. ONLY WHAT IS DONE IN THE POWER OF GOD WILL LAST. HAVE YOU BEEN INSPIRED BY ANYTHING YOU JUST READ? I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU . . .
3 Tolerance Tips for Surviving
a Thick-Skinned Holiday Season
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- We’ve all seen the news stories – and the tweets that have prompted them. President-elect Donald Trump, a little more than a month from assuming the mantle of Leader of the Free World, taking a break from assembling a Cabinet and getting up to speed on the state of global affairs by calling out a critic as “terrible” and “dumb” or railing against Saturday Night Live for its parodies of him.
- The book on Trump in the wake of these Twitter rants is that he’s got a thin skin – hard to argue with when you consider SNL has been lampooning presidents since Nixon – and never before has once been goaded into publicly lambasting the series for it.
- But the president-elect’s troubles in holding his tongue – and his keyboard – when criticized can actually be instructive to all of us this holiday season. Alec Baldwin may not be launching into an unflattering impersonation of us at the dinner table, but the friends and relatives we will be sharing turkey and mistletoe with can give us a bad case of what I call “epidermis penetratus” – the ability to get underneath our skin.
(Recipe for Success)
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We Christians in America need a refresher on what it means to speak the truth in love. Equal parts of truth and love must be applied in all areas of life if we expect to enjoy God’s recipe for success. It’s what I’m calling a “successipe.”
Truth and love must always accompany each other. They are sisters, part of the same family. Consider Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV):
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
APOLOGY NOT NECESSARY
Stop apologizing for Jesus. He calls us to follow Him and His teachings – and to teach others, without apology. This is the “Great Commission” found in Matthew 28:19,20. Why are we behaving as if it weren’t so great after all?
Relativism has ravished the church. We’ve stopped speaking the truth because we’re afraid of being rejected. Our personal comfort and convenience have replaced the taking up of our cross and following the biblical Jesus. We have forgotten that He says,
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33, NIV)
One of the ways we deny Jesus is by refusing to speak His timeless word. But it all begins by our refusal to first live it. This, our great “omission,” has neutered modern-day Christianity. We are a far cry from the magnificent, divine glory of our faith seen in the Book of Acts – and throughout the Bible.
We have forgotten that the way of Jesus is narrow. Get over it and get on with it. The great need of the day is for the Great Commission to be lived and taught – without apology or compromise. Truth still matters, because Jesus is still “the way, the truth and the life” and no one comes to the Father apart from Him (John 14:6).
We must stop apologizing for the truth. Live it. Speak it. Teach it to others. Doing so is the most loving thing you and I can do, because Jesus still says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
The most hateful thing you can do to yourself – and to others – is to withhold or reject the truth. Tolerance to falsehood is not love at all, it is the most diabolical form of hatred because it results in bondage, not freedom.
LOVE LETTERS SPEAK TRUTH
We must rediscover that nearly all of the epistles in the New Testament were written to people facing particular cultural, social, theological, and moral issues, about which, God speaks. In other words, God cares about every part of our lives – and speaks to it, too. We have, however, forgotten this.
A look at the modern pulpit, Sunday school class, the modern Bible college, and the modern seminary, reveals a very different approach. We are preaching, teaching – and living – as if God’s word needs to be sanitized. As if it exists in a vacuum. No, God’s word needs to be applied as the healing balm to the festering wounds that relativism, reverse intolerance and hatred have inflicted. People are bully God – and we Christians are, sadly, okay with it.
“But we don’t understand the modern application: God doesn’t need numbers to change the world. He needs unwavering dedication. In a word: worship.”
Our retooled “gospel” has no power. The apostle Paul said “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Today, we are ashamed – and powerless – when boldness and power are exactly what we all need.
If we’re not willing to bring the Bible to bear on the particular issues of the day by speaking the truth, then salvation itself is not possible. Freedom will escape us all.
FEAR OR FAITH?
We’re afraid to speak the truth because church leaders are afraid of losing their church’s nonprofit status. We’re afraid of losing members, and it all goes to prove that we have confused church growth and popularity with discipleship and loyalty to the Jesus we say we’re following.
This is where millennials may want to jump up and shout with affirmation – but we need much more than mere shouting. We need genuine spiritual awakening. We need a movement of repentance. This is the epicenter of every true revival, and where real hope and change begin.
We love the stories in the Bible of the heroes of our faith. We love the story of Gideon, where God had to pair down the size of his army. But we don’t understand the modern application: God doesn’t need numbers to change the world. He needs unwavering dedication. In a word: worship. But our understanding of “worship,” too, has been hijacked, mistaken nowadays for mere musical arrangements rather than the rearranging of our entire lives for God’s unfiltered, unhindered, unapologetic glory.
THAT LOVE THING
The second thing we need to do love people as we speak God’s truths. This does not mean we are to appear loving. It means we are to genuinely love people.
We should be doing all that we can to teach people God’s unadulterated, absolute truths, so that people everywhere can enjoy God here, now, and forever. Remember, truth sets people free. Falsehood sets them up for failure.