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4 Keys to the Pineapple of Success

I just returned from a life-changing family vacation on the South Carolina coast. It was truly transformational. While frolicking in the beautiful blue waters with wife and sons, I had an epiphany so profound and potent that I simply had to share it with you – and anyone on the never-ending quest for happiness and success. Let’s have some funHere, in a nutshell are four keys that I guarantee will lead you to the very pineapple of personal success:

1. Get a good edumacation. Nothing can compensate for a lack of edumacation. (Except, perhaps, good looks, a lot of inherited money, or being born into a prestigious family). Whatever you do, don’t skimpy on the expense of a good edumacation. In the long run, a short-cut taken there will cost you far more than you realize. A good edumacation will make you look edumacated – and when ewe consider the altercation, that’s not a bad thing at awl. 

2. Make sure you use good grammage and punctual. When a person doesn’t use well grammage, and has a hard time spelling or using punctual properly, it reflects pourly. Make sure periods, commons and parentsthesesis are propertly used and placed. Of course, a solid edumacation will include good grammage, spelling and punctuals, but even if you can’t afford one, you can always pick up a book or too and learn the rules for grammage, spelling and punctuals so you don’t end up looking like a complete fool. 

3. Invest in a good bugger board. This is a must for anyone who wants to ride the waves of not just the South Carolina coast, but the waves of any coast. Yes, you can body-surf for hours, but with a good bugger board you can surf all day long. There are plenty of places at the beach where you can buy a good bored for under ten dollars. Spend an extra dollar or two on a good bored and get one. The surf will never be the same. Get a good bugger bored.  

4. Make sure you spell check anything you want others to reed. I cannot emphasize the importification of this too over highly. Spell checking is vital for any kind of righting these days, and is a clear sign of an edumacated person who knows how to interact with others in a repectifying way. Spell check everything that you think someone else may reed. Yule be glad you did. 

Well, there you have it, fresh off the heels of my beautiful South Carolina beach vacation – my 4 keys to the “pineapple” (aka pinnacle) of success. If you prioritize the above four things, yours will be a life others will dream of having. But most of all, it will be the life you always dreamed of, too. 

Loosen up a bit. Make time to laugh. Don’t take life so seriously all the time. After all, laughter is God’s great gift in a fallen world. 

What’s one thing you would want to encourage someone else to learn that you think would help them succeed? I’d love to know, and so would our readers, I’m sure. 

Beheading in the Last Days: Is there a correlation with Islam?

Beheading in the Last Days: Is there a correlation with Islam?

Anyone familiar with Islam knows that beheading is not simply one of the ways to kill those who do not agree with its teachings. In Islam, beheading is the preferred, ultimate way to kill an “infidel.” This is not an interpretation of Islam. It is a verified fact. According to Muslim accounts of history, Muhammad is believed to have decapitated hundreds and hundreds of people. And, he encouraged others to do the same. Muhammad is revered as the ultimate warrior and the ultimate prophet – and all Muslims who are really devouted to Islam’s teachings are encouraged to follow the example of . . . Muhammad, the beheader.
For students of the End Times (eschatology), Muhammad’s actions and the Islamic emphasis on beheading opponents may have greater significance than most Christians have considered. What is happening today may very well have an amazing, sobering correlation to what the Bible predicts will happen in the latter portion of the last days.

When we read Revelation 20:4 and we consider what is happening today on a growing scale, any student of the Bible and world events should sit up and take notice:

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God (the Bible) and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (ESV)

WILL BEHEADINGS BECOME A GLOBAL NORM?
Ever wondered if there is a correlation between Revelation 20:4 and the rise of Islam, where beheadings are spoken of in an amazingly matter-of-fact manner? You may not need to wonder any longer. As recently as a year ago in America, beheading was foreign to our common understanding of martyrdom for Christ. Amazingly, when we explore the Book of Revelation, something has changed. Beheading seems to be referenced with an uneasy, yet familiar, manner.

“There are far too many “coincidences” between what the Bible predicted so very long ago and what is now coming to pass”

One thing seems to be suggested by Revelation 20:4:  as time passes, beheadings will become a common means of exterminating Christ-followers. When we consider that Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise and that it embraces beheading as the preferred method of execution, one cannot help but be amazed.

Practically speaking, what does it mean if there is indeed a correlation between beheading, the End Times, and Islamic fundamentalism? Simply put, it means the Bible, once again, is true.

ARE WE APPROACHING THE END OF DAYS?
Folks, you just can’t make this stuff up. There are far too many “coincidences” between what the Bible predicted so very long ago and what is now coming to pass. Beheading for faith in Jesus? Why so, when in the day and age when Revelation was written beheading was not the common practice? When we consider that Islam itself was not born until about five hundred years after Revelation was written – and that beheading was not the global, endorsed practice that it would later become under Islam – the wise person should sit up and take note.

Are we in the End Times? We have been for nearly 2,000 years. Consider what 1 John 2:18 says – and that it was written nearly 2,000 years ago:

“Children, this is the last hour . . .”

Acts 2:14-17  clarifies that the End Times really began on the Day of Pentecost:

“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be . . .'”

Peter references Joel 2 and says that the miraculous occurrences on the Day of Pentecost were the beginning of the end.

Hold on to your seat, folks. Look up like never before and draw near to God. Not out of fear, but in faith. The Bible really is a book that man couldn’t write if he would and wouldn’t write if he could. It’s accuracy is absolutely mesmerizing. What is emerging globally is simply the opening act. More is on the horizon. The encore performance is yet to occur. 

What do you think? Might there be a correlation between the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the global increase in beheadings and Revelation 20:4? If so, what could this mean in regard to the Antichrist and the one-world government? How should we, then, live?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, below . . .

Click here to listen to a companion podcast on the End Times called The Last Hour, by Michael Anthony

Avoid the Slide: What people think really doesn’t matter

The slide happens to us all if we’re not careful. We begin to believe that our identity is wrapped up in what other people think of us. We begin living to please people and chase whatever expectations we think they have. It’s a slippery slope, and you must avoid it at all costs. If you don’t, you’ll waste precious time – life itself – trying to please people whose opinions, eternally speaking, really don’t matter. Since none of us gets a second chance at life, avoiding the people-pleasing trap is incredibly important. How can we avoid the slippery slope of beginning to live life around the expectations of others? Here are a few fast thoughts that I think will help you. They help me, and I need to remind myself of them continually:

  1. Our hunger for human approval is a reflection of how closely and consistently we are walking with God. I have found that the closer I walk with God, and the more consistently I do so, the less I am swayed by the opinions of people. Walk closely with God by reading and reflecting on His Word, the Bible, and pray all the time. But don’t do all the talking. Let God talk, through His Word, and then put His Word into action. The more you do this, the less tempted you will be to seek out or be influenced by the opinions of people.
  2. Fame and popularity don’t make us more important or valuable to God. Every single one of us is the same – regardless of how well-known or unknown we are. Don’t make the mistake of basing your value on your notoriety. You are already known – well known – by God. He knows our shortfalls and He knows our strengths. But at the foot of the cross, all of us are equal. When we seek the approval of people, it’s a sign that we have lost our appreciation of already being accepted by our heavenly Father, through what Jesus did on the cross. This, of course, is true if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. If not, it’s time to do that, have all your sins removed once and for all, and get on with the real purpose of life, which is my next point.
  3. The real purpose of life is to love and enjoy God, not love and enjoy the approval of people. When I remind myself of this I breathe a sigh of relief. I realize I don’t need to run a rat-race that I can never win – the approval of people. Since I am approved by God, through Christ’s finished work on the cross, I can relax. I can breathe easily. God approves of me. Why would I need the approval – or seek the approval – of anyone else? The same is true for you.

Are you tired of seeking the approval of people? Maybe it’s time to rest in God’s approval. Believe me, the alternative is nowhere near as freeing.

I’d love to hear what you think about this . . .

What to read next: The Speed of Life or Watch What Comes in Your Back Door

The speed of life

“Watch out, Michael, life goes too damn fast. Before you know it, it’s over!”  These are the words of my father days before his last breath. The cancer had quickly gotten the best of him, but not his ability to speak his mind with blunt force trauma. He had an epiphany about life that seemed to come too late. In learning late, Dad taught me early. 

Be careful: the speed of life accelerates as we age. Not in real time, but in time as we experience it. The more I try to slow life down, the less I am able to keep up. Time evaporates so quickly. Why do we live as if we have an unlimited amount of the one resource that is most limited? Time is the one thing of which we cannot buy more – and yet we treat it as if we can. Why do we allow ourselves to be so self-deceived? And by the time we realize what we’ve allowed, it’s a bit too late. The best time of our lives has already slipped by.

Time is the one thing of which we cannot buy more – and yet we treat it as if we can. Why do we allow ourselves to be so self-deceived?

My children are growing in age and height. More wrinkles appear on my face, and my body cannot do the things it used to do with ease. This is everyone’s lot. Eventually, life catches up to us – and then it does an underhanded thing – it passes us in the speed lane. 

When I was younger I remember how summer vacation seemed an eternity. No responsibilities. No limit to how often I could play on our small farm, run in the fields, skip stones in our pond, or overturn large rocks in our stream in search of crawdads. But now those days are gone – and the mix of life’s temporal and eternal aspects stands before me like a winter’s day, cold yet beautiful.

It is, at times, easy to lose heart. I will one day have to say goodbye to my handsome sons and beautiful wife. I will most likely have to do this when I am not thoroughly prepared, no matter how well I may try to brace myself. Though none of us is ever truly ready to go, our going will come at God’s appointed time. The temporal will yield to the eternal. Cold will give way to beauty. Forever.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV)

Time cannot steal what God gives to us so richly. 

The Psalmist prayed it well:

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 (ESV)

The funny thing about wisdom is that the more we get it the more we realize how little we have. Life is short. Live like it.

“Lord, give me wisdom to number my days so that I may get the kind of heart that comes from You. Without wisdom, I will drift away from what really matters most.” More than ever, this is my prayer. Is it yours? 

Does life seem short to you? Are you living it with God’s wisdom? Why not ask Him for a heart of wisdom as you begin each and every day, and repeat that heart-cry each and every hour?

I’d love to know what you think. 

Watch what comes in your back door

Most homes have at least one exit – and therefore as many entrances. The door that lets you out is often the door that lets you in. It’s the door that will let everything in – unless you decide otherwise. Likewise, there are many ways that an idea can enter our minds. Sometimes it’s intentional – but often it’s simply because we haven’t been paying attention. Failure to pay attention to our thought life that can ruin a day, a week, and if left unchecked, entire lives and relationships. 

Do you pay attention to the ideas that are trying to gain entrance to your mind? You absolutely should.

The deciding factor on what takes residence in your mind is nothing more and nothing less than vigilant intentionality. Do you pay attention to the ideas that are trying to gain entrance to your mind? You absolutely should. Not doing so can be lethal to your faith, your spiritual health, and your overall quality of living life as a God-follower.

Consider 1 Corinthians 10:5:

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . .” (ESV)

Mind your mind. It’s one of the main arenas where we either glorify or dishonor God. Pay attention to your thought life – and how your thoughts get there in the first place.

ACT LIKE A CHILD . . . OF GOD
Let me point out that if you have given your life to Christ, you are a child of God. But are you acting like one? Consider John 1:12-13:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (ESV)

God has a vested interest in caring for you, His child – but you must also care for yourself. One of the primary ways to care for yourself is to carefully, intentionally, vigilantly pay attention to the various access points of our minds. If you’re not careful, ideas will set up residence and wreak havoc. They will absolutely undermine our faith.

Here are some questions to help you take captive every thought, and make it obedient to what truly honors God:

  • Do the things you watch and listen to grieve or honor God?
  • Are you lazy about your thought life?
  • If God got a hold of your smart phone, tablet or computer, what would He learn about you? (I bet you thought this was a silly question, because it’s not possible to withhold these from God. But this is the point: you know this. Live like it’s so).
  • Are you in the habit of taking captive every thought, ensuring it honors God and complies with His Word, the Bible?

Pay attention to what you let in through the back door of your mind. You may be suffering unnecessarily, when all you need to do is shut the door.

A penny for your (captive) thoughts? I’d love to know . . .

Meet your 3 new friends: Should, Must and Will

If you are going to follow someone, you need to know where they’re going. Think about this long and hard because the rest of your life depends upon how deeply you agree. Walk away from your computer for a moment. Put down your tablet or your smart phone and let this really sink in before you keep reading.

“The moment you accept Christ as your Savior and Lord (Master), three new friends enter the story of your life.”

You can’t follow someone if you don’t know where they’re going. Nowhere is this more imperative than in your walk with Jesus Christ, because to be a Christian is to be a Christ follower. If you don’t know where Jesus wants to take you, and you don’t delight in genuinely following Him, you might as well have never given your life to Him as Savior.

FIRST THINGS FIRST
The first thing Jesus saves us from is the path we were on – and the path we will each pursue without Him. It is the path of following anything and anybody but Him. If your life is not characterized by the all-consuming priority of following Jesus Christ, you either veered off the path or never got on it in the first place. You may be a dabbler, but a disciple you are not.  
Consider Jesus’ definition of what it looks like to follow Him, and what it means to be a disciple:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)

“Go therefore and make disciples . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded . . .” – Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)

A DEVILISH DISCREPANCY
Jesus didn’t water down what it means to be a God-follower. We do that masterfully all by ourselves. When we look at the words of Jesus and what He says must characterize the life of a disciple, and we look at what we’ve made it in the church, there is a devilish discrepancy. This discrepancy has sapped us and the church of His power. We’ve presented an unbiblical Jesus to the masses who, at their core, desperately need Him to not only save their souls but to also transform their lives. And, this transformation is not about just our circumstances. It is about God transforming us – the very core of who we are, what we think and how we live. The more you follow Christ the less you care about your circumstances and the more you care about who you are and how you live in the midst of your circumstances. 

“Maybe you’re one of the victims. Cast that half-story Gospel aside, kill and bury it – because if you allow it to live, it will definitely take you down a path, but Jesus will be nowhere to be found at its end.”

What we’ve done with Christianity is we’ve changed the message and the focus – without God’s permission. It’s subtle, and that’s what makes it especially serious. Build a home with a foundation that is off just a bit, and there will be dramatic consequences for the rest of the structure. The same is true with the change we’ve made to the foundation of the Gospel. We’ve implied to people and we’ve told them outright – by leaving out the most important part – that it’s possible to come to Jesus and be forgiven but not to absolutely depend upon Him, to cry out to Him daily, to seek Him for supernatural transformation. As a result, we don’t expect change, and we don’t expect to do the hard work of dying to ourselves that is necessary for that change. We have told people that Jesus can change their circumstances and neglected the kernel of truth that is the Gospel: Jesus can change them, and must change them, regardless of their circumstances.

If we remove the transforming power of Jesus Christ for the individual, apart from their circumstances, we are not offering them the “good news” of the Gospel. We’re robbing people of what they really need – a change from the inside-out courtesy of a surrendered life to God. Maybe you’re one of the victims. Cast that half-story Gospel aside, kill and bury it – because if you allow it to live, it will definitely take you down a path, but Jesus will be nowhere to be found at its end.

YOUR FIRST STEPS AND YOUR 3 NEW FRIENDS
Nowhere in the Bible – nowhere – is it presented that a person who truly surrenders to God doesn’t change. In some instances the change is sudden, like the conversion of Saul into the Apostle Paul (Acts 9). But in every single case, throughout the entire Bible, whenever someone truly surrenders to God the change is always dramatic. If your life is not over the course of time changing dramatically, becoming more Christ-like, you can be assured that you have not been following Christ. Christ-likeness, over time, is the clearest indicator that you have been actually following Jesus.

Coming to Christ in salvation is the first step in a new series of steps, an obvious and fundamental new direction for the rest of your life. The moment you accept Christ as your Savior and Lord (Master), three new friends enter the story of your life. They are should, must and will. If you have truly given your life to Christ you’ll extend to them the kindness they deserve. If you have truly received Christ as your Savior and Lord (Master), you should, you must and you will come to Christ perpetually, because in order to really follow Jesus, you will have to first know where Jesus is taking you. God doesn’t want you to simply say you are a Christian, a Christ-follower. We already have a multitude of such people. God wants you to be what you say you are.

A LIFE-TIME OF ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS
Right now, your life is happening. Many people have had an encounter with Jesus. But if you are a Christ-follower, God has not called you to a one-time encounter with Him, but a lifetime series of encounters, each of which will be revolutionary.

A Christian is someone who isn’t merely aware of the teachings of Jesus Christ. A Christian is someone who observes His teachings. The teachings of Jesus are found in the Bible. This is the simple grandeur of John’s words about the Word:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – The Gospel of John 1:1-14 (ESV)

Consider Jesus’ words about the Bible and how they apply to Himself:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 24:27 (ESV)

The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ. When you read, study and apply the Bible, God’s Word, you are literally following Jesus Christ. You are heading down the right path, the path of being a disciple, a Christ-follower. The calling of a disciple, distinct from a dabbler, is to follow Jesus, to observing His commands. It is not a call to simply familiarize oneself with His teachings. The only sure way to be a disciple is to familiarize yourself with what Jesus actually taught, what He still teaches, and what He wants you to do with your life by reading and applying His Word, the Bible. Your personal transformation hinges on your knowledge – and application – of Jesus’ teachings from Genesis to Revelation. 

It makes no difference if the Bible is God’s Word if you’re not reading and studying it and putting it into action. Take up your cross, daily, and follow Jesus. Observe His commands, don’t be satisfied with simply knowing them. Many dabblers do. A disciple is a Christ follower. Will you be that follower today, by reading, studying and applying His Words?

Take time over the next 30 days to prioritize you secret closet. Don’t worry about the next six months. Just do it for 30 days, and when 30 days are through simply recommit yourself to the same endeavor. Your personal transformation, from the inside-out, will take a quantum leap forward. You have God’s Word on it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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