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The Intolerance of Tolerance

I tweet fairly often these days. I find it amusing.  Twitter attracts folks who like to argue. Some are good at it, demonstrating good thinking, while many others, well, they simply like to argue. About anything.
What’s driving pop culture is the unwise telling the rest of us what “wisdom” is – and how to live. The unwise are now embraced as wise. The train, however, is off the tracks. A train off the tracks is a dangerous spectacle. There is no way to get it back on track without outside assistance. Welcome to the new world disorder.

We live in a bizarre, frightening and opportune time in human history. The self-enamored unwise act as if their wisdom, expressed by tweets, have supernatural power to drop jaws and stop the world from rotating. Take for instance, this tweet, which at first seems wonderfully wise:

“Claiming that someone else’s marriage is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating a donut because you’re on a diet.”

Hmmmmmmm. Sounds invincible at first glance, doesn’t it? The problem is the flawed thinking behind it. Here’s how I responded:

“Unless he keeps trying to shove it in my child’s face while I am trying to teach about eating veggies.”

INTOLERANCE: THE NEW TOLERANCE 
If you aren’t for “anything goes,” you are considered to be the idiot, an outcast from the “wise” majority, a narrow-minded, bigoted, old-fashioned, out-of-touch, up-tight, judgmental extremist. But such thinking is fundamentally flawed because the exact opposite is true. As I tweeted yesterday, I say again, here:

“The very idea that there is such a thing as sin is discriminatory, and the Bible says a lot about it.”

What we’re witnessing is the world in a free-fall as we have rejected the idea that there are moral absolutes, universal for all people everywhere. The same bizarre reasoning behind the transgender movement has nowhere but down to go, birthing the idea of being trans-racial (thanks to Rachel Dolezal). But that’s not far enough if you embrace this brand of unthinking thinking. Trans-species, by the same reasoning, must follow. Trans-anything is the new standard. We are now living in a world of anti-standards.

RECOMMENDED READING FOR YOUR JOURNEY
In 1968, Francis A. Schaeffer wrote a predictive masterpiece called The God Who Is There. Fascinating read. And alarming. What we are witnessing now is society with its pedal to the metal in rejecting the idea of man being created in the image of God, with dignity, purpose and reason. Schaeffer hit the nail right on the head – decades ago. How did he do this? Because there really is such a thing as moral absolutes. Absolute truth is not a concept. It’s a reality. People cannot live for long apart from their created design. Life apart from truth is chaos, hardship and confusion.

This doesn’t end well, friends. So, how does one ride out this storm while the ship is sinking? Proverbs 22:3 is an outstanding verse to help you navigate through these troubled waters in which we row:

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

RECOMMENDED ACTION FOR THE STORM
Stop concerning yourself with what the unwise are presenting as wise. Exchange your cowardice for courage. Remember, you can dress up a pig any way you wish, but in the end it’s still a pig. The same is true for what is being presented as “wisdom.” It’s foolish nonsense no matter how well it’s packaged.

It’s time to strengthen your walk with God. How’s your prayer life on a daily basis? Are you walking with God? How is your Bible reading and application of what God is saying to you through it? A compass is an essential instrument when everyone around you is lost. The Bible is your compass. Dust it off and look up like never before.

While others are spiraling downward, away from God at break-back speed, you can be soaring upward, drawing near to God and experiencing true wisdom and the joy that comes with it. Doing this sooner than later, will prove to be one of the most strategically wise things you can do in a day where the common man’s “wisdom” is just plain stupid . . .

What to read next: How to Totally Change Your Life in 7 Days

What to do next: Share your comments, because I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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

What does God say about Transgender?

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Could it be any clearer? God is love. This verse, from 1 John 4:8, just about says it all. We should love people. God does. Anyone who claims to love God, but hates people has an incomplete, or warped, view of God. He loves all people, everywhere, no matter the extent of their sin. And so must we, if we claim to be one of His followers. God is love. End of discussion. Not so fast. 
If we’re going to accept that God is love, we must also accept the other parts of the Bible that speak about His other traits. For instance, while 1 John proclaims the nature of God being love one time, Isaiah announces His holiness – not once or twice, but three times:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
– Isaiah 6:3 (ESV)

The same Bible that says “God is love” also says that God is holy. If we pick and choose which verses of the Bible we like about God, and discard those we don’t, we end up with an idol – a self-fashioned, reconstructed “god” who isn’t really God after all. He is so entirely holy that no other trait describing Him is referenced in this way, three times in succession.

WRESTLING WITH GOD
The epic story of God is launched in Genesis with these monumental words that create the backdrop for all of life:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them . . . And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:27, 31 (ESV)

We were created in the image of God. We still are. Our current wrangling over sex and sexuality is really a wrangling over the nature and identity of God. Sexual confusion is a symptom of the real problem: confusion about God. Confusion about God leads to confusion about us.

We are now full-steam ahead in our efforts to recreate God in our own image. If the Bible teaches us anything, it teaches that all such attempts are futile. In other words, this path, if not reversed, does not end well.

LOVING PEOPLE, LOVING GOD
God does not fluctuate between degrees of love and holiness. He is, at all times, simultaneously love and holy. To love God is to love all of Him or nothing at all. To love people is to help them see that they are created in His image, and that image is not merely “good.” It is said in Genesis 1:31 to be “very good.” The idea is that we were created complete. We cannot succeed in adding to or subtracting from the image of God. Neither can we succeed when we add to or subtract from what He has created.

The most loving thing you can do in response to God’s love and holiness is embrace Him – all of Him – and help others do the same. Be careful you don’t recreate God into an inept, second-rate idol. Consider 1 Thessalonians 1:9:

“. . . you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”

Not all “gods” are alive and true. Have you turned from false, powerless gods to the living and true God? If you have, then don’t turn back. If you haven’t, then it’s time you discover Him. Read the Bible, and set aside your editorial temptations. Don’t pick and choose which parts you like and don’t, because if you do, you’ll be recasting God in your image – and then you’ll have problems with your own identity. Love God by embracing all of Him.

LOVE SOMEONE WHO IS STRUGGLING
If you know someone who is struggling with their gender affiliation, help them understand that God didn’t make a mistake when He made us male and female. He didn’t make a mistake in making them male or female. What God made and makes was, and is, very good.

When we allow someone to remain in a fog about God, we aren’t loving them at all. If anyone tries to tell you that you’re a narrow-minded “hater” because you believe what the Bible teaches about sex and sexuality, don’t be intimidated. Name-calling is one of the most elementary signs of immaturity and fear. Remember, sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never harm you. The most loving thing you can do for someone is to help them discover the truth about God. The way to do this is to help them read the Bible as is, without adding or subtracting to what it teaches about God. 

Remember: What we believe about ourselves is a reflection of what we truly believe about God. When we embrace the truth about God, and help others do the same, we model the most perfect love possible toward God and people. Once we do, all of life begins to make sense. Freedom begins with embracing the truth about God.

Are you afraid of knowing God or helping others know Him? Why? Learning the truth about God will help you learn about yourself. That’s what will really set you free.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stop Using this as the escape hatch it was never meant to be

I believe in the sudden, victorious and glorious return of Jesus Christ. Maybe you do, too. I believe His return will be unlike anything the world has ever seen. But I also believe many of us have subtly looked toward the return of Jesus Christ as an “escape hatch” from exercising leadership and personal responsibility at this vital time in U.S. and world history. We are paying a heavy price – and if we don’t soon reverse this trend, it may be too late. History may repeat itself in a very unfortunate way.
You may or may not believe in the “Rapture” – the belief in the sudden removal of Christians held so dear by so many. And if you believe in the Rapture, your view of its timing and circumstances may vary, depending on where you may be sipping coffee, lifting your hands in worship or perhaps serving at a soup kitchen. Christians can disagree on the reality of the Rapture – and the timing and circumstances – and still love Jesus Christ and one another. In fact, acknowledging one’s doctrinal differences, while maintaining unwavering devotion to the biblical Jesus and love toward others, is a sign of how well someone really knows and follows the Lord they may profess. It is this kind of mature love that reveals genuine discipleship.

JESUS CHRIST IS RETURNING
Beliefs about the Rapture aside, every Christian worth his/her salt believes in the return of Jesus Christ. This second advent is Christianity 101. Jesus is coming back. And, although there will be certain signs preceding His return, His reappearance will be sudden, global and undeniable:

“For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 (ESV)

Consider another sampling among many passages that affirm the return of Jesus Christ:

“. . . so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:28 (ESV)

And finally, consider the importance of repentance (turning from self to God) and the literal return of Jesus:

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” – Acts 3:19-21 (ESV)

A FEW TIMELY QUESTIONS IN LIGHT OF WORLD EVENTS

  • In the 1930’s and 40’s American Christians did not lean on the return of Christ as the escape hatch it’s become among us today. What if they did so while Hitler was rolling through Europe, Mussolini was trampling over Africa and the Japanese were overwhelming the South Pacific? We’d all be speaking German, Italian or Japanese. But it’s not about language: it’s about the fascist beliefs by which we’d all be enslaved. Courage, not complacency, made the difference in WWII.It was the exercise of a strong sense of responsibility that broke the back of tyranny which threatened the world not so very long ago. Today we face as much (if not more) crisis as did our ancestors in the 30’s and 40’s. Are we American Christians leaning too heavily on the Rapture, or the return of Christ, as the solution to our problems? What if American Christians in the ’30’s and ’40s embraced our “what will be will be, Jesus is returning” attitude toward world events? What if we don’t reverse this alarming trend, today?
  • What if the return of Jesus Christ is not as soon as many of us have been subtly assuming? We in America have lived very blessed, insulated, isolated lives. We’ve enjoyed unprecedented privilege – and this privilege has tainted our ability to remember what the majority of the world has experienced for centuries, and is now experiencing: oppression, hardship, difficulty, persecution. Suppose the Rapture, or the return of Jesus Christ, were not to happen for another 500 years? Would that change the way you view and act upon current world events?
  • What if Christian courage, leadership and involvement are the very things needed to turn things around? Did God stop calling us to be salt and light in this very distasteful, dark time? I didn’t get that memo, did you?
  • Where is it in the Bible where God’s people are told to merely occupy until Christ returns? The last words of Jesus to us all are “GO and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). This is not a passive mission – at all. If ever there was a call to action, this is IT

escape hatch

The return of Jesus Christ was intended to give us hope – but never as an escape hatch to shrink back from leadership in the midst of moral, political, theological or financial crisis. We American Christians have such a narrow understanding of history. And, in spite of all our seminaries, church plants and growth, we seem so shallow and powerless at the precise moment when we should be deep and wide. We shrink back so easily. This may be the very reason why history is about to repeat itself, in a very bad way.

But this need not be the case.May God wake us all up so that history is indeed repeated – but for the best, not the worst. Salt turns things from bland to savory. Light transforms darkness. This is our calling, from the very mouth of God – repeatedly. Courage. Responsibility. Leadership. Remember how central they were to the Christian faith? It is time, brothers and sisters, to live the calling of God for your life, family and church – while we still have time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and how God is moving you to change, accordingly.

What to read next: Your 30 Day Spiritual Revolution or Leadership Happens One Way Or Another.

World Events: Leadership Happens One Way or Another

America is in the middle of a very wide, very deep and very dangerous leadership crisis. Today it took the Prime Minister of Israel to give a historic speech in a Joint Session of Congress to help the world understand what should have been made clear by our Commander in Chief: a nuclear armed Iran is of no benefit to anyone on this planet. It seems as if our nation has fallen, and we can’t get up. (Watch PM Netanyahu’s speech, here.)

Where are my pastor friends and Christian leaders? What I mean is, why have we mistaken leadership position for actual leadership? Why are we so silent – so afraid – when it comes to recognizing and addressing our national leadership crisis? We are in the midst of a perfect storm – a storm of moral, political, theological and financial convergence – and instead of leading the discussion and influencing society as salt and light, we Christians in America are frightened, hiding and silent.Our actions prove the point: we are in the middle of a very deep and very wide leadership crisis. If we don’t dig ourselves out soon, I’m afraid we will soon be buried. Does anyone share my sentiment?

“The leadership void must be filled. It will be filled. The question is, by whom? Our world is more ripe than ever for a global Antichrist. “

AFRAID TO L-L-L-L-L-LEAD
Our leadership crisis is evident in all walks of life, but it is especially obvious among Christians. We’re afraid to l-l-l-l-l-l-lead. We seem to have exchanged leadership and courage for being hipster and trendy. If we Christians are not speaking to the moral, theological and spiritual issues of the day, then who is leading us – and what views are they encouraging us to follow? Haven’t we in the Christian community become ironicallyirrelevant through our silence?

If we want to be hip and trendy, we have Hollywood. But if we want the power of God coursing through our culture, we need God. And I’m not talking about those who reject Christ. I’m talking about those of us who say we follow Him. We’re not following Jesus if we are fear-filled, hiding and silent when the world desperately needs courage, boldness and clarity. Jesus wasn’t any of those things – and neither were any of His followers in the early days of our faith.

Perhaps when the annals of 21st Century American Christianity are written, it will be said of us that we feared criticism from people more than we sought the approval of God. How far we have strayed from the boldness of Peter and the other Apostles who, when facing opposition, proclaimed “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). If Christian leadership is anything, it is bold. Cowardice and Christianity are not sisters. They are enemies.

What on earth has happened to us?We all seem to have marginalized ourselves, through our silence, at this key time in world history when godly leadership – leadership that is bent on protecting freedom and liberty – is absolutely vital.

FEAR, SILENCE AND THE ANTICHRIST

“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the redirection of fear toward a noble purpose.”

Our world will have her leaders – one way or another. We’ve allowed our fears to paralyze and silence us at a time when they should be driving us to the feet of Jesus and making us courageous. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the redirection of fear toward a noble purpose. Christian Courage is the byproduct of time spent with Jesus. Godly leadership is the byproduct of having the heart of God, which can only come when we spend time with Him. If this is true, then our root problem is neglecting Christ. Our godly leadership crisis is a symptom of the deeper issue.

Because of our fears and silence our world is more ripe than ever for a global Antichrist. In fact, fear and silence are magnets for antichrists. They multiply like cockroaches when God’s people don’t tow the line. We Christians who are in positions of leadership need to wake up and stop mistaking our leadership positions for real leadership. Holding a leadership position does not make any of us a leader. If we in Christian leadership positions don’t begin to lead – to really lead – I am afraid our decline will accelerate. We see this trend in the Bible again and again. When there is no godly leadership there eventually arises godless leadership. We seem to have forgotten a key teaching in the Bible – and history is again repeating itself.

“Would you prefer to pray for and submit to godly or godless leaders? If you prefer godly leaders, then begin to ask God to make you into one – and ask Him to raise up godly leaders all over the place – while we still have time.”

Leadership

Which would you rather be under, my Christian friend, godly or godless leaders?We are commanded in Scripture to pray for our leaders, and to submit to the governing authorities over us (1 Timothy 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:13-15). Would you prefer to pray for and submit to godlyor godlessleaders? If you prefer godly leaders, then begin to ask God to make you into one – and ask Him to raise up godly leaders all over the place – while we still have time. Don’t delay. Do this now. We’ve had our heads in the sand for far too long. We may not have as much time as we think we have to turn things around.

What is happening before our very eyes may one day be recognized as the most crucial time in U.S. and world history.The leadership void must be filled. It will be filled. The question is, by whom – and for what will the leaders stand once they arise? This should wake us up, and get us back on our knees – the starting point of all true transformation.

We are living in a simultaneously frightening and exciting time in world history.The leaders who arise will shape the future in absolutely astounding ways, for better or worse. What we need is godly, courageous leadership – not sometime next week or next month or in the next Presidential election. We need godly, courageous leadership now – and we need it everywhere.

COMING UP
In a post later this week, I’m going to address how the “Rapture” and the return of Christ have become evangelical “escape hatches” God never meant them to be. Stay tuned, and invite your friends.

WATCH NOW AND LEARN WHAT LEADERSHIP LOOKS LIKE:
Click here to watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech
to a U.S. Joint Session of Congress on March 3, 2015

Chime in. I’d love to hear your thoughts . . .

The Verdict: What the Resurrection Means

TheVerdict_Easter_140420

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11. Through the resurrection, we have God’s definitive statement on the life, message and identity of Jesus Christ. To dismiss the resurrection is to dismiss not merely Jesus Christ, but God Himself.

Man’s opinion of God is fluid; God’s opinion of man is fixed. Trust and obey or rust and decay. These are the words Leonard Ravenhill wrote to me in a letter years ago. Though dead, through his words, Ravenhill lives. God’s verdict is unchanging. He made his statement on the ministry, the message and the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ with the resurrection. The resurrection and the cross join hands to make God’s definitive statement about the human condition – and His solution.

We have a problem called sin. But God handled that problem through the cross of Christ. How do we know? Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is God’s definitive statement of approval of the ministry, message and Messianic identity of Jesus. Jesus was sent by God, is God’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, and is THE way God provided for the forgiveness of sin.

Here are some Bible verses to explore, which reveal God Himself raised Jesus from the dead, and that Jesus, therefore, had the full endorsement of God:

1. John 2:19-22 2. John 10:17,18 3. Romans 1:4 4. 1 Corinthians 6:14 5. Acts 2:24 6. Acts 3:15 7. Acts 4:10 8. Acts 5:30 9. Acts 10:40 10. Acts 13-30-37 11. Galatians 1:1 12. Ephesians 1:16-20

You may ask “so what?” Let me answer that question with a few questions of my own:

1. If God raised Jesus, what statement was He making?

2. Would God resurrect someone who misrepresented Him? Why would God resurrect a liar, or a crazy man making false claims about Him? Consider 1 Corinthians 15:14-22

3. How could Jesus predict His own death and resurrection, speaking on behalf of God, if He didn’t have certainty that God would act on His behalf, and raise Him up?

It’s no small thing to dismiss the resurrection. Before you do, think deeply about the above. Consider that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not only the greatest event in history, but that it is also the greatest verdict, the greatest statement made by God. Through it, we understand that the message of Christ is true: repentance is necessary. Accepting Him as Messiah, Savior, is essential. Doing so, and only doing so, removes all of our sin. The verdict is in. Jesus is God’s messenger, with God’s message. It’s time to consider the verdict of the resurrection, and what it means for you.

Listen to the companion podcast, The Verdict, through iTunes or our free Godfactor App.

aaaamike

About the Author: Michael Anthony is the Founder of Godfactor, the creator of the free Godfactor App (search for “Godfactor” in your app store), and the Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa. He loves the resurrection of Christ, because it’s God’s verdict – that belief in the ministry, the message and the identity of Jesus as God’s Messiah, leads to the forgiveness of sin, every single time, for every single person.

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