MICHAEL ANTHONY BLOG
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We are very grateful for Fox News publishing Mike’s open letter to the police and protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here is the letter, as well as the Fox News link as it appeared today. We would love your thoughts . . .
AN OPEN LETTER TO POLICE AND PROTESTERS IN CHARLOTTE, NC
There are two things I am not, which I will not pretend to be: a police officer or a black American. I cannot, and will not, imply that I either understand all that is going through your hearts and minds these days, nor will I insult your intelligence by trying to suggest that the solutions to the deep issues that keep resulting in altercations and deaths are easy. They are not.
Charlotte, you’re not alone. In fact, you reflect the new, increasingly violent, divided America. Words fail to express my grief, anger and bewilderment over the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was killed a few days ago by a black police officer in your city.
It’s nearly the same thing in a different city in America. Just a few days ago, Terance Crutcher was shot and killed in Tulsa, Okla., by police. It is reported that Scott was carrying a gun, while Crutcher had a gun neither on his person nor in his vehicle. In either case, death is always tragic, and is to be mourned.
In this day where so many are so polarized, and the spread of violence leaves the Zika virus in the dust, the ingenious words of Albert Einstein should awaken us: “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” It’s time to try something different.
“It’s time to deal with the root issues behind
the altercations, violence and death. It’s time that both sides –
and all of America – sit down and seek the real solution.
Until we become humble and bold enough to pursue it,
nothing will change.“
Neither putting police officers on administrative leave, nor rioting in the streets, will remove the underlying mistrust, misgivings and misunderstandings that keep perpetuating the ghastly insanity that is the new normal in America.
It’s time to deal with the root issues behind the altercations, violence and death. It’s time that both sides – and all of America – sit down and seek the real solution. Until we become humble and bold enough to pursue it, nothing will change. In fact, I’m humbly confident that the insanity we’ve witnessed will only get worse and spread.
Here’s the truth we need to face: We’re all dirty. There are no exceptions. Our entire nation needs a bath. Not the kind where we draw up warm water and soak to remove surface grime, but the kind where we draw near to something greater and grander than ourselves and seek to truly remove the filth within. That’s the cure for violence; that’s the antidote to racism.
For some of us, Christians like myself, that will look like drawing closer to the God who recognizes all life as sacred, all people are worthy of respect, all hatred or fear rooted in skin color is a generational evil that must be eradicated.
This is why I, as a pastor, have put out the call for a National Week of Repentance, to be held Oct. 30 to Nov. 6 (Visit RevivalMatters.com to participate). It’s time we Christians really humble ourselves before Christ.
I understand this is not the path for all. But humility is something we can all pursue. For some this will look like stepping out of the comfort zones that surround you — visiting different communities, striking up meaningful conversations with different people, challenging yourself to think differently about what you have long considered “right” and “wrong.”
For others it will mean taking a serious inventory of what’s in your own heart before you point the finger. Maybe for some it will even look like spending less time plugged into social media that often perpetuates the divide so you can spend more time being social – and helpful – in person.
We’re unified in this: the insanity must stop.
We need to try some fundamentally different things. We have to get to the heart of the matter, and the heart of the matter is your heart and mine. A bit of humility at this vital time will go a long, long way.
Michael Anthony is founder and president of Godfactor.com; founder of the National Week of Repentance (RevivalMatters.com); and lead pastor of Grace Fellowship of York, Pa. (GraceYork.com). All views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization. Follow him on Twitter @GodFactor.
What do you think?
why I hate evil far more than the 2nd amendent
( and you should, too)
IF YOU ARE AGAINST VIOLENCE, YOU HAVE TO BE IN FAVOR OF ITS DEATH.
The past 48 hours have been especially violent for America, with deadly attacks in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey. As much as none of us in our right minds rejoices in the death of anyone, there are times when the death of evil should – and must – take precedence over the death of the innocent.
I don’t love guns – but I do love innocent people. This is why I know how to use, and have been certified to conceal-carry, a legal firearm. It’s why I encourage others to do the same as a means of being prepared to stop evil when it rises up.
For the record, I’m a pastor — and since we’re talking about the record, let me set it straight, because so much of our thinking about evil is askew. Hold on a moment, because if you really think about what I’m saying you just may find yourself agreeing – all ideology aside.
What happened at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minn., on Saturday – a knife-wielding attacker stabbing nine, thankfully none fatally — supports my stance. It is a stance made continually by law-abiding, conceal-carry citizens who unabashedly love the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment. Our hatred of violence and love of a peaceful society where freedom, not violence and control, reigns, is part of what drives us. Sometimes, the only way to deal with violence is to use deadly force. Spare the violent and the meek can be murdered.
In a news conference, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis provided a synopsis of the knife attack, and how it was stopped by a law-abiding, violence-hating, off-duty police officer who just happened to be carrying a concealed firearm:
“Jason Falconer, a part time police officer for the Avon Police Department, was shopping at Crossroads Mall at the time of the attack . . .
“Officer Falconer walked into the department store and identified himself to the suspect. The suspect then waved a knife and lunged at Falconer, quickly closing the 20-foot gap between them. Falconer raised his gun and shot the suspect. Knife still in hand, the suspect got up and continued to approach the officer and was shot again. The suspect tried to get up two more times before being fatally shot.”
Mayor Kleis and Chief of Police Blair Anderson credit the off-duty, conceal-carry-permitted officer with preventing further carnage.
What if Minnesota was a state where conceal-carry was illegal? What if we lived in a nation where the 2nd Amendment was marginalized or altogether eliminated? What if law-abiding citizens were restrained from restraining violence? You know the answers, and they lead nowhere good for a peaceful, lawful, free society.
THE UPPER HAND
If we keep rejecting common sense by villainizing such law-abiding citizens who hate evil and conceal-carry as a means of restraining it, evil will gain the upper hand. In fact, I think we’re already seeing this happen, thanks to politically correct people who are theologically incorrect.
You see, the sixth of the Ten Commandments is not, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Better translations are “You shall not murder,” and “You shall not take an innocent life.” The proper translation is a game-changer. The truth is that innocent, law-abiding people have a right – and an obligation before God and each other – to do all they can to protect other innocent, law-abiding people and to strive toward a peaceful, free society. To not do all that is within our power to restrain evil is, by default, to promote it.
A FOUNDATION OF COMMON SENSE
Our Founding Fathers were men filled with common sense – a trait going the way of the panda bear in our modern times. It’s what led them to draft and adopt The 2nd Amendment, the right to “keep and bear arms.” Why? For no other reason than to restrain evil. The 2nd Amendment is not an endorsement of hunting, my friends. It’s a means to prevent the evil that is in the heart of every single one of us from gaining the upper hand. The Founding Fathers knew that the heart of man is dark, and when darkness reigns, freedom wanes.
We really are in a titanic fight between good and evil in America. Good prevails when we are intentional about stopping evil. If we shrink from this responsibility, chaos, disorder and violence.
America needs a return to common sense, and a real spiritual awakening courtesy of God Himself. We have to get to the heart of the matter, which is the heart of humanity. This is why The National Week of Repentance, coming October 30 – November 6, is so important. If you’re against violence, then you need to participate and spread the word. Let’s stop dealing with the symptoms of our problems and get to the causes. Visit RevivalMatters.com and get yourself ready for the kind of hope and change that only God can provide.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? WHAT IF AMERICA BECOMES A NATION WHERE THE 2ND AMENDMENT IS MARGINALIZED – OR ELIMINATED?
PULLING TEETH FROM A ROARING TIGER
One of the reasons America is in such a mess is because we Christian leaders don’t seem to give a darn about the damned. The level of mistrust, competition and disinterest between pastors works against the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17:23:
In light of the moral decline, racial division, financial turmoil and political nonsense we are seeing this election year, I’ve been reaching out to pastors and Christian leaders, trying to get us all on the same page – God’s page – so that we can fulfill Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and actually reach the lost. Here’s what I’ve found: getting Christian leaders together these days is about as easy and comfortable as pulling teeth from a roaring tiger.
We don’t need the devil to derail us. We are doing a find job all by ourselves. Isn’t it ironic that we are pursuing church growth and “ministry” without prioritizing unity – the most important ingredient for church and ministry success? At the end of day, we’re shooting ourselves in our own feet by diminishing the importance of Christian unity. No wonder the world yawns when we open our mouths. Can you blame them? We don’t practice what we preach.
We don’t seem to believe what Jesus taught: people are persuaded about the love of God in proportion to the unity among Christians. The greater the unity, the more irresistible God becomes. The more divided we are, the less people care about Christ. If our objective is to get people to follow Jesus, we have to start following Him ourselves. Until we do, we are nothing more than hypocrites. We want people to love and follow a Jesus we’ve left behind.
It’s not complicated. Our disunity reveals that we Christian leaders don’t seem to really care about reaching the lost. If we did, we’d be doing far more to be unified, because unity convinces people that God is real and the message of the cross is true.
A few months ago, I asked my assistant to reach out to senior pastors from neighboring churches, asking if we could “set up a time to meet in regard to the state of the nation and how churches can cooperate together in unity.” Here is the ironic response of one such pastor:
Is that really God’s “very best”? We make false assumptions about each other that keep us at arms length – in the same city, at this pivotal time in American history. What is wrong with us? We leaders have lost our way. How is it possible to talk “shop” without the shop itself? If we keep talking about all the other issues we face, except the most important issues of the day, aren’t we merely postponing the inevitable day when the circling wagons will achieve their goal? Aren’t we wasting precious time – and precious souls – in the process?
We pastors and Christian leaders all need to repent – big time. We’re too divided to be of any use to the Jesus we say we want other people to follow. The National Week of Repentance is coming October 30 – November 6. Get involved and be part of the solution to the division that is so obvious within the Church. Visit RevivalMatters.com and sign up, now.
ARE YOU A CATALYST FOR UNITY, OR ARE YOU SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT at this key time as history is being written? do you give a darn about the damned?
We’re Getting the Leaders We Deserve
(And We’re Getting 2 Chronicles 7:14 All Wrong, Too)
Can we please stop the insanity? We’re praying for the wrong people. The problem with our view of “revival” is that we think it’s exactly what everyone else needs. We are getting 2 Chronicles 7:14 all wrong:
“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (ESV)
2 Chronicles 7:14 – the most popular verse cited when the topic of “revival” stirs – is not a call for intercession, it’s a plea for humility and real repentance among God’s people. We American Christians have not yet begun to humble ourselves and repent the way we must if we hope to see things turn around. The biggest threat to America is not an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP). It’s unrepentant, arrogant Christians. Before you dismiss this, consider that our arrogance is far more subtle than we realize.
THE ENEMY WITHIN
The root problem in America is not “out there” – it’s within the walls of our churches. The control, gossip, slander, hypocrisy and lack of love for God and people has become so commonplace, so normal, that we have finally succumbed. We’re okay with it now. But God isn’t. If we are really honest, we have to admit that the leaders we’re getting look exactly like us. You would never know this by the look of our “church faces.” But you would if you were a fly on the wall in our homes, where we do and say things far worse than anything Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump have done or said public.
But it’s not just our behavior that’s the issue. It’s that we’re okay with our behavior. We don’t see any real need to change our ways. We only see the need to maintain our public appearance of being nice, polite, respectable people. And yet we have the audacity to demand better presidential candidates.
Today’s “radical” is the Bible‘s presentation of basic faith. We no longer understand that the total denial of self is what it means to have basic faith– not “radical” faith – in the Bible. Our problem is that we don’t even realize what we’ve done or what we’re doing. God, however, does – and it grieves Him. Still, it doesn’t, grieve us – because the best we do is keep calling for “intercession” for America.
It also amazes me that God’s seemingly elect keep thinking that this election is the most important in our nation’s history. No, the response by Christians – or, should I say, the lack of response – to all that is happening at this vital time, is the most important in our history. We are detached and apathetic.
MAKE THE CALL
We should be calling on God for mercy – not for people “out there” but for ourselves. We need to. We need real, deep, penetrating moves of God – not among the lost, but among the saved. In fact, I would go so far as to say that American Christianity needs to be… saved.
Neither Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump nor any other presidential candidate is going to make our nation greater, or great again, if we keep thinking mere mortals are the solution to our woes. They never were, are not now and never will be. America has problems ahead, regardless of who the next president will be – and those problems will worsen as long as we keep thinking everyone else needs to change.
Real change does not begin in the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court or the White House. Real change begins in God’s House, among Christians. It begins with real repentance.
Let’s all stop quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 as if it is a verse on intercession. For the love of God, it isn’t. It’s a red-alert plea for humility and real repentance – starting with you and me. Let’s stop simply signing petitions and start petitioning God. I mean really petitioning Him. And, get your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. If America doesn’t see real movements of God spring up across the land, no elected official will do anything more than give us more of the same old, same old.
The National Week of Repentance is coming October 30 – November 6. Get yourself and your people ready at RevivalMatters.com. It is time for the hope and change only God can deliver. The humble courage we so desperately need will only arise if there is a real move of repentance in America, and it needs to begin with you and me.
DO YOU THINK WE’RE GETTING THE LEADERS WE DESERVE? HAVE YOU MISUNDERSTOOD 2 CHRONICLES 7:14?
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.