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A Call for Courage 1: 3 Things You Should Be Known For

The first message in Michael Anthony’s series, “A Call for Courage,” bearing the same name as the book he penned. Often, in America, Christianity has become known as the “anti-religion.” That is, Christians are often known for what they stand against, but not what they stand for. This message will turn things around in your life, family and church as you embrace 3 things for which you should be known.

When Being Nice Is Cowardly: Why You Should Push Back When Pushed

When Being Nice Is Cowardly: Why You Should Push Back When Pushed

Noelle Smith didn’t expect the photo of her daughter, praying with friends at a Longhorn Steakhouse on prom night, would start a firestorm – but it did. She sent the picture, below, to journalist Frank Somerville, with KTVU in Oakland, California, with the following comments:

“I want to share a picture of my daughter and her friends from prom night . . . Now with the stories today about teenagers and tide pods and condoms gathering headlines — this picture speaks for itself.”

Facebook users erupted in typical anti-social media form. An example of the criticisms expressed reads as follows:

“I’m so tired of the arrogance many religious people display and their disdain for non-believers, if you are confidant [sic] in your beliefs then you don’t feel the need to ‘save’ everyone else.”

You know what, #doublestandard Facebook users? A growing number of us Christians are getting a bit tired of your fatigue, reverse intolerance and bigotry against anyone who comes out of the Christian closet. So many people applaud folks when they come out of their closets, but you want us to keep our faith to ourselves. For those on Facebook who are going nuts over the mealtime prayer, it’s time you practice what you preach.

The photo that caused a Facebook Firestorm: Students exercise their God-given right to express their faith to God in public -- and people are angry. Photo courtesy of Noell Smith/Frank Somerville

The photo that caused a Facebook Firestorm: Students on prom night exercise their God-given right to express their faith in public — and people were livid. Photo courtesy of Noell Smith/Frank Somerville

 

STOP SITTING DOWN AND SHUTTING UP
I’m not taking the nonsense sitting down about my faith and my God any more than Daniel did when tossed to the lions, or David when he defied Goliath — and neither should you. We have a God-given right to worship God freely and openly – the same way you have a right to reject or ignore him.

Note that I said this is a God-given right. It’s not given to us by the Constitution. The Constitution simply acknowledges the origin of this right, and protects it. That’s why the Constitution matters, gang.

The Facebook firestorm is a clear example the “reverse intolerance” I discuss in detail in A Call for Courage. Everyone wants to talk about “tolerance” these days – and insists upon it – unless you’re Christian. Tolerance doesn’t apply to us. At least that’s what others want us to think. In reality, it’s nonsense.

 

IT’S TIME TO STAND AND DELIVER
The above kinds of criticism against Christians miss the point — entirely. And it’s time for people of faith to stop apologizing for our beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. Now is not the time to sit down and shut up. Now is the time to stand up and speak out. It’s time to rise and shine.

We live in a nation where the First Amendment is first on purpose. It protects everyone’s right to free speech and the freedom of religious expression – in public.

Yup, more and more people want you and me to sit down and shut up. But should we? If you allow yourself to cower in such docile environments, over something as limp as social media, what will you do when the struggle becomes real, as it has been for decades in closed and communist countries?

All that’s necessary for the freedoms of speech and religion to go the way of the DoDo bird is for people just like you and me to give in to peer pressure. Live for Jesus wherever you are — and don’t apologize for it. Express your faith with humility – but for God’s sake, literally, express it. If not for yourself, do it for future generations who will need (and want) the freedoms of speech and religion we so often take for granted.

 

It’s time to push back, with courageous humility, don’t you think?

When It Comes to Chicken, Don’t Chicken Out: Stand Up and Speak Out When You See Reverse Intolerance

When It Comes to Chicken, Don’t Chicken Out: Stand Up and Speak Out When You See Reverse Intolerance

Dan Piepenbring’s op-Ed for The New Yorker called, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City,” should concern you. The title says it all. It’s another example of what I call “reverse intolerance” in my book, A Call for Courage. If you’re a Christian, you should do more than be concerned about reverse intolerance. Don’t be a chicken when it comes to chicken. You should stand and deliver. But what, exactly, would that look like?

Let’s peruse at a paragraph from Piepenbring’s piece that summarizes his convictions, then we’ll look at a few practical things you can do as a follower of Jesus, whether you like or loathe chicken. Here’s the paragraph:

“New York has taken to Chick-fil-A. One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, are adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage. The company has since reaffirmed its intention to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect,” but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-L.G.B.T. groups.” — Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, April 13, 2018

First, the expansion of a franchise isn’t an “infiltration,” it’s a sign of success. When a business grows, it’s because it is providing quality goods or services. Tell me, Mr Piepenbring, would you write the same kind of thing if the restaurant chain were owned by Muslims? Where is your op-Ed, Mr. Piepenbring, about Islamic Halal food standards being an “infiltration” in New York? Why is it that other religions are welcome to influence the restaurant industry, while not being seen as an “infiltration”– unless they are founded upon Christian principles?

Second, what’s wrong with a business headquarters adorning its walls with Bible verses and imagery of servanthood? Aren’t we all a bit fatigued about the I, me, mine culture of America? Selflessness is exactly what America needs right now.

Third, just because Dan Cathy was accused of bigotry doesn’t mean he was a bigot. A person could accuse you, Mr. Piepenbring, of being unfaithful, dishonest or cruel, but accusations don’t amount to evidence. When it comes to accusations, one must always consider the source. If someone has a problem with people expressing their religious conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman for one lifetime, and doing so respectfully (as Dan Cathy always did), they have a much bigger problem. In fact, their problem is epic. They don’t have a problem with Chick-Fil-A. They have a problem with the Bible and what it teaches about heterosexuality and the very definition of marriage.

“It’s time for a widespread resurgence of truth and love once again — a movement of courageous humility.”

The Amerian motto is e pluribus unum (out of many, one). In America, two people can disagree about sex and sexuality. Diversity of opinions is what our nation is about. But this right to diversity applies to Christians and Christian theology, too, lest we promote something completely antithetical to the motto and spirit of our great nation. We Christians have a right — and an obligation, based on an authority higher than any governement — to embrace and express our views. I’d be damned (no pun intended) if I sacrificed my right and obligation to speak what I believe to be true in the face of opposition.

Disagreeing with someone doesn’t make one a bigot. It simply means there is disagreement — and the ability to disagree agreeably, with tact and mutual respect, is one of the things that makes our nation one of the greatest on earth.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO
First, let what I shared, above, sink in. Use what I wrote as talking points in discussions you have with people who practice reverse intolerance against Christians. Use the phrase “reverse intolerance” when you see it in action, so people begin to stand down when they exercise the exact kind of intolerance they say they dislike. Most people don’t realize their hypocrisy when they practice reverse intolerance. Point it out when you see it.

Second, help people remember that the First Amendment is first on purpose, and it is what defines America more than any other part of our Constitution. It protects the freedoms of religion, speech, the press and assembly for every single American. This includes Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and, you guessed it, Christians.

As a refresher, the First Amendment not only deals with Congress, but with the very concept of America, which everyone should respect and protect:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Third, be patient, kind and loving when you point out instances of reverse intolerance. Remember that your battle is not with people, but with ideologies that people may possess. Love people, don’t hate them.

One of the reasons many Christians have gotten a bad rap is not because people have a problem with Jesus or his teachings, but with our seemingly uptight, angry, unsettled demeanor. We’re responsible for much of our own negative “rebranding.” We’re the religion of truth and love. It’s time for a widespread resurgence of truth and love once again — a movement of courageous humility. If that’s going to happen, we Christians need to go back to what we stand for — and what we stand for is truth and love, not one or the other. After all, Jesus dealt with opposing ideologies all the time — while constantly loving the people who wrongly embraced them. He never compromised the truth, and never missed an opportunity to love. Every Christ-follower is called to follow Jesus’ lead.

Fourth, go patronize Chick-Fil-A today, and show them your support. We need more organizations that operate with the same integrity, humility and courage they demonstrate.

Finally, stop apologizing for being a Christ-follower and embracing historic, Judeo-Christian values. The world needs to see real Christians these days, people who embrace truth and truly love people even when those people embrace lies. Be a real Christian, and you’ll help spark the revolution of courageous humility our nation deeply needs.

 

WHY SHOULDN’T CHRISTIANS HAVE THE SAME FREEDOMS OF SPEECH, RELIGION AND PRESS THAT EVERYONE ELSE IN AMERICA IS GUARANTEED? IT’S TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT, NOT SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP. IT’S TIME TO STAND AND DELIVER.

The Person You’re Becoming

The Person You’re Becoming

What if you could spend time with anyone, as often as you want? Who would you choose, and how would you choose to spend your time? Spend time with morally solid people and they’ll rub off on you for the best. Do the opposite and you’ll be impacted in entirely different ways. We become like the people we spend time with. What does your life say about the company you keep? Who are you becoming?

My sons and I have started a Tuesday morning time where we pray together, talk, and read the Bible. It’s nothing fancy — but it’s designed to spend time together, so we rub off on each other — and God rubs off on us. If there is one person I could spend time with as often as I want, it’s God. I could use a lot more of Him rubbing off on me. The greatest gift I can give my sons is to help them understand, at this early age, that they will develop good character in proportion to spending time with God, in His Word. 

This morning I was talking with my younger son, Simeon as we looked over 2 Peter 1:2 (ESV): “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. This verse provides a wealth of insight that we could glean with the limited time we had to dive in. (We both got up later than planned).

I explained to Simeon hat undeserved favor (grace) and peace are things we can experience more and more as we spend time with God and walk with Him. God has an endless supply of each — and He wants to dispense them to anyone who wants them.

What about you? Could you use more of God’s undeserved favor and peace throughout your day? My hunch is that you could. The great news is that you can — if you’re willing to spend time with God. Guess what else is a result of peace? Courage. Courage is something we develop in proportion to the time we spend with God.

If you spend time with God you cannot help but become more courageous. Courage may not come immediately, but a steady commitment to spending time with God makes the increase of courage in your life inevitable. Try it and see for yourself.

The single most important thing you can do each day is spend time with God. Christian meditation is fundamentally different from other forms of meditation, because Christian meditation directly focuses on the Word of God, the Bible. When we spend time in God’s Word, we spend time with God, the Author. And when we spend time with God, we become more like Him in character. We become aware of his undeserved favor, and His peace floods our lives. 

Sometimes a flood is sudden. At other times, it’s gradual. In either case, you and I need to be flooded with all the goodness that results in spending time with God.

How about you? What can you do today, and this week, to make more room for God so you become like Him in character?

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