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The Miracle That Is LIFE

On January 22, 1973, the SCOTUS decided to legalize abortion in the U.S.A.* Here are some compassionate, Christ-centered thoughts about life that I hope will help you – no matter where you stand on the issue. My prayer is that my words not only make you think,...

The Painful Joys of Being Snowbound

SNOW HAS A WAY OF DOING SOMETHING MAGICAL TO YOU. I’m not talking about snow flurries. I’m talking about a LOT of snow. The nearly 30 INCHES that fell the day before yesterday – all in one massive purge – left our family and many others completely snowbound, unable to go anywhere or do anything other than shovel snow, recover, make a toboggan run, eat, spend time together and repeat. But the snow has also has given me ample time to be with no one other than myself. Herein lies the problem. There are painful joys in being snowbound.
Sometimes I like myself. At times, I even like myself a bit too much. Then there are other times when I don’t like myself at all.

“A sail is a poor excuse for travel if the wind is wanting.”

toboggan

Being snowbound means the usual ability to get out and move about is shut down. Completely. Never mind the milk and eggs, honey. This means I will definitely run out of distractions – those things that subtly take me away from living the kind of life for which I was designed, and destined, by the Almighty. With all this snow and time on my hands, I have lots of distraction-free time to get back to the business of life – the only one I’ll ever get.

“As a Christ-follower, I must wrestle – really wrestle – with the culture of self. And, I must wrestle it to the point of daily extinction. If confession is good for the soul, I’m now immersed in a lake of God-inspired goodness.”

I tend to think too much of myself. Accordingly, I get in my own way. Actually, I get in God’s way a great deal, as well. Who needs the devil when we can be our own worst enemy? It’s easy to do in a culture where each of us is encouraged to be center stage. But culture doesn’t make it right. As a Christ-follower, I must wrestle – really wrestle – with the culture of self. And, I must wrestle it to the point of daily extinction. A Christ-follower is to run counter culture.

plow

plow

Do I truly care about my two boys – to the point of being emotionally engaged in the interests, hurts, fears and thrills that eleven and nine-year old boys experience? Do I care to the point of being so engaged that it will make a difference for them when they become young men, middle-aged men and perhaps even old men, long after I’m gone?

What about my wife, who sacrificially gives herself to both of them, and me, in ways that only a wife and mother can appreciate? Do I truly care for her at an emotional level, and put myself aside so that she can be a lot more successful, in ways that would not be possible if I were not around?

“A reflective, repentant, renewed and refocused life is a powerful weapon in the war against mediocrity.”

Though solitude and self-examination can be painful, they can also be LIFE-savers. I’ve found that it’s leading me to the feet of Jesus in a bit of confession. Well, let me be brutally honest – a lot of confession. If confession is good for the soul, I’m now immersed in a lake of God-inspired goodness. It’s agonizingly beautiful. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians so many centuries ago is so excellent for us in these hectic times:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV, italics mine)

What about my church? It’s so frighteningly easy to go through the motions of ministry without being moved by the Holy Spirit.It concerns me so much that with nearly each passing year I reach the conclusion that this year will be the unique year. Thiswill be the year when I truly begin walking with God, listening to Him, surrendering fully, and allowing Him to carry me along with the ease at which Philip was blown into the path of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). And then the snow comes, and I am reminded of how much the sail of my life needs the wind of the Holy Spirit. A sail is a poor excuse for travel if the wind is wanting.

“It’s so frighteningly easy to go through the motions of ministry without being moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, ma’am, when a soul has nowhere to go but within, a soul sure does think. There are so many distractions I’ve not only allowed in my life, but also welcomed, that I have forgotten the painful joys that can only be found in solitude. Solitude helps us reflect, repent, renew and refocus. A reflective, repentant, renewed and refocused life is a powerful weapon in the war against mediocrity. I’m sure this is not only true for me, but also for you. It’s true for all of us.

We could all use a bit more solitude and self-examination. The interruptions of life can be welcome interruptions if we see them as God-given opportunities to get back to what LIFE – the only one we’ll ever have this side of eternity – is all about.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? HOW’S THAT SOLITUDE THING GOING? HAVE YOU WELCOMED DISTRACTIONS INTO YOUR LIFE TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT YOU’VE SETTLED FOR A LIFE THAT’S FAR BELOW YOUR GREATEST POTENTIAL – AND GOD’S GREATEST DESIRE?

The Miracle That Is LIFE

On January 22, 1973, the SCOTUS decided to legalize abortion in the U.S.A.* Here are some compassionate, Christ-centered thoughts about life that I hope will help you – no matter where you stand on the issue. My prayer is that my words not only make you think, but also facilitate healing and help you act in God-honoring ways. Are you ready? Let’s roll . . .
1. LIFE OUTSIDE OF EDEN IS HARD, AND NONE OF US SEES THINGS AS CLEARLY AS WE ONE DAY WILL. We spend much of our lives trying to recreate the paradise we lost. It’s an impossible feat for mere mortals – but it will be done one day by the Immortal One, when Christ returns and establishes a new heavens and a new earth (Revelation 21:1). In the meantime, we see things through a murky mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12). None of us has the full, complete  understanding of God, His love, His beauty and His holiness that we will one day have. In light of this, we could all use a lot more patience when we talk with each other, even over issues that are hot topics, like abortion. 

2.  ON ONE HAND, A WOMAN DOES INDEED HAVE A RIGHT – AND A RESPONSIBILITY – TO CARE FOR HER OWN BODY. There is something beautifully sacred about the human body – because it unlike every other creature. It is created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27-31). This means that the body was created exactly as He wanted it to be. When God made the first humans, He was not surprised with the outcome. It fit the bill, accomplished His purpose and hit the bulls-eye. It was, and is, “good.” If a woman doesn’t care about her own body, and doesn’t see it as her primary responsibility to protect it, she doesn’t understand in whose image she has been created. In light of this, a woman is right to tell others to keep their hands off her body, so that the sacredness of what God created cannot be damaged.

3. ON THE OTHER HAND, NEITHER MEN NOR WOMEN HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO THEIR OWN BODIES. 1 Corinthians 6:19:20 are life-altering verses that help us understand that there is Someone who is the Ultimate right to the body of each and every one of us:

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (NIV, my italics)

In light of this, we must let this reality sink in: what we do with our bodies matters to more than just ourselves. It matters to God, the One to Whom we will ultimate give an account. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:10:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (NIV, my italics)

4. THE BIBLE DOES INDEED SAY, VERY CLEARLY, IN BLACK AND WHITE, THAT AN UNBORN CHILD IS ALIVE, HUMAN AND PRECIOUS. Consider Psalm 139:13:

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (ESV, italics mine)

Consider, also, Jeremiah 1:5:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .” (ESV, italics mine)

In case you are yet not convinced, consider Psalm 139:13-16:

“For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.” (ESV, italics mine)

“From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (Psalm 22:10, NIV, italics mine)

And there is yet the famous passage pertaining to the response of John the Baptist – who was yet unborn – when Jesus’ soon-to-be mother, Mary, visited his mother, Elizabeth:

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:41-45, NIV, italics mine)

The truth is, there is not one Bible passage – anywhere – that suggests an unborn child is not precious to God and not  alive. The overwhelming evidence doesn’t merely suggest this. It makes it impossible to make a biblical case otherwise. The only way one can make a case for an unborn child not being precious, alive and important is if we ignore what the Bible teaches. With this in mind, it does not mean we can resort to being insensitive when talking to those who disagree. This is why the following point is so very important . . .

5. REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE PRO-LIFE, PRO-CHOICE DEBATE, YOU CAN PROBABLY BE A LOT MORE CIVIL, A LOT MORE HUMBLE AND A LOT MORE LOVING IN THE WAYS YOU EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS. Consider these important, very real, facts:

a. Forgive: There are women who have had abortions who wish they could take their decision back. There are men who find themselves in the same boat, too. All the regret in the world cannot, however, reverse their decision. They need grace, mercy, compassion and friendship – from you. ABORTION IS NOT THE UNPARDONABLE SIN. If abortion is part of your past, forgiveness can be part of your future. This is true for anyone. And, for those of us who do not have abortion in our past, we must be compassionate, forgiving and courteous to those who are weighed down with guilt, helping them realize this tremendous, freeing truth found in Ephesians 4:32:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV)

b. Recognize: There are many people who simply don’t believe the Bible. And, there are many people who now believe the Bible, but at one time did not. It’s a spiritual thing, to understand the Bible. I remember, after coming to Christ at the age of 17, reading my Bible after several years of going to Catechism, and it seemed like I was reading an entirely new book. In fact, I was. There was nothing wrong with the Bible. There was something wrong with me. The reason I could finally understand it was because I became an entirely new creature. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV). Another important passage to keep in mind is 2 Corinthians 4:4, which says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (NIV).

c. Refrain: Arguing with people who are not open to having their thinking challenged is a waste of time. Spend your time empathizing and encouraging those with open minds to consider what the Bible teaches about life, abortion – and even life AFTER an abortion.

Remember: To err is human, to forgive, divine.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? CAN YOU BE MORE COMPASSIONATE, LOVING, KIND, FORGIVING AND COURTEOUS TO THOSE WHOSE VIEWS DIFFER FROM YOURS ABOUT WHEN LIFE BEGINS? MY HUNCH IS THAT ALL OF US – ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ISSUE – CAN BE. 

*Roe v. Wade

New Podcast: So THIS Is How It Ends

Which would you like to have dominate your life, fear or faith? What will be the “sign” before the return of Christ – and will you be ready? Are we living in the last days, and if so, how bad will things get before the end? Ignite your life with this hot podcast, “So THIS Is How It Ends.”This message also sheds light on the identity of Jesus Christ in fresh, powerful ways. For instance, you’ll learn the tremendous significance of why He continually referred to Himself as the “Son of Man” – and what this means for you. 

There are many people who think Jesus was being cryptic in how He spoke, but nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus deliberately described Himself as He did so that His immediate audience – which was familiar with the Old Testament – would make no mistake about His claims or His identity. This message will help demystify your understanding of Jesus.

God can banish fear, build your faith and help you live victoriously in these trying, troubling times. Ignite your life, and share this message with your friends, because they need to be  encouraged, too.

It’s message 92 in our Life of Christ message series through the entire Gospel of Luke.

HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS WILL END? ARE YOU READY? DO YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND WHO JESUS IS? Chime in, because we’d love to hear from you. 

This podcast, like all Godfactor resources, is made possible through generous listener and viewer support. You can donate by texting the word “Godfactor” to 50155, visiting Godfactor.com, or by hitting the “Connect” tab on the Godfactor app.

C&P Copyright, Michael Anthony. All rights reserved.

Podcast: America, Christians & the End Times

How significant is America in biblical prophecy? What does it mean to be a Christian living in America these days? Do Muslims and Christians really worship the same God? If you live in America and you are a Christian, “AMERICA, CHRISTIANS & THE END TIMES” will wake you up – perhaps just in time – while we still have time. Share it with your friends, because they need to hear it, too.
There are many people who think that what is happening to America must mean that the biblical “end” is near. But is this thinking correct? Is it biblical? I think too many Christians are holding on, waiting for a “divine bail-out” when we need to realize we are His divine strategy. It’s a humbling truth we need to embrace so we can be the salt and light we’re called to be.

2016_1_11-America-5

2016_1_11-America-5

This is a message I enjoyed delivering for a variety of reasons. Among them is my hope that many Americans will stop sitting around, waiting for the Rapture or the Second Coming of Christ, and start living for Him – fully – while we still have time.

If you live in America and are a Christian – this message will ignite your life for God and help you do the same for others. By all means, share it – but more importantly, live it.

How should Christians in America live in the midst of these turbulent, stressful times? What are your thoughts? We’d love to know. 

This is message 91 in our message series called The Life of Christ. It covers the entire Gospel of Luke.

This podcast, like all Godfactor resources, is made possible through generous listener and viewer support. You can donate by texting the word “Godfactor” to 50155, visiting Godfactor.com, or by hitting the “Connect” tab on the Godfactor app.

What Is God’s Will For A Christian In America?

If you’re serious about God, you are serious about fulfilling His will for your life. A Christian who is not passionate about God’s will is simply not passionate about God. Through the years, many, many people have asked me this same crucial question: “What is God’s will for my life?” Like you, I’ve had – and have – my struggles with discerning God’s will, let alone fulfilling it. Here’s a secret that I think will help you discern and fulfill God’s will for your life: If you want to know and accomplish God’s will for your life, start with the black and white, crystal clear teachings of the Bible. With this in mind, as well as all that is happening in our nation and world at this particular time in history, you should be asking an extremely important question if you are an American Christian or a Christian who calls America “home.” The question is: “What is God’s will for me, as a Christian living in America?” If you aren’t asking and answering this question, you aren’t very interested in either God or fulfilling His will. The answer may surprise you. It may also change your life – and perhaps even the future of this country, and world, forever.

If I don’t mind saying so, I think this particular blog is worthy of going viral – because we need God to clear the fog that’s enveloped our nation – and our thinking as Christians in America. Share it with as many people as you can, through every possible means . . . 

Romans 13:1 and 1 Timothy 2:1-5 reveal the answer:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13:1, NIV (italics mine)

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignifiedin every wayThis is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . .” – 1 Timothy 2:1-5, ESV (italics mine) 

1. IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT WE BE SUBJECT TO THOSE IN AUTHORITY.
God institutes governments and government leaders. Romans 13:1 makes this clear. 

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around-the-city-2-1469366-639×424

2. IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT YOU SHAPE AND SHAKE THE CONDUCT OF AMERICA’S LEADERS THROUGH YOUR PRAYERS.Paul says “First of all.” In other words, this is a spiritual priority that must be on the front burner of our lives. Our prayers should be passionate, consistent and frequent. This is why words seem to be failing the mighty wordsmith, Paul. He uses the word “urge” and then characterizes our prayers with four descriptive words: “supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings.” Can your prayer life for America’s leaders be characterized this way? If you are a Christian who calls America “home” this is God’s will for you and for everyone. You can pray and adjust your life accordingly, with the assurance that by doing so you are accomplishing the will of God. 

God wouldn’t waste His time or ours telling us to pray if prayer impacted nothing. The whole reason that Paul is URGING Christians to pray for their leaders is so that the leaders make decisions that align with God’s will. That’s the whole point. And, when it comes to God’s will, He wants leaders who will make decisions that are favorable to the advancement – not the hindrance – of the Gospel. It is God’s will that you have such a prayer life that it shapes and shakes the lives of your leaders – so that they lead in ways that advance, and do not hinder, His will. When our prayer lives are characterized by this kind of passion for God’s will to be unleashed through our leaders, we are praying in line with the will of God. 

3. IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT ALL OF US LEAD PEACEFUL, QUIET, LIVES.Peace is central to the Gospel, it should be central to our lives. When we are not at peace, we are walking contradictions, not living sacrifices (see Romans 12:1,2). So many people today can be described as busybodies. This should not be so for a Christian. A “quiet” life is one that does no meddle in the affairs of others. It’s not characterized by the noise of gossip and what’s happening in the lives of other people, but by being “quiet,” where everything revolves around pleasing God and knowing and advancing His thoughts, heart and will. In light of this, how would your life be characterized? Is it noisy, or quiet? Is your life characteristically peaceful and quiet? If you are a Christian who calls America “home” this is God’s will for you and for everyone. You can pray and adjust your life, accordingly, with the assurance that by doing so you are accomplishing the will of God. 

4. IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT ALL OF US LEAD GODLY, DIGNIFIED LIVES.Godliness and dignity are best friends. And, we are to lead godly, dignified lives not in most ways – but in every way. 1 Timothy 2:2 makes this unmistakable. God is actually pleased when His people, and ALL people, lead peaceful, quiet lives that are characteristically godly and dignified. Understand that this actually pleases God– which is the primary, all-consuming objective of your life.Is your life characteristically godly and dignified? If you are a Christian who calls America “home” this is God’s will for you and for everyone. You can pray and adjust your life accordingly, with the assurance that by doing so you are accomplishing the will of God. 

What does your prayer life for America and for her leaders say about your passion for God? What does it say about your passion to see His will fulfilled in America?

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pearl-1178904-639×424

5. IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT PEOPLE COME TO KNOW CHRIST AS THEIR SAVIOR.The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. This is the main thing for you and me as Christians living in America – at least it should be. When people come to Christ as Savior, and grow in Him as Lord, the chances of them praying for leaders and their nation, and leading peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives that please God increase exponentially. Why? Because the Holy Spirit transforms all of life. And, when God transforms a life that life becomes a serious factor of influence. Everything it touches begins to be impacted – for the glory of God.

Don’t ever lose sight of this truth: God changes us so that we can change others. Change begins and spreads when someone surrenders their life to Jesus Christ. It is not God’s will that some come to a knowledge of the truth about Jesus Christ and yield their lives to Him as Savior. It is God’s will that everyone does so. Is everything in your life centered upon fulfilling God’s desire to see people everywhere give their lives to His Son as Savior? If you are a Christian who calls America “home” this is God’s will – all the time, everywhere, for everyone. You can pray and adjust your life accordingly, with the assurance that by doing so you are accomplishing the will of God. 

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6. IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT EVERYONE REALIZES THERE IS ONE GOD AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD THE FATHER AND HUMAN BEINGS – JESUS CHRIST.The recent firing of a Wheaton College Professor who claimed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God is a clear example of forgetting what the Bible teaches. We need to go no further than 1 Timothy 2:5 for our answer, although many, many other Bible passages reach the same conclusion: there are not multiple ways to God, nor are we all worshipping and serving the same God.

Ask a Muslim if they believe Jesus is the only mediator between God the Father and humans and they will say “no.” They must. Moreover, ask a Muslim if they believe God has a Son. Again, they will say “no.” They must. A conclusion that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is actually a delusion. 

Can we, and should we, be compassionate to people of different faiths? Of course we should. Let’s not be idiots; we are Christians. But let’s also remember that to be a Christian is to be biblical. Christians are to treat people of all faiths with love and compassion – but that does not mean we are to compromise on God’s theology. Doing so would be unloving to God, which would be absolutely ironic.

If we compromise on what pleases God, we are not fulfilling His will – and this brings us back to why you’re reading this blog in the first place. A Christian who is not interested in knowing and fulfilling God’s will is a poor excuse for a Christian. Is everything in your life centered upon helping people embrace the God of the Bible, and the One and Only Savior between Him and us? If you are a Christian who calls America “home” this is God’s will for you and for everyone. You can pray and adjust your life accordingly, with the assurance that by doing so you are accomplishing the will of God. 

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gold-1422084-639×852

THE BILLION DOLLAR QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA AT THIS KEY TIME IN HISTORY . . . Forget Powerball for a moment (the winning tickets were already sold).Now that you know God’s will for you as a Christian living in America, you have to ask yourself, and God, an extremely timely, practical, urgent billion dollar question. Here it is: Would you rather submit to and offer supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for leaders who are sympathetic to God’s will, that people everywhere throughout this nation not only lead peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives in every way, but that they also come to a knowledge of the truth that there is One God and One Savior of all people, Jesus Christ – or would you rather face the alternative?

Think long and hard – and adjust your life accordingly, while we still have time. And, so you shake and shape history, in keeping with God’s will for you as a Christian in America. If the majority of Christians who call America “home” remain disinterested and disengaged, we will continue, with increasing difficulty and momentum, to find ourselves facing the alternative. And then we will learn how painful it is to say we are Christians living in America when all along we really weren’t very passionate about God’s will after all.

Remember: If you’re serious about God, you are serious about fulfilling His will for your life. A Christian who is not passionate about God’s will is simply not passionate about God. 

WHAT ABOUT YOU, AS A CHRISTIAN LIVING IN AMERICA? Here are a few more thoughts you really should settle as our nation continues to spiral away from God:

– How passionate are you about God’s will becoming the growing reality in America? What does your use of time and resources say about your passion? 

– Would you rather submit to and offer supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for leaders who are sympathetic to God’s will, that people everywhere throughout this nation not only lead peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives in every way, but that they also come to a knowledge of the truth that there is One God and One Savior of all people, Jesus Christ – or would you rather face the alternative?

– If the conduct of America’s leaders and the condition of our nation were left up to your prayer life and actions, would God’s will be hindered or advanced?

– If everyone were praying and acting like you, would God’s will be fulfilled or hindered in America?

I’d love to hear your thoughts . . . 

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