No one is born courageous, but everyone hopes courage will come. Here's how to stand strong. Like many other people of faith, you may be concerned about what the future holds for Christians in America. Every day we wake up in a nation and world that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs and values. Even the basic freedoms that define Americaspeech and religionare under attack. The result is that many of us have become fearful, apathetic and detached. The great need of the day is a sweeping revolution of courage in our lives, families and houses of worship. A Call for Courage will spark that revolution in you.
Michael Anthony understands how fear can paralyze us, and in this revolutionary new book he shows Christians how to stand up and speak out, mobilizing them to walk by faith, not fear. Drawing from Scripture and deep personal experience, he proves that anyone can learn the secret to putting fear in its place and becoming more courageous. A Call for Courage will help you stand up and speak out while others demand you sit down and shut up. You will learn how to
- develop the secret weapons God has given you for courage,
- handle haters, racists, and everyone in between,
- overcome attacks against your freedom of religion and speech,
- speak the truth with love when disagreements threaten to create division, and
- develop courageous humility as your new way of life.
A Call for Courage is a handbook on how to live with courageous humility. No matter who you are or what you're facing, A Call for Courage will help you live with power, truth, and love in an age of intolerance and fear.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Michael Anthony is a popular speaker and writer, the founder and CEO of Courage Matters® (CourageMatters.com), and the founder of the National Week of Repentance™. He and his work have been featured in major publications and news outlets, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Townhall.com, American Family Radio, Christian Post, Charisma News, Beliefnet.com, WND.com, and Patheos.com. He lives with his family in York, Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
"Tell me, when did doilies and your mother's dishes become so important to you?"
— GANDALF THE GREY, THE HOBBIT
My family and I were in Colonial Williamsburg taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes it alone offers. We toured the Governor's Palace and the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Whitefield, and others worshipped and served in days long gone. What an awe-inspiring experience it was to contemplate not only those who frequented that hallowed ground but also the topics addressed within its walls. No doubt the pulpit lit fires in the pews — and beyond. The people processed the news of the day through the lens of the Bible, doing so in the streets, around dining tables, in shops, and in taverns. Lives and culture were forged in the process.
As we left the building, the afterglow of amazement radiating in our souls, we rounded the corner and saw a horse-drawn carriage just ahead. I knew our sons, Titus and Simeon, then ages twelve and ten, would love to ride in a carriage like that. And suddenly we were surrounded by a cache of horses and carriages of different colors, shapes, and sizes.
"Wow!" gushed Simeon. "Look at those horses!"
Before you could crack a whip, there we were, caressing them, marveling at their muscles. "Wouldn't it be so cool to have a horse, Dad?" he asked.
While Janet and our boys fixed their eyes on the horses' manes and sculpted bodies and the beauty of the carriage, my eyes focused on the contraptions affixed to their heads. Though we were standing at their sides, these steeds could not see us. They were wearing blinders, which limit a horse's focus to only what's right in front of its nose.
When first affixed to its head, a horse resolutely resists blinders. Eventually resistance gives way to acceptance, and the animal embraces a new, subdued way of life, forgetting the freedom it once enjoyed. Many of us — a great majority of us — are going through life as if someone has placed a set of blinders over our eyes. Like restrained, passive, submissive animals, we seem to be incapable of seeing things that are right under our noses. We either can't see them, choose not to see them, or no longer care.
We who embrace Judeo-Christian values have been living as if someone affixed us with a custom set of blinders. In truth, no one did that to us. We've done it to ourselves. The majority of us are now either incapable of seeing what is happening all around us — or have grown resolutely indifferent to our decline. We don't seem to give a d —.
Some of us may care more about my near use of a cuss word in that last sentence than the ways in which we are living life, with more lukewarmth toward God than any person of faith should be comfortable with. Yet comfortably lukewarm is exactly what many of us have become. Jesus said, "Because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:16). Lukewarm faith is not just a nuisance for Jesus. It is deeply repulsive.
We "traditional values" people may squirm and complain at what's happening around us, just like the horse does when its blinders are first affixed. But then, exactly like the horse, we give in and accept a new form of life that is a pale reflection of its former beauty. We've tamed Christianity down to its near irrelevance in America. Our tempered approach to Christian living is not something God can use. It is, in fact, useless.
Shouldn't we be weary of the talking heads on radio, television, and all forms of media (pulpits too) who simply rail against society's woes? All they do is stir the pot. Talk is not just cheap. It is a sin, because when all we do is talk, we are behaving as professional gossips. We end up being good for nothing. We think that merely discussing a problem is the same as seeking to solve it. It isn't.
Many have become disillusioned by how we Christians behave. They don't see us as living sacrifices but as walking hypocrisies. In many ways, they see our lives with an honesty we do not. We say we love Jesus and have been dramatically impacted by his life and teachings — but our lives don't look nearly as dedicated as those who comprised the early church, through whom God set the world ablaze. Far and wide, our lives look remarkably like those of the lost souls we say need to be transformed by the power of God. In some cases, our lives look far worse.
Ravished by postmodernity, where the very concept of absolute truth is questioned or outright rejected, skepticism and cynicism abound over the suggestion that God has revealed himself and his plan through the Bible. Moral "absolutes" are now seen only as personal convictions, lifestyle choices that no one should be concerned with other than the person embracing them (i.e., "If it feels good, do it."). An increasing majority of people don't feel the need to embrace historic, biblical teaching as relevant or valuable to their current, or eternal, well-being. This is true not merely among the unchurched, but also among those who grew up in Bible-respecting homes.
On the more extreme end of the spectrum, there seems to be a growing number of people who are overtly hostile to Christians, Christianity, and historic Judeo-Christian values. They are bent on following anything other than the teachings of the Bible, since they feel Christianity has failed not only them but also many in America. They are passionate to take as many people along for their ride as they possibly can, by almost any means possible.
Meanwhile, our church leaders have mistaken speed, size, and numbers for making disciples who look and live like Jesus. We have allowed religious ritual to masquerade as intimacy with God and as the love for our neighbor that proves the reality of our faith.
Our congregations are divided, mirroring the very polarized society in which we live. We have white churches and black churches, contemporary and conservative services, and on and on and on. Rarely do our churches reflect the kingdom of God gathered around the throne of the Lamb, where one day people from every nation, tribe, people, and language, will worship. Not long after the birth of the civil rights movement, and just two millennia from the manger, we have so very much growing up to do.
The faith founded by the Humble One, who also overturned the tables of the moneychangers, seems to have lost both its humility and courage. We are arrogant when we should be meek, and timid when we should be bold. Our culture is crumbling under the weight of our wanting. For all these things we must thoroughly repent — or we will perish.
Whatever reasons we may have about why many Americans are turned off, tuned out, disinterested, disillusioned, or hostile toward Christians, Christianity, and historic Judeo-Christian teaching, the one truth that we should all agree upon is that the majority of us are unwilling, or unable, to take a long enough look at our lives to stop us in our tracks and make amends. Our refusal to diagnose the root of our problems keeps the solutions at bay.
All of this should wake us up — all of us. If you're just zipping through this chapter, slow down, think deeply once again (or perhaps for the first time), and prepare to adjust your life, your family, your business, and your house of worship — significantly. If alive today, surely Albert Einstein would remind us that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." If we keep doing what we've been doing, we'll keep getting what we've been getting. Can't we see our folly?
Our problem is not just what's happening around us, it's what we've allowed to happen to us. We have allowed Judeo-Christian teaching, principles, and practices to be seen as the problem, rather than the solution. We have allowed ourselves to settle for religious ritual when all along we could be experiencing mighty movements of the Spirit of God.
Great Awakening — Now
While a horse has no say in whether or not it lives with blinders, we do. The primary reason we are undergoing an extreme national makeover — the reason America is burning — is because we have neglected the documents and principles that made us who we were and who we are, which hold the keys to us reaching our greatest potential. Our lifestyles are being deeply impacted by the erosion of biblical, Judeo-Christian values. Consider these sobering facts about what is happening in America:
Our suicide rate is higher than it's been in thirty years, with a rise of 24 percent from 1999 to 2014 alone. Despair is on the rise. People are losing their sense of fulfillment, joy, and peace. Our descent seems to validate the prophetic theory of Frances Schaeffer, author of The God Who Is There and Escape from Reason. Schaeffer wrote and lectured that when a society replaces truth with relativism, and rejects the reality of moral absolutes, it results in futile attempts to live below what he called "the line of despair." Above the line of despair are reason, moral absolutes, purpose, and truth. He argued that a full-fledged embrace of relativism cannot but plunge people into deep despair because life itself cannot be lived apart from the design of our Creator.
Schaeffer was simply communicating absolute truth: deep, lasting joy; peace; and fulfillment can only be experienced when we live within God's design. Is our soaring suicide rate a mid-season reflection of our rejection of biblical, moral absolutes that provide the foundation for meaning and purpose in all of life?
The war on terror has left most of us fearful, numb, and clamoring for safety at all costs. We have accepted fear as the only way of life — to such a degree that children now are living in an Orwellian "Big Brother" society without even realizing there was once an alternative. A generation is growing up with an entirely different definition and experience of privacy than we had as recently as a few years ago. Privacy has become more of a concept than the reality it once was.
We are in the midst of the worst opioid epidemic in our history. In 2015, nearly as many people died from heroin overdoses as from auto accidents. The surge of suicides and drug use reflects our search for exhilaration and escape from the pains of real life. Freedom and life are giving way to addiction and death.
The average child is exposed to pornography at the age of eleven — and the age of exposure is getting lower. The porn industry is changing — and ruining — lives. Twelve percent of all websites are pornographic. Twenty percent of men admit to watching online porn at work. (This does not reflect the number of men who watch porn at work and don't admit it, or the number who watch porn at home in secret.) Thirty-five percent of all Internet downloads are pornographic. There are over 65 million requests for porn on search engines (25 percent) daily. More than half of the nearly $5 billion a year made in the porn industry is fueled by American demands.
Requests for labiaplasty have exploded, with a surge of 36 percent in 2016 alone. "'I am asked about labiaplasty at least once a month,' says ob-gyn Jennifer Gunter, MD, who runs a specialty clinic for vulvar conditions at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, California. 'Five years ago, I was probably asked one to two times a year.'"
Many attribute this increasingly popular plastic surgery trend to the rise of porn use among men and women in mainstream society. Women want their bodies to look like those they have been viewing in pornographic photos and videos — and so do their men. Healthy views of physiology, sex, and sexuality are rapidly giving way to increasingly distorted, unhealthy, even violent views that objectify men, women, boys, and girls.
The number of divorces (let alone marriages that subsist out of necessity rather than happiness) paints a sad portrait of monogamy. Forty-one percent of first-time marriages end in divorce, and the percentages get dramatically higher for second and third marriages. Many people have tremendous difficulty communicating, remaining faithful, reconciling, and loving.
Is it a coincidence that we are witnessing these downturns while there is increasing ignorance, disinterest, and even hostility toward both the Bible and the Bible-influenced documents and philosophies that led to America's birth? I don't think so. Today so many mistake mere Bible knowledge for the application of its teachings. (I am not arguing that America was once a "Christian nation." I've not made that claim — nor will I. I will say, however, that we are a nation whose people are galloping away from the values that most protect and promote a society marked by God-given liberty and the blessings therein.)
A Different Approach to Truth
We need a "second reformation," a new "great awakening," where the application of biblical truth — in light of local, national, and world events — once again takes center stage. This is not something that needs to begin with other people. It needs to begin with you and me today.
To remove our blinders, we must read our Bibles differently than we have, doing so in light of world events — to such a degree that biblical truths are applied in relevant, practical, powerful ways. Many Christians only have the most basic understanding of the Bible and the most popular verses, Bible stories, and characters. There are many "Chreasters" (those who only darken church doors on Christmas and Easter) in the United States. They need to dig deeper into God's Word and draw near to God, to really understand his heart, mind, and mission, so his truths can be personally applied and culture can be positively transformed. But in many other instances, the problem is not that many of us don't know the Word, but that we're not putting into practice the Word we know. We are not bringing the Bible to bear on the issues of the day, in our own lives, families, houses of worship, and nation. Many of us have mistaken knowledge for application. Whether through unwitting ignorance or overt defiance, the outcome is the same: as a consequence, America is hemorrhaging significantly.
If we began to read our Bibles with a keen eye for immediately and thoroughly applying its truths personally, in our family lives, and in our leadership roles within our nation, we would see widespread spiritual awakenings of epic proportions, perhaps unlike anything we've ever seen in American history. If we were to study the history of real revivals, genuine spiritual awakenings, we would see the common thread of unconditional surrender to an irresistible God. The price of real revival is paid through real repentance.
This is a major reason why I believe the National Week of Repentance (WeekofRepentance.com) is such a vital part of a real American recovery. More than a recovery, though, I believe a real movement of repentance across America is exactly what must happen if our country is to move forward, into new territory where it has never before been.
One of the ways we remove our blinders, and keep them off, is by reading and rereading American history and the documents that shaped America. Read and often reread all the classics written by our Founding Fathers, beginning with Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin. We need to rediscover, reembrace, and reteach the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and our Constitution, along with the historical contexts in which they were forged — and their importance in guiding and governing us today. These documents, and the worldview that they espouse, form the backbone, soul, fabric, compass, and rudder of what makes America the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
Us, Not "Them"
I was at a gathering of heavy-hitting Christian leaders the year of the 2016 American presidential election. Over one hundred leaders were there, each concerned about the state of America and the upcoming election. During the gathering, a leader took the time to show a brief video that put out a call for revival in America. The scriptures highlighted in the video are perhaps the most frequently referenced verses when Christians bring up the subject of revival. It is 2 Chronicles 7:13–14:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
When the video ended, the presenter put out a sincere plea for intercession on behalf of America. As I looked around the room, I could see heads nodding and facial expressions that agreed: We need to intercede for America. America is in trouble. We need to pray for revival.
Excerpted from "A Call for Courage"
Copyright © 2018 Michael Anthony Paolicelli.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Blinders 1
2 Courage Matters 15
3 Heroes and Underdogs 23
4 Intolerance, the New Tolerance 37
5 Resurrecting and Defending Religious Freedom 47
6 Speaking Truth with Love 66
7 Did Jesus Judge? 78
8 The Present Future: Mind Control and Thought Police 92
9 Broken Glass 107
10 How to Handle Racists, #Haters-and Many Folks In Between 126
11 Secret Weapons: Hidden in Plain Sight 138
12 Battle Plan 156
13 Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Cultivating a Courageous, Humble Church 184
Appendix: Ten Signs You May Be Morphing into a Pharisee 200
Suggested Reading List and Resources 218
About the Author 220