Bible Gateway interviewed Michael Anthony (@CourageMatters) about his book, A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear (Thomas Nelson, 2018).
What do you mean when you write, “When you live for God in secret, he can make great moves through you in public”?
Michael Anthony: Integrity is being the same person in public that we are in private. While God can use anyone and anything to accomplish his purpose (he spoke through Balaam’s donkey, as recorded in Numbers 22), godly character is a vital ingredient if we want to be used by God consistently. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NIV) says, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
The Bible teaches that our public influence for God is maximized and most consistent when our private devotion to him is genuine; where no one else may see it.
Why do you believe many Christians have only the most basic understanding of the Bible and why is that a problem?
Michael Anthony: One reason is that a good number of churches do a great job at evangelism – but few have a well thought-out process for taking people deeper in Christ once they’re saved. The Great Commission is not just about evangelism. It’s about discipleship. Jesus said, “go and make disciples . . . teaching them to obey everything I commanded” (Matthew 28:20, italics mine, for emphasis).
A disciple is someone who is constantly looking to go deeper in Christ—but pastors and church leaders need to see depth as the bulls-eye for which they’re aiming, or they’ll unintentionally miss the mark of Jesus, which is growth, depth of character, and Christ-likeness.
If Christ-like character is presented as a mist in the pulpit, it’ll be a fog in the pew. Shepherds need to lead their sheep to depth in Christ, teach the Bible, and apply it to the 21st century.
How do you see Christians misapplying 2 Chronicles 7:13-14?
Michael Anthony: 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 isn’t a call for intercession, but for repentance. The verses don’t address the people of the world, but God’s people. They applied to the nation of Israel, yet the principle is timeless for us, today. When God wants to change the world, his people need to walk humbly with him.
Humility and repentance are inseparable. The great need today is a real movement of repentant humility to radiate from the church; a revolution of what I call in the book, “courageous humility.” Real change needs to begin in God’s house. We shouldn’t wait for it to come through the White House, or from the people in the world. Whenever God wants to do a mighty work, a thorough house cleaning is in order.
Who are heroes of the Bible to whom you point in the book as those who should be emulated by Christians today?
Michael Anthony: In chapter 3, “Heroes and Underdogs,” I go through this in detail—with the purpose of helping the reader understand that God has only and always had imperfect people to work with. Every character in the Bible we see God using powerfully is an example we can look up to and learn from today.
Studying the lives of people in the Bible is a great way to learn lessons from their successes. It’s also a great way to learn from their failures, so we don’t repeat them. In modern times, I think Billy Graham is one of the greatest examples of courageous humility we can all learn from. He’s one of my heroes, and his life and ministry still impacts me to this day, and will until I die.
In your book, you explore the relationship between courage and humility. Can you explain what the relationship is and what led you to explore it?
Michael Anthony: Godly courage is the byproduct of humility. That’s what I found in my times wrestling with—examining my own failures and immersing myself in—the Bible. Courage and humility are not at odds with each other, but two sides of the very same coin.
A number of years ago I began studying the lives of biblical characters, looking for traits they had, while examining deficiencies in my own life. I was struck by the presence of godly courage whenever there was real humility. I’m still struck by this reality, and I find it deeply motivating.
Whenever I’m fearful before people, it’s usually a sign that I’m no longer pursuing humility before God. My courage ebbs and flows in proportion to my submission to Jesus. This is universally true—for everyone—and it’s why I wanted to write about it in A Call for Courage.
Is the Bible primarily a book of exceptions or examples?
Michael Anthony: Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out what I think! But more importantly, this is a question everyone needs to answer once and for all—because the answer determines how you’ll live, or not live, for God. I’ll give you a hint, though, and say that I think many people think the examples of how God used other people in the Bible are exceptions, and that’s one reason why we don’t attempt or accomplish otherwise incredible things for God.
Many of us talk about having faith and doing great things for God—but then we exclude ourselves from the process. Yes, there are exceptions in the Bible, and plenty of them. But if someone believes the Bible is primarily a book of exceptions, they miss one of the main points of why God gave us the Bible in the first place.
What is the practical outworking of “speaking the truth in love” in a post-modern culture that doesn’t believe absolute truth (distinct right and wrong) exists?
Michael Anthony: The practical outworking of “speaking the truth in love” in a post-modern culture is that while people may not agree with the idea of truth, or our understanding of the truth, when they experience our genuine concern, compassion, and love, they cannot ignore the truth. Ephesians 4 says we’re to speak the truth in love. It’s not one or the other; it’s both.
Love is what opens the door to having an audience for the truth. Truth is a difficult thing to continually dismiss if love is relentless. And love is the ingredient that needs to be revived in much of our attempts to deliver the truth. God doesn’t call us to merely win arguments, but to win souls. Souls are won over when the truth is delivered, consistently, with genuine love. People can sense love even if and when they reject our truth.
Jesus was known as a friend of tax collectors and sinners. He delivered truth with a clear reputation for loving those who needed to embrace it. When we embrace Jesus’ approach, we too will be known as friends of the same kinds of people. In fact, unless we are, I’m not sure we’re embracing truth and love. It may be a sign that we’re missing the ingredient that made Jesus’ delivery of the truth so magnetic among the lost: love.
What are practical steps you lay out in the book for people to achieve “humble courage”?
Michael Anthony: When I wrote A Call for Courage, I wrote it as a book designed to spark a personal revival in the life of the reader, and in his or her family and church. It’s a book designed to spark and sustain a movement of courageous humility throughout America, beginning in the church. Humble courage is not about a technique, but about an entirely new way of life based upon the teachings of Jesus.
A Call for Courage is a manifesto of how to develop humble courage. This is why there are pull quotes emblazoned in every chapter, so the key points are unmistakable, and it’s why every chapter ends with a brief summary and specific action steps the reader can take to apply what they just read. Humble courage is not about applying a few new techniques. It’s about (re)discovering biblical Christianity in all its power.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Michael Anthony: My favorite Bible passages are John 4:23-24:
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
And Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The reason I love these verses is because God used them powerfully in my life during real revivals I experienced in the Solomon Islands. They shaped the entire focus of my life and ministry, and helped me understand that true worship requires a surrendered life. Without surrender, there is no worship.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Michael Anthony: I love Bible Gateway and your app because you’re a great source for people to go deeper with God through the Bible. In today’s world, depth with God is more important than ever, and Bible Gateway helps people go deeper with God by getting them into his word.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Michael Anthony: Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life, I’ve learned through failure. If anyone is reading this and feels like they’re a failure, or they don’t measure up, I’d encourage him or her to learn from their mistakes and share them with others to spare them hardships. Failure is only failure when we’re not willing to learn and grow.
Thank you so very much for the honor of being your guest here on Bible Gateway!
A Call for Courage is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Michael Anthony is the author of A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear. He is a popular speaker and blogger (The Courage Matters™ app, @CourageMatters, and CourageMatters.com), founder of the National Week of Repentance™, and lead pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pennsylvania (GraceYork.com). He and his work have been featured in major publications and news outlets, such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Fox, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Townhall.com, American Family Radio, The Christian Post, Charisma News, Beliefnet.com, WND.com, and Patheos.com. He lives with his family in York, Pennsylvania.
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