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Upset: Dejection or Motivation?

When individuals do not experience a desired outcome, a wave of emotions come forth. As reality sets in, the finality of failure can be unsettling. In the context of sports, when the better team on paper with more talent loses, this is considered an upset. When players walk off a court or field staring defeat in the face, there are two logical options: dejection or motivation.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Like any grieving process, souls initially become dejected. Depression, despair and unhappiness are like bumps in the road toward healing. However, if you don’t experience a moral victory or taste success soon, hearts can become heavy. Glimmers of hope are like rays of sunshine to help people realize that they are going to make it through another storm.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

Anyone who hates to lose will find some sort of motivation to avoid a similar fate. After getting cut from his high school basketball team, Michael Jordan went on to earn a college scholarship, make the NBA and become one of the greatest players of all time. Instead of dwelling on self pity fueled by dejection, motivation can bring you out of desolation. Like Jesus said while talking to his disciples, “anything is possible with God.”

by Jay Mankus

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Heaven is Not for Everyone

I am always cautious when I try to tackle an unpopular topic. Yet, whenever I attend a funeral where a member of the clergy assumes or suggests that heaven is for everyone, I cringe. While God is the ultimate judge, a person’s witness typically leaves behind a trail of bread crumbs for friends and family to follow. Depending upon actions, deeds and faith demonstrated, you will find assurance, doubt or uncertainty for the eternal fate of those whom you love.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:13-14.

Jesus comments on two passages about heaven. The first focuses on the percentage of individuals that will end up in heaven or hell. The second details a necessary requirement to be forgiven by God. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush, blunt to his audience. You have two choices, follow the narrow path that leads to everlasting life or follow the crowd down the road toward eternal loss.

Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, 46 and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things, Luke 24:45-48.

One of Jesus’ final words before acsending into heaven focuses on how New Testament Jews can find forgiveness through repentance. Biblical repentance contains two requisites, turn away from evil and turn back toward God. If one of these two steps is skipped, true repentance is not achieved. Thus, if anyone wants to approach death with eternal security, 1 John 5:13, repentance needs to become a daily practice. While I hate to be a Debbie downer, the Bible clearly states heaven is not for everyone.

by Jay Mankus

For Those Who Fall for the Same Trick Time After Time

No one likes to be described as being weak. This condition or state of lacking strength is an insult that doesn’t sit well. Nonetheless, if you are honest with yourself, everyone has a weakness, a chink in their armor. During a battle, enemies will examine and study their opponent, trying to ascertain their most vulnerable position.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

Compromise, doubt and rationalization are elements that an invisible adversary narrows in on. Human minds are attacked day after day with some falling for the same trick time after time. Evil thoughts are planted within minds in the form of a subtle whisper, “did God really say?” As time has evolved, children have altered this question, “did my parents really say that?” “My coach, counselor, teacher or relative won’t mind if I do this?”

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

As a former victim, Peter compares the Devil to a powerful predator. As ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, Satan scans the globe daily stalking his next potential prey. Despite this warning, countless souls fail to take this threat seriously. Subsequently, articles, breaking news and headlines detail the most recent Christian who has fallen, caught in another shocking sin. Perhaps, this blog will awaken souls to this spiritual emergency so that future individuals do not fall for this same old trick anymore.

by Jay Mankus

Having Your Mind in the Right Place

The United Negro College Fund was incorporated on April 25th, 1944. As World War II continued, this organization adopted the motto, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” As casualties piled up day after day, common sense recognized that this madness must come to an end. The founders of this non-profit must have realized the importance of having your mind in the right place.

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both [c]inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation], Isaiah 26:3.

While the world relies on education as its source to stimulate minds, the Bible provides a different perspective. The prophet Isaiah reminds the nation of Israel of God’s faithfulness. Peace of mind comes from confidence and hope that God will provide and take care of human needs. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul refers to the daily spiritual war between the human flesh and God’s spirit. Jesus told his disciples on the eve of his death, “the Spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Depending upon the state of your mind, your actions will follow.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; Romans 8:5-6.

Yesterday, I had one of those days, waking up late, rushing out of the house, hoping to get to work on time. A major accident that occurred in front of me insured that I was late. At this moment, my mind wasn’t in the right place. A few hours later when I reflected upon events earlier in the day, my mind was opened. If I was on time, I could have been part of this six car pile up. In a sense, God sheltered me from harm, a minor miracle that I failed to see until my mind was in the right place. How many others miracles and praises do we miss when our mind is on other things?

by Jay Mankus

The 7 Point Creed

For college basketball fans, March Madness is like Christmas. Over the next three weeks, 68 universities will compete for a national championship. Teams will be whittled down to 16 and 4 during the first 2 weeks of play before a champion is crowned at the conclusion of this event. When it comes to college basketball coaches, one of the greatest of all time is John Robert Wooden. During a 12 year period, Wooden led UCLA to 10 national championships. Behind this great man, there was a 7 point creed which served as his foundation for life.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses], Hebrews 11:1.

A creed is system of belief based upon conviction, faith and personal devotion. The creed listed below was found in an old journal. These life principles allow fans, followers and readers to understand the mindset which made Wooden a legendary coach. Three contain biblical principles: praying, serving others and studying God’s Word. Two are based upon relationships, using your spheres of influence to help others and develop permanent meaningful relationships. One is focused on making sure success doesn’t change who you are as a person. Meanwhile, another is based upon the premise to seize each day God gives you.

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

May the 7 point creed above inspire you to reach your full potential as a human being. While you may exchange, improvise or replace some of these with your own language, putting your faith into action will enable you to ascend to new heights. You may not win a national championship, but with God anything is possible.

by Jay Mankus

Reunited

While sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car growing up, the radio was set to a local soft rock station. During summer vacations, I often listened to the American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. One of the songs that I remember listening to was Reunited by Peaches and Herb. This R&B classic sings about a couple who comes to their senses, deciding to get back together. Like anything in life, sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.

They got up that very hour and went back to Jerusalem, and found the eleven [apostles] gathered together and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon [Peter]!” – Luke 24:33-34

Following a post-resurrection conversation with Jesus, Peter was inspired to reunite with the rest of the disciples. Although Judas Iscariot was not present, committing suicide due to guilt from betraying Jesus, eleven men got together in Jerusalem. While musicians who reunite often go back on tour or craft a new album, the disciples were waiting on instructions, unsure of what to do. Prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus has one last meeting with these leaders to discuss God’s plan for reuniting believers.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted [that it was really He]. 18 Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28:16-19.

This event is known as the Great Commission, a blue print that future apostles follow throughout the book of Acts. The opening lyrics from a Kurt Kaiser song sums up the passage above. “It only takes a spark to keep a fire going. And so all those around will warm up to its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experience it, you spread His love to everyone, you want to pass it on.” Just as the disciples passed on Jesus’ message to apostles, modern Christians are encouraged to do the same. The only way to be reunited in heaven with those whom you love on earth is by fulfilling the Great Commission today.

by Jay Mankus

Carnivore or Vegetarian?

A carnivore are creatures that feed on the flesh of other animals. Any mammal that falls into this classification eats mainly meat. Meanwhile, vegetarians are at the other end of this spectrum, consuming mainly fruits and vegetables. This dietary lifestyle is often inspired by health, moral or religious convictions. According to a 2017 study, only 2% of Americans are vegetarians with 1/4 of these individuals claiming to be vegan.

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank; so he asked the commander of the officials that he might [be excused so that he would] not defile himself, Daniel 1:8. But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please, test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink, Daniel 1:11-12.

Every year pastors of certain congregations participate in a Daniel Fast at the beginning of January. When Israelites were taken into captivity by Babylon, one man was unwilling to change his strict diet. The passage above details to very first Daniel Fast. Similar to Catholics who give up eating meat during the season of Lent, fasting enables believers to focus on God for a specific period of time. Since Old Testament law prohibited Jews from eating food from unclean animals, taking steps to become a vegetarian is a way to honor and please God.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; Romans 8:5-6.

The New Testament reveals the spiritual symbolism between carnivores and vegetarians. In the passage above, the apostle Paul compares carnal desires to fleshly desires. In a letter to Galatia, this behavior is described as a sinful nature, contrary to what God desires. Instead of including vegetables within this analogy, the polar opposite of carnal desires is the Holy Spirit. Thus, eating healthy is one thing. However, obeying God has spiritual ramifications. The apostle Paul compares this to a battle between mind over matter. While deciding to be a carnivore or vegetarian is optional, God demands followers of Christ to steer clear of carnal desires.

by Jay Mankus

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