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Tag Archives: believe

Sharing That Which You Believe

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment.  This time period spanned from 1685 to 1815.  As Plato once illustrated in a painting known as the School of Athens, philosophers stopped looking up to the heavens for answers to life, to God above.  Rather, scholars began to look within, replacing God with science by relying on minds to direct and guide future beliefs.  Before his death in 1804, Kant once said, “There are many things that I believe that I shall never say. But I shall never say the things that I do not believe.”

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

This quote from Immanuel Kant applies to today’s political climate in America as candidates seek to persuade undecided voters.  Kant realized that sharing everything that he believed openly would hinder his ability to convince skeptics to embrace his philosophical position.  Subsequently, Kant only shared the things he believed, strengthening his message.  Sharing too much information can confuse your listeners.  As long as you focus on your main points, audiences can be persuaded to change their mind.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

When making any argument, its important to possess confidence.  The Greek word εμπιστοσύνη refers to individuals who are confident, faithful, reliable and trusting.  Whenever you share what you believe, if you aren’t a credible source, living out your convictions, no one will believe you.  Therefore, its essential to demonstrate faith before you share what you believe.  The more confidence oozes out of your soul, the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12, will pierce and persuade hearts to follow Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Too Far Gone?

Every night concerned friends, parents and teachers are wondering if the person in their thoughts and prayers is too far gone.  In same cases, broken relationships only make this situation worse.  Typically, the parent-child interaction is tense and brief with flare ups possible at any time.  If this climate persists, doubt persuades parents to believe that they have lost their child, too far gone to salvage.

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, 2 Timothy 4:10.

In a letter to a first century pastor, the apostle Paul shares his concern about a fellow believer who abandoned his faith.  While the details of Demas’ demise is unclear, it appears that this missionary regressed, craving certain aspects of life.  Perhaps, Demas was merely going through a phase, something that he needed to do prior to committing fulltime to the ministry.  The hardest part for any coach, friend, parent or teacher is letting go, giving this individual the room they need to come to their senses.

But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” – Luke 23:40-42

One of the characters in the Bible who could be considered too far gone is a criminal hanging on a cross next to Jesus.  On the verge of death, there was no hope for his future.  Nonetheless, this dire state inspired this man to seek security for the afterlife.  If Jesus can welcome a criminal sentenced to death, then no one should be considered too far gone.  For those currently enduring broken hearts, hang on to hope through prayer, asking God for common sense to break the stubborn hearts of a prodigal spirit.  Until reconciliation arrives, trust God to get you through.

by Jay Mankus

Is God Really on Your Side?

Two weeks ago a speech during a protest in Southern California set social media on fire.  United States representative Maxine Waters turned her small podium into a pulpit stirring members of the audience.  When I heard the initial audio of this message, Waters sounded like a preacher speaking to the choir as the crowds chimed back in agreement.  Beside encouraging supporters to harass members of president Trump’s political team, there was one other statement that got my attention.  Representative Waters believed she was doing God’s work with the Lord on her side.  This comment led me to ponder, how do you know if God is truly on your side?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

After his conversion from Judaism to faith in Christ, first century believers initially thought Saul from Tarsus was merely pretending as a plot to destroy the apostles and disciples of Jesus.  This surprising development perplexed his fellow Jews, especially after overseeing the death of Stephen in Acts 7 and further persecution by ravaging church members in Acts 8.  I guess you can say Saul who became the apostle Paul played both sides of the fence until the Holy Spirit transformed his ways.  According to Acts 9:23-25, the Jewiish leaders quickly turned on Saul, plotting to kill Saul.  After escaping death, Paul’s missionary trips throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe clearly demonstrated that God was on Paul’s side.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6.

In the days of the Old Testament, God’s favor was recognized through a series of blessings, Deuteronomy 29:1-14.  While some may rationalize a few good breaks as lucky, those who live in accordance with God’s commands receive special anointings.  Eye witnesses of these individuals referred to their encounters as if God was walking by their side.  Meanwhile, the New Testament uses a different standard.  God will bring to completion the gifts, resources and talents of those who remain faithful and true to God’s calling.  Spiritual harvests are a sign that God is with specific people.  While time will tell if God is on Maxine Waters’ side, don’t leave this up to chance. Rather, set out to be a good and faithful servant to that which God has given you.  If you do, you will receive eternal crowns in heaven while letting your actions do the taking for you.

by Jay Mankus

Doubt Kills

An arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities of water or amounts of debris highlight the magnitude of a tsunami.  This act of God can erase a beach, tropical destination or village in a matter of minutes.  Like a scene out of a chapter from Revelation, the Christmas morning tsunami which struck Thailand in 2004 devastated this region.  In the passage below, the earthly brother of Jesus compares doubt with a spiritual tsunami that can ravage souls.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

From time to time, I will cross paths with an extremely negative individual.  Fueled by doubt, this unhealthy presence can persuade hopeful hearts to become consumed by stress, worry and unrest.  Unless this invisible force is extinguished, doubt will continue to spread, poisoning souls one group at a time.  While the initial traces of doubt may appear vague, roots of bitterness will rise up from within troubled hearts, brewing until verbal assaults are unleashed in person or via social media.

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen, Matthew 21:21.

Jesus addressed doubt on numerous occasions with his own disciples.  These exchanges reveal his frustration as future leaders of the church became numb to the miracles performed by Jesus daily, John 21:25.  Perhaps, the words in the passage above are a call to snap out of it; wake up to the power of faith.  Using the surrounding mountains as a teachable aid, Jesus exclaims, “see that mountain over there, you can move that which stands in your way through faith.”  Yet, if doubt lingers, any dreams that you have will die.  Therefore, believe, have faith and put your trust in God before doubt kills another victim.

by Jay Mankus

Do You Believe Me Now?

The idiom “seeing is believing” was first recorded in 1639.  This saying is based upon the words of Thomas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Based upon the passage below, Thomas doubted that Jesus could rise from the dead following his crucifixion.  Thomas developed a mindset that only physical or concrete evidence could convince him otherwise.  Unfortunately, this same thinking is prevalent today, keeping many in the dark, void of the faith necessary to believe in modern day miracles.

But Thomas, one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Didymus (the twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe,” John 20:24-25.

Thomas wasn’t the only disciple to experience a crisis of faith.  Apparently, several disciples did not believe the initial news that Jesus has risen from the dead.  Yet, these same men witnessed Jesus walk on water, turn water into wine and raise his friend Lazarus from the grave, cancelling a funeral in progress.  In addition, Peter, James and John watched Jesus transform into a heavenly figure, communicate with Elijah and Moses and cast demons out of formerly crazed individuals.  When seeing is believing becomes your motto for life, faith is powerless, preventing believers from ever experiencing the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10.

Now Jesus, having risen [from death] early on the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported it to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it. 12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking along the way to the country. 13 They returned [to Jerusalem] and told the others, but they did not believe them either, Mark 16:9-13.

Only three out of a thousand Americans make close to a million dollars per year.  Those who don’t have the education, experience or knowledge to earn this annual salary may enter contests, gamble or pursue gameshows to attempt to strike it rich.  For a few, this pursuit may become reality.  Yet, many will remain in their current situation, struggling to pay all of their bills while trying to put enough food on the table.  When Jesus was hungry, prayer and a few resources fed thousands of people.  With these previous miracles in mind, perhaps its time to believe in God’s power now so that tomorrow will bring daily bread, manna from heaven and a storehouse of blessings.

by Jay Mankus

Taking Ownership of A Desire for Greatness

In a June 2013 post on Live Science, Stephanie Pappas wrote about some parents wanting to live their lives through their kids.  One of the flaws to this mindset is that rarely do these teenagers share the same desire for greatness.  When potential is revealed, seen or witnessed, aspiring parents may encourage, nudge or push children into a specific activity, hobby or sport.  Thousands of dollars are shelled out per year for competitions, equipment, lessons and travel teams.  With the rising costs of higher education, a full ride is the only way some students will ever be able to attend college.  Thus, parents do whatever they can for a loved one.  The only question is do these potential stars share the same dreams and vision of their parents?

God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend, Job 37:5.

You make a case for both sides of this argument.  For example, take Tiger Woods whose father Earl prepared Eldrick to become a golfing phenom as soon as he could walk.  Earl Woods used his military background to mentality test Tiger’s mind for every scenario on a golf course and in a tournament.  During Tiger’s prime, Woods was a machine, defying the experts with an epic run toward the greatest golfer of all time.  However, when Earl Woods died in May of 2006, Tiger’s amazing stretch slowed down after winning the 2008 United States Open, his last major title.  While injuries has played a part to his decline, perhaps Earl’s absence enabled Tiger to let his guard down, to lose his edge.  Whatever the reason, Tiger has altered his goals, enjoying playing golf again with a healthy body.

You will increase my greatness and comfort me again, Psalm 71:21.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Capriati is a good counter for the opposing side whose parents seemed to want success more than Jennifer at times.  This tennis star turned pro at age 13, winning 3 majors and a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.  However, television displayed the emotion of a teenager taking center stage before fully maturing.  Between Jennifer’s initial success, her parent’s desire for greatness and becoming burned out at an early age for a professional athlete, Capriati’s full potential was never realized.  Like anyone I’m sure she would like to go back and do certain things differently, yet at some point rising stars need to take ownership of a parent’s desire for greatness.  If not, greatness will fizzle out sooner rather than later.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

As a parent, I struggle with knowing when to push my children and when to walk away.  I believe every parent wants the best for their children, but selfish desires may interfere with your own ability to be a good parent.  During my fifteen years of coaching high school and youth sports, I found myself caring more than my players.  I take each defeat and loss personally, re-evaluating in my mind to see if I did everything in my power to set my players up for success.  In some circumstances, I was responsible for a loss, taking the blame.  However, I learned that if my kids don’t care, I need to rethink my priorities.  Am I too serious, not forceful enough or do I need to let go to see if someone takes ownership of a desire for greatness?  I still haven’t figured this out, but I am hopeful and prayerful that one day my children will develop a desire for greatness in this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?

While most people have moved on with their lives following Easter Sunday, there is something I want you to consider about this religious holiday.  One of Jesus’ last words before dying on a cross reflects the anguish within his heart and soul.  In order for God’s plan to redeem mankind to be completed, Jesus’ heavenly father watched from a distance as his son died.  This lack of action caused Jesus to cry out, “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?”

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46

If God let Jesus suffer and die, then human beings face a similar fate.  Despite God’s love for His one and only son, sometimes it feels like God turns his back on us as well. When Christians are in trouble, most reach out to God in prayer, begging and pleading with the Lord for divine intervention.  When a period of time passes without a clear answer, miracles don’t happen or a friend dies, many people feel like God has abandoned them.  When God doesn’t act immediately, its not uncommon to believe or think that God has forsaken you.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20.

Behind the scenes, God is more like the father portrayed in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Unfortunately, while on earth Christians must live by faith, not by sight.  Human nature craves and longs for signs from God.  Yet, faith must remain firm when God is silent.  Like a roller coaster that goes up and down, there will be moments when God’s presence seems near.  However, faith needs to steer you during periods of darkness.  If you lose hope, you too may be tempted to exclaim, “eli, eli, lama sabachthani which translates my God my God, why has you forsaken me into English.  In the meantime stay strong or if you have to, lean on others to get you through trials in this life.

by Jay Mankus

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