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Tag Archives: character

Seeing God

My first exposure to the true meaning in the Bible came through two college courses.  Biblical and Classical Literature began by reading all 66 books of the Bible and ended with several classics like Beowulf.  My second class, the Bible as Literature wasn’t as interesting.  While examining the symbolism of the Bible with other ancient stories was educational, I don’t think my college professor went to seminary.  These experiences taught me not to read too much into literature.  Rather, take each piece in its original historical context.  Perhaps, this may explain why Joshua urged readers of the Bible to meditate on God’s laws day and night so that important details are not missed or neglected.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.

In the first century, a spiritual leader entered the scene as a vivid story teller, using analogies called parables to captivate an audience.  In the passage above, Jesus lists a series of beatitudes.  According to Jesus, any individual who pursues these spiritual ambitions will be blessed by God.  If anyone wants to develop a pure heart, three traits are necessary: godly character, integrity and moral courage.  These values are a mindset, steps toward becoming spiritually mature.  For those who stay the course, seeing God work in your life won’t be a concept that you read in a book.  Rather, your eyes will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit altering, changing and transforming your life.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

A disciple of Jesus makes an interesting connection in the passage above.  As children, babies cling to their parents, relying on their mother’s milk for food and father’s leadership for direction.  Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, eager to bless, hold and interact with them.  Yet, when children grow up, innocence is lost as negative adults begin to verbally squash a teenager’s dreams.  John tells first century adults to live in anticipation of God’s promises in the Bible.  Live by faith like children expecting to walk hand and hand with God in heaven.  The key to making this a reality is developing a pure heart.  As hearts become aligned with God’s will, you will see God move in America.

by Jay Mankus

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Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

The term vibe can be best described as ambiance, aura, character and spirit that oozes out of your soul.  Others refer to this quality as charisma, a trait that a pied piper demonstrates.  People who exhibit a strong personality tend to develop a following.  Whether this occurs within your community, on social media or at your place of employment, these groups may resemble a tribe as in the days of the Old Testament.

So Moses and Aaron took these men who were designated by name, 18 and assembled all the congregation on the first day of the second month, and they registered by ancestry in their families (clans), by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names from twenty years old and upward, head by head, 19 just as the Lord had commanded Moses. So he numbered them in the Wilderness of Sinai, Numbers 1:17-19.

During the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites traveled in 12 groups.  These groups were named after the 12 sons of Israel.  Moses refers to these descendants as Tribes.  In the early days on earth, the order of your birth often dictated your ability to be successful in life.  Unfortunately, during the days of Judges, individuals began to do what was right in their own eyes.  Instead of keeping the ten commandments, worldly judges gave off bad vibes.  Thus, many tribes gradually became spiritually bankrupt.

What good has it done me if, [merely] from a human point of view, I fought with wild animals at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised [at all], let us eat and drink [enjoying ourselves now], for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived:“Bad company corrupts good morals,” 1 Corinthians 15:32-33.

In a letter to the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul warns Christians about negative influences in life.  Within a culture steered by philosophy, it wasn’t hard to justify and rationalize certain types of behavior.  In the passage above, Paul is blunt, warning people about getting close to those who demonstrate sketchy character.  Like the sowing principle, the vibe you give off to certain groups of people.  Therefore, don’t be mislead by bad company.  Rather, let your light shine throughout your community, Matthew 5:16, so that others will be drawn to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Be Careful How You Listen

Every September, from 2002 to 2012, I met the parents of my students during an open house at Red Lion.  After sharing the same spiel for several years, God gave me a vision about what it means to listen from a biblical perspective.  This idea turned into a visual presentation, pouring water from a bottle three times onto a hard table top, then adding a paper towel and finally into sponge.  After each pour I asked these adults what they witnessed and what each scenario represents.

So be careful how you listen; for whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a longing for truth], even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him,” Luke 8:18.

Water poured onto a table top represents a hardened heart.  When students don’t like a class, subject or teacher, their hearts become calloused.  Thus, whenever a lesson is presented, their minds and thoughts are elsewhere.  Adding a paper towel to the table is symbolic of being half-hearted.  Since a paper towel can only absorb so much water, it only does half the job.  This type of student only listens when they feel like it.  When topics are boring, confusing or over their head, they tune out.  The ideal form of listening is acting like a sponge, absorbing everything that you hear.  The Bible refers to this student as being whole hearted, all in and ready to hear.

“But be on guard, so that your hearts are not weighed down and depressed with the giddiness of debauchery and the nausea of self-indulgence and the worldly worries of life, and then that day [when the Messiah returns] will not come on you suddenly like a trap,” Luke 21:34.

Jesus regularly used the expression,”he who has ears, let him hear.”  Based upon the two passages above, those who possess a teachable heart want to learn, listening intently.  However, those who do not have a longing for truth will lose any desire for character, integrity and morality in the future.  Meanwhile, later on Jesus urges those willing to listen to guard their hearts.  When hearts become vulnerable to spiritual attacks, individuals can be dragged down by the heartache and pain in life.  Therefore, be careful how you listen so you will begin to apply biblical principles that result in a teachable heart.

by Jay Mankus

You Can Only Do So Much

Ten years ago, I volunteered for a week to serve as a camp counselor at an overnight Christian Camp just south of Reading, Pennsylvania.  Due to a weeklong heat wave, a cabin without air conditioning and inner ear infection that lingered the rest of that summer, I never returned for a second year.  Instead, my two sons now serve as camp counselors at Camp Cedarbrook.  During a de-briefing session over lunch, my oldest son James shared his frustrations of boys in his cabin who never listened to him.  Despite repeated attempts, numerous reminders and intervention from veteran counselors, James was unable to change these bad habits.  Unfortunately, you can only do so much in one week of time.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

Unless you are a coach, counselor, parent or teacher, you may not realize that America is on the verge of a parental crisis.  After years of appeasing, bribing and spoiling children, basic character traits, courtesy and morals are missing.  Instead cell phones, electronic devices and video games are killing social skills, creating a further divide between children and parents.  Those individuals who are diligently working to stop this trend have their own obstacles to overcome.  Abandonment, death and divorce has led to single parent homes, struggling to provide and raise kids at the same time.  Giving a word of encouragement to my son, I replied “you can only do so much on your own.”

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is a small quote from King Solomon.  This wise man compares a black smith to being the best person you can be.  When human beings enter into an accountability relationship, affirmations point out the good while flaws are pointed through honest assessments.  As long as both parties seek the best interest of the other, character is strengthened like iron sharpening iron.  For those who feel called into the ministry, you may not be able to win the hearts and souls of those who you love.  God doesn’t call everyone to be successful, but faithful.  Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed by a lack of progress in your life, remember you can only do so much.

by Jay Mankus

Flying Under the Radar

Flying under the radar originated in the 1950’s.  Prior to modern electronic devices, this term derived from military aircraft flying beneath radio detection to avoid being monitored by the enemy.  Staying and remaining undetected as long as possible can make the difference between victory and defeat.  The urban dictionary has modified this meaning to refer to remaining quiet, not stand out and avoid drawing attention to yourself.

For indeed you already do practice it toward all the believers throughout Macedonia [by actively displaying your love and concern for them]. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, that you excel [in this matter] more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 1 Thessalonians 4:10-11.

The practice of flying under the radar has diminished over the last two decades due to the growth of social media.  Social media is essentially computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via the world wide internet.  Instead of keeping a low profile, new social media outlets urge participants to seek attention through new profiles, posts and updates.  Blogs, pod casts and you tube channels are tools used to gain fame, followers and perhaps fortunes.

So that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting], 1 Thessalonians 4:12.

While the world constantly changes, influenced by societal trends, the Bible has remained the same.  The apostle Paul clarifies the spiritual definition of flying under the radar in the passage above.  First and foremost, let your actions do your talking through a life dedicated to integrity, love and service.  Secondly, mind your own business by focusing on what you can control, leading and nurturing your family.  Finally, devote yourself to Christ like behavior, good character and a witness that wins the respect of outsiders.  May this blog and passage inspire you to pursue a quiet life living under the radar.

by Jay Mankus

When Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right

In any social setting, there are preconceived thoughts based upon appearance, attire, background, education, intellect and wealth.  If character is excluded from this set of standards, people can be misled, confusing right from wrong and vice versa.  Like Samuel waiting to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel, the heart is often overlooked.  While David’s brothers fit the physical features of a leader, David’s heart set him apart from his siblings.  Thus, Samuel told Jesse to call his youngest son from the fields, led by the Holy Spirit to anoint David.

Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume; 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume, Luke 7:37-38.

Several hundred years later, another famous anointing took place.  Unfortunately, the disciples were fooled by the tarnished reputation of an unwelcomed guest.  To make matters worse, this woman broke and wasted a valuable vial of perfume.  The actual worth of this bottle was equivalent to nearly a years pay for a first century laborer.  This display blinded religious leaders from the true intentions of this woman.  Staring at the spilled perfume as if it was a load of cash blowing in the wind, the man who invited Jesus over to his house is offended by Jesus’ interaction with this prostitute.  Subsequently, in Simon’s eyes right is wrong and wrong is right.

Now when [Simon] the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a [notorious] sinner [an outcast, devoted to sin],” Luke 7:39

Over reactions like Simon are carried out within homes every night in the 21st century.  Instead of seeing things for what they are, preconceived notions blind decent human beings from the truth.  Thus, knee jerk reactions lead to conflict, division and tension within Christian homes.  Perhaps, everyone needs to become more like Jesus, expecting the best in others regardless of past or present reputations.  May this passage of the Bible speak to your soul, opening your heart to forgive, forget and extend God’s grace and mercy to others.  If you don’t, you too may confuse right from wrong and wrong with right.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus’ Last Will and Testament

A will is a legal document that allows you, among other things, to designate how and to whom your property is distributed.  Prior to the formation of modern companies like Legal Zoom, the Old Testament reveals the inheritance process for Jewish families.  Jewish inheritance customs were linked to family blood lines as detailed in Numbers 27:8-11.  The parable of the Prodigal Son refers to the financial breakdown with the oldest son receiving a greater percentage of wealth.  In the case of Jesus, his clothes were decided by chance, as soldiers cast lots to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy.

So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it will be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture, “They divided My outer clothing among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” 25 So the soldiers did these things.  But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister [Salome], Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, John 19:24-25.

Prior to his death on a cross, Jesus’ mother was the only family member to believe, remaining faithful to the end.  Since his father Joseph died years earlier, Mary was Jesus’ sole concern.  After members of his family referred to him as a crazy man who had lost his mind in Mark 3:21, Jesus embraced those who did the will of his heavenly father.  These are the individuals who Jesus called his family.  Yet, Jesus’ last will and testament was directed to John, handing the care of Mary over to him.  The passage below suggests that Mary moved into John’s house, staying with him until her death.

26 So Jesus, seeing His mother, and the disciple whom He loved (esteemed) standing near, said to His mother, “[Dear] woman, look, [here is] your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple (John), “Look! [here is] your mother [protect and provide for her]!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own home, John 19:26-27.

Beyond any possession that you may pass onto family, there is something more valuable.  The legacy that you leave behind will either inspire or deflate your children, family and spouse.  This mark can’t be faked as time will reveal the true nature of your character.  In a sense, Jesus’ legacy was carried on by 11 disciples and first century apostles.  Delegating, preparing and teaching these individuals has kept the good news of Jesus Christ alive today.  As you draw near the grave, may the Holy Spirit prompt you to develop a sense of urgency so that your faith will be passed on to the next generation.

by Jay Mankus

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