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Tag Archives: complacency

Thunder and Lightning

During one of my favorite seminary classes, Revival and Revivalism, the course began by studying the gradual spiritual decline in America.  According to several historians, 1799 was one of the darkest years for Christianity in the United States.  While the death of George Washington on December 14th didn’t help this matter, apathy, complacency and spiritual indifference spread throughout the East Coast.  This climate set the stage for thunder and lightning to appear in the form of the second Great Awakening.

“I love those that thunder out the Word… the Christian world is in a deep sleep.  Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it,” George Whitefield -1739.

The second great awakening used some of the techniques successful in the first spiritual movement that began in 1730, lasting until 1743.  George Whitefield was one of the local preachers in Delaware, holding Tent Revivals in Pike Creek Valley and St. George’s which is now divided by the C&D canal.  Whitefield preached over 18,000 sermons to nearly ten million people, seeking to awaken the souls of American colonists who had strayed from God like prodigal children.

But when he [finally] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough food, while I am dying here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, Luke 15:17-18.

Whitefield felt the need to challenge individuals, using a thunderous approach to get the attention of those spiritually floundering.  Back in the early 1970’s, a similar tone was applied, known as Fire and Brimstone messages.  Unfortunately, this style turned many off to the gospel, leaving the church as a teenager, never to return again.  Instead of yelling at people to repent, Jesus recommended being salt and light to the unchurched, Matthew 5:13-16.  In today’s culture, earning the right to be heard by living out your faith is much more effective.  Thus, if you want to live long enough to experience a fourth great awakening, demonstrate the love of Jesus daily through random acts of kindness.  This should spark the interest of unbelievers and possibly ignite spiritual thunder and lightning.

by Jay Mankus

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When You Stop Learning… You Quit Living

If you are born or raised in the United States, the first 18 years of your life is already planned.  The basic expectation is for every child to attend school from kindergarten all the way through high school.  Following graduation, individuals may choose college, attend a trade school or work locally until a better opportunity arises.  From a worldly standard, the more degrees that you earn often result in higher pay, improved chances for advancement and an elevated social status.  Anyone who rejects this path to success may be ridiculed, shunned or teased by the elite as some educators within higher education believe if you stop learning, you quit living.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.  For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:2-3.

In the days of the Old Testament, kings went to battle each spring to defend their territory from encroaching armies or expand their power over nearby lands.  According to 2 Samuel 11, David became bored by this annual tradition.  Perhaps, a few members of his posse convinced David to enjoy his power as king of Israel.  “You’re the king; send one of your commanders to oversee this military exercise.  Take some time off, relax and enjoy the wealth that you have accumulated.”  Since the Bible doesn’t detail any such conversation, maybe David felt like he arrived.  After serving as a lowly shepherd and musician, David was in the prime of his life, on the top of the world.  As the events of 2 Samuel 11 play itself out, complacency caused David to stop living according to God’s commands.  When you stop learning, you quit living as God desires.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of My law, where I reveal My will].  Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge,  I will also reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children, Hosea 4:6.

The Bible reveals the relationship between knowledge and vision.  Vision provides a game plan, enabling people to plot out their future through a series of goals.  As I reflect upon my own life, the times where I lost my way coincide with periods in my life void of goals and objectives.  Meanwhile, if accomplishments in life are etched upon a flow chart, my peaks and summits were achieved due to desire, focus and passion inspired by a dream or vision.  While some adults no longer have aspirations for pursuing another college degree, your current career is constantly changing as technology advances.  Thus, if you decide to stop learning, you will quickly fall behind as younger energetic co-workers will catch up and surpass your level of knowledge.  No matter how old you get, maintaining a teachable spirit is essential.  If you’re not careful, when you stop learning the Bible, you might quit the faith of your childhood.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Waiting for Superman to Arrive

William Shakespeare wrote about lovers whose deaths reconciled two feuding families.  When tragedy strikes Romeo and Juliet, readers feel the pain of this story.  Shakespeare borrowed from an Italian tale adding his own spin to his famous novel taught in American English classes.  Yet, like anything in life, people change, evolve and learn to adapt.  If a similar classic was crafted today, the title would read something like Waiting for Superman to Arrive.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

As millennials become co-dependent on technology, the next generation is in danger of being lulled into complacency.  Sure, it’s nice to be able to keep up with electronic advances, but do you really need a device named after a girl to help you remember things?  Have people become so lazy that you can’t even find a location without asking Alexa or Sery?  This trend breeds individuals to go through life waiting for others to help you out.  Unfortunately, Superman is a comic character who isn’t going to rescue you from the trials of life.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

Don’t get me wrong, waiting isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, the Bible encourages souls to be patient, seeking God as you wait for answers.  Nonetheless, the only Superman in history lived most of his life undercover, serving his community as a carpenter.  Before his departure in the first century, this man spoke of a counselor yet to come, an invisible presence able to direct and guide human hearts.  Instead of sitting back and relying on an electronic voice, it’s time to be proactive.  Therefore, as followers of Christ waiting for the second coming of Superman, Jesus, trust in the Lord so that you will be ready like the good servants in the Parable of the Talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Cave of Contentment

As you walk through various doors in life, you will eventually come across the cave of contentment.  Although this place is not a physical location, the emotions you experience will make you feel at ease, comfortable and perhaps tinkled pink.  Yet, instead of continuing your journey, some refuse to leave, content with who and where you are.

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites, Judges 6:1.

One of the byproducts of visiting this place is complacency.  Sure, a weekend getaway can recharge your internal batteries.  However, any kind of extended stay will cause you to become stagnant, limiting your options in life.  Bruce Springsteen sings about a similar state in his classic song Glory Days.  Graduates from high school reflect their former life, back in the day, just like visiting the cave of contentment.

Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds, Judges 6:2.

Unfortunately, when Israel decided to stop at the cave of contentment during the reign of Judges, life drastically changed.  This decision allowed evil to creep into their lives.  Subsequently, God humbled Israel through an oppressive ruler.  Anyone who makes an attempt to stop growing today will face a similar fate.  Although resting a while may be beneficial, trusting in previous achievements without moving forward is a step in the wrong direction.  Therefore, follow the leadership of Gideon who the Lord used to rescue Israel from the cave of contentment.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Absence of Discipline

One of the definitions of discipline eludes to a branch of knowledge.  Similar to higher education, discipline is self-taught or prodded through some sort of accountability relationship.  This concept involves dedication, hard work and strict training.  For those who commit by developing daily routines usually experience blessings, success and wealth.

For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly, Proverbs 5:23.

On the other side of the spectrum, you will find apathy.  Those who indulge in this behavior will go through periods of complacency.  The by-product of this decision causes individuals to lose sight of their goals, living day to day.  Subsequently, vision for the future slowly disappears as depression, laziness and hopelessness take over.  This is what likely inspired Solomon to claim the lack of discipline will lead to death.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

If you have found yourself in a steady decline recently, the apostle Paul provides a message of hope.  The Holy Spirit was sent by God following Jesus’ ascension into heaven to empower those who call on the name of Lord.  Therefore, don’t allow a spirit of pessimism to reign within you.  Rather, claim the promise in the passage above so that you will escape an undisciplined life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

All Out of Sorts

Sort isn’t one of the sexiest words in the English language.  Yet, its synonyms reveal a wide array of meanings.  Arrange, categorize and grouping items enables individuals to bring order to their lives.  However, it doesn’t take much until complacency, laziness or unexpected trials leaves you all out of sorts.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 1 Corinthians 14:33.

After my son was rushed to the hospital last Tuesday, my routine schedule was thrown out the window.  One week later, dazed, exhausted and in dire need of sleep, I find myself hanging by a thread.  All out of sorts, I’m trying to leave the land of confusion for the peace promised in the Bible.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves, Romans 15:1.

During a visit to the church of Corinth, Paul witnessed several believers all out of sorts.  Subsequently, Paul called on godly leaders to be patient with those failing in their faith.  While its nice to have others focused on your own well being, hurting individuals receive much more by serving others.  Therefore, despite your current situation, reach out to someone less fortunate to help the body of Christ heal.

by Jay Mankus

Creatures of Instinct

If you have ever read about or studied the spiritual climate prior to previous great awakenings, morality tends to move in cycles.  When individuals experience the happier days in life, human beings can forget about the Creator above who brought good tidings and great joy.  If this trend continues, it won’t be long before your flesh leads you to become creatures of instinct.

But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish, 2 Peter 2:12.

Although each previous generation claim they had it harder, those who lived during periods of self-control were likely spared from the beast of lust.  For those born in ages of disobedience or sexual revolutions, the forces of temptation are magnified.  As complacency, justification and rationalization kick in, the desire to indulge intensifies.  Thus, many become pawns of the sinful nature.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world, 1 John 2:16.

When the dust settles, creatures of instinct find a valley of sin standing in their way from God’s hands of forgiveness.  As the apostle Paul states in Galatians 5, an opposing force acts as a sparing partner.  Free will adds to this equation, placing a priority on decision making.  Thus, if you follow in the footsteps of Moses, choose life before a creature of instinct leads you down the wrong road.

by Jay Mankus

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