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Tag Archives: discipleship

A Passport to Heaven

Credentials are defined as evidence of authority, status, and rights. Anyone who possesses the proper credentials in life are given access to or are entitled to special privileges that exist depending upon your position, rank or title. At some point in his life, Jesus was recognized as a magician, rabbi and teacher despite not having an earthly degree in any of these areas. This reputation enabled Jesus to converse, discuss and meet with a wide range of individuals. During the first century, a rich young ruler approached Jesus searching for a passport to heaven.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

A first century doctor recounts the dialogue between these two men in the passage above and below.  Based upon what was written, it appears that this ruler believed that heaven was something that could be earned.  Jesus nips this mindset in the butt, informing any who could hear that only God is good.  Jesus transitions into a different direction, taking a spiritual inventory of this young man’s past.  This discussion led to knowing and practicing the ten commandments.  Like a counselor listening to their patient, Jesus noticed one thing lacking within this ruler.  Financial success led this man to rely on money rather than fully trust the Lord to provide.  At the end of their conversation, this rich young ruler walks away disappointed, unable to meet the credentials necessary for a passport to heaven.

When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:22-23.

In a previous conversation with his own disciples, Jesus provides further insight into the credentials necessary to receive a passport to heaven.  Jesus gives those who seek to become a modern day disciple three ultimatums.  First, deny yourself by setting aside selfish ambitions.  Second, take up your cross through a willingness to endure whatever may come in the form of persecution.  Third, follow Jesus, by believing, conforming and emulating the life of Christ.  If you have to summarize these requirements to receive a passport to heaven, you must be willing to lose your life, surrendering it completely, to find eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

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Setting Aside Self

While social media is designed to express what you’re doing, thinking or updating your status, the Bible reminds readers of a much simpler time.  Before modern technological inventions, life revolved around family.  Whether this meant following in your father’s footsteps, setting out to explore a new frontier or take over a family business, you didn’t eat or drink without working hard.  People didn’t have idle time to contemplate whether your life was acceptable or worthy of by your peers.  Rather, selfish desires were set aside for the greater good.

Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and [e]take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me], Mark 8:34.

In the first century, Jesus set high standards for his followers.  There were no surprises or speculation about what to expect.  Rather, Jesus required a full commitment, setting aside any selfish ambitions or desires.  In addition, Jesus laid out three major steps as well as a willingness to endure whatever may come during your faith journey.  According to the gospel of Luke, these extreme measures caused lesser known disciples to turn away, unable to commit.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

To a certain extent, some people are so over committed today that they do nothing well.  Others withdraw, doing little or nothing outside of school or work.  According to the apostle Paul, discipline is available through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This unseen force is attainable through the fruits of the Spirit, but only when you set aside self.  Many individuals struggle throughout life with discipline due to the inability to say no to their flesh.  This weakness is stunting their growth, unable to break free to reach their full potential.  If you are willing and spiritual hungry, set aside self so that God’s will may come into focus.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where are the Harvesters?

If you have ever visited several churches over the course of a month, methods, styles and terminology vary.  Some denominations expect priests, pastors or preachers to do the core of the discipleship, evangelism and ministry work.  Yet, Jesus tell his disciples a completely different approach.  God’s plan involves harvesters.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” Matthew 9:37.

In this age of megachurches, spiritual growth is misleading.  Visitors often treat facilities like the latest trend, hopping from the old to the new as long as it satisfies your soul.  When the crowd begins to move in a different direction, loyalty is pushed aside.  This mentality causes individuals to become consumers, not servants.  Thus, harvesters are vanishing as a new generation of Christians take center stage in the church.

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field, Matthew 9:38.

One of the logical reasons for this void is known as the 90:10 rule.  Ten percent of congregations does ninety percent of the work at church.  This overuse can wear out willing volunteers.  If these harvesters aren’t given a break, burn out can occur.  In view of this, discipleship, nurturing and training is essential to unite the body of Christ.  When spiritual workers become a rarity in your house of worship, may a spirit of prayer prompt the Holy Spirit to bring harvesters out of retirement and back into action.

by Jay Mankus

A New Year’s Invitation to a 2014 Case Study

According to a December 2009 article in the Examiner, the origin of New Year resolutions began with the Babylonians about 4,000 years ago.  Although Babylon celebrated New Year’s on March 23rd, farmers celebrated the beginning of Spring with goals for their upcoming harvest.  This concept has caught on in America as vows to diet, enjoy life and get ahead in 2014 have already begun.  In view of this, I am offering an invitation to anyone interested in being part of a 12 week Case Study, from January to the end of March.

 
 The purpose of this event is to develop Bible Study leaders and encourage discipleship within a small group setting.  I am searching for volunteers who fit the criteria listed below.

1) Anyone who wants to start a Bible Study in their neighborhood for people interested in God or seeking answers to life.

2) Youth pastors who are looking to disciple students to become future leaders in their community.

3) New or small churches seeking to develop a small group Bible Study model throughout their church family.

4) People with the gift of hospitality, willing to host a series of 12 week Bible Studies in 2014.

5) Writers with a background in curriculum development willing to give input while leading their own 12 week study.

6) Godly men, women or couples looking to instill a biblical worldview within their family and friends.

7) Individuals with the gift of evangelism who are willing to recruit unsaved friends to attend a 12 week study.

While I may have excluded some people, my goal is to select 12 leaders across the country to participate in a 12 week journey where people can encounter Extra Ordinary Faith.  Those chosen will receive a complete Power Point Presentation which includes teaching notes, links and you tubes of music videos and movie clips.  My only expectations in return are comments, criticism and ideas to help me assess what changes need to be made before I try to publish this material.

The test group of Extra Ordinary Faith is running now through December 2nd and will also be involved in 2014 as we try to perfect the current curriculum.  Based upon the first 6 weeks, Bible Study ranges from 45 minutes up to 75 minutes depending upon the size and talkative nature of the group.  My recommendation is to have a 15 minute window, giving busy individuals time to arrive, while serving as fellowship for those can can come early.  Although some discussions may flow over a few minutes, try to keep a consistent schedule, reserving a set hour for each Bible Study.

If the Holy Spirit places an urging on your heart, please contact me in a private message on my Facebook page (Jay Mankus) or send me an email at jlmankus@aol.com.  For those selected, please devote time in December to fasting and prayer so that the Holy Spirit will lead you to ask the right people.  Before you set a specific day and time, try to evaluate the best for all members of your group, realizing it probably won’t be right for everyone.  From there, trust God to provide a harvest of people, Matthew 9:37-38.

by Jay Mankus

Extraordinary Faith

One day, Jesus’ disciples were ease dropping, listening to him talk to a rich young ruler, Matthew 19:16-22.  Although books don’t often mention facial expressions like the movies or television, I get the feeling Peter was shaking his head in disbelief as this righteous man went home disappointed by Jesus’ response.  In fact, Matthew tells us that all 12 disciples began to question their own faith, wondering if they could be saved? – Matthew 19:25

Based upon this passage, without Jesus, everyone is ordinary.  The apostle Paul is even more blunt in Romans 3:9-12.  Yet, one verse changes the mood of all of those in attendance, Matthew 19:26.  According to Philippians 4:13, what was once thought improbable is now possible through Jesus, God’s son.  This sudden change or “Hail Mary,” a football term for last ditch effort at victory is illustrated by the song, When God Ran.

Tomorrow night, I am beginning a 12 week adventure, a Bible Study series called Extraordinary Faith.  I am not sure who is going to show up at my house from 8-9 pm, but I am trusting God to bring those individuals He has called.  This reinvention or revolutionary glimpse at discipleship will transform hearts ready to serve.  While demons of doubt are likely already at work, trying to spoil this event, I believe in an extraordinary faith that can and will demolish strongholds in the end, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  This Study will be made available through Google Docs for those interested in bringing it to your home town.  Contact me on Facebook if the Holy Spirit places on burden on your heart to lead or host this study.

by Jay Mankus

Reinvention or Revolutionary?

K.I.S.S. is one of the first acronyms I was introduced to in high school, referring to the expression Keep It Simple Stupid.  Whether you are talking about a complex matter, difficult course or the meaning of life, individuals must be careful not to over analyze things.  As long you can narrow a topic down to its most basic ideas, the less confused you will be and if yourjob relies on explaining details to others, the clearer your message will become.

Jesus modeled K.I.S.S. by regularly talking to people on their level, using stories that a vast majority of citizens could relate to and understand.  Jesus wasn’t concerned about theology, emphasizing who God the Father is, their relation to one another and how you can enter into a personal relationship with the Creator of life, John 3:16-18.  In regards to discipleship, you don’t need a PhD to grasp how to grow a Bible Study, Church or Home Group.  Go into the world, where light is fading or snuffed out, take the gift or talent implanted within you, 2 Timothy 1:6 and go develop like minded believers just as Jesus invested 3 years of his life in 12 men.

Unfortunately, some where along the way, people have begun relying on self-help material, trying to reinvent the wheel instead of simply keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  Book after book, theory after theory, video series and the like  claim to be revolutionary, yet are they?  If King Solomon claimed nearly 4,000 years ago there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9, why are many gullible people who are persuaded by their sales pitches?  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know this: Nike’s motto is noteworthy for those hungry for change, Just do It! – Matthew 28:19-20

by Jay Mankus

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