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Tag Archives: disciplined

Making Your Way Back

No matter how disciplined you may be, everyone has a low point in life. A period where a poor decisions results in disgrace, embarrassment or public humiliation. Despite being driven, focused and goal oriented, I have allowed anger, frustration and lust lead me into a pit of despair. Looking back, I drifted way off track in junior high, high school and college. Some of these phases I went through lasted longer than others, ensnared and trapped by darkness.

And when the mourning was past, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord, 2 Samuel 11:27.

The Bible is filled with confessionals, stories of wayward souls attempting to make their way back to God. One of the most famous involves a former king who rose to power at an early age. Perhaps, a lack of maturity laid the groundwork for a year of rebellion. Adultery and murder were byproducts of David’s willful disobedience. When you read Psalm 32 and Psalm 51, you’ll find a blue print for making your way back to God.

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, As the Lord lives, the man who has done this is a son [worthy] of death. He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no pity. Then Nathan said to David, You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king of Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:5-7.

Like the prodigal son who came to his senses in Luke 15:17-18, Nathan’s illustration opened David’s eyes to his spiritual condition. This analogy lead David to confront the errors of his way. This story moved David to finally come clean, confessing his evil deeds to God. Yet, when anyone sins, there are consequences that you must endure. The son conceived from David’s affair died, results in mourning. While your distance back to God will vary, the sooner you make a u-turn, the less painful your journey back will be.

by Jay Mankus

Decisions and Destinies

Dehydration, exhaustion and reaching the point of being mentally spent are good reasons to take a break.  No matter how disciplined, focused or strong you may be, everyone needs to take the time to rest and recover.  However, if this period takes longer than expected, dreams, goals and visions may be in jeopardy.  This is where decisions and destinies are linked as different avenues lead to success and failure, victory and the agony of defeat.

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies, 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

My first introduction to the term idleness came through a common expression, “the early bird gets the worm.”  The point of this saying encourages individuals to be active, diligent and persistent.  Those who emulate these traits are rewarded with consistent results on the way toward securing an eternal destiny.  Meanwhile, the dazed, distracted and emotionally tired are proceeding toward a different destiny, void of significant accomplishments.

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor, Proverbs 12:24.

Solomon is much more blunt while discussing idleness.  The analogy mentioned above suggests that your ultimate destiny is determined by the daily choices you make.  Anyone who seizes the day by maximizing the opportunities that God gives you will be blessed, earning favor and financial gain.  On the other side of the spectrum people will end up in some sort of blue collar job, often grueling which may feel like forced labor.  Therefore, if you want to pursue high hopes in this life, make sure daily decisions are guided by a mind set on the destiny you are eager to achieve.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Still Sleeping?

From time to time, my soul is filled with an overwhelming sense of conviction.  This guilt comes from spiritual naps, periods of my life where I fell asleep to what God wanted me to do, say or stand up for.  The Bible refers to this state as lukewarm.  Past generations used words such as wishy washy to explain how lame my faith can be at times.  To be bluntly honest,  I am fighting a losing battle, wrestling to stay above rising flood waters pulling me under.

And He came back and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Were you unable to keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep [actively] watching and praying so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” Mark 14:37-38.

No one is immune to sleeping as the human body is hard to control.  This requires an intent focus, like a disciplined athlete training for their next competition.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for someone to slip into merely going through the motions.  Whether you are talking about prayer, reading the Bible or worship, these practices can become a mundane event, void of spiritual fire or zeal.  I guess you can say this is where I am, still sleeping, unable to awaken from this spiritual funk.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

According to the apostle Paul, those who find themselves in this spiritual state need to cry out to the Holy Spirit for help.  Instead of babbling the same old powerless prayer, ask God to intercede through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I’m tied of doing the same lame thing, hoping for a better outcome.  Therefore, join me in an awakening of the soul to once again put into practice the word of God.  If you’re still sleeping like me, its time to get up, Luke 21:36.

by Jay Mankus

Recovering from a Wounded Soul

When the average person begins to feel sick, showing signs of an impending illness, airborne, cold medicine or pain killers are taken to be proactive.  If this action fails to improve your condition, a doctor’s appointment or some sort of check up ensues.  In the worst case scenario, you may even need to be hospitalized.  Yet, when individuals begin to suffer from a broken heart, depression or wounded souls, few react with a sense of urgency.  Thus, society is filled with a spiritual epidemic, unable to recover from a crushed and wounded soul.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

After Levi decided to leave his career as a tax collector to follow Jesus, joining the other 11 disciples, he threw a party at his home, Matthew 9:9-13.  This guest list included former co-workers, Pharisees and sinners.  When this worldly crowd tried to engage spiritual leaders, a clash of classes developed.  This prompted the Pharisees in attendance to question Jesus’ choice of friends and associates.  Using these concerns for a teachable moment, Jesus deciphered the healthy from the sick.  The disciplined and mature are able to self medicate, managing their own spiritual temperature.  However, the addicted, lost and lonely are in need of a spiritual physician.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

According to Jesus, healing occurs as individuals begin to recognize their sins and actively seek forgiveness.  Thus, the key to recovering from a wounded soul involves reconciliation with friends, enemies and God.  Matthew 11:25-30 details a call to action for anyone overwhelmed by the worries of this world.  Jesus promises to give rest to the weary if you are willing to lay your burdens at the feet of the cross.  Whenever someone comes to their senses like the prodigal son, consumed by a sense of urgency, wounded souls are refreshed with salvation, Romans 10:9-10.  May this blog serve as a blue print for healing in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Doing Whatever It Takes

As a parent, I can anticipate failure before a grade is given or the final score is relayed.  The secret to this insight is simple, hard work is often rewarded and laziness is penalized.  For me, the most painful aspect of parenting is seeing the potential your child has yet being unable to convince them to do whatever it takes to ensure success.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

For those of you who coach or teach, this same dilemma exists.  How do you express someone’s gifts or talents without trying to live your life through them?  In the film Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays a psychologist who is introduced to a genius played by Matt Damon with a troubled past.  These secret scars, hidden from plain view prevent Will from doing whatever it took to apply his knowledge in a positive manner.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” John 14:15.

Today, the future is bright, but too many young people don’t have the resolve necessary to see their dreams come true.  Sure, the average teenager wants to have a great life, but this doesn’t happen with a snap of your finger.  Only the disciplined, driven and hungry will begin to see the fruits of their labor.  Thus, a parent can encourage, inspire or motivate their offspring.  In the end, a parent can only pray that their child develops a zeal to follow God’s will on earth.  The key to this fulfillment is doing whatever it takes.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Pull

The gravitational force is the weakest of the four fundamental forces of nature.  Newton’s law of gravity refers to the force between two bodies in proportion to its mass and distance.  This pull is invisible to the naked eye unless of course you are doing something like skydiving.  Another pull also exists, a tug of war between the human flesh and the Holy Spirit.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want, Galatians 5:17.

The Christian group Curious Fools sings about the passage above in their song entitled Pull.  This soft rock classic has inspired drama teams to illustrate the message of the lyrics in the attached you tube.  Whether you are disciplined, focused or organized, anyone is susceptible to the pull between the cravings of the flesh and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit, Romans 8:5.

The apostle Paul examines what goes on within human beings as this pull commences.  The mind is like a trigger, leading you in one way or the other.  Thoughts serve like a steering wheel, guiding you in the direction of your desires.  Perhaps, this may explain Paul’s obsession with the heart and mind in his letters, Colossians 3:1-3.  If you don’t want to be pulled the wrong way any longer, begin by taking your thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

Which Way Should I Go Now?

Bugs Bunny is a cartoon character I grew up watching as a kid.  However, Bugs first appeared in 1940 in the film A Wild Hare.  Despite coming out on top in most episodes, Bugs was directionally challenged.  Perhaps, this characteristic spawned the famous saying, “which way should I go Doc, which way should I go?”

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

The average individual has to ask a similar question annually.  What do I what to do for the rest of my life?  Where do I need to live to make this a reality?  Beyond the daily choices people make, two opposing forces exist in the world: the sinful nature and spirit.  One feeds on self indulgence while the other exists to fulfill a higher calling.  Since both are invisible, its hard for the average citizen to know which one to follow.

The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus, Acts 13:4.

Perhaps, the person with the best credentials in this area was the apostle Paul.  In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul paints a vivid picture to help distinguish fleshly desires from the spirit.  These acts can serve as a monitor, revealing where you are heading based upon current actions.  Like a disciplined athlete, Paul began to fine tune the presence of Spirit, learning to keep in step with God.  However, 1 Timothy 1:15 reveals Paul’s failures when he chose the flesh over the Spirit, making progress through trials and errors.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path, Psalm 119:105.

Modern society has something Paul never had a copy of, the complete Bible.  According to the Psalmist, the Bible can serve as a spiritual flash light, pointing individuals in the right direction.  While you may encounter moments when you struggle to discern a clear cut decision on what to do, God has given everyone a conscience to help along the way.  My best advice to those uncertain about the next path to choose comes from Solomon.  “Many are the plan’s in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails.”  May the wisdom of the Bible serve as a key ingredient to help you get where you want to go.

by Jay Mankus

Life Isn’t Meant to be Fair

Common Core Standards are based upon the premise that every child should have a common experience in life.  To distribute the wealth of knowledge across cultural, economic and social lines, education has been dumbed down in an attempt to create equality.  The fatal flaw within this K-12th curriculum is that life isn’t meant to be fair.  Subsequently, one person will be rich, another poor, some will be blessed while others are cursed and the disciplined will achieve great heights as the lazy fall short of the goals they set in life.

So the last will be first, and the first last, Matthew 20:16.

Somewhere along the way, public education has placed a priority on self-esteem instead of fulfilling Darwin’s teaching.  My best recollection of high school was survival of the fittest, a series of tests and trials to reveal the best  One of my greatest teachers, Mrs. Ehrig challenged me, pushing me to a place I never thought I could reach.  She didn’t care about how I felt, just ways to motivate me to unlock my potential.  The myriad of excuses must end, replaced by the core principles which once made America’s schools elite.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Outside of the classroom, churches must communicate a biblical message explaining how and why life isn’t fair.  If sermons portray unrealistic teachings like a prosperity gospel, believers will be set up for disappointment.   Experiences shape beliefs so to prevent individuals from a disenfranchised faith, truth should rise above fiction.  While each person is dealt a different hand in life, you have to play with the cards, talents God gives you.  Although some days you may feel as if the deck is stacked against you, make the most of each day you are given as you endure the good, bad and ugly circumstances within this life.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Cool When the Heat is On

Before any volcanic eruption occurs, there are subtle signs.  Tremors, increased steam and ground swells are some of the warning signals scientists have uncovered to prepare nearby residents.  As for human beings, increased tension, a red complexion and short temper are precursors to someone blowing their top.

Regardless of how disciplined someone may be, its hard to stay cool when the heat is on.  In the days of my youth, there were numerous occasions when I lost my composure.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about Cardinal Virtues.  One of these 4 is known as temperance, going the right distance and no further.  While this trait is available to everyone, you can’t stay cool when the heat is on all by yourself.

According to 2 Timothy 1:7, the Holy Spirit is the piece of the puzzle  individuals are missing.  When push comes to shove in the form of temptation, a spirit of anger lurks in the air.  Don’t fool yourself with over confidence or you too may fall, 1 Corinthians 10:12.  Place your trust in the words of Proverbs 3:5-6; then you too can stay cool when the heat is on.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Pawns of the Devil

According to Webster, a pawn is someone used by others for their own purpose.  Pawns vary from a dupe to a puppet and in extreme conditions, a hostage.  When you consider Jesus’ insight in John 10:10, there are 3 stages to pawns of the Devil.  Initially, time is used to steal children away from God.  To further this separation, ambitions, dreams and goals are plucked, one by one, killing any hopes of emotional, physical and spiritual prosperity.  Finally, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, lives are destroyed figuratively and literally.

Pawn #1 is subtle, using amusement, entertainment and obsessions to lure committed followers off the narrow road.  Throw in a little compromise, enjoyment and worldly pleasures and before long, priorities began to change.  One of the signs of Satan’s success is a lukewarm spirit, causing souls to lose focus of what’s truly important in life.  Add an onslaught of trials and those pure in heart wander into uncharted waters, opening their eyes to a whole new world like Eve.  If you look across the fence long enough, you might find yourself on the other side.

Pawn #2 is merely a byproduct of time.  Once temptation begins to dig its claws deep into hearts and minds, the outcome shouldn’t be surprising.  Spiritual neglect is replaced by bad habits, careless behavior and loose lips.  The presence of a disciplined life is a distantly memory, kicked to the curb by fleshly desires.  Hooked, lined and sinking fast, the light of Christ fades into addictions of darkness.  At some point, individuals become puppets of the Devil, accomplishing his will through a hypocritical and tainted testimony.

Unless intervention occurs, Pawn #3 resembles a tsunami.  The first wave starts by destroying marriages and or relationships near and dear to your heart.  Isolated, the second wave brings financial ramifications as consumption, gambling and waste make their way to your shores.  Just when you think the storm has subsided, the surge is relentless building in size and wrath.  If you survive, a pitiful soul remains, a shell of the person you were before the pawns of the Devil entered your life.  For those still standing, remember the words of Peter, a failure himself, resist the devil by keeping the faith, 1 Peter 5:8-9.  May this revelation encourage hearts to draw near to the One true God, 1 Timothy 2:4.

by Jay Mankus

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