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Tag Archives: encourage

A Leader Can’t Lead Until They Know Where They are Going

Everyone will face moments of indecision.  These periods are marked by confusion, hesitation and uncertainty.  Those who are normally confident may become more reserved until clarity returns.  During trying times, some may opt to seek the counsel of others, retreat to an isolated place to refocus or withdraw to reconsider their current state.  Ultimately, a leader can’t lead until they know where they are going.

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s house heard about it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was suffering hardship, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. There were about four hundred men with him, 1 Samuel 22:1-2.

While waiting to become King of Israel, David came under siege.  Trying to secure his future, the current King Saul began to target David, chasing him to a remote cave.  This location served as a place of refuge for supporters of David.  Unsure of where to go next or what to do, these men came together to encourage one another.  As time passed, Samuel refers to David as the captain of these men, preparing to lead them all in the near future.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36 Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father],” Mark 1:35-38.

Every morning twelve men eagerly awaited Jesus to reveal their travel plans for the day.  In the passage above, Jesus provides a blueprint for ascertaining what God wants you to do and where to go.  By getting up early, finding a secluded area and praying to his heavenly father, Jesus became the leader of the greatest mentor of men.  Yet, the son of God still needed thirty years of preparation to put this plan into action.  Thus, make sure you don’t rush through life.  Rather, refuel daily with a personal quiet time so you lead people to the road less traveled.

by Jay Mankus

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Women and the Bible

Wherever you go and whatever you do, there will always be biases that exist in life.  These opinions cause a certain segment of society to feel or show inclination of prejudice for or against someone or something.  Unfortunately, these stereotypes often develop into beliefs resulting in inequality.  While growing up, Hollywood portrayed a skewed version of women and the Bible, emphasizing the submissive role of a wife in marriage, Ephesians 5.  Thus, many females rejected the Bible, Christianity and the desire to take faith seriously.

The Lord gives the command [to take Canaan]; The women who proclaim the good news are a great host (army); Psalm 68:11.

Like any conversation that you over hear or interrupt, if you walk into it at the wrong moment, you will miss a portion of the context.  Such is the case of the Old Testament passage above.  On the surface, this verse appears to suggest that God honors women who gossip, passing on what they were told.  When you dig deeper into Bible commentaries, you will find these women possessed two key qualities.  First, they believed victory was possible despite the impenetrable wall surrounding Jericho.  Second, these women encouraged others to believe by dancing and singing songs expecting victory to occur, void of any doubt.

“From my upbringing and the Bible I learned people should stand up for rights just as the children of Israel stood up to the Pharaoh,” Rosa Parks 1994.

During the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, one woman made a huge impact.  While entering a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the colored section of this bus.  Park’s decision inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  While Dr. Martin Luther King has received a majority of the credit for Civil Rights in America, Congress has referred to Rosa Parks as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.  Based upon the quote above, Parks shares a common worldview with the women mentioned in Psalm 68.  These women applied the biblical principles they were taught as a children by taking a stand for that which was good, right and true.

by Jay Mankus

Consider It a Pure Joy?

As someone born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I guess you can say the Bible was forced upon me.  The congregation my family attended was old school, believing priests were the only ones who could accurately handle and interrupt the Bible.  Reading the Bible outside of church was not recommended.  However, as I began to search for the meaning of life in high school, the homilies I heard from the pulpit didn’t sit well with my soul.  As a teenager I wrestled with respecting authority figures when their message seemed to be contradictory.  When I began to study the Bible on my own, several passages were difficult to comprehend.

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials, James 1:2.

My spiritual mentor in high school, Ken Horne, encouraged me to read the book of James, written for first century Christians scattered throughout the Middle East.  I didn’t get very far before coming across a foreign concept, the second verse in this book.  Consider it a pure joy when you endure trials?  Huh?  Did I miss something?  Well, over time I realized that trials serve as opportunities to grow spiritually.  However, when you are sitting in the emergency room, receiving bad news from a phone call or going through a rough stretch in life, joy is the last thing on my mind.  Like an undefeated athlete or team, sometimes you have to lose to see what you need to address, improve or solidify going forward.

Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:3-4.

Perhaps, the author of this epistle, the earthly brother of Jesus is reflecting upon the mistakes of his past.  When Jesus is your older brother, every child who follows has impossible shoes to fill, a disappointment to mom and dad.  Yet, James learned the more his faith was tested, maturity and peace increased.  As I look back on my own life, celebrating my 35th anniversary of accepting Jesus into my heart today, Romans 10:9-10, I can relate to James.  If I didn’t go through a 20 year battle with iritis, arthritis of the eye, I wouldn’t have a special appreciation for the gift of sight.  Likewise, my recent health issues with high blood pressure and my heart has opened my eyes to the importance of nutrition.  I’m sure there will be other unforeseen events in my future, but as I face each challenge, I do so with a quiet joy, knowing that I am an unfinished product, pottery in the hands of an almighty Potter.

by Jay Mankus

What a Waste of Time

During my time pursuing a master’s in theology, I came across an interesting concept.  The Triangle Theory is a Time Management exercise to help examine where your time on earth is spent.  If you draw an isosceles triangle on a blank page of paper, the bottom represents 24 hours in a day.  Depending upon your sleep schedule, 1/3 or 1/4 of your life is spent sleeping.  School or work will take over 8-10 hours per day, leaving a few precious hours to enjoy life, purse passions or relax.   If you want a true barometer of how your time is spent, keep track of 16-18 hours each weekend that most Americans have.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! 25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither], 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

Last year I took my family out to lunch, explaining the Triangle Theory as we waited for our food.  Without being too anal, I urged my children to begin to keep track of how they are currently investing their free time.  The purpose of this discussion was to encourage my daughter and youngest son to become vision oriented, focusing their attention and time on fulfilling dreams.  Not leaving myself exempt from this, I began to share the sacrifices that I need to make to write a 100 page movie script each winter, usually lasting until late spring.  Despite how diligent I try to be, I regularly waste an entire weekend to indulge my human nature rather than focus on becoming an accomplished screen writer.

Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service], 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

One troubling question remains, if I truly want to pursue a career in writing, why do I waste so much time?  Perhaps, my former hobby as a long distance runner may help answer my own question.  The thought of running miles never made sense to most of my friends.  Running is a battle of the body and mind, causing most to quit before the love of running is conceived.  The apostle Paul uses a similar analogy, stressing the strict discipline to persist until your ultimate goal is achieved.  While its not easy and you will have more failures than success, may the Triangle Theory serve as a tool to enable you to seize the free time that you have each day.  May you run in such a way, suffering now, as to receive crowns in heaven God has set aside for you.

by Jay Mankus

Listening to a Child’s Perspective

After three years of home schooling, my daughter Lydia has been reintegrated back into public education as a freshman at St. George’s High School.  Once meek and timid, my daughter has flourished socially, enjoying daily interactions with students her own age.  While it doesn’t always happen, I try to have one meaningful conversation with Lydia per month, hoping to get an update on her overall experience.  This past weekend I found myself enthralled with our discussion, yet convicted by my daughter’s perspective.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

While driving back from the beach, Lydia wanted to know what my wife and I believed about dating, music and tattoos.  Lydia shared what she believed, then listened to her mom and dad talk.  At times she laughed, surprised how certain views have changed since her parents were teenagers.  At one point, Lydia cut me off, suggesting I was brash, opinionated and negative.  Normally, I would attempt to defend and justify myself, but conviction led me to listen to a child’s perspective.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

These comments from my daughter served as a mirror, giving me a chance to see who I really am at this point in life.  The truth hurts, but you must come to terms with where you are before you make a full recovery.  To a certain extent, I am bitter and frustrated by where I am, like being in limbo.  Meanwhile, I have become more vocal in my feelings, brash, critical and trashing those I disagree with.  After listening to my daughter’s perspective, its time for me to confess my shortcomings, seek God’s counsel and pray that the Holy Spirit begins to transform my imperfections.  May this blog encourage you to listen to those who care about you.

by Jay Mankus

The Connection Between Thoughts and Prayer

During my years as a teenager, I fluctuated between one of two extremes.  When I was happy, I was sky high trying to uplift anyone I came in contact with.  Meanwhile, when I was depressed I sucked the life out of a room, seeking to make everyone miserable like me.  This roller coaster ride was a sign of my immaturity, allowing my thoughts and feelings to influence how I behaved day to day.  About this time, self help books began to take center stage, encouraging readers to put these ideas into action.  One concept suggested, you are what you think.

Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God, Philippians 4:6.

By the time I reached college, I began to ponder the connection between thoughts and prayer.  I guess you can say I was tired of allowing my emotions to shape who I was as a person.  Through a local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I was encouraged to start reading the Bible daily.  During a retreat, a weekend trip with fellow believers, I began reading the book of Philippians.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urged individuals to pray about troubled thoughts.  Instead of becoming overwhelmed by anxiety or worries, prayer provides an opportunity to pour out your heart to God.

And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours], Philippians 4:7.

When thoughts are channeled into prayer, the Bible promises to send a special blessing, the peace of God.  According to the apostle Paul, this supernatural sensation calms hearts and minds.  This is accomplished by transcending your understanding, able to separate the trivial from what’s really important in life.  As I have heard numerous times, “know Jesus, know peace.”  However, when you fail to connect thoughts with prayer, peace is unattainable.  Therefore, when you are bombarded by a wave of emotions in the future, may you connect troubling thoughts with prayer to find a spiritual peace that surpasses all understanding.

by Jay Mankus

Digesting Prophecy

The dictionary refers to prophecy as a “miracle of knowledge, a declaration, description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture.”  In ancient days, Jewish leaders relied on prophets, people with the gift of discernment, able to see or sense future events.  Men and women of God relied on a special anointing to help advise and guide kings starting with Saul, then continuing this practice throughout the Old Testament.

Then the angel whom I had seen standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand [to swear an oath] to heaven, and swore [an oath] by [the name of] Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, but when it is time for the trumpet call of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God [that is, His hidden purpose and plan] is finished, as He announced the gospel to His servants the prophets, Revelation 10:5-7.

Unfortunately, modern times have revealed false prophets, schemers and teachers.  These individuals have deceived vulnerable souls, in some cases extorting money from desperate and poor people hoping for a miracle.  These factors have made believing in the concept of a genuine prophet today difficult.  When I read passages from John the revelator, it takes time to digest what is written, especially in the passage above and below.  Any curious person would want to know the mystery of God.  Pursuing this hidden information might unveil God’s purpose and will for your life, but this quest will not happen over night.  Rather, digesting prophecy is a lengthy process, causing one famous pastor to wait 20 years before preaching on Revelation.

Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking to me, and saying, “Go, take the book (scroll) which is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey,” Revelation 10:8-9.

In verse 9, Christians are encouraged to read the Bible, chew and meditate upon the messages within this book.  According to the revelation above, some of the teachings of the Bible won’t sit well, like a bitter taste in your mouth.  Other topics will taste as sweet as honey.  Thus, as you begin to digest prophecy, its not an easy process.  Certain aspects will remain confusing and hidden, leaving your understanding about parts of the Bible in the dark.  As a former Bible teacher, this is frustrating, especially when you have to address the unknown in class.  Nonetheless, I press on, honesty confessing that there are books and issues that I am still digesting.  May this blog motivate you to diligently study the Word of God so that the unclear becomes clear as people digest prophecy.

by Jay Mankus

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