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Never Lag in Zeal and Earnest

Zeal demonstrates enthusiasm and great energy while in pursuit of a cause or objective. Meanwhile, earnest refers to intense conviction with sincere intentions. When you put these two terms together, Paul suggests that individuals should do whatever they can to use their God given spiritual gifts daily. During the first century, the goal was to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:18. Spiritual gifts serve as the vessel, the role that you play in making Jesus’ words a reality.

Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; Romans 12:6.

In the 2005 film Sky High, young apprentices attended a secret school with the hope of ascertaining their super power. Once revealed, students were divided into one of two groups, superhero or sidekick. The list of spiritual gifts mentioned by the apostle Paul in verses 6-8 play a similar role. Some Christians possess dynamic and supernatural gifts like a superhero. All other believers play minor roles, serving the Lord in less flashy manners.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:11.

The passage above indicates the desired energy level expected by God. Paul recognized the fact that waking up day after day can took an emotional, mental or physical toll on your body. Instead of lagging in zeal or earnest, Christians should be aglow while fanning into flame their spiritual gifts. When your spiritual passion begins to fade, re-fuel by tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. May this passage from the New Testament encourage you to never lag in zeal or earnest as you serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Expect Others to Follow If You’re Not Leading the Way

During a trade school I attended after college, I was introduced to several leadership principles. From time to time, I will go back to examine and review notes from one of two three ring binders. At the time of this course, the curriculum and material was cutting edge, filled with articles, case studies and insight from successful leaders throughout the world. One of the sayings I still recall is “the enthusiasm of a leader will never exceed that of its group.”

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death, 1 John 3:14.

Essentially, this refers to the concept that you can’t expect others to follow if you’re not leading the way. As a parent, the Bible provides several instructions on how to become the spiritual leader of your house. The apostle Paul urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Meanwhile, King Solomon uses Proverbs to help fathers instill in their children godly principles to cling to throughout life. However, when I am not demonstrating love, emulating biblical standards and walking in integrity, I am sending a mixed message.

Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Peter 1:23.

At this point in my life, I have failed miserably at being a godly leader. The hardest part of my current predicament is that if I don’t get my own life/house in order, I’m just another useless hypocrite. When you abide in death, love is impossible to accomplish. Thus, I find myself in need of a spiritual boost, an awakening only available through what Peter calls the imperishable seed. Only when I began to allow God’s Word, the Bible to abide and dwell within me, can I lead my family in the manner that God desires.

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Enthusiasm

While attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, I received a couple of 3 ring binder notebooks.  The training material for Tentmakers Youth Ministry was close to two thousand pages on content, taking seven weeks to complete.  This intense active learning leadership course required my full attention, living out the principles I was being taught at my host family.  Nightly assignments were designed to take you out of your comfort zone, forced to interact with strangers at church, local malls and neighborhoods to finetune your conversational skills.  During this two month stretch, I was infused with enthusiasm, driven and encouraged by like minded classmates.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick, Matthew 9:11-12.

Today, when enthusiasm fades, joy disappears and my energy to do anything is gone, I retreat to find something meaningful in life.  Recently, I came across a quote from this class.  “The excitement of a group never exceeds that of its leader.”  What this statement suggests is that leaders must learn to be self-sufficient, able to recharge their own excitement level.  Although people within various groups may encourage and spur you on, leaders need a daily infusion of enthusiasm.  Without this spiritual discipline, finding motivation to make it through each day, even leaders will lose their vigor for life.

Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness],” Matthew 9:13.

Jesus addresses this issue during a first century conversation.  Righteous zealots were concerned that Jesus and his disciples were compromising their faith by socializing with sinners.  However, Jesus uses logic to show these Pharisees the error in their thinking.  The healthy, individuals who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, have learned to be self-sufficient spiritually through a daily dose of prayer, reflection and worship.  The sick, people who have lost their way, need Christians to leave their comfort zones to expand the body of Christ.  Therefore, the more you experience an infusion of enthusiasm for the lost, God can use you to be a light in a dark world to turn to you for answers.  May this blog inspire you to use your daily time with God, praying and reading the Bible as an infusion of enthusiasm.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back from Defeat

Winston Churchill once defined success as going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.  I wish I was familiar with this quote during my final two seasons as a youth baseball coach.  I can’t remember how many games my team lost as defeat became of way of life.  Since these 2 teams only won 4 games, just one in my final season, celebrations were few and far between.  This likely explains Churchill’s emphasis on enthusiasm, learning from each failed attempt to ensure the same mistakes of the past aren’t repeated in future battles.

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory, Deuteronomy 20:4.

In my first and only season as a head basketball coach, my players never experienced defeat, going 13-0.  The only time this team trailed at the half was in the city championship game, down by 10 points.  Clawing back in the second half, these players fought hard to send the game into overtime.  On the final play in overtime, my sixth man collected a weak side rebound, tipping the ball in at the buzzer.  When perfection is achieved, enthusiasm comes naturally.  Yet, as a coach, sometimes failure serves as a wake up call.  If a team despises losing, the fear of defeat motivates players to do everything in their power to ensure victory.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

Last Friday I received news that Hollywood rejected my latest screen play.  While this news should have been devastating, my soul was comforted by a Winston Churchill quote I heard on the radio.  C.S. Lewis defined success as the process of arriving in Mere Christianity.  A century earlier, Thomas Edison discovered 2000 ways how not to produce electricity before finally inventing the incandescent lightbulb.  If you can learn one thing from history it is that failure is a necessary evil to spur souls on to reach their ultimate goal.  As for me, I’m not sure if I will ever write a successful movie that is bought or produced by Hollywood.  Nonetheless, if I turn to Christ who strengthens me, my enthusiasm for writing will return so that my dream of writing one screen play per year in retirement may soon become a reality.  This is how I plan to bounce back from defeat.

by Jay Mankus

 

Losing Sight of God’s Glory

Attention, concentration and emphasis are words associated with focus.  These synonyms highlight the priority for those individuals who hone in on what’s important in life.  Depending upon your age, hobbies and interests, time will be allocated and invested in specific areas.  However, discipline, resolve and zeal are necessary traits to make your goals a reality.  Nonetheless, human nature has a subtle way of distracting good intentions.  The end result often leads to losing sight of God’s glory.

And David was dancing before the Lord with great enthusiasm, and David was wearing a linen ephod [a priest’s upper garment], 2 Samuel 6:14.

Prior to achieving fame by defeating the giant Philistine Goliath in battle, David was a skilled musician and shepherd.  The Old Testament does not reveal whether or not David combined these two abilities.  However, to stay sharp, I can see David practicing his harp at night, using a camp fire as a source for light.  As a former saxophone player, there is an adrenaline rush from playing moving songs.  Perhaps, this might explain the inspiration behind dancing, moving your body to the beat of music.  Beside performing for King Saul, David was also known to dance with enthusiasm, at one point dancing naked before the ark of the covenant.  Yet, five chapters later, seeing a beautiful woman bathing caused David to lose sight of God’s glory.

Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the LordPraise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:6

Romans 3:9-12 addresses mankind’s inability to avoid sin.  At some point, everyone screws up, falling prey to temporary pleasures.  As great as David’s act of adultery and murder detailed in 2 Samuel 11 may be, there is a way to regain your focus back toward glorifying God.  If you pray for a new heart, seeking to become a man or woman after God’s own heart, your spiritual vision will be renewed.  I have wasted years on earth trying to do what I want, to make a name for myself.  This selfish venture has blinded me from my real purpose for existing, Psalm 150:6.  Instead of waking up with the attitude what will God do for me today, there is a better alternative.  Start each day with a verse, a song and prayer to praise the Lord.  This is why you and I were born.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down before practicing praise and worship of the great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

 

Killing Conflict

Motivational speakers can make some outlandish claims.  Behind the enthusiasm lies a formula, method or outline which leads to success.  Books, seminars and self help videos has vaulted some to financial prosperity.  Yet, there is only one who can successfully kill conflict.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Seminaries introduce students to terms like contrition, forgiveness and grace.  Beyond these theological words is one simple act, to take personal responsibility for your actions.  In this day and age, “I’m sorry, its my fault or please forgive me,” are disappearing.  Yet, if you take the blame, this disarms the raw emotions within conflict.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up, James 4:10.

Unfortunately, human nature does just the opposite, following in the footsteps of Adam and Eve, searching for a scapegoat.  This response usually ignites conflict rather than extinguish it.  If only individuals would begin to emulate the teaching of James, humility could kill conflict.  Yet, for now the world is forced to dodge a minefield of pride which will require countless hours of prayer to diffuse.

by Jay Mankus

 

Something is Missing

In the realm of Marvel Comics, each super hero has a weakness.  Despite their power and strength, beneath the surface lies a kryptonite, a force that evens the playing field.  If these figures allow this element to remain in their presence, their impact on society is minimized.  The same can be said about normal human beings who experience mediocre lives, struggling to ascertain what’s missing, preventing you from reaching your full potential.

To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:8.

Although its probably over analyzed in sports, each year a Cinderella team comes out of no where to contend and sometimes win a championship.  On paper, there’s no logical explanation for this.  Yet, when individuals and a group come together to form perfect chemistry, an atmosphere for success is achieved.  Despite what the experts may say, when you surround yourself with the right people, you will be surprised by results that follow.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:12.

A thought occurred to me yesterday at work, something is missing in my life.  My enthusiasm, joy and passion for life is gone.  As I tried to put my finger on the real issue, another message came to me.  The missing ingredient for me is a church home.  Prayer and a personal quiet time reading the Bible can only take you so far.  After experiencing the demise of Red Lion Evangelical Free Church and School up close as leader, its been hard for me to go all in, afraid of getting hurt again.  Yet, if I want to reach the summit of my potential, the missing link for me is committing 100 % to a congregation that I can serve in.

by Jay Mankus

 

Human Inspired or from Above?

When an individual wakes up, the day can dictate one’s degree of excitement.  Anticipation for an activity, event or the weekend can produce adrenaline, enthusiasm and vigor for life.  However, sometimes the energy burst you receive may come from above?

“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” – Mark 11:28

In the days of Jesus, his ministry was always under scrutiny.  Whether he was feeding the masses, performing a miracle or outwitting the Pharisees, religious leaders doubted his authenticity.  It wasn’t until Jesus used John the Baptist as an illustration to prove inspiration can come from above.

.John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”- Mark 11:30

Following a milestone or success story, individuals will give a myriad of responses.  Some will credit their coach, trainer or parents.  Others may reference their discipline, re-dedication  or state of the art training program.  However, a few will profess of a higher power, strength from above which ultimately led to their victory.  Although the media may not show all those who give glory to God, I believe human inspiration only takes you so far.  With this in mind, tap into the Holy Spirit to help reach your full potential.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Life Void of Passion

My earliest recollection of passion began in Junior High as friends debated the best music video on MTV, the greatest rock band and favorite sports teams.  In High School, I began to live by the 3 G’s: Girls, Golf and God, fluctuating in order depending upon the timing or season.  By the time college arrived, my interests shifted toward amusement parks, intramural sports and sand volleyball, with the latter dominating most of my summer nights.  When I began my career as a youth pastor, interacting with families, karaoke and water sports consumed most of my time.  As a family man, I have mellowed, spending time listening to music, working on my golf green out back and writing on a daily basis.

Passion is embodied in enthusiasm, excitement and feelings.  Although I still possess hot button issues inside my heart, most of the things I once held dear don’t illicit much of a response any more.  Sure, it would be nice for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl or witness another local team win a championship, but I refuse to place my hope in someone or something that disappoints you 99% of the time.  Likewise, I find it futile to debate music, politics and television shows.  As Solomon once said, “everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 2:11, in reference to pleasures on earth.  Perhaps, this may explain why I am currently living a life void of passion.

If you have ever reached this point, emptiness tends to cause you to lose your voice, bored by most of the conversations you hear.  However, when you find a cause worth living for, passion can and will return.  In Acts 4:29, the passion of Jesus Christ prevented the disciples from being shut down.  Rather, the power of the Holy Spirit consumed their souls, not able to forget about the risen Savior who suffered, died and rose again 3 days later.  This is the passion I am missing, lost in translation between the pages of the Bible and putting faith into action.  May the fire of Christ followers burn bright in your region so that lives void of passion will be invigorated by the power of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Inhabitation of Praise

Words such as dwell, live or reside highlight what it means to inhabit a geographical location.  Yet, you can be present in one place and be void of contentment, enthusiasm and joy.  Thus, modern homes often consist of silence, an obvious sign that something is missing or wrong.  Perhaps, this empty space needs to be replaced by an inhabitation of praise.

It doesn’t take a doctor to recognize the gleeful from those swamped by the worries of life.  Whether you’re dining out at a restaurant, shopping at the mall or walking through a park, those inhabited by anger, bitterness and strife stick out like a sore thumb.  The wake left behind by these troubled souls can impact those leaning on the fence, pondering their next move.

The apostle Paul describes an internal battle that persists daily in Galatians 5:16-18.  Natural inclinations persuade individuals to gratify their own sinful desires, to indulge in those things that bring pleasure.  Unfortunately, these feelings last briefly, before fear, guilt and shame take over.  Therefore, to achieve an abundant life, John 10:1o, you must experience a complete transformation, Romans 12:1-2, before an inhabitation of praise becomes a reality.

by Jay Mankus

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