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A Key Ingredient for Success

During my interactions with family over Thanksgiving, the best tasting dishes elicited desires to ascertain the recipe. Some were provided from memory while others were derived from cookbooks and homemade recipes past down for a generation. This topic of conversation made me ponder, what is a key ingredient for success beyond cooking?

Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass, Psalm 37:5.

As I Stopped to listen to an interview while channel surfing, I heard a guest speaker talk about the important of desire. When experience and talent is limited, desire is the one thing that will propel individuals forward, striving to overcome failure after failure. Desire provides inspiration when hope and progress begin to diminish. Yet, if desire persists and breeds perseverance, desire becomes a key ingredient for success.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall will be filled, Matthew 5:6,”.

Whether you are referring to chasing dreams. fulfilling goals or losing weight, desire is one of the few aspects in life that you can control. Desire can ignite conviction, instill discipline and inspire change when progress doesn’t occur right away. Thus, if you want to start your 2020 New Year’s resolutions early or make good on vows from 2019 or earlier, desire is a key ingredient for future success.

by Jay Mankus

Pillars of Prayer

When I visit a tourist destination, rarely do I say, “look at that pillar!” This tall vertical structure of stone, wood, or metal, used as a support for a building often goes unnoticed. Yet, without these crucial supports, buildings will collapse, not able to stand the test of time. In ancient Greece, pillars were center pieces of famous landmarks that still stand today.

And as He saw one single leafy fig tree above the roadside, He went to it but He found nothing but leaves on it [seeing that in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves]. And He said to it, Never again shall fruit grow on you! And the fig tree withered up at once, Matthew 21:19.

During an early morning walk, Jesus introduced his disciples to pillars of prayer. When an unproductive fig tree did not offer any fruit for their hungry stomachs, Jesus cursed it, immediately withering in front of them. This miracle inspired disciples to ascertain about the power of prayer. The first pillar is faith. This must be accompanied by an unwavering reliance on God. The second pillar is belief. This is accomplished by removing any doubt from your mind, trusting in the God who created the mountains.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:20-22.

From personal experience, my mind tends to get in the way of prayers from being answered. It’s one thing to believe in the power of prayer, but Christians shouldn’t treat God like Santa Claus using prayer as a wish list. Instead, faith and belief must go hand and hand, yielding to God’s will. Yet, this shouldn’t hold you back, knocking on God’s door over and over again like the persistent widow. Prayer can be complicated, especially when prayers go unanswered. Nonetheless, when individuals don’t limit what heaven can do, you’ll be surprised just like the disciples above.

by Jay Mankus

Keep Up Your Courage

The English word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, which means hinge. Thus, cardinal virtues are four moral principles which all other virtues are connected. While courage was not selected as a cardinal virtue, prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude share similar traits. The ability to do something that frightens you by exhibiting strength in the face of adversity will test your soul.

So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me; Acts 27:25.

The context of the passage above occurs on ship being battered by the first century’s version of the Perfect Storm. Stuck in the middle of a typhoon for 14 days, the urge to abandon ship increases daily. While everyone else is freaking out, the apostle Paul addresses the crew. Displaying leadership during a time of crisis, Paul verbalizes his complete confidence and faith that God will spare everyone’s life.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Paul’s comforting message is consistent with the words of Israel’s forefathers. In the passage above, Moses uses a farewell address to remind the Jews that the Lord is with you. This was followed by his predecessor who urges God’s people to be strong and courageous, Joshua 1:9. You shouldn’t have to endure a disaster to be courageous. Rather, God uses extreme situations to provide opportunities for courage to prevail.

by Jay Mankus

I’ll Be Back… Again

Terminator Dark Fate premiered on November 1st, 2019, thirty years after the first Terminator film debuted in theaters. When a cyborg is sent on a mission from the future, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the terminator sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate Sarah Conner. Actress Linda Hamilton plays Conner, a mother whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the sentient machines. The creation of Dark Fate gives Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase “I’ll Be Back” a new meaning, I’ll be back again.

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my keen and firm Strength, Who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight—Psalm 144:1.

History is filled with examples of famous comebacks. Former heavy weight boxing champion George Foreman came out of retirement to fight at age 50. Michael Jordan retired from the NBA in 1993 following his father’s death to pursue at a professional baseball career. Two years later Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls, winning another 3 National Basketball League titles. Sometimes when famous athletes retire, the desire to compete doesn’t disappear or fade away. These aspirations elicit and ignite a desire to try one more time before bodies can no longer compete at the highest level.

For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked are overthrown by calamity, Proverbs 24:16.

Exposure to failure often reveals the character of a person. The earthly brother of Jesus writes about how hardships are designed to produce endurance, faith and a steadfast nature, James 1:2-4. While everyone wants to stay on top, eventually you will fall, humbled by your own limitations. How you respond to defeat will ultimately dictate your future. According to Solomon, the righteous rise up again and again. Therefore, you don’t have to be a famous movie star to proclaim “I’ll be back again!”

by Jay Mankus

Why Telling the Truth is the Best Option

According to a 2013 Survey, lawyers are the most hated profession in the United States.  Cable and Television networks have embraced lawyers, filling prime time slots with court room dramas for the past quarter century.  The most prominent lawyers have become experts in covering their tracks.  This idiom refers to individuals who destroy, hide or suppress damaging evidence about their client or clients from being revealed.  However, when lies are used to cover your tracks, it’s better to tell the truth rather than live in fear of being exposed as a liar.

But this I confess to you, however, that in accordance with the Way [of the Lord], which they call a [heretical, division-producing] sect, I worship (serve) the God of our fathers, still persuaded of the truth of and believing in and placing full confidence in everything laid down in the Law [of Moses] or written in the prophets; Acts 24:14.

In his opening remarks to Governor Felix, accused by Jewish leaders of being an agitator, pest and heretic, the apostle Paul is honest about his faith.  Instead of hiding this information, Paul confesses his devotion to the Way, modern day Christianity.  Paul’s defense states that his service for God is being confused with a divisive sect.  Moreover, when the truth comes out, Paul is confident that his actions will be in line with the law of Moses.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:16.

While writing a letter to first century believers in the Way of Christ, the earthly brother of Jesus compares confession with healing.  The first step toward healing is publicly confessing your sins.  James suggests that confession is a heart felt act.  This acknowledgement helps restore a spiritual tone of mind, awakened and snapped out of spiritual slumbers induced by the sinful nature.  When earnest prayers are added to a contrite heart, a tremendous power is unleashed via the Holy Spirit.  If you are tired from trying to cover your tracks, make telling the truth the best option.

by Jay Mankus

World Mental Health Day

This year’s day to recognize global mental health is Thursday October 10th. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. More than 150 countries take part is this day to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. Leaders in Australia feel so strongly about this issue that an entire week is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness.

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. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Unfortunately, most of the curriculum, education and programs will steer clear of biblical principles. Yet, this provides me an open door to examine what the Bible has to say about mental health. The apostle Paul claims the biggest obstacle to achieving a mind at peace is fleshly desires which crave instant gratification. This internal force must be brought under control and tamed by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [the message, the basis] of faith which we preach— because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation, Romans 10:8-10.

According to C.S. Lewis, the Holy Spirit is only accessible to those who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Mere Christianity details Cardinal and Theological Virtues. Cardinal virtues include prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. These traits are available to everyone who strides to obtain mental health. Yet, access to the Theological virtues of charity, hope and faith is limited to active believers in Jesus. Therefore, if you want to truly celebrate mental health, embrace Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Stop Blaming Your Past for Present Transgressions

After more than 20 years of coaching and teaching, I have encountered a plethora of sad stories. Whether its broken homes, death, divorce, suicide or teenage pregnancies, each dire situation is heart breaking. When teenagers go through these trying circumstances, common sense may cause adults to go easy on these individuals. Yet, how long do you allow present transgressions to be blamed on past trials?

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

The Bible has a complete different take on hardships that people experience on earth. The apostle Paul refers to sufferings as opportunities for growth. Paul sees the spiritual element as trials help shape character, endurance and hope. Meanwhile, the earthly brother of Jesus urges believers to rejoice each time you undergo hard times. Just like Paul, James reveals that extreme situation tests your faith, resulting in maturity and perseverance.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

This blog was inspired by events which took place a decade ago. I was an elder on a church board that oversaw a large Christian school. When times got tough, some of my friends quit this board, opening the door for the pastor to get his way. In the end, I witnessed the ugly side of Christianity as hypocrisy blinded believers I once looked up to. When this fiasco finally ended, the school was sold and church closed its doors. The institution I believed in, fought for and served vanished overnight.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:11-12.

One of Jesus’ disciples reminds me that my ordeal is not strange or something that I should be surprised by. Rather, earthly trials serve as a purifying process, removing self as you draw closer to Christ. Unfortunately, I have allowed this painful experience to cause me to lose hope in the church. Instead of regularly attending the past 2 years, I have relied on television sermons as a substitute. Over the past few days, conviction has brought this transgression to the surface. Thus, it’s time to stop blaming the past for my decision to not join a church. May this conviction continue until I finally get involved in a local church.

by Jay Mankus

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