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Tag Archives: fasting and prayer

Carnivore or Vegetarian?

A carnivore are creatures that feed on the flesh of other animals. Any mammal that falls into this classification eats mainly meat. Meanwhile, vegetarians are at the other end of this spectrum, consuming mainly fruits and vegetables. This dietary lifestyle is often inspired by health, moral or religious convictions. According to a 2017 study, only 2% of Americans are vegetarians with 1/4 of these individuals claiming to be vegan.

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank; so he asked the commander of the officials that he might [be excused so that he would] not defile himself, Daniel 1:8. But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please, test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink, Daniel 1:11-12.

Every year pastors of certain congregations participate in a Daniel Fast at the beginning of January. When Israelites were taken into captivity by Babylon, one man was unwilling to change his strict diet. The passage above details to very first Daniel Fast. Similar to Catholics who give up eating meat during the season of Lent, fasting enables believers to focus on God for a specific period of time. Since Old Testament law prohibited Jews from eating food from unclean animals, taking steps to become a vegetarian is a way to honor and please God.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; Romans 8:5-6.

The New Testament reveals the spiritual symbolism between carnivores and vegetarians. In the passage above, the apostle Paul compares carnal desires to fleshly desires. In a letter to Galatia, this behavior is described as a sinful nature, contrary to what God desires. Instead of including vegetables within this analogy, the polar opposite of carnal desires is the Holy Spirit. Thus, eating healthy is one thing. However, obeying God has spiritual ramifications. The apostle Paul compares this to a battle between mind over matter. While deciding to be a carnivore or vegetarian is optional, God demands followers of Christ to steer clear of carnal desires.

by Jay Mankus

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Is Hindsight 20/20?

Hindsight is defined as the understanding of a situation or event only after it has developed or happened.  For the past two years, a large cataract hindered my ability to see out of my right eye.  While I experienced periods of improvement, last summer my eye doctor suggested it’s time to deal with this situation.  As I struggled to read fine print, I came to the same conclusion, scheduling a surgery for late November.  A series of unforeseen events forced this operation to be postponed until last Thursday.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

Like any procedure, I was afraid, not knowing the ultimate outcome.  Before I was given drugs to numb the pain, I made my peace with God.  When the nurse at the front desk asked me for my will and testament prior to being admitted, worst case scenarios raced through my mind.  This request likely elevated my blood pressure so high that my first operation was cancelled.  As a person of faith, I wrestle with relying on medicine to resolve health problems.  However, when changes in diet, fasting and prayer does not improve your condition, my operation served as a last resort.  While the healing process takes roughly two weeks, only time will tell if my sight will be fully restored.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

I feel like the prophet Isaiah is speaking to me in the passage above.  I have no control over how well eye will recover.  Sure, I can listen to my doctor’s directions by taking my daily prescriptions, but the degree of healing is in God’s hand.  My dream of writing screen plays is dependent upon the final outcome of my cataract surgery.  Thus, all I can do is place my trust in the Lord,  believing that God will help improve my condition.  Although I am not considering this trial a pure joy as James 1:2-4 suggests, I am relying on hindsight, remembering how God has provided for me in the past.

by Jay Mankus

Lairs of Satan

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead, Revelation 3:1.

Regardless of the subject or topic, there will always be extremes on either side of the issue.  For example, denominations vary on the theological role the Devil, Lucifer and Satan play on this life.  Charismatic churches encourage prayer which serves as a hedge of protection against demonic activity.  Meanwhile, moderate mainline churches do not emphasize spiritual warfare, speaking of Satan in symbolic terms and theory.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,” Matthew 16:23.

During the first century, Jesus wasn’t afraid to address controversial topics.  While addressing his disciples in private, Jesus exposes mindsets of the Devil.  Similar to the speel dished out to Eve that convinced her to eat forbidden fruit, Satan attempts to take human minds off of God’s concerns.  This is done through the temptation of instant gratification.  Apparently, Peter fell prey to this trap sent from Satan’s lair to his mind by a demon.

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you, Revelation 3:9.

In the book of Revelation, John writes sevens letters to churches chosen by the Holy Spirit.  John does not sugar coat the spiritual condition of these congregations.  One is described as being dead, another lukewarm and one with segments of Satan sitting inside the pews.  If every city has a safe and dangerous section of town, why is it so hard to imagine that the same concept exists in the spiritual realm.  As the moral fabric of America continues to crumble, perhaps there are lairs of Satan entrapping souls through an addiction to sin.  Unless these dominions of darkness are uncovered with fasting and prayer, demonic powers will continue to reign.  May the Holy Spirit open our eyes and inspire more people to put on the armor of God daily, Ephesians 6:10-20.

by Jay Mankus

My Daily Bread

The concept of daily bread was introduced to Israel following the exodus out of Egypt.  What was meant to be a short journey into the promised land, became a 40 year journey in the wilderness.  To survive the extreme conditions of the desert, God sent manna 6 days a week, daily bread for hungry souls.  When some began to grumble, the Lord sent quail to satisfy starving stomachs.  When people become helpless, God provides daily bread for life.

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food, Job 23:12.

During his preparation prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into a desert.  Although, this region may have differed from the trek the Israelites took, fasting and prayer fueled Jesus.  Thus, as the devil approached with his twisting of the truth, Jesus was aimed with the right attitude.  Subsequently, when hunger pains began to surface, Jesus understood bread only takes you so far.  Rather, God’s Word is daily bread which makes you whole.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’ Matthew 4:3-4.

One of the reasons this world appears to be upside down is that many are looking for love in all the wrong places.  Hunger is being satisfied by earthly pleasures.  Yet, this choice is similar to eating sugar instead of a healthy meal.  Subsequently, many lack the spiritual protein found in studying the Word of God.  If individuals would only turn to trusting in the Lord, feasting on daily bread could turn your life around.  Choose the true breakfast of champions, meditating of the Bible daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Moving Beyond Hunger Pains to Experience Worship

A decade ago I attended a Bible Study and Sunday School with a few individuals who introduced to me to the Daniel Fast.  When the Babylonians invaded Israel in the Old Testament, several young Jews were taken back to Babylon.  Held captive against their will, these teenagers were reprogrammed to a new culture by king Nebuchadnezzar.  Overwhelmed with conviction, Daniel proposed a 10 day eating challenge limited to fruits, vegetables and water to a chief official.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way, Daniel 1:8.

This proposal has evolved into what churches refer to as the Daniel Fast, a three week period to eat healthy.  Some where along the way, 10 days was extended to 21, usually occurring at the beginning of each year.  To avoid shocking my own body, I do a modified fast in 7 day segments.  By the end of the first week, I give up soda or tea to transition over to water.  Depending on how I feel after 2 weeks, I might do a strict fast the last 7 days.  However, the hardest part of any fast involves coping with hunger pains which can ruin the spirits of any participant.

“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink,” Daniel 1:12.

Although, I am still relatively a newbie when it comes to fasting, I discover something new each January.  During my first week of this year’s fast, the Holy Spirit placed a thought in my mind, “to move beyond hunger pains to experience worship.”  While I still have 2 more weeks to go, this mindset is helping me see the purpose of fasting, to draw closer to the Lord by worshiping God daily.  Thus, the next time you feel called to begin a fast, don’t forget to move beyond hunger pains to experience a heart set on worshiping God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Slow Fast

I grew up in a competitive neighborhood, with several talented athletes.  Every summer we had races to see who was the fastest.  Although I did lose to a girl once, most of the time I was a step quicker than everyone else.  This environment led me to become long distance runner, finding my niche in cross country.  Perhaps this may explain why I have become an impatient adult, always in a hurry to get to no where.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; Joel 2:12.

In recent years, my paths have crossed with several individuals who fast at the beginning of each calendar year.  Since I enjoy eating, this spiritual discipline hasn’t come easy, more painful than beneficial.  Some friends have passed on helpful resources like books written by Jentzeen Franklin to help me get over the proverbial hump.  Yet, my heart hasn’t been ready to commit to this until now.

When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach, Psalm 69:10.

While my current weight, the heaviest ever is one motivating factor, another reason to begin a fast is to pave a clear path for my future.  After listening to a few sermons in December, I found the easiest fast if there is such a thing is a Daniel Fast, twenty one days of eating fruits, vegetables and forgoing soft drinks for water.  Based upon Daniel’s experience during his captivity in Babylon, at the end of this period Daniel and his friends appeared healthier than those who ate the king’s food.  Thus, as I ease my way into this fast, I wait in eager expectation of the insight and life lessons the Lord will teach me over this 21 day journey.  If the timing is right, you can start as similar fast any time throughout 2016.

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

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