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Tag Archives: fear

Determined to Change the Status Quo

Status quo is a Latin phrase which refers to the existing state of affairs in regard to social or political issues. From a modern perspective, this is similar to the expression”don’t rock the boat” by maintaining the existing social structure and values. During a scene from National Treasure, Benjamin Gates’ father warns his son that unless the status quo changes, their lives will be in danger. Whenever I am pressured to conform to one ideology, mindset or worldview, my creative nature craves to go against the flow, finding a better way by thinking outside the box.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it, Matthew 7:13.

Jesus addresses the status quo during a first century sermon. Jesus uses the analogy of two roads: a super highway and a trail through the woods. The status quo is compared to a broad road, where the popular crowd resides followed by the masses and wanna be accepted. Meanwhile, the less attractive path is narrow, only accessible for one person at a time. Jesus details the eternal destination that awaits based upon the decisions each person makes on earth. Perhaps, Jesus is using fear instill a desire to change the status quo.

But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:14.

Thirty five years ago, I was a teenager who recently accepted Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. This decision didn’t sit too well with many of my non-believing friends. As I became an active member of my high school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I found comfort and support on the narrow path. Sure, being considered cool and popular by my peers would have been nice, but I was determined to change the status quo. A similar decision today could be compared with committing social suicide. Yet, in the end you have to decide who do you want to please; others or God. As for me and my house, I remain determined to change the status quo.

by Jay Mankus

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Allowing Relationships to go Their Own Separate Ways

Separate Ways debuted in 1983, two years after Music Television was launched on August 1st, 1981.  This Journey song was recorded on the Frontier’s album, peaking at #8 on the Billboard’s Top 100 chart.  While Separate Ways did reach #1 for four weeks on the Top Tracks Chart, there is more to this song Behind the Music.  The lyrics of Separate Ways was inspired by the painful break ups and divorces Journey band members experienced.

After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers and sisters (believers) in every city where we preached the message of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take [his cousin] John, who was called Mark, along with them, Acts 15:36-37.

I experienced divorce for the first time when my neighbor’s mom got divorced twice in a three year period.  Spending every other week or once a month with your father must be confusing and difficult for any teenager.  Meanwhile, when the stability of a family collapses, fear of broken and severed relationships leave soul spirit hurts behind.  When I researched Separate Ways, Worlds Apart is italicized like a sub-title that becomes a reality when relationships go their own separate ways.

But Paul kept insisting that they should not take along with them the one who had quit and deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 And it became such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took [John] Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, Acts 15:38-39.

The Bible refers to a different type of separate ways in the passage above.  Luke highlights a disagreement between Barnabas and Paul over missionary partners.  Barnabas allowed family ties to blind him from his cousin’s desertion during their first missionary journey.  While Paul does forgive John Mark in future epistles, he was unwilling to take the risk of relying on someone who recently abandoned the mission field.  Subsequently, Paul and Barnabas go their own separate ways, serving the Lord in their own unique manner.  While I am sure there were hurt feelings by both parties, sometimes it’s better to go your own separate ways.

by Jay Mankus

Scaring Children to Death

In a recent episode of Big Little Lies, second grade students are warned about Global Warming.  This lecture was so terrifying for one student that she tried to escape, hiding in a closet.  After this little girl was discovered, she was taken to a doctor to shine light on her condition.  Apparently, this second grade girl was scared to death, suffering a panic attack from the doom and gloom message presented in class.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction, Proverbs 1:7.

According to King Solomon, fear is not always a bad thing.  While fear results in anxiety, distress and worry, being scared opens hearts and minds up to the afterlife.  According to Solomon, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  The problem with global warming is that those who often sound the alarm, aren’t practicing what they preach, being good stewards of God’s creation.  Thus, scaring children to death isn’t offering hope or focusing on life after earth.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death,” Revelation 21:6-8.

In the final chapter of the Bible, there is good and bad news.  To those who endure end times by staying true to God will be rewarded with eternal life.  However, John introduces the concept of the second death which should scare any adult or children.  Those who fear God will become open to eternity and spiritual teaching.  Desperation breeds a sense of urgency, searching for answers to the meaning of life.  Therefore, while scaring children to death may continue, I pray that future warnings will include the promise of eternal security, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Role of Resolve in Prayer

According to Luke, one of the sons of Zebedee becomes the first of Jesus’ disciples to die a martyr’s death.  Apparently, the spread of Christianity threatened Agrippa I, the new king of the Jews.  It’s unclear why James was targeted, but he was executed in public to send a message.  When this act received praise from Jewish leaders, Agrippa I made plans to do the same thing with Peter.  As news of Peter’s arrest and rumors of another execution reached the church, fear drew believers to fall to their knees to pray.

Now at that time Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; Acts 12:1-2.

Based upon the passage below, the prayers lifted up to God were fervent and persistent.  Following the Passover, Peter was scheduled to be executed in a similar manner as James.  As this day drew near, prayers of the saints intensified.  Individuals were begging and pleading with God to deal with, fix and resolve this emergency immediately.  Based upon Acts 12:8-10, the Lord sent an angel to save Peter’s life, answering their prayers instantaneously.

When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church, Acts 12:4-5.

During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the role of resolve in prayer is mentioned, Matthew 7:7-12.  Step one is obvious, ask God for any requests on your heart or that come to mind.  Step two begins when prayers aren’t answered, seek God to find out why.  Finally, be fervent and persistent by keep knocking on God’s door.  Don’t give up on prayer; resolved to keep praying until the Lord opens a door to reveal answers for your prayers.  This is the role of resolve in prayer.  May your prayer life begin to resemble first century Christians.

by Jay Mankus

Walking in the Fear of the Lord

If you attend college or graduate school, you are bound to cross paths with intelligent professors.  Unfortunately, some of these teachers are so obsessed with their field, that understanding this courses is like taking a foreign language.  When I first opened the Bible in high school, I had similar concerns, overwhelmed by phrases, terms and words beyond my comprehension.  A priest once proclaimed in his homily, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, quoting the passage below.  When the context was added, a father teaching his son about the importance of listening to God, a light went on in my head.

To understand a proverb and a figure [of speech] or an enigma with its interpretation, and the words of the wise and their riddles [that require reflection]. The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline, Proverbs 1:6-7.

Three decades later, a new term caught me off guard, “walking in the fear of the Lord.”  Perhaps, Luke is referring to the events of Acts 5:1-13.  A couple named Ananias and Sapphira attempted to emulate the generosity of Barnabas, the son of encouragement.  However, Ananias had impure motives, seeking attention and fame.  When confronted by Peter, both lied resulting in cardiac arrests, dying within hours of one another.  At the end of this story, Luke highlights the fact that great fear gripped the church and that non-believers were afraid to associate with the apostles.  Only genuine believers gathered at Solomon’s portico for worship.  The context of this story shines light on what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord.

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

When I was a teenager, death was the last thought on my mind until a boating accident placed me in the shipping channel of the Chesapeake Bay as a freighter headed for me and my neighbor Richie.  This near death experience set the stage for me to begin to draw near to God.  Like any prodigal, I didn’t always take the straightest path or quickest route.  Nonetheless, reverent fear of God put life on earth in perspective for me.  While sitting in my bed the summer before my senior year of college with a broken ankle, I was forced to consider God’s plan for my life.  This is where I truly decided to follow Jesus and haven’t turned back.  Sure, I have taken earthly pitstops, backsliding every now and then, but walking in the fear of the Lord has straightened me out over time.

by Jay Mankus

Scaring the Crap Out of You

As a teenager, I gravitated toward horror movies.  While I may have been living on the edge, witnessing thousands of hours of unwholesome images resulted in several nightmares.  Unfortunately, the scariest scenes often filled me with a rush of adrenaline leading me to continue this hobby throughout college.  I know this is strange, but there is something thrilling about being scared to death.  Not literally of course, but sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next frightening death to occur.

They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing opposite the lampstand on [a well-lit area of] the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the part of the hand that did the writing, Daniel 5:4-5.

The term scaring the crap out of you comes from the Bible.  King Belshazzar was throwing a party for a thousand guests.  As this evening wore on, many became drunk on wine, laughing and staying stupid things like a frat party.  While under the influence, seeing fingers of a man writing on a wall probably started out as a hallucination.  However, the longer this continued, the king and his guests found themselves in a terrifying scenario.  According to the passage below, this event caused the king to crap and or wet himself.

Then the color and the [drunken] hilarious brightness of the king’s face was changed, and his [terrifying] thoughts troubled and alarmed him; the joints and muscles of his hips and back gave way and his knees smote together, Daniel 5:6.

Outside of the Bible. accidents, disease and illness can scare the crap out of any human being.  When a human life is on the verge of death, souls are awakened by this painful reality.  While not everyone drinks, life has a way of numbing hearts to the point that you don’t care about the frailty of life.  This form of apathy is dangerous, especially if it continues for several years.  Thus, don’t be surprised when God allows you to endure a trial so that fear is used to revive and renew your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Responding to Criticism

Censure, denunciation and reproof are examples of criticism. Whenever condemnation comes your way, it’s not pleasant. Some of the accusations made against you may not be credible. Yet, how you respond to criticism will dictate how others will react to you.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor, Proverbs 29:23.

After a series of severe tribulations, three of Job’s friends jumped to the same conclusion. Using Old Testament logic, these men associated bad things as a curse from God. In their eyes, Job must have done something wrong to have all of his children die and become inflicted with boils. The book of Job is filled with criticism followed by Job’s response.

Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the curse [when swearing an oath to testify], but discloses nothing [and commits perjury by omission]. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe, Proverbs 29:25.

King Solomon provides advice to individuals facing the hot seat known as criticism. When attacked, human nature relies on pride to defend yourself. Instead of allowing a knee jerk response to come out of your mouth, Solomon encourages individuals to embrace rebukes. Everyone has room for improvement, subtle imperfections that need to be worked out. Thus, the next time you receive critical comments, ask the Lord how these words can be used to benefit you in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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