Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: focus

Fighting Off Urges to Be Lazy

Idle, lethargic, languishing, plodding and remiss are words associated with lazy. After a hard week of work or mentality exhausting day of school, laziness is an appealing option. Escaping from the stress that life throws your way seems logical. Losing yourself on your phone, playing Fortnite online or indulging in social media are common hobbies where time is wasted daily. Yet, at what point does rest and relaxation turn into laziness?

I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man lacking understanding and common sense; 31 And, behold, it was all overgrown with thorns, and nettles were covering its surface, and its stone wall was broken down, Proverbs 24:30-31.

Solomon uses an example from his own life to rail against the urge to become lazy. This king isn’t alone as the Bible consistently warns readers against choices, decisions and desires to become inactive. The term work is portrayed in God’s Word as action, progress and production. Any contrary acts are compared with sloths, like giving into fleshly cravings to hit your snooze button over and over again. At these moments in time, you have to fight off urges to be lazy.

When I saw, I considered it well; I looked and received instruction.
33  “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest [and daydream],” 34  Then your poverty will come as a robber, and your want like an armed man, Proverbs 24:32-34.

During stretches of 2019, I have repeatedly given into urges to be lazy. This bad habit normally occurs at the end of my work week. As I collapse into my bed. whispers of justification have persuaded me to listen to my sinful nature. As I have tried to snap out of my spiritual slumber, passages like Hosea 4:6 come to mind. Most translations blame laziness on a lack of knowledge. Another version suggests that people perish for a lack of vision. Well, as I continue this weekly battle, to fight off the urge to be lazy,, I must turn my life around with a vision that aligns with God’s will for my life.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

The Nazarite Vow of Abstention

According to current law, the legal minimum drinking age is 21 years old in the United States. Prior to 1986, some states allowed college students to drink legally upon reaching their 18th birthday. However, there are 4 exemptions enabling some to bend the rules. Twenty nine states allow children with a parent’s permission to drink alcohol on private property. Six states don’t require a parent’s consent as long as you are on private property. Ten states serve minors at restaurants with a parent’s consent and certain churches use real alcohol as part of their communion services.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

If you want to know the truth, if you live in the United States and really want to drink alcohol prior to your 21st birthday, determined teenagers will find a way. However, before anyone reads this and suggests, “if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?” Well, before you allow this thought to persuade your mind, I want to share a dark period in my own life. During a friend’s wedding in college, I decided to drink. Little did I know that hours later I would be hugging a toilet suffering from alcohol poisoning. If it wasn’t for a member of the wedding party, I probably would have died. Since this event I decided to take the Nazirite vow of abstention.

Paul stayed for a while longer, and then told the brothers and sisters goodbye and sailed for Syria; and he was accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchrea [the southeastern port of Corinth] he had his hair cut, because he was keeping a [Nazirite] vow [of abstention], Acts 18:18.

After doing a little research, Numbers 6:1-21, individuals can make an oath for a certain period of time or can choose to make a vow for life to abstain from alcohol. Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul made the Nazirite vow of abstention during his second missionary journey. To avoid confusing or causing others to stumble, Paul lived above reproach. While I served as a youth pastor, I too took a similar vow to avoid sending a mixed message. Abstaining from alcohol isn’t for everyone, but when you are fixated on reaching a certain audience, taking the Nazirite vow for a set period of time will enhance your message.

by Jay Mankus

Falling Farther Away

The Freefall is an amusement ride developed by Giovanola. Two generations of this ride were designed and marketed throughout the world by the Swiss company Intamin.  The first series of Freefall rides can be identified by the angled supports at the base of the lift tower.  The second generation were identical, but the tower’s base structure on these variants did not taper outward.  The Freefall ride went out of style near the end of the 1999’s, replaced by new technology such as the Gyro Drop and compressed air tower rides.  What I learned last week is that you don’t have to go to an amusement park to experience falling.

For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

The author of Hebrews suggests that when individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, the Holy Spirit elevates and lifts up your faith.  Spiritual enlightenment gives people access to a heavenly gift, tasting the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  However, if you look back down at your former life, tempted to return, you can expect a great fall.  Modern terminology refers to this as back sliding away from God to indulge in temporary pleasures of the world.  To those who change their course, the passage above compares this behavior to crucifying Jesus on the cross over and over again.  At some point, you have to snap out of this spiritual free fall before its to late.

For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], 27 but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and the fury of a fire and burning wrath which will consume the adversaries [those who put themselves in opposition to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

Five chapters later, the author of Hebrews unveils the fate of those falling farther away from God.  The imagery above suggests that some people will just barely get into heaven, by the skin of their pants.  Just prior to any spiritual freefall is marked by idleness, a lack of concentration, direction and guidance.  A disciple of Jesus refers to this as lukewarm, losing your love and passion for Jesus.  If believers do not feed and meditate upon the Word of God, it won’t be long before hearts, minds and souls begin to look back, over the edge toward the world.  Jesus compares this behavior to a farmer who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back, Luke 9:62.  If you want to save yourself from anguish, pain and suffering, fix your eyes on Jesus to avoid future free falls, Hebrews 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Waiting for Good Things to Come

Waiting is contrary to human nature.  When you see something that you like or want, the concept of waiting seems pointless.  Yet, as I look back on my on life, there are certain things that I wasn’t ready to possess.  A lack of maturity, given something instead of earning it and forcing the issue are all contributing factors.  Perhaps, waiting is a tool God uses to prepare individuals for the future.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

When you don’t have the financial means to afford a place to live, food to eat or resources like a vehicle, even atheists may offer up prayers for their current situation to improve.  If there is no one on earth to lean on, its only natural to look up the heavens and hope for better days.  The Bible encourages souls to seek God instead of seeking alternative routes or taking short cuts.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

David compares waiting to a spiritual exercise like working out.  Waiting requires a gut check, seeing if you have what it takes to stick it out.  This process involves concentration, focus and a willingness to finish what you start.  Those who receive what they have been waiting for tend to appreciate what they now have.  Therefore, if you want to pursue a noble cause, trust God as you wait for good things to come.

by Jay Mankus

Your Next is Greater Than Your Now

Financial planners seek to guide individuals toward fulfilling their dreams in life.  Depending upon how soon families begin to set aside funds for retirement, this process requirements discipline, focus and numerous sacrifices.  Yet, all these preparations don’t ensure a happy ending.  Thus, its essential that people begin to trust God, believing that your next is greater than your now.

For I want you to know, believers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel [it is not a human invention, patterned after any human concept]. 12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a [direct] revelation of Jesus Christ.  You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it, Galatians 1:11-13.

During a letter to the church in Galatia, the apostle Paul gives a brief summary of his past, present and desire to follow God’s will in the future.  Paul doesn’t shy away from his ignorant past, blinded by a religious zeal for Judaism.  This obsession led Paul to conspire against the founding of the first century church.  Perhaps, the words of Stephen prior to his persecution and death broke through Saul’s calloused heart.

But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles [as the good news—the way of salvation], I did not immediately consult with anyone [for guidance regarding God’s call and His revelation to me]. 17 Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia and stayed awhile, and afterward returned once more to Damascus, Galatians 1:15-17.

After being blinded on the road to Damascus, this set forward a chain of events resulting in Paul’s salvation.  The first thing Paul did following his conversion was going home to tell family and friends what God had done for him.  The Bible is silent on how Paul’s Jewish parents responded to and received this news.  Nonetheless, Paul quickly came to the conclusion that your next is greater than your now with Jesus.  Although, this doesn’t ensure a story book ending on earth, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does secure an eternal reservation in heaven, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

A Solution to Avoid Becoming Side Tracked

While there have been many discerning scholars, famous philosophers and biblical prophets throughout history, I don’t think anyone could image how social media is influencing modern times.  Whether its a pod cast, Instagram post, tweet or You Tube video going viral, every day is like a circus, filled with individuals seeking attention, fame and fortune.  Becoming side tracked from what you need to get accomplished daily if you have a cellular device in your hand or pockets makes staying focused even harder.  Just as curiosity led to Eve’s down fall in the Garden of Eden, Americans are amusing themselves toward a slow spiritual death through a state of constant distractions.

No soldier in active service gets entangled in the [ordinary business] affairs of civilian life; [he avoids them] so that he may please the one who enlisted him to serve, 2 Timothy 2:4.

The apostle Paul writes about daily distractions during the first century.  The mentality necessary to avoid getting emotional caught up in the affairs of society requires military readiness taught in the armed forces.  An active soldiers’ main concern is carrying out and fulfilling their commanding officers’ instructions.  From a spiritual perspective, Paul is encouraging believers to focus on serving God.  Romans 12:1 is symbolic of beginning and completing boot camp, pushing your body to its limits.  As you dedicate your life to God, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal the Lord’s will for life which is phase two.  The more focused your are on serving Jesus, the less concerned you will be with daily events beyond your control.

And if anyone competes as an athlete [in competitive games], he is not crowned [with the wreath of victory] unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer [who labors to produce crops] ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Think over the things I am saying [grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you insight and understanding in everything, 2 Timothy 2:5-7.

The apostle Paul finishes his illustration with an athlete and farmer.  While different, the more each puts into their trade, the skies the limit.  Sports is based upon determining who is the best through a series of competitions during a defined season.  Meanwhile, farmers must work if they want food.  If each treats their land like a prized possession, the outcome will likely be positive.  If you reap what you sow is an accurate principle, then every individual has a choice, to seize each moment or waste your life away.  Sure, deciphering what God’s will can take a life time, but if you develop the resolve to press on, the promise of 2 Timothy 2:7 can be a reality.  As I struggle and wrestle with overcoming the bad news reported each day, join me in a venture to avoid becoming side tracked anymore.

by Jay Mankus

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction states: I attract to myself, whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to; whether wanted or unwanted.  When this term is mentioned, there are two other alternative theories.  One refers to electrostatics dealing with the attraction and repulsion of electric charges.  Another is related to the law above, but credits self-fulfilled prophecies where individuals are influenced by anxiety, doubt or worry.  By dwelling on ungodly beliefs such as I’m going to get sick, fail or get into an accident, these thoughts become reality.  Thus, the law of attraction uses positive and negative thinking to shape what will come to be in the future.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed, Mark 1:32.

This same principle can be applied to the spiritual life.  Faith is dependent upon conviction, desire and hunger to draw near to God.  Those who possess this spiritual attraction will find the time to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord.  When earthly distractions get in the way, attention is steered in other directions resulting in changed priorities.  The closer you get to God, the more the Holy Spirit exposes your imperfections like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15, claiming to be the greatest sinner of all.  Meanwhile, the further you drift apart from God, the better you feel, relying on justification and rationalization to approve of your actions.

The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was, Mark 1:33-34.

Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine during a wedding reception in Cana often overshadow others that followed.  After Jesus cast out a demon within a Capernaum synagogue, the people were amazed.  According to John Mark, the entire town gathered outside of Simon Peter’s house.  The passage above illustrates the law of attraction, drawn to Jesus like groupies flocking to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, professional athlete or rock star.  However, in this case Jesus takes the time to cure the sick, drive out demons and heal others with various ailments.  May this blog speak to your heart as your strive to become like the citizens of Capernaum, eager to wait upon the Lord to be healed.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: