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Tag Archives: fulfilling God’s will

Get Behind Me

The term band-wagon first appeared in 1849. This initial meaning referred to a large wagon used to carry the band in a circus procession. Theodore Roosevelt used bandwagon in his writings in the context of politics, “attaching oneself to anything that looks likely to succeed.” Modern day sports talk hosts have adopted bandwagon as a label to highlight fair weather fans. When a local team over achieves, the bandwagon becomes full. However, when a successful team gets off to a slow start, many quickly jump off the bandwagon.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. 25 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting], Matthew 16:24-25.

A Jewish disciple explores what it means to truly get behind Jesus. This chapter provides examples of what to do and what not to do. One individual becomes a hero and a goat in a matter of seconds. However, this is what happens when you are not slow to speak, blurting out whatever enters your mind. The context of the passage begins with an open ended question as Jesus asks, “who do people say that I am?” After receiving a few replies, Jesus changes the question to “what do you think?” After Peter correctly identifies Jesus as the promised Messiah, he then proceeds to attempt to stop Jesus from fulfilling God’s will.

Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! 23 But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men, Matthew 16:22-23.

When God or life doesn’t make sense, this is when human beings tend to improvise. Since Peter thought Jesus would become an earthly king, he refused to believe that his mentor was born to become a living sacrifice. When justice doesn’t prevail and evil triumphs, your allegiance is tested. Just to qualify to become one of Jesus’ disciples involves taking extreme measures. While everyone will wobble from time to time due to uncertainty, your actions will determine who’s side you are on. May the Holy Spirit bring clarity to any confusion so you get behind the right side.

by Jay Mankus

Overusing the Enjoyments of this Life

The apostle Paul uses the Greek word koʹsmos in a letter to the church at Corinth. When translated into English, this refers to the figure and form of the world. Meanwhile, the book of Galatians goes into further details in what is described as desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21. These natural tendencies begin with sexual immorality and end in full blown lust. Perhaps, this is what Paul means by overusing the enjoyments of this life.

And those who deal with this world [overusing the enjoyments of this life] as though they were not absorbed by it and as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away, 1 Corinthians 7:31.

At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul mentions a letter sent to him by members of the church inquiring about marriage, relationships and remaining single. This entire chapter is devoted to educating Christians to a biblical world view on these topics as well as including Paul’s own opinion. As a man who felt called to remain single, Paul wasn’t distracted by the enjoyments of life which other men were tempted by and often indulged in.

My desire is to have you free from all anxiety and distressing care. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord; 1 Corinthians 7:32.

In the passage above, Paul reveals the secret to his spiritual success, free from the anxiety and distress of relationships. Instead, Paul’s mind is able to clearly focus on the things of the Lord. Like anything in life, the less distracted you are, the easier it is to concentrate on fulfilling God’s will for your life. Colossians 3:1-4 provides advice for overusing temporary pleasures. When hearts are set on eternity, pleasing the Lord is made possible by purging and taking captive distracting thoughts from your mind, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Escaping Loneliness

Abandonment, isolation and rejection are just a few words that reflect the feelings within a lonely heart.  Loneliness can be self inflicted when alienated, busy or distracted by your own self interests.  Yet, most lonely people are haunted by broken relationships, a loss of confidence or low self esteem which often leads to withdrawing from family and friends.  For anyone who finds themselves in this predicament, the quicker you can escape loneliness, the better.

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment], Hebrews 4:15-16.

The author of Hebrews suggests that not even Jesus was immune to loneliness.  Referred to as the great high priest, Jesus is able to sympathize and understand human weaknesses and temptations.  No verse in the Bible highlights this fact than the passage below.  On the verge of fulfilling God’s will, Jesus felt forsaken, abandoned by his heavenly father.  Despite the raw emotions expiressed, Jesus prepared himself for this moment by praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before..

Now from the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice,Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:45-46

As a highly motivated individual, pursuing my own dreams and goals can result in isolation.  Unless I slow down to invite others into my life, invisible walls are built to shield myself from those who care about me.  Thus, before I find myself heading toward a lone ranger syndrome, I need to take a step back before speeding ahead.  The best way I have found to escape loneliness is by spending time meditating upon God’s Word.  When I do, the Holy Spirit puts everything into perspective by prompting me to  restore relationships that need to be healed.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Did You Stop Living?

As an adult, there are moments in life when I miss the simplicity of my childhood years.  The innocence of youth shielded me from the concerns of my parents.  When I was free from major responsibilities, I never really appreciated the numerous blessings God showered my life.  As I have traded places from child to parent and guardian of three children, I have stopped living somewhere along the way during this transitional period.

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God, Mark 10:14.

This overwhelming sense of conviction consumed me after listening to a song from my past.  When a high school friend introduced me to Christian music. I began a life long journey to uncover hidden gems that express an uplifting message.  This quest led me to Plankeye, a group which began as metal, moved toward classic rock and produced a dance album as well.  After listening to a single from the 1996 Commonwealth album, the lyrics of Bicycle inspired this blog.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Philippians 4:8.

This song refers to the dialogue between a son and his parents.  Apparently, his parents believed their son got married way too early in life.  Despite this young man’s initial struggles, he is living out his dream with the woman he loves.  In response to this criticism, the son replies, “when did you stop living anyway?”  At some point, parents give up on ever fulfilling the dreams of their childhood.  When doubt creeps into minds, a lack of faith prevent adults from taking chances, risking failure.  May these words inspire you to get on with your life, to face your fears and conquer the mountains currently blocking you from fulfilling God’s will on earth.

by Jay Mankus

When Healing is Complicated

Teetotalism is a term related to the Bible that is rarely spoken today.  This word refers to a strict adherence to the Old Testament.  By the first century, Pharisees and other religious leaders added several human stipulations to existing laws.  One of these limitations prohibited individuals from physical exertion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  Subsequently, any type of exercise could be construed as breaking the law.  This interpretation prompted the zealous to avoid going out of their way to help someone on Saturday, even if it meant healing or saving a life.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, John 5:7-8.

This is the dilemma which confronted Jesus every week, to heal or not to heal.  Despite public pressure to conform to these man made regulations, Jesus fulfilled the will of his heavenly father.  In the passage above, a man had been an invalid for 38 years.  Visiting a healing pool, these waters were believed to have mystical powers.  Those who had been cured, healed or set free from physical infirmities gave credit to angels who came down to stir the waters.  The first person to enter the pool was healed.  Unfortunately, this invalid was never fast enough, sitting and waiting, year after year, watching others become cleansed and made new.  The sight of this pitiful man inspired Jesus to have compassion, reach out and perform a miracle.

And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’ ” John 5:9-10.

In the passage above, you can see how teetotalism blinds someone’s perspective of God.  Instead of rejoicing with this fully healed man, religious leaders were trying to discover who brought the Sabbath rules and why.  This mindset doesn’t make any sense, especially in the sight of an amazing miracle.  Nonetheless, human traditions created by powerful leaders attempted the steal the joy on this special occasion.  Today, similar rules have been established by government officials.  Whether it’s prayer, reading the Bible or sharing your faith, you have to consider the cost.  To heal or not to heal, to help or not to help and to pray or not to pray?  In the end, if your heart is in the right place, you will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Grinding It Out

At 2:59 AM Eastern Standard Time, seconds before midnight on the west coast, the May 1st deadline to submit a screenplay for 2015’s Academy Nicholl Fellowships Contest ends.  Any procrastinating writers who have fallen behind schedule, scramble to the finish line, hoping to make it across before its too late.  Giving up mentality weeks ago, God’s strength lifted me up to grind it out.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

Following two unsuccessful entries in consecutive years, I took 2014 off, doubting that I would ever have the right stuff to be a professional screen writer.  The jury is still out as I have to wait until summer to find out for sure.  Either way, after two grueling years, my first edit of Behind the Devil’s Door is complete.  You can’t win if you don’t enter so at least I have that going for me.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small, Proverbs 24:10.

Whether you’re an athletic, student or worker, certain things come much natural to gifted individuals.  Although it might seem unfair, the disadvantaged are forced to become tougher through failure.  Like the line by Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, “If it was easy, everyone would do it; hard is what makes it great” in reference to baseball.  As for me, I may not have the experience, talent or skill, yet I will continue to grind it out, yearning to fulfill God’s will for my life.

by Jay Mankus

The Compass of Prayer

In the first season of Survivor Borneo contestants could bring one personal item to keep on their Island.  Depending upon the personality, individuals chose from a wide variety of possessions based upon wants and needs.  Dirk Been, the first person to ever be voted off the show during a tribal council brought his Bible.  Since editors have a way of slicing film to create stars, villains and proverbial losers, his decision to bring the Word of God wasn’t applauded.  Yet, for Dirk this book was like a compass for life.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you,  John 15:7.

The earliest accounts of Jesus highlight a morning routine, Mark 1:35-39.  While his disciples were sleeping, Jesus would arise early before sunset to a quiet location.  This solitary location provided ideal condition for the compass of prayer.  Meditating, Jesus began to listen to His heavenly Father, providing a road map for the next day.  Although the disciples had their own agendas and plans, the Holy Spirit lead Jesus to people of need, fulfilling God’s will daily.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

Today, obstacles to achieving a clear and open communication with God continue to increase.  Doubt, unanswered prayers and worry cause individuals to try to find their way alone.  Unlocking this veil begins and ends with the Bible.  Hearts, minds and soul touched, nurtured and inspired by words of truth are like an introduction to orienteering.  Comprehending the whole process takes time.  However, through trial and error, the compass of prayer will lead you to the light.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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