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Tag Archives: heart

Stop Talking and Start Leading

The politicalization of current events has made most cable news networks nearly impossible to watch for more than one segment.  Instead of answering questions presented by a host, guests regularly dodge, evade and redirect conversation to add the latest political talking point.  Meanwhile, as candidates compete for their parties presidential nomination, debating the issues has been replaced by name calling, personal attacks and smearing an opponents’ character.  Perhaps, its time for all politicians to stop talking and start leading.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, James 1:19-20.

Growing up in the shadow of his older brother, James couldn’t compete with Jesus.  While its not mentioned in the Bible, I’m sure Mary challenged her younger son to be more like Jesus.  Subsequently, a sibling rivalry began which blinded James from seeing that his brother was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  Following Jesus’ resurrection, a convicted heart led James to write “be quick to hear and slow to speak.”  A modern translation is simply shut up and listen.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

The Greek language uses three terms which serve as modes of persuasion to convince an audience to follow what you believe.  Ethos is the ethical means by which your actions make you a credible person who can be trusted.  Pathos is a quality of an experience in life like a testimony which creates an emotional connection with an audience.  Finally, logos relies on facts, logic and statistics to persuade individuals to come to your point of view.  My advice to anyone seeking to pursue a political office, stop talking and start leading.

by Jay Mankus

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What Could Have Been and Has Come to Be

Eight teen years ago today, my wife and I welcomed our second child Daniel into this world.  As time passed, it became clear that our oldest James would be the student and that Daniel would become the athlete.  While James has been blessed with more God given talent, Daniel is more passionate about sports.  Whether it was baseball, golf or ultimate frisbee, Daniel always stood out, eventually becoming the best.  With one year left of high school, only God knows the chapters left to be written.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, Jeremiah 29:11.

However, as Paul Harvey shared on the radio for years, the rest of the story reveals what could have been.  At the height of his popularity, Daniel’s world came to a halt, almost losing his life to diabetes the summer before his freshman year of high school.  There were subtle signs looking back, but I ignored these as needing to hydrate during a hot humid summer.  The news of this diagnosis was shocking, especially for a young teenager.  As a parent, there is a helpless feeling, unable to undo these events or heal my son to ease his pain.  Despite the doctor’s visits, expensive treatments and uncertainty, I am thankful Daniel is alive and well today.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Unless you are diabetic, you can’t relate to the daily shots of insulin needed to stay alive.  As technology advances, perhaps someone will create a new device to help ease this burden.  Nonetheless, you can’t dwell on what could have been.  Rather, for now God is teaching me to focus on what has come to be, a man who is seeking to pursue higher education.  Exactly where is still a question mark, but if things proceed as planned, hopefully golf is part of God’s plan.  You see, Daniel’s middle name is Payne, in honor of my favorite golfer Payne Stewart.  Like a wise king once wrote, “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose previals.”

by Jay Mankus

The Second Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost is referenced in Acts 2:1-13.  This event serves two purposes.  First, to fulfill Jesus’ promise in John 14 to send a Holy Ghost as an advocate, counselor and helper of souls.  Second, this spiritual power is designed to empower disciples to fulfill the Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20.  This initial day is celebrated every year in churches across the country and throughout the world.  Yet, until recently, I overlooked the second Pentecost.

And Cornelius told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, ‘Send word to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 he will bring a message to you by which you will be saved [and granted eternal life], you and all your household.’ 15 When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning [at Pentecost], Acts 11:13-15.

The second Pentecost is mentioned in Acts 10:34-48.  Prior to this day, Peter received the same vision four different times.  When this vision of unclean animals stood opposed to the Law of Moses, Peter rejected God’s initial message.  According to Acts 10:13-15, this scene is repeated three more times before Peter finally changes his mind.  When the Holy Spirit tells you to do something completely different from what you have been taught, changing your ways is hard.  Yet, this spiritual tug of war between Peter and God set the stage for a second Pentecost.

Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So, if God gave Gentiles the same gift [equally] as He gave us after we accepted and believed and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ [as Savior], who was I to interfere or stand in God’s way?” – Acts 11:16-17

Peter uses a rhetorical question in the passage above which convinced him step aside to allow the Holy Spirit to move and work.  Unfortunately, one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit is not as visible in the United States as third world nations is spiritual interference.  Modern apostles and disciples are standing in God’s way, blocking the Holy Spirit from being unleashed.  Traces of the sinful nature, stubborn hearts and rebellion from biblical practices are to blame.  Yet, is it possible for a third Pentecost, a modern movement of the Holy Spirit.  The only thing missing is concerts of prayer which fueled America’s last great awakening.  May biblical history serve as a blue print to inspire believers to follow in the footsteps of the church at Antioch, Acts 11:19-21.

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

When God Has to Repeat Himself

When I was a child, I rarely came to the dinner table the first time my mother called me.  Distracted by what I was doing at the time, I ignored the first warning.  The second call to come to the kitchen was louder, less pleasant and with a threatening tone.  This usually got my attention, but if I was fixated on a game,  I waited for the final warning.  As soon as I heard my full name, I knew I was in trouble, running as fast as I could to avoid future punishment.

This happened three times, and then immediately the object was taken up into heaven.17 Now Peter was still perplexed and completely at a loss as to what his vision could mean when the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, arrived at the gate, Acts 10:16-17.

When God seeks to get your attention, the Lord tends to be more patient.  Sometimes God will allow you to day dream about a specific act that He wants you to do.  If overlooked, God may speak to you through a passage in the Bible to further motivate you to act.  If this inspiration fades without any action, angels, visions or visitors may to sent to usher in acts of faith.  In the account above and below, Peter was stubborn, clinging to his former beliefs.  Like watching a rerun for the third time, Peter finally embraces God’s new message.

I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not at all, Lord; for nothing common (unholy) or [ceremonially] unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, no longer consider common (unholy).’ 10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn up again into heaven, Acts 11:7-10.

The apostle Paul writes about offering your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.  When your heart and mind are fixated on Jesus, you won’t need to have God repeat himself over and over again.  According to Paul, staying in tune with God is like being in a state of worship, staying on key.  As individuals renew their minds through studying the Bible, ascertaining God’s will for your life become an obtainable goal.  Thus, if you’re tired of being left in the dark spiritually, unsure of where to go or what to do, focus on godly values and ethical attitudes to guide your steps.

by Jay Mankus

Witnessing the Grace of God

Grace in the biblical sense refers to favor and goodness that God shows to mankind.  Thus, any example of a good, kind or merciful act can be described as the grace of God.  During the first century, a church with little guidance and oversight from the apostles experienced a great spiritual awakening.  When news of this special anointing from God reached Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to see what was happening.  According to Luke, Barnabas’ first impression was that he was an eyewitness of the grace of God at work.

The news of this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God [that was bestowed on them], he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with an unwavering heart to stay true and devoted to the Lord, Acts 11:22-23.

As soon as I read the passage above, I wanted to know what does the grace of God look like?  Just as the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles in Caesarea, this same phenomena began to take place in Antioch.   The words that Barnabas conveys to Luke is the bestowing of the grace of God.  As Gentiles repented of their sins, turned to Jesus for forgiveness and were baptized, lives were transformed.  While visiting Antioch, Barnabas spent time talking to these new converts.  Based upon these conversations, Barnabas found unwavering hearts who stayed true and devoted to the Lord.

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation], Ephesians 2:8-9.

Reading this portion of the book of Acts makes me wonder, where is the grace of God today?  Is faith dead or has the sinful nature blinded modern Christians from recognizing the grace of God?  The apostle Paul makes an interesting comment about grace in the passage above.  Grace is all God as there is nothing human beings can take credit for.  This gift is either accepted, put on hold for a while or rejected.  When grace is embraced, this is accomplished through faith.  However, Paul makes it clear that no one should boast or take credit in any way.  In view of this, may the Holy Spirit open our eyes today so that we too can witness the grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

When Time is the Enemy?

Depending upon by your occupation, time is often a driving force, setting daily deadlines for the work that needs to get done.  As this specific hour approaches, stress builds as a team of individuals scramble to complete projects and tasks.  When deadlines are missed, blame is assigned to designate who or what department is at fault.  Thus, under these circumstances, time is the enemy.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12.

Anyone who works a normal five day week, experiences another aspect of time.  When your responsibilities at work overwhelm your soul, time has a way of dragging on, slowing down to the point that one hour feels like 90 minutes.  Meanwhile, weekends fly by like a Nascar race.  As soon as you sit down to relax for a while, your weekend is gone and over.  If you don’t love your job, getting up Monday morning to repeat this vicious cycle will wear you down.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8.

In the song Somewhere Somehow, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith sing about moments in life when time is the enemy.  One of my favorite stanzas contain the words “Somewhere far beyond today I will find a way to find you And somehow through the lonely nights I will leave a light in the dark.  While the will to love someone on earth may make this a reality, only God will leave a light on in the dark.  Thus, when time becomes an enemy, it’s never too late come to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

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