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Tag Archives: hearts and minds

The Connection Between Thoughts and Prayer

During my years as a teenager, I fluctuated between one of two extremes.  When I was happy, I was sky high trying to uplift anyone I came in contact with.  Meanwhile, when I was depressed I sucked the life out of a room, seeking to make everyone miserable like me.  This roller coaster ride was a sign of my immaturity, allowing my thoughts and feelings to influence how I behaved day to day.  About this time, self help books began to take center stage, encouraging readers to put these ideas into action.  One concept suggested, you are what you think.

Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God, Philippians 4:6.

By the time I reached college, I began to ponder the connection between thoughts and prayer.  I guess you can say I was tired of allowing my emotions to shape who I was as a person.  Through a local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I was encouraged to start reading the Bible daily.  During a retreat, a weekend trip with fellow believers, I began reading the book of Philippians.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urged individuals to pray about troubled thoughts.  Instead of becoming overwhelmed by anxiety or worries, prayer provides an opportunity to pour out your heart to God.

And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours], Philippians 4:7.

When thoughts are channeled into prayer, the Bible promises to send a special blessing, the peace of God.  According to the apostle Paul, this supernatural sensation calms hearts and minds.  This is accomplished by transcending your understanding, able to separate the trivial from what’s really important in life.  As I have heard numerous times, “know Jesus, know peace.”  However, when you fail to connect thoughts with prayer, peace is unattainable.  Therefore, when you are bombarded by a wave of emotions in the future, may you connect troubling thoughts with prayer to find a spiritual peace that surpasses all understanding.

by Jay Mankus

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The Dawn of a Social Media Blackout

Beginning in the 1970’s, the Plato System was developed at the University of Illinois.  Plato’s message application forum Talkomatic introduced the first on-line chat room.  The concept of Usenet was conceived in 1979 and established by 1980 as a joint venture between Duke and North Carolina University.  As operating systems such as Mac OS and Windows emerged in the 1980’s, online Bulletin Board Systems and Internet Relay Chats grew in popularity.  This technology conceived social media platforms like My Space and Facebook in the 1990’s.  AOL launched instant messaging inspiring the film You’ve Got Mail in 1998.  Meanwhile, Windows Live Messenger set the stage for blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter.  When you consider modern search engines like Google, social media has become a powerful form of communication.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, 2 Timothy 4:3.

Unfortunately, the last decade has revealed the ugly side of this new domain.  Since the 2016 presidential election, cyber bullying, fake news and verbal assaults are a daily occurrence.  Meanwhile, Christians, conservatives and historians are being silenced by several social media moguls.  Sites are being demonetized, posts have been removed and videos have been banned without any logical explanation.  Every week stories continue to spread about cyber police silencing content that offends atheists, liberals and progressives.  Diamond and Silk recently accused Facebook of blocking 1.3 million followers from receiving their newsletter.  Meanwhile, Twitter has been exposed for using algorithms to prop up liberal viewership while taking away followers from accounts deemed too conservative.  How long will this censorship be allowed to continue as a social media blackout?

And will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable], 2 Timothy 4:4.

As I look to the Bible for answers to my concerns, there are one of two possible explanations.  First, this is merely a sign of end times, that Jesus’ second coming in the form of the rapture is drawing near.  The book of 2 Timothy, chapter 3 provides a detailed list of what to expect prior to Jesus’ return.  The apostle Paul eludes to a time when arrogance, disobedience and narcissism influences the culture.  The more I read 2 Timothy 3, the more plausible this theory become.  Yet, current social media conditions can be directly tied to post-modernism.  This worldview is highlighted by a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies.  When post-modernism is embraced, the concept of moral absolutes disappear.  Thus, as social media sites appoint monitors to examine the content of individual domains, judgments are made based upon worldviews held.  As Theism is being replaced by secular humanism and post-modernism, Christians need to do a better job of explaining their beliefs.  Unless conservatives start engaging other worldviews with biblical principles, this targeted social media blackout will continue until hearts and minds are persuaded by love.

by Jay Mankus

What are You Still Lacking?

If you asked a recent high school graduate the same question after completing a four year degree in college, perspectives would likely change.  Human nature tends to make young people think they are infallible.  When you add knowledge, wisdom and a wealth of information to this equation, some will likely think they know it all, now smarter than their parents.  This is the state we find the rich young ruler in the passage below, only lacking one thing in life.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

Searching for eternal security, this man sought out Jesus, hoping to discover the secret to possessing eternal life.  Immediately, Jesus catches this ruler off guard by demonstrating humility, giving God the credit for his goodness.  From here Jesus turns his attention to God’s standards in the Torah, the first five books in the Old Testament.  Obtaining knowledge of the Bible is one thing, but applying these principles separate average believers from genuine people of faith.  Perhaps, this rich young ruler thought he could enter heaven by being a good person.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Honor your father and your mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these things from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:20-22.

There are two invisible forces which drag and nudge souls in different directions.  The Holy Spirit convicts hearts and minds, revealing imperfections and shortcomings.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature is more accommodating, making those who stray from God think more highly about themselves than they should.  While the Spirit led the apostle Paul to claim he was the greatest sinner of all in 1 Timothy 1:15, my flesh made me feel better the further I slipped away from God in college.  This spiritual dilemma exists today, compared to a spiritual war in Galatians 5:16-18.  Thus, if you really want to know what are you still lacking, draw close to God and He will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

Ignoring the Voice of Truth

Everyone has at least one person in your life who is stubborn.  Whether this is a family member, friend or peer, this individual exhibits a know it all type of attitude.  Set in their ways, any sort of advice, criticism or insight falls upon deaf ears.  Subsequently, the voice of truth is ignored.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him, John 18:37-38.

In the days of the Judges, truth became relative.  During this portion of history portrayed in the Old Testament, each leader of Israel did what was right in their own eyes.  I’m not sure if this was due to laziness, the abuse of power or spiritual corruption, no one wanted to be told that what they were doing was wrong.  Thus, this decision began a downward cycle, abandoning morality for the sake of self-gratification.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come, John 16:13.

Not much has changed in the last 4,000 years.  Sure, civilizations and vocabulary has evolved, but the hearts and minds of human beings remain the same.  The seed of lawlessness implanted within the mind of Eve has been passed on to every generation since the fall.  Whether you call this the flesh or sinful nature, this thought process attempts to bypass truth by using justification and victimology.  Unfortunately, any time you and I reject sound biblical teaching, it’s nothing more than ignoring the voice of truth.

by Jay Mankus

My Daughter’s Generation

Over the weekend, I attended my second Father Daughter Retreat.  Since my daughter is the youngest and isn’t as passionate about sports as my sons, I don’t have that same connection.  Thus, its moments like this which provide a vehicle to bond and connect with my only daughter.  Currently, my greatest fear is the direction and issues confronting my daughter’s generation.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:9.

In view of the recent school shooting in Oregon, individuals seeking 15 minutes of fame are targeting the lives of Christians, attempting to snuff out their faith.  Whether experts, investigators or law officers want to admit it or not, Satan is like a puppet master pulling the strings which cause these vessels of evil to snap.  Beneath the surface, demons are planting seeds of violence inside the hearts and minds of these pawns.  When the timings is right, devilish schemes are acted upon despite whatever good Samaritan tries to intervene.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD,” Joshua 24:15.

Following in the footsteps of Moses, Joshua wasn’t afraid to speak the truth in love.  After seeing the affects of other cultures on God’s chosen people, Joshua drew a line in the sand.  However, Joshua didn’t just talk a good game, he lived one as well.  While you can’t change how people will respond to cultural trends, you can blaze a trail of integrity for your children to follow.  Therefore, despite the obvious negative signs that currently exist, emulate Jesus in this cold and dark world so that someone in your daughter’s generation will leave a legacy of faith.

by Jay Mankus

A Christmas Without Gifts?

This morning a thought came to my mind, what would Christmas morning be like without gifts?  First of all, most would enjoy a good night sleep before going to church or sleep later after attending a midnight service.  Once awake, the distractions of presents might actual promote quality conversations as individuals reflect upon the previous year.  As breakfast or brunch is served, discussions would likely move toward meaningful topics, free from typical superficial talk about who received the best gift and which family member got the shaft or least favored status.

Without the rush of getting back to play with your newest toy, the birth of the Messiah might become real to young children.  Instead of being brain washed by traditions of Christmas, Colossians 2:8, words from the Bible would fall upon fertile soil, Matthew 13:23, opening the door for faith to prosper, Romans 10:17.  Thus, Christmas wouldn’t be about what you got for Christmas.  Rather, hearts and minds would be transformed from “Thank you Santa, to Thank you God for the promise of Matthew 1:23.”

If I struggle with balancing a traditional Christmas with worshiping baby Jesus, I’m sure I am not alone.  My Christmas Day prayer is that I will point my children toward the true reason for this season.  When the sunsets on the 25th, families shouldn’t have to wait another calender year to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Rather, the Spirit of Christmas can and should be kept alive through the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4, given to all those who believe.  Although the day is now December 26th, its never too soon to start preparing your hearts for a Christmas without gifts, devoted to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

by Jay Mankus

When Holiness Faded into Sin

jesus christ on the cross photo: cross jesus_cross.jpg

According to Genesis 10:21, the Hebrews were descendents of Eber whose grandfather was Shem, son of Noah, whom the Lord found favor on, Genesis 6:8-9.  The father of this nation was called out of Ur, as God promised Abraham a great land with countless offspring, Genesis 12:1-3.  The formation of Israel neared completion through Jacob, Genesis 32:22-30, whose 12 sons formed the 12 tribes mentioned in Numbers 1.  Despite God’s attempts, introducing the 10 commandments as a guide for life in Exodus 20:1-17, holiness faded into sin 12 chapters later.

 In the absence of Moses’ leadership, Aaron wilted under peer pressure like Eve in the garden, giving the Israelites just what they wanted, Exodus 32:1-4.  With the words of God out of sight, the hearts and minds of the Jews quickly broke the second commandment, Exodus 32:5-6.  This sinful act enraged the Lord so much that He contemplated wiping out everyone, Exodus 32:9-10.  Just as Abraham had fought for the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah hundreds of years earlier, Genesis 18:16-33, Moses intervened seeking God’s favor in prayer, Exodus  32:11-14.

Not much has changed today as God is watching daily from the sidelines in heaven, scratching his head at similar selfish acts.  God’s efforts to set Israel apart from the rest of the world through the covenant of  circumcision failed.  Thus, plan 2 was necessary, sending His one and only son to earth, to be sin for mankind so that righteousness could be restored, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  When holiness faded, Jesus stood up, hitting a spiritual home run by offering his life as a living sacrifice for sin, Hebrews 9:26-28.

by Jay Mankus

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