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Fast Pray Vote

Over the past month, several pastors across the nation have urged their members to fast and pray in the days leading up to the 2020 Election. Pastor Jentezen Franklin started a movement known as Fast, Pray, Vote. In previous years, pastor Franklin starts the beginning of each year with a 21 day fast that he encourages his congregation to participate. Whether it’s a Daniel Fast, Media Fast or Fluid only Fast, this spiritual discipline opens hearts and minds to God’s will for your life, Romans 12:1-2.

When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven, And I said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, Who keeps covenant, loving-kindness, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments, Nehemiah 1:4-5.

One of the most famous passages in the Bible on fasting occurs in the Old Testament.  After the Jewish exile to Babylon, Nehemiah served as one of the king’s servants. One day a messenger sent news to Nehemiah, reporting the sad state of Israel’s current condition. The wall protecting Jerusalem was broken down and the gates were on fire. Just like recent news reports of civil unrest and rioting within large metropolitan cities, broken hearts are inspiring modern Christians to also fast and pray today.

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned, Nehemiah 1:6.

As Election Day arrives, concerned hearts feel the need to fast and pray for America’s future. In an age of political divisiveness, prayer may be the only source to unite a country divided by politics. Regardless of who is to blame for this division, the Bible urges disciples of Jesus to follow the golden rule, Matthew 7:12. However, when individuals believe in and support a candidate that offends you, loving others as God loves us is probably the last thing on your mind. Thus, if you truly want to make a difference on election day and in the years to come, Fast, Pray and Vote.

by Jay Mankus

Inspiration Doesn’t Follow a Schedule

The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something is known as inspiration. This invisible force tends to reveal itself in the form of artistry, creativity, flair, imagination, and vision. While attending a youth ministry trade school more than 25 years ago, I was introduced to Green Light Thinking. This exercise channels inspiration from our minds on to a piece of paper. During this 5 minute period, there is no such thing as a bad idea, writing down every inspirational thought.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

According to the apostle Paul, authors of the Bible were inspired by divine forces. Whether morning, day or night, inspiration doesn’t follow a schedule. Like momentum that fluctuates back and forth in a close athletic competition, spectators are on the edge of their seats until the end of the game. This is the type of anticipation that Christians should experience each time they open up the Word of God. When hearts and minds become open to the spiritual realm like a sponge, inspiration will flow.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

During a conversation with his disciples, Jesus unveils what the Holy Spirit will resemble when it arrives on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2. This invisible Spirit is like a personal guide to direct you toward the Truth, the meaning of life. There isn’t a set place or time to meet. Rather, the Holy Spirit counsels those of you who are paying attention, keeping in step with this inspirational force, Galatians 5:25. Despite what your daily schedule may bring, may you be open to the possibility so that you go with inspiration when it arrives.

by Jay Mankus

Sin’s Impact on Mental Health

According to a 2019 article, the mental health of teenagers is at risk.  Based upon a recent study, 15% of teenagers seriously consider taking their own life.  Another 12% actually make a plan to commit suicide.  Nearly 8% of teens make at least one attempt to implement their plan.  Meanwhile, 2% of these botched attempts of suicide result in medical intervention.  This healthyplace.com piece has motivated me to contemplate sin’s impact on mental health.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; the mind of the flesh [with its sinful pursuits] is actively hostile to God. It does not submit itself to God’s law, since it cannot, and those who are in the flesh [living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses] cannot please God, Romans 8:5-8.

According to the apostle Paul, sin’s initial impact influences minds.  Human minds serve as a bodies compass.  When minds fixate on fleshly desires. decisions gravitate toward pleasing your own body.  Meanwhile, individuals whose minds are directed by biblical principles are more likely to listen and obey God’s still small voice via the Holy Spirit.  Inside of human beings there is a spiritual gravitational pull, tugging at hearts and minds.  The hardest part of this decision making process is that sinful pursuits gradually results in minds actively hostile toward to God.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and it is extremely sick; Who can understand it fully and know its secret motives? 10  “I, the Lord, search and examine the mind, I test the heart, to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds, Jeremiah 17:9-10.

An Old Testament prophet adds to sin’s impact on mental health in the passage above.  Known as the weeping prophet after proclaiming bad news given directly to him from God, Jeremiah reveals another troubling problem.  Human hearts are deceitful and extremely sick.  Jesus expands upon this diagnosis in Luke 6:43-45.  Mouths speak out of the overflow of your heart.  Depending upon what your heart stores up inside will reflect your vocabulary, the content of your words.  Thus, anyone who holds on to roots of bitterness will negatively influence and impact your mental health.

However, you are not [living] in the flesh [controlled by the sinful nature] but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God lives in you [directing and guiding you]. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him [and is not a child of God]. 10 If Christ lives in you, though your [natural] body is dead because of sin, your spirit is alive because of righteousness [which He provides]. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Romans 8:9-11.

Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul points to daily spiritual decisions, who or what are you going to live for?  You don’t have to live in bondage to a flesh that craves humanism, whatever feels good must be good.  However, those who possess any empty heart, void of any meaning have an option to choose life by becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus.  Yet, words mean nothing until you act upon your faith.  Therefore, if you are tired of feeling spiritually dead, may the power of the Holy Spirit free you from sin’s impact on mental health.

by Jay Mankus

Explaining the Absence of the Holy Spirit

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul reveals how God dishes out a variety of spiritual gifts.  These special abilities are given out by the grace of God.  Some of these are ordinary such as giving, serving or teaching.  Other talents are extraordinary, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, spiritual gifts like healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues often elicit jealousy in those that don’t possess a supernatural gift.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

To address issues like envy, the apostle Paul writes a similar letter to the church at Rome.  In the passage below, Paul compares spiritual gifts to a church body with many parts.  Apart or own their own, a spiritual gift glorifies individuals, not God.  However, when individuals submit to God by joining a local congregation, your gift makes a difference by filling a spiritual hole.  The purpose of any spiritual gift is to serve God by offering your body as a living sacrifice.  While certain gifts will always overshadow your gift, hearts and minds need to stay focused on the common good.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully, Romans 12:4-8.

Jesus and first century church leaders warned about counterfeit, fake and imposters who come in the name of Jesus.  These individuals still exist today, often perpetrating frauds on those who watch on television or attend a rally.  When truth exposes these people like Steve Martin in a Leap of Faith, modern churches are harmed by these spiritual stains.  Whenever spiritual gifts are used to glorify self, the Holy Spirit will move to another area, region or country.  While most people wish they had another spiritual gift, for now God seeks humble servants willing to be the hands and feet of Christ today.  The dedicated, faithful and obedient persevere during spiritual droughts, hopeful that the presence of the Holy Spirit will return when God’s timing is right.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming the Burnout Syndrome

This week the World Health Organization has officially added Burnout Syndrome to its’ list of recognized disorders.  Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work.  Burnout has been assumed to result from chronic occupational stress.  Those most affected by this disorder are individuals forced to work a second job, those seeking to reinvent themselves in a new career after being laid off and workaholics.  Whenever human beings do not possess some sort of balance in the form of active hobbies, people are at risk of becoming burned out.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship, Romans 12:1.

According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, only one third of Americans enjoy and feel engaged by their current occupation.  If this study is accurate, nearly 70% of adults go to work each week disappointed, frustrated and unsatisfied with their job.   Trying to find what you were born to do or the job or your dreams can be extremely difficult.  This search can take months, years and even decades to complete until you find yourself eager to get up daily to do what you love.  For those of you in a holding pattern, doing whatever position you have to until another door opens, staying optimistic is hard.  Yet, as individuals wrestle with symptoms of the burnout syndrome, there is a cure for this disorder in the Bible.

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:2.

The apostle Paul writes a letter to the church at Rome to help people feeling lost, not sure about what direction to take in life.  Overcoming the burnout syndrome begins with viewing your life as a gift from God.  Just as Rush Limbaugh has coined the phrase “talent on loan from God, ” each day on earth should be devoted to becoming a living sacrifice for God.  When a decision is made to dedicate your life to God, holiness and worship become a daily priority.  According to Paul, as believers begin to read, study and meditate upon the Word of God, the Bible, hearts and mind become aligned with God.  Therefore, if you want to overcome the burnout syndrome, begin the quest to ascertain God’s will for your life so that your job will become a mission from above.

by Jay Mankus

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

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

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