RSS Feed

Tag Archives: leaders

The Oracles of God

From a biblical perspective, an oracle refers to a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from God. Whenever a forefather, judge or king was about to make an important decision in the Old Testament, prophets and seers were requested. Depending upon the oracle received, these leaders would base their ultimate decision upon these words of wisdom.

Then what advantage remains to the Jew? [How is he favored?] Or what is the value or benefit of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, to the Jews were entrusted the oracles (the brief communications, the intentions, the utterances) of God, Romans 3:1-2.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses logic and reason to justify the Jewish practice of circumcision. As individuals follow the Torah, Old Testament laws relayed to Israel from Moses, spiritual insight is gained. However, this process is exercised by talking steps of faith, not by sight. As the faithful follow their spiritual convictions, brief communication, intentions and utterances from God are received.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

It’s not uncommon to feel like the prophet Elijah in the passage above. There are moments, periods and time when God is silent and believers feel all alone, desperate for comfort and direction. During this ordeal, Elijah withdrew to a cave to contemplate his next step, In the minutes that followed, a series of weather related events got Elijah’s attention. Despite the wonder and awe of these natural disasters, God was not behind these events. As Elijah’s spirit grew impatient, an oracle of God appeared in the form of a whisper. May this story encourage you to be ready for the next oracle to be spoken via the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Greatest Temptation

Then Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter, Matthew 26:40.

When the Son of God spoke in the first century, eager followers flocked to hear his teaching.  Afterward the needy, poor and sick lined up, pushing their way to the front, hoping for a miracle.  To a certain extent, the twelve disciples became complacent, taking their access to the Messiah for granted.  During special occasions Jesus left nine disciples behind, confiding in his inner circle composed of James, John and Peter.  During his greatest temptation, surrendering to religious leaders to be beaten, crucified and left to die, Jesus urges his disciples to pray late into the night.  An hour later Jesus returns to find his trusted leaders sleeping.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

Disappointed, Jesus addresses the unseen battle going on within the human body.  The Spirit is willing to yield spiritual fruit detailed in Galatians 5:22-23.  Unfortunately, these traits often lose out to a weakened flesh, Galatians 5:19-21, by giving into temporary pleasures.  Way too often the events of Eden in Genesis 3 are re-enacted daily with forbidden fruits replaced by modern delicacies.  While current readers can take Jesus’ advice at face value, all but one disciple were about to abandon Jesus in his greatest time of need.  John, the one whom Jesus loved is the only disciple who doesn’t go into hiding.  Only one man put Jesus’ words into practice.

He went away a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done,” Matthew 26:42.

Jesus was a victim of a mob mentality, innocent of the charges made against him accept of course for being the son of God.  Overcome by emotion, Jesus pours out his heart to God the Father in prayer.  If this was any other person, justification would be made to not go through with this sacrifice.  However, without Jesus’ death, there would be no forgiveness, left to rely on Old Testament animal sacrifices.  Realizing this fact, Jesus submits to God’s will, surrendering early Friday morning.  While there will always be new temptations that arise and attack your soul, the greatest temptation is to reject God’s will for your life.  May you find your purpose on earth using Romans 12:1-2 as a guide.  From here its up to you to apply Matthew 26:41 so that you will keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

 

Battle Scars

In 1998, a film brought the battlefields of war into movie theaters across the country.  Using the invasion on the beaches of Normandy during World War II as a backdrop, Saving Private Ryan graphically depicts the brutal nature of war during an extended battle scene.  Those who survived were haunted by images of splattered blood, cries for help and the silence of death.  Some of these individuals returned home with visible signs of this violent venture.  Others possessed emotional and mental scars, like a part of their soul was ripped out and left behind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

More than eighty years later, descendants have their own battle scars.  Survivors of the Holocaust have to live with the knowledge of what happened to innocent Jews.  Immigrants have the memories of the hell they went through just to make it to America.  Meanwhile, those living in crime infested areas stay awake at night wondering, who is going to be next?  There are many that express how unfair life is or could be.  Yet, blaming, complaining and denigrating others didn’t save the world from Nazi Germany.  Rather, victory is achieved by forgetting your own battle scars by coming together for a greater purpose and cause.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

Instead of making situations better, divisiveness by modern politicians is only adding scars, one soul at a time.  Words are cheap, a campaign slogan to help get elected.  Yet, what this world needs are leaders who inspire others to rise above their own battle scars to make the most of life.  My largest scar is three inches long, what’s left of an ankle surgery from high school.  Prior to this procedure, I was told by doctors that I would never run again.  My Christian friends refused to believe this fate, offering up prayers to the Most High.  In the end, these prayers of intervention proved science wrong, healing me to be able to compete in athletic competitions throughout my life.  While not every story has a happen ending, come to Jesus with the battle scars from your past so that you will find rest for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

I Get It or Do I?

Each year television offers a plethora of programing that debates who is the best.  Categories include athletes, politicians and specific occupations.  One of the measuring sticks often applied is education.  Anyone who attends an ivy league school is automatically given high marks.  Well, unless of course your name is George W. Bush or Donald J. Trump.  This method of judging subtract points for possessing the wrong political affiliation or unpopular worldviews.  In other words, if you are conservative, you must not be that intelligent.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began, 1 Corinthians 2:6-7.

As I recount the words of the apostle Paul within 1 Corinthians 2, I understand the mindset behind this earthly logic.  There is an elitism that exists among the ruling party and upper class.  Thus, standards are developed by leaders of each age, encouraged, promoted and supported by journalists and members of the media.  Whenever anyone strays from these bench mark ideas, educators attempt shame people into adherence.  This plan is being executed daily at colleges and universities throughout the country.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.  The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15.

If you don’t believe me, you might want to check up on the assignments your children are being asked to do for homework as well as the topical papers that play a big part in the overall grades for this class.  Whether it’s embracing progressive ideas, global warming or white privilege, anyone who rejects these teachings are automatically labeled as bigots, racists and sexists.  I’m not sure the exact issues the apostle Paul was fervently debating in the first century, but I get what the Bible says about being foolishness in the eyes of the world.  Only through the power of the Holy Spirit does someone see life clearly.  Those who rely too much on human logic end up becoming blind to truth.  I think I get or do I?  What do you think?

by Jay Mankus

Special Needs

There is one common term that I heard as a teacher which was foreign to me initially.  When my school developed a program to help these students, I began to grasp some of the learning disabilities which exist.  Yet, as I spent time with my cousin Mary the past 24 hours, I have a better understanding of what it means to have a special needs child.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

Eight years ago, my cousin gave birth to twins, a girl and boy.  A great job and two healthy children provided a promising future.  Yet, an untimely divorce followed by a late diagnosis of her son has left Mary in a no win situation.  Based upon my recent interaction, my heart goes out to any family who is given the task to raise a child with special needs.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.

I tend to be a confident person, but when it comes to special needs, I feel helpless.  Depending upon the specific condition, I become paralyzed, not knowing what to say or do.  While most programs the government attempts to run usually fails, special needs children is an area where family and parents need help to overcome these extreme situations.  May God raise up leaders to address and solve this growing need in America.

by Jay Mankus

Worn

Frayed, ragged, shabby and tattered are synonyms for worn.  While most people will visualize a physical condition, there are other ways to become worn.  Counselors, psychologists and therapists can become emotionally overwhelmed by a patients life.  Meanwhile, clergy, pastors and spiritual leaders may be shaken by the problems of their flock.

“Man is also chastened with pain upon his bed, and with continual strife in his bones;” Job 33:19.

When disease, illness or sickness strike individuals, just getting up for a moment can make someone exhausted.  Depending upon the severity of a condition, physically features may be altered.  Without a cure or medicine to improve, bodies will continue to deteriorate.  In the passage below, time has a way of wasting away bodies.

His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen; and his bones which were not seen stick out, Job 33:21.

Currently, I find myself in a different state of worn.  One that involves a loss of energy, passion and vigor for life.  Trying to keep any type of positive momentum is a grind.  Thus, I struggle to experience joy in this life.  Perhaps I need to remember the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 embracing my weakness so that Christ may be strong.

by Jay Mankus

 

I’ve Got This

Whether you recognize this or not, everyone has a favorite expression.  This may be from a movie, lyrics in a song or a catch phrase you have developed over time.  Whenever my oldest son James became focused doing something, especially in sports, he’d look over and confidently say, “I’ve got this.”  This spirit of determination led to countless awards, medals and an individual and team state championship in track his season year.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, 2 Timothy 4:7.

During my first few seasons as a high school golf coach at Red Lion, I only had 3 reliable players I could count on.  John, Chad and John were the foundation of a team that went to 2 straight state tournaments and a fourth place finish their senior years.  After just missing states as freshmen and sophomores, this core group began to believe they were good enough.  With the fate of the team on their shoulders, John, Chad and John developed a “we’ve got this coach” mentally.  Subsequently, these 3 regularly earned all 5 points in 5-4 victories.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

When you don’t have someone to rely on in life, turning to the Bible is a great alternative source.  There are ample passages in the Bible that inspire souls to keep going.  Determination is a trait some possess naturally, but others can feed off of leaders, others or teammates to finish the job.  May those struggling to find their way be encouraged and hopeful to overcome the odds to reach any dreams or goals you haven’t yet achieved.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: