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Tag Archives: leadership

A Baptism of Suffering?

As a former high school Bible teacher, I am familiar with the differences between a believer’s baptism, christening and dedication.  Depending upon the denomination, leadership and theology of a church, baptism can be a divisive issue.  During one conversation in college, I was told if I wasn’t immersed, then I wasn’t truly saved.  I don’t think this is what Jesus meant by a baptism of suffering.

I have a baptism [of great suffering] with which to be baptized, and how [greatly] I am distressed until it is accomplished! – Luke 12:50

In the passage above, Jesus begins to reveal the fate that he must endure in the coming weeks.  The disciples could not wrap their heads around Jesus’ comment.  Many of these men believed that Jesus would become an earthly king, rising to power as king of the Jews.  Thus, the twelve disciples ignored Jesus’ warning, focusing on their travel plans for the next day.  To a certain extent, everyone overlooks signs and warnings from friends, distracted by selfish ambition.

Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways], Romans 6:3-4.

The apostle Paul unravels what Jesus means by the statement a baptism of suffering.  At the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, bishops agreed upon the term homoousios.  This means that Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are the same substance.  This means that Jesus was perfect, not needing to be purified.  However, as the Lamb of God, without blemish, Jesus needed to fulfill God’s will by suffering and dying on a cross.  Since Jesus completed his mission on earth, modern followers are baptized into Jesus’ death and raised from spiritual death through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May this blog bring clarity to this topic.

by Jay Mankus

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Seeing God

My first exposure to the true meaning in the Bible came through two college courses.  Biblical and Classical Literature began by reading all 66 books of the Bible and ended with several classics like Beowulf.  My second class, the Bible as Literature wasn’t as interesting.  While examining the symbolism of the Bible with other ancient stories was educational, I don’t think my college professor went to seminary.  These experiences taught me not to read too much into literature.  Rather, take each piece in its original historical context.  Perhaps, this may explain why Joshua urged readers of the Bible to meditate on God’s laws day and night so that important details are not missed or neglected.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.

In the first century, a spiritual leader entered the scene as a vivid story teller, using analogies called parables to captivate an audience.  In the passage above, Jesus lists a series of beatitudes.  According to Jesus, any individual who pursues these spiritual ambitions will be blessed by God.  If anyone wants to develop a pure heart, three traits are necessary: godly character, integrity and moral courage.  These values are a mindset, steps toward becoming spiritually mature.  For those who stay the course, seeing God work in your life won’t be a concept that you read in a book.  Rather, your eyes will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit altering, changing and transforming your life.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

A disciple of Jesus makes an interesting connection in the passage above.  As children, babies cling to their parents, relying on their mother’s milk for food and father’s leadership for direction.  Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, eager to bless, hold and interact with them.  Yet, when children grow up, innocence is lost as negative adults begin to verbally squash a teenager’s dreams.  John tells first century adults to live in anticipation of God’s promises in the Bible.  Live by faith like children expecting to walk hand and hand with God in heaven.  The key to making this a reality is developing a pure heart.  As hearts become aligned with God’s will, you will see God move in America.

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Enthusiasm

While attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, I received a couple of 3 ring binder notebooks.  The training material for Tentmakers Youth Ministry was close to two thousand pages on content, taking seven weeks to complete.  This intense active learning leadership course required my full attention, living out the principles I was being taught at my host family.  Nightly assignments were designed to take you out of your comfort zone, forced to interact with strangers at church, local malls and neighborhoods to finetune your conversational skills.  During this two month stretch, I was infused with enthusiasm, driven and encouraged by like minded classmates.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick, Matthew 9:11-12.

Today, when enthusiasm fades, joy disappears and my energy to do anything is gone, I retreat to find something meaningful in life.  Recently, I came across a quote from this class.  “The excitement of a group never exceeds that of its leader.”  What this statement suggests is that leaders must learn to be self-sufficient, able to recharge their own excitement level.  Although people within various groups may encourage and spur you on, leaders need a daily infusion of enthusiasm.  Without this spiritual discipline, finding motivation to make it through each day, even leaders will lose their vigor for life.

Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness],” Matthew 9:13.

Jesus addresses this issue during a first century conversation.  Righteous zealots were concerned that Jesus and his disciples were compromising their faith by socializing with sinners.  However, Jesus uses logic to show these Pharisees the error in their thinking.  The healthy, individuals who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, have learned to be self-sufficient spiritually through a daily dose of prayer, reflection and worship.  The sick, people who have lost their way, need Christians to leave their comfort zones to expand the body of Christ.  Therefore, the more you experience an infusion of enthusiasm for the lost, God can use you to be a light in a dark world to turn to you for answers.  May this blog inspire you to use your daily time with God, praying and reading the Bible as an infusion of enthusiasm.

by Jay Mankus

Bowing Down to Spiritual Bullies

Joel Kaplan has been a lifelong friend of Brett Kavanaugh.  This relationship compelled Kaplan to attend Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing as a sign of support.  This is what friends do, to be there in times of need for those they care about.  The only problem for Kaplan is that he is the Vice President of Facebook.  As employees of Facebook saw Joel on television sitting behind Kavanaugh, staff became outraged, demanding an explanation.  When Kaplan returned to work, he was pressured, bullied into apologizing for being a friend of Kavanaugh.

Then the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped and served the Baals, Judges 2:11.

Whenever there is an absence of spiritual leadership, individuals begin to follow human nature.  After the death of Joshua, who was used to lead Israel into God’s promised land, there was a spiritual void.  When no one volunteered to stand up to show others the way, Jews began to do what was right in their own eyes.  Throughout the course of history, this cycle repeats itself until convicted hearts repent, confessing the error of their ways by turning back to follow God.  Based upon recent current events, progressive leaders are stepping up to redefine right from wrong.

And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods from the gods of the peoples who were around them, and they bowed down to them, and offended and provoked the Lord to anger. 13 So they abandoned the Lord and served Baal [the pagan god of the Canaanites] and the Ashtaroth, Judges 2:12-13.

Apparently, there is some new Bible, source of truth, that I am not aware of.  This new standard evidently claims that president Trump is evil and anyone who follows or supports him is a bad person.  These beliefs are being enforced by protestors, hoping to scare others from publicly supporting likeminded candidates, leaders and politicians.  While president Trump has his flaws, allowing loose lips and undisciplined tweets to express unnecessary comments, no one should bow down to bullies.  As worldly influences continues to challenge what you think and believe, may the power of the Holy Spirit give you the courage to stand up and reinforce the values you hold dear.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Road to Mental Toughness

As an athlete, no one wants to be labeled soft.  This term can refer to being physically weak, emotionally unstable or immature mentality.  During my early years as a baseball pitcher, cross country runner and golfer, I let bad breaks rattle me.  When I was squeezed by an umpire, tired due to heat and experience a sudden wind gust blowing my ball into a hazard, I lost it.  Depending upon how I felt, I would cry, complain or become enraged by failure.  These setbacks exposed my lack of mental toughness, prompting me to start heading down this path to see what I was missing.

But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, 2 Timothy 3:16.

As a Christian, a trainer from Tentmakers Youth Ministry brought this weakness to my attention during a leadership training seminar.  To condense this observation, an advisor demonstrated how my emotions were influencing everyone around me.  When I was on fire for God, I lifted up everyone in the room that I walked into.  Unfortunately, whenever I was depressed, I didn’t want anyone to be happy, sucking the life out of a room.  This spiritual immaturity caused me to leave my youth ministry position in Columbus, Indiana after 16 months.  If I was mentally tough, I might still be in youth ministry.  Yet, I burned myself out after working 7 days a week for a year.

And how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness]. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 2 Timothy 3:15-16.

December 4th will mark my 34th anniversary of publicly proclaiming my faith in Christ.  The main lesson I have learned on the road to mental toughness is that the Bible plays a crucial role.  The apostle Paul details in the passage above the usefulness of God’s Word.  While there will always be areas of my life where I regress, the Bible has become a source of guidance, inspiration and wisdom.  The more I read, study and meditate upon God’s precepts, the stronger my mind becomes.  As I attempt to grow closer to the Lord daily, my prayers include a desire for my children to develop and display mental toughness.  May this blog encourage you to evaluate your own mind so that you too will strive to pursue the road toward mental toughness.

by Jay Mankus

Overriding the Rules of the Past

The first five books of the Old Testament are known as the Torah.  This Hebrew word refers to the law of God as revealed to Moses.  If Adam and Eve didn’t break God’s initial rule introduced in Genesis 2:16-17, this collection of rules and regulations for life on earth would not be necessary.  Unfortunately, Adam’s lack of leadership is to blame, allowing and watching Satan deceive and encourage Eve to take and eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  This act of original sin led the apostle Paul to write in Romans 5:12-21 that death came through Adam.  This spiritual destruction was redeemed after God sent a second Adam, Jesus who brought salvation to the world as well as overriding the rules of the past.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins, Colossians 2:13.

This concept is explained by the apostle Paul in a letter to the church at Colosse.  This ancient city of Phrygia in Asia Minor provides a vital message for those individuals stuck in modern denominations that focus on legalism rather than grace.  As a former zealot, Paul uses terminology familiar to God fearing Jews to get their attention.  Without a priest sacrificing an animal on your behalf, first century believers in God were powerless to receive forgiveness.  This co-dependency became a tedious practice that Jesus came to abolish.  As a perfect lamb of God, Jesus embraced death on a cross to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin, once and for all.

Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through [he cross, Colossians 2:14-15.

However, this process would not be completed until Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.  The moment Jesus broke free of his grave clothes, the resurrection was finalized.  This symbolic act cancelled the written codes that stood against human beings.  In one magical second in time, Jesus nailed these age old rules to the cross, conquering death and unlocking the spiritual chains of legalism.  May the passages above speak to heart and give hope to your mind.  While the world tends to believe a relationship with God means living by a strict set of rigid regulations, Jesus came to set you free by overriding the rules of the past with free will.

by Jay Mankus

If There Was Another Way

When individuals can’t live up to the required standards, human nature has a tendency to wonder, is there another way?  This temptation may cause some in leadership roles to make an exception, bend the rules a little bit or stretch the truth.  This mindset didn’t go so well for Adam and Eve, kicked out of the Garden of Eden for breaking God’s only rule.

After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him, Mark 14:35.

When the thought of suffering and dying on a cross entered Jesus’ mind, raw emotions began to come out.  After sharing his concerns with his inner circle, Jesus turned to prayer to lift up his burdens to his heavenly father.  During this time of prayer, Jesus essentially asked God if there was another way, an alternative to dying.  However, the more Jesus prayed, he came to the conclusion that there is only one way to complete God’s will, suffer and die on a cross.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

Skeptics of Christianity are offended by the shear arrogance of Jesus, claiming to be the only way to heaven.  While other religions share similar elements with Christianity, Jesus is only one who is exclusive.  These comments inspired C.S. Lewis to write a chapter entitled Lord, Liar or Lunatic?  Lewis covers each aspect of these terms, examining the true nature of Jesus.  As a former atheist, this thorough analysis transformed his life from a person of science into a man of faith.  While mankind will continue to seek another way to heaven, Jesus remains only plausible path to eternal life.  Don’t take my words; read Mere Christianity for yourself in case you still think there is another way.

by Jay Mankus

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