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Tag Archives: listening to God

Slipping Away

Normaly, the phrase slipping away is used in a negative context.  Competitors may experience a sure victory slip away as momentum leads their opponent to a shocking comeback victory.  Meanwhile, pastors use this term when Christians begin to develop unhealthy habits, slowly slipping further and further away from God.

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me, John 15:4.

Yet, Jesus refers to slipping away as a means to get away from the distractions in this life.  As crowds following Jesus’ earthly ministry got out of control, having a quiet time alone with God became increasingly difficult.  Thus, Jesus made a habit of sliping away, withdrawing to an isolacted location to listen to and pray to his heavenly father.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned, John 15:5-6.

If you aren’t careful, its easy to begin to make excuses for not spending quality time with God.  Busy schedules, important meetings and working hard to pay the bills are valid reasons to maintain a full schedule.  Nonetheless, if you want to be all you can be spiritually, you must remain connected to Jesus.  If you don’t, you may find yourself slip sliding away like a prodigal heading in the wrong direction.

by Jay Mankus

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The Mystery of Prayer

Seven years ago, my career path took an unexpected turn from a high school Bible teacher to the unemployment line.  Following previous setbacks, God always gave me feedback, insight or some sort of sign to know if I was on the right path.  Unfortunately, my soul has never fully healed from this crushing disappointment, not quite sure what I am suppose to do or where I need to invest my time in the future.  This perplexing situation has lead me to contemplate the mystery of prayer.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

My research has led me to narrow in on three conditions which influence whether or not prayers are answered.  According to Deuteronomy 28, blessings are directly related to diligently listening, obeying the voice of God and carefully following God’s commands in the Bible.  The second piece of criteria is provided by Moses’ predecessor Joshua 1:5-9.  The new leader of Israel introduces the concept of spiritual disciplines which begins with reading, reflecting upon and mediating upon God’s Word.  Finally, Jesus provides the final condition during a conversation with his disciples in Matthew 21:19-22.  If you place your trust and confidence in Jesus, free from doubt, ask whatever you desire in the context of God’s will and the mystery of prayer will be unlocked.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, the apostle Paul instructs first century believers on what to do now.  In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul writes about times when you are struggling to come up with words to say while praying.  According to Paul, this is when you need to lean on the Holy Spirit, trusting God to intervene as you pray.  When I evaluate my own life against these biblical standards, I can clearly see where I have come up short.  Thus, for now I need to get back to the basics: listening to God, studying the Bible, applying what I am learning and submit my life to prayer.  May the words in this blog help you better understand the mystery of prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Touch with Reality

There are moments in life where you will be in high demand.  Depending upon the emergency, project or situation, people will turn to you for advice.  To avoid any impure motives, pride or selfish ambitions, Jesus developed a morning routine.  This spiritual discipline involved getting up early, withdrawing to a quiet place and praying to God.  As a way to clear his mind, Jesus meditated, listened in silence and poured out his heart to God.  This daily exercise prevented Jesus from losing touch with reality.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Jesus’ disciples.  Caught up in the instant rock star status of their leader, it appears the disciples were afraid to tell fans no.  After Jesus healed his mother in law, Peter sought to please people, hoping everyone could experience the joy his own family felt.  Subsequently, Peter became like Jesus’ agent, booking appointments for future healings and miracles.  When Jesus was located the next day, Peter had to scrap his plan as God gave Jesus a clear vision for the future.

Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father].” Mark 1:36-38.

Recently, I have been so consumed with my own dreams, goals and objectives that I have lost touch with reality.  I guess I became so focused, fixated on what I wanted that I haven’t taken the time to be still and meet with God.  Sure, I’ve had my morning devotions and prayer, but as soon as I was finished its back to what I want to do.  This is a dangerous place to find yourself, blinded by selfish ambition.  If you want to avoid making the same mistake that Peter and I have made, take a step back, find and quiet place and listen to the Lord.  If you make this a weekly practice, you will be less likely to lose touch with reality.

by Jay Mankus

The Purging of Fools

According to Webster, a fool demonstrates imprudence, silly behavior and unwise acts.  Today, it doesn’t take much effort to recognize foolishness in our culture.  Idiots, imbeciles and morons are making millions as reality TV stars.  Whether its the annoying person on Survivor, the American Idol contestant who can’t sing a lick or drunks on Moonshiners, some where along the way being foolish is now cool, especially if you can amuse others with laughter.

If there was an uncensored version of the Bible, I’m sure Moses muttered numerous things under his breath as he tried to lead a nation of fools into God’s promised land.  As Moses and Joshua listened to God for 40 days, providing guidelines for life, Aaron was holding down the fort as the high priest of Israel until they returned.  Like the blind leading the blind, Aaron panicked, failed to demonstrate leadership and broke the first 2 commandments by creating a golden calf in Exodus 32.  While most pastors stop their sermons here, I’ve never heard anyone speak of the purging of fools.

When the principle enters a classroom unannounced, students usually settle down, putting on their best behavior to avoid getting in trouble.  Unfortunately, when Moses rolled back into camp in Exodus 32:25-28, thousands of Israelites ignored Moses’ entrance, partying like it was 1999.  Like a coach or teacher trying to see who’s paying attention in class, Moses makes a challenge that is answered by the Levites, the priestly tribe, seemingly the only group disturbed by Israel’s reckless behavior.  Subsequently, God purged Israel of 3000 fools, who were not willing to obey or respect God’s commands.

In the New Testament, we find a kinder, gentler God, who offers His grace to those who believe in Jesus, Ephesians 2:4-8.  However, not much has changed since the days of Moses as millions are still living for the day, partying each weekend and are redefining foolishness with acts that  would make Sodom and Gomorrah blush.  As a circus of fools spread throughout America and across the world, may God have mercy, open the eyes of the spiritually blind and transform their lives before foolish acts result in death and destruction.

by Jay Mankus

Spirit Led; Not Technology Driven

If any of you are a parent or grand parent, perhaps you shake your head as I do watching teens stare at their game systems and cell phones instead of engage in an actual conversation.  Beside sending your kids outside to play, I’m afraid this generation is being led by the spirit of technology.  Sure, the technology misfits like me need their oldest to get most gadgets around the house to work, but isn’t there something parents can do to develop healthy communication skills?

Before ascending to heaven, Acts 1:9-11, Jesus promised to send a counselor to guide people through life.  While Pentecostals often make the mistake of limiting the Spirit of God to spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, the apostles provide clues to become driven by the Holy Spirit.  Philip kept his head up after hearing the Holy Spirit’s still small voice in Acts 8:29, eventually leading an Egyptian to faith in Christ.  Meanwhile, Paul sensed in his heart to avoid visiting Asia on a missionary journey as God’s Spirit kept him from entering their cities, Acts 16:7.

One of the greatest clues left behind is found in Galatians 5.  Inside each human being, there is a war between good and evil as the acts of the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21 battle fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  As modern technology drives souls to feed their fleshly desires, an invisible forces seeks to intervene, urging individuals to stay on the course of faith.  The key to overcoming today’s technology driven culture is found in Galatians 5:25.  By tuning into God, with eyes and ears alert and open, the apostle Paul suggests you can keep in step with the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, if you emulate this spiritual practice, you will provide a blue print for loved ones to become Spirit led, not technology driven.

by Jay Mankus

A Revelation of Worship

Critics of the Bible have made numerous arguments stating their case against biblical accuracy.  One of the strongest points skeptics have made uses the words of the Scripture to enhance their position, Romans 3:9-12.  If mankind is indeed fallen, how can imperfect people become vessels of holiness.  Well, its quite possible that authors of God’s Word may have received revelations of worship.

According to Exodus 24:12-18, the Lord called Moses to go up into the mountains and stay for 40 days and 40 nights.  Despite any hidden motives or prideful moments, it was likely during this period that Moses recorded the first 3 books of the Bible, taking notes as the Lord spoke.  However, half of his job was already done, receiving stone tablets with commands, laws and further instructions for Israel.  Whenever someone meets God in a quiet place, a divine connection opens the door spiritual intervention and perhaps modern revelations of worship.

One of the places on earth where I have experienced God’s presence was at a wilderness camp in Minnesota, during the heart of winter.  In the final days of Tentmaker’s Youth Ministry Trade School, there was a mandatory 24 hours of silence.  Instead of interacting with future graduates, our final assignment was to engage the Lord through prayer, reflection and Bible Study.  This was a lonely time as I realized that my new friends would soon be spread out across the country, taking what they had learned to a new church and community.

A few months later, I spent a semester teaching at a boarding school in the Monongahela National Forest.  Known as the High Scope Institute for Ideas, this school focused on career underachievers who endured difficult living conditions.  Many of these 13-15 year olds lived in poverty with dysfunctional families.  If this wasn’t enough, several girls had already given birth to children while most boys became first time dads by age 13.  Despite these distractions, the mountain provided a special refuge.

During an activity called 20/20, students were forced to spend 20 minutes a day in solitude either journaling, reading or reflecting on life.  Although some slept, I began to write poetry without any formal background.  Soon songs began to play in my head and before I knew it, I received a revelation of worship called a Simple Confession.  The Holy Spirit gave me 12 songs which I later made into an album.  If a spirit of poetry and song writing can fall upon me just because I was still once a day; then I believe its probable that the Bible is truly the inspired words of God, given to men and women through a still small voice.  Practice Psalm 46:1o and maybe you too many receive a revelation of worship.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be So… Naive

The essence of naive is lacking experience, judgment and wisdom.  Words like guileless, sucker and unsuspecting give a clear depiction of coaches, parents and teachers who are lost in another world.  This state of denial is afraid to openly profess that their child, favorite pupil or prized athlete has been corrupted by a world full of moral pollution.

Unfortunately, Moses didn’t get the memo in Exodus 19:23.  Based upon his own words, Moses assumed that everyone in Israel would just follow the rules because God said so.  Surely, everyone is going to listen to the Lord.  Yeah, the One who parted the Red Sea, defeated the Amalekites and brought manna, quail and water into a barren desert.  By the time his own people created a golden calf, shortly after they thought he died, Exodus 32:1-7, Moses became painfully aware of the truth spoken by the prophet in Jeremiah 17:9.

People are like cars, we all have blind spots, areas where we can’t see objects that are right next to or behind us.  Thus, when someone crashes into us, breaks your heart or lets you down, its shocking.  Yet, if you adjusted your rear view mirror, maybe you could have seen this coming or possibly warned your friend before it was too late.  If you have been like an ostrich with their head in the sand or a turtle hiding in their shell, wake up now and don’t be so naive!

by Jay Mankus

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