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Tag Archives: maturity

Seeing Criticism for What it Is

The book definition for criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based upon a perceived fault or mistake.  The key word here is perceived as modern criticism is usually based upon ideology.  Subsequently, if your beliefs, convictions or worldview varies from the socially acceptable norm, condemnation, denunciation and nitpicking will arrive fast and furious.  When the media chimes in, criticism often snowballs like an avalanche.

They preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, then they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples; encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, saying, “It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:21-22.

Shortly after being stoned by his spiritual opponents, on the verge of death, the apostle Paul gets back on his feet to share a lesson learned from this near death experience.  As he walked back to the same town where leaders wanted to kill him, Paul realized that anyone who wants to preach the good news about Jesus Christ must embrace hardship and tribulations.  Essentially, Paul is saying “don’t take religious criticism personally as they hated Jesus first,”

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus builds upon Paul’s words in Lystra.  Trials build character resulting in spiritual maturity.  While criticism can and will be deserved from time to time, Christians must see criticism for what it is, a refining process that leads to genuine faith.  The more faith is tested, endurance and inner peace will shine through.  No one likes to be criticized, but when you see it through the lens of the Bible, spiritual growth is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

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Who Really Deserves the Credit

A few days leading up to my son James’ wedding, my wife and I received praise and thanks.  Emma’s father Pete mentioned twice, once at the rehearsal dinner and during his wedding toast of the blessing that James been to Emma and their family.  While the hand of God is ultimately responsible for my son’s maturity, there are others who deserve credit as well.

The one who is taught the word [of God] is to share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his spiritual and material support], Galatians 6:6.

In 1988, a man named Ray Boltz was asked to write a song for Pastor Appreciation Sunday.  Upon completion, the lyrics of Thank You serve as a reflection, looking back at all the people in life who has directed, guided and helped individuals draw closer to Jesus.  When I think about James, I can’t forget all the Christian teachers at Red Lion who taught, nurtured and inspired James from kindergarten to eighth grade.  From his first, Mrs. DeMaio to his last, Mrs. Beattie, I thank God for everyone in between who has shaped and touched James’ life.

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. 10 So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers), Galatians 6:9-10.

I don’t know how this story will end, James’ new life with Emma.  Yet, as a parent, I am committed to pray for, fast if necessary and build up this young couple.  Sometimes parents expect children to behave, mature and become a finished product in their time, not God’s.  Thus, all I can do is seize the opportunities that become available.  Despite how I feel or what I see from my own perspective, the apostle Paul commands believers to persist in doing good.  While I’m waiting, I want to thank all of you who have poured your own life into my son James.

by Jay Mankus

Love and Forgiveness

Every neighborhood has an observer.  This individual makes a hobby out of being in the know.  In the process of gathering information, gossip may distort fact from fiction.  Nonetheless, finding out what’s going on becomes an obsession.  For these personality types, digging up dirt on others produces an adrenaline rush.  Anyone who follows down this path begins to develop the mindset of a Pharisee.

Jesus, answering, said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they had no means of repaying [the debts], he freely forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” – Luke 7:40-42

In the first century, Jesus was regularly invited to dine with religious leaders.  Instead of trying to impress other guests, Jesus used each meal as an opportunity to minister to others.  After an uninvited prostitute approached Jesus to anoint his body with an expensive jar of perfume, commentary, murmurs and preconceived judgments were made about Jesus.  Frustrated by the lack of maturity displayed by the adults in this house, Jesus shares a parable to expose the heart of this matter.

Simon answered, “The one, I take it, for whom he forgave more.” Jesus said to him, “You have decided correctly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house [but you failed to extend to Me the usual courtesies shown to a guest]; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair [demonstrating her love], Luke 7:43-44.

Jesus tells a story about two debtors who did not have the ability to pay back their amount owed.  After finishing, Jesus turns to Simon, a Pharisee, asking a couple of questions.  This conversation exposes the flaw of most Pharisees, concentrating on judging others rather than displaying love and forgiveness.  Jesus warns the guests about falling into this harmful mindset.  In the end, if you want to be forgiven, you must love much.  Forgiveness and love follow the sowing principle.  Those who love much are forgiven, but those who love little, forgive little.  May this parable speak to your heart, inspiring a desire to love and forgive like Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little,” Luke 7:47.

The Enemy of Our Souls

How you ever noticed the large-scale systematic plan that is occurring worldwide?  This clever marketing scheme distracts individuals from the real problem, the enemy of our souls.  The 2017 version of the film It has recently become the top grossing horror film of all time, amassing over 300 million in sales.  I’m amazed how people can take a diversion to a theater to experience their monthly fright night, yet fail to recognize the personal demons that terrorize individuals daily.  This invisible war is crushing, destroying and wounding human souls who don’t know what to do or how to fight back.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, Ephesians 6:10-11.

Roman soldier’s were equipped with spikes on the bottom of their sandals.  Similar to techniques used during the Revolutionary War, battalions were taught to hold the line of defense so that the enemy could not come up from behind for a sneak attack.  Prior to any battle, Roman soldiers began to dig in like a baseball player entering the batter’s box.  This practice enabled warriors to secure their footing, entrenched and ready to fight.  Unfortunately, most people are caught off guard, flat footed, unable to stand up against the schemes of the Devil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Ephesians 6:12-13.

As a former teacher, I made plenty of mistakes.  Some from a lack of experience, maturity or wisdom.  As I reflect upon this decade of my life, one common error that haunts me is overlooking specific details.  In the passage above, verse 12 gets most of the attention, unveiling the spiritual realm that exists in another dimension.  Yet, the end of verse 13 is the key, the solution to the enemy of our soul, making sure that you have done everything to stand.  Do you start end day with Bible Study, take time to pray, make the effort to fellowship with believers, seek out godly council and worship the Lord in song?  Depending upon your exposure to Christianity, this check list may be shorter or longer.  Nonetheless, if you truly want to live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, you have to prepare like a soldier gearing up for battle.  May this blog arm you with necessary resources to protect your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Adding Love to the Law

From an early age, the idea of boundaries is a turn off.  At birth, human nature introduces a curiosity similar to that which led Eve to break God’s lone law, eating from the Tree of Knowledge.  As a parent, condemnation comes naturally, a common response to children who disobey you.  Yet, Jesus reminds a large crowd during the first century that love should be applied to Jewish law.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? – Matthew 5:46-47

Jesus uses common sense to drive home this point.  Pagans lived by a different set of standards.  Jews were expected by God to be set apart, striving to apply biblical principles.  Yet, if a Christian’s love is no different from a Pagan, what’s the point.  Therefore, individuals should make it their ambition to add love to the law.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

The only problem is this goal requires maturity as love doesn’t come naturally.  This fruit of the Spirit is an acquired trait nurtured by the Holy Spirit.  At some point people have to grow up by developing a will to love.  Hanging around like minded people, growing in your knowledge of the Bible and practicing prayer is a good place to start.  However, if you want to fulfill Jesus’ request, make sure your feelings are held in check, sanctified by love.

by Jay Mankus

The Fellowship of Suffering

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed, Luke 22:59-60.

While individuals may not want to admit it, there is a lot of Peter within most human beings.  When questioned by someone like Jesus, its easy to become defensive proclaiming, “I’d never do that.”  Yet, when push comes to shove human nature longs for acceptance.  Thus, few people ever join the fellowship of suffering.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” John 21:18.

When Jesus witnessed Peter’s final denial, this event likely cut to his heart.  Usually a big talker, Peter’s fear of persecution revealed a major flaw within his character.  Based upon the words within the gospel of John, it appears that this betrayal of Jesus haunted Peter for years.  Nonetheless, Jesus shows the way toward the fellowship of suffering, letting go and allowing God to lead you where you don’t want to go.

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, 1 Peter 3:17.

Following a moment of reconciliation with Jesus, Peter begins to enter a special group.  Unless you are willing to endure hardships for doing what is right, the fellowship of suffering is unattainable.  Jesus’ brother James refers to embracing trials by considering each attack on your faith a joy.  Whether it was maturity or a spiritual transformation, Peter gave up his life to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.  Prior to his death, Peter demanded to be crucified upside down claiming he was unworthy to die in the same manner of his Savior.  May this blog inspire you to follow in Peter’s footsteps by joining the Fellowship of Suffering.

by Jay Mankus

 

Attitude is Everything

As a child, I remember hearing teachers address specific individuals during class, taking time outside of their scheduled lesson plan.  In the form of an exhortation or rebuke, growing concerns were verbalized.  Subsequently, whenever a student was out of line, the adult in the room proclaimed, “my child you need an attitude adjustment.”

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Philippians 2:14.

Today, attitudes are displayed through one’s feelings, postures and stances taken.  If you listen to someone’s comments, its easy to ascertain the good attitudes from the bad ones.  Unfortunately, the Me first movement in this age is poisoning souls.  Thus, the selfish will whisper under their breath, “I’ll show them,” turning to revenge over repentance.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things, Philippians 4:8.

As a lack of responsibility is passed down from this current generation to the next, excuses override the truth.  Instead of receiving a harsh talking to or a spanking, parents often ruin life’s teachable moments blaming the critic rather than their child.  It’s no wonder that coaches and teachers are fighting a losing battle.  Attitude is everything, but if maturity isn’t taught to young people, parents will continue to justify and rationalize wrong behavior.

by Jay Mankus

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