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Tag Archives: minds

Expecting God to Come Through One More Time

As a former high school teacher, I understand how and why students struggle to remember important information.  Depending upon the day or time, I could tell who was paying attention from those zoned out.  Entertainment, social media and video games has influenced this generation, resulting in a shortened attention span.  Unless students find a topic interesting, hearts, minds and souls drift off into space.  If attending school becomes a drag, getting teenagers interested in spiritual matters can be just as challenging.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor (respect) except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household,” Mark 6:4.

To a certain extent, the people living in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth became spoiled.  After his first miracle at a wedding in Cana, there was a growing sentiment that if Jesus just performed one more miracle, then people would believe.  This show me mentality is the opposite of genuine faith.  Perhaps, some individuals were jealous, not present for Jesus turning water into wine.  Thus, expecting God to come through one more time doesn’t seem unreasonable.

And He could not do a miracle there at all [because of their unbelief] except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. He wondered at their unbelief.  And He was going around in the villages teaching, Mark 6:5-6.

Nonetheless, a spiritual haze fell upon the citizens of Nazareth.  When you add this to the reputation of this town, even one of Jesus’ own disciples questioned if anything good could come out of this place, John 1:46-47.  Crime and poverty demoralized many who lived there, setting the stage for a show me, don’t tell me mindset.  Thus, Nazareth became like kryptonite to Jesus, unable to perform miracles when returning home.  John Mark states that Jesus was surprised by this inexplicable unbelief.  This spiritual state prevented individuals from expecting God to come through one more time.  Maybe this same condition is influencing Americans today?

by Jay Mankus

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Haven’t You Heard…It is Written

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward.  In ancient Greece, philosophers went to the market place to exchange new ideas.  According to Acts 17:18, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage the apostle Paul.  Trying to be relevant, Paul references an idol in Athens, quotes a famous poet and makes a reference to being an offspring of God.  When you don’t have much in common, its essential to find a starting place that will open the hearts and minds of a foreign audience to your point of view.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:3-4.

Meanwhile, Jesus used a different strategy, especially when confronted by first century religious leaders.  In the passage above, a fallen angel, Lucifer, aka Satan tempts Jesus during his forty day fast in preparation of his earthly ministry.  Instead of using a rhetorical question on this occasion, Jesus simply says, “it is written.”  As a former archangel who knew God’s Word, Jesus corrects the deceivers request by referencing the Old Testament.  This didn’t discourage Satan, as he quotes the Bible, daring Jesus to use God’s supernatural powers for selfish reasons.  To finish this spiritual debate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct what Satan took out of context.

So then, if David calls Him (the Son, the Messiah) ‘Lord,’ how is He David’s son?” 46 No one was able to say a word to Him in answer, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him again, Matthew 22:45-46.

At the beginning of Matthew 22, Jesus endures an onslaught from Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders.  Like a fierce game of pin the tail on the donkey, each expert of the law tried to trick Jesus into making a mistake by de-emphasizing one of the ten commandments.  Beside using expressions like haven’t you read, Jesus answers each question with another question.  One by one, each religious leader left defeated, no match for the Son of God.  While no one possesses the wisdom of Jesus, if you find yourself losing a debate, reference the Bible by saying, “Haven’t you heard?” Then quote a passage of the Bible that relates to your discussion, “it is written.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Look to the Book

If you asked a series of highly regarded professions, what’s the most important thing in life, answers would vary.  The 1991 film City Slickers sought to address this question, using a man played by Billy Crystal who is going through a mid-life crisis.  After running with the bulls in Spain, a friend suggests an excursion out west, reliving the cattle drives of old like a cowboy.  On this vacation with the guys, Crystal meets Jack Palance who plays Curly Washburn, their trail guide.  During a two week trip from New Mexico to Colorado, Crystal and Palance develop an unlikely friendship before his sudden death.  Left in the middle of no where without a leader, friends played by Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern step up to lead the herd back to the ranch.  Rejecting an initial offer to finish what they started, Crystal has a change of heart, applying the knowledge Curly bestowed upon him.  When a calf born during their journey is swept away by a raging river, Crystal risks his life to save this animal.  Following a dramatic rescue, Crystal comes to understood what Curly meant by the most important thing in life.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts], Psalm 119:9.

My youngest child Lydia started high school today.  As a parent, I don’t know where the time has gone, flying by without any signs of stopping.  Thus, if I could bestow one simple suggestion to my daughter and others like her, its look to the book daily.  When you read the passage above, the Psalmist claims that the only way keep a young person pure is by mediating on the Bible.  As a former student and teacher, I understand the desire to pursue good grades.  Yet, there is a temptation to do whatever is takes to obtain an A, even if it means saying or writing things contrary to what you believe.  After receiving a poor grade on my first college English paper, I brushed aside my convictions to construct a paper acceptable, entertaining and popular in the world’s eyes.  While I received an A, bringing my overall average up to a B, I betrayed the precepts of the Bible.  I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a fine line between being the best that you can be and staying true to your beliefs.

With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You]; Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].  Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You, Psalm 119:10-11.

The concept of meditating on the word of God may be awkward or overwhelming for a millennial.  However, what the Psalmist eludes to in the passage above is that the Bible serves as a filter for human minds.  As individuals look to this book, the more you become aware of God’s desire and expectations.  As you examine, inquire and study how the Bible applies to life, the Bible serves as a flashlight, shining light into formerly unknown areas.  Unfortunately, when Bibles begins to collect dust, minds can forget the difference between right and wrong.  As gray areas expand, human nature will rationalize acts, behavior or words that stray from God’s commandments.  This is why I pray that all my children develop the habit of looking to the book, the Word of God.  If the Bible can change and transform my life, then these living words, Hebrews 4:12, still possess the power to revive souls today.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Placebos

My first encounter with the term placebo was during an episode of MASH, short for mobile army surgical hospital.  Due to extreme weather conditions and the volatility of an approaching enemy, medical supplies were cut off.  Thus, the only remaining medicine on site were sugar cubes.  While science was not on the side of these doctors, a plan was devised to convince their patients taking this placebo would improve their condition.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, James 1:5-6.

This harmless pill is prescribed for the psychological benefit to a patient rather than for any physiological effect.  As long as individuals believe the medicine that they are taking will help their current state, conditions of patients remain the same or improve.  However, as soon as minds begin to doubt, sugar cubes are no longer effective.  Subsequently, faith is a deciding factor, believing and trusting in doctors to cure and heal their illness.

When the disciples saw it, they were astonished and asked, “How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once?” 21 Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:20-22.

Jesus provides a spiritual placebo for his disciples in the passage above.  The disciples began to limit God’s power in their minds.  This lack of faith stunted their full potential as future spiritual leaders.  Therefore, Jesus used the withering of a unfruitful fig tree as a teachable moment.  The spiritual placebo in this passage is putting your confidence and personal trust in Jesus.  When you reach this spiritual place, the power of prayer is unleashed.  If you reach a point in your life where you’ve tried every earthly remedy without any improvement, take this spiritual placebo from Jesus so that improvement will begin immediately.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Sharing That Which You Believe

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment.  This time period spanned from 1685 to 1815.  As Plato once illustrated in a painting known as the School of Athens, philosophers stopped looking up to the heavens for answers to life, to God above.  Rather, scholars began to look within, replacing God with science by relying on minds to direct and guide future beliefs.  Before his death in 1804, Kant once said, “There are many things that I believe that I shall never say. But I shall never say the things that I do not believe.”

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

This quote from Immanuel Kant applies to today’s political climate in America as candidates seek to persuade undecided voters.  Kant realized that sharing everything that he believed openly would hinder his ability to convince skeptics to embrace his philosophical position.  Subsequently, Kant only shared the things he believed, strengthening his message.  Sharing too much information can confuse your listeners.  As long as you focus on your main points, audiences can be persuaded to change their mind.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

When making any argument, its important to possess confidence.  The Greek word εμπιστοσύνη refers to individuals who are confident, faithful, reliable and trusting.  Whenever you share what you believe, if you aren’t a credible source, living out your convictions, no one will believe you.  Therefore, its essential to demonstrate faith before you share what you believe.  The more confidence oozes out of your soul, the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12, will pierce and persuade hearts to follow Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

Again and Again

Again is an adverb, the act of returning to a previous condition or position.  Synonyms include also, besides, furthermore and moreover.  Again could be a sign of consistency, a positive trait for those who are diligent, focused and poised for success.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, again may refer to addiction, bad habits or downward spirals which ensnare troubled souls.

This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:22-23.

If you examine life from a spiritual perspective, again and again highlights the inability of human beings to continually do that which is right.  The apostle Paul declares in the passage above that no one in the world is righteous.  Although you may possess good intentions and seek to do the right thing, sooner or later you will gratify the desires of your flesh.  This natural inclination convinces minds using justification and rationalization to bend the rules every now and then.

For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, beguiled and completely deceived me, and using it as a weapon killed me [separating me from God], Romans 7:11.

If you ask any drug addict, breaking free from using a specific substance requires extreme measures.  You have to purge yourself from the atmosphere, climate and any traces that will tempt you to give in.  Unfortunately, only a small portion of addicts are able to remain clean.  Appetites, cravings and dependence is so strong, few have the will power to resist.  Subsequently, again and again, lines are crossed to indulge in forbidden fruit.  If this blog finds you held hostage to sin, may the Holy Spirit send godly mentors into your life to hold you accountable and escape the unhealthy patterns of your past.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Stubborn Things in Life

In the past, stubbornness was associated with a mule.  This saying referred to the determination not to change one’s attitude or position.  The mule is the offspring of a donkey and horse, often relegated as a beast of burden.  Perhaps, as this animal grinds its way through life, forced to do grueling work, stubbornness is merely a byproduct of its trade.  Mules aren’t the only things on earth that succumb to stubbornness.

“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or of his mother, and when they reprimand and discipline him, he will not listen to them,” Deuteronomy 21:18.

During his political career, John Adams faced opponents who were unwilling to change their positions.  These interactions led the second president of the United States of America to once say “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Unfortunately, if you repeat a lie over and over again, those who don’t do their research are vulnerable to being deceived.

They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard,’ Deuteronomy 21:20.

Moses compares stubbornness to alcoholism in the passage above.  Anyone who drinks too much will come under the influence of foreign spirits.  Meanwhile, those who are strong willed struggle to accept ideas, beliefs and notions unfamiliar to their life.  Evidence, facts and truth are meant to set people free from stubbornness.  Yet, human minds are just as obdurate as a mule.  Therefore, if you want to break away from the stubborn things in life, set your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.  This process won’t happen over night, but with time God can transform your life if you are willing.

by Jay Mankus

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