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Tag Archives: obedient

My Helper and Keeper

After taking my last graduate level teaching class, I made some radical changes in my teaching style. My Classroom Management course taught me to seek out a responsible individual in each of my classes. This person served as the heartbeat and pulse of their peers. The purpose of this leadership position was to help and keep me aware of any learning difficulties within each unit. These unclear areas were then addressed prior to each unit test. While this system wasn’t perfect, it did help and keep me on track.

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth, Psalm 121:2.

The passage above was written during a climb or walk to the summit of a mountain in Jerusalem. This Psalmist remains nameless but was inspired to sing and write during this special stroll. One of the best ways to clear my mind in high school was to take a late-night jog while listening to my Walkman cassette player. One of my favorite music mixes was the soundtrack from Rocky IV. As each song began, adrenaline would cause me to run faster and faster.

 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield], Psalm 121:5.

According to the Psalmist, God gives you something greater than adrenaline. While specific details are left up to your own interpretation, the Psalmist credits God for helping each day and keeping him near. Moses speaks about this in Deuteronomy 28:1-3. Moses believes God’s presence as a helper and keeper is a form of blessings for being obedient to the Lord. Meanwhile, the Psalmist compares God to a spiritual warrior who shields the unarmed from danger. May you begin to see God as a helper and keeper.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 261: Next to Me

 Sometimes when you hear a new song for the first time, it may take time to decide if you like it or not. When I first heard today’s featured song by Jordan Feliz, I was curious by his combination of folk rock and soul style of Christian pop. Jordan incorporates the parable of the Prodigal Son into the lyrics of Next to Me as a call to come back home to Jesus.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field, Deuteronomy 28:1-3.

As I listened to a portion of the lyrics, I was reminded by the words of Moses. Prior to passing the baton to Joshua as Israel’s spiritual leader, Moses writes about blessings that come from God when believers are obedient. This is what Jordan sings about in the line “feeling deep down in his soul.” May Jordan’s message in Next to Me encourage you to draw close to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 188: Do I Stand Alone?

Mike Stand is one of the original members of the Punk rock group the Altar Boys. Mike served as the lead singer of this iconic Christian band. Back in the late 1980’s, Mike left the Altar Boys to pursue a solo career releasing a few albums on his own. While there are a number of songs I could have featured today, Do I Stand Alone applies well to current events.

And I sought a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none, Ezekiel 22:30.

History is full of cycles, times where people were obedient to God and periods of compromise that led cultures to do what’s right in their own eyes. The book of Judges illustrates this point as good leadership results in blessings while poor leaders brought curses upon Israel, Judges 21:25. The prophet lived in a day when Israelites were afraid to take a stand for God. Like Mike sings, are you willing to stand today?

by Jay Mankus

A Personal Example to Follow

Every success organization has advisers, counselor, instructors, mentors and teachers to show new people the ropes of how things are done. These staff members educate and train newcomers so that no one is confused, gets lost or simply doesn’t know what to do. Jesus gathered together a group of twelve men, spent three years living with them and demonstrated a godly personal example to follow.

For even to this were you called [it is inseparable from your vocation]. For Christ also suffered for you, leaving you [His personal] example, so that you should follow in His footsteps. 22 He was guilty of no sin, neither was deceit (guile) ever found on His lips, 1 Peter 2:21-22.

One of the hardest aspects of becoming a Bible believing Christian is changing bad habits. As Jesus started traveling with these handpicked men, there were plenty of areas for improvement. The four Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus addressing and confronting ungodly beliefs picked up by disciples over the course of their lives. Like Gene Hackman in Hoosiers, you have to break down your players before you build them back up.

When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but he trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly. 24 He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [g][as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed, 1 Peter 2:23-24.

Jesus wasn’t like modern day politicians who talk a good game. Rather, Jesus was the real deal who lived out the principles that he introduced to these 12 men. As the Passion Week began, Jesus began to open up about the suffering that He was about to face. Despite being falsely accused to a crime He didn’t commit, Jesus became obedient to death on a cross. Through the good, bad and ugly circumstances in life, Jesus provided a personal example to follow.

by Jay Mankus

The Service and Intervention of Jesus

When most Americans hear the term service, entering the military after high school is a practical way to serve your country. In recent years, public schools have used MLK Day as a way to give back to their local community. If you attend a church or belong to a group, service projects are a popular way of serving the less fortunate and those in need after a major storm or natural disaster.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! – Philippians 2:5-8

While service tends to be an isolated activity for a day, weekend or entire week, an intervention is an immediate act taken to improve a dire situation. The apostle Paul does a great job of explaining mankind’s problem in Romans 5:8. Like a virus that doesn’t go away, sin slowly decays human beings via addictions, bad habits, and poor choices. Despite being undeserving, Jesus spent 3 years on earth serving God so that this spiritual intervention could be completed.

And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross, Colossians 1:20.

The entire book of Colossians is dedicated to the service and intervention of Jesus. This restoration project began in Genesis 3:14-15. In desperate need of a second Adam, Romans 5:12-21 explains how this plan was fulfilled through Jesus. Serving as a perfect Lamb of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Jesus became a sin offering for all who believe. When Jesus became obedient to death on a cross, the service and intervention of Jesus was completed on Easter Sunday. This is why the gospel refers to the good news about Jesus Christ, a servant who intervened on our behalf.

by Jay Mankus

The Hidden Years of Jesus

In the life of a Jew, adulthood begins at age twelve.  A ceremony known as a Bar-mitzvah for boys and Bat-mitzvah for girls commences this stage in life.  Luke 2 provides the only glimpse of Jesus’ life as a boy during his Bar-mitzvah.  Following this event, there are 18 years of silence known as the hidden years of Jesus.

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart, Luke 2:51.

Despite this gap of missing time, there are a few things we know about Jesus.  First, Jesus continued in the ways of his earthly father Joseph as a carpenter.  According to Luke, Jesus remained an obedient son, providing for his mother Mary after Joseph’s death.  The next time Jesus appears in the Bible is in the day of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man, Luke 2:52.

There are 3 qualities that highlight the missing years of Jesus,  First, Jesus grew in wisdom by daily taking time alone to pray with his heavenly father.  Second, Jesus’ actions, constant care and nurturing words magnified his stature as a godly man.  Finally, as Jesus keep in step with the Holy Spirit, God favor remained on Jesus in the form of daily blessings.  All these things prepared Jesus for the accounts portrayed in the four gospels which transformed the lives of 11 disciples.

by Jay Mankus

Offense

As the seasons turn from winter to spring, an annual commotion draws near.  This month long hysteria known as March Madness serves as a drug for college basketball enthusiasts.  When you look beyond the brackets, politics and officiating, you’ll find amazing performances, buzzer beaters and even Cinderella.  Although offense is more entertaining, defense wins championships.  If a team can possess both, their squad becomes an impenetrable fortress on their way to the Final Four.

In life, roles are often reversed.  Arrogance, pride and over confidence lull people to sleep spiritually.  Instead of going on the offensive, many Christians resemble a goalie being bombarded with balls and pucks, trying to secure a daily shutout.  However, in the game of life, if you only play defense, you’ll never score.  This feeble strategy results in exhaustion, mental fatigue and emotional burnout, leading to a spirit of defeatism.

In the days of the apostle Paul, the residents of Corinth were avid sports fans, the host of the Corinthian Games, an Summer Olympic like competition.  This likely explains Paul’s use of athletic terminology in his 2 letters to the members of the Corinthian church.  Trying to connect with their culture, Paul addresses a lack of offensive minded individuals.  In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul reveals why people are failing miserably, they’re not using the proper weapons.  The key to game planning an offensive attack against the devil is through your mind, verse 5.  As soon as you learn how to take each thought captive by making them obedient to Christ, you can begin demolishing spiritual strongholds.  Paul’s further advice in Ephesians 6:10-11 is crucial if you want to begin seeing progress.  Stop being one dimensional, play offense today!

by Jay Mankus

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