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Getting on the Same Page of Unity

The origin of being on the same page is not fully clear. However, it is believed that this expression developed at some point during business meetings with executives. Rather than try to undermine one another, companies function best when leadership teams are on the same page. Churches often develop mission statements so that when questions arise, pastors and elders can get back on the same page as well.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper], Colossians 3:12.

Unfortunately, there has only been one reported church that has sustained unity, Acts 2:42-47. While great awakenings of the18th and 19th centuries breathed new life into churches, unity did not last. According to Luke who served as a first century historian, traveling with Paul on several missionary trips, the early church-maintained unity by eliminating poverty. Rather than take up a weekly offering during a worship service, wealthy Christians sold their own possessions to provide funds for every emergency.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony], Colossians 3:13-14.

The apostle Paul is blunt about what is necessary before unity can be achieved. This requires grace, love, patience, and selflessness. Apparently, early Christians practiced the words of Philippians 2:1-5 by taking on the attitude of Jesus. When church leaders emulate unity, members of a congregation start to follow. However, when unity is merely a spoken word without any action, getting on the same page of unity remains an unfulfilled goal.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 167: Isn’t It Amazing

Today’s song comes from one of the godfathers of Christian music. Mark Farner was spreading the gospel through a combination of rock and roll and soft rock in the 1970’s. My spiritual mentor Ken Horne introduced me to Isn’t It Amazing in high school. While I wasn’t sure of Christian music, the lyrics of Isn’t It Amazing gave me hope that prayer could change my life by healing a severe stuttering problem.

For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it], Mark 11:24.

When it comes the prayer, what’s the worst thing that could happen beside praying for patience. As a stuttering fool afraid of embarrassing myself in public, I had nothing to lose. Ten years after I began asking Jesus for complete healing of my speech, my miraculous request was answered. Subsequently, Mark Farner isn’t the only one who can sing “Isn’t It Amazing what a prayer can do.”

by Jay Mankus

Trying God’s Patience

Patience is one of those areas in life where I continue to struggle. Whether I’m driving in a car, waiting in a line or pleading with God in prayer for a specific request, I want things to happen on my time. History is filled with individuals who forced the issue, trying to make something happen without God. According to Moses, when human beings start to blame God for things not going as expected, we try the Lord’s patience.

Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at [Mount] Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah [proof] and Meribah [contention] because of the faultfinding of the Israelites and because they tempted and tried the patience of the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not? – Exodus 17:6-7

For the last 6 months, I’ve had my own wilderness experience. Rather than travel to a promised land, I’ve done everything in my power to find a job in South Carolina. My initial plan was to submit paperwork for an internal transfer within Amazon to a facility close to where my mother in law resides who is currently in hospice care. While I’m aware of some of my shortcomings as an individual and worker, I’m either testing God’s patience or the Lord has a completely different plan for my life.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. 12 Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer, Romans 12:11-12.

Failure and rejection are becoming a weekly occurrence to me, The last time I’ve seen this much resistance to a specific career is when I tried to pass the Players Ability Test as an assistance golf professional. Despite hitting 26 of 36 greens in regulation, I had 40 putts in round one, including a 4 putt. I missed by 2 strokes with 7 putts on the easiest hole over 2 rounds. Since my journey to South Carolina begins this weekend, I’m either going to try God’s patience by not knowing God’s will or receive a job in the final hour. Only time will tell.

by Jay Mankus

Bear Patiently with Suffering

Patience is one of my weakest traits. No matter how hard I try, I usually find myself in a hurry to get to somewhere. Slowing down and forced to travel at someone else’ pace isn’t my style. If patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22, bearing patiently with suffering takes an added degree of faith. This is one of many areas where I still have a long way to go and mature spiritually.

[After all] what [f]kind of glory [is there in it] if, when you do wrong and are punished for it, you take it patiently? But if you bear patiently with suffering [which results] when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and pleasing to God, 1 Peter 2:20.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states that success is the process of arriving. Before you achieve any dream or goal in life, failure is one of many obstacles that you will have to endure. As you continue on the journey called life, you will be embarrassed, humiliated, and filled with disappointment on a weekly basis. Yet, if you keep the faith and bear patiently with suffering, God has called Christians to be faithful, not successful.

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation, Romans 5:2-4.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul is essentially saying, “keep your eyes on the prize.” Like the words of Jesus’ earthly brother in James 1:2-4, your spiritual journey is never ending. Whenever you taste the agony of defeat, it’s by God’s grace that you can get right back up and stand again. If you can develop the mindset that every affliction, hardship, and trial is an opportunity for spiritual growth, it won’t be long before you too will be able to bear patiently with suffering.

by Jay Mankus

If You Can Not Stand the Heat…Get Out of the Kitchen

Harry S. Truman coined the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” in 1942. The context of this expression refers to heat as those things in life that bother you. The kitchen is symbolic of the entire situation, the source of the heat, prone to boiling over. Over the years, stand has been replace with handle, yet the overall meaning hasn’t changed.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

Perhaps, Jesus relayed a similar message to first century believers. The passage above was written by Jesus’ earthly brother, likely quoting something said or taught. Life isn’t designed to remain in a cool, air conditioned unit. Rather, God uses the heat provided by hardships to stretch your comfort zone. These difficult encounters provide opportunities for growth, exposing your flawed, vulnerable and weak areas in life.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

One of Jesus’ disciples compares life to a furnace, serving as a purifying process, like a kiln to a potter. If you aren’t tested by out of control circumstances, you won’t know what you were capable of or can handle. Thus, as unpleasant as these events may be, trials and tribulations play a big part in life, serving as mechanisms to build character, endurance and a steadfast spirit. Therefore, the next time God turns up the heat on you, embrace the moment until your assignment is complete.

by Jay Mankus

The Crucial Role of Patience

Composure, endurance and fortitude are words synonymous with patience.  Of all the requests offered up to God in the form of prayers, patience is often skipped.  Those who have prayed for patience are immediately thrown into situations that require patience.  Unless you are ready to be challenged spiritually, you may want to focus on other areas of your life that need attention.

The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, but as they go on their way they are suffocated with the anxieties and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity, Luke 8:14.

Following the parable of the sower, Jesus’ disciples took him aside, yearning to grasp and understand the spiritual meaning of this analogy.  Three of the four seeds sown fell upon soil with different limitations.  One was too compacted, another shallow and the third was surrounded by aggressive growing weeds.  In the passage above, those individuals who reside within these environments struggle to develop maturity.  When faith fails to become grounded, rooted in Christ, patience is just a word, rarely practiced or seen in public.

But as for that seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word with a good and noble heart, and hold on to it tightly, and bear fruit with patience, Luke 8:15.

However, for diligent caretakers, fertilizing, maintaining and weeding regularly, good soil is attainable.  According to Jesus, this is achieved spiritually by receiving God’s Word with a good and noble heart.  Yet, it doesn’t stop here.  The spiritually mature hold on to the promises of the Bible through trials and tribulations.  Those who stand firm through the storms of life, bear fruit with patience as a demonstration of the Holy Spirit.  May this blog help you realize the crucial role of patience, a trait that allows spiritual fruit to blossom.

by Jay Mankus

Enduring a Spiritual Identity Crisis

If you enjoy or follow sports, success is defined by winning and losing.  Despite how many victories a team earns over the course of a season, if a championship is not won, fans lose hope.  In the meantime, coaches, players and stars who endure humiliating loses in the playoffs are labeled as chokers, overrated and trashed throughout social media.  Those who seek to self identify themselves using these standards will experience disappointment, failure and shame unless titles are won.  Thus, its not uncommon for people to go through some sort of identity crisis.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Non-athletes tend to use a different set of standards.  Depending upon your career choice, degrees earned and annual salary, value is placed upon your life.  Intelligence, social status and wisdom add or subtract to how the world views your importance.  Anyone called into the ministry, social work or has a low paying jobs are looked down upon by the upper class.  If you let this bother you, then you may be tempted to adopt worldly standards.  The longer you allow yourself to be defined by rich or poor, wins or losses and success or failure, the more likely you will go through a spiritual identity crisis.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening], 1 Corinthians 13:5-7.

When I moved to Chicago after getting married, living among millionaire neighbors, I tried to fit in initially.  Unfortunately, the best job I could find was making thirty thousand dollars a year, chump change to everyone around me.  Attending Willow Creek Community Church on Wednesday nights helped alter my perspective.  As I began to hear, read and meditate upon God’s standards in the Bible, my soul was comforted by the fact God keeps no records of wrong.  Therefore, if you ever feel like your life doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards, use biblical principals to overcome any spiritual identity crisis that you may endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

When You Come Up One Shot Short

Unlike most sports, golf doesn’t use a running clock with a set number of periods or quarters.  Rather, tournaments consist of a defined number of holes depending upon the degree of competition.  For the past sixteen years I have spent the two days after Memorial Day watching the Delaware High School State Golf Tournament.  My first ten years were spent as a head coach, the last six as a parent and volunteer on the state committee running this event behind the scenes.  Over the past two decades, I’ve seen more heartbreak than jubilation.  One golfer endured 180 shots over 18 holes while a recent senior missed out on qualifying for states by one stroke two years in a row.  In view of this, how do you move on when you come up one shot short?

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, Colossians 1:11-12.

When I experienced disappointment, failure and setbacks as a teenager, one adult suggested that I go back to the drawing board.  The point of this idiom encourages those who fail to go back to the beginning, hoping to figure out what went wrong and why.  During my final spring at Concord High, my last golf season got off to a miserable start.  After two embarrassing losses, I spent an afternoon playing 36 holes in the rain.  Channeling my anger in a positive manner, I refused to repeat the same stupid mistakes for the rest of the season.  This day served as a turning point, when God gave me a resolve to do whatever it took to reach my full potential.  By the end of the season, I was leading the state tournament after day one and despite fading on the back nine during the final round, a top ten finish resulted in all state honors.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

Sometimes, individuals are given back stage access, able to interact with celebrities and stars.  Such was the case for the earthly brother of Jesus who never believed until the resurrection.  The words from the passage above were inspired by the attitude demonstrated by Jesus throughout his life.  Jesus didn’t dwell over bad breaks, criticism or results that didn’t meet his own expectations.  Rather, Jesus remained steadfast despite coming up just short from time to time.  Therefore, when you come up one shot short in life, ask the Holy Spirit for the resolve to press on until dreams, goals or visions are fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Patience of Jesus

The capacity to accept or tolerate behavior, circumstances and people encapsulates the word patience.  Coaches, parents and teachers understand what it means to endure these trying situations.  True patience abstains from anger, emotional outbursts or becoming upset.  The key to patience is practicing restraint whatever suffering that you may encounter.  From a historical perspective, no one demonstrated patience than Jesus of Nazareth.

He replied, “O unbelieving (faithless) generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” – Mark 9:19

After sending his disciples out in pairs of two, Jesus began to receive some feedback.  In the context of the passage above, one father was disappointed as the disciples were unable to heal his son.  Based upon Jesus’ comment, this wasn’t an isolated incident as it appears that several of his pupils were slow learners.  Thus, Jesus was forced to clean up they public relations mess his disciples made, diagnosing the problem before casting out an unclean spirit.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience, Romans 8:25.

Jesus waited 12 years prior to be able to teach publicly.  Another 18 passed before God the Father wanted Jesus to begin his earthly ministry.  Perhaps, knowing his fate 3 years later enabled Jesus to wait patiently, preparing himself for what was to come.  Despite the failures of his disciples, Jesus remained calm, composed and displayed fortitude until completing God’s will.  While Jesus did express holy anger on a couple of occasions, he did not sin.  May we all learn from this godly example.

by Jay Mankus

 

Forgiveness is a Lovely Idea Until You Have to Forgive

Happy Days was one of my favorite shows as a child, running for a decade on ABC.  Like any boy, Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham and Henry Winkler, the Fonz, were my two favorite characters.  This show about the life of teenagers at their favorite hangout, Arnolds, captivated my attention.  However, one of the things I remember the most is Fonzie’s inability to say sorry or admit he was wrong as depicted in the attached you tube.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses,” Mark 11:25.

Not much has changed in the past 25 years since this show went off the air.  Following in the footsteps of Adam and Eve, people prefer to play the blame game rather than take responsibility for wrong actions.  Meanwhile, justification, rationalization or playing the victim card has become normal behavior.  While everyone demands justice when you have been wronged, “forgiveness is a lovely idea until you have to forgive someone else.”  This quote by C.S. Lewis applies today, especially in the context of relationships.

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive, Colossians 3:13.

The apostle Paul calls individuals to bear with one another.  This urging involves patience, a quality that few adults possess.  Thus, forgiveness can get messy, full of emotion, frustration and tears.  Yet, if you want forgiveness to flow back to you, God demands that you forgive others as Jesus forgave you.  Therefore, despite how unpleasant it may be for you to care for, forgive and love, the act of forgiveness is essential toward securing your eternal destiny, Matthew 6:14-15.  May this blog inspire you to emulate Christ as you strive to forgive and forget.

by Jay Mankus

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