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Tag Archives: Prayer

When You Need to be Propped Up

A farmer developed an unusual way of ending his prayer at church. Whenever called upon to close Sunday’s service in prayer, this farmer opted to skip the typically Amen. Instead, this man of God would close using the phrase, “God prop us up on our leaning side.” Curious, the senior pastor wanted to understand the meaning of this expression. This was conceived after noticing an old barn on his property began to lean to one side. To avoid losing this barn, the farmer braced it on one to secure it’s future.

[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality, Jude 1:23.

In the 17th chapter of Exodus, Moses recalls a memorable battle. Instead of fighting, Moses delegates this task to his successor Joshua. According to Exodus 17:9-10, Moses played the role of cheerleader, holding up the rod of God. As long as Moses arms were held high, Israel was winning. However, as soon as Moses’ arms grew weak, Amalek prevailed. To ensure a victory, the Lord sent Aaron and Hur to prop up Moses’ arms. This is another form of being propped up.

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—Jude 1:24.

Due to our fallen nature, Romans 3:11, every human being has a tendency to lean toward the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21. Instead of continuing leaning until you stumble and fall, Jude provides an alternative. Just as the apostle Paul urges believers to set your heart and mind and things above, Jude wants us to prop others up before they fall over. The more you focus your attention on helping other, the less likely you’ll find yourself indulging your sinful nature. The next time you see someone leaning, ask God to prop them up on their leaning side.

by Jay Mankus

The Dangers of Moral Narcissism

There are vast degrees of self-righteousness that exist in today’s culture. However, a term that dates back to 1979 is replacing self-righteous; what Christopher Lasch refers to as moral narcissism. This moral superiority is conceived from a sense that one’s beliefs, ideals, and affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Moral narcissists can range from obnoxious religious leaders, perfectionists seeking piety to sanctimonious members of the media. If you are not part of an important, powerful or significant group, expect to be looked down upon from one of these individuals who practice symbolism over substance.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: 10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector, Luke 18:9-10.

During a first century conversation, Jesus uses prayer as way to highlight the difference between the humble and self-righteous. In this illustration, Jesus compares a Pharisee to a tax collector. To set the scene, Pharisees were considered devout religious leaders, respected by the Jewish community. Meanwhile, tax collectors were often corrupt, tied with prostitutes at the bottom of the least desired occupations of their day. This background reflects how each approaches the Lord in prayer. As long as moral narcissists express how much they care publicly, following through with their convictions isn’t as important.

The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. 13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! – Luke 18:11-13.

Becoming self-righteous blinds individuals from their own spiritual condition. When you think too highly of yourself, subtle sins are ignored and overlooked. Instead of looking inward, moral narcissists compare themselves to lesser human beings as a means to feel better about their life. This mindset is a breeding ground for lukewarm spirits. Anyone who continues down this path are in spiritual danger, drifting closer to hell. The only way to snap out of this state is by acknowledging sin. May this parable serve as a warning to those hindered by a big ego, hypocrisy or smugness.

by Jay Mankus

Speak to Me Outside of Church

Prior to the Coronavirus cancelling worship services across the country, only 20% of Americans regularly attended church. Before being quarantined, this steady decline in attendance suggests that many Christians haven’t made church a priority, finding other things to do on Saturday and Sunday. According to a 2018 Outreach Magazine article, only the state of Hawaii saw a recent increase in worship attendance. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps this time away from church will conceive a hunger to join and become an active member in a local church.

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God, Proverbs 2:1-5.

As for now, believers are going to have to find an alternative, an avenue for God to speak to you outside of church. Reading the Bible daily is a logical step in this direction. In the passage above, Solomon is pleading with his children. Instead of trying to find joy and pleasure in the world, dust off this book and begin listening to the living Word of God. Open your heart and mind to these truths, embracing and treasuring these spiritual nuggets. The next transition is putting these words into practice by applying biblical principles through your actions, behavior and speech.

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, John 15:7.

This process will require prayer; lots of it. Since there isn’t a band, chorus and musician to lead you in worship, you can rely on your favorite internet site to enhance your prayer. Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of Soaking in the Spirit. This occurs by laying down in a room, closing your eyes and clearing your mind from stress of life while listening to worship music. The goal is to empty your mind of all the garbage that you have collected over time and ask God to remove and replace it with songs of praise. The attached song, a spontaneous worship montage by Kari Jobe is what I use when I want God to speak to me outside of church.

by Jay Mankus

So You Think You Had A Bad Weekend

Depending upon which historian you reference, Jesus was crucified some time around 30 AD. After hearing the disturbing news that the Coronavirus death toll has surpassed 15,000 in the United States and over 450,000 throughout the world, my mind was drawn back in time to the first Passion Week. Immediately following the emotional high of Palm Sunday, a series of events gradually turned the tide from celebration to sadness. You might want to compare your own weekend to what happened to the disciples.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing, John 21:1-3.

First, Judas Iscariot exchanged his relationship with Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. When asked to pray for Jesus in his greatest moments of need, the remaining 11 disciples all fell asleep. After initially fighting to save their leader from being arrested, Jesus turned himself in. Moments later, fearful for his own life, the man given the nickname the rock, caved to peer pressure like the cowardly lion, denying knowing Jesus three times publicly. Only John, the beloved one was present in the final hours, standing by helplessly as Jesus as died on a cross. To make matters worse, Judas committed suicide after being overwhelmed by a spirit of guilt.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep, John 21:15-17.

If you flash back to the first Easter Sunday, Peter abandoned the ministry, going back to his old job as a fisherman. Instead of having a sunrise service, Peter went fishing in the middle of the night. Bringing a couple of the disciples along, they didn’t catch anything, a painful reminder of their epic failure. When providing instructions from the shore about fishing, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus. However, after their great haul of fish, their eyes were opened to the resurrected Messiah. As you celebrate Easter in a different way, post Coronavirus, may your own eyes be open to the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Day Sports Stopped

March 12th, 2020 will go down as the day sports stopped in America. As soon as a member of the Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the Coronavirus, the National Basketball Association was the first domino to fall. By the end of this second week in March, Major League Baseball, Nascar, the National Hockey League and the Professional Golf Association all suspended their regular seasons. Meanwhile, in college, March Madness, the NCAA men’s and woman’s basketball tournament were cancelled as well as the entire Spring sports season.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:17-18.

Following the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, sports was used as a means to get the United States back to a somewhat normal life again. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus has not let up, shutting down businesses, schools and all professional sports until May at the earliest. If this wasn’t bad enough, major cities across the country have seen a recent spike in cases. Now spreading well beyond New York City, only God knows when this pandemic will end. Thus, for now, not even sports can help unite and uplift this country.

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken, Psalm 34:19-20.

The context of the Psalm above refers to David who pretended to be insane before Abimelech. If you have been stuck in quarantine for the last few weeks, you might be ready to have a similar reaction. The thought of an invisible disease attacking healthy Americans is scary. Thus, when the circumstances surrounding you are beyond your control, hopelessness can set in. Yet, God uses hardship, trials and tragedy like the Coronavirus to get your attention, crying out to the Lord in prayer. Since sports won’t be around anytime soon to cheer you up, look to God for deliverance. May the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit be uplifted by the hope of God’s healing power.

by Jay Mankus

Opportunities

A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. The world is full of opportunities, when moments, occasions and time align. When you add this to Carpe diem, a Latin aphorism for to seize the day, what you once thought to be impossible can become a reality. As Christians add prayer to begin each day, the probability for success increases.

Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), 16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:15-16.

While watching Evan Almighty over the weekend, I was reminded of the power of opportunities. In a scene at a restaurant, Evan’s wife played by Lauren Graham has a talk with God, Morgan Freeman. Thinking Evan was going through a mid life crisis, God sets the record straight. Using an analogy about praying for patience, God doesn’t provide this quality. Rather, the Lord gives you opportunities to demonstrate patience.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Opportunities are like playing a video game. While each game is going on, you have a chance to improve, reach a new level or high score. However, when the game is over, you have to move on, live and learn. As the sunrises, a new day awaits, full of opportunities. The key is making sure you don’t allow past errors, mistakes and sins to discourage you. Those who don’t grow weary or lose heart, press on to seize new opportunities as they unfold. May this blog inspire you to make the most of each God given opportunity that you have today.

by Jay Mankus

Make Sure That You are Knocking on the Right Door

Long before the days of cell and telephones, if you wanted to talk to someone you would go over to where they lived or write a letter. If this desired individual lived close by or in a nearby neighborhood, walking over to knock on the front door was a common practice. In the days of my youth, I regularly rode my bike or walked over to a friends’ house. On a couple of occasions, usually at night, I knocked on the wrong door. These embarrassing moments were short lived by quickly getting directions to where I needed to go.

When he, at a glance, became aware of this [comprehending all the elements of the case], he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where a large number were assembled together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the gate of the porch, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate, Acts 12:12-14.

However, sometimes you are at the right place, but are surprised by who answers the door. Perhaps, a friend, relative or visiting neighbor greets you. Following a period of awkwardness, you are able to enjoy a time of fellowship. During the first century, Peter was at the right house, but the residents inside didn’t believe their maid. Rhoda opened the front gate, but not the front door, running inside to tell everyone the great news. Despite their pedigree of faith, a house of unbelieving souls doubted Rhoda until a persistent Peter kept knocking until he was finally let inside.

They said to her, You are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, It is his angel! 16 But meanwhile Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the gate and saw him, they were amazed, Acts 12:15-16.

Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares praying to knocking on a door, Matthew 7:7-8. Jesus expounds upon this analogy with a three step process: asking, seeking and knocking. Everyone has probably experienced a moment of prayer where God seemed distant. Yet, when doubts begin to creep into your thoughts, Jesus urges believers to press on by continuing to seek God. Finally, if the Lord hasn’t clearly answered your request, keep knocking on God’s door like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, until justice arrives. In today’s scenario, fasting and praying until a cure for the Coronavirus is found.

by Jay Mankus

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