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Tag Archives: Prayer

Forcing Aside Unbelief

As a former teacher, there is nothing like a great open ended question to promote discussion.  Unfortunately, peer pressure deters many from asking the thought on their mind, afraid of what others may think.  When Jesus visited an obscure town during the first century, an un-named person was not denied, eager to discover if it’s possible to escape God’s judgment and wrath.

And someone asked Him, “Lord, will only a few be saved [from the penalties of the last judgment]?” And He said to them, Luke 13:23.

Jesus responds with an interesting comment in the passage below.  The two greatest obstacles to human beings is unbelief and the attractive nature of sin.  My initial response was Jesus has it backwards, the attraction to temptation should be first.  Yet, based upon the order, unbelief is the reason why people give into and indulge sinful desires.  Thus, Jesus urged this audience to force aside unbelief.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able,” Luke 13:24.

Based upon the content of 1 John 2:15-17, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of fellowship.  When you have fellowship with God, communing in prayer, study and worship, spiritual light in the form of right and wrong will be revealed to you.  However, if you participate in fellowship with the world, unbelief will open your eyes to lust and sensual cravings of the flesh.  Therefore, unless you force aside unbelief via the Holy Spirit, you will be vulnerable to the attractions of sin.  May this blog inspire you to seek the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

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Two Masters One Choice

The Masters of the Universe franchise debuted in 1982.  This creation by Mattel includes toys, animation, film, comics, books, videogames and spin-offs.  The most popular character in this series was He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.  Like Samson of the Bible, there was no hero who could match the superhuman strength of He-Man.  Yet, in real life, there is someone who will come along that is bigger, faster or stronger than their predecessor.  No matter how gifted you are, at some point you will have to call upon and rely on a higher power.

 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. 23 But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

There is another Master who is not a person, but many individuals benefit from the services it provides.  The concept of a master credit card was conceived when several California banks joined together to form Interbank Master Charge.  From 1966 to 1979, Mastercard was branded as the credit card to want and use.  Today, Mastercard is merely a name from the past, bought out by Visa which has carried on its legacy in the credit industry.  When I was a child, the only credit card my parents held was work related, for business expenses only.  In modern times, adults have multiple credit cards, charging away until shocking bills arrive in the mail or online.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord], Matthew 6:24.

Typically, when I hear a sermon about money, pastors quote 1 Timothy 6:10, the love of money is the root of all evil.  However, the words of Jesus above refer to a heart issue.  Do you trust God to provide daily bread for your needs in life?  Or are your self reliant, putting all the onus on yourself to make enough money to live a decent life?  While there are different levels of commitment on both sides, Jesus wants to know who are you going to serve.  The Master of the Universe, (the giver of life) or the Mastercard that provides access to the finer things in life.  Although the second choice is tempting, faith, prayer and the Word of God will lead you in the right direction.  Two masters, but freewill enables you to make up your mind.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

 

For Who; For What?

During a 1995 NFL game, former running back Ricky Watters purposively dropped a pass thrown to him.  Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, Watters was a safety valve on this play.  If his quarterback felt pressure from the defense, the play design led Watters to the middle of the field, beyond the pass rush.  However, as the play was enfolding, Watters saw that a defensive player primed to hit him hard.  To avoid this massive collusion, Watters simply dropped the ball.  Following the game, reporters gathered around Watters locker, wanting the know the reason for this incomplete pass.  Frustrated by this unwanted attention, Ricky Watters responded, “For who; for what?”

One of the lawyers [an expert in the Mosaic Law] answered Him, “Teacher, by saying this, You insult us too!” 46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well, because you weigh men down with burdens [man-made rules, unreasonable requirements] which are hard to bear, and you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers [to lighten the load], Luke 11:45-46.

Looking back on this event from 20 years ago, at least Ricky was honest.  If Watters caught this pass, the play would have gained minimal yardage.  Thus, Watters felt like it was unnecessary to sell himself out on this play.  Getting injured on a play that didn’t amount to much didn’t make sense to a professional athlete trying to protect his body and his career.  While “for who; for what” is a selfish statement, do you blame him for confessing what was truly on his heart?  This comment is no different from first century Pharisees, self-righteous religious leaders who served as the media of their day, regularly pointing out the mistakes of others.  To make matters worse, these Jewish leaders added man made rules to God’s laws.  Corrupted by power given to them by their followers, Pharisees were like modern day politicians who set laws for their country, yet were exempt from that which they expect others to obey.

Woe to you lawyers, because you have taken away the key to knowledge (scriptural truth). You yourselves did not enter, and you held back those who were entering [by your flawed interpretation of God’s word and your man-made tradition],” Luke 11:52.

As people read the Bible for the first time, they might not say “for who; for what?”  Yet, people will silently think, “what’s the point?”  Others will ponder, “why should I believe in something written almost two thousand years ago?”  This skepticism is natural in a world always challenging and questioning authority.  Immediately following Peter’s public confession that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Jesus reveals an oxymoron about life.  “If you want to save your life, you will lose it.  However, if you are willing to give up your life, you will save it.”  This head scratching statement from Mark 8:35-37 unveils the purpose for life on earth.  The who is the creator of the heavens and the earth.  The what is dedicating your life by making an eternal difference with the life that God has given you.  When you surrender your aspirations by committing to serving Jesus Christ as Lord, the Holy Spirit enables you to see the big picture, eternity in heaven.  This choice is not forced, but my prayer is that souls are rejuvenated by the message of this blog.

by Jay Mankus

A Clash of Two Cultures

The National Education Association was founded in 1857.  This group is the largest labor union and professional interest group in the United States.  This status also makes the NEA the most powerful and influential special interest group, swaying politicians to continue to fund education programs in their annual budget.  Prior to the 1970’s, education was left up to each state, giving local PTA members, parent teacher association, the ability to impact school curriculum.  However, in the last fifty years, education is being now controlled at the national level through objectives like Common Core.  With liberals and progressives now editing, replacing and writing new curriculum, the stage is set for a clash of two cultures.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, 2 Timothy 4:7.

If you have children, you will be taking visits to colleges and universities that your daughter or son have interests in attending.  These tours may reveal an institutions true intentions or they might be hidden to avoid choosing an alternative school.  From my experience, these schools of higher education roll out the red carpet, trying to impress and persuade as many as potential students as possible.  As a former high school teacher, graduates often visited me relaying the good, bad and ugly sides of college.  Although many colleges on the east coast of the United States were founded by Christians for Christians, few traces of faith remain.  Just as public education removed Bible verses and prayer from its curriculum in the 1960’s, colleges have used revisionist history to scrub significant events like the Magna Carta from textbooks.  If generations grow up without a biblical worldview, college professors can introduce new ideologies that clashes with what parents and grandparents were taught.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

These factors set the scene for current events like Antifa members taking over downtown Portland, Oregon, protestors harassing conservatives in public and marches on Washington.  From where I sit, observing day to day events, its like the Jerry Springer show on steroids, stirring the pot until emotions bubble over into a shoving match.  Perhaps, everyone needs to go into their corner, take a timeout out to relax and begin to act like a grown up in front of children who are watching.  America is on the verge of a new Civil War.  However, instead of re-enacting the events of 1861-1865 on a battlefield, this clash will between cultures.  One clinging to the Judeo Christian values of America’s founding fathers.  The other eager to usher in a progressive era replacing the Bible with a different set of moral and political standards.  I hope I am wrong about this clash, but if you watch cable news it appears this clash has already begun.

by Jay Mankus

Marching Band on the Run?

There aren’t that many positive news stories that come out of high schools today.  Encouraging news is suppressed, replaced by the outlandish to grab the attention of busy people going through life.  While young sports enthusiast often travel weekends to compete in athletic competitions, music lovers do the same if they are part of a marching band.  The leader of each band is known as a drum major, usually held by a senior.  These events are held on Friday and Saturday nights and occasionally on Saturday afternoon after football season.  Judging has evolved over time as music and presentation is now open to a creative frenzy with props, running and unusual formations.  This lowering the bar from merely sound quality has caused some choreographers to go off the deep end.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Philippians 4:8.

According to several news reports, a Mississippi High School Band Director took his band’s halftime show to a new low.  Last Saturday in Forest Hill, Mississippi high school band members were given several props.  These plastic rifles were used to promote social justice with students holding four boys dressed up as police officers hostage at gun point.  This might have been funny if part of some sort of Saturday Night Live skit, but after two Mississippi police officers were recently shot and killed, this display was unacceptable.  Forest Hill was playing Brookhaven, the hometown of these dead officers.  Immediately following this halftime show, social media was set ablaze, reacting to this insensitive dramatization.  As of earlier today, the band director was suspended without pay until the school investigates this matter leaving band members in limbo.

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left, Ecclesiastes 10:2.

Does anyone think this punishment fits the crime?  Were school officials too harsh or not strict enough?  If you remember a couple months ago, a high school football coach was fired after kneeling and praying with his team after a game.  This act was deemed unforgivable, something that required an immediate dismissal.  Perhaps, if this man just waited until the National Anthem and then kneeled, that would have been okay, right?  However, the moment you add prayer to kneeling, that’s it.  According to public officials, this is the line that you can’t cross.  The double standards and hypocrisy that exists today in public education is undeniable.  If you take the right stance, liberal or progressive, you might have to go away for a while, but you can keep your job.  Anyone who supports the Bible, prayer or Trump, you will be shamed like a band on the run.  What do you think about this most recent event?

by Jay Mankus

 

Is There Such a Thing as Righteous Anger?

Anger Management is nothing to joke about, especially for those who struggle to maintain their composure when upset.  Yet, Hollywood created a 2003 film and television sitcom bearing the same name in 2012.  To the average person, there is a belief that getting angry is a sin.  This perception will lead non-believers to criticize Christians, referring to assertive comments, raised voices or certain tones like that displayed by Brett Kavanaugh as inappropriate behavior.  However, is there such a thing as righteous anger?

And Jesus entered the temple [grounds] and drove out [with force] all who were buying and selling [birds and animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and He turned over the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the chairs of those who were selling doves [for sacrifice]. 13 Jesus said to them, “It is written [in Scripture], My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den,” Matthew 21:12-13.

The Bible provides two specific examples to address this issue.  The first occurs as Jesus enters Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover Celebration.  While visiting the temple grounds, Jesus is disturbed by what he sees, a holy site turned into a money making operation.  This offended Jesus, inspiring righteous action, turning over these tables to shut down this shady business.  Jesus explains his reaction in verse 13, God’s house should be a place of prayer not a den of robbers.  Thus, in this case it appears righteous anger is acceptable in God’s sight.

Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down, Ephesians 4:26.

The second illustration comes from a letter written by the apostle Paul.  Most Bible translations of the passage above say “in your anger do not sin.”  However, the Amplified version takes this notion one step further by insisting to get angry when you see immorality, injustice or ungodly behavior.  This is followed by a warning, in your anger do not sin as these emotions might cause you to do something that you regret.  However, the Bible is clear about anger management.  You can become angry at those acts that upset God, but in your anger do not sin.

by Jay Mankus

The X Factor of Growth

The term X factor refers to a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.  In the context of a sporting event, the X factor could be a replacement, substitute or specific play that changes the momentum of a game.  This may be an unlikely hero or a star who seizes the moment by coming up clutch.  In the 1996 film Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays Roy McAvoy, a driving range golf professional who qualifies for the United States Open.  This reckless golfer takes unnecessary chances, following the motto, “each shot is a defining moment.  Either you define the moment or the moment defines you.”

They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to]eating meals together and to prayers. 43 A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles, Acts 2:42-43.

During the first century, few churches had a physical building.  Some met in local synagogues, others met outdoors on the outskirts of town, but most gathered in homes.  According to Luke, this decision was the X factor in promoting spiritual growth.  As people from different ethnic backgrounds began to meet for fellowship, prayer and spiritual discussions, a special bond formed.  This spiritual climate set the stage for a revival, the first Great Awakening in history.  Outsiders were curious, hungry for what these followers of Christ demonstrated and possessed.

And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. 45 And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need, Acts 2:44-45.

Based upon the passage above, poverty was eliminated by this generous group of believers.  Whenever a member of the church had an emergency, problem or need, wealthy members sold their possessions to cover any cost or expense.  Ultimately, the X factor for any congregation is when people become the hands and feet of Christ.  This isn’t done out of a desire to be recognized.  Rather, genuine love keeps no record of wrongs, giving out of the goodness of your heart.  May the Holy Spirit inspire you to be the X factor in your community.

by Jay Mankus

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