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The One Thing In Life That Brings Out Your Best and Worst

Before attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, there was a series of books I needed to read prior to my first class.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Bringing Out the Best in People are the two that I remember the most.  Carnegie’s book opened my eyes to practical principles for making friends naturally as well as the art of persuasion.  Meanwhile, Bringing Out the Best in People introduced me to the 3 C’s: Don’t criticize, complain or condemn other people.  When I began to tame my tongue by steering my words in a positive direction, my life ascended toward greatness.  From a personal, social and spiritual perspective, 1993 was the best year of my life.

Now if we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we guide their whole body as well. And look at the ships. Even though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines. In the same sense, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See [by comparison] how great a forest is set on fire by a small spark! – James 3:3-5

In the years that have followed, I have never come close to this level of joy and satisfaction.  There have been periods, glimpses of greatness, but each time I quickly came back down to earth.  The reason for my fall lies in the tongue.  According to Jesus’ earthly brother, the tongue is like a rudder on a ship.  When rudders begin to malfunction, ships lose control, going off course.  Following a two year stint as a youth pastor, I let my conversation slip, spitting out destructive, harsh and negative comments.  The longer I allowed my tongue to be undisciplined, it didn’t take long to descend to some of the lowest points in my life.  Like any frustrating moment, human tongues feed off of misery, unleashing vicious thoughts formally kept silent deep inside your mind.

But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. 10 Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts], James 3:8-10.

In the passage above, James reveals the danger of the tongue.  No matter how disciplined you may be, you can only hope to contain this aspect of your flesh.  When you open your mouth, only God knows what will come it.  One day you may be filled with blessings; the next followed by curses.  James urges first century readers of his letter to consider their moral obligation to God.  The words and vocabulary that you choose should reflect a reverence for God.  In addition, your mind should be influenced by God’s precepts as you meditate day and night on these principles.  Without taking this advice seriously, your conversations will resemble a roller coaster ride, with highs that uplift others and lows that cut to the heart.  May this blog challenge you to transform the content of your words in 2019.

by Jay Mankus


Respect This

It’s been fifty years since Aretha Franklin introduced her version of Respect.  This hit song has been part of advertisements, commercials and movies.  One of my favorite synonyms for respect is reverence.  This is one of these terms which been forgotten, rarely practiced anymore.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor, Romans 12:10.

Unfortunately, the popularity of social media has gradually flushed respect down the toilet.  Every day Twitter wars disregard decency to bully, defame and lash out at those with whom you disagree.  While the Bible encourages individuals to outdo others in a positive manner, this message is either ignored or simply scoffed at.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,” Exodus 20:12.

The reason why respect is vanishing can be found in one of the ten commandments.  When individuals begin to dishonor fathers and mothers, this decision opens the door to every area of life.  No one is immune resulting in a culture that trashes everyone or everything in sight.  Atheists helped kick God out of American public schools in the 1960’s.  Fifty years later respect is one of the casualties of this war on religion.  If you want to keep respect alive, start honoring fathers and mothers and maybe, just maybe respect will survive.

by Jay Mankus


God’s Pleasure

Delight, enjoyment and gratifying are feelings associated with pleasure.  Since individuals are wired differently, venues chosen to seek pleasure vary.  According to the Psalmist, two distinct attributes get’s the Lord’s attention.  While the world may embrace beauty, gambling and sex, heaven desires two specific qualities.

God’s pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior – Psalm 147:10

The first characteristic which excites the Lord is a holy reverence.  This trait can be acquired through studying the history of God’s relationship with Israel.  Although some of the miracles performed by the Lord may be difficult to believe, these acts of favor led many Jews to fear God.

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love, Psalm 147:11.

The second quality is often a natural response to the first.  After individuals begin to fear the Lord, many start to place their faith in God’s unfailing love.  Despite patterns of disobedience, unconditional love is displayed throughout the Old and New Testament.  Therefore, if you want to please the Lord today, set your hearts upon a reverence fear and minds on the promises of love within the Bible.  When your actions coincide with hope, you will become the apple of God’s eyes.

by Jay Mankus


Praying in Vain

Whether you are old, young or somewhere in between, hopelessness can lead people to question what they are doing?  When things don’t go your way, creating a snowball effect, minds might begin to wonder if God really cares about you and your situation?  If these trials persist, doubt often enters the scene causing individuals to begin to believe, “what’s the point of praying?”  “Why should I continue to pour my heart and soul into prayer, when nothing seems to change.”

This is where you will find David in Psalm 5.  In the midst of his circumstances, this servant of God wanted to make sure he wasn’t praying in vain.  Thus, he reminds God of his attributes, character and personality early in the morning.  Using God as a crutch, David realizes the Lord is his last resort, the only force able to transform his predicament.  Tired of seeing arrogant, deceitful, evil and wicked individuals proper, David pleads with God based upon Moses words in the Old Testament.  Not worthy to be called righteous, David rests in mercy, Psalm 5:7, entering God’s presence with reverence and respect.  Prayers like this one inspired the Lord to call his humble servant a man after God’s heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.

Wherever this blog may find you, confidence lies in results.  As soon as you see direct answers and progress, your attitude will improve.  However, if your words offered up in faith return unanswered, one of 3 things may be true,  First, God may be keeping you from something that might steer you away from Him.  Second, God’s timing is likely not aligned with your prayer, resulting in a “not right now” response, Ecclesiastes 3:11.  Finally, there is a chance that someone, something or an unconfessed sin from the past is blocking God’s reply, Isaiah 1:15-17.  Follow the principles of Isaiah 1:18-19 and you will leave vanity for sanity, experiencing a slice of heaven here on earth, Matthew 6:33-34.

by Jay Mankus

Look Up; Not Within!

As a coach and teacher, the me, me, me mindset can become tiring.  Former NFL running back Ricky Watters became infamous in Philadelphia following his post game comments, “For who, for what?”  More concerned about his own health than stretching out to make a play, a generation of professional athletes have adopted this motto.  Yet, Psalm 123 provides a different philosophy, looking beyond yourself.

While professional athletes do have a shorter shelf life than blue collared workers, it is the Lord who preserves one’s life, Psalm 123:2.  Although free will does exist, the Lord is ultimately in control, ushering his angels to protect God’s people.  On the other side of the spectrum, naturalism claims truth comes from within.  The attractiveness of this worldview has led many into relying on science and knowledge.

The famous painting known as The School of Athens created by Raphael in the early 16th century articulates this internal battle.  As Plato points toward heaven, affirming the principles of the Bible, Socrates seeks gnosis, a secret wisdom from within.  Today, this debates continues, with public opinion slanting things in Socrates favor.  However, I still believe in the God above, whom calls people to look up, not within!

by Jay Mankus

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