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How Serious are You?

Serious is defined as demanding careful consideration or application. While a perfectionist will attempt to do everything seriously, most individuals will show various degrees of concern. Those things near and dear to your heart will likely draw more attention. Meanwhile, lesser priorities will tend to receive a more carefree approach. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, this pandemic is forcing individuals to rethink the way that people live their daily lives.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night, Psalm 1:1-2.

Depending upon the circumstance, fear can either be healthy or unhealthy. From a biblical perspective, fear of the Lord separates a novice from a fully devoted Christ follower. While fear is often used in a negative context, fearing God refers to a holy reverence. Thus, developing this mindset is like showing a daily allegiance to Jesus through your actions. Holy fear steers those serious about their faith away from compromising and tempting situations toward obedience. In today’s context, practicing social distancing until COVID-19 fades or dies out completely.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is everyone who fears, reveres, and worships the Lord, who walks in His ways and lives according to His commandments, Psalm 128:1.

According to the Psalmist, fear and worship go hand and hand. While being a serious Christian doesn’t guarantee success, the more you walk in the Lord’s ways, the less likely you will stumble and fall. Anyone who demonstrates a healthy fear of the Lord will tend to purge addiction, bad habits and influences of sin from their life. At the present time, only God knows how long the Coronavirus will last. Yet, those who take this threat seriously, will likely live to see another day and God willing, a prosperous future.

by Jay Mankus

Earnest Prayers

Grave, serious and solemn describe the emotions connected to the term earnest.  Tragic events like the San Bernardino terrorist attack on a company Christmas party sent shock waves across the United States last week.  Like the nation of France following their own recent encounter, the news of death tends to bring people to their knees.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him, Acts 12:5.

Although less and less people annually consider themselves to be born again Christians, crying out to God is like a natural response in the face of desperation.  Unfortunately, earnest prayers usually arrive after disaster occurs.  Thus, for God to answer most prayers miracles are necessary or else people will go home disappointed and disenfranchised.  This wasn’t always the case, especially during the first century.

When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”  “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel,” Acts 12:14-15.

Persecution was a way of life for early Christian as many leaders were martyred for their faith.  Hopeful that Peter didn’t face the same fate of James of Zebedee in Acts 12:2, a spirit of earnest prayer spread.  This sober mood spawned an angel into action.  The ultimate goal of any prayer to receive the answer that you’re hoping for.  However, sometimes God answers quicker than you expect.  Thus, before the morning sunrise, Peter was set free, arriving at their front door.  Initially shocked like a dream too good to be true, this earnest prayer was blessed immediately.  In view of this account, be proactive to form a hedge of protection as you participate in a modern example of earnest prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Loosen Up

Depending upon your personality type, it may be hard to be serious, joke around or relax.  Everyone is wired a certain way so to break out of your norm isn’t easy.  As for me, I tend to be competitive and intense.  Sometimes I wonder if God places me in certain situations to loosen me up.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them, Mark 10:13.

Based upon the context of Mark 10, it appears the twelve disciples had a tendency to be all work and no play.  Watching from a distance, Jesus intervened, trying to teach a valuable life lesson.  Whether it was the innocence of children or the endless energy most possess, Jesus stressed the importance of welcoming young people.  Perhaps interacting with youth might loosen up the disciples.

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these, ” Mark 10:14.

This passage serves as a reminder to not to forget the next generation.  While you may think you are right, another voice may provide a new or quicker way of doing things.  Beside accepting children, adults would be wise to invest time in nurturing young men and women.  By doing this, you will honor God and leave a legacy of prepared believers to impact those struggling to make sense of these ever changing days.

by Jay Mankus

Self-Respect or Victimology

While working out last week at a local fitness center, I couldn’t help but over hear a serious conversation.  Discussing the recent Grand Jury verdict of Darren Wilson, each had a different perspective.  The woman spoke about the importance of having self-respect.  Meanwhile, the man played the victim, blaming the police and slavery for his woes.

Although I don’t have the clout of a minority, my father is an immigrant to this country.  Starting from scratch in upstate New York, excuses weren’t in his vocabulary.  Pushed by his mother, my dad earned his way into an Ivy League College and the Warner School of Business.  My father is living proof that if you develop discipline, self-respect and work hard, anything is possible.

On the other side of the spectrum, are those who play the victim card.  Adam and Eve emulated this endless circle after getting caught red handed with a half-eaten apple.  According to Moses, Adam blamed Eve, indirectly throwing God under the bus, “the woman you put me here with,” Genesis 3:12.  Not willing to take the fall, Eve redirected sole responsibility to the serpent, “he deceived me,” Genesis 3:13.  Subsequently, a generation of victims has been born.

Today, socioeconomics often play a vital role in the worldview you hold.  However, that doesn’t mean individuals can’t have a dream of a better life.  Although many fail, self-respect is a foundation for keeping hope alive.  Self-pity doesn’t solve any problems, its only an excuse to be held down by negativity.  Therefore, if you want to experience a slice of heaven on earth, turn in your victim card for faith in the Lord, Psalm 115:11.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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