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Redefining Greatness in the Eyes of Heaven

The saying “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” is attributed to Margaret Hungerford. Using the pen name “the Duchess,” Margaret wrote this expression in one of her Irish proverbs. During his lifetime, King Solomon created over 1000 songs and 3000 proverbs. The purpose of these old wise sayings was to develop a spiritual mindset. Without some sort of transformation, human beings aren’t able to comprehend what’s great in God’s eyes.

But this is not to be so with you; on the contrary, let him who is the greatest among you become like the youngest, and him who is the chief and leader like one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves. 28 And you are those who have remained [throughout] and persevered with Me in My trials; Luke 22:26-28.

Using a sports analogy, talk shows weekly debate who is the G.O,A.T? Whether it’s a cable or radio program, there is something about ascertaining the greatest of all time. Various opinions collide just like the disciples who wanted to prove to Jesus that they were better than everyone else in the room. This sets the stage for Jesus to quickly shift gears from an earthly perspective toward heaven. While God has great things prepared in advance for every believer, Philippians 1:6, the ultimate goal is serving others.

But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, 44 And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for ([y]instead of) many, Mark 10:43-45.

One thing that makes leaders stand out are those individuals who just don’t say the right thing, but back up their words with action. As Jesus was about to lay down his life on a cross, He likely saw his life flash before his eyes. Similar to flashbacks in a movie, Jesus is reclining at a table with his friends for the last time as a human being. Adrenaline and emotions were likely flowing as they departed this upper room singing hymns. Following Jesus’ resurrection, the first breakfast in John 21:8-11 gave Jesus the opportunity to fully redefine greatness in the eyes of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

A Faith That Stands the Test of Time

I visited a church last Sunday to meet up with a couple I hadn’t seen for a while.  Upon entering the foyer, I recognized the greeters from Red Lion where I taught for a decade.  As the music began to play at the traditional service, I felt like I was transported back to the 1970’s.  I hadn’t heard or sung several of these hymns since I was young.  Despite this odd encounter, I witnessed a faith within members of the congregation that has stood the test of time.

In the morning, as they were passing by, the disciples saw that the fig tree had withered away from the roots up. 21 And remembering, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi (Master), look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered!” – Mark 11:20-21

This faith was conceived during the first century from a motley crew of men who followed an impressive Jewish Rabbi.  One of these disciples connected the dots quickly, amazed at the power Jesus possessed.  One day Jesus cursed an unproductive fig tree and the next day it withered.  As more and more miracles were seen daily, Peter was transformed from someone who denied Jesus publicly into a martyr willing to die for his faith.

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. 23 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will], Mark 11:22-23.

Faith in Christ is like the merging of belief and confidence.  When these two forces join, the words mentioned above become reality as souls tap into God’s unlimited power.  This process is hard to explain. but when you see individuals praying, singing and worshipping with such joy, faith shines through.  While older Christians may cling to traditional hymns, inspired hearts often result in a faith that stands the test of time.

by Jay Mankus

 

Awaken Your Soul

The average person needs caffeine each morning before they begin to feel normal.  Whether its coffee, tea or soda, many rely on substitutes to awaken their soul.  Meanwhile, the morning person has way too much energy for sleepy heads like me, needing to put on a lid of their joy until co-workers regain their consciousness.  Yet, there is another anecdote mentioned in the Bible which awakens souls daily.

According to Psalm 57:7-8, music is great way to awaken your soul.  Depending upon your instrument of choice or the genre you prefer, King David used the sound of music to awaken his soul.  Whether you find yourself rising to music on your alarm, singing in the shower or preparing yourself with your favorite artist on your way to work, God designed music to make individuals feel better, 1 Samuel 16:22-23.

From an early age, David found contentment playing his harp, making a joyful noise to the Lord, Psalm 150:3.  Although he likely didn’t take this to work in the fields as a shepherd, David’s soul was lifted up by the sound of music.  Today, music is only a click away on your computer, itunes or satellite radio.  You can build your own radio station on Pandora, create your own playlist on an mp3 player or access your favorite station at home.  Regardless of the time, morning, day or night, awaken your soul this day with the soothing sound of music.

by Jay Mankus

Look to Him, Not to Us

When you are young, its easy to take for granted the places you visit and family vacations you experience.  As an adult, I am learning to appreciate each special opportunity the Lord grants me, one day at a time.  This morning I awoke early, before the crack of dawn, reminiscing about some of the greatest worship moments I have ever encountered.

Singing One Bread, One Body prior to communion at my first Walk to Emmaus weekend still gives me goosebumps.  The Community gatherings at Willow Creek in Chicago I attended every Wednesday night for a year combined immaculate worship with the teaching of John Ortberg.  The rock concert at The Church of the Open Door in Minnesota during my youth ministry trade school in the Twin Cities gave me an idea of the intensity one must bring to fully worship God.  However, this past weekend while visiting Vineyard Christian Fellowship on Appleton Road in Landenburg, Pennsylvania, I felt as if I was in the presence of the most high.

Psalm 100:1 was the inspiration behind the song Shout to the Lord.  The following verse, Psalm 100:2 calls people to make a joyful noise.  However, there is a temptation for worship leaders to think, “look at me, don’t I have a great voice?”  As a karaoke enthusiast, I spent several summer evenings in college hanging out with friends at a local night club, often singing 4 songs prior to leaving.  When you were good, the crowd went crazy following your last line.  If you weren’t, like me, I felt like a professional golfer receiving a subtle clap of applause.  My high point of Karaoke came at the 1995 Canadian P.G.A. Tour Qualifying School on Vancouver Island hosted by Morningstar Golf Club.

After a poor opening round, shooting in the 80’s, I went to a local sports bar in Nanaimo to drown my sorrows.  Since most singers were distracted by the NHL playoffs, plastered on a dozen televisions, volunteers for Karaoke were slim.  Instead of drinking, I used singing as a vehicle for healing.  To my surprise, I nailed Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon, actually hitting every note on cue.  As I handed my microphone off, the place erupted.  Thinking the Canucks, Vancouver’s professional hockey team, had just scored a goal, I turned to the nearest set to see what I just missed, trying to catch a replay.  To my amazement, the audience was cheering for me, praising me for my performance.

The message God placed on my heart over and over this morning is “Look to Him, not to us!”  Since I haven’t had much success singing, the temptation to steal credit from God isn’t there.  However, there are other areas, venues in which I have stolen the limelight from the Lord.  David reminds us in Psalm 16:2 that apart from God we can do nothing.  Therefore, whether you are leading worship for your church, fulfilling the duties of your occupation or fanning into flame your spiritual gift, look to Jesus for strength, 2 Corinthians 12:9.  By demonstrating biblical principle, other  people will start looking to Him, not to us, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

by Jay Mankus

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