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Tag Archives: spiritual disciplines

S.A.N.S. Episode 292: Tend

The word tend refers to regularly or frequently behavior in a particular way or have a certain characteristic. Every individual has certain habits and rituals that become part of a daily routine. Unfortunately, no matter how consistent you may be, everyone breaks from these patterns. For a Christian, there are spiritual disciplines that should become part of your daily schedule. While sometimes you may skip Bible Study or prayer, hopefully this trend is few and far between.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. 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 15:5-7.

The lyrics of Emily Rose’ song Tend are based upon Jesus’ words in the passage above. Jesus uses an analogy where God is a gardener and Jesus is the vine, the source of all life on earth. God prunes areas of our lives that are dormant or death. Pruning is designed to stimulate growth. Perhaps, Tend is all about staying connected with Jesus. Any other decision will result in curses in the form of hardship and pain. Enjoy today’s song.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 275: Getting Started

As a former high school Bible teacher, there were certain expectations I had when I accepted a position at a Christian school. It didn’t take long to realize that most of my students were simply going through the motions. Basic spiritual disciplines were lacking from their lives which prompted me to rewrite the curriculum for each grade to help seekers get started on the right track with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent, Psalm 34:17-18.

Today’s song by Jeremy Camp features a similar theme, Getting Started. Jeremy has released eleven albums during his music career, four of went on to become RIAA-certified as Gold. Jeremy’s attached video highlight a dreamer who is working hard to accomplish something others never believed was possible. Along life’s journey, you will be crushed, and heart broken. Yet, the lyrics of Getting Started point to Philippians 1:6, waiting on God to complete what He began in you. Enjoy today’s song.

by Jay Mankus

When Faith and Family Come Together

The concept of “Pay it forward” has ties to ancient Greece and the 1916 book In the Garden of Delight. Yet, as I studied the Bible last week, the apostles of the first century used pay it forward as a means to eliminate poverty. When faith and family come together to form a church, various expenses arise which one person can rarely pay for on his own. Yet, when an entire congregation develops the mindset that everyone in the church is family, every financial need is met.

And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers. 43 And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers). 44 And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; Acts 2:42-44.

Based upon the passage above, the first century church practiced four core principles. Bible study, fellowship outside the church. meeting together as a body to worship and prayer. As members of the first century church habitually maintained these core spiritual disciplines, faith and family slowly came together. Yet, Philippians 2:1-4 serves as a reminder that sometimes individuals need to take a step back to get their own life back on track before they can help others in the church.

And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need. 46 And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, 47 Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death], Acts 2:45-47.

Unfortunately, most families have a hard time meeting together over the holidays without two members getting into some sort of a heated argument. When personal preferences interfere with unity, it’s better to agree to disagree rather than carrying on with a long-winded exchange of words. The apostle Paul’s advice for moving beyond disagreements is by adopting the mind of Christ, Philippians 2:5-8. While this transformation won’t happen overnight, as Christian’s become servants of God, faith and family come together.

by Jay Mankus

The Kind of Person You Ought to Be

Six months after graduating college, I attended a Youth Ministry Trade School in Minnesota. These 7 weeks completely changed my life; encouraging me to stretch and expand my comfort zone. One of the techniques that I learned was setting goals from a Could Be/Should Be perspective. From a spiritual standpoint, I learned to take an inventory of where I am currently and where I need to be. While writing a first century letter, Peter challenges his listeners to consider the person that you ought to be in Christ.

Since all these things are thus [b]in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, 12 While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [[c]material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire? – 2 Peter 3:11-12

The origin of the term Christian dates back to sometime between 30 and 40 A.D. Citizens in the city of Antioch were impressed by members of their local church. Something was different about these people, a specific quality that set them apart from everyone else in town. As these followers of Jesus began to share their faith with the locals, one person put two and two together. “These people must be Christians, followers of Christ Jesus.

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a [a]slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

As this expression spread, the apostle Paul provided other churches with a simple spiritual goal to shoot for daily. As people of faith become imitators of Jesus, the fruits of the Spirit take precedence over the acts of your flesh, Galatians 5:1625. As hearts and minds become renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, the Holy Spirit steers you toward the person you ought to be in Christ. Prayer, reflection, and worship provide spiritual disciplines to keep your mind on becoming Jesus to your local community.

by Jay Mankus

A Spiritual Makeover for Troubled Souls

A makeover is a complete transformation or remodeling of something. The two most common usages apply to an individual’s physical appearance or the complete renovation of a house. Whether due to age, deterioration and or erosion, makeovers may be necessary to extend life. This may be in the form of altering one’s diet and exercise so that healthy foods and working out will promote a spiritual makeover.

And also the Holy Spirit adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]. For having said, 16 This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), Hebrews 10:15-16.

The author of Hebrews eludes to an internal change that takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit. To those who experienced this transformation in the first century shared their testimonies. One of the ways sinners alter their wayward habits is by meditating on God’s laws, Joshua 1:8. When this spiritual discipline is done with a sincere heart, minds begin shift from selfish toward eternity. As mindsets begin to change, thoughts and understanding set the stage for a spiritual makeover.

 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

The apostle Paul illustrates this transformation in the passage above. Whenever you stop living for yourself and start living for a higher calling, earthly bodies can begin to make this transition. Yet, a spiritual makeover can’t occur until you stop conforming to the patterns of this world. Just like Jesus encouraged his followers to emulate the beatitudes, spiritual transformation is an ongoing process as Christians seek to find out God’s will for your life. Unfortunately, change takes time as trial and error will close one door while opening another. It is on this journey where spiritual makeovers near completion.

by Jay Mankus

Looking in the Wrong Place for Conviction

Following the unfortunate death of George Floyd, a new movement was spawned. White Millennials began to attend Black Lives Matter protests. Whether convicted from Critical Race Theory or White Privilege seminars, a large number of white women have publicly confessed their sins of racism, bowing down to the BLM Movement. This sign of allegiance has emboldened BLM leaders to publicly demand other white people to bow at their feet. Using peer pressure and force on some occasions, many are looking in the wrong place for conviction.

And how can men [be expected to] preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings! [How welcome is the coming of those who preach the good news of His good things!] 16 But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what he has heard from us? 17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself), Romans 10:15-17.

More than 2 decades ago I attended a 2 day Promise Keepers event at Soldier Field. The opening night was amazing, headlined by a moving speech from founder Bill McCartney. McCartney inspired the 65,000 men who attended with a call to become leaders in their family and community. Day 2 was focused on unity, addressing the topic of racism in the church. Instead of focusing on an individual basis, the Key Note speaker assumed that every white man in attendance was racist. As some one who attended public schools, spending 3 years in inner city Wilmington, I was offended.

Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. 15 And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:14-16.

God designed human beings with a conscience, serving as a regulating force to convict wayward souls. Meanwhile, the Bible is the only book in human history that has been deemed living and active, Hebrews 4:12. This code of conduct was designed to be a source of light, providing direction and guidance to our feet, Psalm 119:105. You shouldn’t have to go to church, a protest, or rally to be convicted. Rather, the apostle Paul reminded first century Christians that the more you read, study and listen to God’s Word, hearts and minds can change. Therefore, don’t allow peer pressure to alter your beliefs. Instead, meditate upon God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:8. When you practice spiritual disciplines, conviction will come via the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Place Where Momentum Dies

Acceleration, briskness, expeditiousness and tempo are words associated with momentum. This invisible force is often played out during competitions as individuals or teams excel, clicking on all cylinders. When someone goes on a roll, confidence becomes contagious, spreading to teammates. Unfortunately, as quickly as this energy arrives, one error, mistake or mental lapse will cause momentum to vanish. The place where momentum dies is within the human mind.

This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and being spiritually impassioned, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things about Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John; Acts 18:25.

Whenever human beings become tired, artificial means are relied upon to stoke physical momentum. Coffee, caffeine and energy drinks are drank daily to awaken senses so that maximum effort is achieved at work. When one drink starts to wear off, another is consumed to ensure that momentum is maintained. While artificial methods often develop results, drinking too much caffeine can result in unpleasant side affects such as muscle tremors, nervousness or an upset stomach.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. 25 If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit], Galatians 5:24-25.

The Bible refers to a spiritual momentum. At the start of Paul’s third missionary journey, a Jews named Apollos felt spiritually impassioned by the Hebrew Scriptures which he studied daily. In a letter to the church at Galatia where Apollos first learned about Jesus, Paul credits this momentum on the spiritual discipline known as keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. However, Paul suggests that spiritual momentum is broken by appetites and passions from within. This sinful nature causes weakened minds to give into temptation. Thus, until you crucify these spiritual barriers, you won’t be able to become empowered by God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

When Jesus Slides Down Your Top 10 List

Despite all of the new technological advancements, I still like to write down a to do list. While my priorities change from week to week, the satisfaction of checking off a goal makes me feel like I have actually accomplished something. When I don’t take the time to jot down my priorities, I make a mental note in my mind so when the weekend arrives, I can begin my list.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you., Matthew 6:33.

During the week, I have a set routine until my children’s sports schedules commences. To attend as my games and meets as possible, I am forced to alter my to do list. In the process, sometimes Jesus slides down a few notches from the top down toward the middle. When I delay my time to read the Bible, journal my thoughts and pray, it’s not uncommon to skip this spiritual discipline, forgetting about it completely.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Luke 12:34.

Jesus warns individuals like me to guard your heart. If you are not careful, temporary pleasures will influence your heart to change what you treasure. The more Jesus slides down your top 10 to do list, it’s likely that you will slowly grow apart from God. To prevent this slide from becoming a trend, Jesus urges believers to seek first God’s kingdom and righteous. When you do, God promises to bless and restore your life.

by Jay Mankus

The Cleansing

A decade old health poll revealed that 31% of Americans do not shower every day.  The same study showed 65% bath and or shower daily with 4% showering more than once a day.  Other cultures such as Europe find it socially acceptable to shower 3 to 4 times a week.  The purpose of cleansing is to disinfect, freshen up and sanitize human bodies.  The cooler than climate, the less this may be needed.  However, depending upon your degree of perspiration, you may need to shower twice a day to avoid offending your family with a fowl body odor.

And God, who knows and understands the heart, testified to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; Acts 15:8.

The Bible refers to a spiritual cleansing.  This isn’t accomplished by taking a private bath or shower.  Rather, churches perform baptisms which demonstrate a public expression of an inner faith.  According to the apostle Paul, God cleanses souls through the power of the Holy Spirit.  After someone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, Romans 10:9-10, first century Christians immediately participated in outdoor baptism ceremonies along a nearby body of water.  Despite having clothes on at this time, Luke describes this process as hearts beings cleansed by faith.

And He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith [in Jesus], Acts 15:9.

The symbolism of baptism is God’s way of giving human beings a clean slate, a spiritual do over where souls set out on a life long journey as a new creation in Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, the sinful nature inside of us, referred to as the flesh by Paul makes it impossible to be perfect.  In a letter to the church at Rome, Paul states on several occasions “there is no one righteous, not even one,” Romans 3. Thus, after experiencing a believer’s baptism, confession, prayer and fasting serve as means to receive another spiritual cleansing.  May these spiritual disciplines become a daily habit to cleanse your heart by faith.

by Jay Mankus

When Sanity is Restored

The Bible’s authors have a unique way of expressing individuals who make poor decisions.  A common way to explain this behavior is being out of your mind.  Missteps usually begin with momentary lapses in judgement.  When a pattern forms, unsettled minds take souls further away from God than they ever expected or intended.  Anyone who goes off the deep end is often labeled insane.

Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws. Daniel 4:33.

One of the gospel authors blames insanity on demons, Mark 5:1-20.  One man’s condition had gotten so bad that he withdrew to catacombs, living in an underground cemetery.  Jesus refers to his condition as being under the influence of an unclean spirit.  A legion of demons possessed this man, making sanity impossible under his current state.  Yet, Jesus diagnosed this man’s spiritual condition by relying on the Holy Spirit.  After confronting one dominant being, this man was set free.

Now at the same time my reason returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor were returned to me, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was re-established in my kingdom, and still more greatness [than before] was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and faithful and His ways are just, and He is able to humiliate and humble those who walk in [self-centered, self-righteous] pridem,” Daniel 4:36-37.

Another disciple refers to a similar account or perhaps the same event.  This time the man once possessed is described as being in his right mind.  This is where sanity is restored as individuals can once again follow and obey their conscience.  The apostle Paul stresses the need to take thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Make sure this spiritual discipline is exercised so that if you are on the verge of giving into temptation, sanity will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

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