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Tag Archives: Summit Ministries

What the World Needs

One of the favorite weeks of the year as a teacher was attending the annual youth leadership conference. As a member of the Spiritual Life Committee, serving as chaperone for this event gave me the opportunity to recognize and encourage student leaders to follow God’s calling. These events introduced me to cutting edge curriculum designed by Summit Ministries. During one decade, I was blessed to participate in work shops led by Dr. Jeff Meyers and John Stonestreet. During my final year of attending, I was challenged to stop judging the world by engaging our culture with the living Word of God.

Now while Paul was awaiting them at Athens, his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned and argued in the synagogue with the Jews and those who worshiped there, and in the marketplace [where assemblies are held] day after day with any who chanced to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Stonestreet’s best lesson focused on the apostle’s initial visit to Athens. Despite being discouraged and grieved by a city full of idols, Paul tried to find something positive. Based upon the passage below, Paul identified a point of reference, an altar dedicated to an unknown god. Following a similar method of apologetics used by C.S. Lewis in the second portion of Mere Christianity, Paul establishes a common ground. Instead of preaching a message of condemnation, Paul compliments the citizens of Athens, referring to them as religious. Paul also quotes a poet who refers to being an offspring of God. This is what the world needs to hear.

So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], said: Men of Athens, I perceive in every way [on every hand and with every turn I make] that you are most religious or very reverent to demons. 23 For as I passed along and carefully observed your objects of worship, I came also upon an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. Now what you are already worshiping as unknown, this I set forth to you, Acts 17:22-23.

In the aftermath of the George Floyd’s unnecessary death at the hands of a white police officer, buildings, local businesses and vehicles have been set ablaze in Minnesota. As riots continue to spread to other major metropolitan cities, anger over Floyd’s death has fueled this outage. As African Americans, minorities and protesters seek justice for this hate crime, time will tell what the future holds. As for now, cooler heads must prevail. If this country wants to continue it’s reputation as the great American melting pot, we must come together to discover what we have in common. When common beliefs and ideals are embraced, Americans can unite over the freedoms laid out in the Bill of Rights.

by Jay Mankus

No Soup for You

Every so often sitcoms create a character that people connect with or relate.  Whether a friend or foe, hero or villain, this individual is like someone from your own life.  When Seinfeld introduced the Soup Nazi in November of 1995, this anal business owner was rigid, strict and quick to refuse non-conforming customers food.  This setting provided ideal segments for viewers to laugh.

Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

During my final few years of teaching high school, I relied on Summit Ministries to provide cutting edge material for my curriculum.  One of the seminars that I attended involved the concept that art often imitates life.  A 2011 article in Psychology Today eludes to how poetry often reflects cultural, philosophical and societal trends.  Thus, its no wonder that the practices of the Soup Nazi decades ago have resurfaced today.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

In recent weeks, those who support, wear apparel or work for president Trump are being denied service, harassed and heckled whenever they go.  Florida attorney general Pamela Bondi was bullied at a movie theater, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied service at a Virginia restaurant and others have been followed by protesters outside of their homes.  Perhaps, its time to go back in time to the days of Mr. Rogers so that neighborhoods will overcome a soup Nazi mentality with a spirit of hope, faith and love.

by Jay Mankus

When Fear Causes Your Dreams to Begin to Sink

When you are young, minds aren’t afraid to dream big.  Summit Ministries refers to this as BHAG’s, short for big hairy audacious goals.  Innocent minds don’t think of common obstacles that stand in the way of adults.  Rather, a child like faith exists which sets the stage for great things in the future.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus, Matthew 14:27-29.

Unfortunately, at some point in life, doubt creeps into confident individuals.  Such is the case of Peter, a bold disciple not afraid to take chances.  Thus, when Jesus asked him to join him on the water, Peter jumped at this opportunity.  Initially, Peter was defying gravity as he was actually walking on water just like Jesus.  Then, a gust of wind caught Peter by surprise.  This act of nature led to a chain of events as fear caused Peter to begin to sink into the middle of the lake.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:30-31

This story is symbolic of people who allow fear to interfere with accomplishing their dreams in life.  Determination, focus and vision enable individuals to get off to a good start in life.  Yet, at some point we take our eyes off of Jesus.  The moment this occurs people begin to think about the reasons why you can’t fulfills dreams and goals.  The next time this doubt creeps into your mind, shift your attention toward the power of God so that fear doesn’t cause your dreams to sink.

by Jay Mankus

The Seinfeld Effect

In the final episode of Seinfeld, Jerry, Elaine and George witness a car jacking.  Instead of helping, the three of them begin to crack jokes as Kramer takes out his camcorder to film this crime.  After the victim gives his report of what happened to a police officer, the entire Seinfeld crew gets arrested, tried and sentenced to jail for a year for failing to act as a good Samaritan.

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side, Luke 10:31.

Unfortunately, this comedy has filtered into our culture, influencing how a younger generation acts, behaves and treats one another.  This Seinfeld Effect played a part in the recent killing of Amy Inita Joyner-Francis, a 16 year old student at Howard Vocational High School in Delaware.  When a fight broke out in a girl’s bathroom, instead of intervening, other girls took out their phones to take pictures and videos.  Before a good Samaritan arrived, it was too late for Amy.

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:32-33.

During my last few years as a teacher, Summit Ministries was on the cutting edge of societal evolution, providing great resources to address growing needs.  At one of the last conferences I attended, the key note speaker spoke about how art imitates life.  Yet, over time life imitates art.  In the case of today’s culture, the Seinfeld Effect has swayed youth into passive, self-centered individuals.  Subsequently, many are amusing themselves to death, numbing souls from becoming the children God wants us to be.  May God awaken those distracted by an immoral world.

by Jay Mankus

 

Amusing Myself to Death

The definition of entertainment refers to providing and or receiving amusement or enjoyment.  Early cultures built theaters, often used to host plays to provide comic relief from the troubles in life.  In recent years, sports allows individuals to release their stress for a couple of hours each weekend.  However, if you get too comfortable or close to the finer things in life, you may be in danger of amusing yourself to death.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

After a long week of work, I tend to find myself on a recliner soaking in something on television.  While I do spent time outside playing golf, at my current age, I prefer to be entertained.  Perhaps this explains why I have a hard time turning the channel when movies like A Few Good Men, Bourne Identity or Shawshank Redemption come on.  Its strange how reruns can attract someone’s attention, wasting valuable time that could be spent fulfilling your dreams.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there, Acts 17:17.

One of the best resources for escaping the grips of amusement is Summit Ministries.  During my decade of teaching, Dr. Jeff Myers and John Stonestreet were at the forefront of preparing students for college.  One of their common messages is that life imitates art.   The best way to address this is by engaging today’s culture through apologetics.  Just as the apostle Paul persuaded the people of Athens, this world needs a leader to snap people out of their spiritual slumber.  May the Lord awaken couch potatoes with the saving grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Too Many Gangsta Wanna Be’s

During my first semester teaching in a private Christian school, less than 10 percent of my students were minorities.  Ten years later, roughly half of my students were either African Americans, Hispanic or from overseas, on exchange for a year.  As these cultures clashed with suburbia, I noticed a change in several students, mainly guys.  Trying to fit in, these teenagers began to emulate Ice Cube, 50 Cent, Eminem and 2Pac.  Instead of conforming to Christ, Romans 12:1-2, most ventured into the material world, wearing ball caps to the side, dressing like rap stars in videos and speaking broken English, slang, to sound cool.

Last night, I experienced my first public roller skating crowd since high school, escorting my daughter to her 9th birthday party at the local rink in town.  What I saw was much worse than anything I encountered in my classroom as a teacher.  As I stood to the side, talking pictures on my ipad of my daughter and her friends, a middle school girl gave me some advice.  “Be careful when you carry that Mister, there are some really mean people here!”  This was just a few minutes after people started skating, a clear indication that there are way too many gangsta wanna be’s in this upcoming generation.

In my final years of teaching, I attended a few seminars which addressed this issue of art imitating life, giving a biblical perspective of why some many young people are drawn to rap culture.  Leaders like Dr. Jeff Meyers and John Stonestreet have developed cutting edge curriculum, on the edge of societal evolution, available through Summit Ministries.  When people are humble, the media dismisses them as they bypass these individuals for the flamboyant, obnoxious or those who give great sound bites.  Or they take godly role models like Tim Tebow, over killing their coverage, causing the average fan to tune out, sick of the same message.  In this age, in a world that is falling apart morally, may father figures and influences like the movie Courageous change these gangster feelings before its too late.

by Jay Mankus

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