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Tag Archives: teaching

No Substitute Will Do

As a former teacher, I despised planning for my days off, putting together lesson plans for a substitute.  While this replacement for a class, day or week tries their best to follow the material provided, students will do all they can to battle for a movie day or study hall.  When I returned back to the classroom, I was usually disappointed by the lack of progress that was made.  Although there are several excellent full time subs, some individuals are impossible to replace.

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed, Acts 14:23.

As an adult, I struggle to focus when I attend a church service and the senior pastor is off or out of town.  Maybe once or twice the guest speaker is just as good, but usually there is a big drop off.  When worship leaders are absent or the A team is away playing for another service, there is usually a noticeable difference.  Whenever superior talent is replaced by an alternate or reserve, these fill ins are put into a no win situation.  If surprisingly good, regulars might feel threatened.  When someone fails miserably, you will likely lose this volunteer, to avoid future embarrassment.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, Hebrews 2:9.

These illustrations prove that no substitute will do for certain scenarios.  For example, attending church from an off campus sight or virtually on an electronic device is a growing trend.  When pastors or worship teams aren’t available, newly planted churches can participate by watching from a large screen.  If you are not careful, it’s easy to withdraw, staying home to listen to sermons and worship.  I must confess that I have fallen prey to this trap.  I rationalize my actions by listening to two to three sermons each Sunday.  Yet, when it comes to being part of a local congregation, no substitute will do.  God designed the body of Christ around imitate relationships.  Thus. getting involved means going to church, fellowshipping with others and making yourself vulnerable to God.

by Jay Mankus

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Properly Utilizing God’s Power

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power.  The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became.  Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons.  In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling.  Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.

Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.

Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews.  Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training.  On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers.  This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes.  This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death.  On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.

As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues.  Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list?  Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will?  Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?”  What is a good middle ground, a place to start?  If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp.  Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.  May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.

by Jay Mankus

You Might Want to Check This Out

Whenever a student enters their first semester of high school or college, transitioning to this next level can be difficult.  Some professors and teachers understand this, providing subtle hints during lectures.  The more serious might exclaim, “what aren’t you writing this down.”  Meanwhile, savvy veterans tend to be more entertaining, coughing in gest “this seems like a good test question,” winking to anyone paying attention.  Ultimately, I learned that anytime facts, information or statistics were repeated, it was something I should definitely study.

If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:43-44.

During a first century speech to his disciples, Jesus repeats the same sentence almost verbatim three times.  The subtext above this passage in my Bible reads Dire Warnings,  I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious, but you might want to check into this beginning with Mark 9:44.  Since the previous verse mentions hell, this statement refers to an eternal reality.  From a literal stand point, Jesus highlights a constant gnawing on human flesh in a place without any escape from fire.  Jesus’ dire warning is to scare souls straight from this state of eternal suffering.

If your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It would be better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell, 46 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:45-46

Jesus’ advice to avoid this destination is through the Old Testament practice of purging.  While Jesus isn’t telling people to physical remove parts of your body, the actual call to action refers to removing the source of temptation within your life.  For an alcoholic its getting rid of any beverages that might cause you to stumble.  Those addicted to pornographic must place filters on computers, cancel mail subscriptions and remove all magazines that promotes lust.  Everyone has a weakness.  There is no such thing as a superman or super woman.  Rather, each must meditate, pray and act immediately upon conviction so that any traces of temptation are removed.  May you be successful in this constant battle to avoid the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where’s the Meat?

In 1984 the Wendy’s Fast Food Chain introduced one of the most memorable advertising slogans of my time, “where’s the beef?”  Actress Clara Peller receives a small burger on a large bun which sets the stage for this classic line.  This commercial convinced customers for a period of time that you had to go to Wendy’s to enjoy a beefy hamburger.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil, Hebrews 5:14.

In spiritual houses of worship, there is a similar question asked by hungry souls, “where’s the meat?”  Due to a movement toward entertaining church services, there appears to be more fluff and less detailed teaching.  Thus, many believers are struggling to grow, lacking challenging sermons filled with spiritual meat.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” Matthew 9:12.

During a conversation among disciples and Pharisees, Jesus makes an assumption about spiritual growth.  Sooner or later, the spiritually mature must grow up by learning to take care of their own faith.  When you reach this stage in life, you can feed yourself through times of Bible Study, fellowship with other believers and prayer.  As you develop healthy spiritual disciplines, you can find the meat, godly principles, within the Bible daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

Time’s Up

Even when you stop for a while to sit down and rest, there’s always a clock running somewhere in the world.  Whether its Time Square, Big Ben or a clock in your house, time never stops ticking.  When your time is up on earth, the Lord will send someone else to finish any task that you were unable to complete.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12.

One of the nice things about time is that after 24 hours everything resets to zero.  Subsequently, each day should be a learning process, a chance to improve on the mistakes of yesterday.  Solomon suggests that those open to teaching will receive a heart of wisdom.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

Like the tragedy at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida, days can turn evil at any point.  In the case of today, five innocent individuals were taken from this planet.  Life can be cruel when someone who is influenced by powers of darkness exercises free will with the intent to harm others.  May God have mercy on those who time has expired, divinely providing for family members left behind on earth.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Days Don’t End Like You Hoped

The endings of Hollywood movies have ingrained in American minds that life should conclude in a certain way.  Unfortunately, film and reality are miles apart.  Subsequently, more and more individuals feel the crippling effects of sleepless nights caused by days which end far from what each expected.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

After losing my teaching position 5 years ago, I transitioned into screen writing based upon the advice of a former co-worker.  Three complete scripts later my initial goal is to sell one my these scripts before I reach 55; then write a script a year in retirement.  Despite my desires, an unexpected eye condition may put my own plan on hold or cancel it completely.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

When things don’t go your way or days end in heart break, there’s only one place to turn.  Carrying around all your burdens, pain and worry will wear you out.  Therefore, do let trials suck out your joy for life.  Instead, go to the Lord in prayer so that Jesus will replace your burden with peace.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Until You Repent

Taking advice from a stranger usually doesn’t go over well.  Some will be insulted, others perturbed and most will shut down, unwilling to go any further with the current conversation.  However, when God is the stranger, perhaps you should open your heart and mind to the message provided.

Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings, Proverbs 1:23.

In a letter addressed to his sons, Solomon stresses the importance of listening like a voice of reason.  Trying to urge his children to avoid the same mistakes he made, Solomon reinforces the principle of repentance.  If you drive long enough, sooner or later you will miss your turn.  Thus, if you want to reach your desired destination, making a U-turn is a must.

But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm, Proverbs 1:33.

The Lord promises the blessing of a safe life to those who heed this call.  Yet, for those too stubborn to stop, drop and pray, calamity is awaiting, with disaster, trouble and distress on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  While the choice is obvious, too many people end up on the wrong side of the fence.  If you’re currently wondering, what the hell is going on, its likely heartache will continue until you repent.

by Jay Mankus

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