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Tag Archives: wisdom

When Time is the Enemy?

Depending upon by your occupation, time is often a driving force, setting daily deadlines for the work that needs to get done.  As this specific hour approaches, stress builds as a team of individuals scramble to complete projects and tasks.  When deadlines are missed, blame is assigned to designate who or what department is at fault.  Thus, under these circumstances, time is the enemy.

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

Anyone who works a normal five day week, experiences another aspect of time.  When your responsibilities at work overwhelm your soul, time has a way of dragging on, slowing down to the point that one hour feels like 90 minutes.  Meanwhile, weekends fly by like a Nascar race.  As soon as you sit down to relax for a while, your weekend is gone and over.  If you don’t love your job, getting up Monday morning to repeat this vicious cycle will wear you down.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8.

In the song Somewhere Somehow, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith sing about moments in life when time is the enemy.  One of my favorite stanzas contain the words “Somewhere far beyond today I will find a way to find you And somehow through the lonely nights I will leave a light in the dark.  While the will to love someone on earth may make this a reality, only God will leave a light on in the dark.  Thus, when time becomes an enemy, it’s never too late come to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

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What You Don’t See

Every day someone will encounter persecution.  This will occur in the form of abuse, discrimination, oppression, punishment or victimization.  Persecution can be subtle by someone trying to manipulate you or brash by individuals who holds a higher position or social status in life.  However, what you don’t see is how current trials and tribulations prepare you for future events.

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

When I was in third grade, I walked to an elementary school in my neighborhood.  After desegregation was passed in Delaware, I was forced to attend a school in inner city Wilmington.  I went from the safety of the suburbs into a school with mainly African American and Hispanic students.  At the time, I was overwhelmed, scared and questioning God about why I had to go through this.  Thirty years later, when I became a high school teacher, these 3 miserable years helped me relate to a broad spectrum of students.

In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

In the passage above, Peter writes a letter to first century Christians.  While one of Jesus’ disciple doesn’t specify about which trial he is referring to, Peter warns believers that persecution is a necessary evil.  Whether it was denying Jesus in public or making a fool of himself, trials serve as a refining process for faith.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy of being clay shaped by God the Potter who molds and fastens us into his own image.  The hard part is going through the fire, furnace.  Therefore, the next time you feel overwhelmed by hardships, what you don’t see is God setting the stage for your next assignment in life.

by Jay Mankus

Wisdom, Virtue and Faith

After graduating college, I was fortunate enough to travel through out the mid-west.  During this time, I visited a couple of mega churches that still exist today.  I spent time at Parkside Church in Cleveland pastored by Alistair Begg, the voice of the Truth for Life radio ministry.  I attended Community Church on Wednesday nights, listening to John Ortberg at Willow Creek Community Church west of Chicago.  While participating in a youth ministry trade school called Tentmakers, I visited the Church of the Open Door just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  As I reflect upon these three places of worship, my time there reminds me of the passage below.

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

According to Luke, following Saul’s conversation, the first century church enjoyed a period of peace without persecution.  Churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria shared three common traits: wisdom, virtue and faith.  Like any spiritual awakening, the presence of the Holy Spirit comes forth in unique ways.  Luke highlights two aspects of this spiritual growth as believers walked in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.  As wisdom, virtue and faith continued to be built up, people entered into personal relationships with Jesus daily, baptized and becoming active members of these church communities.

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 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]. 26 We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another, Galatians 5:22-26.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul provide a blue print for modern believers to follow.  Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.  Virtue involves adopting behavior which results in high moral standards.  Meanwhile, faith is complete trust or confidence in God.  When you join these three qualities together, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is achievable.  As a disclaimer for perfectionist who read this, no one will be able to hear, listen and obey God’s Spirit every time.  Yet, the more you keep in step with God, the easiest it will become to do so in the future.  Wherever you may be in your faith journey, emulating the first century church will place you one step closer to keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Circle of Life

Twenty two years ago, my wife Leanne received confirmation that she was pregnant with our first child.  While I was able to share this good news in person with my mom, my father was away on a business trip.  This good news was replaced by sorrow as my grandmother passed away on this same day.  Following the funeral of my dad’s mother, new parenting classes attempted to prepare us for raising a child.  Twenty one years ago over Memorial Day Weekend, Leanne endured 29 hours of labor to give birth to James.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest, John 12:24.

Fast forwarding 19 years, another tragedy illustrates the circle of life.  Leanne’s father was in a bad car accident, battling to stay a live for a couple of weeks.  Away at college, James wasn’t able to be there as his grandfather passed away.  However, James did call the hospital, breaking the news over the phone of a new girl friend.  Jim’s funeral introduced Emma to our family, fitting in naturally.  One year later, James shared he proposed to Emma, setting the date of his own wedding this Memorial Day Weekend.  As death takes one soul away, the birth of a new relationship sets the stage for the circle of life to be completed.

The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal, John 12:25.

As I experience hosting my first rehearsal dinner tonight, I am passing the torch to my oldest son.  After tonight, James is on his own, starting a new journey with his soul mate Emma.  I’m not sure exactly what to say, but all I know is to pass on words of wisdom from the Bible.  As I think of the perfect thing to say, I am reminded of Jesus’ comments in the passage above.  In the context of marriage, two will become one.  Just as individuals must die to self so that Christ might live, couples must yield to God to take the wheel, direction in life.  As my wife and I complete one task, raising James, we look forward to becoming supportive parents in Emma and James’ future endeavors.

by Jay Mankus

Music and Lyrics

As a former song writer of A Simple Confession, I enjoy watching documentaries on musicians.  When Music Television first launched in 1983, one of my favorite programs was Behind the Music.  This show interviewed lead singers and song writers, revealing the inspiration behind the lyrics of their songs.  When I watched the 2007 film Music and Lyrics, I was inspired to begin working on a new song or album.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God, Colossians 3:16.

Hugh Grant plays a washed up singer living on the coattails of his past, playing wherever fans crave music from the 1980’s.  When his agent receives a call from a famous pop star, Grant is given a couple days to compose a chart-topping hit for this teen sensation.  Drew Barrymore serves as a replacement plant sitter, interrupting Grant’s session with his lyricist.  When Barrymore begins to put these lyrics into a catchy melody, she is hired to complete this song.

Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Ephesians 5:19.

The Bible mentions the power of music and lyrics.  When David played his harp for King Saul, the sound uplifted his soul.  The prophet Samuel claims that music soothes the soul.  While Huey Lewis sang about the Power of Love in 1996, the Bible is filled with examples of how music encourages, inspires and uplifts hearts.  As individuals meditate on the word of God, hymns, melodies and spiritual songs, the Lord will put a new song upon or within your heart and mind to share with others.

by Jay Mankus

 

Signs of the Fullness of God

Whenever anyone seeks to advance in a career, hobby or trade, you must separate yourself from other potential candidates.  When milk sits in a refrigerated container and cream is added, it separates itself and floats on top of the milk.  This is what individuals must do when applying for a job, entering a contest or pursuing a professional career, rise to the top.  When signs of greatness are present, people begin to receive the recognition that they deserve.

Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” Acts 6:3-4.

Sometime after 30 AD, church growth exploded as more and more souls entered into personal relationships with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  The only downside to this movement was that the widows of Greek speaking Jews began to be neglected.  These Hellenistic Jews complained to the twelve disciples hoping that the church could begin to provide for their needs.  A meeting was scheduled to address this concern.  The end result was a selection process to choose seven godly men to oversee the distribution of food to the poor and needy.

The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch. They brought these men before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them [to dedicate and commission them for this service], Acts 6:5-6.

A first century doctor observed three special qualities from one man who separated himself from everyone else.  According to the passages above, Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom.  If you take these observations in the context of Galatians 5:22, the fruits of the Holy Spirit were naturally flowing out of Stephen.  These traits of integrity are a clear sign of the fullness of God.  Anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, Matthew 6:33, will begin to exude the fullness of God.

by Jay Mankus

The Prayer of Moses

You can learn a lot about someone by the content of their prayers. Over my years of attending Bible studies, sharing groups and Sunday School classes, its easy to decipher who has a quality prayer life for those who casually pray. The only known Psalm written by Moses begins with a brief history of the Old Testament. Like any introduction, Moses is attempting to get God’s attention by acknowledging who the Lord is and what He has done.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place [our refuge, our sanctuary, our stability] in all generations. Before the mountains were born or before You had given birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God. You turn man back to dust,
And say, “Return [to the earth], O children of [mortal] men!” For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night, Psalm 90:1-4.

During Moses’ first conversation with God, Exodus 4:10-13, readers discover that Moses was born with a severe speech impediment. As someone who has endured a similar fate early in my life, speaking out loud makes a stutterer nervous. Speaking directly to the Creator of heaven and earth probably exasperated Moses’ condition. Instead of believing that God could heal his speech, Moses rejects God’s initial offer to be the Lord’s spokesman.

Who understands the power of Your anger? [Who connects this brevity of life among us with Your judgment of sin?] And Your wrath, [who connects it] with the [reverent] fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom. Turn, O Lord [from Your fierce anger]; how long will it be? Be compassionate toward Your servants—revoke Your sentence, Psalm 90:11-13.

Based upon the words of Psalm 90, Moses wrote this chapter after being healed of stuttering. The passage above sounds like someone who is mature, reflecting back over the course of his life. There will be moments in time when you won’t understand why God is doing this or that. Nonetheless, Moses asks the Lord for wisdom and the ability to seize each day God gives you on earth. While all have fallen short of God’s glory, Moses pleads with God to lean on the side of compassion. May this ancient prayer cultivate your faith as you reflect upon God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

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