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Keep Playing Until the Whistle Blows

In game 6 of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Nashville Predators had a goal disallowed.  Blocked by the goalie, a referee could not see a loose puck and inadvertently blew his whistle.  According to the rules, as soon as the whistle is blown the play is dead even if the puck was loose.  Unfortunately, this call prevented a 1-0 lead and ended Nashville’s chance to force a game 7.  The whistle in sports is like a supreme judge, overriding the initial call.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

If you have ever participated in sports, perhaps you have played for an old school coach.  These individuals are usually hands on, going through all the hypothetical situations players will encounter over the course of a season.  Relying on a practice makes perfect mentality, teammates sometimes have to repeat a play over and over until they get it right.  At the time this may seem unpleasant, yet in the end you and your team will be ready for anything.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2 Peter 1:3.

Outside of sports, it’s also important to keep living until the whistle blows.  If you don’t, you may be tempted to goof off or become lazy which leads to an unproductive life.  The passage above suggests that after you have accepted Christ into your heart by faith, God provides everything you need for life in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, don’t come up with reasons why you can’t do this or that.  Rather, live end day until the clock strikes twelve so that you know you gave your very best each day.

by Jay Mankus

 

Lairs of Satan

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead, Revelation 3:1.

Regardless of the subject or topic, there will always be extremes on either side of the issue.  For example, denominations vary on the theological role the Devil, Lucifer and Satan play on this life.  Charismatic churches encourage prayer which serves as a hedge of protection against demonic activity.  Meanwhile, moderate mainline churches do not emphasize spiritual warfare, speaking of Satan in symbolic terms and theory.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,” Matthew 16:23.

During the first century, Jesus wasn’t afraid to address controversial topics.  While addressing his disciples in private, Jesus exposes mindsets of the Devil.  Similar to the speel dished out to Eve that convinced her to eat forbidden fruit, Satan attempts to take human minds off of God’s concerns.  This is done through the temptation of instant gratification.  Apparently, Peter fell prey to this trap sent from Satan’s lair to his mind by a demon.

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you, Revelation 3:9.

In the book of Revelation, John writes sevens letters to churches chosen by the Holy Spirit.  John does not sugar coat the spiritual condition of these congregations.  One is described as being dead, another lukewarm and one with segments of Satan sitting inside the pews.  If every city has a safe and dangerous section of town, why is it so hard to imagine that the same concept exists in the spiritual realm.  As the moral fabric of America continues to crumble, perhaps there are lairs of Satan entrapping souls through an addiction to sin.  Unless these dominions of darkness are uncovered with fasting and prayer, demonic powers will continue to reign.  May the Holy Spirit open our eyes and inspire more people to put on the armor of God daily, Ephesians 6:10-20.

by Jay Mankus

The Hidden Years of Jesus

In the life of a Jew, adulthood begins at age twelve.  A ceremony known as a Bar-mitzvah for boys and Bat-mitzvah for girls commences this stage in life.  Luke 2 provides the only glimpse of Jesus’ life as a boy during his Bar-mitzvah.  Following this event, there are 18 years of silence known as the hidden years of Jesus.

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart, Luke 2:51.

Despite this gap of missing time, there are a few things we know about Jesus.  First, Jesus continued in the ways of his earthly father Joseph as a carpenter.  According to Luke, Jesus remained an obedient son, providing for his mother Mary after Joseph’s death.  The next time Jesus appears in the Bible is in the day of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man, Luke 2:52.

There are 3 qualities that highlight the missing years of Jesus,  First, Jesus grew in wisdom by daily taking time alone to pray with his heavenly father.  Second, Jesus’ actions, constant care and nurturing words magnified his stature as a godly man.  Finally, as Jesus keep in step with the Holy Spirit, God favor remained on Jesus in the form of daily blessings.  All these things prepared Jesus for the accounts portrayed in the four gospels which transformed the lives of 11 disciples.

by Jay Mankus

When Children Think Dad is No Longer Cool

When I became a first time parent 19 years ago, I began to ask elders from church about parenting.  Although each shared different principles to apply, one common message was passed on.  At some point, kids will reach a stage in life when hanging out with dad is no longer cool.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

As teenagers begin to develop a social life, priorities change.  At some point parents have to let go and allow their children to grow up.  When kids are still young, Solomon encourages fathers to demonstrate, emulate and model godliness.  Raising children with character is only effective if fathers live out what they believe.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

Instead of taking things personal, fathers with older children need to re-direct their attention.  This involves setting goals, developing vision and start thinking about what life will be like when your nest is empty.  On this father’s day, don’t exasperate your children.  Rather, ask the Lord for direction in prayer when kids reach the stage in life when dad is no longer cool to hang out with.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Fellowship of Suffering

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed, Luke 22:59-60.

While individuals may not want to admit it, there is a lot of Peter within most human beings.  When questioned by someone like Jesus, its easy to become defensive proclaiming, “I’d never do that.”  Yet, when push comes to shove human nature longs for acceptance.  Thus, few people ever join the fellowship of suffering.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” John 21:18.

When Jesus witnessed Peter’s final denial, this event likely cut to his heart.  Usually a big talker, Peter’s fear of persecution revealed a major flaw within his character.  Based upon the words within the gospel of John, it appears that this betrayal of Jesus haunted Peter for years.  Nonetheless, Jesus shows the way toward the fellowship of suffering, letting go and allowing God to lead you where you don’t want to go.

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, 1 Peter 3:17.

Following a moment of reconciliation with Jesus, Peter begins to enter a special group.  Unless you are willing to endure hardships for doing what is right, the fellowship of suffering is unattainable.  Jesus’ brother James refers to embracing trials by considering each attack on your faith a joy.  Whether it was maturity or a spiritual transformation, Peter gave up his life to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.  Prior to his death, Peter demanded to be crucified upside down claiming he was unworthy to die in the same manner of his Savior.  May this blog inspire you to follow in Peter’s footsteps by joining the Fellowship of Suffering.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Philosophy of Jesus

As his reputation as a healer and teacher grew, first century philosophers began to ponder the secret behind Jesus’ success.  Some Greeks approached Philip, one of Jesus’ disciple, hoping to arrange a meeting.  After conferring with Jesus, he agreed to sit down over dinner to share his beliefs.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit, John 12:24.

This meal takes place of the eve of Passion Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Jesus’ crucifixion.  Subsequently, in the previous verse John 12:23, Jesus points to a time when he will lay die his life.  This serves as an introduction to the philosophy of Jesus, you have to die to self before you can trily live.

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life, John 12:25.

I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of these philosophers.  I’m sure there was some head scratching and strange looks.  Yet, Jesus’ philosophy comes down to two elements: life and death.  Those who want to stay in control never find the abundant life promised in  John 10:10.  Meanwhile, those who are willing give up their life on earth to serve God receive eternal blessings.  This choice is not forced or manipulated.  Rather, its up to you.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Remember Where You Came From

Whether your life has turned out to be a success, disappointment or some where in between, its always important to remember where you came from.  Depending upon how you were raised, you’ve likely developed stereotypes about certain occupations, places or people.  Over time these views will either be reinforced or shattered.  Whatever happens make sure you remain humble so you don’t miss out on meeting special people.

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; Galatians 1:13.

Paul was a religious zealot who initially persecuted and gave the order to kill the apostle Stephen.  Thus, after his conversion to Christ many were hesitant to believe his faith was real.  This backlash inspired Galatians 1, a summary of his testimony.  It wasn’t until Paul began his missionary journeys when fellow Christians began to accept and embrace him as a genuine believer.

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, Galatians 1:15.

While my past isn’t as radical as Paul, I still have issues to overcome.  Years of stuttering stunted my communication skills and ability to draw close to others.  Periods of depression still cause me to withdraw at times, wandering away from the people I love.  Yet, because of God’s grace, I have hope for the future.  Despite my own imperfections, God sent His one and only Son to die for my sins.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down without accepting God’s free gift of eternal life.  When you remember where you came from, you will likely find a sinner saved by God’s grace.

by Jay Mankus