RSS Feed

Tag Archives: discipline

Your Next is Greater Than Your Now

Financial planners seek to guide individuals toward fulfilling their dreams in life.  Depending upon how soon families begin to set aside funds for retirement, this process requirements discipline, focus and numerous sacrifices.  Yet, all these preparations don’t ensure a happy ending.  Thus, its essential that people begin to trust God, believing that your next is greater than your now.

For I want you to know, believers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel [it is not a human invention, patterned after any human concept]. 12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a [direct] revelation of Jesus Christ.  You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it, Galatians 1:11-13.

During a letter to the church in Galatia, the apostle Paul gives a brief summary of his past, present and desire to follow God’s will in the future.  Paul doesn’t shy away from his ignorant past, blinded by a religious zeal for Judaism.  This obsession led Paul to conspire against the founding of the first century church.  Perhaps, the words of Stephen prior to his persecution and death broke through Saul’s calloused heart.

But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles [as the good news—the way of salvation], I did not immediately consult with anyone [for guidance regarding God’s call and His revelation to me]. 17 Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia and stayed awhile, and afterward returned once more to Damascus, Galatians 1:15-17.

After being blinded on the road to Damascus, this set forward a chain of events resulting in Paul’s salvation.  The first thing Paul did following his conversion was going home to tell family and friends what God had done for him.  The Bible is silent on how Paul’s Jewish parents responded to and received this news.  Nonetheless, Paul quickly came to the conclusion that your next is greater than your now with Jesus.  Although, this doesn’t ensure a story book ending on earth, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does secure an eternal reservation in heaven, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Sight of God’s Glory

Attention, concentration and emphasis are words associated with focus.  These synonyms highlight the priority for those individuals who hone in on what’s important in life.  Depending upon your age, hobbies and interests, time will be allocated and invested in specific areas.  However, discipline, resolve and zeal are necessary traits to make your goals a reality.  Nonetheless, human nature has a subtle way of distracting good intentions.  The end result often leads to losing sight of God’s glory.

And David was dancing before the Lord with great enthusiasm, and David was wearing a linen ephod [a priest’s upper garment], 2 Samuel 6:14.

Prior to achieving fame by defeating the giant Philistine Goliath in battle, David was a skilled musician and shepherd.  The Old Testament does not reveal whether or not David combined these two abilities.  However, to stay sharp, I can see David practicing his harp at night, using a camp fire as a source for light.  As a former saxophone player, there is an adrenaline rush from playing moving songs.  Perhaps, this might explain the inspiration behind dancing, moving your body to the beat of music.  Beside performing for King Saul, David was also known to dance with enthusiasm, at one point dancing naked before the ark of the covenant.  Yet, five chapters later, seeing a beautiful woman bathing caused David to lose sight of God’s glory.

Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the LordPraise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:6

Romans 3:9-12 addresses mankind’s inability to avoid sin.  At some point, everyone screws up, falling prey to temporary pleasures.  As great as David’s act of adultery and murder detailed in 2 Samuel 11 may be, there is a way to regain your focus back toward glorifying God.  If you pray for a new heart, seeking to become a man or woman after God’s own heart, your spiritual vision will be renewed.  I have wasted years on earth trying to do what I want, to make a name for myself.  This selfish venture has blinded me from my real purpose for existing, Psalm 150:6.  Instead of waking up with the attitude what will God do for me today, there is a better alternative.  Start each day with a verse, a song and prayer to praise the Lord.  This is why you and I were born.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down before practicing praise and worship of the great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

 

Setting Aside Self

While social media is designed to express what you’re doing, thinking or updating your status, the Bible reminds readers of a much simpler time.  Before modern technological inventions, life revolved around family.  Whether this meant following in your father’s footsteps, setting out to explore a new frontier or take over a family business, you didn’t eat or drink without working hard.  People didn’t have idle time to contemplate whether your life was acceptable or worthy of by your peers.  Rather, selfish desires were set aside for the greater good.

Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and [e]take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me], Mark 8:34.

In the first century, Jesus set high standards for his followers.  There were no surprises or speculation about what to expect.  Rather, Jesus required a full commitment, setting aside any selfish ambitions or desires.  In addition, Jesus laid out three major steps as well as a willingness to endure whatever may come during your faith journey.  According to the gospel of Luke, these extreme measures caused lesser known disciples to turn away, unable to commit.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

To a certain extent, some people are so over committed today that they do nothing well.  Others withdraw, doing little or nothing outside of school or work.  According to the apostle Paul, discipline is available through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This unseen force is attainable through the fruits of the Spirit, but only when you set aside self.  Many individuals struggle throughout life with discipline due to the inability to say no to their flesh.  This weakness is stunting their growth, unable to break free to reach their full potential.  If you are willing and spiritual hungry, set aside self so that God’s will may come into focus.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Esau Syndrome

From a historical point of view, Esau is the first boy scout mentioned in the Bible.  Although the Boy Scouts of America is over 100 years old, based upon the passage below, it appears that Isaac invested time teaching and training his son how to live off the land.  This enabled Esau to become a skilled hunter, embracing the outdoors like a contestant on Survivor.  Unfortunately, cooking was a like foreign language to Esau, dependent upon his mother Rebekah and slightly younger brother Jacob to prepare what he brought home.

When the boys grew up, Esau was an able and skilled hunter, a man of the outdoors, but Jacob was a quiet and peaceful man, living in tents, Genesis 25:27.

A syndrome is a condition characterized by a collection of associated symptoms.  If you closely evaluate the life of Esau, he spent so much time outdoors that he wasn’t able to become well rounded.  This short sided approach to life forced him to become dependent upon others for meals, never taking the time to learn how to cook.  Thus, this weakness was exposed following a long hunting trip, handing over his birthright to Jacob in one irrational moment.  Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, Esau squandered the inheritance due to him upon his father’s passing.  This one bad decision has defined Esau’s irrelevant life.

Jacob had cooked [reddish-brown lentil] stew [one day], when Esau came from the field and was famished; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, “Please, let me have a quick swallow of that red stuff there, because I am exhausted and famished.” For that reason Esau was [also] called Edom (Red). 31 Jacob answered, “First sell me your birthright (the rights of a firstborn).” 32 Esau said, “Look, I am about to die [if I do not eat soon]; so of what use is this birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear [an oath] to me today [that you are selling it to me for this food]”; so he swore [an oath] to him, and sold him his birthright, Genesis 25:29-33.

The Scout’s Motto is to be prepared.  From a spiritual stand point, this involves advancing past elementary teachings, Hebrews 6:1.  This includes embracing the good with the bad, James 1:2-6, recognizing that God uses trials to take people out of their comfort zones.  These periods prune individuals, stimulating growth by removing dead areas, John 15:1-5.  As a former professional golfer, I spent most of my time on the weakest parts of my game.  If I just practiced my strengths, I would not maximize my ability to improve.  If you want to live a relevant life, make sure you develop all the areas of your life, not just the ones you like.  Prayer, discipline and accountability partners will help you overcome the Esau Syndrome by becoming mature and complete, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

by Jay Mankus

The Taming of the Cravings

One of William Shakespeare’s well known comedies is the Taming of the Shrew.  Written in the early 1590’s, this play has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre.  While this production highlights a bad-tempered and aggressively assertive woman, the Bible speaks of an another beast with a similar reputation.  According to John, this inner demon feeds off of worldly desires.  Fueled by longings, lust and sensual desires, few people have had success in taming these cravings.

Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world, 1 John 2:15-16.

According to Jesus, the eyes serve as the lamp of the human body, Matthew 6:22-24.  If your eyes are good, fixated on Jesus, Hebrews 12:2, spiritual light will guide your steps.  However, if you allow your eyes to wander, take a second glance and begin to stare at unwholesome sights, darkness will enter your body.  This seemingly innocent act starts a chain reaction that awakens fleshly desires.  Those who indulge in masturbation, pornography and or sex outside of marriage corrupts hearts, souls and minds.

The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever, 1 John 2:17.

The only cure known to the cravings of the sinful nature is pursuing God’s will.  In his Sermon of the Mount, Jesus tells his audience where your heart is, your treasure will be also.  Thus, those who appease earthly cravings will be distracted, focused on satisfying temporary pleasures in life.  The only way to tame this spiritual shrew is by setting your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.  Those who learn to clothe themselves with Christ can overcome the demons of your past.  While this is not an easy process, may the Holy Spirit fill you with discipline, insight and wisdom to tame any unholy craving within you.

by Jay Mankus

The Searing of the Mind

If a live frog is placed into boiling water, the instinct to jump will immediately kick in, escaping this pot in a split second.  However, if you take a pond, gradually increase the temperature without stopping, this creature will die, scalded and scorched by extreme conditions.  Unfortunately, the same conclusion can be drawn to the human mind.  As the American culture has become pornified, filled with graphic images, mature content and shocking sights, the searing of the human mind has commenced.

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

If you have lived a sheltered life, guarded and protected by parents, you may be naïve to the numerous temptations that exist today.  Whenever you veer off into a foreign place, accidently take a wrong turn or wander into unknown territory, the presence of darkness can be overwhelming.  During a first century trip through the streets of Athens, the apostle Paul was troubled.  Depending upon what Bible commentary you rely on for research, Paul likely witnessed nudity, prostitution and sexual practices in the name of religion.  With each step, Paul’s mind was bombarded by unwholesome symbols, breaking his heart and distressing his soul.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals a key relationship between eyes and the mind.  Based upon the analogy above, eyes are the light source for human beings with minds serving as a screening mechanism.  When minds fail to filter out the presence of darkness, corruption occurs.  If unhealthy thoughts are allowed to go unchecked without any urgent action, pornographic images are collected, processed and stored.  Like a sponge cleaning up split water on a counter, minds absorb countless sights that you are exposed to daily.  Thus, without the discipline of putting on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-20, to fight against lust, innocent minds can be scarred for life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

In an article first published in 2011, the Christian Research Journal wrote about the Effects of Porn on the Male Brain.  This piece attempts to illustrate how pornography impacts hormonal, neurochemical and neurological development as sexual images become attached to souls.  One of my favorite points made by the author is that viewing pornography hijacks the normal functioning of the brain and it’s maladaptive patterns.  Perhaps, this man explain the call to action to renew your mind in the passage above.  Pornography is one of those taboo topics most churches side step, afraid to confront.  Yet, as this world continues to push the envelope further and further, it’s time to educate the masses to the searing of the human mind.  May the Bible guide, instruct and prepare you with the necessary resources to overcome the temptations people face in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It

It doesn’t take much for a coach, parent or teacher to get under a teenager’s skin.  Sometimes the tone chosen is demeaning.  Others come across as pompous or smug, alienating the individual they are talking to.  Meanwhile, impatient adults have a tendency to take out their frustrations upon young people, creating an even greater generational gap.  This disconnect proves that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When you are reading a book, sometimes the context of previous events isn’t a hundred percent clear.  Thus, you are forced to go back to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.  In the passage above, you have to understand who Saul was before he changed his name to Paul.  This former Pharisee was a perfectionist, critical by nature, eager to point out flaws.  Therefore, the words Paul choses serves as a reminder to himself and his leaders within the church at Ephesus to focus on the positive, not the negative.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While writing a letter to a teenager, Paul reveals an important truth about the Holy Spirit.  Although the world tends to emphasize imperfections, staying optimistic isn’t impossible.  Rather, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is self-control, the discipline to control your own tongue.  The language you choose to express daily is a conscious decision.  Unfortunately, many don’t realize the power of words.  Every coarse joke, put down and sarcastic remark influences others in a negative manner.  Therefore, make sure the next time you open your mouth, you think before speaking for it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

by Jay Mankus