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The Ages of Faith

With the dawn of each new age, changes are made to adjust so that the world can understand what has happened in the past.  In the context of the Bible, 3 distinct stages exist: oratory, letters and publication.  The words of the Old Testament were passed on orally from one generation to the next.  Hebrew families raised their children by regularly recounting stories of faith to guide their steps into adulthood.  The celebration of Bar Mitzvahs for boys and Bat Mitzvah for girls culminates in years of biblical training by memorizing the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

During the first century, only the wealthy could afford education.  Thus, illiteracy among the middle and lower class was high.  As the Holy Spirit began to inspire authors to pen individual books of the New Testament, not many could read.  Therefore, apostles, disciples and pastors read these letters during gatherings for prayer.  This explains why the apostle Paul selects the phrase faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

The next age of faith began in 1450 following Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.  This made the publication of Bibles accessible to common people.  However, segments of the church do not embrace this initially.  Major denominations like the Roman Catholic Church believed only priests could interpret the Bible correctly.  The average Christian could not be trusted to handle the Word of God.  This mindset and resistance led to the dark ages tainted by spiritual corruption.

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success, Joshua 1:8.

Today, we live in an age of over saturation.  Multiple translations are available with a click of a mouse, downloading an app or read on a cell phone.  This access in great for those who desire to grow their faith.  Yet, there is a temptation to change translations until you make the Bible say what you want.  Who knows what the next age may bring.  Nonetheless, if you want to growth your faith, the best way remains by daily reading, studying and memorizing the Bible.  This spiritual discipline often leads to putting faith into action.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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Minds over Matters

 

In 1972 the United Negro College Fund adopted the slogan “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Since this decision other organizations have used this saying to stress the importance of education, knowledge and learning.  However, is there ever a time when minds interfere with matters in life?

These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ, Colossians 2:17.

C.S. Lewis introduces the term diabolical pride within a chapter in Mere Christianity.  While attitude, arrogance and egos are a sign of confidence, success can go to one’s head.  Subsequently, individuals can become narcissitic, blinded by pride.  This character flaw essentially prevents people from considering the advice, opinions and wisdom from others.

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind, Colossians 2:18.

Perhaps this topic inspired the words of the apostle Paul within a letter to Christians in Corinth.  Similar to religious leaders steeped in tradition, minds can become puffed up by idle notions.  In the end, relative matters are ignored due to ignorant minds influenced by worldly philosophies.  Instead of recognizing the obvious, minds have a habit of getting in the way, preventing the masses from seeing what truly matters in life.  Wake up today before your mind forgets what is truly important.

by Jay Mankus

 

Ignorance

Blindness, unawareness and vagueness are what I call kind synonyms for ignorance.  Harsher terms involve crudeness, disregard and incapacity.  Scholars often blame a lack of education, innocence or not being enlightened by social etiquette.  Whenever you go or whatever you do, you are destined to encounter some form of ignorance.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

Before the decline of a biblical family in America, social skills were taught at home.  Character, discipline and hard work were displayed by parents, not just empty words.  If children ever got in trouble in school, parents handled behavior problems at home.  Unfortunately, a spirit of ignorance has enabled a younger generation to find an excuse for their actions or shift the blame, sometimes playing the race card.

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance, Hebrews 9:7.

From a theological perspective, the ignorant can be classified as amoral.  The immoral are those who have been exposed to right and wrong, but chose not to follow what they were taught.  The moral obey the boundaries laid down by their belief system.  Meanwhile, the amoral are those individuals who have never been introduced to specific absolutes.  Thus, ignorance continues to exist today until conviction, usually from reading the Bible, opens our eyes to see the error of our ways.

by Jay Mankus

Life Isn’t Meant to be Fair

Common Core Standards are based upon the premise that every child should have a common experience in life.  To distribute the wealth of knowledge across cultural, economic and social lines, education has been dumbed down in an attempt to create equality.  The fatal flaw within this K-12th curriculum is that life isn’t meant to be fair.  Subsequently, one person will be rich, another poor, some will be blessed while others are cursed and the disciplined will achieve great heights as the lazy fall short of the goals they set in life.

So the last will be first, and the first last, Matthew 20:16.

Somewhere along the way, public education has placed a priority on self-esteem instead of fulfilling Darwin’s teaching.  My best recollection of high school was survival of the fittest, a series of tests and trials to reveal the best  One of my greatest teachers, Mrs. Ehrig challenged me, pushing me to a place I never thought I could reach.  She didn’t care about how I felt, just ways to motivate me to unlock my potential.  The myriad of excuses must end, replaced by the core principles which once made America’s schools elite.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Outside of the classroom, churches must communicate a biblical message explaining how and why life isn’t fair.  If sermons portray unrealistic teachings like a prosperity gospel, believers will be set up for disappointment.   Experiences shape beliefs so to prevent individuals from a disenfranchised faith, truth should rise above fiction.  While each person is dealt a different hand in life, you have to play with the cards, talents God gives you.  Although some days you may feel as if the deck is stacked against you, make the most of each day you are given as you endure the good, bad and ugly circumstances within this life.

by Jay Mankus

Standing in the Way of Progress

Cantankerous, inflexible and pertinacious are words associated with stubborn.  Depending upon which study you reference, individuals become set in their ways between age 16 to 25.  Whether students choose to pursue college or stop their education following high school, worldviews are often set by the early twenties.  Subsequently, when a new way of thinking is introduced, many are caught standing in the way of progress.

So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way? – Acts 11:17

Unfortunately, I grew up during the infant phase of computers, forced to take typing classes in high school.  Thus, as technology changes electronics annually, its hard for me to keep up, lagging behind as I adjust to updated programs.  Part of me wants to keep the status quo, doing tasks the way I am accustom to.  Yet, if I don’t face reality I may find myself standing in the way of progress.

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life,” Acts 11:18.

During the first century, Peter struggled to adapt to the societal advances.  Raised as a Jew, Peter was taught to avoid associating with Gentiles.  However, as the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his family, Peter was faced with a dilemma.  Hold on to past stereotypes or embrace the movement of God?  In the end, Peter realized that if he did not accept Gentile converts to Christianity he would be standing in the way of progress.  In the same manner today, as the world drastically changes, ask the Lord to give you the heart of Christ to avoid standing in the way of spiritual progress.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

My Dad

Since 1964, there have been several memorable songs in America and throughout the world.  One of the most popular, My Girl, was the first Temptation single to feature David Ruffin, the voice which transformed this group’s popularity.  However, on Father’s Day, I wonder why there hasn’t there been a similar song to honor dads, something like “My Dad.”  Although I will leave this up to professional song writers, I do think its vital to remember my own dad on this day.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him, Psalm 103:13.

My father was six feet tall as a twelve year old, a size that probably saved his life as the Russians began to invade his native Lithuania.  Fleeing his homeland and hiding in the Black Forest for weeks, my dad came to America with the clothes on his back.  Nothing was given to him as he earned a second language English, devoted himself to education and fell in love with the game of football, playing for the University of Pennsylvania before moving on to the Wharton School of Business.  From here, my dad went on to live the American dream, working his way up the corporate ladder before retiring after thirty years of service with the same company.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation, Psalm 68:5.

Today, I wish I had the same financial resources which my father provided, yet a different calling took me in another direction.  Though I dabbled with a career in golf as an architect and P.G.A. professional, the Holy Spirit nudged me toward youth ministry.  Weaving in coaching, teaching and writing, I’m not sure what the ending of my story on earth will look like.  Nonetheless, I am grateful for a wonderful father, encouraging family and a faith that steers me near the narrow road.  From here, all I can do is honor my father and mother, provide for my wife and children and only hope that I can have as much as an impact as my own father had on me.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you dad’s!

by Jay Mankus

Thinking Outside the Box

Prior to the creation and evolution of the internet, students relied on books, creativity and listening for education.  Today, the mind has been spoiled by GPS, 4G and ever changing technology to make life more convenient.  Subsequently, the concept of thinking outside the box is becoming a lost art.  Thus, most of society is going along with the flow, oblivious to the decay of the human minds in America.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.  Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” – Mark 6:35-36

Before the advent of credit cards, fast food and professional catering, Jesus and his friends found themselves in a conundrum.  Five thousand men, excluding woman and children, traveled to a remote location without any access to food.  This memorable event is the only miracle mentioned by all 4 gospel authors, a prime example of outside of the box thinking.  Though the 12 disciples tried to pass the buck, sending the crowds away, Jesus had another plan in mind.

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” –  Mark 6:37

Jesus took what they had and turned his attention toward heaven.  While there are several different theories on the feeding of the 5,000 as portrayed in recent movies and mini-series on the life of Christ, two truths can be extracted by this passage.  First, whenever you face an impossible situation, put your faith and trust in God to act on your behalf.  Second, although God may not answer your request exactly how you want, the Lord will provide enough daily bread to get you through each day.  In the future, don’t be afraid to think outside the box by lifting your concerns up to heaven.

by Jay Mankus