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Tag Archives: maturity

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

 

Attitude is Everything

As a child, I remember hearing teachers address specific individuals during class, taking time outside of their scheduled lesson plan.  In the form of an exhortation or rebuke, growing concerns were verbalized.  Subsequently, whenever a student was out of line, the adult in the room proclaimed, “my child you need an attitude adjustment.”

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, Philippians 2:14.

Today, attitudes are displayed through one’s feelings, postures and stances taken.  If you listen to someone’s comments, its easy to ascertain the good attitudes from the bad ones.  Unfortunately, the Me first movement in this age is poisoning souls.  Thus, the selfish will whisper under their breath, “I’ll show them,” turning to revenge over repentance.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things, Philippians 4:8.

As a lack of responsibility is passed down from this current generation to the next, excuses override the truth.  Instead of receiving a harsh talking to or a spanking, parents often ruin life’s teachable moments blaming the critic rather than their child.  It’s no wonder that coaches and teachers are fighting a losing battle.  Attitude is everything, but if maturity isn’t taught to young people, parents will continue to justify and rationalize wrong behavior.

by Jay Mankus

The Long Road to Hope

The long road to hope begins with suffering.  Following the aftermath of original sin detailed in Genesis 3, a cursed was placed on this earth.  God’s creation of His perfect world was ruined, leading to a life of disappointment, frustration and suffering.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; Romans 8:3.

Despite the pain often inflicted, individuals have something to look forward to the longer you walk down this road.  While your ego and pride may take a beating, glimmers of hope surface along the way.  Thus, when the sun breaks through the clouds, maturity is not that far away.

Perseverance, character; and character, hope, Romans 8:4.

If you hang in there long enough, a sense of hope comes into focus.  Beyond whatever self pity remains, God’s love still shines, radiating day after day.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, a spirit is sent by your side to lead you to the end of this road.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

The best way to describe God is like the scene in the Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy and her friends have been poisoned by a wicked witch, causing each to drift off to sleep, suddenly halting their journey.  Yet, snow is sent to awaken everyone so that they reach their final destination.  The Holy Spirit plays a similar role, the invisible force to help us persevere on the long road to hope.

by Jay Mankus

 

An Unforgettable Fire

In the heart of the Pennsylvania coal country lies an ugly reminder of an unforgettable fire.  Underneath Centralia, Pennsylvania, one of the mine shafts caught fire in 1962.  With an unlimited amount of coal, enough to burn for a century, this town of about thousand was abandoned in 1982 due to health and safety concerns.   Though home owners were allowed to return to their properties on October 29th, 2013, flames from beneath still bring smoke to the surface today, a sign that this nightmare is not over.

For our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29.

Two years after residents of Centralia were forced to leave, the Irish Rock Band U2 released The Unforgettable Fire.  This album was inspired by an art exhibit about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  Yet, the lyrics within these songs suggest another fire, the Holy Spirit.  Although this is never mentioned by name, traces of biblical themes can be found.  The Unforgettable Fire was the middle of three albums during U2’s Christian phase, book marked by Under A Blood Red Sky and The Joshua Tree.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

Fire represents life and judgment.  From a biblical perspective, fire also refers to trials, periods where God uses extreme events to mold and fashion individuals like clay.  While these periods of life can be painful, after you have endured these situations, perseverance and maturity are usually developed.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a physical or spiritual fire, ask the Lord to burn off any impurities that persist so that on the other side God will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Christmas Without Gifts

Beyond the Christmas tree, decorations and music, lies a world without much hope.  Some have no place to call home.  Others are forced to beg for spare change so they can eat.  Meanwhile,  a growing number of families are in survival mode, living pay check to pay check.  Perhaps a Christmas without gifts may ease their burdens.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold, Proverbs 22:1.

When children reach a certain age depending upon one’s maturity, Christmas lists tend to shrink.  Once you accumulate almost everything necessary in life, what else do you really need?  Those who are goal oriented or self-sufficient usually purchase what they truly desire anyway.  Thus, is it worth going into debt to spoil those whom you love with gifts you can’t afford?  Maybe, next year individuals will begin to break free from the commercialization of this season to celebrate a Christmas without gifts.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others, Philippians 2:3-4.

I’m not going Christmas with the Kranks on you.  Rather, I’m just throwing out an idea which might relieve the stress of Christmas.  Some of my favorite Christmas memories are from the two years my family skipped presents to go on trips.  One Christmas we spent a few days in the Bahamas; the other skiing in the Rocky mountains.  Every family develops and maintains holiday traditions.  Yet, one of my favorites is interacting with family during a Christmas without gifts.

by Jay Mankus

Tough Act to Follow

Depending upon your hobbies, interests or occupation, sooner or later you will meet your match, someone’s whose gifts, knowledge and or skills far surpass that which you possess.  Those who are teachable may welcome this, yet the confident and prideful might grow to resent this individual.  If you were the rising star and someone starts to outshine you, its a tough act to follow.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), Acts 4:36.

Whenever humility causes my bubble to burst, I look to a man from Cyprus who displayed the proper attitude and maturity.  On the surface, Barnabas appears to be someone who didn’t care about his ranking or status in society.  When he recognized the potential in a newly converted Saul, Barnabas was the only apostle to extend a loving hand.  Early on, Barnabas was the guy, mentioned first by Luke until chapter 13.  Whether it was his commitment level, personality or God’s will, Saul who became Paul surpasses Barnabas, playing second fiddle for the remainder of Acts.  Despite a major dispute over a potential missionary partner, Barnabas and Paul remained friends throughout their lives.

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:27.

As talented people enter your life, don’t allow jealousy to ruin these relationships.  Rather, emulate the example of Barnabas by embracing, helping and welcoming others to reach their full potential.  While you may not taste the same success of your colleagues, accept the role God has given you.  Although most want to be like Paul, the center of attention, unless there was a humble Barnabas to come along aside to nurture his new found faith, Paul would have never impacted the world as he did.  Play the role God has intended for you, Romans 12:1-2 and let those destined to be stars shine bright.

by Jay Mankus

When Critics Tear You to Pieces

As an aspiring writer, sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone to sharper your skills.  Subsequently, when the opportunity arises, I try to attend local Meet Up groups for writers.  On this evening, the round table of critics I was assigned didn’t hold back any punches.  By the time the critique of my latest screen play was over, I wanted to crawl underneath the table to hide my tears.

 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? – Hebrews 12:7

After this humbling experience brought disappointment, the feedback I received will do one of two things.  First, their criticism could light a fire in my soul to prove each of them wrong.  On the other hand, this devastating blow to my confidence might lead me to give up writing completely.  When the rubber meets the road, you have to dig down deep to see if the pain you endure is worth the journey.  Whenever the critics in life tear you to pieces, consider the cost before you proceed any further.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. – Proverbs 12:1

In the end, you have to take another person’s advice with a grain of salt.  Rather, trust in the Lord and lean on His understanding to ascertain God’s will, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Take the good with the bad, considering trials a pure joy so that through it all, you will grow in faith, perseverance and maturity, James 1:2-4.  Therefore, whether your critics love or hate you, take each opinion in stride as you keep your eyes on the Big Guy in the sky.

by Jay Mankus