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Tag Archives: Prayer

The Disowning

Behind the scenes, there is a strategic attempt to disown the founding fathers of America.  This progressive movement is seeking to disown any leader who was influenced by religious or spiritual principles.  At some point in time dealing with that which is offensive has become more important than doing the right thing.  Subsequently, college professors, educational curriculum and mainstream media pundits are disowning that which made America the greatest country in the world.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven,” Matthew 10:32.

During my five years as a student at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate to meet several foreign exchange students.  Many came to America hoping to make something out of their lives, perhaps doing better than their own parents.  I got to know most of these individuals through Intervarsity Christian Fellowship which met every Friday night on campus.  Once I grew out of the party scene, I began to hunger for something more in life.  Thus, Bible studies, campus events and prayer groups allowed me to dig deeper, drawer closer to God while developing godly friendships.

“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven,” Matthew 10:33.

One girl that I met was from South East Asia.  Before Spring Break, she wrote her parents, informing them that she had recently made a decision to follow Jesus Christ.  Excited to share this news, it took almost a month to receive a return letter.  However, when she opened it, the response was shocking, disowned by her own family with no place to go home to after the Spring semester ended. While friends reached out to console her, most of us didn’t know what to say.  Unable to comprehend why Buddhists responded in this way, I guess her parents felt betrayed by leaving the only faith they knew.  After some time of contemplation, a few days before final exams began this girl stepped into the path of an oncoming train, committing suicide.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me,” Matthew 10:38.

While this was a tragic event, there is another which has eternal consequences.  Before sending his disciples out on a trial run, Jesus is blunt, clearing communicating his expectations.  There is no half-way for a follower of Jesus, you’re either all in or you’re not with God.  These high standards explain why so many turned away.  Today, there is public pressure to deny the Bible, it’s principles and teaching.  Those who do so are applauded and praised by the media.  However, this disowning fulfills Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:5.  Those who don’t deny Jesus face daily judgment, persecution and ridicule.  In the end, do you want to receive praise from mankind while being disowned by God?  Or do you endure hardship for the meantime, live as an outcast, yet receive recognition in heaven?  This is the dilemma of the disowning, where two worlds collide.

by Jay Mankus

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Rediscovering the American Spirit

While Hurricane Harvey and Irma have received most of the headlines this month, another human interest story hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.  As Americans watched images of devastation, flooding and property loss from these storms, compassionate hearts have been compelled to act.  Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watts thought maybe he could raise some money using social media.  More than thirty million dollars later, donations continue to pour in.  Meanwhile, average citizens with boats, trailers and trucks have driven to Texas to aid in the search and rescue of stranded homeowners.  Countless others have provided clothes, diapers and water for victims who have lost everything except their lives.  In the face of adversity, these hurricanes have revived the American Spirit.

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

From a historical perspective, King Solomon is considered one of the wisest human beings to ever walk the face of the earth.  In the passage above, Solomon points to the goal Israelites should strive to achieve.  Human beings can be fragile, often in need of a social companion.  Whether this is a classmate, co-worker or friend, life is easier when you have someone close to pick you up after a fall.  Sometimes falling refers to a physical act, but others struggle with a lack of confidence, depression or insecurity.  Based upon the context of Genesis 2, Adam spent a portion of his life searching for a suitable helper.  Initially, Adam looked for companionship among animals, likely taking some home as pets.  Yet, at some point these relationships didn’t suffice, eventually resulting in God creating Eve.  The Lord in his infinite wisdom understood the power of one person helping another in need.  Like the pay it forward movement, as one person demonstrates random acts of kindness, other good Samaritans are motivated to join in.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:33.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus uses an analogy to illustrate what happens every day.  Sometimes people get into an accident, need help or are stranded along side of the road.  The people that should come to the rescue like priests and religious people use a busy schedule as an excuse to continue on their way.  The social outcast like the Samaritan ends up saving the day.  One of the points Jesus is trying to make is which one are you?  Are you going to remain on the sideline, failing to lend a helping hand to the countless who lost a home or family member?  Or will the selfless response by J.J. Watt inspire you to abandon your own worries to reach out to someone less fortunate?  Many the power of the Holy Spirit fall upon the volunteers in Florida and Texas to rediscover the American Spirit.  Although there will be other natural disasters in the future, I pray that this kindred spirit of giving continues to impact the lives of individuals forced to start over from scratch.  When communities love their neighbors as themselves, this world becomes a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Faith or Fiction

Before the public broadcasts of television evangelists, Americans still believed in God’s power to perform miracles.  However, after organizations like the Christian Research Council began to expose some of the fraudulent methods used by so called healers, faith in America declined.  This hypocrisy turned faith into fiction.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

Doubt has always been the greatest stumbling block to faith.  While talking to his disciples, Jesus used a fig tree void of fruit for a teachable moment.  After cursing this tree, it immediately withered.  Astonished by this amazing act, each began to ask themselves, “what will Jesus do next?”  Seconds later, Jesus uses an analogy of a mountain to distinguish faith from fiction.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

Whenever placed into an impossible situation, miracles seem improbable.  Mountains of doubt often remove faith from someone’s mind.  This negativity causes many to never ask God for help or divine intervention.  However, Jesus wants individuals to use prayer aligned with faith to remove fiction from the equation.  Therefore, when the odds are against or your back is against the wall, cry out to God so that a miracle is made possible through faith.

by Jay Mankus

How I Feel Verse What I Should Do?

There are some mornings when my alarm goes off that I feel like staying in bed.  Whatever plans I made in my mind the night before are cast aside as I hit snooze numerous times.  When my life is void of dreams, goals or vision, feelings dictate what I actually do.  At the end of the week as this cycle resets, I often discover little accomplishments on my to do list.  Thus, how I feel is currently winning this endless tug of war against what God wants me to do.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, Romans 7:18.

During a trip to Rome, the apostle Paul appears to have developed some bad habits.  The text above doesn’t specify the issue except for implying Paul wasn’t able to follow through with God’s plan while visiting Rome.  Earthly desires were either distracting or preventing Paul from making the progress he hoped and prayed for.  You don’t have to be a missionary or pastor to experience these feelings.  In fact, the average Christian understands failure more than success.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing, Romans 7:19.

When other people that you know live according to another set of rules, it’s hard not to lower your own standards through subtle compromises.  Unfortunately, by doing so you allow feelings to trump faith.  The earthly brother of Jesus once wrote “faith without deeds is dead.”  Thus, every time I slip, giving into the sinful nature, my faith drifts closer to death’s door.  To avoid the inevitable, I need a spiritual heart transplant, injected with new life by the Holy Spirit so that how I feel will yield to what God wants me to do.

by Jay Mankus

Adding Love to the Law

From an early age, the idea of boundaries is a turn off.  At birth, human nature introduces a curiosity similar to that which led Eve to break God’s lone law, eating from the Tree of Knowledge.  As a parent, condemnation comes naturally, a common response to children who disobey you.  Yet, Jesus reminds a large crowd during the first century that love should be applied to Jewish law.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? – Matthew 5:46-47

Jesus uses common sense to drive home this point.  Pagans lived by a different set of standards.  Jews were expected by God to be set apart, striving to apply biblical principles.  Yet, if a Christian’s love is no different from a Pagan, what’s the point.  Therefore, individuals should make it their ambition to add love to the law.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

The only problem is this goal requires maturity as love doesn’t come naturally.  This fruit of the Spirit is an acquired trait nurtured by the Holy Spirit.  At some point people have to grow up by developing a will to love.  Hanging around like minded people, growing in your knowledge of the Bible and practicing prayer is a good place to start.  However, if you want to fulfill Jesus’ request, make sure your feelings are held in check, sanctified by love.

by Jay Mankus

A National Anthem in Crisis

Prior to the events in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11th 2001, the relationship between sporting events and the playing of National Anthems had become a mundane ritual.  If you take away the Olympics, playoffs and the Super Bowl, anthems were rarely ever televised.  Some professional sports even played anthems while players were still in the locker room.  However, post 9/11 the singing of Francis Scott Key’s song united this nation for a minute or so daily.  I was in Philadelphia for the first National Football League Monday Night Football game following this terrorist attack.  When a flag the shape of the United States was displayed across the entire field, the crowd went crazy, setting the stage for an emotional national anthem.  Those professional athletes who have chosen to kneel or sit have forgotten what the national anthem represents.  As more begin similar displays as a protest, the future of America’s national anthem is in jeopardy.

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! – Psalm 105:2

As a former teacher, I understand pressure to remove the national anthem at professional sporting events isn’t the end but the beginning of an attempt to erase any trace of God from American history.  During homeroom or over a loud speaker, public schools read a daily passage or verse from the Bible up to the early 1960’s.  The reading communicated a morale, trait or value teachers hoped to instill within their students.  When a few atheists were offended, a law suit followed that removed the Bible permanently from public education.  When schools obliged others were upset about students and teachers praying for each other.  This too was banned, stripping God’s influence from the classroom.  Looking back at history, schools have never been the same as God has removed his own blessing from those who have not made room for Him.  Then, there was the 10 commandments, “surely we can’t allow human beings to read and see these rigid rules.”  Today, religious leaders are arrested if 10 commandment statues aren’t removed from all court buildings.  Finally, there is the pledge of allegiance which has been made optional for children or simply discarded all together.  If the national anthem is silenced, there’s always something else atheists, leftists and progressives will deem offensive.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted, Isaiah 49:13.

I hope the owners of professional sports teams don’t cave to public pressure like weak minded republicans more interested in gaining approval from the press rather than upholding American values.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp.  When this promise was made, I don’t think Trump realized how deep and dangerous this resistance would be.  While the media continues to label the Trump presidency as the worst ever, the horizon appears to be void of any leaders willing to stand up for the national anthem.  Sure, there may be some closet defenders, afraid to vocalize their opinions.  Yet, America appears to be on the verge of a social war between the past and the present.  As someone who grew up in a military family, respect was impressed upon me.  Unfortunately, some where along the way respect for God and country has slowly faded away.  In view of this decay, may God raise someone up to carry the torch for the National Anthem so that this treasured tradition does not disappear like those now forgotten.  Stand up and sing, thanking God for all the Lord has done for this land called America.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Prayer of Jesus

When Jesus is mentioned in the context of prayer, the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father comes to mind.  Yet, I recently heard a pastor give a sermon on Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible.  The point he was trying to make is if you take the words of Psalm 119 and apply them as a prayer, this is what God desires for you.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word, Psalm 119:9.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches individuals to begin prayer by acknowledging and praising the God of heaven and earth.  Prayer is meant to draw you toward God’s will; not a Christmas wish list to seek selfish desires.  The Psalmist compliments prayer, revealing the path to purity.  Anyone who strives to live according to the Bible moves closer to fulfilling the prayer of Jesus.

Give us today our daily bread, Matthew 6:11.

One of the most overlooked passages in the Sermon on the Mount is the verse above.  While it’s simplistic in nature, Jesus stresses one vital aspect about prayer, take life one day at a time as tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  The World Health Organization proves this point as 153,424 die each day.  If you want to know and follow God’s will, read, study and meditate upon Psalm 119.  As individuals turn their attention to biblical principles, the prayer of Jesus will transform your life.

by Jay Mankus