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Nobody is Listening

Every once in a while people are blinded by pride.  This overconfidence within the minds of individuals results in losing touch with reality.  Subsequently, as someone wanders off on a tangent, the audience initially listening quickly tunes out.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; Proverbs 2:2.

There is nothing worse as a teacher than to be so consumed with what you are saying that you fail to recognize no one is listening.  Despite what you thought to be a flawless lesson plan has turned into a snoozer as blank stares and sleeping students force you to figure out what went wrong.  Although it may be humbling, sometimes you have to be open to an honest assessment from students.  While some comments may be inspired from impure motives, you will find blunt answers that reveal why nobody is listening.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,’ Revelation 2:7.

After sharing a parable, Jesus often used the saying, “let him who has ears hear.”  This spoke to the stubbornness within human hearts.  If you think you are right, then you become oblivious to those who possess an opposing point of view.  Many who heard the powerful illustrations of Jesus often left turning a deaf ear, continuing on the current path they were on.  Therefore, if you want to know the truth why nobody is listening, you have to be open to change as the Holy Spirit reveals the next step, Galatians 5:25, to take in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Did Ethos Go?

While I never finished completing seminary due to my iritis, the classes I completed have provided a plethora of knowledge.  One of my favorite terms is the Greek word ethos.  Philosophers like Aristotle used ethos in the context of a person’s character.  Yet, ethos means so much more, its the expression of love, allowing others to see that you genuinely care about their lives.  Those individuals who demonstrate ethos on a daily basis earn the right to be heard.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, Matthew 9:12.

Unfortunately, as I interact with people, listen to what others believe and watch how different worldviews treat one another, the concept of ethos is vanishing.  Narcissism, pride and stubborn hearts are leaving a trail of hate, attacking anyone who opposing their beliefs.  C.S. Lewis eludes to this oblivious trait as diabolical pride in Mere Christianity.  If this flaw continues, the concept of ethos may disappear.

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” Matthew 9:13.

There are certain areas, subjects or topics where people claim to be experts, knowing much more than most others.  Yet, it would help if individuals would learn to become humble and more teachable.  While you may think you know more than a boss, manager or teacher, showing respect breeds ethos.  If the phrase sharing is caring is employed, a generation will begin to witness the powerful effects of ethos on society.

by Jay Mankus

Searching for Understanding

The other night I was counting my blessings; thankful for a having a healthy family up to this point in life.  Perhaps a spirit of pride entered my mind like a whisper proclaiming “I’m better than you.”  This feeling didn’t last long, crashing back to reality with my son being rushed to the hospital this week, then diagnosed with diabetes.

Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, Proverbs 2:3

In the hours and days which have followed, I’m in the process of searching for understanding.  Thoughts such as why does God let bad things happen to good people started this conversation in my mind.  Followed by why did my prayers go unanswered?  Drawing a blank, I guess I have to wait a while before I receive the first clue.

Then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God, Proverbs 2:5.

As a father, Solomon writes a letter to his sons, trying to prepare them for life in the real world.  Solomon urges his children to seek understanding, like Jesus urged his followers to hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Yet, the first step begins with fearing the Lord.  The byproduct of this spiritual practice leads you closer to discernment.  In view of this advice from Proverbs, I have to go back to the drawing board, stop pouting and fear the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Keeping Your Heads Held High

After a fairly successful coaching career over the past 20 years in youth sports, I find myself with my greatest task to date.  After a couple of coaches bailed, I have volunteered to help a developmental baseball team at the 13-15 year old level.  Unfortunately, every opponent so far has been much more advanced, leading to lop-sided results.  Thus, at this point all I can do is encourage the players to keep their heads held high.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin, 1 Peter 4:1.

You don’t have to play sports to experienced being smeared or creamed.  Depending upon who you are, what you do or where you work, its not uncommon to come in contact with far superior individuals.  If these people carry an attitude, ego or pride, its easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed and unqualified.  Yet, even if you’re staring failure in the face, its essential to keep your head held high, knowing you gave your best effort.

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God, 1 Peter 4:2.

The latter is the most crucial element in times of failure.  Knowing you are beaten is one thing.  However, the moment you give up mentally, its not worth even competing anymore.  Sure, human nature will tempt those who have gotten use to losing.  Nonetheless, those who cling to perseverance will be rewarded in the end.  You might not see progress right away, but the Lord will honor and lift up those who keep their head held high.

by Jay Mankus

 

Putting in Order What was Left Unfinished

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If you own a home or like to work on cars, you probably have some type of project that you haven’t gotten to.  Sometimes time is the issue.  Yet, other aspirations remain unfinished due to hidden problems, a lack of resources and technical difficulties.  Thus, situations will arise when you will have to rely on others to get the job done.

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you, Titus 1:5.

Unfortunately, some people tend to be Lone Rangers, enjoying the freedom of doing things their own way.  Meanwhile, others allow pride to get in the way, afraid, ashamed or too proud to ask for help.  The end result often leads to abandoned dreams, clutter and countless unfinished projects rusting away in attics, garages and sheds.

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you,” Ephesians 5:14.

When the raw emotions of being overwhelmed fade, its time to snap yourself out of it.  You might have to wait longer than you planned, but Jesus is waiting for you to call upon his name.  Therefore, don’t get bogged down by the mountain of unfinished work waiting for you to tackle.  Rather, pray that the Holy Spirit will send someone or something to help you complete that which is left unfinished.

by Jay Mankus

 

And Then I Three Putted

Golf is one of those hobbies that parallels life.  Sometime you may be right down the middle while others will find you deep into the woods or within a hazard.  Unlike most sports, practice doesn’t always insure progress.  Thus, the game of golf can be cruel causing even professionals to waste an amazing shot with a three putt.

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, James 1:3.

During my final year of coaching high school golf, I drove a par 4 with a 2 iron hybrid.  Unfortunately, when I got to the green, I had a 40 foot putt over a ridge to a hole on the other side going away from me.  Focusing on the line, I forgot to hit the ball hard enough, ending up 1o feet short.  Two putts later this once and a lifetime drive was a distant memory ruined by a three putt.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything, James 1:4.

In this life, its common to celebrate prematurely, before a day, round or year is over.  As over confidence or pride lures individuals into a false sense of security, victory is often replaced by defeat.  Thus, before you complete your next competition, project or task, finish strong.  Or else you may be like me, interrupting a moment of glory with the sobering reality, “and then I three putted.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Creatures of Instinct

If you have ever read about or studied the spiritual climate prior to previous great awakenings, morality tends to move in cycles.  When individuals experience the happier days in life, human beings can forget about the Creator above who brought good tidings and great joy.  If this trend continues, it won’t be long before your flesh leads you to become creatures of instinct.

But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish, 2 Peter 2:12.

Although each previous generation claim they had it harder, those who lived during periods of self-control were likely spared from the beast of lust.  For those born in ages of disobedience or sexual revolutions, the forces of temptation are magnified.  As complacency, justification and rationalization kick in, the desire to indulge intensifies.  Thus, many become pawns of the sinful nature.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world, 1 John 2:16.

When the dust settles, creatures of instinct find a valley of sin standing in their way from God’s hands of forgiveness.  As the apostle Paul states in Galatians 5, an opposing force acts as a sparing partner.  Free will adds to this equation, placing a priority on decision making.  Thus, if you follow in the footsteps of Moses, choose life before a creature of instinct leads you down the wrong road.

by Jay Mankus