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Author Archives: expressyourself4him

The Jesus Check List

For the past 25 years, Thanksgiving serves as a dual purpose for my family.  The first is obvious, to reconnect, reflect and share how the past year has gone, either good, bad or indifferent.  The second is a precursor to Christmas, exchanging gift wish lists.  Thanks to Amazon, most of this is done online to avoiding writing down the same list several times on a piece of paper.  Nonetheless, as Christmas Day approaches, there is an internal list with decorations, gift wrapping and preparations that need to completed before you can actually enjoy Jesus’ birthday.

For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations],” Romans 10:10-11.

A 2007 film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman introduced another kind of list.  The Bucket List involves two men who have been each diagnosed with terminal cancer.  After meeting in the hospital for the first time, the billionaire hospital magnate Edward Cole played by Nicholson finances a series of trips before each man dies.  In a race against the clock, these men invest their energy doing the things in life they always wanted to do, but never took the time.  Since the initial release of the Bucket List, several # movements have transformed others on the verge of death to pursue their own check list of dreams and goals to accomplish.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.

My favorite list is one that gets little attention, but results in eternal rewards, the Jesus Check List.  Instead of going through life focusing on the things you want to experience, the Jesus Check List is based upon fulfilling God’s will for your life.  Before you can start this list, you need to join Jesus’ team as described by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:10-11.  The moment you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you gain access to the Holy Spirit.  C.S. Lewis refers to this as theological virtues in Mere Christianity, enabling new converts to obtain charity, faith and hope as you progress down Jesus’ Check List.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. 14 This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us, 1 John 5:13-14.

As individuals begin to daily prayer, read the Bible and begin to worship God throughout the week, not just on Sunday’s, lives can be radically changed if you stick with the Jesus Check List.  The apostle Paul refers to this as a process, offering up your life each day as a living sacrifice to God.  This involves asking God a series of questions in the form of a prayer.  What do you want me to do today?  Where do you need me to go to help others?  Who needs to be encouraged, give me eyes to see?  How can I reach the lost; using the God given talents you have blessed me with?  If you take this blog to heart, you will be well on your way, certain of the eternal rewards awaiting you in heaven with each day you commit to serving Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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You Don’t Want God To Leave You Alone

Inside of every human being, there is an alter ego like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Authors of the Bible refer to this as a sinful nature, the invisible force that persuaded a son to become a prodigal.  Regardless of how stable you may be, thoughts of rebellion occasionally drift in and out of minds.  For those who eventually embrace this concept, to ignore the advice of family, friends or guardians, you abandon those who care about you the most.  Nonetheless, disappointment, frustration or narcissism influences some to leave their previous life to start all over again.

After this he fell in love with a [Philistine] woman [living] in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. So the [five] lords (governors) of the Philistines came to her and said to her, “Persuade him, and see where his great strength lies and [find out] how we may overpower him so that we may bind him to subdue him, Judges 16:4-5.

On the other hand, there are other people who haven’t done anything wrong.  Yet, due to a series of accidents, mishaps and trials, these individuals get the feeling that God has abandoned them.  These emotions can lead to justification as minds ponder, “well if God left me, why should I stick around?”  Meanwhile, love has a strange way of changing human beings.  When you meet or see the person of your dreams, you will do everything in your power to make this relationship happen.  Some may exaggerate, lie or pretend to be someone else just to win the approval of the person you love.  Such is the case of Samson who ignored his parent’s advice about marrying a godly Jewish girl in favor of a Philistine named Delilah.

She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as I have time after time and shake myself free.” For Samson did not know that the Lord had departed from him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with [two] bronze chains; and he was forced to be a grinder [of grain into flour at the mill] in the prison, Judges 16:20-21.

The longer Samson played this immature little game with his wife, any resemblance of integrity slowly disappeared.  Thus, at some point, the Lord left Samson who was spiritually unaware of God’s departure.  It was at this time when Delilah’s plot was successful, cutting all of his hair, the source behind Samson’s mighty strength.  Subsequently, Samson was bound to two pillars, lost his ability to see and forced to be a slave, grinding flower while imprisoned.  Despite this hardship, the presence of God returned according to verse 22, enabling Samson’s strength to be restored as his hair grew back.

Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this one time, O God, and let me take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes,” Judges 16:28.

Like the prodigal in Luke 15, Samson comes to his senses.  Instead of blaming God for his problems, Samson cries out to the Lord, seeking forgiveness and restoration.  As a few thousand Philistine guests mocked Samson’s arrest, giving praise to their god Dagon, the Lord agrees to answer Samson’s prayer.  While this meant sacrificing his own life, the Lord empowered Samson like the days of his youth, giving him the strength to carry out this mission.  If there is any lesson you can take away from the life of Samson, it’s that you don’t want God to leave you alone.

by Jay Mankus

Do You Have it All Together?

As a recovering perfectionist, hints of chaos is an unpleasant sight.  For some reason, I feel the need to give the impression that I have it all together.  Everything is fine, it is well with my soul.  I wish this was the case, but often I find myself on the verge on collapse.  Hanging by a thread, like the classic Mike and the Mechanics song.  Thus, if you want a simple answer, no I don’t have it all together.

Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part,” Luke 10:38-40.

While admission, confession is the first step on the road to recovery, the next logical question is if I don’t have it all together, what’s the problem?  To start with, perfectionists like me tend to suffer from the Martha complex.  A first century doctor refers to this condition as concentrating and fixating on the external.  Instead of entering into a deep and meaningful conversation with Jesus, Martha was focused on making her house spotless.  Consumed by trying to be a good host, Martha missed the point, life is about relationships not perfection.

But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:41-42.

Part of my perfectionist rehab involves abstaining from the need to be a workaholic by slowing down enough to entertain small talk.  While these daily conversations may not get very far or amount to anything, they set the stage for permanent meaningful conversations to begin.  If you spend most of your time on earth busy, running around like your head is cut off (old youthism), you’ll never know what you have in common with others.  Therefore, as Christmas approaches, make sure you follow in the steps of Mary by choosing conversation as a means to pass time with family.

by Jay Mankus

Celebration and Suffering

News of an expecting birth is worthy of a celebration in the form of baby shower.  After labor ushers into this world a new human being, joy consumes families of this infant.  In the years that follow, there are a series of memorable moments, first steps, first words and first day of school.  As new parents work together to raise children, celebrating is often replaced by suffering.  From childhood to adolescence, life only gets more complicated, especially for first time parents.  At some point, celebration fades away as suffering intensifies.  I don’t mean to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but this is a reality of life.

Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise), Luke 16:22-23.

After sharing the parable of the unjust manager, Jesus transitions into another parable.  Entitled the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus highlights a reason to celebrate and another to fear.  Using a story about a rich and poor man, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to detail what heaven and hell is like.  When Lazarus dies, God rewards this poor man with what Jesus calls paradise.  Meanwhile, a self-centered rich man who cared only about himself was sent to hell.  According to Jesus, hell is a place of eternal suffering, able to see those celebrating above, but unable to do anything to help their agony and pain.  This fact should convict and inspire the living to avoid a similar eternal destiny.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame,’ Luke 16:24.

In the previous chapter, Luke, a well known first century doctor recalls three parables that illustrate God’s grace, love and mercy.  Whether a possession is lost like a coin or pet, heaven celebrates each time a sinner repents.  Angels are programmed to embrace hearts that confess the error of their way.  Meanwhile, even if you are a prodigal son or daughter who has left your family, God will never abandon you.  These stories have been written to urge souls to surrender your life to follow Jesus.  Although this road is narrow as detailed by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, any worldly suffering that you might endure is worth this decision.  Therefore, do not ignore the passage listed above so that your eternal destination will be celebrated at your funeral rather than suffer, not knowing whether you are in heaven or hell.

by Jay Mankus

Addiction and Dieting

The Bible blames addiction on a hidden force within human bodies.  The apostle Paul refers to this as fleshly desires, a nature that leads individuals to give into sin.  Prior to the introduction of a spiritual law, this sinful nature went unnoticed, accepted as a part of life.  However, when you apply biblical principles to addiction and dieting, a first century Christian makes a shocking revelation.

We know that the Law is spiritual, but I am a creature of the flesh [worldly, self-reliant—carnal and unspiritual], sold into slavery to sin [and serving under its control]. 15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity], Romans 7:14-15.

No matter how hard you try to do the right thing, carnal, unspiritual and worldly influences often lead people to do the exact opposite.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul uses baffled and bewildered to explain his addictive actions.  Like someone in need of rehab, Paul couldn’t control himself, doing the very thing that he hates.  While I have never been to a detox center, I hope that these words of the apostle Paul are applied to modern clinics to help people see that addiction and dieting have a spiritual connection.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. 18 But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law, Galatians 5:16-18.

Since the end of November, I have been forced to drastically change my diet due to major health concerns.  As I have tried to eat right the last two weeks, I have found that my body is addicted to unhealthy food.  Like an alcoholic longing for a drink, my body daily craves junk food, sugar and sweets.  In the passage above, the cure to overcoming any addiction is provided.  Within any decision that you make, there are two forces waging war to control your soul.  The sinful nature and the Holy Spirit are like an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, whispering into each ear.  Until individuals learn to habitually walk in the Holy Spirit, to keep in step with God’s Word, Galatians 5:25, success will be limited.  However, the more you apply these principles to addictions, bad habits and dieting, God can and will transform your life.

by Jay Mankus

Cardiomegaly

In the 1966 Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the narrator blames the Grinch’s attitude on an abnormally small heart.  As the citizens of Who-ville began to sing carols in preparation of Christmas, the Grinch started to devise a plan to steal their joy.  From a spiritual perspective, the Grinch represents Satan, seeking to steal, kill and destroy any glimpse of the real meaning of Christmas.  Yet, as his plan was interrupted by Little Cindy Lou Who, God used this child to penetrate the Grinch’s soul.  In one instant, when the meaning of Christmas was revealed, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows], John 10:10.

The medical term for an enlarged heart is cardiomegaly.   This isn’t a disease, but rather a sign of another condition.  For example, during pregnancy, some mothers develop an enlarged heart.  This condition is usually temporary because of stress on your body.  Cardiomegaly can also be brought on by the weakening of the heart muscle, coronary artery disease or heart valve problems.  After three visits to a local cardiologist, I have been diagnosed with an enlarged heart.  My doctor wasn’t concerned, rather he wants me to come back in a year to monitor this condition.  Nonetheless, I do have something in common with the Grinch, an enlarged heart.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Throughout the Bible, there is an emphasis on pursuing a new heart.  The context of this reference is usually within a prayer.  King David asked God for a new heart after committing adultery and murder.  The prophet Jeremiah reveals how hearts can become deceitful, longing for fleshly desires instead of obeying God’s commands.  King Solomon refers to the heart as the well spring to life.  As I complete my 2500th blog, my prayer is that the Lord will create in me a new heart, full of forgiveness, love and mercy.  When individuals begin to demonstrate enlarged hearts seasoned with God’s grace, this world will become a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Overlook God’s Providence

Immediately following the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites fled into the desert.  When Pharaoh changed his mind, Moses led God’s people to the banks of the Red Sea.  Against all odds, the Lord enabled Moses to part this body of water before collapsing upon and swallowing up the Egyptian army.  After witnessing this miracle, any event that follows would be obscure.  Thus, when God magically sent bread, manna from heaven, the Jews slowly began to overlook the obvious.

And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the Israelites no longer had manna, but they ate some of the produce of the land of Canaan during that year, Joshua 5:12.

Like any human being, time has a way of changing your perspective.  Initial awe, excitement and joy can fade when everything that follows is small in comparison.  Perhaps, this explains Jesus comment to one if his disciples, “blessed are those do not see me yet believe.”  The testimony of followers of Jesus immediately following his resurrection should have been enough.  Yet, doubt prevented Thomas from believing, needing to see with his own eyes.  When you live with a miracle worker every day for three years, at some point you begin to over look the obvious, expecting greater things.

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me],” John 20:29.

As holiday shoppers rush through life to get their Christmas preparations in order, it’s hard to keep track of daily mundane responsibilities.  Meanwhile, subtle miracles are glanced over as God provides this or that without any praise or thanks.  Unfortunately, I tend to be the type of person who allows themselves to be pushed to the limit, on the verge of mental exhaustion weekly.  Thus, instead of seeing subtle signs of God’s providence, I have ignored the obvious.  I guess I need to follow the advice of the Psalmist by being still before God, Psalm 46:10.  When you do, you will stop overlooking the obvious by observing the hand of God over your life.

by Jay Mankus

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