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Author Archives: expressyourself4him

When Teenagers Fall

As a former youth pastor, I understand the challenge of getting the attention and gaining the respect of teenagers. Some experts have blamed the loss in attention span to video games, tuning out adults who aren’t interesting. As technological advances continue, this communicate gap will likely expand causing many teenagers to fall asleep spiritually.

Now on the first day of the week (Sunday), when we were gathered together to break bread (share communion), Paul began talking with them, intending to leave the next day; and he kept on with his message until midnight. Now there were many lamps in the upper room where we were assembled, Acts 20:7-8.

A first centurion historian records an unusual event that occurs inside of a three story home, similar to a Cape Cod attic. According to Luke, Paul talked for several hours until midnight. A teenager named Eutychus struggled to stay awake, sitting next to an open window. While a steady breeze appears to keep Eutychus awake initially, at midnight this teenager fell asleep near the edge of the window. Gravity caused Eutychus to fall down and out, three stories to the ground, dead on arrival.

And there was a young man named Eutychus (“Lucky”) sitting on the window sill. He was sinking into a deep sleep, and as Paul kept on talking longer and longer, he was completely overcome by sleep and fell down from the third story; and he was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and threw himself on him and embraced him, and said [to those standing around him], “Do not be troubled, because]he is alive,” Acts 20:9-10.

In one of the strangest healing accounts in the Bible, the apostle Paul hugs Eutychus back to life. Since Luke is a doctor, this event appears to dumbfounded him, unable to give any type of logical explanation for how Eutychus is resuscitated. One valuable lesson from this true story is that most teenagers prefer a hug over a rebuke. A public scolding often results in bitterness and rebellion. Meanwhile, using tough love via a hug can diffuse a volatile situation. Thus, the next time you witness a teenager falling asleep spiritually, use a sincere embrace to bring them back to life.

by Jay Mankus

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An Extension of Your Mind

You are What you Think is a popular name for a book. The most famous project was written by David Stoop in 2003. While many of these reading materials are based upon biblical principles, Stoop’s book is designed to transform your attitude. This self help aid illuminates positive attitudes which often makes the difference between success and failure. Since body language is an extension of your mind, beliefs, confidence and stability will dictate how you act, behave and interact with others on a daily basis.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:13-14.

During his farewell address to Israel in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Moses sums up life by two choices, life or death. Each action, choice and decision made is an extension of your mind. How you invest your time and money on earth reveals your true intentions and priorities. During his sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus makes a similar connection. However, Jesus uses an analogy of paths taken. The choices you make every day will either focus on temporary pleasures or secure eternity by following God’s will. Each choice is simply an extension of your mind.

Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever, 1 John 2:15-17.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul refers to fighting certain battles with spiritual weapons, guarding your mind against demonic and Satanic attacks. Paul urges Corinthians to take their minds captive by making their thought life obedient to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. Unfortunately, worldly desires whisper sensual cravings which often ignite lust into action. Thus, as people strive to do what is right, evil is right there with you, tempting minds to indulge your sinful nature. This ongoing battle persists daily, assaulting unprepared souls. This is precisely why a mind is a terrible thing to waste, an extension of what is really going on deep inside your heart.

by Jay Mankus

Force or Faith?

My son Daniel and I spent the last 4 days visiting a couple of Christian colleges before his cross country season begins. The goal of this trip was to ascertain what atmosphere, climate and setting Daniel would feel most comfortable attending. To avoid embarrassing any of these schools, one institution is in South Carolina and the other in Tennessee. After taking the official tour, meeting with advisors and visiting with coaches, it was easy to compare and contrast the pros and cons.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

When you spend over 1,800 miles in a car together, there is plenty of time to evaluate what you like and dislike. One university was more restrictive, forcing students to follow a rigid set of rules. The other school of higher education encourages students toward taking the narrow road, Matthew 7:13-14. Instead of being forced to do this or that, free will in cooperation with discernment is applied to guide individuals to follow God’s will.

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way], Proverbs 3:6.

While each school has some attractive assets and benefits, most people prefer being given a chance to be trusted. Although this philosophy of education opens the door for embarrassment, failure and potential expulsion, forcing teenagers to do something tends to result in rebellion. Since young people are unique, certain schools aren’t for everyone. Thus, as teenagers become adults, you have to decide do I need to be forced to obey or find an environment where faith is a personal choice?

by Jay Mankus

The Beautiful Incomplete

The terms beautiful and incomplete are rarely associated with one another. Beautiful refers to high standards or something that is aesthetically pleasing. Meanwhile, incomplete is not having all of the appropriate or necessary parts. Thus, the expression beautiful incomplete does not mesh, an oxymoron that does not make any sense.

Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our Potter,
And we all are the work of Your hand, Isaiah 64:8.

However, an Old Testament prophet eludes to an analogy that illustrates this concept. Human beings are symbolic of a ball of clay held in a master’s hands. This piece of clay is a work in progress, unfinished. Instead of passing by caution cones or construction signs, souls are being crafted, fashioned and molded into God’s own image. Hidden from view, the beautiful incomplete continues daily, waiting for grace to finish it’s work.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

One of the most frustrating aspects of life is how time stresses people out. The perfect day always ends, dread stays much longer than expected and beautiful relationships tend to fall apart. When individuals fail day after day, growing pains can weigh you down. Meanwhile, goals for perfection are regularly dash, a painful reminder that you are a work in progress. Despite this bad news, there will come a time when tears will pass as the beautiful will be completed when the doors of heaven open.

by Jay Mankus

When Jesus Wants Your Lunch

Just prior to one of the most memorable miracles in the Bible, Jesus makes an unusual request. Testing the faith of Philip, Jesus asks his disciple to take an inventory of what food was on hand. As the crowds approached 5,000 men, excluding women and children, the disciples began to panic, urging Jesus to send the people home. Instead, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish are taken from a little boy, requesting this lunch to be shared with the others.

“There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down [to eat].” Now [the ground] there was [covered with] an abundance of grass, so the men sat down, about 5,000 in number, John 6:9-10.

Perhaps, Jesus is trying to teach this boy a valuable life lesson. Until you are willing to give, you won’t receive the blessing that God has in store for you. Jesus took that which was offered, 5 loaves and 2 fish and blessed it. Whether everyone closed their eyes during this prayer or not, some how this offering miraculously multiplied filling the stomachs of several thousand people.

Then Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated; the same also with the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they had eaten enough, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and they filled twelve large baskets with pieces from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten, John 6:11-13.

An Old Testament prophet refers to robbing God in Malachi 3:8-12 by not offering a tithe in faith. This biblical terms eludes to the feeding of the 5000. Most boys aren’t going to share a big lunch with a crowd of strangers. Yet. as individuals learn to trust God to replace what they have freely given with the storehouses from heaven, miracles are unleashed. This blog is a prime example that the next time Jesus wants your lunch, be confident that the Lord will provide.

by Jay Mankus

The Uninformed

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, known as the Day of Infamy, “Man on the Street Interviews” were conducted in rural and urbans areas to obtain the pulse of the American people. The Latin phrase Vox populi literally means voice of the people. This concept has been embraced by comedians, journalism and late night talk shows. Videos from these interactions are often edited to reveal the clueless, unusual and least informed individuals.

When they heard this, they were filled with rage, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Then the city was filled with confusion; and people rushed together [as a group] into the amphitheater, dragging along with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions, Acts 19:28-29.

When first century Greeks began to abandon idolatry in exchange for Christianity, local craftsmen began to lose business as customers purged their lives from reminders of their past. In the passage above, Luke describes what appears to be a labor union. The leader of this group starts a chant which begins to be repeated by nearby citizens. After a short period of time, Ephesus was stirred into a frenzy. A mob mentality took over as the curious joined in just to be part of the crowd.

Now some shouted one thing and some another, for the gathering was in confusion and most of the people did not know why they had come together, Acts 19:32.

Apparently, Luke conducted his own man on the street interview. Likely using a short two or three question survey, Luke discovered most of the people in attendance did not know what was going on. Not much has changed over the last 2000 years as a large portion of Americans accept the beliefs, ideas and worldviews expressed by their talk show host of choice. Daily programs like the View often elevate opinions to fact status. Instead of wanting to be educated and informed, a lack of time has increased the number of the uninformed, not testing what they hear with God’s Word, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.

by Jay Mankus

Bad for Business

I spent the first two years of my youngest son’s life, James, trying to start my own business. Well before the reality show Shipping Wars aired on A&E, I was making bids to deliver freight and important documents up and down the East Coast. My shining moment occurred when I made $3000 in 24 hours, delivering a few pallets from Wilmington, Delaware to Chicago, Illinois. Since my parents lived in Cleveland, Ohio at the time, I drove 7 hours, slept for 7 hours and finished the remaining 7 hours with a couple to spare. However, I did spent $1000 on renting a truck, gas and tolls so I only profited 2K. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining two vehicles, driving 1000 miles a week and breaking down a couple of times finally inspired me to walk away from this business by entering the classroom as a teacher.

About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way (Jesus, Christianity). 24 Now a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of [the goddess] Artemis (Diana), was bringing no small profit to the craftsmen, Acts 19:23-24.

According to Luke, the spread of Christianity had a negative impact on craftsmen during the first century. As followers of Artemis began to convert to Christ, idol worship gradually declined. Thus, requests for silver decorations, idols and shrines of Diana plummeted. This economic downturn inspired craftsmen throughout the province of Asia to gather together in Ephesus. Luke details the discussion in the passage below, trying to figure out how to restore the popularity of Artemis and idol worship throughout the world. Workmen in similar trades were panicking, fearful that if Christianity continued to spread, their occupation would no longer be in demand or needed.

These [craftsmen] he called together, along with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you are well aware that we make a good living from this business. 26 You see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but almost all over [the province of] Asia, this Paul has persuaded [people to believe his teaching] and has misled a large number of people, claiming that gods made by [human] hands are not really gods at all. 27 Not only is there danger that this trade of ours will be discredited, but also that the [magnificent] temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and that she whom all Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned and lose her glorious magnificence,” Acts 19:25-27.

During more recent great awakenings, there are more examples of how the spread of Christianity was bad for business but good for the community. This is best detailed in a book and sermons by Leonard Ravenhill who spent most of his life as a Christian evangelist. Born in Leeds, England in 1907, Ravenhill reveals how the revival of the early 1900’s transformed parts of England. At the height of this spiritual awakening, crime disappeared causing police to be laid off. As attendance at evening church services skyrocketed, policemen were hired by churches to direct traffic. Meanwhile, mules from local mines needed to be retrained as transformed miners stopped curses causing mules to not know to respond to calm, gentle voices. Although recent revivals haven’t completely transformed nearby communities, when true awakening breaks out, God’s business of saving souls prospers.

by Jay Mankus

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