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Tag Archives: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ

The Giving and Taking of Life

Twenty four hours ago, I was celebrating my oldest son’s wedding.  As I witnessed James and Emma’s love for one another, an overwhelming sense of joy touched my heart.  This event highlights a blessing from God as the giver of life in the form of gifts from above, James 1:17.  Unfortunately, I received a text a few hours ago informing me that my uncle John, my dad’s oldest brother, passed away this afternoon.  This wave of emotions has reminded me of the giving and taking of life.

So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome boils and agonizingly painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat [down] among the ashes (rubbish heaps), Job 2:7-8.

Every month or so I stumble upon a television evangelist who paints the Christian life through rose colored glasses.  These messages follow the same script, promising that the moment you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, all of your troubles will disappear.  While new believers will possess a new found hope, this depiction of life is not realistic.  With every blessing, individuals will also endure hardship, pain and suffering.  According to Job, you have to accept the good with any bad that comes your way.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still cling to your integrity [and your faith and trust in God, without blaming Him]? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the [spiritually] foolish women speaks [ignorant and oblivious to God’s will]. Shall we indeed accept [only] good from God and not [also] accept adversity and disaster?” In [spite of] all this Job did not sin with [words from] his lips, Job 2:9-10.

In the passage above, Job’s wife speaks as if thinking out loud.  As she witnessed the boils covering her husband, anguish, grief and frustration motivated her response to “curse God and die.”  In the heat of the moment, knee jerk reactions are a common occurrence.  Nonetheless, if you are looking for answers to why God allows bad things to happen to good people, Job nails it!  You must accept the good with the bad.  According to one of Jesus’ disciples, going through trials are designed to build character, 1 Peter 1:6-7.  Therefore, If you want to possess a realistic approach to life, roll with the punches as you experience the giving and taking of life.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

 

 

Spiritual Drifters

A drifter is defined as a person who is continually moving from place to place.  Those who fit this description are referred to as a transient, vagabond or wanderer.  Individuals who fall into this category often do not develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Without a good reason to stay, people drift into new communities hoping for a place to call home.  As America has lost its sense of community within cities, neighborhoods and towns, a growing number of nomads have a emerged, disconnected and unknown by the person next door.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served], 1 Corinthians 12:4-5.

Over the last two decades, a new classification has been added to this term, spiritual drifters.  When someone enters into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, finding a church that meets your spiritual needs can be difficult.  Larger congregations can be superficial, challenging to connect with a mentor who understands who you are and what you are going through.  Smaller churches offer a more intimate setting, but if you don’t share common interests, developing a close bond rarely occurs.  Thus, countless Christians go church hopping, visiting new places each weekend, searching for a place to call home.

And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:6-7.

As a former elder in a church for seven years, I’m the last person you would expect who would become a spiritual drifter.  Yet, for the past seven years, my family and I are still in limbo.  Initially, we spent a few years attending a small church that served as a time of healing after Red Lion was sold and disbanded.  My two youngest children found a great youth group for two years until that church suffered the same fate, closing it’s doors to sell their property.  While each family member has a favorite, none of us have been blown away or sensed the Holy Spirit say this is home.  Thus, for now I continue as a spiritual drifter, hoping that one day soon I can stop watching, connect and become an active member of a church again.

by Jay Mankus

Get Rid of It

As a child, there were always a couple of things I dreaded.  Whether it was cleaning my room, doing homework or eating vegetables, my parents nagged me into obedience.  However, unless you are married or have a significant other, the older you get, the less you will hear people say, “get rid of it.”

So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech, 1 Peter 2:1.

This was not the case in the first century.  As a growing number of Gentiles came to faith in Christ, apostles began to share a common message.  Prior to any exposure to religion, most individuals follow in the ways of their ancestors or parents.  Yet, entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is like being reborn.  Therefore, drastic changes to your life must be made if you want to experience spiritual fruit.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves, Galatians 5:16.

Peter talks about purging yourself from the impurities of life.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul provides more specific instructions, using the Holy Spirit as a guide for life.  Although any type of change is difficult, obedience to these two passages will result in future blessings.  Thus, whether you like it or not, parents are usually right, so get rid of those things which drag you down while there is still time.

by Jay Mankus

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