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Tag Archives: Aiken

Concentrate on the Right Direction Rather than Destinations in 2023

The younger brother of Jesus learned an important life lesson from his big bro, “tomorrow isn’t guaranteed,” James 4:13-15. While there is no record of praising their eldest son in the Bible, Mary and Joseph likely told James that Jesus would go places in life as a carpenter and man of God. James was likely one of the 500 people who spoke with Jesus following his resurrection and before his ascension into heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. One snippet from their discussion might have been centered on proceeding in the right direction in life rather than a specific destination.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

While writing a letter to warn his children about the dangers of life, King Solomon turns his attention toward trusting God. Similar to James’ warning about making plans for the future, Solomon emphasizes the need to place your heart, soul and mind into God’s hands. Though you may think that you should go to a particular place to work in a certain field in a specific city, the Lord knows what’s best for you. Unfortunately, when I moved to Aiken last summer, I was so sure of my future that I forget to lean on the Lord for my future position in South Carolina.

For this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him. You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you, Psalm 32:6-8.

If I would have concentrated on going in the right direction spiritually, day by day, I’d be in a better place in my life as 2023 begins. Like the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-24. I had to learn the hard way, coming to my senses following a grueling day at work. It would be nice to know where you’ll be in a couple of weeks or months, but right now I’m clearly living outside of God’s will for my life. Therefore, it’s time to take the walk of shame back to my heavenly father to confess, “you were right, and I was wrong.” After confession comes clarity, one step at a time as God makes everything beautiful in His time.

by Jay Mankus

Details and Steps Toward Delight in 2023

As someone who has broken my leg, ankle and had major reconstruction surgery on my left leg and ankle, each time my cast was taken off, I had to relearn how to walk again without a limp. This concept also applies to your spiritual life. Whenever addictions, bad habits and sinful cravings that you can’t control pull you away from God, it takes time to recovery spiritually. Just as it takes a long-distance runner time to get back into shape at the start of a new season, developing a quality time of Bible Study and prayer doesn’t happen overnight.

The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step], Psalm 37:23.

According to King David, you have to take one step at a time spiritually. As a new resident of Aiken, South Carolina, I’ve taken my fair share of U-turns to head back in the right direction. For Christians, U-turns are an admission that you’ve been heading in the opposite directions of God. Like a stubborn man unwilling to stop and ask for directions when he’s lost, the quicker Christians stop to confess the errors of their ways to God, James 5:16, the sooner you’ll be heading back in the right direction. Spiritual details come to you as you step toward delighting the Lord once again.

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn [an oath] and have confirmed it, that I will keep Your righteous ordinances [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them], Psalm 119:103-106.

Psalm 119:105 is one of the most quote passages from the Old Testament. Unfortunately, the context of the verses before and after this verse has been neglected. As a teenager, I thought fundamental Christians were crazy. My faith was nothing more than a religion, missing out on a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11. Yet, when I became on fire for God through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the words of the Bible became sweeter than honey. Nearly 40 years later, my daily Bible Study provides details and steps toward delighting the Lord. May today’s blog inspire you to daily read the Bible in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 301: What a Beautiful Name/Agnus Dei

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone in 2022, it’s officially time for Christmas music. While stores in Aiken have been playing Christmas music since the days following Halloween, Christmas season is now here. As you listen to the Cottrell’s version of What a Beautiful Name / Agnus Dei worship montage, may the words help you overcome the commercialism of Christmas. The lyrics should help you make Jesus the reason for this special season.

And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth, John 1:14.

A first century physician serves as a church historian. Luke is the author of Acts who writes about several of the apostle Paul’s missionary trips in accordance with the Great Commission left behind by Jesus, Acts 1:8. At some point during this spiritual journey, even this doctor was moved by what he saw and witnessed. Luke came to the conclusion that there is no other name on earth that compares with Jesus, Acts 4:12. May today’s song bring you closer to the One who saves.

by Jay Mankus

My Own Personal Story of the Living Years

Mike Rutherford started Mike and the Mechanics as a side project while a member of the group Genesis. This decision opened the door for Mike to leave the spotlight of lead singer Phil Collins to begin his own music legacy. While Mike and the Mechanics released several popular songs, the Living Years was by far their most meaningful hit. I was reminded of this song when my mother-in-law passed away last week.

 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

In the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, my wife and her sister decided to remove Barb from a nursing home in Chicago so that she could stay the remainder of her living years at Laura’s home in South Carolina. This wasn’t an easy decision but was made so that Barb could live as close to a normal life as possible for someone in her weakened condition. While living in Delaware, Leanne made as many trips to Aiken as possible until our families move in June of 2022.

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me, Galatians 2:20.

Barb fought hard, living 22 months in South Carolina, allowing my wife to be there for the final two months. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when a loved one can’t communicate with you. Yet, Leanne was there for the final 48 hours until Barb went home to be with the Lord on August 4th, 2022. As the Wagner family prepares to say goodbye at the funeral in Chicago, I will always remember the Living Years when Barb was at her best playing with her grandchildren or improving her home. R.I.P.

by Jay Mankus

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