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I’m Just an Average Joe Who Serves an Almighty God

Telling a man that they are average is like responding to a woman who asks you how they look in a new outfit “you look okay.” These subtle words appear harmless unless you’re struggling with your self-esteem. While telling the truth about your own observations may get you in trouble with a significant other, I’ve reached a point in life where I’ve accepted who I am. I’m just an average Joe who serves an almighty God.

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.

Although most people call me Jay, my birth name is Joseph J. Mankus Jr. Minus my Lithuanian middle name, which is another story for a later time. By the time I reached high school, answering the phone with “Joe Junior or Senior” got too annoying as most calls were for my father. Subsequently, I made it known to everyone that from here on out, call me Jay.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8

This decision coincides with when I first became a Christian on December 4th, 1984. Like the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31, I haven’t always taken a straight path, wandering off and abandoning God for multiple periods and seasons. Yet now I’m back and have come to terms with my current role in life. Like the old Bruce Carroll song, I’m an Average Joe who is ready to serve an almighty God.

by Jay Mankus


Storing Up Great Blessings

On October 3, 1789, George Washington made a proclamation as president to create the first Thanksgiving Day. Washington proclaimed, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will.” This designation set the stage for the United States of America to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday every November.

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men! – Psalm 31:19

Over the last 225 years, Thanksgiving has evolved, losing it’s original intent along the way. Instead of concentrating on giving thanks to the Almighty God, this celebration how turned into what are you thankful for. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, subtle changes to past traditions de-emphasize God’s role and call to obey the Lord’s will.

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will], 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

The Bible is filled with reminders to give thanks. The Psalmist encourages readers to store up great blessings as you set your heart and mind on things above. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul urges first century Christians to give thanks to God in all circumstances. Just like a wedding vow, praise and thanks should exist for better or for worse. Thus, as Thanksgiving Day finally arrives, may you strive to store up great blessings by serving Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Searching for a Place of Rest

During a majority of 2012, I spent most of my free time filling out job applications, combing the internet for new opportunities and stressing over the reduced income my wife and I were bringing home monthly.  Although I am usually laid back when it comes to finances, I forced myself to forgo the luxuries of life until I obtained a new full time position.  Since I am still waiting, my search for a place of rest continues in 2013, draining my energy like heat and humidity on a warm summer day.

5 days ago

At an oasis, a morning meeting at Dunkin Donuts, my good friend Spencer shared a story which led me in the right direction.  Last Sunday, Ray Lewis, a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, played his final home game, announcing his retirement at the end of this NFL season.  Following the Ravens 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, cameras surrounded Ray, recording his final moments on the field at M&T Bank Stadium.  When Ray took off his Ravens jersey, he was wearing a Black T-Shirt with a passage of the Bible, Psalm 91.  Aware of this chapter, I couldn’t wait to refresh my memory of the truth inside on my way home.

Psalm 91:1 states He who dwells in  the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  As I was trying to find rest, I was looking in all the wrong places.  I searched for satisfaction through employment.  I dedicated 2 months, sacrificing time away from my family to earn as much money as possible to try to get caught up on bills.  Yet, I was dwelling in the wrong house.  In the silence of no work, its time to find my way back toward God’s fortress.  The moment I enter this refuge for burdened and weary souls, Matthew 11:28-30, I will rest my head in peace in the shadow of the Almighty God.  There is plenty of room in this inn, retreat now while there is still time!

by Jay Mankus

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