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The Reason to Forgive

Everyone has been burned, disappointed with or hurt by a close friend. Whether this was due to betrayal, growing apart or temptation bought on by human nature, there is no one righteous, not even one, Romans 3:9-12. When the shoe is on the other foot and you are the guilty one, remember the principle you reap what you sow. When you add this to Jesus’ teaching in the passage below, this is the reason to forgive.

And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins, [h]leaving them, letting them go, and [i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and [l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:13-15.

As a child, forgiveness is a daily ordeal. Someone hurts your feelings, said something mean to you or as you get older, breaks your heart. If the words of Jeremiah 17:9 are any indication, life is filled with anguish, frustration, and pain. This is where children learn the hard way that it’s better to forgive rather than holding a grudge. The sooner you mend fences with friends, the better you’ll feel. Unfortunately, stubbornness often blocks the path toward peace.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and [e]disregards the offenses of others], 1 Peter 4:8.

The words of the passage above might have been conceived in John 21:15-17. Peter is confronted by Jesus following his public denial. This conversation serves as a form of reconciliation as Jesus forgives Peter for his past sin. While the Lord’s Prayer is a basic prayer children learned in Sunday School classes, this is a great aid for forgiveness. As you reflect upon the past day, week, month or year, forgive those who have trespassed against you. If you want God to forgive you, this is the reason to forgive others.

by Jay Mankus

Finding Treasures in Darkness

In the midst of a storm, darkness prevents most individuals from seeing any meaning or purpose in trials.  Instead of reflection, anguish, bitterness and resentment are common responses.  Yet, in my most recent period a pleasant surprise arrived in the form of a special friendship.  After both losing our jobs a month apart, God allowed each of us console one another, finding a treasure in darkness.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name, Isaiah 45:3.

In the famous poem simply known as Footprints, the author writes about periods in life where God carries you.  Walking along a beach, the Lord’s footprints disappear as each waves comes crashing into shore.  Yet, somehow, someway, most survive to see another day, hoping darkness will fade.  Job learned this the hard way as he friends began to question his faith, suggesting God was punishing him for something he had done in the past.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold, Job 23:10.

As you walk through moments of darkness alone, people tend to choose temporary distractions to numb the pain inside their heart.  Nonetheless, the weaker you get, the easier it becomes to trust in an invisible God.  When there is no one else to lean on, faith is refined, smelting the impurities.  However, if you hang on long enough like Job, you will experience God’s divine providence in the form of treasures in darkness.

by Jay Mankus

 

Monday Morning Atheist

An atheist is defined as anyone who lacks belief or denies the existence of a God or gods.  Unfortunately, as another weekend flies by the anguish of starting a new week of work weighs heavy on restless souls.  Thus, when the average American awakes on Monday morning, not many people feel close to or seek God to find the strength to carry on.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

In his book entitled Monday Morning Atheist, Doug Spada encourages readers to switch God on as Monday morning arrives.  When Christianity becomes a religion, the emphasis is placed on Saturday or Sunday as the day of worship.  Thus, God can be limited to your churches doors if you embrace this mindset.  Faith is designed to be a relationship that lasts 7 days, not something that you pick up whenever you feel like it.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Jesus sets the example for those who tend to be distracted by others or stressed by the upcoming schedule you have to meet.  While his disciples are swayed by human demands, Jesus took the first moments of each day to spend with his heavenly father.  Therefore, don’t allow worry to lead you to become a Monday morning atheist.  Rather, slow down, be still before the Lord and let the Holy Spirit influence the steps you take 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Enough Syndrome

Whether its the persistent increase of consumer prices or decline in the purchasing power of the dollar, most families and individuals understand how difficult it is to get ahead in this financial climate.  The majority fluctuate between not enough and just enough, making sacrifices to break even monthly.  Meanwhile, the blessed, talented and wealthy are fortunate to experience a more than enough income, reaching a place of security few can comprehend.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35

Prior to the bursting of the dot.com bubble on Wall Street, my wife and I made investments in two of the highest earning mutual funds in the world.  Thinking these were going to continue to rise in value and not wanting to pay the taxes for selling them, we elected to put less money down on our first house instead of cashing out to pay for our home in full.  This decision made sense until 2001 when the market tanked, flushing 60,000 dollars in paper money down the toilet.  Ever since this day, I know the anguish of the “Enough Syndrome,” living under the curse of not enough.

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. – Deuteronomy 8:18

From a spiritual perspective, the Jews were led by God through 3 similar phases in life.  During 400 years of slavery in Egypt, not enough was par for the course, an accepted way of life.  Upon their departure, able to pillage Egypt following the plague of the First Born, Israel spent 40 years in the Wilderness, graduating up to a just enough status as God provided manna, quail and water to meet their daily needs.  Finally, the promise of a land filled with milk and honey was fulfilled, giving birth to a generation who tasted more than enough.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34

Wherever you may be on this financial spectrum, remember the words of Job 1:21, “the Lord gives and takes away.”  Through the good times and the bad, there is a lesson to be learned.  At the end of each day, try to find and reflect on the positive things in your life, Philippians 4:8-9.  No matter how hard it may be, trust in the Lord to help you move from the months of not enough to years of more than enough!

by Jay Mankus

How Long Must We Wait O Lord?

Waiting for anything isn’t natural.  The idea you have to remain inactive, stationary and pause until expectations are fulfilled can be agonizing.  The longer one waits, the greater doubts grow, wondering if prayers will be answered.

How long must your servant wait?  When will you punish my persecutors? – Psalm 119:84

Several Psalmists describe their anguish waiting to experience God’s promises.  As the wicked prosper without any penalties, cries for justice may go unnoticed for years.  Thus, screams of frustrations point toward heaven hoping for action to occur soon.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 4:1

In this silence, impatience often boils over.  This is when most turn their back on God.   For those clinging on to hope, only time will dictate whether or not faith will be reignited.  How long must we wait O Lord?  Keep praying til your requests become reality, following in the footsteps of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Why I Experienced the Bottom of the Barrel

For those of you fortunate enough not to have tasted defeat, experience failure or feel the pain of loss, your perspective is limited.  Sheltered from this anguish, you haven’t been forced rely on the Lord.  Instead this smooth journey leads passengers to trust in their health and wealth, oblivious to the bottom of the barrel.

As I look back on recent heartaches of a 2-19 season as a coach, the struggle to rebuild my work career and dedication to the dreams of my youth, hardship has refined my faith.  Although the furnace isn’t a pleasant place to visit, 1 Peter 1:6-7, this necessary evil has lifted me up from the bottom on the barrel.  In the midst of this storm, I have a new appreciation for the little things in life.

Humility has helped me come to the realization that I can’t do it on my own.  Rather, I need a Savior to pick me up when I fall, Matthew 11:28-30.  Sure, it would be nice to forgo past trials, yet I wouldn’t be where I am today if these events did not occur.  Therefore, my focus shifts upward, Philippians 3:12-14, so that if I experience the bottom of the barrel again, the sun will shine upon my face letting me know that everything will be okay.

by Jay Mankus

 

Desperation: A Recipe for Restoration

In the 1971, Carly Simon released Anticipation, featuring the song that inspired this album.  Eight years later, Heinz Ketchup developed the slogan, “Anticipation is making me wait,” by mixing Carly Simon’s song with images of ketchup slowly flowing out of a bottle.  During an interview on National Public Radio, also known as NPR, Carly Simon shared the meaning of Anticipation.  While waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up on their first date, the lyrics to this song were formed and the rest is history.

Although ketchup and God don’t have any thing in common, Heinz’ marketing campaign and Carly Simon’s song illustrate how the Lord works behind the scenes.  God allows individuals to experience desperation, causing hearts to develop a sense of urgency.  As one hungers for something more in life like the prodigal son in Luke 15:16-20, a recipe for restoration is generated.  Thus, despite any anguish, brokenness and heartache people have to endure, the Lord uses desperation to lead hurting souls beside still waters, Psalm 23:1-6.

Everyone understands how painful waiting can be.  Whether you’re at the hospital anticipating news from a doctor regarding life or death, impatiently waiting for God to answer your prayers or searching for clues to understand the trial you are currently undergoing, each scenario breeds desperation.  Like Nicodemus, seeking out Jesus at night in John 3:1, sometimes you have to humble yourself, realize you’re not in control and kneel before God, Luke 7:37-38.  May any lukewarm spirit holding you down be expelled as God uses desperation as a recipe for restoration.

by Jay Mankus

 

When It Rains… It Pours

On the surface, some people appear to have bad luck.  If its not one thing, another quickly turns for the worse.  Unfortunately, too many of us on earth know the expression, “when it rains, its pours.”

Trials don’t wait for a convenient time to show up.  Rather, out of the blue and unannounced, these disappointing events inflict anguish, heartache and sorrow.  Like a snow ball thrown off of a mountain, avalanches form creating a wall of destruction headed toward innocent bystanders.  These freaks of nature don’t stop until its energy has been exhausted.

Similar to a fire drill, Christians should be prepared for the next hurricane.  However, spiritual storms aren’t limited to a few months out of the year.  Instead, every day pop up thunderstorms are possible, ripping the foundations out from those not ready, Matthew 7:24-27.  May the promise of Psalm 34:18 encourage anyone who is currently stuck in stationary showers that don’t seem to be letting up.  Hang in there, don’t give up and cling to the Lord, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

No Reason to Pretend

In order to put on a happy face, some individuals feel compelled to hide their misery from co-workers, family and neighbors.  Like a Halloween masquerade party, many profess to be fine all the while anguish, grief and pain collect.  Although the motto “fake it until you make it” sounds logical, there is no reason to pretend.

From a mere vocational point of view, the last 5 years of my life have been like a hurricane, causing flood waters to break through levy’s.  As the storm surge continues to rise, my heart, soul and mind cling to promises of the Bible, hoping the trials subside soon.  When success reigned supreme, life was a piece of cake.  However, as turmoil entered my life through the winds of change, I’m not the same person.

Sure, I try to stay upbeat, but I am a mirage of my younger years, a piece of drift wood transformed by time, wind and water.  Water logged, especially around the waist, I long for dry land, a beach to call home.  Footprints along the shore are obvious signs that God has been carrying me.  When the waves calm, I will arise, perhaps wiser than before.  Like a work in progress, a strand of clay in the molding process, there is no reason to pretend it isn’t well with my soul.  Yet, I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12-14.

Don’t be afraid to be transparent; real so that a hurting world can see the only thing holding believers together, Romans 5:5.

by Jay Mankus

Fan or Follower?

As a person who enjoys watching sports, I’ve met several fare weather fans in life.  When the local team is winning, there isn’t enough room on the bandwagon.  However, as the years pass without a Superbowl win, Stanley Cup, NBA championship or World Series title, a mass exodus occurs.  This trend causes individuals to adopt other teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Heat or New York Yankees to raise their self esteem.  Time will distinguish the casual fan from the avid follower, living and dying with their team despite the anguish or pain.

Jesus used another method to disclose fans from genuine followers.  One day, a first century doctor, watched in awe as Jesus began to ask a few people some questions, Luke 9:57-63.  Like a coach pushing his players to see who will rise to the top or quit, Jesus’ words pierce the hearts of these lukewarm fans.  Despite their good intentions, one by one, each fell by the wayside, unable to meet the conditions Jesus was searching for in a follower.

Whether I’m shaking my head at another Phillies loss, Eagles meltdown, Flyers defensive breakdown or 76er’s losing streak, being a fan in the greater Philadelphia area isn’t easy.  On the other hand, being a followers of Jesus is even harder, Matthew 10:32-39.  Sometimes I find myself in the shoes of the ruler in Matthew 19:16-25, wondering if I have the moxie to endure life’s trials.  Unfortunately, my actions don’t always express what I believe.  In the end, I’m at the mercy of God, relying on Him to make the impossible a possibility, Matthew 19:26.

Where do you find yourself on the spectrum of fan or follower?

by Jay Mankus

         

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