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Tag Archives: Bible Study

Time of Your Life

The concept of “Time of Your Life” began with a 1939 play written by William Saroyan. In more recent years, movies like Dirty Dancing have brought songs with this concept in the title. I’ve Had the Time of My Life by Jennifer Warnes uses dancing as a means to have fun. Depending upon your hobbies and personality, the goal of any day is to have the time of your life.

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.

When I look back on the past half-century, one year sticks out, 1993. I left a youth director position in Delaware to attend a youth ministry trade school in Minnesota. For 7 straight weeks, I was having the time of my life, living with other people my age who wanted to minister to young people. Not only was I transformed by the teaching I received, I also experienced a revival while living in Columbus, Indiana.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:9-10.

When I was having the time of my life, I was also working 90 hours a week. My only day off began with a Bible Study at McDonald’s with students, followed by lunch in Cincinnati with my good friend Phil, and ended with an adult Bible Study back at church. When you’re having the time of your life, make sure you don’t burn yourself out like I did in 1994. Balance is crucial for developing stability and longevity. If I only knew this back then, I’d still be having the time on my life. For now, I’m trying to recapture what was lost.

by Jay Mankus

When the Bible is Difficult to Understand

When students get stumped in class as a new chapter or concept is introduced, there is a teacher to ask to help you figure it out. Yet, when you open up the Bible and come across a confusing section, unless you’re at a Bible Study, you are on your own. If one of Jesus’ own disciples mentioned that some of the apostle Paul’s epistles are difficult to understand, you will definitely need a mediator to properly interpret the Bible. This is where you need to reach out to and lean on the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts.

Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own [g]utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures, 2 Peter 3:16.

One of the common mistake’s readers of the Bible make is to treat this like a regular book. Human wisdom will only take you so far. And besides, one New Testament author refers to the Bible as a spiritual book that is living and active, Hebrews 4:12. When the Bible is difficult to understand, you need to learn to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. According to Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, the Holy Spirit provides everything that you need for life.

And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]. 14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14.

The apostle Paul had several encounters with Greek philosophers during a visit to Athens in Acts 17:16-32. While Paul was able to convince some of these scholars, many of them relied on human knowledge. This is the context of the passage above where Paul urges Corinthians to go beyond education. When the Bible is too difficult to understand, only the Holy Spirit will open your mind to the spiritual truths that lie within. Though you won’t have all of your questions answered like Job, you will grow in the knowledge of God’s character and nature.

by Jay Mankus

The Fraternity of Christ

Fraternities and sororities are typically college groups that use Greek-letters to name their organization. The origin of fraternities in the United States began with the founding of The Phi Beta Kappa Society. On December 5, 1776, Phi Beta Kappa was launched at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. While movies like Animal House glorify fraternity life, the Bible speaks of a spiritual fraternity.

Show respect for all men [treat them honorably]. Love the brotherhood (the Christian fraternity of which Christ is the Head). Reverence God. Honor the emperor, 1 Peter 2:17.

The first semester of my freshman year in college was a blur. I pretended to be a Christian during and day and partied with a couple of friends from my dorm every weekend. For the first time in my life, I was one of the most popular people at school, getting invites to parties at a number of fraternities. When pledge week came around, it didn’t think it was necessary as I already had my crew to roll with and hang.

Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, [h]born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now. 10 Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It or in him there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin. 11 But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [[i]in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes, 1 John 2:9-11.

When I returned for the Spring semester, half of my floor funked out. Feeling empty and ashamed, I decided to join as many Christian groups as possible, including the Black Student Union Bible Study. During a retreat on the campus of James Madison University, I rededicated my life to the Lord. Over the next four years, new friendships developed and prospered, welcoming me into the Fraternity of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 5: Secret Ambition

I didn’t even know that Christian music existed until I asked Jesus to come into my heart, Romans 10:9-10, in the middle of my sophomore year of high school. I met Mindy at a FCA Bible Study. She was the only person I knew in high school who was an advocate for Christian music. Mindy made different mixes for me so I could figure out which artists I liked before purchasing an album. Mindy’s parents drove me and a couple of friends from Concord to my first ever Christian concert.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

If you haven’t already guessed by today’s song title Secret Ambition, Michael W. Smith gave me a good first impression of Christian music. While I barely recognized any of the songs that were sung that night, I went on to buy every one of Michael’s new albums over the next 5 years. The week i2(Eye) Album was released, I attended a youth convention in Salisbury, Maryland. This was the most fun I ever had on a retreat as a seed was sown to become a youth pastor. Thanks to Secret Ambition, this became a reality.

by Jay Mankus

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Ten years ago, Express Yourself 4 Him was conceived. Thanks to the guidance of Pastor Bruce and Linda from Bible Study, I chose Word Press to share the messages that God has put on my heart. I didn’t really know what I was doing early on. Nor did I think this blog would last a decade. To celebrate my 10th year, I will be adding a second post per day entitled Sing A New Song. This combines my favorite two passions Christian music and writing.

Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully [on the strings] with a loud and joyful sound, Psalm 33:3.

My goal for S.A.N.S. is to share how music has influenced my life. This journey began at the Sonshine House in Bear, Delaware. Located just down the street from my church, I made this Christian Bookstore like a second home. After hearing an inspiration song on the radio, I had to stop by to ask Jackie, the owner, if she had this song. I regularly sang tunes out loud in the store if I didn’t catch the title. Jackie became my Christian music guru throughout college as this collection continued to expand.

And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord, Psalm 40:3.

Since most of my friends didn’t share my passion, I began to make cassette mixes of my favorite songs. I made about 30 different best of tapes before finally stopping with each one based on a specific genre. My very first mix received the most compliments which led me to make multiple copies for high school students who went on Chrysalis weekends. One of the two sides was entitled A Father’s Love based upon the Billy Crockett song which happens to be today’s song. S.A.N.S. Volume 1 is A Father’s Love.

by Jay Mankus

From I Can’t to God Can

For most of my childhood, I was extremely negative. As accidents happened over and over again, I developed a low sense of esteem. When you add to this a severe speech impediment, my thoughts quickly filled my mind with a I Can’t mentality. This doom and gloom became a self fulfilling prophecy as accidents, disappoint and failure followed me for more than a decade.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent. 19 Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all, Psalm 34:17-19.

While I didn’t recognize this at the time, God began to send strong Christians into my life. My 8th grade Science teacher was like a modern day Jesus who daily lived out the Bible. As I reached high school, I was invited to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, but I kept saying no. I guess I was too cool for God. Yet, ungodly beliefs like “I’m not good enough” or I’ll never amount to anything” separated me from God.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am [h]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:12-13.

By the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I became addicted to Jesus. As I started to attend Bible Studies with other Christian athletes, the negativity which once consumed me began to fade away. Subsequently, when a spiritual mentor introduced me to the passage above, I started to shed my I Can’t mindset. Following an amazing FCA summer camp experience, I was transformed from I Can’t to God can.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Upon graduating from the University of Delaware, I accepted a position as a Summer Work Camp Coordinator. Since the pay wasn’t great, I took a part time job as a Youth Director to put gas in my car. For the first six months of my adult life, I slept on a couch in my sister’s basement. When my car broke down just before Christmas, I depleted all of my savings, without the funds for food or gas. This is my story of overcoming anxiety and panic attacks.

Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? 32 For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all, Matthew 6:31-32.

A prosperous future was certainty is doubt, but I knew that God had something better for me. As a desperate man, I found as many odd jobs that I could to survive. In my spare time, I practically lived at Cornerstone Church. I led an Accountability Group and Bible Study at night and painted whenever I wasn’t working. Despite the anxiety and panic living inside of me, serving God daily helped keep me in the present. In my poverty, I put my complete faith and trust in the Lord.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

Jesus addresses anxiety and panic attacks in his Sermon on the Mount. Instead of directing his message toward human beings, Jesus uses the birds of the air as a way to illustrate how God provides for all creatures. Since God created human beings in His own image, how much more does and will God provide for you and me? Subsequently, when I was $400 short of being able to attend a Youth Ministry Trade School, my church took a love offering for me. I received the exact amount that I needed. In the years that have followed, I don’t always feel peace, but I know the Lord will provide daily bread to survive.

by Jay Mankus

Pace Yourself

I possess one of those addictive personalities where I tend to follow an all or nothing mindset. When I become passionate about something, I develop the “eye of the tiger” fueled by an intensity to accomplish whatever I set my mind to do. Unfortunately, emotional excitement doesn’t last forever. Subsequently, when I don’t pace myself, I often crash and burn before experiencing the thrill of victory.

Be strong (confident) and of good courage, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go, Joshua 1:6-7.

As Israel began to prepare to enter into God’s promised land, Joshua provides advice for spiritually pacing yourself. Joshua suggests that courage can be conceived from reading the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible which were available to the Levitical Priests. As you begin to live in the pages of the Bible, don’t turn away, drift or stray from God’s commands. As you begin to practice keeping the Sabbath holy, pacing yourself is possible.

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success, Joshua 1:8.

Whether you’re running or trying to endure the hectic schedule of a busy work week, meditating and reflecting upon biblical principles will help your sanity. Meanwhile, Joshua suggests that those who maintain a daily time of Bible Study will become prosperous and successful. As you learn to set the spiritual pace for believers to follow, the example that you display daily will inspire others to observe and practice spiritual disciplines.

by Jay Mankus

That’s What Prayer is For

My father immigrated to the United States from Lithuania as a child. While growing up, my father demonstrated a stoic personality that was typical from this region of Europe. Over the last 20 years, I’ve noticed the softening of my dad’s heart. This past weekend was a glimpse of this appreciation for life during a comment he made prior to saying grace. As my children and daughter in law spent July 4th weekend at his home, he was thankful for what my family has become.

Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. 24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it], Mark 11:23-24.

This wasn’t always the case as all families experience rough patches throughout the course of life. While listening to a sermon a decade ago, I was overwhelmed by a spirit of conviction. I went a year without a strong prayer life, aimlessly treating prayer like a shopping list. Following a Saturday afternoon Bible Study, I made a vow to consistently lift up my children and family in prayer. What my father observed was simply 10 years of answered prayers.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop, Mark 11:25.

One of the apostle Paul’s missionary helpers recalls a conversation that Jesus had with his disciples. The context of this discussion was about the potential of prayer when attached with belief. Prayer is designed to remove the barriers, obstacles and mountains that stand in your way. However, there are times when prayer must be delayed until you take care of personal matters. Once reconciliation occurs or restoration is underway, prayer can continue as you exercise your faith.

by Jay Mankus

Moving Forward Spiritually

The context of “taking sides” below occurs in the middle of a parable. Jesus tells a story of an individual who seeks to enter a strong man’s house. However, unless you first bind the spiritual entities that protect this house (body), you won’t be able to enter. In other words, if you’re not totally with Jesus, you’re against Him. Subsequently, those who are not moving forward spiritually begin to scatter, no longer imitating the love and life of Jesus.

He who is not with Me [definitely on My side] is against Me, and he who does not [definitely] gather with Me and for My side scatters, Matthew 12:30.

This same concept applies to churches as well. During a visit to the Church at Laodicea, John wasn’t impressed. Sure, there were some good things happening, blessed with wealth. Yet, at some point in time members began to trust in their financial riches instead of God. Just like Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit song, members of the Church at Laodicea had become comfortably numb. When you stop growing spiritually, idleness results in back sliding.

I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! – Revelation 3:15-16

Forward motion is difficult to maintain when your faith is currently stalled. When individuals remove Bible Study, prayer or worship from their weekly spiritual diet, this situation only gets worse. When picking up the Bible, speaking to God or going to church becomes a chore, a spiritual spark is needed. Until revival ignites a dormant faith, most souls will remain in neutral. May this blog inspire you to jump start your faith with forward motion.

by Jay Mankus

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