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Signs of the Fullness of God

Whenever anyone seeks to advance in a career, hobby or trade, you must separate yourself from other potential candidates.  When milk sits in a refrigerated container and cream is added, it separates itself and floats on top of the milk.  This is what individuals must do when applying for a job, entering a contest or pursuing a professional career, rise to the top.  When signs of greatness are present, people begin to receive the recognition that they deserve.

Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” Acts 6:3-4.

Sometime after 30 AD, church growth exploded as more and more souls entered into personal relationships with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  The only downside to this movement was that the widows of Greek speaking Jews began to be neglected.  These Hellenistic Jews complained to the twelve disciples hoping that the church could begin to provide for their needs.  A meeting was scheduled to address this concern.  The end result was a selection process to choose seven godly men to oversee the distribution of food to the poor and needy.

The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch. They brought these men before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them [to dedicate and commission them for this service], Acts 6:5-6.

A first century doctor observed three special qualities from one man who separated himself from everyone else.  According to the passages above, Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom.  If you take these observations in the context of Galatians 5:22, the fruits of the Holy Spirit were naturally flowing out of Stephen.  These traits of integrity are a clear sign of the fullness of God.  Anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, Matthew 6:33, will begin to exude the fullness of God.

by Jay Mankus

Imagination in Captivity

As a child, everyone has moments where one day dreams of an ideal career, goal or vision of a bright future.  Something about the energy of youth, inspires one to climb the ladder of success, striving to be the best you can be.  Unfortunately, somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, a Debbie downer, glass half empty person or realist brings you back to earth by reminding you of all the obstacles standing in your way.  It is here, where imagination becomes imprisoned, held captive by fear.

On the corner of Average and Great, at the crossroads in life, choices dictate the path you follow.  Will failure lead you to turn around toward the Lane of Shame?  Does money inhabit your chances to reach for the stars?  Or do you suffer from paralysis by analysis, standing on the curb, still trying to decide?  My imagination has designed 2 dozen golf courses, composed nearly 20 songs, several games, a complete movie script and a novel in the works.  However, currently, my imagination is in captivity, with a few disks, documents and notebooks full of potential, yet void of success.

At these moments in life, one must call on the wisdom of Solomon, 1 Kings 3:4-9.  If I am to rescued from these chains, I need God to send me wise men or women to show me how to display the potential I possess.  When patience is tested like Abraham, waiting 18 years for God to give his wife a child, the true heart of man is exposed.  If Thomas Edison can attempt 9,999 ways how not to make a light bulb, I guess I can endure a few more days, weeks, months or years in captivity.  May God grant me a spirit of perseverance so that one glimmer of hope will lead to a spiritual light within me for the world to see.  In my mind, I can see freedom, faith and a finished product.  Until then, “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

by Jay Mankus

I Can’t Do Anything

After rededicating my life to God during the second semester of my freshmen year of college, everything gradually fell back into place for me.  Every position I applied for except for one I received, in some cases having to decline offers.  From 1988-2010, life seemed easy, like I could do anything I put my mind to.  When the school I was teaching for began to struggle financially and eventually was sold during the school year, I actually thought I would make a smooth transition to another career.  Unfortunately, almost one year later, I was dead wrong!

When you are blessed with many talents, sometimes you get over confident or don’t work as hard as you are use to like first round draft picks in professional sports.  Then again, technology has drastically changed from the days of Cad, MS-Dos and Word Perfect when I graduated from the University of Delaware.  Anyway, I have gone from thinking I could do anything to a fear I can’t do anything right.  Solomon was right when he said, “humility comes before honor,” Proverbs 16:33b.  I just hope the humility part of my life has come to an end or is about to conclude.

As for now, its back to the drawing board.  Instead of having a touch of gold, my cover letters and resumes have turned into fools gold.  Despite these setbacks, I am laying in prayers of friends and relying on the words of Scripture to slowly restore my self-confidence.  However, I am no longer naive about my current state.  Alone, I can’t do anything but try, cry and try again,  In the long run, Proverbs 16:9 will determine where I land or where I fall.  Bethany Hamilton was right in Soul Surfer, quoting Philippians 4:13 numerous times.  With Christ I can do something, exactly what my next career is, only God knows.

I’ll let Bernie Taupin close this one out with his song sung by Elton John, “I’m Still Standing.”

You could never know what it’s like
Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
And there’s a cold lonely light that shines from you
You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use
And did you think this fool could never win
Well look at me, I’m coming back again
I got a taste of love in a simple way
And if you need to know while I’m still standing you just fade away
Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
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