Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: challenging

An Unlikely Comeback

There are certain things that God calls people to do that are awkward, challenging and unappealing,  Unless someone possesses a strong conviction or will to act, most individuals exercise freewill to decline this opportunity to serve God.  In the passage below, an Old Testament prophet receives a clear message from the Lord.  However, human nature compels Jonah to flee, heading in the opposite direction of Nineveh.  This decision sets the stage for an unlikely comeback.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to ]Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:1-3.

From time to time, I have met people whose lives have taken a similar path to Jonah.  Initial stages play the role of a prodigal, indulging their sinful nature until hitting rock bottom.  For those who come to their senses, confessions, repentance and reconciliation follows.  While in college, I spent a day at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio with two co-workers.  My friend Harry ran into an old youth pastor.  Eddy and I stared at each other in shock, unaware of Harry’s former life.  Prior to this encounter, Harry was in full blown prodigal mode, cursing like a sailor daily while living with his girlfriend.  This God instance planted the seed for another unlikely comeback.

Then they said to him, “Now tell us!  Who is to blame for this disaster? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country?” So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I [reverently] fear and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was running from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What should we do to you, so that the sea will become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming more and more violent, Jonah 1:8-11.

Stories like this and the apostle Paul’s radical transformation in Acts 9 communicate a powerful message, anything is possible with God.  The Psalmist uses the imagery of infinity, ” as far as the east is from the west,” to describe God’s endless supply of grace, love and mercy.  To the human mind, this fact is hard to comprehend and grasp.  Nonetheless, whether you are currently running away from God, stuck in a relentless storm or ready to give God another chance, its never too late for a comeback.  May the testimony of Jonah give you hope that you too are a candidate for an unlikely spiritual comeback.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

Change Your World

In the first century, one man set out to change the world.  This higher calling wasn’t rushed.  Nor did this man leave anything up to chance.  Rather, Jesus waited for the appointed time prior to selecting twelve disciples to lay a foundation for change.  Dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s, Jesus kept in step with the Holy Spirit to carry out the necessary Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  Fasting, praying, being baptized, spreading goods news about the kingdom of God, training future leaders and surrendering to authorities set the stage for the climax.  As the crucifixion of a perfect lamb was about to be laid to rest in a tomb, a resurrection cancelled the written code the moment death was conquered, Colossians 2:13-15.  This one supernatural act has changed the world forever.

 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him, John 3:16-17.

The film Equalizer debuted In 2014, introducing a character who wanted to change the world one person at a time.  Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a retired CIA black ops operative using a local hardware store as his mission field.  When McCall sees injustices that occur within his spheres of influence, he acts immediately to accomplish the greater good.  After hours, during breaks or on the job interactions are used by Robert to develop relationships, challenging co-workers, customers and strangers to be the best you can be.  During one moving scene, Robert talks to a girl who is trapped by her pimp, unable to break free to fulfill her dream to become a singer.  Not wasting this opportunity, Robert exclaims, “change your world!”

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Sometimes when you feel the urge to make a difference in this life, its hard to know where to start.  Depending upon the atmosphere, circumstances or environment, many good intentioned individuals can become overwhelmed before ever getting started.  Thus, changing your world for the better requires a joint effort.  From a spiritual perspective, ground work must by laid through fasting and prayer.  Like the building of an ministry team, when the timing is right God will raise up leaders to fill the gaps that exist.  Yet, while you are waiting for the world to change, don’t lose heart.  Rather, let faith guide you until agents for change arrive.  May the words of this attached scene from Equalizer inspire you to change your world beginning today.

by Jay Mankus

Be Grateful For What You Have; Not What You’ve Lost

In my first year as a high school teacher, I stayed up well past midnight preparing for the next day.  While attempting to create challenging lesson plans, I overlooked one important truth.  This quest for perfection often left me feeling empty as the good was overshadowed by negative reactions by parents and students.  Instead of being grateful for what I had accomplished, my heart, soul and mind spent most of the time focusing on what I had lost.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

A little more older and wise now, writing this blog has helped transform my perspective.  Rather than worry about the next issue, subject and topic I am going to address, the Lord has given me a sense of peace, knowing that somehow, someway God will provide new ideas.  Whether I’m reading an article waiting for my next eye doctor appointment, listening to talk radio or watching television, interesting concepts continue to flow.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 20:35.

After not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve, I stumbled upon a documentary aired on the Golf Channel about former British Open Champion Darren Clarke.  Labeled as one of the best tour players not to win a major, Clarke faced something more important winning a golf tournament.  When Darren’s wife Heather was diagnosed with Breast Cancer for the second time, she succumb to this disease in 2006.  Always staying positive to the end, Heather left behind a message to visitor’s of her tombstone.  “Be Grateful For What You Have; Not What You’ve Lost.”  May these words inspire you to apply this mindset in 2017.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Devilution of a Nation

Signs of evolution develop when someone or something experience subtle changes over time.  Certain species of animals may go through genetic alterations as its ecosystem is impacted by disease, over population or the weather.  Meanwhile, societies undergo spiritual transformations from generation to generation, either drawing near to God through revival or backsliding due to what I call the deviluation of a nation.

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. – Genesis 3:5

Devilution is spawned by adding and or subtracting to God’s commands.  Challenging, questioning and reinventing the rules attempts to create doubt within the minds of citizens.  This atmosphere has inspired past writers like Saul Alinsky to promote curriculum in the form of Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.  If these teachings are embraced by enough leaders, a culture shift will begin amending beliefs, values and worldviews of a nation.

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. – Deuteronomy 4:2

When minds are persuaded to taste what was once forbidden fruit, justification and rationalization is conceived.  Subsequently, right and wrong is turned to gray, genetically altering truth.  A byproduct of this switch elevates opinions to fact status; thereby causing absolutes to disappear little by little.  According to the Bible, these conditions breed demonic strongholds, Ephesians 6:12, enabling dark powers to deceive an entire region.  If unstopped, the next generation will learn to do what’s right in their own eyes.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. – Judges 21:25

May God help us all to do an about face so that the devilution of America will be replaced by a spirit of prayer and fasting.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The 12 Vibes to Spiritual Discernment

 
In a world of vanishing absolutes, civil citizens, good behavior and honesty are nearing extinction.  Instead, people are blaming bad luck, extreme circumstances and a poor economy for their crude and rude habits.  If there was ever a time to access solid advice, the 12 vibes of discernment are available to help steer you in the right direction.  Conceived by the Extra Ordinary Faith Bible Study curriculum, this list has been provided below like a check list used to process information before you accept or decline advice for life.
1. Your Conscience
This first vibe is indirectly mentioned in Galatians 5:16-18.  When the apostle Paul refers to the acts of the sinful nature being obvious, he is likely referring to the built in vibe God has placed within the human mind.  Whenever guilt expresses itself in a “I shouldn’t be doing this moment,” your conscience is trying to tell you to drop the forbidden fruit you have tasted.
2. Godly Influences
While not easy to find in a society filled with hypocrites, “do as I say, not as I do,” this second vibe requires effort on your part to seek out people who have experienced similar trials in life.  When you find the right person, you will be drawn toward ideal conditions like a young Samuel who needed Eli to point him toward God, 1 Samuel 3:1-10.
3. Knowledge and Vision
When a person loses their sense of purpose in life, depression, hopelessness and missteps often follow.  According to one of the minor Old Testament prophets, people perish, destroyed by a lack of knowledge or vision depending upon the translation you use, Hosea 4:6.  These 2 attributes help individuals see the big picture, bringing their life into focus, communicated by an encourager or optimistic leader you need to invest your time hanging around.
4. Reading the Bible
On the outside, the Bible appears like any other book.  However, this special collection of history contains supernatural powers, living and active according to Hebrews 4:12.  In fact, faith comes from hearing and or reading this book, Romans 10:17.  This instructional guide for life provides the human soul with knowledge and vision not found in this world.
5. An Accountability Partner
Like having a personal trainer, its essential to have someone who is blunt, challenging and inspires you to reach your full potential.  However, this suitable helper will take an unswerving desire and countless hours to locate a compatible personality.  This is the most difficult vibe to obtain, yet once established, its the most rewarding, Proverbs 27:17.
6. Through Prayer
Although many new comers to prayer treat God as if going grocery shopping, talking to the Lord at the check out counter, Psalm 34:18 gives any rookie comfort.  Before you start, make sure you isolate yourself in a place without any distractions.  If you stop talking for a moment by listening to God, you might even experience a Mark 1:35-38 like moment.
7. Weeping and Fasting
When prayer appears to stall, some have turned to weeping and fasting, Nehemiah 1:3-4.  In a sense, this is taking prayer to the next level, crying out to God with emotion, following in the footsteps of David, Psalm 4:1.  For those unable to fast, the Daniel Fast, eating only fruit, vegetables and water for 21 days should suffice.  As your heart is broken by the things that break God’s heart, this vibe will likely result in answers, discernment or both.
8. Accessing the Holy Spirit
Unfortunately, most men are like me, not wanting to read the directions of gifts they have to assemble.  On the other hand, first time mothers taking their newborn back home face a similar challenge, “what do I do know?”  The phenomena known as spiritual wisdom is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, accessible through the mind of Christ, Ephesians 2:6-8.  When you pray the promise of 2 Peter 1:3-4, the power of the Holy Spirit can be unleashed in your life.
9. Divine Intervention
At your weakest moment, God has a history of sending angels to the rescue, like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:6-9.  Missionary testimonies are filled with amazing encounters with angelic forces sent to save their lives or minister to them, Matthew 4:11.  The power of prayer can usher guardian angels into action, protecting God’s people from the schemes of the devil.
10. Through Meditation
Unlike New Age and Yoga practices, Christian meditation refers to concentrating on and memorizing the Bible, Joshua 1:8.  The best cure for sin is living according to God’s principles by hiding scripture within your heart, Psalm 119:9-11.  When you practice the words of Romans 12:1-2, God’s will for your life becomes clear and attainable.
11. During Worship
If you have ever reached a point of desperation, there are examples of believers who encountered God while participating in worship services, Acts 13:2-3.  Whenever you add fasting or prayer to this equation, God’s vibes are dialed in like having 4G.
12. Through Dreams
Whether your experience is like a book or a movie, when all other measures appear to fail, God uses angels or a still small voice to communicate his message through dreams, Matthew 2:13; 2:19-20.  As you test everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, to make sure your dream is relevant, you should be able to use these spiritual vibes as a measuring stick for discernment.
by Jay Mankus
%d bloggers like this: