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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

S.A.N.S. Episode 52: Keep My Mind

When I lived in Columbus, Indiana a friend invited me to a Margaret Becker concert in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following the concert, I volunteered to help break down the stage and pack Margaret’s bus for her next concert. The interactions that I had with Margaret and her team that night made me a fan for life. In an age filled with compromise, Margaret has remained true to her faith and music ministry.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

The lyrics of today’s song Keep My Mind reminds me of one of the apostle Paul’s epistles. Depending upon the mindset that you hold will dictate the attitude and behavior that you display in life. When my heart and mind is set on Jesus, I feel my better about the present and my future. Yet, when I tend to be more selfish, I feel empty inside. As you listen to Keep My Mind, follows Paul’s advice listed above.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Volume 4: All the Darkness

Today’s song dates back to my wedding in 1995. I was put in charge of two specific details: the disc jockey at the reception and the music played at our wedding. The week of our wedding, I got a call from my friend who had his van stolen with all of his music inside. Fortunately, our DJ was able to borrow enough music so that the reception was saved. Yet, this doesn’t excuse All the Darkness that occurs throughout the world on a daily basis.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

As for the wedding music, I asked my best friend from Ohio to sing Steve Wiggins’ song All the Darkness. Phil was a youth pastor in Springfield while I was at a church in Columbus, Indiana. Every Monday we met at a mall in Cincinnati for lunch. Phil taught me how to have fun while serving the Lord with competitive games of Laser Tag and mini-golf. Phil nailed the song as Leanne’s and my mother lite the unity candle. May the lyrics of All the Darkness stir and touch your soul as it did for me more than 25 years ago.

by Jay Mankus

What Do You Do… When You’re All Tapped Out

The term tapped out refers to reaching a point of emptiness, unable to go any farther.  A mother breast feeding her child may hit a wall, unable to produce any more milk.  Despite an infant’s cries, mom is done.  A keg on a college campus is bound to dry up, tapped out from over use.  However, one of the most common examples today relates to a parent or student, burning the candle at both ends until they crash and burn from sheer exhaustion.

1. Acknowledge your condition – Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray, James 5:13a.

In the prime of my life, I worked 90 hours a week as a youth pastor.  On my only day off, I led a Bible Study at McDonald’s in the morning, drove to Cincinnati to meet a friend (a 90 minute drive one way) and came back by dinner time to attend an adult Bible Study which required extensive reading.  Sure, this sounds like a lot, but I was young.  After my wealthy church rejected a plea for a homeless guy, I let him stay on my couch at my apartment for six months.  To justify my raise after one year, my responsibilities tripled to include Confirmation, Coaching High School Basketball and Helping out with Young Life.

2. Find someone to confide in – If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

Sometime after the first six months, I became comfortably numb, running on fumes.  Since I didn’t have anyone to intervene, I reached an emotional breaking point, unable to give anymore.  Thus, 14 months after starting my dream job, what I was born to do, I was forced to take a step back.  So… what do you do when you’re all tapped out?  Well, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail with a mentor from high school, a former coach and Fellowship of Christian’s Athletes director.  Looking back now, most of this weekend was a blur, yet I needed to retreat before I could go any further.

3. Find a quiet place to meet with God – 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.

Before he became king of Israel, David had his own issues.  The king, who just happened to be his best friend’s dad was trying to kill him, jealous of his fame from defeating Goliath.  A man without a country, David fled for a cave, encouraged by 400 men, soldiers who had became friends.  Despite being anointed as king by Samuel, David had to wait and wait and wait some more.  Just as the mountains served as a retreat for me, this cave was like an oasis, able to shoot the breeze, wondering where to go and what to do next.  Fellowship in these close quarters likely developed friendships for a lifetime.

4. Publicly confess your sins – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed, James 5:16a.

To provide a woman’s perspective, I can’t help but mention the woman described in Matthew 9.  If you think you’ve had a tough life, just listen to her sob story.  Suffering from a bleeding disorder, she saw every specialist possible until she ran out of money.  Broke and still unhealed, she was probably forced to beg like the homeless.  Yet, fearful of contracting what she had, this woman was forced beyond the cities gates to live among the outcasts in society.  Financially tapped, healing appeared unattainable until a man named Jesus worked the earth.

5. Find rest for your soul – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, ” Matthew 11:28.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Stranded

Before the days of cell phones, I found myself stranded on Interstate 74 between Indianapolis and Cincinnati.  As my car died, I was helpless as vehicles flew by without a glance.  Waiting for a good Samaritan to come to the rescue, minutes turned to hours.  Like a fish out of water, I reached a point where I didn’t know what to do.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed, Proverbs 19:17.

You would think a youth pastor might naturally turn to prayer for assistance, but the shock of the moment distracted my focus.  Desperation pointed me in the right direction, upward toward the sky.  Shortly after praying, a jeep arrived to take me to the nearest tow truck.  Although the fix wasn’t easy, a credit card enabled me to make it home several hours behind schedule.

Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you, Matthew 5:42.

Today, God’s timing doesn’t always make sense, especially when you endure hardship.  Numerous people feel spiritually stranded, stuck in a rut and unable to find rest for a weary soul.  During this waiting game, many around you may fake it for a while, putting on a good front.  However, unspoken words hope for eternal security, 1 John 5:13.  In this search for the meaning to life, may the Holy Spirit pick you up from the curb, helping you put all the pieces together from your past, present and the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Night the Lord Spoke to His Children

In the summer of 1993, I made my first of several treks to Kings Island, formerly a Paramount themed amusement park just east of Cincinnati.  Today, its owned and operated by Cedar Fair, known as the sister park of Cedar Point which is located in Sandusky, Ohio, on the north shore of Lake Erie.  My first visit was as a youth pastor of a large church in Columbus, Indiana, taking a bus load of teenagers and foreign exchange students from the Netherlands.  To minimize the side effects of long lines, I began to play Euchre, the card game of choice in the mid-west.  Throughout the course of the day, I played more than a dozen full games, forming special bonds with several young people.

These shared experiences on roller coasters and playing games together, set the scene for one of the most memorable evenings I can recall.  During my 15 years in youth ministry, I have discovered that certain individuals have an aura around them, which draw you in their direction.  Thus, on the 90 minute ride home, I was led to a specific seat on the bus.  Initially, 3 girls and a guy began talking about wanting more, not satisfied with mere Christianity.  However, before the night was over 2 individuals, Cathy and Jackie, began sharing a vision for a special event.  This June conversation inspired a night in July where the Lord spoke to his children.

Once the logistics were worked out, acquiring a few rooms in the church, the multiple purpose room and prayer chapel, the 12 Hours of Power was conceived.  Receiving input from my core leadership group, we decided to split those in attendance up into 3 groups, rotating time praying in the chapel.  Those not praying participated in games, deep conversations and lots of Dew, the mountain variety.  For 12 hours, students fought the urge to sleep by shifting their attention toward the heavenly realm.  Unlike any other Lock In I’ve been a part of, the power of the Holy Spirit fell upon these youth.  In the days, weeks and months that followed, a mini revival broke out in Columbus, Indiana, driven by the love of Jesus within teenagers.  Idle talk was replaced by impromptu Bible Studies, students began breaking down, openly confessing sins among their peers and the spiritual climate rose to heights I have never seen since.  This is what has, can and will happen again when the Lord speaks to His children.

by Jay Mankus

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