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Tag Archives: Come to your senses

Bouncing Back from a Rough Start to Finish Strong

Leaving a good first impression with a boss, co-workers and neighbors is valuable to get ahead in life. Yet, one bad day can trigger an avalanche of chaos that can bury you for weeks, months or for a year. Whenever someone loses faith in you or wavers on trusting you, you need to bounce back as quick as possible. You may not change their minds initially, but consistent dedication will pave a path for reconciliation.

What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. 29 And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go, Matthew 21:28-30.

Jesus understood that parents will be disappointed by their children. This may explain the Parable of Two Sons and the Prodigal Son. In both of these stories, these young men display disobedience and rebellion. Human nature causing males and females to change their minds, often doing the exact opposite of what was previously stated. Perhaps, conviction or embarrassment serve as inspiration to bounce back from a rough start.

Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. 20 So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently], Luke 15:17-20.

The Parable of the Prodigal is a much more famous and intriguing story. When a younger son begs his father for his inheritance, this money is quickly squandered through wild living. As homelessness and hunger arrives, this immature son comes to his senses. After putting aside his pride, he takes the walk of shame back toward home. Before you can bounce back, you need to see the error of your way so that your faith will result in a strong finish, Philippians 3:9-12.

by Jay Mankus

Going Beyond Just Being a Religious Person

When I studied the New Testament for the first time, my perception of religion changed. I guess being a good person was so ingrained into my head while being raised in a Roman Catholic Church, I overlooked the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul taught me that no matter how hard I tried to please God, following religious practices only takes you so far, Romans 3:9-12. Subsequently, I was no better than the prodigal son, a sinner in desperate need of a Savior.

Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants, Luke 15:17-19.

When I read the Bible sometimes, thoughts like “I can’t believe they did that” race through my mind. Yet, if the tables were turned and I was living in the first century, I’m sure I wouldn’t like the person who would portray me. Despite attempting to live a decent, good and upright life, I’ve made my own spiritual messes. I’ve squandered money like the prodigal son on all sorts of temporary pleasures. Just when I thought I hit the bottom of the barrel, I broke through to reach lower depths.

So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently]. 21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! 22 But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. 23 And bring out [k]that [wheat-]fattened calf and kill it; and let us [l]revel and feast and be happy and make merry, 24 Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to [m]revel and feast and make merry, Luke 15:20-24.

One of the lesser stressed parts of this parable is the type of a relationship that God desires. When you finally come to your senses, asking for forgiveness and mercy is just the beginning. While Jesus suggests Christians should strive for perfection in Matthew 5:48, this is merely a religious exercise. Rather, Jesus wants a permanent meaningful lasting relationship. If you’re tired of being a flawed perfectionist, it’s time to move beyond being a religious person toward a special connection with God, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

When Everyone Else Has Given Up on You

White Cross released In the Kingdom in 1991. One of the singles from this album is No Second Chances. The context of these lyrics refer to when you die, there isn’t a second chance to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, Romans 10:9-10. However, the Bible does suggest that some Christians will just barely get into heaven, Hebrews 10:26-27. If this is true, what does the Bible say when everyone else on earth has given up on you?

You are to deliver this man over to Satan for physical discipline [to destroy carnal lusts which prompted him to incest], that [his] spirit may [yet] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, 1 Corinthians 5:5.

In the city of Corinth, a member of the church who is either a teenager or young adult has taken his father’s wife for himself. This act of incest angered Paul and inspired the words above. Just as Jesus handed over Judas Iscariot over to Satan, Paul does the same for this man. Despite the tone of Paul’s letter, there is a sliver of hope that severe church discipline will somehow save this lost soul.

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

Meanwhile, the author of Hebrews points to a Christian struggling with addiction. While there is no description of this bad habit or habitual sin, there isn’t any sign of contrition or a willingness to change. Coaches, parents, or teachers encounter individuals like Hebrews 6:6 every year. Unfortunately, these prodigals haven’t reach rock bottom or come to their senses. My prayer to anyone who thinks they are too far gone, remember the words of Luke 15:18 because God never gives up on lost sheep.

by Jay Mankus

When God is No Where to be Found

At the beginning of chapter 23, Job is in a desperate search to find God. Despite crying out to God in prayer, the Lord was silent. When Job’s own friends began to assume that his current hardship was part of a curse, payback for some hidden or un-confessed sin, panic set in. When no one believed that Job was innocent, demons of doubt, frustration and uncertainty wore on Job’s soul.

If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments, Job 23:3-4.

Perhaps, 2020 has brought some unpleasant experiences so far. Maybe, one of you has endured a Murphy’s Law kind of week, “if anything can go wrong, it does.” Just as military leaders prepare soldiers and troops for worse case scenarios, the Bible seeks to prepare Christians for the “what ifs” in life. Yet, tragic news like the sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter have left many running to God for answers.

I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say to me. Would he vigorously oppose me? No, he would not press charges against me, Job 23:5-6.

Fortunately, Job understood the nature of God, that it’s okay to vent the burdens on your heart. When God is no where to be found, Jesus encourages believers to ask, seek and keep knocking until you receive a reply, Matthew 7:7-8. While many quit before finally sensing the presence of God, the parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8 serves a blue print to get God’s attention. Although you may experience days, weeks, months and years where God is silent, sometimes you simply need to come to your senses like the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-31. Whatever your current circumstances, may this blog provide some peace of mind to weary souls.

by Jay Mankus

Breaking Up With God

Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield co-wrote the song Breaking Up is Hard to Do.  Sedaka recorded two different versions of Breaking Up is Hard to Do with the first released in 1962.  Thirteen years later the arrangement and style changed with the times.  This theme came full circle in 2011 with the jukebox musical Breaking Up is Hard to Do.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living,” Luke 15:13.

While most people think of breaking up in reference to boy and girl friends, this can also relate to families.  The prodigal son couldn’t wait to leave home.  Unfortunately, he rushed off without any foresight, squandering his inheritance.  Immaturity, selfishness and pride severed the prodigal son’s relationship with his father.  This break up left this young man homeless, starving and spiritually dead.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants,’ Luke 15:17-19.

The parable of the prodigal son illustrates what happens when people break up with God.  Initially, instant gratification provides moments of pleasure.  However, when your expectations are not meet or fulfilled, a sense of emptiness enters the human soul.  Subsequently, purpose or meaning for life is lost, replaced by a void within hearts that only Jesus can fill.  May those who have wandered away from God come to their senses by repenting and drawing near the Lord.  Don’t let guilt or resentment delay your return.

by Jay Mankus

A Year Without Church

Before his tragic death in a plane crash, Keith Green created the song Asleep in the Night.  Although the original context refers to someone sleeping in, missing church on Easter Sunday, this song applies to my current dilemma.  Due to my grave yard work schedule, I can’t seem to get my lazy butt out of bed on Sunday morning.  Subsequently, 2016 can be described as a year without church, the fewest weeks I’ve ever attended.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living, Luke 15:13”

I wish I had a decent excuse, but what good would that do.  Like any other sin, missing church involves a lack of discipline, choosing laziness over obedience.  Instead of receiving God’s blessings of fellowship, praise and words of inspiration, I have become like the prodigal who continues to move in the wrong decision.  Hopefully, I will come to my senses soon so that I can spent 2017 in the house of God.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,” Luke 15:17-18.

When you miss a day praying or reading the Bible, you can’t get it back.  Sure, you might try to do twice the praying or reading the next day to make yourself feel better, but the truth is something else was more important to you on the days you tuned out God.  Part of me still sees the Lord from an Old Testament perspective, one of judgement and wrath.  Yet, the New Testament opens the door on a loving God, desperately waiting for his children to give Him the attention He is worthy of.  May you learn from the errors of my way by visiting a local church regularly and invest time at home daily with the living God of the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Devil’s Triangle

Across the surface of the earth, there are small sections which produce anomalies.  For one reason or another, abnormal, odd or strange events seem to happen within defined areas.  One of the most famous occurs over water, others take place in the mountains and some form a triangle between three specific geographical points.  Whether you are referring to the Devil’s Triangle at sea or a 44 mile highway loop in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, some places appear to be cursed, filled with a history of accidents, disaster or tragedy.

And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will, 2 Timothy 2:26.

Although I don’t want to jump to conclusions, these places produce acts and occurrences that defy science.  While several of these unusual accounts can be explained due to rare barometric conditions, others seem to be linked to the supernatural.  According to the apostle Paul, people will experience traps set by the devil, demonic influences or powers of darkness.  Thus, when you find yourself within the snares of the Devil’s Triangle, you need to know what you’re up against.

In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient, Ephesians 2:2.

As a fallen angel, Satan controls the airspace, sending minions to create havoc throughout the face of the earth.  These invisible attacks plants seeds of doubt, urges hearts to indulge in worldly pleasures and promotes a New Age mindset.  Sometimes this involves sending people into our lives that lead to subtle changes in the form of compromise.  While people may visit places on earth known as the Devil’s Triangle, you don’t have to leave your home to experience a spiritual war upon your soul.  Prepare yourself with prayer!

by Jay Mankus

To Roam or Rule

The great thing about free will is that individuals are not coerced into doing something they don’t want to do.  Rather, each day you have the option to roam or rule.  The first is accomplished by sight, allowing wandering eyes to guide you, often in a self-seeking manner.  The second is exercised by faith, becoming a kingdom man or woman, by finishing the work God has called you to do.

Christ made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, Ephesians 1:9.

Depending upon your degree or level of faith, its not uncommon for someone to go back and forth between roaming and ruling.  As darkness approaches, hope can be lost causing many to take the reigns.  Yet, as people come to their senses, the Holy Spirit awakens souls to rule and reign in the authority delegated to Christ like believers.  For the average person, this roller coaster ride lasts a lifetime, full of twists, turns and strange occurrences.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:6.

In my moments of greatest uncertainty, I cling to promise above.  I don’t always know what God wants me to do, but I do know there is still work to accomplish.  Thus, with all my heart, soul and mind, I press on hoping I am on the right track.  Although, I still may roam from time to time, I pray that the Lord will guide me to rule, keeping in step with the next assignment God wants me to complete.

by Jay Mankus

The Lord’s Patience

If you have children, coach or teach, then you understand willful disobedience.  Unfortunately, human nature tends to cause adults to become angry, frustrated or resentful.  In the heat of the moment, its not uncommon to say or do something you regret.  If only individuals possessed the Lord’s patience.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.

One of the more awkward conversations in the Bible occurs in John 21.  Peter meets face to face with a resurrected Jesus.  Without bringing up Peter’s public denial, Jesus asks him if he the loves the Lord three times.  These words cut to the heart, a painful reminder of Peter’s past transgression the week prior.  Before the day was over, Peter received a glimpse of the Lord’s patience.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” John 21:18.

In this age of instant gratification, its hard to allow time to take its course on life.  Instead of pressing others to comply with your rules and regulation, sometimes you have to let those whom you love to wander off.  Only when people come to their senses will the day of repentance arrive.  Therefore, as a friend, mentor or parent don’t force the issue.  Rather, pray that the Lord’s patience will awaken souls and lead to salvation.

by Jay Mankus

Dropping off the Map

In a typically week, I scan through 4,000 emails at work.  This daily grind has caused me to neglect my own personal email account.  Subsequently, in the last couple of years, I’ve dropped of the map so to speak, forgetting to connect with people I care about.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living, Luke 15:13.

While watching an episode of A Football Life on the NFL Network, I was struck by the words of former Chicago Bear and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Mike Singletary.  In his pursuit to become a great linebacker, he neglected other areas of his life, most notably his family.  Like Mike, I suffer from tunnel vision, so focused on the task at hand that I can shut out the people that I care about most.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” – Luke 15:17

From a biblical perspective, everyone has their prodigal moment, period or phase in life.  Human nature causes curious individuals to drift off course, replacing God or family with the pleasures of the world.  Depending upon the length of this detour, its not uncommon for someone to drop off the map, leaving church, fellowship or the faith for a while.  Whether this blog finds you in a good place, sliding away or somewhere in between, may we all come to our senses soon so we can be reunited with those whom we love.

by Jay Mankus

 

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