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Tag Archives: confirmation

Average Isn’t Good Enough

In the context of golf, average is like the par for each hole listed on a course’s scorecard. Amateurs golfers strive for par, hoping to take advantage of the easier holes. Meanwhile, the more difficult holes will challenge players, often satisfied with a bogey, one over par. This isn’t the case for professionals who will usually miss 36 hole cuts if they don’t shoot several strokes under par. Average golf professionals don’t last long on the PGA Tour, demoted to a lesser tour or forced to pursue another career.

Concerning this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull and sluggish in [your spiritual] hearing and disinclined to listen, Hebrews 5:11.

The Bible doesn’t paint a positive picture of average Christians. The author of Hebrews refers to an individual who is dull, ignorant and stubborn. Instead of reaching new heights, an unwillingness to listen has resulted in an average life. The difference between an amateur and a professional is the amateur dabbles, unsure of themselves. The professional is committed, determined and focused, possessing a faith in their God given talent. Most amateurs are content with their current status, falling back on another trade as their main career.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers [because of the time you have had to learn these truths], you actually need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of God’s word [from the beginning], Hebrews 5:12.

According to the Bible, God expects Christians to move beyond elementary principles. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of growing up, from a child into a man, 1 Corinthians 13:11. At some point, the Lord wants all believers to put aside childish ways. Modern churches use the confirmation process as a vehicle for growth, enabling teenage boys and girls to take ownership of their faith. As adults, God expects more, to move beyond an amateur mindset toward the devotion of a disciple. May this blog inspire souls to draw closer to Jesus, eager to serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

Spicing Up Church

Church history tends to go in cycles with one generation often forgetting the mistakes of the past.  Church growth experts substitute previously failed measures with cutting edge facilities, programs and technology.  Thus, if you attend modern church services you will find many replicate a concert with loud music, some sort of light show and overhead projectors that replace hymnals.  Only time will tell if spicing up church is successful.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.

My spiritual background is a like a blended family.  I grew up in the Roman Catholic church, attending CCD until my confirmation.  While in high school, I began to attend a Methodist youth group.  During my college years I spent time at Baptist, Pentecostal and Non-denomination congregations before graduating.  Six months later I participated in a Lutheran dominated Youth Ministry Trade School.  I could go on, but for me the only thing that spices up church is developing permanent meaningful lasting relationships.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

I can recall one night walking for miles, spending several hours pouring out my heart to close friends Dave and Liz.  The earthly brother of Jesus is correct when he states publicly confessing your sins leads to healing.  In fact, a teenager in England ignited the second great awakening by asking his congregation for forgiveness, revealing his deep and dark sins.  Perhaps, if the leaders of modern churches begin to practice the biblical principles which led to previous spiritual awakenings, communities would notice what it means to spice up the church.

by Jay Mankus

 

21 Seconds to Pray

During my confirmation process in the Catholic Church in 8th grade, I studied the Lord’s prayer, also known as the Our Father.  According to author Dr. Mark Rutland, it takes the average person 21 seconds to pray this prayer.  After twenty years of using the Lord’s prayer as a foundation for prayer, Dr. Rutland believes that you can change your world if individuals begin to devote 21 seconds to prayer daily.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Matthew 6:9-10.

Keeping a journal during this extended period, Mark began to see the impact Jesus’ words had on his prayer life.  Gradually, his heart, soul and mind were transformed by this basic, yet powerful prayer outline inspiring his book 21 Seconds to Change Your World.  While the average person struggles to pay attention or remain focused, 21 seconds is less than most commercials on television.  Therefore, why not make a resolution for 2016 to commit 21 seconds to prayer each day.

Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, Matthew 6:11-13.

Even when people draw near to God, prayer can be foreign to many.  Feeling asleep on my pillow in college was a nightly tradition, not getting far before I dosed off.  However, 21 seconds is realistic, a good starting point for novice prayers.  Therefore, I don’t have a good excuse to say I was too busy, didn’t feel well or was too tired.  Rather, now is a great time to start 2016 off on the right foot with 21 seconds to pray.

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

 

 

Gotta Get It Right

During my last year as a youth pastor, I was responsible for running Confirmation, a year long class for 8th graders who sought to take ownership of their faith.  Before the actual ceremony during church in the Spring, I took my group away on a retreat about 30 minutes west of Columbus, Indiana.  Coming out a year earlier, I showed the movie Groundhog Day to break the ice, easing the tension for those uncomfortable with talking about God.  Essentially, Bill Murray keeps repeating the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still like this movie.  However, there are several life lessons worth noting.  First, too many individuals, me especially, become consumed with what they are doing, where they are going and what they need to accomplish every day.  As a result, blinders prevents you from appreciating, interacting and slowing down long enough to develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Secondly, distracted people often don’t recognize, see or stop to help someone in need with a smile, word of encouragement or passing prayer.  Finally, life is best served by embracing daily distractions that God provides.  These interruptions offer opportunities to minister, nurture and uplift struggling souls.

While listening to the song Get it Right by Silverline, I sensed the urging of the Holy Spirit to write this blog.  Although each day is filled with trials and errors, life is too short to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  If  you are touched by these words, join me in the quest to get it right, John 10:10.  Yet, when you fail, don’t give up, Galatians 6:9-10.  Rather, by leaning on Christ, Philippians 4:13, believe in your heart that over time, you will get it right.

Please comment on my blog how your journey is going.  This post is dedicated to Elizabeth, one of my students who gave her heart to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, at the end of our confirmation retreat.

by Jay Mankus

Resisting the Holy Spirit

As far as I can remember, I grew up in a strict Roman Catholic Church: taking my first communion there, going to C.C.D. and finally completing the confirmation process.  In my early years, nuns would strike you with a yard stick if you couldn’t quote the Our Father or Hail Mary when put on the spot.  When I got older, it bothered me  that the priest had the final  say, only his interpretation of scripture was valid.  Thus, in high school, I began a quest to find out more about the Bible, looking beyond just the Catholic faith for answers.

This journey has lead me to passages like Acts 7:51.  Whether you are a Catholic, Protestant , Jew or some other religion, sometimes its hard to break the traditions that have been engraved within your mind.  When your priest, pastor or rabbi says something, most assume, this must be true.  However, religious practices often enable leaders to usurp power over their flock, holding them captive to traditions.  Similar patterns exist today, as seminary teaches future shepherds to follow theological practices, often overlooking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.  The apostle Paul furthers this concept in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, day by day, not just when we feel like or want to follow.  I am afraid that many Christians are so busy following orders and pursuing practices, they have been oblivious to the fact they are actually resisting the Holy Spirit.  Wherever you are in life, make room for the Counselor, John 14:16-17.  Resist the urge to follow human traditions, test everything you hear with the Bible and when God’s whisper appears, follow!

by Jay Mankus

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