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Opening Your Eyes to the Suffering of Friends

When I was younger, I was naive.  This immaturity lead me to become blind, oblivious to the needs of my friends.  Carl who eventually became my best friend in high school often punched me in the shoulder, shouting out “punch buggy” yellow or blue.  Behind this aggression was a boy crying out for help as he silently watched cancer take his mother’s life.  I could have been there for him, providing a shoulder to lean on.  Yet, I was consumed by my own life.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him, Job 2:11.

News of the tragedy that struck Job spread to his friends and neighbors.  Since no funerals are referenced, these three men dropped what they were doing to comfort Job.  However, as they approached, the sight of Job’s condition was overwhelming.  This brought out raw emotions, crying with their friend.  Based upon the words used by Job, none of these friends could come to terms with what happened, remaining silent for a week.  Sometimes a hug is more powerful than words.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was, Job 2:12-13.

In this day and age, its easy to connect or reach out to friends using social media.  Since my emergency eye surgery last November, I posted on Facebook a need for prayers a couple of times.  I’ve been amazed and touched by the outpouring of support that I have received.  In the moments immediately following requests for prayers, I have felt the healing power of your prayers.  This experience has inspired me to open my eyes to the suffering of friends.  May this blog inspire you to reach a helping hand like the friends of Job in chapter 2.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Ready to Jump In?

Every so often I will come face to face with a crisis.  Usually, its a mom or dad not paying attention to their children, wondering off into trouble.  Sometimes I become the good Samaritan, reaching out just in time to prevent an accident or fall.  Unfortunately, this is rare, often consumed with my own life, oblivious to everything else around me.  Thus, I’m not ready to jump in.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross, Mark 15:21.

One Friday morning, a man was minding his own business, possible thinking about what he was going to do over the weekend.  Suddenly, commotion from the crowds standing along the street peeked his curiosity.  Going over to see what was going on, a soldier called out, demanding his help.  Though its unclear if he was a willing participant, Simon jumped into action, carrying a cross for a pitiful soul, full of blood, bruises and open flesh.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:15-16.

The term Christian was first derived in the town of Antioch.  Faith wasn’t just a spoken word.  Rather, the followers of Jesus displayed the same love, peace and servanthood of their former leader.  Pleasantly surprised by these acts, citizens began to say, “hey, you must be one of those Christ followers?”  Overtime this phrase was condensed to simply Christian.  In view of this historical fact, may you be compelled to jump into action, following in the footsteps of Jesus, 1 John 2:6.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Love Beyond Comprehension

I must confess that I let the ways of the world get the best of me this past week.  Every time I watch cable news or listen to talk radio, I usually feel much worse than I did before I tuned in.  In addition, I tend to talk to the person on the other side, as if they can hear me, shouting out my beliefs and views.  In the end, the Lord doesn’t care what I, you or the media thinks as God is consumed with a love beyond comprehension.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” – Luke 15:4

Driving home from work early this morning, the first song I heard on the radio was David Crowder’s version of How He Loves Us.  By the time the chorus arrived, all of my frustrations disappeared.  At this moment, I realized how futile it is to try to prove tno others that you’re right and everyone else is wrong.  Regardless of how individuals act, behave and live out their life, God’s love is like a hurricane, blowing souls back home.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent, Luke 15:7.

The parable of the Lost Sheep illustrates God’s amazing love.  Whether you are a prodigal child, wandering nomad looking for a church to call home or a troubled soul, God is willing to send angels across this planet to open your eyes and soften your heart to receive eternal life, Romans 10:9-10.  In view of this, the next time a co-worker, family member or neighbor get’s on your nerves, say a prayer so that one day each annoying person will embrace a love beyond comprehension.

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

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