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Promote Your Progress and Joy

Advance, boost, contribute to, develop, encourage, and further are words associated with promote. While modern promoters often serve as agents for professional athletes, one of the basic responsibilities for a Christian is to promote faith. Although this sounds easy to do, sharing the Bible with individuals who are hostile to God, Romans 8:7, can be thankless. However, if you see the big picture, winning souls, joy overflows when you lead someone into a personal relationship with Jesus.

Since I am convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and stay by you all, to promote your progress and joy in believing, Philippians 1:25.

While writing to a church that he helped build, Paul expresses his allegiance to Philippi. This commitment involves promoting their spiritual progress and joy of believing in Jesus. To an apostle, preaching and sharing the Gospel is the most important thing in the world. While there are other sources of good news that exist, to Paul, nothing compares to Jesus. This concept inspired the words of Philippians 4:6-7, as the peace of God surpasses all understanding.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Rome. As faith is promoted, God fills Christians with hope, peace, and joy. As individuals begin to discover and fulfill God’s will for your life, this joy can overflow, bubbling over out of an abundance. Yet, when progress is put on hold, joy can quickly disappear. Like a car put in neutral, idle Christians lose their spiritual momentum. Therefore, if you want to get back on track, promote spiritual progress and the joy from faith in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Fight for the Family

I heard an interesting saying last weekend while listening to a sermon on television.  During a conversation about parenting at church an elder replied, “when children stop listening to parents, they begin following what adults practice.”  These habits develop, form and shape what young people become.  When adults become hypocritical in the eyes of their children, the ability to have a lasting influence is lost.  This is where the fight for your family often begins.

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows, Nehemiah 4:13.

In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Nehemiah received news that the walls surrounding Jerusalem were broken down, leaving the people of Judah in danger.  Serving as a cupbearer to the king, similar to the secret service today, Nehemiah got approval to take some time away to oversee the rebuilding of the wall.  While fasting and praying, Nehemiah received a vision that enabled the construction to be completed in less than two months.  This job was completed so fast due to motivation, fixing the portion of wall closest to your home.  This concept inspired families to take ownership of their portion of the wall, eager to fight for and protect their neighbors.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

In modern times, the fight for your family is becoming more complicated.  Recently, parents of Charlie Gard were not allowed to leave the country to receive experimental medical attention.  Subsequently, Charlie was left to die in the hospital.  Depending upon the laws of your country, state or city, government regulations in some cases are taking away the rights of parents.  Meanwhile, progressive political views are slowly eradicating Judeo Christian values from American culture.  Those who stand up for the Bible are regularly maligned, ridiculed and shunned by the mainstream media.  If Christian continue to cave and fold to public pressure, traditional families will be a thing of the past.  In view of this fear, apply the words of the apostle Paul by fighting the good fight of faith. in changing times to fight for your family.

by Jay Mankus

 

Remembering Those Who Refresh Souls

Its unfortunate that most people wait until a funeral to thank someone for the imprint made of their life.  Instead of sharing an encouraging word, time has a way of distracting individuals from expressing how they really feel.  Thus, souls often perish without hearing or knowing the impact they had on others.

May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 2 Timothy 1:16.

While writing a letter to one of his ministry partners, the apostle Paul urges believers to remember those who refresh souls.  To heed this call, I feel compelled to give a shout out for those people who have helped me along my faith journey.  The first was my high school swim coach, who also served as a science teacher and spiritual mentor.  To a student who was seeking for meaning in life, Ken Horne pointed me in the right direction as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle leader at Concord High.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone, Colossians 4:6.

After helping me develop a solid foundation, several college friends inspired me to further my faith.  My roommate Mike introduced me to contemporary worship music, Phil showed me how to live life to the fullest and Dave led me to see the importance of accountability.  There are others who deserve additional credit, but there will be other blogs to address their deeds.  For now, don’t let time slip away on this July 4th before you remember those who have refreshed your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Words of Healing

When someone is down in the dumps, its hard to break through the shell holding in their misery.  Good intentions, kind words and loving attempts don’t always work to uplift downcast spirits.  Nonetheless, when all else fails, there is one source that provides words of healing, Psalm 107:20.

Growing up, I often experienced a wide range of emotions.  On the good days, I could lift others up, elevating their moods to my level.  Meanwhile, if depressed, I made sure no one had a smile on their face, bringing whoever I could down into my pit of despair.  Only a couple friends developed a few tricks to snap me out of these gloomy states.

Today, I have learned to become more self-reliant.  Not in my own abilities.  Rather, I trust in the power of God’s Word to infuse my soul with the strength to carry on, Isaiah 40:31.   Therefore, if you’re having a bad day, feeling hopeless or stuck in a rut, open up the Bible today to find words of healing, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

Thrills That Kill

One of my favorite summer pastimes is visiting amusement parks across the country.  Whether its  Cedar Point, Kings Island or one of the 6 Flags venues, there is nothing like the thrill of riding on a roller coaster.  This rush of adrenaline creates a sensation that makes you feel like you’re flying through the air.  However, for the paranoid, history serves as a notice that some rides can kill.

According to an NBC News report from July of 2014, most amusement accidents occur to children, roughly 4,400 per year or 20 per week during the peak season.  The most recent investigation on amusement park death found 52 individuals died over a 15 year people, with the latest victim a woman from Texas who fell out of a 14 story wooden coaster.  Despite strict safety regulations, there is no guarantee when the next malfunction will end in disaster.

From a spiritual perspective, there is a reason why God includes guidelines for life in the Bible.  If ignored, its easy to wander into trouble, just ask Eve.  Meanwhile, the acts of the sinful nature have been added for New Testament readers, warning people of the dangers of indulging in Turkish delights, Galatians 5:19-21.  Just as Peter explored Narnia, attractive to the promises of the White Witch, most human beings can’t resist the pleasures of earth.  Thus, if you’re not careful, you might develop a taste for thrills that can kill.

by Jay Mankus

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then my first full time teaching position after college was a blessing in disguise.  Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest, I spent the Spring Semester of 1993 counseling, teaching and tutoring junior high students who were considered career underachievers.  The learning never stopped, continuing through breakfast, lunch and dinner.  My only true break was for 40 minutes, from 12:20-1:00 pm, Monday thru Friday.  Titled 20/20 Time, students and teachers spent 40 minutes in solitude either on a hillside, in the valley or along the banks of a stream.  The goal of this exercise was to spend 20 minutes reflecting and 20 writing.  To my amazement, I developed a love for journaling; eventually inspiring 12 songs that formed my first album, A Simple Confession.

For those of us who love food, eating is like a race to see who can devour a meal the fastest.  Yet, for businessmen, savvy entrepreneurs and relational individuals, meals are maximized to get work done, explore new opportunities or develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Prior to the rise in youth sports, families spent 30-60 minutes a day at their kitchen table talking .  Now, some households eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, working meals around busy schedules.  Although hunger is a natural part of the body, appetites can vary from delicacies to worldly obsessions.  Realizing this truth, Jesus introduced a new concept for his listeners to digest, “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6.

The Psalms of the Bible illuminate how to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Beginning in Psalm 1:1-3, the author compares this type of individual with an evergreen, a tree that stays green throughout the year.  Known as conifers, the key to this tree is its root system.  When planted near a creek, river or stream, daily nutrients are widely available.  The spiritual dimension to this analogy can be found in Joshua 1:8, where meditating on the Bible day and night results in a similar outcome.  Therefore, if you want to maximize your own meals, start by consuming the Word of God before every breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If this concept takes ahold of your heart, soul and mind, then will resemble the tree in Psalm 1.  This leads me to the chorus from one of the first songs the Holy Spirit inspired me to write, Psalm 1.

“I want to be the tree, down by the river”

“I want to be the tree, down by the bank”

“I want to be the tree, that walks and talks like Jesus”

“Reaching out for nourishment by staying in God’s Word.”

by Jay Mankus

 

To Enjoy, Invest or Waste?

If each day on earth is considered a gift, then individuals have 3 choices.  You can enjoy each moment, soaking in the world around you.  Another option is  investing your energy, talents and time into hobbies, interests or passions.  Finally, the self-absorbed might follow the path of the prodigal son, wasting life savings to satisfy their fantasies.

While reflecting on my own life, I wish I could say that my time has been well spent.  Unfortunately, transitioning to my new work schedule has resulted in countless unproductive hours.  Although I hope to develop healthier patterns, I can’t replace the time that I’ve lost.  In view of this, I need to hit the reset button to begin again, Lamentations 3:22-23.

When you go through patterns of disappointment, keep your head up, Galatians 6:9-10.  With Christ’s help, Philippians 4:13, you can stop negative momentum.  If you want to turn the pages of your past toward love, joy and peace, emulate the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.  By doing this, you will find enjoyment while investing in kingdom activities during your days on the earth, Matthew 6:19-22.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Day Away Can Lead to Years of Regret

If you take my life as exhibit A, its scary how easy it is to ruin a routine.  After nearly 6 months of developing a disciplined Bible reading and prayer time before work, I decided to take yesterday off.  While driving in my car, a thought crossed my mind, “a day away from God can lead to years of regret.”

During my tenure as a high school teacher, I participated in several seminars related to life skills.  I recall one evening at Black Rock Retreat Center as the key note speaker spoke about choices.  Essentially his message concentrated on Ideas have consequences.  Thus, as one’s world view is formed, the choices you make influence your actions, behavior and the words that you choose.  Whether you’re talking about running, working out or spending time with God, a day away can lead to years of regret.

As I look back on my life, distractions reflect where your heart is, Matthew 6:19-22.  When eating, sleeping and watching television becomes more important than the Lord, my priorities have swayed in the wrong direction.  If I let this occurrence become a pattern, regret is a likely fate.  Therefore, whenever you start to slip sliding away from God, react quickly before a spiritual slumber sets in.  In your weakness, Christ can be strong, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12, but you must surrender to obtain the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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