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It’s Not Over Until You Quit

If you have ever coached, played or watched a little league baseball game, you know that no lead in safe.  My oldest son James played in the 11-12 year old championship game two years in a row.  The first game went into extra innings as each team went ahead, lost the lead only to tie the game in their last at bats.  Running out of pitchers, James came on in relief, pitching the 7th and 8th.  Needing one out to close out the game, an error let in the tying run.  In the bottom of the 8th, James was left on the mound while the opposing team celebrated.  One year later, the championship game went into the 9th, but this time his team walked off champions.  I hope these 2 games helped teach my son that it’s not over until you quit.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

During my sophomore year of college, my ultimate frisbee team reached the finals.  From a talent stand point, my team didn’t deserve to win based upon merit.  Down the entire game, I threw a Hail Mary pass as time was about to expire.  Laying on my back, I watched as my throw sailed over two teammates in the end zone.  However, a gust of wind miraculously keep the frisbee in the air long enough for our fastest player to make a game tying catch.  In overtime, a defensive stop gave us a chance to take our first lead of the game.  While making a catch in the end zone, a 6 foot 3 inch 200 pound defender landed on my arm.  Somehow by the grace of God, I held on seal the victory.  This experience taught me to never give up.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

After the crucifixion of Jesus on a cross, one disciple committed suicide, others went into hiding and a few returned to their former trades.  On the eve of Easter Sunday, Jesus’ mother,  Mary Magdalene and other women went to ceremonially prepare Jesus’ body.  Perhaps, some of them went to this cave, tomb hoping for a miracle.  Upon their arrival, an angel of the Lord delivered incredible news.  If someone can rise from the dead, then nothing is impossible.  Thus, these godly women learned a valuable life lesson, its not over until you quit.  Therefore, despite whatever trials you may endure, don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

by Jay Mankus

Beware of the Weary Traveler

Drained, drowsy, exhausted, fatigued and spent are words associated with being tired and weary.  Depending upon your hobbies, occupation and physical fitness routine, energy can be released emotionally, mentally and physically.  Perhaps this is why the commandments reference loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Exercising each of these three aspects of the human body prevents the enemy, Satan, from snatching the good news of Jesus Christ from human hearts, Matthew 13:18-19.  The apostle Paul addresses this within 1 Thessalonians 5:23, urging his audience to prepare your spirit, soul and body for the second coming of Jesus.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Unfortunately, many good intentioned Christians use busyness as an excuse not to follow the advice of Jesus and Paul.  Yet, the longer any believer goes without praying, studying the Bible and worshipping God, the closer you get to the weary traveler.  This is a spiritual condition, not an actual person, where souls become vulnerable to demonic attacks.  Instead of resisting evil, weary travelers often contemplate forbidden fruits, entertain thoughts of doubt and open their minds to alternative lifestyles.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urges his readers to hold on, press on and don’t give up on following the narrow path that leads to life, Matthew 7:13-14.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

In the days of the Old Testament, devout Jews grew weary of the ancient practices for seeking forgiveness.  Animals needed to be collected, trips to the temples planned and sacrifices made by a high priest to atone for the mistakes, rebellious acts and transgressions made by you and your family.  When you consider the blood, killing and smell left behind by this grueling tradition, its no wonder that Israelites in the days of the prophet Isaiah began to lose hope.  Receiving a vision from God, Isaiah compares the Lord to eaglets nurtured and raised by caring parents.  Thus, when you feel like you can’t go on any longer, let God carry you on wings like eagles.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Today, a week doesn’t go by without news of a Christian falling from grace, caught in a surprising act of sin.  These tarnished believers often follow the pattern found in 2 Samuel 11:1-4.  Just because you are a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t make you immune to sin.  Rather, when the spirit of the weary traveler enters your soul, anything is possible.  Just ask King David who didn’t feel like going to work one day.  This decision led to idleness, boredom and a wandering spirit.  One thing led to another and suddenly a righteous man commits adultery, get’s another man’s wife pregnant and gives order to have her husband left behind and killed.  This Old Testament passage should serve as a wake up call to all Christians who are on the verge of entertaining the weary traveler.

by Jay Mankus

Learning to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Death, financial worries and illness are the 3 most common trials that trigger depression.  If any of these obstacles linger or are replaced by another debilitating force, its hard to remain optimistic.  Thus, learning to get back up when life knocks you down begins with words of encouragement.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:9-10

In the moment of his greatest distress, David sought refuge in a cave within Adullam.  When his friends heard of his despair, they joined him to uplift David’s spirits.  Unable to stand on his own, David was able to get back up, inspired by their camaraderie.  Subsequently, a rejuvenated soul compelled David to become their leader.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. – 1 Samuel 22:2

After I lost my job on New Year’s Day 2012, I was crushed.  I felt like I had just been punched in the gut, without any warning.  However, 2 close friends stood by me in these days of darkness.  One brought my family a meal that night and another scheduled a time to meet weekly.  Through the good and bad, the friends God provides in times of need have helped me get back up when life has knocked me down.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

When It Rains… It Pours

On the surface, some people appear to have bad luck.  If its not one thing, another quickly turns for the worse.  Unfortunately, too many of us on earth know the expression, “when it rains, its pours.”

Trials don’t wait for a convenient time to show up.  Rather, out of the blue and unannounced, these disappointing events inflict anguish, heartache and sorrow.  Like a snow ball thrown off of a mountain, avalanches form creating a wall of destruction headed toward innocent bystanders.  These freaks of nature don’t stop until its energy has been exhausted.

Similar to a fire drill, Christians should be prepared for the next hurricane.  However, spiritual storms aren’t limited to a few months out of the year.  Instead, every day pop up thunderstorms are possible, ripping the foundations out from those not ready, Matthew 7:24-27.  May the promise of Psalm 34:18 encourage anyone who is currently stuck in stationary showers that don’t seem to be letting up.  Hang in there, don’t give up and cling to the Lord, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

Making Sense of Uncertainty

Over the course of your life, everyone has peaks and valleys.  When you experience mountain highs, they don’t seem to last very long.  Unfortunately, when you hit rock bottom, time tends to stand still, motionless, desperate for improvement or a glimpse of hope.

Since February 1st, my first day without a job in 14 years, I have endured and felt a cloud of uncertainty over my life.  Currently, this cloud is more like dense fog, a white out, blinding me from where I need to go and what I need to do.  From time to time, I receive an impression from the Holy Spirit, a sense of peace and comfort.  Yet, today is another one of those days which sucks the life out of you as in Psalm 32:3-4.

The eternally optimistic and theologians may have a simple or concrete answer for me, but I won’t feel any better until I can once again see beyond this haze and into the heart of God.  Jonah had to go into a whale, David had to go into a cave and I have been led into unemployment to show me what’s next.  I haven’t been spit out upon the shores of Nineveh nor have I had my kingdom restored like David.  Rather, I am waiting for God’s harvest, Matthew 13:36-41, trusting in God’s angels to separate the weeds from my life so that I can once again be fruitful, Galatians 6:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

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