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When a Feeling Passes

The American rock band Boston released More than a Feeling as the lead single from their Eponymous debut album in 1976. According to Tom Scholz who wrote this classic ballad, this song was inspired by a fantasy event, dreaming of his days with Marianne. When you’re having a bad day, a positive dream that comes out of nowhere often provides hope. Yet, when dreams don’t come true, feelings of optimism fade away leaving behind doubt and emptiness.

[Oh, I know, I have been rash to talk out plainly this way to God!] I will [in my thinking] stand upon my post of observation and station myself on the tower or fortress, and will watch to see what He will say within me and what answer I will make [as His mouthpiece] to the perplexities of my complaint against Him, Habakkuk 2:1.

I have a bad habit of reading too much into conversations and personal encounters. When I am unable to clarify or understand someone’s intent, senses often turn into feelings. If a co-worker is around, I’ll double check to see if my instincts are correct. Unfortunately, most of the time, my gut reaction to a situation doesn’t consider all the variables that exist. Thus, when my feeling passes, what I see isn’t reality.

And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by. For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day, Habakkuk 2:2-3.

The Old Testament places a high priority on vision. Instead of going through life chasing after feelings, the Bible urges it’s readers to become vision oriented. The prophet Hosea claims that people perish when they go through life without knowledge of a clear vision. When a feeling passes, where to go or what to do is uncertain. If you want to live with a clear purpose and reason, ask the Lord for vision so that this can be engraved within your heart.

by Jay Mankus

What is God Waiting for You to Do?

I’ve never been at great student. Assignments that others finished in class took me twice as long to complete. Whether this was due to a lack of concentration or day dreaming, I never really developed a sense of urgency when it came to school. While several of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do following graduation, I changed my major three times before my junior year of college. Taking the 5 year plan, I narrowed down my future to becoming a golf course architect or youth pastor.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

During a dual internship with golf during the day and ministry at night and on the weekends, God was waiting for me to make a decision. Since I was too blunt to become a successful architect, I followed my heart into the ministry. However, indecision caused me to bounce around from position to position: Summer Workcamp Coordinator, Youth Director, Boarding School Counselor and Teacher. Being curious isn’t bad, but at some point God wanted me to become stable, staying in one place long enough to see the fruits of my labor.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you, Philippians 1:6.

Over the past 2 decades, I’ve stayed in two places for 18 years. While I’m no longer in the ministry, this blog has to suffice for now until I figure out what God wants me to do next. Of course freewill gives me the option to do whatever I want. Yet, I’ve learned that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, brings me joy that surpasses all understanding. Therefore, as I linger for now, unsure of my next assignment, I pray that I have the faith to walk through this door when it opens.

by Jay Mankus

Crazy or Enlightened by God?

From 2003 to 2005, Amber Rose Tamblyn starred in the CBS drama series Joan of Arcadia. Amber played Joan Girardi, a sophomore in high school struggling to fit in. The pilot episode introduces Joan while dreaming where she first hears God’s voice as a whisper in the night. The next day God appears to Joan as a human being based upon Joan Osborne’s song “What If God Was One of Us?” This initial meeting sets the format for a typical episode where Joan sees and speaks with God, usually appearing as a different person each time. During this conversation, Joan receives an assignment and performs this task is a round about manner.

Then a fresh division of opinion arose among the Jews because of His saying these things. 20 And many of them said, Jesus has a demon and He is mad (insane—He raves, He rambles). Why do you listen to Him? – John 10:19-20

These encounters make Joan uneasy, unsure if she’s crazy, dreaming or enlightened by God? When Joan regularly leaves her friends to talk to strangers who are God, family and friends begin to get the sense that Joan isn’t all their mentality. In the final episode of season 1, Joan contracts Lyme Disease. After collapsing on the last day of school, doctors believe Joan’s encounters with God were merely hallucinations. Over the summer, Joan is sent to a mental hospital where she meets Judith, as a close friendship develops in season 2. Like many teenagers, when asked to share her special connection with God, Joan changes the topic, never expressing her faith. When you get a chance to share your faith, don’t let these opportunities slip by.

Others argued, These are not the thoughts and the language of one possessed. Can a demon-possessed person open blind eyes? – John 10:20

Telling others that you have a special relationship with God is risky in today’s current climate. Yet, when God put a message upon Jesus’ heart, He regularly shared biblical life lessons. These analogies, parables, and stories threatened many Jewish leaders. Jesus’ teaching caused some to believe that He was either demon possessed or insane. These comments inspired a chapter in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. Lewis asks an opened ended question: “is Jesus a liar, lunatic or Lord?” This question challenged former investigative journalist Lee Strobel who like Lewis was an atheist. Yet, Strobel’s journey ended in a similar manner, writing The Case for Christ. No one wants to be made fun of or teased, but Jesus calls enlightened individuals to speak up, Matthew 10:32-33. Those who stand up for God will be counted but those who deny God will be rejected.

by Jay Mankus

Risking Failure or Keeping It a Dream?

The etymology of the word dream has ties to an Anglo-Saxon word. Draugmas are illusions, deceptions in the mind linked to joy, merriment or music. Some dreams appear to be so realistic that when you wake up, you’re unsure if this actual happened or not. Action oriented individuals prefer living life the hard way, through a series of trials and errors. Others choose to live their life in a bubble, free from taking risks. Dreamers come alive when they go to sleep, reveling in a world of imagination.

For a dream comes with much business and painful effort, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow or make a pledge to God, do not put off paying it; for God has no pleasure in fools (those who witlessly mock Him). Pay what you vow, Ecclesiastes 5:3-4.

According to King Solomon, dreams occur following a busy day. Depending upon your thoughts, dreams can be inspirational, urging you to act. Thus, Solomon suggests that a dream may prompt you to make a commitment. However, instead of getting sentimental, make a decision quickly. Either pledge to do something or not. Consider the costs of living to a higher standard and act quickly. Unfortunately, dreamers often play if safe, waiting for further confirmation or another dream to respond.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams, Acts 2:17.

A disciple of Jesus eludes to a different kind of dream, Acts 2:17. Either Jesus had a private conversation with Peter or the Holy Spirit gave him a glimpse of the future. Just as the Day of Pentecost brought an outpouring of God’s Spirit, a similar movement will occur prior to Jesus’ second coming. In the last days, dreams will serve as a warning to future events. Unless you’re willing to share what God has revealed to you, you’re not helping anyone. Although you may face ridicule or skepticism, dreams are meant to be shared. However, it’s up to you if you risk failure or keep it to yourself.

by Jay Mankus

Dreams are Like the Stars of Your Destiny

Nightly dreams mainly occur during a stage of sleep known as REM.  This acronym stands for rapid eye movement where brain activity is high, a similar level to being awake.  REM sleep results in the continuous movements of your eyes while you sleep.  Meanwhile, neurologists like Freud and Jung have developed their own theory.  The Dream Theory states that dreams merely come from within the human psyche, exposing what is in your unconscious mind.

For in a multitude of dreams and in a flood of words there is worthlessness. Rather [reverently] fear God [and worship Him with awe-filled respect, knowing who He is], Ecclesiastes 5:7.

When I searched the Bible for another point of view, a Jewish king frowned upon dreaming.  Referred to as one of the wisest men to walk the face of the earth, King Solomon focuses on who to listen to, God or your dreams in the passage above.  Despite this warning, Solomon does have something good to say about dreams in Proverbs 3:24.  Anyone who practices discretion and sound wisdom will be blessed by a deep and sweet sleep.  Later on in this book, Solomon writes about moments in life where dreams, prophecies, revelations and visions are absent, Proverbs 29:18.  When this occurs, rely on God’s laws in the Bible to guide your steps.

And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him,” Matthew 2:12-13.

One aspect of dreaming is described in the New Testament.  The apostle Paul uses the phrase keeping in step with the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:25 as a way to follow God.  In the second chapter of the New Testament, Matthew gives two examples of how God uses dreams.  The first is similar to a nightmare, a warning to not go back to Herod.  Moments later, an angel of the Lord appears in Joseph’s dream.  These clear instructions ushered Joseph into action immediately.  God spoke to Joseph through dreams on numerous occasions, each time to direct and guide his steps on earth.

Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to [the details of] this dream which I have dreamed; we [brothers] were binding sheaves [of grain stalks] in the field, and lo, my sheaf [suddenly] got up and stood upright and remained standing; and behold, your sheaves stood all around my sheaf and bowed down [in respect].” His brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Are you really going to rule and govern us as your subjects?” So they hated him even more for [telling them about] his dreams and for his [arrogant] words. But Joseph dreamed still another dream, and told it to his brothers [as well]. He said, “See here, I have again dreamed a dream, and lo, [this time I saw] eleven stars and the sun and the moon bowed down [in respect] to me!” – Genesis 37:5-9

In the case of Joseph, his dreams were the stars of his destiny.  Based upon the accounts in Genesis, Joseph possessed a special connection with God.  Some may refer to him as a prophet with others focusing on his gift of dream interpretation.  Whatever the source, the favor of God never left Joseph despite a series of hardships.  While many Christians would have become bitter and given up on hope, Joseph never wavered.  From a practical perspective, if you believe in a dream, destiny or goal, a resolve and will is conceived.  When darkness settles in, faith serves as a compass to keep dreams alive.  May the saying “dreams are like the stars of your destiny” be more than just a slip inside of a fortune cookie.  My the Holy Spirit awaken your soul to reach for the stars as you seek to follow God’s will daily.

by Jay Mankus

Get Ready for Whatever May Happen

Basic combat training in the Army lasts for ten weeks.  This process is designed to turn civilians into soldiers.  This training involves marching, shooting and survival skills to prepare new recruits for life in the Army.  This military camp serves as a weeding out process to expose the out of shape, weak and unfit  Ultimately, a drill sergeants goal is to get soldiers ready for whatever may happen on the battle field.

The very night before Herod was to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries were in front of the door guarding the prison. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared [beside him] and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter’s side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off his hands, Acts 12:6-7.

The Bible can be used in a similar fashion as a training manual for Christians who want to become spiritually fit.  The book of Acts records the history of the first century church as well as sharing valuable life lessons.  During an encounter with an angel, Peter is not sure what to think.  Initially, Peter is sleeping when an angel being wakes him up in the middle of the night.  Like anyone who is a deep sleeper, this experience didn’t seem real, more like a vision.  However, the more this angel spoke, Peter realized he wasn’t dreaming.

The angel said to him, “Prepare yourself and strap on your sandals [to get ready for whatever may happen].” And he did so. Then the angel told him, “Put on your robe and follow me.” And Peter went out following the angel. He did not realize that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city. Of its own accord it swung open for them; and they went out and went along one street, and at once the angel left him, Acts 12:8-10.

Apparently, the words “get ready for whatever may happen” got Peter’s attention.  As if reliving a scene from a movie, Peter can’t believe what is happening.  Like a ghost, this angel and Peter sneak past all the guards in a high security prison.  Following each step made by this angel, before long Peter finds himself outside the jail on a city street.  If there is anything you can learn from this angel story, it is trusting God means becoming ready for whatever may happen in life.

by Jay Mankus

Why Are You So Amazed?

Astonish, bewilder, flabbergast and stupefy are words synonymous with amaze. Throughout the course of history, there has been numerous jaw dropping events that have left eyewitnesses dumbfounded. Some may likely ponder “did that just happen or am I dreaming?” When human minds can’t explain, fathom or understand an occurrence like the parting of the Red Sea, amazement is a common response.

“With the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the flowing waters stood up like a mound; the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea, Exodus 15:8.”

After healing a man crippled from birth, Peter doesn’t know why people are so surprised. Two months earlier, a man was nailed to a cross, rose from the dead, spent 40 days with his followers and ascended into heaven. This is the context of Peter’s comment below. Perhaps, Peter was remembering accounts of the Exodus out of Egypt, referring to those who saw Moses part the Red Sea in two. The moment Jesus conquered death, this opened the door for anything else to be possible.

And Peter, seeing this, said to the people, “You men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? – Acts 3:12

The phrase seeing is believing is an idiom that was first recorded in 1639. Eyewitnesses to events that defy science trigger an inner desire to believe in a higher power. The lame man healed in Acts 3 occurs during the hour of prayer, between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. When participants of this prayer service began to see the fruit of crying out to God, expectations increased. The point that Peter is making about amazement is that when you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, God has the power to move mountains. For those individuals on fire for God, faith provides the hope to tarry on in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Simplifying the Process of Growing Old

When an adult explains a new concept to a child, certain things tend to get lost in translation.  Grown ups may be tempted to use big words, trying to impress an athlete or student.  Instead of simplifying the process, arrogance and pride can get in the way, widening this communication gap.  If an audience of kids become dazed and dumbfounded, its time to seek to a higher power, reflecting upon the story telling skills demonstrated by Jesus.

And looking toward His disciples, He began speaking: “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are you who are poor [in spirit, those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for the kingdom of God is yours [both now and forever], Luke 6:20.

Jesus began his most famous sermon with a common sense approach, the beatitudes.  Instead of looking down on the less fortunate, Jesus used analogies that everyone could understand.  Thus, Jesus encourages individuals to set goals, attitudes that you want to aspire to be. obtain and possess.  Jesus takes negative terms like hungry, poor and weeping, then applies each to a positive spiritual quality.  These phrases give hope to the hopeless, comfort to the broken and joy to the emotionally numb.

Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are you who hunger now [for righteousness, actively seeking right standing with God], for you will be [completely] satisfied. Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are you who weep now [over your sins and repent], for you will laugh [when the burden of sin is lifted], Luke 6:21.

Jesus simplifies the process of growing old by reminding adults of a child like faith.  Before the innocence of youth is lost, kids possess great ambition, dreaming about the person they want to be when they grow out.  As time passes, thoughts change, influenced by the culture of each generation.  Without striving to achieve some of these beatitudes, the complications of life stunt spiritual growth.  Unless you are refreshed by God’s grace, you may become a grumpy old man, frustrated by what might have been.  Nonetheless, if you want to simplify the process of growing old, call out to Jesus so that you can regain a child like faith.

by Jay Mankus

Desperate for Leadership

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen, 1 John 4:20.

Most individuals talk a good game, yet when you put their actions under a microscope there isn’t much to be inspired by.  Perhaps a rise in narcissism is to blame, turning a blind eye to reality, living by the mantra, “do as I say, not as I do!”  Unfortunately, a lack of integrity, morality and quality parenting is feeding a generation of self-seekers, cutting corners to get ahead, whatever the cost.

But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes, 1 John 2:11.

Meanwhile, the middle class are stuck in the mud, dreaming of brighter days only to wake up to a living nightmare.  Peer pressure, political correctness and those seeking approval often decide to go with the flow, even if its the wrong direction.  The rest of the crowd, standing on the sidelines wait, is hoping a pied piper will come to their rescue.  In the meantime, souls are hungry and thirsting for leadership.

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil, John 7:7.

In the absence of good character, its time for people to take a stand for what they believe.  Jesus knew the world hated him, yet his purpose in life was to fulfill the will of God the Father.  Likewise, the faith community need to get off their couches, find places to serve in their community and show the path for others to follow.  As Jesus once said, “the harvest is ready, but the workers are few.”   Get in the game today while there is still time left on life’s clock.

by Jay Mankus

 

Set Sail

Before you can legally set sail around the world, three things are essential: a Sailing Certification, Insurance and Passport.  The final ingredient is Clearance Papers from your port of departure.  This is the last obstacle before your voyage can officially begin.

But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him,   Hebrews 10:38.

To get where you want to go in life takes planning, paying attention to details and patience.  Although spontaneity has its time and place, trips involve weeks, months and sometimes years to put together.  Therefore, if you think you can just get up and go unannounced, you’re either retired or dreaming.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Spiritually speaking, to set sail by faith, one must begin to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, before this occurs, one must rid their lives of any sinful desires which block one’s ability to follow God, Colossians 3:5-10.  Studying the Bible, prayer and worship provide fresh wind and spiritual guidance to set sail.  However, don’t leave shore without the anchor of faith to help you overcome the storms in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

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