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Tag Archives: evangelism

Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One

My son Daniel and I were in the middle of deep frying chicken wings and homemade french fries when news of Kobe Bryant’s death first broke. In the days that have passed since January 26th, cable news, sports talk shows and Twitter have shared reflections on the life of Kobe Bryant. Yet, what about all the others? The homeless, outcasts and poor who die daily rarely make their local newspaper. Thus, Kobe Bryant’s tragic death has brought attention to overcoming the loss of a loved one.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, there were 2,813,503 registered deaths in 2017 in America. This comes out to 7708 deaths per day or 321 per hour. While some of these deaths may include an entire family, friends and neighbors need to learn how to get by without them. The first step to recovery is dealing with the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Unfortunately, I have a friend who lost his son to cancer a decade ago and still hasn’t come to grips with this loss. Like many throughout history, the death of a loved one can send you into a tailspin that you never fully recover from.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Matthew 5:4.

One of my good friends from high school died during my sophomore year of college, losing her two year battle with cancer. I took Maureen’s death hard, struggling to come with grips with why. As the years have passed since her death, the Lord has provided a few answers to my prayers. Although I wasted my opportunities to share my faith with Maureen, her death has inspired me to make sure I don’t repeat this mistake. Maureen’s death in 1989 conceived in me a desire for evangelism which has led to the creation of Express Yourself 4Him. While everyone grieves differently, may this blog help you better cope with overcoming the loss of a loved one.

by Jay Mankus

On or Off?

When you enter a room at night, it’s pretty obvious whether or not a light switch has been turned on.  When I drive home in the dark from work at 4:30 in the morning, other cars and streets lights point me in the right direction.  Yet, as the sun rises, open windows may provide as much light as a ceiling fan or lamp.  Determining if a light switch has been turned on or off during the day is not as clear as the sun replaces man made lights.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery], Matthew 5:13.

This same concept applies to faith.  On Sunday’s, turning on Jesus is natural as believers enter their local house of God.  Yet, after this service is over or as a hectic work week begins, turning off my faith has become a common occurrence.  The light of others has blinded me from my own lame state, stuck in a casual faith, turning it on and off when I want.  Whether I like it or not, I have enabled my sinful nature to block, interfere and stunt my own spiritual growth.

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven, Matthew 5:14-16.

This on and off analogy came to me last night during an interaction with a co-worker.  While getting a cup of ice water, I glanced up at the score of the Little League World Series game that was on in our break room.  As I turned to leave, an associate approached with a condensed gospel presentation.  After his two minute spiel, I told him I am already a believer, briefly sharing about my writing ministry.  Yet, as I went back to work, this encounter consumed my soul with conviction.  It’s time that I stop turning on and off my faith.  Instead, I need keep the light of Christ in the on position so I don’t blend in or disappear in the dark.

by Jay Mankus

Who is Offending Who?

Last week I read an article online about why atheists are offended by Christianity and religious symbols.  Some point to excessive evangelism by leaders who don’t always emulate or live out the love of Christ.  Others are turned off by the exclusive nature of Jesus’ teaching, that there is only one way to heaven, John 14:6.  Meanwhile, public displays of Judea Christian values in the form of monuments, statues and religious symbols cause atheists to be offended by many of America’s founding fathers due to their unadulterated faith.

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also,” Luke 11:45.

Around 30 AD, Jesus received several invitations to meet with curious religious leaders.  One day a Pharisee invited Jesus and his disciples over to his house for lunch.  While reclining at a table the disciples and Jesus did not follow ceremonial laws, failing to wash their hands before eating.  While this lack of action offended the Pharisees, Jesus was insulted by their lack of concern for the heart and soul.  This dialogue in Luke 11:37-54 makes me wonder who’s offending who?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth., Romans 1:18.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech.  While American citizens are able to exercise this freedom daily, this doesn’t mean you won’t be offended.  Depending upon your worldview, elementary principles, progressive ideology or philosophy may threaten your current belief system.  However, if you aren’t open to seeking the truth, God may be offended by your lack of conviction.  Therefore, don’t worry about offending others as long as you strive to follow God’s will for your life.

by Jay Mankus

On the Job Training

As advances in technology changes how businesses are run, on the job training isn’t what it use to be.  When I was younger, new employees would shadow someone for a day or possibly up to a week.  Afterward, you would be given time to ask questions, picking someone’s brain to absorb as much as possible.  Other fields offer an apprenticeship where individuals interested in pursuing a specific occupation are given a month, season or year to decide if they have what it takes to succeed.  Today, people are thrown into the fire with little training, given some sort of wiki page to fall back on if they don’t know what to do.  The end result of this age is high turnover rates as companies no longer invest in people like my father’s generation.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” John 2:3-5.

In the first century, Jesus was instructed by God to select twelve disciples prior to beginning his three year earthly ministry.  However, during an emergency at a friend’s wedding, Mary, the mother of Jesus panics.  With only six disciples part of his team, Jesus wasn’t ready to introduce the world to God’s message of salvation.  Promising to obey his parents following his Bar mitzvah at age twelve, Jesus agrees to save his mother’s friend from social disgrace, running out of vine at a wedding.  This opportunity gave the six disciples present a chance to see Jesus at work.  When you see your own boss perform a miracle, these six individuals were sold, buying into a life of serving God.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Matthew 28:19-20.

Today, on the job spiritual training often conflicts with businesses, careers or jobs.  As progressive ideas become embraced by political leaders, a wave of political correctness is shaping future policies within companies across America.  While some of these changes are beneficial, others are in direct conflict with biblical principles.  Thus, followers of Christ are asked and encouraged to ignore the Bible so that other views aren’t offended.  While my generation was taught to agree to disagree on certain issues, fulfilling Jesus’ great commission today will rub people the wrong way.  Evangelism can be a thankless calling, experiencing rejection daily.  Yet, if you want to be true to Jesus’ plea in the passage above, on the job training must involve sharing your faith in the area or areas where you are gifted.

by Jay Mankus

Taking as Many People with You as Possible

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul discovered a passionate group of sports fans.  Instead of modern sports like basketball or football, Corinthians embraced Track and Field as host of a Summer Olympics type of annual event.  Thus, Paul felt compelled to use words in one of his letters that appealed to this culture.  Within 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares evangelism with a race, hoping to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Years earlier, Jesus reveals an interesting concept to his disciples in the passage above.  While speaking about persecution, Jesus provides a heavenly perspective to a common event followers of Christ will encounter.  Human nature tends to make individuals fearful of what other people think of you.  However, Jesus warns the disciples about worrying about the wrong thing.  Rather, be on guard against the Devil, the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, who uses temptation to ensnare souls toward a life in hell, eternally separated from God.

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time, 1 Timothy 2:6.

The Bible is filled with promises about life and the future.  John 3:16-17 reveals why God the Father sent his son Jesus to earth.  Upon completing God’s will for his life on earth, Jesus gave himself up as a ransom, paying the price for the sins of mankind.  This selfless act made it possible for fallen creatures to have a place in heaven, John 14:1-4.  Thus, anyone who makes their eternal reservation, 1 John 5:13, should want to take as many people with you as possible.  May the hope of a new year inspire souls to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15-16 so that the afterlife will serve as a great big family reunion in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

Where are the Harvesters?

If you have ever visited several churches over the course of a month, methods, styles and terminology vary.  Some denominations expect priests, pastors or preachers to do the core of the discipleship, evangelism and ministry work.  Yet, Jesus tell his disciples a completely different approach.  God’s plan involves harvesters.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” Matthew 9:37.

In this age of megachurches, spiritual growth is misleading.  Visitors often treat facilities like the latest trend, hopping from the old to the new as long as it satisfies your soul.  When the crowd begins to move in a different direction, loyalty is pushed aside.  This mentality causes individuals to become consumers, not servants.  Thus, harvesters are vanishing as a new generation of Christians take center stage in the church.

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field, Matthew 9:38.

One of the logical reasons for this void is known as the 90:10 rule.  Ten percent of congregations does ninety percent of the work at church.  This overuse can wear out willing volunteers.  If these harvesters aren’t given a break, burn out can occur.  In view of this, discipleship, nurturing and training is essential to unite the body of Christ.  When spiritual workers become a rarity in your house of worship, may a spirit of prayer prompt the Holy Spirit to bring harvesters out of retirement and back into action.

by Jay Mankus

Real Faith in Rough Times

In sports, it doesn’t take much to decipher contenders from pretenders.  As a season lingers on, the cream usually rises to the top.  Sure, there will always be cinderellas or underdogs, but momentum only takes you so far.  Thus, when push comes to shove, the heat of competition distinguishes champions from losers.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

Faith is not as easy to measure.  Some denominations encourage a quiet faith, allowing your actions to speak for themselves.  Meanwhile, other churches are vocal, focusing on evangelism, preaching and salvation.  The methods used by these ministries can be offensive, rubbing outsiders the wrong way.  This is when God places people in rough times so that real faith can blossom.

Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep, Acts 7:60.

One of the apostles named Stephen found himself in a life and death situation.  Based upon the events of Acts 7, keeping his faith private would have saved Stephen’s life.  Yet, something inside of him felt keeping quiet would be a form of compromise.  Therefore, between a rock and a hard place, Stephen became one of the first Christian martyrs, stoned to death for his faith.  His response to this persecution demonstrated real faith in a rough time.

by Jay Mankus

 

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