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En Fuego

When Sports Center on ESPN was in its prime, at its height in popularity, the term en fuego was adopted to highlight a player who was on fire.  In other words, this individual had an unbelievable game, rarely missing if at all.  The noun fuego is a volcano in south central Guatemala.  When translated from Spanish into English fuego means fire or flame.  Someone on fire can not be hidden as their light magnifies and pierces through any nearby darkness.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness and delight; Come before His presence with joyful singing, Psalm 100:1-2.

In the passage above, the Psalmist describes someone who is spiritually on fire.  Heat is displayed by developing a heart for thanksgiving.  As servants of God begin to verbalize all that God has done, joy begins to overflow like a volcano ready to erupt.  When the Holy Spirit ignites souls with gladness, faith bubbles and oozes out of individuals naturally.  This delight moves Christians toward God’s presence; then enter the Lord’s courts with praise 7 days a week.

“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.

During his sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses an analogy to illustrate en fuego Christian life.  Faith is like a candle light, a flame used to expose the darkness around you.  As individuals add fuel to this fire, this light expands to reveal every imperfection in your life.  The closer you get to God, the more God uncovers your flaws.  This reality makes some fearful, overwhelmed by conviction and guilt.  Yet, if you want to be en fuego spiritually, blazing a trail for others to follow, place your trust in Jesus.  When you do, your faith will shine bright like a city on a hill.

by Jay Mankus

Glow Worm or Fire Fly: Which One Are You?

Glow worm is a common term for insect larvae which use bioluminescence to glow.  A typical glow worm contains yellow and green.  However, railroad worms have an additional red at their head.  Beside mating, worms glow as a defense mechanism, warning any predators of their toxicity.

He makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire, Psalm 104:4.

Meanwhile, fire flies come from the Lampyridae family.  These insects are beetles known as Coleoptera often referred to as lightning bugs in America.  The most common form of fire flies are nocturnal, often lighting up evenings each summer.  The older each become, the brighter they get through the magic of bioluminescence.

Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire,” Hebrews 1:7.

Early on in life, children are balls of energy, living each moment to the fullest before falling into a deep sleep on a regularly basis.  However, over time circumstances, situations and trials can turn individuals into defensive critters.  Thus, the glow of one’s youth can dim or even die out, tired of the game of life.  So whether you’re more like a glow worm or fire fly, remember the song, “This Little Light of Mine,” to help you lean on the love of Jesus to re-ignite your flame.

by Jay Mankus

How Bright is Your Star?

Sirius, Canopus and Rigil Kentaurus are the 3 brightest stars as seen from earth.  Sirius, the brightest of all the stars in the midnight sky comes from the Greek word scorching.  The further you get from civilization, the more visible the smaller stars become.  From a worldly perspective, are you overlooked like a tiny star, do you blend in like a medium one or does the aura you give off shine bright?

Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

One of my favorite Christmas carols is Do You Hear What I Hear?  The lyrics of this classic uses hearing and seeing to discern what happened on the night of Jesus’ birth.  If you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, the senses God gave you are often neglected, missing the miracles right in front of you.  Therefore, if you want to make a difference in life, stop, drop what you’re doing and take a look around every now and then to help brighten the lives of others.

However, all human beings experience periods of darkness, times when your desire to press on fades.  As your fire dims, the lights of others may be the only source of hope you see.  If the light of Christians around you is absent, stars can burn out permanently.  How bright is your star currently?  Well, for the sake of Christmas, may the Holy Spirit rekindle the flame inside your soul so that silent nights will remain bright.

by Jay Mankus

The Second Glance

Casting Crowns uses the expression second glance in their song Slow Fade, on their The Altar and the Door album.  From an earthly sense, taking a second glance is normal, a natural inclination of a curious flesh.  However, when you consider the context of these lyrics in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30, the second glance leads to lust, which Jesus equates with adultery.

While working on a service project last week, I listened to the same Casting Crowns album twice on my MP3 Player.  Initially, the background music served as motivation, an adrenaline rush to inspire me to complete my task.  Yet, the second time through my focus shifted from an earthly view to a spiritual perspective.  Upon hearing the lyrics of Slow Fade, I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This whisper kept repeating over and over in my mind, “the second glance seems innocent, but leads to a slow fade within your faith.”  Like a cross country runner who stops training, it doesn’t take long for the discipline of running to cease.  Therefore, aim yourself with the attitude of Christ, 1 Peter 4:1, sharpening your mind like the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.  Avoid the second glance by developing a Job like mentality, Job 42:5-6, swapping a slow fade for a raging fire of faith!

by Jay Mankus

The Fireproof Test

Part of any firefighting school involves a basic review of the 4 stages of fire.  Beginning with incipient, fires grow until fully developed, eventually decaying over time due to a lack of energy.  A fire needs 3 components to form: an ignition source, oxygen and a fuel source.  Sparks trigger the initial flame, but the classification of each fire depends upon the amount of fuel which is available and degree of oxygen inside.

From a spiritual point of view, Christians have another test to determine their condition.  As kindling begins to catch, a lukewarm fire is born.  If consistently maintained, a fire can blossom into poppers, bursting out of comfort zones, consuming any liquid or sap within wood.  Once mature, raging fires blaze, spreading from person to person, as new logs are added.  However, if not properly supervised, fires can burn outsiders and lead to flickering embers, prior to dying out.

The Bible contains 3 elements which magnify the amount of spiritual heat a person gives off.  First, one must ask, have you seen the light of God’s Word, Acts 9:1-2, while hearing or reading the Bible?  Second, have you received the life of God’s Spirit, Acts 9:17, ignited and filled by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Finally, have you been compelled to display the love of Jesus, Acts 9:20-22, by sharing your testimony with a person?  This assessment, The Fireproof Test, seeks to ascertain whether or not your faith is on fire.  If your soul is not consumed by a raging fire, may you see the light, rise to new heights and flourish with God’s might!

by Jay Mankus

ps – The inspiration for this blog came after listening to a sermon from James Merritt, founder of Touching Lives, a ministry on TBN.  For music lovers, U2’s The Unforgettable Fire album contains several songs to ignite your journey.

From a Mountain Top to the Valley of Despair

Throughout the course of history, unusual events have occurred which defy the laws of gravity.  Skeptics argue that reality has been embellished, like a fishing story, changing each time it is told.  Meanwhile, just when it appears you understand the mind of God, a twist of fate leaves you dumbfounded, unable to comprehend why something happened.

On top of Mount Carmel, like a classic western movie, Elijah challenges King Ahab’s prophets to a duel.  However, guns are replaced by fire, with the winner burning up the hopes of the loser’s god.  According to 1 Kings 18:36-39, Elijah was victorious as the Lord God answered his prayer, sending fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice soaked in water.  Unfortunately, this mountain top experience was short lived.

When a king is publicly embarrassed, it usually doesn’t go well for the man that brought him disgrace.  Being a poor loser, King Ahab complains to his wife, the most wicked woman in the kingdom, 1 Kings 19:1.  Not ready to accept defeat, Queen Jezebel fires back with a death threat, vowing to send a hitman to kill Elijah, 1 Kings 19:2.  Forgetting the power of God, Elijah ran down the mountain into a valley of despair, wanting to die than face this trial, 1 Kings 19:3-4.

The average person lives in this valley, where heartbreak, pain and setbacks are a daily occurrence.  A spirit of depression hovers over this valley, like a stationary dark cloud, waiting for winds of change.  However, the forecast for change looks bleak, leaving a state of hopelessness in your heart.

Dr. Love sends a messenger with a recipe for healing in 1 Kings 19:5-9.  Thinking out of the box, God sends an angel to fulfill this subscription of sleep.  Although Solomon urges people to avoid slumber in Proverbs, sometimes the best thing for depression is rest.  Getting up twice to eat, the food draws Elijah back into a deep sleep.  Once revitalized, its time to go back up the mountain.

Whether you are presently on the mountain top, half way or in the valley, God’s voice is only a whisper away, 1 Kings 19:10-13.  However, we need to get our lives straightened out before you can have full reception, Isaiah 1:15.  If you follow the directions in Isaiah 1:16-17, there is a wonderful promise of hope.  Don’t delay in fulfilling; Come reason with God today so you can rise on wings like eagles to the peak, Isaiah 40:31.

by Jay Mankus

Flirting with the World

The term flirt is an intransitive verb which means to behave in a playful or alluring manner.  At the high school and college level, flirting is a method used to ascertain whether or not another individual shares any interest in you.  Like a scientific experiment, probing, tickling or winking either stimulates a mutual connection with another person or results in a cold rejection.  Unfortunately, flirting with the world is like playing with fire, often leaving deep scars from where your soul got burned.

Eve introduced the world to flirting in Genesis 3.  Flirting begins in Eve’s mind, questioning the boundaries God had set in Genesis 2:16-17.  As Eve’s thoughts began to wander, her eyes enter the fray, lusting over the beauty of the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge.  Cain had a similar problem in Genesis 4:6-7 as God tries to intervene to prevent free will from being exercised in the form of murder.  According to Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22, the jealousy within Cain’s heart, led to immense hatred, ultimately planting the seed to kill.  When you flirt with the ways of the world, death and destruction often follow, Deuteronomy 30:17-18.

In his book entitled Flirting with the World, John White reaches a scary conclusion about the impact flirting is having on the church.  According to White, “the sexual behavior of Christians has reached the point of being indistinguishable from that of non-Christians”.  In an attempt to blend in, trying not to offend others, the salt of faith has lost its flavor and the light of Jesus is experiencing nation wide power outages, Matthew 5:13-16.  As godly role models continue to fall from grace, an “everybody’s doing it” mindset has led saints toward a pit of despair, James 1:13-15.  Intervention, public confession and accountability is essential to break free from the bondage to sin, James 5:16.  Therefore, if you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, think twice before you actually flirt with the world.

by Jay Mankus

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