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Tag Archives: friendships

I Never Knew You

There are various classifications of friendship which exist.  Work related individuals whom you share a relationship with based upon your occupation is one category.  You may have social friends who you share a common interest in or with like dancing, karaoke or sports.  However, most people usually only have a small handful of individuals who actually know you.  Yet, even within this closely knitted network, there is a hesitancy to withhold information.  This fear keeps scars from the past unspoken, secrets locked deep within your soul.  This lack of trust keeps many friendships at a distance, never knowing the true you.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 7:21.

This same concept applies to relationships with God.  Whether you were introduced to church as an infant, youth or adult, it takes time to grasp and understand the nature of God.  Those who attempt to make up for lost time often become overwhelmed by all the mysteries in life that go unanswered.  During a high school youth group, I was introduced to the trust illustration.  You stand up on a chair or stage, then fall back hoping your peers will catch you before you hit the ground.  This exercise helped me realize that I wasn’t trusting God completely.  Rather, I was doing everything in my power to maintain control, yielding to God only when I wasn’t strong enough.  If I continued on this path, I would end up like the people Jesus refers to in Matthew 7.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ – Matthew 7:22

Despite from wanting to exempt myself from the scenario above, I can’t say for sure that I don’t fit into this category.  I have back tracked, slipped and fallen from my spiritual high as a high school Bible teacher for a decade.  Yet, somehow I have lost my way, unable to find the support system that I need to regain that faith I once possessed.  I guess the passage above serves as a warning, not to be complacent, thinking you have arrived spiritually.  Rather, Jesus’ words humbled me, a reminder to get back to discovering and following God’s will in my living years.  If not, we all might hear the chilling voice of Jesus say, “away from me, for I never knew you.”

by Jay Mankus

 

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Behind the Bins

Before technological advances spoiled average citizens, Main Street was the heart of America.  Whether you parked at one of the meters, rode a bike or took a stroll through town, each day was a social event.  Weekly visits allowed individuals to put names with faces as friendships developed.  Grocery, hardware and repair shops enabled strangers to get to know the workers behind the bins.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Today, center cities, main streets and town halls are slowly fading away.  As more stores close, online orders are replacing the typical shopping experience.  Sure, mega malls still serve as a place to go on a cold, hot or rainy day, but this decay of socialization is ruining conversational skills.  If you don’t believe me, just watch young people interact in a public setting, unable to take their eyes off of cell phones.

As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man, Proverbs 27:19.

Although it’s nearly impossible to go backwards in time technologically speaking, there must be something people can do to reconnect.  Facebook does provide old friends a new way to touch base, but unless you take the time call someone on the phone, instant messages are superficial.  Beside the Bible, there are two books that I recommend which if applied can help you rediscover relationships.  How to Win Friends and Influence People and Bringing Out the Best in People can awaken the art of conversation by helping you get to know the people behind the bins.

by Jay Mankus

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

Blinded by Loyalty

Superman had kryptonite, Samson Delilah and for many coaches, loyalty blinds them from helping their team reach their full potential.  From the sidelines, I’ve seen professionals fail to win a title by filling in their rosters with their guys, not the most talented ones.  Meanwhile, travel ball squads often finalize the team with coaches kids, forgoing success to make everyone’s parents feel better.

Like a student experiencing their first bout of puppy dog love, you can’t get through to these individuals until its too late.  Developing an affection, attachment or devotion is natural, yet seeing the big picture isn’t always possible.  The blinding forces of love make it hard to think straight, especially when an outsider points out certain flaws.  Out of loyalty, feelings prevent most from making the best decisions for the greater good of a team.

In life, sometimes you have to take chances even if it means ruffling feathers.  While you may not change the minds of those in charge, if you remain silent you are committing a sin of omission.  If things go bad, you might even lose friendships.  Nonetheless, if you want those you care about to reach their full potential, don’t be afraid to expose anyone blinded by loyalty.

by Jay Mankus

 

Living in the Fastlane as Friendships Passby

Whether I like it or not, I fall into the same category as Maverick and Goose in Top Gun, ” I feel the need, the need for speed!”  Lately, I’ve been the car in the left hand lane that is going too fast, missing my exit.  As a result, my busyness has caused me to lose touch of several friendships, in a hurry to get to no where

Although Ke$ha once sang about your love is my drug, I believe living life in the fast lane possesses dangerous side effects.  Adrenaline breeds anxiety, impatience and a self-centered heart .  As discernment flies by like a blur, this lifestyle can leave you alone, distant and void of meaningful relationships.

Trying to survive on an empty tank, I pulled over to the curb this weekend.  Like a car needing to see a mechanic, my soul is longing for a spiritual diagnostic check up.  Slowing down is the first step to recovery.  Yet, change takes time, especially for anyone who has allowed their life to get out of control.  Just a David went to the Cave at Adullam for healing, 1 Samuel 22:1-5, retreating with friends can mend fences and revitalize lonely and hurting souls.

by Jay Mankus

I Thought They Had It All Together

Whether its in church, your own community or traveling on vacation, you’re bound to come into contact with an exceptional individual.  On the surface, this person possesses character, personality and wisdom.  Adorned by everyone, they seem too good to be true.

While on a week long mission trip in Jackson, Tennessee, I was introduced to one of the largest youth groups in the country.  Based out of Rochester, Michigan, this church took several buses across the country each summer to serve needy communities.  The president of this youth group appeared like he had it all together.  As I began to develop friendships in the area, only one person saw through his phony witness.  One year after losing touch, I  heard through the grapevine that this saint fell from grace, arrested for running an under age gambling ring.

Call it jaded or desensitized, but I am usually not surprised by people who live double lives.  Whenever you put others up on a pedestal, disappointment is a likely outcome.  Therefore, if you think someone has it all together,don’t worship one of God’s creations.  Rather, say a prayer for these individuals, hope for the best and trust in the Lord for a bright future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Not Without A Price

Novelist Orson Scott Card made a interesting observation in regards to sacrifice.  “Happiness is not a life without pain, but rather is life in which pain is traded for a worthy price.”  Whether you are referring to freedom of speech, defending a just cause or standing up for what you believe, nothing is accomplished with a cost.

Perhaps, your reputation takes a hit, attacked by those with opposing views.  Or friendships are estranged as your worldview comes in direct conflict with a person you care about.  Either way, actions, choices and decisions will create enemies, hatred or jealousy.  What you need to determine is… is it worth the price?

When becoming of disciple of Jesus became popular, motives for following were mixed.  Some wanted to join because it was cool, others for the fame and a few for the right reasons.  Thus, Jesus set the bar high in Luke 9:57-62, causing many to quit, unable to pay the price.  Whether you are excelling as an athlete, student or servant, to become the greatest in anything takes unswerving devotion.  May you consider the costs, make up your mind and take a leap of faith, paying the price today to achieve a better tomorrow.

by Jay Mankus

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