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Tag Archives: God’s love

Afraid to Tell Her of Your Love

An inciting incident in a screen play is a story that upsets the status quo and begins the story’s movement forward. According to author and story guru John Truby, narrative drive is the forward propulsion of a story. When communicated in the right manner, this serves as a page turner, captivating audiences as viewers want to find out what will happen next. The inciting incident in my own life was the death of a good friend from high school. Since I was afraid to tell her of God’s love while she was battling cancer, her passing created a spirit of conviction within my heart for this to never happen again.

You have heard of my earlier career and former manner of life in the Jewish religion (Judaism), how I persecuted and abused the church of God furiously and extensively, and [with fanatical zeal did my best] to make havoc of it and destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I outstripped many of the men of my own generation among the people of my race in [my advancement in study and observance of the laws of] Judaism, so extremely enthusiastic and zealous I was for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In a letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul writes about his previous life before entering a relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. The first chapter of Galatians serves as a blue print for telling your own personal story about how you came to faith. This outline begins by sharing how you acted, behaved and lived your life prior to making your spiritual decision. The second part is simply when and how you were introduced to God. The final step of a testimony is explaining how your life has been changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. For some of you, this process may still be in it’s infancy. Yet, as time passes, light will expose traces of darkness that still exists within you.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but [with me] take your share of the suffering [to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God, 2 Peter 1:7-8.

To ensure that I was not afraid anymore, I sought out accountability groups, Bible Studies and Christian groups on campus to deepen my faith. I set up a duel internship at a Bible Fellowship Church in Ohio to spark my passion for youth ministry. I spent a decade serving as a Bible Teacher at a Christian High School and the last nine years sharing my journey with God by writing daily devotionals at Express Yourself 4 Him. I’d be lying if I haven’t fallen short in the area of fear. Yet, faith is a process of rising and falling, talking steps back and marching forward. My end goal is to no longer be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus so that when an opportunity to share my faith arises. When fear disappears, you will be prepared to give an answer for the faith that you now have, 1 Peter 3:15-16, this Easter Season.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Extinguish Eternal Fire

During a visit to a prison in 1868, poet William J. Reynolds was inspired to write a hymn. Using the image of a camp fire, Reynolds opening stanza starts with the following words. “It only takes a spark to keep a fire going. And soon all those around will warm up to it’s glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love; once you’ve experienced it. You spread His love to everyone; you want to pass it on.” When the Holy Spirit fills newly devoted followers of Christ, faith becomes contagious like the classic song Pass It On.

And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly]; encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, [and] be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper]. 15 See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody, 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15.

Unfortunately, rumors of apathy and complacency began to plague the Church at Thessalonica. Instead of passing on God’s love, first century Christians started pouring cold water on the spiritually optimistic. As a former Roman Catholic who was forced to attend mass every Sunday, I know what’s like not to want to be in church. While in college, I first encountered charismatic Christians, eager and passionate about worshiping God every week. Looking back, I was lukewarm, prematurely judging these on fire believers.

Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); 17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.

Based upon the passage above, apparently some Thessalonians were suppressing the joy of other first century Christians. Perhaps, envy played a part in this behavior. When someone has a passion that is missing from your own life, defense mechanisms often trigger crude and unusual reactions. If you finding yourself lashing due to jealousy, you should consider Paul’s advice. Faith shouldn’t be regulated by your emotions. Rather, worship should consume your soul daily, thirsty for God’s Word which serves as fuel for eternal fire.

by Jay Mankus

No Strings Attached

The expression “no strings attached” is directly tied to 18th century fabric merchants. Whenever a defect was discovered during a project, merchants would mark flaws in woven cloth by tying small strings to the bottom of the bolts at the locations where flaws were present. Instead of deceiving someone before a purchase was completed, buyers were made aware of any imperfections by these strings attached.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

Over the past 300 years, this symbolic act of honesty has disappeared. Instead, modern advertisements, commercials and infomercials contain a long list of fine print at the conclusion of their sales pitch. This content is included to cover and protect entrepreneurs from lawsuits and liability. Thus, strings attached have been replaced by label warnings in modern times. Making a decision to determine the genuine merchants from scammers gets harder and more difficult each year.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:17.

If you have ever been burned by a purchase, exposed to carcinogens or deceived by unread fine print, hearts have become skeptical. Past experiences have caused many to wonder, “okay, what’s the catch? What am I not seeing? Where are the strings attached?” This is where the Bible provides a breakthrough, a promise that sounds too good to be true. After embracing the gospel 35 years ago, the only thing that ruins this message are pastors who communicate an inaccurate description of what it takes to live in this world, but not of it. May this blog resonate with your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Hope

Hope is like a double edged sword. On one side, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain outcome or thing to happen. Meanwhile, on the other side reality exists, the state of things as they actually are currently. This opposition denounces an idealistic or notional idea of what hope has to offer.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation, Romans 5:3-4.

In the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption, two prisoners argue about hope while talking over a meal. Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins reveals his perspective of hope, describing this as a place in your mind that no one can take away from you. Red Redding played by Morgan Freeman disagrees, interrupting Robbins to highlight the dangers of hope.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

The apostle Paul writes about the biblical meaning of hope during a first century letter to the church of Rome. Perhaps, even Christians were losing hope and needed a word of encouragement to press on. Paul makes three guarantees about hope. Hope never deludes, disappoints or shames human beings. Why, you may ask? God’s love has been poured out to hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. This is the power of hope.

by Jay Mankus

Unusual and Remarkable Kindness

When my parents moved from New Jersey in 1977, Delaware was considered part of the south. As a boy struggling with stuttering, the southern hospitality bestowed upon me eased my concerns about making new friends. This unusual and remarkable kindness did not fade away, remaining as long as I lived in this neighborhood. However, when I moved back to Delaware in the late 1990’s, the influences of nearby large metropolitan cities has slowly erased southern hospitality. While you will cross paths with kind people, unusual and remarkable acts are rare.

And the natives showed us unusual and remarkable kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed and received us all, since it had begun to rain and was cold, Acts 28:2.

After enduring a northeaster for two weeks at sea, all 276 passengers made it to shore before their ship was lost. While on the island of Malta, Luke makes an interesting observation. It’s unclear if the island natives developed an unfair reputation or they went the extra mile for these helpless souls, but they were overwhelmed by Malta’s kindness. Despite a cold and rainy day, a large fire was started to provide warmth. While this tribe may not have ever heard of the parable of the Good Samaritan, their actions were in line with God’s love.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, Luke 6:35.

In this age of social media where eyes are fixated on cell phones, electronic devices or game consoles, experiencing unusual or remarkable kindness is uncommon. Perhaps, this is a direct result of inaction, forgetting to practice loving and praying for your enemies. Sure, when you go to a restaurant, you will find talented hosts and hostesses that make dining out worth your time and money. Yet, when motives are impure, the golden rule of treating others as you want to be treated can disappear. May this blog inspire you to strive to live out God’s love through unusual and remarkable acts of kindness.

by Jay Mankus

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?

While most people have moved on with their lives following Easter Sunday, there is something I want you to consider about this religious holiday.  One of Jesus’ last words before dying on a cross reflects the anguish within his heart and soul.  In order for God’s plan to redeem mankind to be completed, Jesus’ heavenly father watched from a distance as his son died.  This lack of action caused Jesus to cry out, “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?”

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46

If God let Jesus suffer and die, then human beings face a similar fate.  Despite God’s love for His one and only son, sometimes it feels like God turns his back on us as well. When Christians are in trouble, most reach out to God in prayer, begging and pleading with the Lord for divine intervention.  When a period of time passes without a clear answer, miracles don’t happen or a friend dies, many people feel like God has abandoned them.  When God doesn’t act immediately, its not uncommon to believe or think that God has forsaken you.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20.

Behind the scenes, God is more like the father portrayed in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Unfortunately, while on earth Christians must live by faith, not by sight.  Human nature craves and longs for signs from God.  Yet, faith must remain firm when God is silent.  Like a roller coaster that goes up and down, there will be moments when God’s presence seems near.  However, faith needs to steer you during periods of darkness.  If you lose hope, you too may be tempted to exclaim, “eli, eli, lama sabachthani which translates my God my God, why has you forsaken me into English.  In the meantime stay strong or if you have to, lean on others to get you through trials in this life.

by Jay Mankus

The Role of Failure in Life

Within a 48 hour period, my son Daniel experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  Last Saturday he placed 5th in the state in Pole Vault earning St. Georges four points.  After the final event, his school won the state track title by three points.  On Monday, playing in an qualifier for the state golf tournament, Daniel fell 7 shots short.  A few bad holes led to his demise.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

The apostle Paul writes about the role of failure in life.  Disappointment serves as teachable moments.  Failure allows suffering to change your perspective on life.  If you deal with this in a mature manner, character is developed.  If not fits of rage will likely follow.  Each failure you endure allows growth to take shape.  However, it only depends upon how you respond.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever, Psalm 73:26.

No matter what you tell a younger generation, sometimes you have to let people learn the hard way.  You can only hold someone’s hand so long.  Eventually, you have to let the people you love sink or swim.  Shielding children from failure will only hurt in the long run.  Therefore, let go and let God use trials to strengthen the people you love.

by Jay Mankus

Who am I and Where did I Come From?

I was watching a documentary on meanings to life recently.  One of the interviewers suggested two likely possibilities.  “Either life occurred due to an accident or some sort of a Creator.”  The Big Bang Theory is on one side of this argument as the ideal conditions were present to occur.  Meanwhile, the opposing view suggests God spoke and bang life was conceived.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, John 3:16.

Regardless of what you believe, there is another question to consider.  What should individuals do with your time each is given on earth?  Eat, drink and be merry or consider the eternal consequences and rewards for every action?  While the first choice seems obvious, the latter considers a life devoted to serving a higher power.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him, John 3:17.

From some reason, when I was twelve, I began to reflect upon the meaning to life before I fell asleep each night.  As I pondered this question for over a month, life doesn’t make sense to me to be born out of thin air, live for a while and then die.  Something inside my soul felt like there had to be more, a place after earth.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to this eternal promise in 1 John 5:13.  During this period of enlightenment I realized that I am a child of God, created to serve and worship the Lord; trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide me throughout this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Long Road to Hope

The long road to hope begins with suffering.  Following the aftermath of original sin detailed in Genesis 3, a cursed was placed on this earth.  God’s creation of His perfect world was ruined, leading to a life of disappointment, frustration and suffering.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; Romans 8:3.

Despite the pain often inflicted, individuals have something to look forward to the longer you walk down this road.  While your ego and pride may take a beating, glimmers of hope surface along the way.  Thus, when the sun breaks through the clouds, maturity is not that far away.

Perseverance, character; and character, hope, Romans 8:4.

If you hang in there long enough, a sense of hope comes into focus.  Beyond whatever self pity remains, God’s love still shines, radiating day after day.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, a spirit is sent by your side to lead you to the end of this road.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

The best way to describe God is like the scene in the Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy and her friends have been poisoned by a wicked witch, causing each to drift off to sleep, suddenly halting their journey.  Yet, snow is sent to awaken everyone so that they reach their final destination.  The Holy Spirit plays a similar role, the invisible force to help us persevere on the long road to hope.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Radiation of Love

Radiation is usually applied in a negative manner either in connection with chemotherapy or dangerous levels following a nuclear reactor accident.  Sometimes that which was designed to kill cancer cells ends up taking innocent lives.  Meanwhile, there are areas surrounding Chernobyl today, that are still off limits 25 years following the worst nuclear power disaster in history.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

If radiation is this powerful, imagine if caring souls began to demonstrate God’s love on a daily basis.  Sure, zones of doubt, fear and negativity will always exist, but agape love can transform communities by faithful ambassadors of love.  Unfortunately, the power source for tapping into the power of love has become disconnected.  Subsequently, as individuals continue to trust in their own strength, the radiation of love has grown cold.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another, John 13:35.

One of the few places where this radiance of love became reality was in the city of Antioch.  According to the words of Luke in Acts 11:26, converts to the faith emulated the practices of Jesus.  Thus, the term Christians was coined in Antioch as believers followed in the footsteps of Christ.  Since the first century, periods of love has led to revivals, but none lasted the test of time.  However, as the last days draw near, perhaps a movement may inspire a new generation to fan into flame the radiation of love.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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