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The Mystery of God’s Will

Mystery refers to something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Whether you’re watching a well done movie, trying to solve a complicated problem or exploring a foreign topic, you may find yourself baffled. Depending upon how hungry you are to resolve these question marks, riddles take time to unravel. Like trying to complete a complex thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, you need to complete the outside edge before your picture comes into focus.

Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, 10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth, Ephesians 1:9-10.

One of the greatest enigmas in life is narrowing in on God’s will for your own life. Sometimes you may whittle it to one of two career paths before the Lord throws you a curve. Throughout college I thought I would either become a golf course architect or become a youth pastor. While completing a duel internship in Ohio, I followed a calling to go into youth ministry. Yet, just 2 years later, I burned myself out, got married and ended up working as an assistant golf professional. During my first Player’s Ability Test, the big step to become a teaching golf profession, God intervened on numerous occasions, a clear sign that this wasn’t meant to be. When you 3 and 4 putt the easiest hole on the course when 5 putts would have been enough, I changed directions,

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.

Nearly 25 years later, I still haven’t solved the mystery of God’s will for my life. While I do believe God wanted me to move back to the East Coast to attend seminary, a rare eye disease prevented me finishing a master’s in theology. Although the apostle Paul suggests keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25, I tend to get lost, drifting off on a my own every year. I did spend 10 years of my life perfectly aligned with God’s will as a high school Bible teacher and golf coach. Meanwhile, I believe starting this blog 9 years ago also fits into God’s plan. Nonetheless, I have no idea on what my next step is except for following Paul’s advice listed above so that the mystery of God’s will for my life is unveiled.

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

Conversations That Make Your Heart Burn For More

As someone who endured a severe speech impediment during my childhood, I never imagined entering into conversations where I was able to share everything on my heart and in my mind. Prior to high school, I lived my life as a loner. Besides playing sports, I kept to myself. Except for a few friends in my neighborhood, nobody really knew me. While my heart burned for meaningful conversations, stuttering prevented me from experiencing what others took for granted.

And it happened that as He reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were [suddenly] opened [by God] and they [clearly] recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight, Luke 24:30-31.

Beside first century historians, the only other way to get to know Jesus of Nazareth is through reading the Bible. In the passage above, Jesus appears to be the life of a party, eager to recline, relax and engage other people. Jesus had a special gift of probing into the lives of others by asking open ended questions, forcing participants to go beyond surface level content. Instead of judging people prematurely, Jesus shows compassion, love and understanding to those eager to learn. While individuals may struggle to remember the last time they had a meaningful conversation, every encounter with Jesus made hearts burn for more.

They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32

One of the reasons why I became a youth pastor after college rather pursue a career as a golf course architect was centered around conversations. During a duel internship, God filled me with a desire to win souls to Christ. Talking about golf courses during the day was fun, but connecting with young people who wanted to draw near to Christ at night was more invigorating. Thus, I declined an opportunity to move to Boston, Massachusetts to work on a future project. Instead, I accepted a position as a Work Camp Coordinator in Inner City Wilmington. While this decision didn’t make sense to my parents, I was like a young disciple with a heart burning to know more about Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

You Survived for a Reason

On the evening of November 14, 1970, the plane carrying members of the Marshall University football team crashed just before landing in Huntington West Virginia.  This tragedy took the lives of 37 football players, 25 boosters, 5 coaches, 2 athletic trainers, the athletic director and 5 members of the flight crew.  When assistant coach William Dawson played by Matthew Fox switches places with another coach to drive home from East Carolina to recruit future players, he is filled with a sense of guilt.  Instead of reflecting upon why he was alive, Coach Dawson struggled to cope with this ordeal.  This event inspired the 2006 film We Are Marshall.

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure, Psalm 18:32.

If a cat has 9 lives, some people has escaped death multiple times throughout this life.  Some circumstances are less obvious like losing your keys momentarily before passing a fatal car accident that you may have been part of and killed.  On September 11th, 2001, documentaries have revealed individuals who didn’t go to work at the World Trade Center that day or cancelled their flight last second due to a sudden emergency.  When I was in college, I was part of a head on collision where my car was pushed backwards 25 feet or so after contact.  If it wasn’t for my God given quick reflexes, my friend and I may have died before graduating from college.  Thus, I am forced to ponder, you survived for a reason.

You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way, Psalm 18:36.

Perhaps, the Lord knew that I would forego a career as a golf course architect to become a youth pastor, high school Bible teacher and inspirational writer.  I know that I have ignored, missed or skipped over other callings, but there is one reason why God has kept me alive, to highlight meaningful truths from the Bible.  The passage above doesn’t reveal much unless you have run cross country or trained for long distance races.  Twisting your ankle is easy to do when terrain is uneven, holes are hidden or the ground gives way.  Yet, David, a shepherd wearing the equivalent of cheap scandals all day covering various topographies, trusted God to protect his ankles and feet from harm.  The more Christians begin to read, reflect upon and starting claiming God’s promises within your own life, the Holy Spirit will help you understand why you are still here on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Afflictions Eclipsed by Glory

Usually, I have a tendency to ask God, “why me” when troubles arise.  Yet, as I was worshiping the Lord in song this morning, I received a brief reply.  Like a snap shot or vision, my afflictions of the past and present occur so that these trials can be eclipsed by God’s glory.

The first major affliction I endured arrived on graduation day, when one of my best friends from high school was diagnosed with cancer.  When her cancer went into remission 1 year later, I breathed a deep sigh of relief until it returned to take Maureen’s life abruptly.  Without experiencing this hardship, I probably would have become a golf course architect, my concentration in college, instead of entering youth ministry.

My second malady was self inflicted, on a golf course while attempting to earn my players card to become a certified P.G.A. professional.  I hit 26 out of 36 greens in regulation, 22 out of 28 fairways and played the hardest hole 1 under par through 2 rounds.  Somewhere in the spiritual realm, strange acts of nature kept by ball from going in the hole, especially when I 3 and 4 putted the same hole, missing my card by 2 shots.  Yet, this epic failure prompted me to become a high school Bible teacher for a decade.

Finally, losing my teaching position in 2012 was a tough blow to my confidence and ego.  However, from the ashes of despair, God carried me until I was ready for my next assignment.  As I start this new adventure on Tuesday with Amazon, I don’t know what the future holds.  Nonetheless, whether, good, bad or indifferent, any afflictions I suffer will surely be eclipsed by God’s glory.

by Jay Mankus

 

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