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Tag Archives: growing pains

Anticipating and Waiting for the Blessing

Growing pains are often described as an ache or throbbing sensation in the legs. As teenagers start to experience major growth spurts, this pain is often felt in the front of thighs, calves or behind the knees. The apostle Paul refers to the concept of spiritual growing pains in one of his letters. After Paul departed the Church at Galatia, continuing on one of his missionary journeys, several members of this church were led astray by a Jewish sect known as the Judaizers. This is the context of Paul’s advice below.

For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit’s [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope, Galatians 5:5.

While the Old Testament serves as a modern day guide for living a moral life, this is not how you get in right standing with God. Rather, Jesus left behind the Holy Spirit as a counselor to help overcome spiritual growing pains. Instead of holding on to religious traditions, Paul wants Christians to rely on faith as you anticipate and wait for your life to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps referencing Deuteronomy 28:1-3, faith is what keeps you going until blessings arrive in the form of spiritual fruits, Galatians 5:22-23.

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], 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18.

Meanwhile, a letter to the Church at Thessalonica suggests that Paul wants believers to concentrate on the will of God. Developing a prayerful mindset is a crucial step toward receiving the clarity needed to understand what God’s will is for your life. If you put these two passages together, the anticipation and waiting may refer to the realization of God’s will. Since this usually takes years to be unveiled, blessings from God start with a small trickle and will rain down once individuals find their place in this world by living out their faith.

by Jay Mankus

The Long Road Back to God

One of my favorite pastors in college shared an analogy that has stuck with me through life. Referring to the power of sin over human beings, this man believes sin will take you further than you ever intended to go. Meanwhile, sin will remain with you longer than you ever expected to stay. Finally, sin will alter right and wrong, blinding minds with an expanding layer of gray. When you’re too far gone, deceived and spit out by sin, the long road back to God is a humbling journey.

Then three years later, I did go up to Jerusalem to become [personally] acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and remained with him for fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any of the other apostles (the special messengers of Christ) except James the brother of our Lord. 20 Now [note carefully what I am telling you, for it is the truth], I write this as if I were standing before the bar of God; I do not lie, Galatians 1:18-20.

In the passage above, Paul writes out his personal testimony as if standing in front of the Church at Galatia. As a former zealous Pharisee who oversaw the death of Stephen, mere words wasn’t enough to persuade first century apostles of his conversion. Rather, Paul spent 3 years at home, growing, maturing and sharing his faith wherever he went. Despite turning over a new lease on life, many apostles and disciples were skeptical, believing this was a ploy to infiltrate and persecute church leaders. If it wasn’t for Barnabas, who pleaded on Paul’s behalf, the road back to God would have led to a dead end.

Then I went into the districts (countries, regions) of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And so far I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea (the country surrounding Jerusalem), Galatians 1:21-22.

Nearly 2000 years later, everyone has their own prodigal story, Luke 15, disappointing God at one point or another. Depending upon how far you have strayed from the Lord, the long road back won’t be easy. Beside confession and reconciliation, there will be growing pains as you attempt to break away from addictive behaviors and bad habits. Purging yourself from these earthly pleasures may involve some sort of intervention from a Christian brother or sister. Yet, the sooner you make a u-turn back toward God, the quicker the healing process starts. May this Christmas prompt your heart to start the long road back to God.

by Jay Mankus

Floundering in the Faith

When a hooked fish is pulled out of the water, self defense mechanisms kick in.  This results in flapping, pulling and tugging trying to escape.  Sometimes Christian face similar uncomfortable environments.  Certain situations force individuals to either sink or swim with many end up floundering in their faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

Comfort zones are nice to have growing up, but eventually you need to leave this place of safety to experience the real world.  Attitudes might deter you, behaviors offend you and language may shock you.  Nonetheless, faith is a series of trials and errors, taking risks, failing and getting back up.  Sitting at home, afraid to fail is like a having a flawed faith.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

When you get over the hump, people can begin to take ownership of their faith.  Growing pains develops perseverance, providing opportunities to trust in the Lord and lean not on your understanding.  Unfortunately, its easy to revert back to the past, clinging to former desires of your heart.  This crisis of faith is what Jesus’ brother refers to in the passage above.  If you hold on just long enough, God blesses those who stand the test of time by holding fast to faith in Christ.  Stop floundering and start swimming in the Spirit today!

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Finding a State that is More Than Enough

It doesn’t take much for someone to lose their confidence, mojo or swagger.  Life has a way of being cruel, dropping bombshells out of no where that can paralyze souls.  Thus, if you take a few moments to observe individuals around you, you’ll find many going through the motions.  Struggling to get through each week, I finding myself in a similar pattern, hoping to discover a state that is more than enough.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children, Hosea 4:6.

When you’re left looking for answers to get out of a funk, sometimes you need to examine the past to see what’s led to previous success.  For me, the greatest influence in my life was nearly two months I spent at Tentmakers Youth Ministry Trade School.  Every day I was challenged, equipped and pressed to develop a vision oriented life style.  Once I received a full time position in Columbus, Indiana, I applied a 90 day action plan to perfection.  Unfortunately, after 90 days I was in foreign territories, not sure what to do.  Subsequently, I lost my way and passion for youth ministry.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly, John 10:10.”

I guess what I am trying to say is that I’m tired of mediocrity.  Yet, until I rebuild a life based upon discipline, purpose and vision, the crappy results will remain the same.  When push comes to shove, something has to give.  Therefore, join me in this quest to find a state that is more than enough by rediscovering the abundant life of Christ.  Sure, there will be growing pains but the effort is worth the journey.

by Jay Mankus

 

When the Lord Turns His Face

Sometimes in life, you don’t achieve the results you’re looking for.  Instead, you begin to search for answers to explain why you were defeated, failed and were unsuccessful.   As you wrestle for the truth, some may be tempted to blame God.  Although you may never discover the source of life’s failure, there are times when the Lord turns His face.

According to the director of music, God does not listen to those who cherish sin in their hearts, Psalm 66:18.  As individuals begin to entertain, harbor, foster and nurture sinful desires, it becomes impossible to please God, Romans 8:5-8.  Once minds are set on self indulgence, the Lord will wait to act until you’re willing to come back to your senses, Isaiah 1:15-16.

The next time disappointment knocks on your door, may be its time to search your heart, to see if you’re to blame, Psalm 139:23-24.  If no one is clearly at fault, perhaps you’re experiencing growing pains, 1 Peter 1:5-7, as the Lord is preparing you for the future.  Whatever obstacle you are currently facing, don’t forget that the Lord will turn His face and if God does remember what you need to do to regain His attention, Romans 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

 

On the Other Side of the Street

One of the cliches I heard way too often growing up was, “if the shoe fits wear it.”  I’m still not exactly sure where this phrase originated or what it’s intended purpose served, yet I have learned to distinguish my strengths from my weaknesses over time.  When it comes to death, dying, injuries and wheelchairs, I’m at a loss, leaving me uncomfortable and unqualified to handle these environments.

Perhaps, this may explain why God forced me to visit the other side of the street last week.  When you reach a certain age, suffer a debilitating  injury or endure an accident, these individuals all share something in common, they are helpless.  As you enter this arena, self sufficiency is no longer an option with souls needing another person to help them up, take their hand and nurture them back to health.  Normally a quick healer, this is mostly foreign to me except for a few broken bones here and a surgery there.

In biblical times, there were no nursing homes or retirement centers to spend your final years on earth.  Your destiny was determined by your family, their generosity and wealth necessary to provide affordable care.  As the modern family dissolves into some type of dysfunctional reality television show, its no wonder that the amount of beggars and homeless continue to increase, showing up at most busy intersections where I live.  Abandoned by their families, friends and employers, these desperate people are like prodigal sons and daughters waiting for their father to welcome them back home.  Until this day, those living on the other side of the street which need prayers, support and a helping hand to get them back on the road to recovery.

by Jay Mankus

Why The World Is “Full of It.”

As a child, my father regularly used the expression “you’re full of it!” Whenever anyone in my house appeared to bend the truth, exaggerate a little or attempt to tell a whopper of a lie, he confronted them with these words.  While not 100% perfect, most of his inclinations were spot on, as one by one, my sisters and I were guilty as charged.  When you peal back the pages of history, this web of deception rises to the surface.

In the beginning, Satan introduced the world to questioning authority in Genesis 3:1.  Moments later, Eve taught individuals to be curious, going beyond the boundaries established by God, Genesis 2:16-17.  Adam modeled blaming others instead of taking responsibility for your actions, Genesis 3:12.  If this wasn’t enough, Cain illustrated denial in Genesis 4:9, Abraham mastered trusting in yourself instead of God (Genesis 12:10-13 & 20:1-2) and this nature was past on to his son Isaac in Genesis 26:7, grand children and so on.  Like catching a common cold, the sin of lying has become air born, influencing the hearts and minds of mankind, Romans 3:23.

Today, you can turn on any cable news network, then wait for someone to mislead a commentator, journalist or reporter.  At a moment’s notice, a politician will dodge a question, answer the part they want to and move on without any consequences.  Professional athletes like Lance Armstrong, A-rod and others in the future will hold a press conference, deny accusations only to be proven guilty later on.  It’s time for the world to come out of the closet and confess, “we’re full of sin!”  Only then, can you move on to the healing process, James 5:16.  May these words strike a cord, Hebrews 4:12, helping habitual liars make their way toward the road to recovery through Christ the Lord, Romans 7:24-25.

by Jay Mankus

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