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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In 1982, the Clash released their album Combat Rock. While the song Should I Stay or Should I Go never cracked the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts at this time, a commercial a decade later struck a cord with music lovers. Following a Levi Jeans ad campaign featuring this song, Should I Stay or Should I Go was re-released in 1991. Subsequently, this song reached number one on the United Kingdom’s Singles Chart. This success led Rolling Stones Magazine to rate this Clash hit as one of the top 500 Greatest Songs of all time in 2004.

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were going from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, Tarry here, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel. But Elisha replied, As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. So they went down to Bethel. The prophets’ sons who were at Bethel came to Elisha and said, Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you today? He said, Yes, I know it; hold your peace, 2 Kings 2:1-3.

In the Old Testament, one man was chosen to be the successor of Elijah. Prior to the mantle from being passed on, God tests Elisha to see if he is up to the challenge. Beginning in 2 Kings 2, Elijah visits four cities, asking Elisha to stay behind. Eager to spend ever last minute with Elijah, Elisha refuses to take no for an answer. Each time Elisha replies, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” One of the reasons for this resolve is that Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah was dependent of witnessing Elijah being taken up to heaven. Thus, Elisha is determined to go wherever God leads Elijah.

Elijah said to him, Tarry here, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan. But he said, As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. And the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood [to watch] afar off; and the two of them stood by the Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they divided this way and that, so that the two of them went over on dry ground. And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me, 2 Kings 2:6-9.

Upon being freed from a legion of demons, a man begs Jesus to become one of his disciples, Mark 5:17-20. However, Jesus convinced this man to go home to his family and share how God has healed him. To those with broken, dysfunctional or unloving families, this call is difficult. The question you have to ask yourself, “should I stay where I am in a comfortable spot in life or leave my comfort zone to share my faith with others?” Although you still may be stuck at home due to the Coronavirus, when America reopens for good, God is looking for the next Elisha, eager to receive a double portion of the Holy Spirit by going where God leaves.

by Jay Mankus

A Special Endowment from God

Leadership is the action of leading a group of people through hardship, ordeals and trials. Genuine leaders cast a vision, take the initiative as a trail blazers to show the way and direct and guide followers through difficult times. Researchers have uncovered 12 different leadership styles that exist. A leadership style is merely the way a person uses power to lead other people. If you are still stuck at home as a non-essential worker, you’ve probably seen rogue governors of several states using the national guard and police officers to enforce their specific declarations. Several of these ordinances are unconstitutional, but these leaders are using fear of the Coronavirus to control American citizens.

Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

The older I become, the more I hear and see people blame God for disasters, failures or setbacks that they face in life.  Meanwhile, these same individuals, especially politicians, grandstand by taking credit for any accomplishment, success or victory in their city, state or county.  Instead of spreading around the praise to all the parties involved, press conferences are used to deflect blame while hoarding the credit.  Natural leaders don’t have to pretend to be successful as their labor is on display, a visible sign of spiritual fruit.  Unfortunately, God has become the scapegoat when things go wrong, a proverbial punching bag at the center of many complaints.

Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination]. 15 Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry], so that your progress may be evident to everybody, 1 Timothy 4:14-15.

The passage above is a blue print for spiritual leadership. According to the apostle Paul, everyone is given a special endowment from God. This spiritual gift often lays dormant until the Holy Spirit enters your life through a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. In the first century, the laying on of hands was a common practice for healing and prayer. The apostle Paul urges Timothy to fan into flame the spiritual gift revealed to him in 2 Timothy 1:6. In other words, you can’t be the leader God wants you to become until your spiritual gift is discovered and implemented. While you can’t control what others do or say, may this blog inspire you to show others the way as action speak louder than words.

by Jay Mankus

The Message Behind the Song Miracles

Chris Quilala of Jesus Culture wrote a song over a decade ago that changed his life. A member of the worship team of Bethel Church in Sacramento, California, the inspiration behind the song “God of Miracles” was born out of the loss of his son. At 37 weeks, Chris’ wife lost their son before he was born. While praying for a miracle, things didn’t turn out quite as he expected. This tragedy forced Chris to ponder, “Can I still proclaim the truth that God is our healer, who raises the dead?”

And His name, through and by faith in His name, has made this man whom you see and recognize well and strong. [Yes] the faith which is through and by Him [Jesus] has given the man this perfect soundness [of body] before all of you, Acts 3:16.

In the beginning of 2020, I came across a you tube where the pastor of Bethel Church mentions Chris and his wife’s testimony. As a father with three children, my heart grieved for this couple, forming a special bond each time I now hear this song. Last week, I found the lyrics of Miracles to be an effective and powerful prayer. Early Tuesday morning, I started to panic, sensing that something was wrong internally. I wasn’t sure if it was my back, spleen or ribs, but I was struggling to cope with a shooting pain.

While You stretch out Your hand to cure and to perform signs and wonders through the authority and by the power of the name of Your holy Child and Servant Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage, Acts 4:30-31.

Following my first tele doctor appointment, my symptoms were associated and related to a pulled or strained back muscle. After a couple of days of medication and treatment, mainly using a heating pad, I was healed by a God of miracles. I can’t comprehend nor do I understand why some prayers are answered while others go without a clear response. Nonetheless, I went from a man not knowing if my wife should drive me to the hospital to nearly pain free one week later. My only explanation for this healing is a God of Miracles.

by Jay Mankus

Inviting the Holy Ghost into Your Home

As COVID-19 quarantines remain in place within several states, houses of worship are being forced to become creative. To ensure that their members return once churches are allowed to reopen, preachers, priests and teachers are gearing their messages toward this crisis. While listening to Jentezen Franklin’s sermon on TBN, he told a story from his childhood. Whenever visiting his grandfather’s house, the largest room was turned into a make shift worship service, inviting the Holy Ghost into this place.

And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled together to break bread [the Lord’s Supper], Paul discoursed with them, intending to leave the next morning; and he kept on with his message until midnight. Now there were numerous lights in the upper room where we were assembled, And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting in the window. He was borne down with deep sleep as Paul kept on talking still longer, and [finally] completely overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead, Acts 20:7-9.

During the first century, Christians met in homes or outside in open areas. Instead of gathering in a centralized large building, churches met inside the homes of leaders or the wealthy who volunteered to host. Luke writes about one such service which took place in Troas. Apparently, the apostle Paul became long winded speaking until midnight. Meeting in a third story attic, a teenage boy began to fall asleep, moving toward an open window, trying to stay awake. Eutychus’ fall opened the door for a powerful healing.

But Paul went down and bent over him and embraced him, saying, Make no ado; his life is within him. 11 When Paul had gone back upstairs and had broken bread and eaten [with them], and after he had talked confidentially and communed with them for a considerable time—until daybreak [in fact]—he departed, Acts 20:10-11.

As modern believers open their homes to accountability groups, Bible Studies or prayer meetings, relationships begin to form. Instead of dreading attending a long service, these newly formed friendships turn a weekly event into an experience. However, until churches open their doors once again, the best thing you can do now is invite the Holy Ghost into your home. Acts 19:2 asks the question, “have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” Thus, before you can invite this Spirit, you must first receive it as your own, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

How Taking a Walk Can Change Your Life

Since most gyms remain closed as the Coronavirus pandemic continues, one of the most practical methods of exercise is taking a walk. If you have a pet, you already have a certain distance mapped out as you wait for your dog to do it’s business. Unless your current position is deemed essential, time shouldn’t be an excuse. In the first century, walking was a common mode of transportation. The Bible details a seven and a half mile walk to the town of Emmaus. Along the way, several individuals discussed current events as a resurrected Jesus catches up, asking questions and acting naive.

And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. 16 But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him, Acts 24:15-16.

The first walked that changed my life was a memorable discussion in college on the way to my youth group’s summer mission’s trip. A short walk turned into a couple of miles as a spirit of confession fell upon each of us. One girl opened up about being raped, another confessed about being sexually active with his girl friend and another revealed an addiction to pornography. This initial walk created a special bond, soul mates who began to pray for one another for freedom and healing. Shortly afterward, my friend Dave and I, who became the best man in my wedding, walked over ten miles one night, unveiling painful secrets from our past.

Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further. 29 But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. 30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them 31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly), Acts 24:28-31.

The final walk that changed my life occurred in Neenah, Wisconsin. At this time, Leanne was a youth director in Wisconsin and I served at a Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana. When you live eight hours away from your significant other, I treasured each moment together. On this particular day, I felt like I needed to become an open book. Thus, this walk took about an hour, walking throughout Neenah as I poured out my heart to Leanne. This one conversation set the stage for engagement and marriage. While not every walk that you have is pleasant, when you practice the James 5:16 principle, lives can be changed and souls bonded together for life.

by Jay Mankus

Forced Isolation

Social Distancing practices date back to the fifth century Before Christ. According to the book of Leviticus, this initial movement was forced upon the Jewish culture due to leprosy. Leviticus 13:45-46 lays out a guideline for follow if anyone is stricken. To avoid spreading this disease, anyone inflicted with leprosy was sent outside the city gates. Until individuals were cured or healed, these unfortunate souls lived as social outcasts. No one dared to get close, until Jesus arrived on the scene in the first century.

He who willfully separates and estranges himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire and pretext to break out against all wise and sound judgment, Proverbs 18:1.

Nearly two thousand years later, a more dangerous disease has forced a modern form of social distancing. While the symptoms vary from person to person, if COVID-19 spreads to your lungs, it has proven to be deadly. What started out as a movement to be socially responsible by staying home if not feeling well has been altered week to week. Initially, you just needed to stay a minimum of six feet from co-workers, neighbors and others while out in public. Now, masks are strongly encouraged if not mandatory in some states now. Who knows what else will be added if new info is discovered.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching, Hebrews 11:24-25.

Unfortunately, forced isolation is not how God designed human beings to live. Genesis 2:18 reveals God’s true intentions, to find a soul mate for life. Yet, the Coronavirus has separated friends, neighbors and states temporarily, doing whatever doctors and experts tell citizens to do. While families are forced to spent countless hours together, friendships and person to person encounters have been put on hold until this virus dies out. While this forced isolation continues until at least the end of April, may you find comfort in the Bible, prayer and songs of worship.

by Jay Mankus

The Day Sports Stopped

March 12th, 2020 will go down as the day sports stopped in America. As soon as a member of the Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the Coronavirus, the National Basketball Association was the first domino to fall. By the end of this second week in March, Major League Baseball, Nascar, the National Hockey League and the Professional Golf Association all suspended their regular seasons. Meanwhile, in college, March Madness, the NCAA men’s and woman’s basketball tournament were cancelled as well as the entire Spring sports season.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:17-18.

Following the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, sports was used as a means to get the United States back to a somewhat normal life again. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus has not let up, shutting down businesses, schools and all professional sports until May at the earliest. If this wasn’t bad enough, major cities across the country have seen a recent spike in cases. Now spreading well beyond New York City, only God knows when this pandemic will end. Thus, for now, not even sports can help unite and uplift this country.

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; 20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken, Psalm 34:19-20.

The context of the Psalm above refers to David who pretended to be insane before Abimelech. If you have been stuck in quarantine for the last few weeks, you might be ready to have a similar reaction. The thought of an invisible disease attacking healthy Americans is scary. Thus, when the circumstances surrounding you are beyond your control, hopelessness can set in. Yet, God uses hardship, trials and tragedy like the Coronavirus to get your attention, crying out to the Lord in prayer. Since sports won’t be around anytime soon to cheer you up, look to God for deliverance. May the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit be uplifted by the hope of God’s healing power.

by Jay Mankus

A Biblical Response to the Coronavirus

At the end of 2019, an unknown virus began spreading throughout the city of Wuhan, China. As time has passed, the origin of what we now to be the Coronavirus came from one of two sources. Initial reports linked COVID-19 to bat and snake meat, a local Chinese delicacy. However, a newly censored Chinese news story claimed the Coronavirus began as at the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control. Two Chinese scientists, Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, insist that a worker who was bitten by a laboratory animal spread this virus to outside associates. Whatever the true origin, there is a lesson to be learned.

So Gad came to David and told him and said, Shall seven years of famine come to your land? Or will you flee three months before your pursuing enemies? Or do you prefer three days of pestilence in your land? Consider and see what answer I shall return to Him Who sent me. 14 And David said to Gad, I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercies are many and great; but let me not fall into the hands of man, 2 Samuel 24:13-14.

If you don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, the probably to repeat these same sins increases in the future. In the Old Testament, Israel was struck by a pandemic which killed 70,000. This particular disease spread in less than 24 hours, similar to an advanced Ebola Outbreak. When news of this tragedy reached King David, he placed a sack cloth over his head. This ancient practice was an act of humbling yourself before the Lord. Instead of running out to the local grocery store to stock up on food and personal supplies, David began to fast and pray to the Lord. Feeling helpless, David turned to God to rescue his nation from this plague.

So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel 70,000 men. 15 God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and He regretted and relented of the evil and said to the destroying angel, It is enough; now stay your hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and the heavens, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces, 1 Chronicles 21:14-16.

When human beings find themselves in a dire situation, the desire to survive kicks in. This instinct often influences individuals to attempt to save themselves. Trying to stay in control when the world around you is falling apart often becomes a futile exercise. Jesus’ earthly brother doesn’t blame God for tribulations like the Coronavirus. Rather, God allows certain things to occur, James 1:2-13. I won’t speculate on why COVID-19 has spread across the world, but maybe it’s time to look up instead of within. Perhaps, this trial has arrived to set the stage for a revival unlike any other. As others panic in response to COVID-19, look to God for healing.

by Jay Mankus

Time for Moving On

In my preparation to write this blog, I found with link with 2974 quotes about healing. There is an old saying that “time has a way of healing all wounds.” Unfortunately, not everyone recovers from an accident, addiction, broken relationship or painful experience. According to a recent study, nearly 15 million Americans struggle with various degrees of depression. These individuals aren’t ready to move on.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, Ecclesiastes 3:1-3.

As a judge, King’s Solomon’s rulings on cases are filled with insight, strategic genius and wisdom. The most famous was a dispute between two woman claiming to be the rightful mother of a living child. After a baby dies in the middle of the night, an awake woman takes a nearby infant and replaces him with her dead child. This case is brought before Solomon, making what appears to be a strange ruling to have this baby cut in two. However, this decision is merely a plan to reveal the true mother, 1 Kings 3.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live], Ephesians 2:10.

Even when you experience a positive outcome following a trial, life can be emotionally draining. Instead of going from point A to point B in a straight line and so on, each week is full of dead ends, detours and road blocks. Trying to stay hopeful, optimistic and upbeat while undergoing hardships is difficult. Yet, with God’s all consuming love by your side, God wants you to let go of the past by setting your sights on the future, Ephesians 2:10.

by Jay Mankus

Translating God

There are many unsolved mysteries that have been recorded throughout the history of the earth. Some of these mysteries are detailed in the Bible. Whenever you read something that doesn’t make sense, you have to go back to see what the context is to help you understand what really happened. Unfortunately, there are chapters and verses in the Bible that require further research. This process is often referred to as translating God to extract why an account or story has been placed in the Bible; unveiling God’s nature.

And behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. The man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you shall he offer the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Behold, the altar shall be split and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. [Fulfilled in II Kings 23:15, 16.] When King Jeroboam heard the words the man of God cried against the altar in Bethel, he thrust out his hand, saying, Lay hold on him! And his hand which he put forth against him dried up, so that he could not draw it to him again, 1 Kings 13:1-4.

When I first heard a sermon on the passage above, I immediately thought of the song U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer. This hit song reached #1 on the Hip Hop and R&B Billboard charts in 1990. Normally, kings would call upon body guards or soldiers to remove an individual from their presence. However, the words of this unnamed prophet from Judah infuriated King Jeroboam so much that he tried to harm this man. In what can only described as a scene from a Science Fiction film, King Jeroboam’s hand immediately shriveled up.

And he went and found the corpse thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion stood by the body; the lion had not eaten the corpse or torn the donkey. 29 The prophet took up the corpse of the man of God and laid it upon the donkey and brought it back, and the old prophet came into the city to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave, and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother! 31 After he had buried him, he said to his sons, When I am dead, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones, 1 Kings 13:28-31.

The news of this strange encounter and subsequent healing spread throughout the land like a raging wildfire. A wayward prophet, paid off by King Jeroboam to only proclaim positive messages to enhance his reign felt compelled to reach out to this man of God. When his own sons couldn’t alter his course, this desperate man made up a story about an angelic counter to persuade him to stay an extra day. This decision proved to be fatal, killed by a mountain lion on his way back to Judah. Realizing it was his fault, the corrupt prophet has this man buried in his own personal tomb. Although this story has a sad ending, translating this chapter reveals the important of complete obedience to God. Anything less is unacceptable.

by Jay Mankus

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