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Making Room for God’s Servants

Churches, temples and other places of worship ask their members to pitch in.  This typically involves gifts, offerings and tithes to help maintain buildings, ministry needs and running costs.  Yet, in the early days of any congregation, sacrifices and time are crucial.  Those who see the big picture often make room for God’s servants.

She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God.  Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us,” 2 Kings 4:9-10.

In the Old Testament, there’s an account of a woman who came up with a selfless idea.  Not wanting to act alone, she shared this with her husband, convincing him to put an addition on their home.  When construction was completed, she left on open invitation to the prophet Elisha to stay whenever he was in the area.  This act of kindness was repaid by the Lord.

“About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” – 2 Kings 4:16

The symbolism of a barren woman in the Bible represents a lack of blessing from God.  Meanwhile, those who give birth to multiple children are deemed to have God’s favor.  The context of the passage above suggests this woman was well beyond the age of child bearing.  Despite this fact, Elisha promises the impossible, the miracle of a future son.  While not every kind act of repaid in full, the Lord honors those who make room for God’s servants.

by Jay Mankus


The Energy Necessary for Making Peace

Sometimes who you are and how you are perceived can be miles from the truth.  Yet, anyone who seeks to leave a lasting legacy may be surprised by the impressions that you make.  Such was the case for chemist Alfred Bernard Nobel who spent most of his earthly life pursuing patents, the most famous of which is dynamite.  When a premature obituary was published in a local paper, Nobel was shocked by the comments summarizing his life.  This moment of conviction gave birth to the Nobel Peace Prize investing his accumulated wealth into the formation of this annual award.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord, Hebrews 12:14.

The author of Hebrews sets a similar high standard, urging readers to do everything in their power to make peace.  This includes what I call extra grace individuals who have the gift of gnawing away at your patience.  No exceptions are made as everyone is included.  The target to aim for is holiness, imitating the life and love of Jesus.  Despite whatever human emotions you may experience, the Holy Spirit is the energy necessary for making peace.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world, John 16:33.

I wish I could say that I have arrived or am well on my way, but that would be a lie.  Unfortunately, disappointment, frustration and pain from the past has a way of developing into holding or keeping grudges.  This current place doesn’t take any effort nor is it holy.  And yet, there is one who has overcome the world.  Therefore, I take comfort in knowing God still forgives.  My job is not complete nor is the journey finished.  So I press on, praying and searching for the energy necessary for making peace.

by Jay Mankus

My Dad

Since 1964, there have been several memorable songs in America and throughout the world.  One of the most popular, My Girl, was the first Temptation single to feature David Ruffin, the voice which transformed this group’s popularity.  However, on Father’s Day, I wonder why there hasn’t there been a similar song to honor dads, something like “My Dad.”  Although I will leave this up to professional song writers, I do think its vital to remember my own dad on this day.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him, Psalm 103:13.

My father was six feet tall as a twelve year old, a size that probably saved his life as the Russians began to invade his native Lithuania.  Fleeing his homeland and hiding in the Black Forest for weeks, my dad came to America with the clothes on his back.  Nothing was given to him as he earned a second language English, devoted himself to education and fell in love with the game of football, playing for the University of Pennsylvania before moving on to the Wharton School of Business.  From here, my dad went on to live the American dream, working his way up the corporate ladder before retiring after thirty years of service with the same company.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation, Psalm 68:5.

Today, I wish I had the same financial resources which my father provided, yet a different calling took me in another direction.  Though I dabbled with a career in golf as an architect and P.G.A. professional, the Holy Spirit nudged me toward youth ministry.  Weaving in coaching, teaching and writing, I’m not sure what the ending of my story on earth will look like.  Nonetheless, I am grateful for a wonderful father, encouraging family and a faith that steers me near the narrow road.  From here, all I can do is honor my father and mother, provide for my wife and children and only hope that I can have as much as an impact as my own father had on me.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you dad’s!

by Jay Mankus

God’s Pleasure

Delight, enjoyment and gratifying are feelings associated with pleasure.  Since individuals are wired differently, venues chosen to seek pleasure vary.  According to the Psalmist, two distinct attributes get’s the Lord’s attention.  While the world may embrace beauty, gambling and sex, heaven desires two specific qualities.

God’s pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior – Psalm 147:10

The first characteristic which excites the Lord is a holy reverence.  This trait can be acquired through studying the history of God’s relationship with Israel.  Although some of the miracles performed by the Lord may be difficult to believe, these acts of favor led many Jews to fear God.

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love, Psalm 147:11.

The second quality is often a natural response to the first.  After individuals begin to fear the Lord, many start to place their faith in God’s unfailing love.  Despite patterns of disobedience, unconditional love is displayed throughout the Old and New Testament.  Therefore, if you want to please the Lord today, set your hearts upon a reverence fear and minds on the promises of love within the Bible.  When your actions coincide with hope, you will become the apple of God’s eyes.

by Jay Mankus


Is Anything Sacred Anymore?

Dedicated, devoted and revered are words often associated with individuals who appear connected with God, demonstrating faith on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, as I look around, searching for a cause to believe in and get behind, few seem to contain a spirit of holiness.  In view of this, I wonder if anything is sacred anymore?

As one of the patriarchs of Israel, Moses had an open line of communication with God, retreating up to Mount Sinai, seeking advice, direction and guidance for the Jewish people.  During one of these face to face encounters, the Lord reminded Moses of an essential weekly discipline.  Leviticus 23:2 introduces a list of sacred assemblies appointed by God, the first taking place on the Sabbath, Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians.

This day of worship should not be celebrated alone.  Rather, resting from work for 24 hours should be replaced by congregations of like minded believers eager to honor a living God.  Although illness or vacation may result in missing a few services throughout the year, don’t allow guilt or regret to interfere with your praise.  When God’s children begin to live out the words  of Psalm 150, sacred assemblies can unite souls and God willing, usher in revival.

by Jay Mankus



A Place That Will Change Your Life Forever

On earth, travel agencies will try to convince clients of a sweet deal, hidden gem or destination that will change your life.  As spring approaches, television commercials will display eye popping images as states hope your summer plans include a family vacation to one their resorts.  While memories can be forever etched into your mind, the thought of work quickly snaps individuals back to reality, ending any memorable getaway.

From a spiritual perspective, people may recall the place they got baptized, the church they were married in or a retreat center where they met God for the first time.  Inside a sanctuary, family’s tend to gravitate toward their favorite pew, stare at magnificent stain glass windows or recall taking their first communion.  According to Exodus 29:37, the altar made for the Tent of Meeting possessed supernatural powers, making those priests who touched it holy.  While not the Tent of Meeting, the altar at a church in Friendship, Maryland changed my life forever.

During my senior year of college, I was asked to serve on a Lay Witness Mission team for a church seeking to revive its congregation.  My role was to be a small group leader for the youth group and its college students, sharing how God had made a difference in my life.  Usually, one of the leaders was asked to share part of their faith journey, a snapshot of their life.  On Saturday night, our leader Ken told me that I would be speaking to the entire congregation Sunday morning.  Caught off guard, my initial instinct was fear, pondering, “how can someone who stutters speak for 15 minutes?”

Subsequently, I was led to pray, asking the Holy Spirit and my roommate to clue me in on what God wanted me to say to several hundred strangers.  Tossing and turning, I was reminded of a song that I brought, called The Altar.  Studying the lyrics in my mind, a vision for my first sermon was conceived, drifting me off into a peaceful sleep.  As I made my closing remarks, I gave an altar call, inviting anyone who was touched by the Holy Spirit to come to the altar while I played Ray Boltz’s song.

To my amazement, one college student literally ran to the altar as soon as the song began.  Others quickly, followed, filling up the semi-circle shaped altar in front of the pulpit.  When the music ended, people were standing in line, waiting to kneel at the altar.  Elders and leaders of the church began to lay hands on those crying, quietly whispering words up to heaven on their behalf.  As I joined the congregation following my message, the senior pastor shared a few words, summarizing these amazing events of this 3 day event, encouraging people to continue lay their burdens up to Jesus at the altar, Matthew 11:28.  On earth, there are countless wonders of the world, but for me, I will never forget this day when lives were changed forever at the altar.

by Jay Mankus

Breaking Bad

A friend recently turned me onto the drama, Breaking Bad.  Debuting in 2008, this storyline features Walter White, a high school teacher who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  Struggling to provide for his family, Walter turns to a former student, Jesse Pinkman to avoid leaving a legacy of debt.  Using his knowledge of chemistry, Mr. White starts up a methamphetamine ring to create a slush fund of savings.

Breaking bad is nothing new, a growing trend since the first act of disobedience  in Genesis 3:6.  An old testament prophet uses similar terminology in Malachi 2:10-12, referring to the broken faith of Jews, highlighted by their acts of unfaithfulness.  Even one of the holiest men who ever lived, the apostle Paul, confesses his own shortcomings in Romans 7:15, 17-18.

Northwest General Hospital

If this wasn’t enough, the United States of America is in their 5th decade of breaking bad.  Kicking God out of public education during the 1960’s opened the door for abortion on demand in the 70’s.  The establishment of cable television in the 1980’s brought immorality, pornography and sexual innuendos into many American homes.  With moral antennas lowered, the 1990’s brought brief nudity and cursing to public television through the hit series NYPD Blue.  Edgy commercials, custom malfunctions and reality shows continued to push the envelope in the 2000’s.

As my 3 children grew up in this shewed culture, I hate to see what the next 50 years will bring their kids.  If Animal Planet’s Tanked 2013 season premiere is any indication, I’m horrified.  Without any warning, in a show often geared for kids, the 2 main characters Brett and Wayde used the word jackass several times, doing a special tank for one of the main stars in the movie series.  As individuals, media outlets and nations slide down this slippery slope, there is only one who hasn’t lowered their standards, Hebrews 4:15-16.  Go against the flow, look up to Jesus and make a conscious decision to glorify God, 1 Peter 2:11-12, so that breaking bad doesn’t enter your mind!

by Jay Mankus

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