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Tag Archives: hope

Waiting for Good Things to Come

Waiting is contrary to human nature.  When you see something that you like or want, the concept of waiting seems pointless.  Yet, as I look back on my on life, there are certain things that I wasn’t ready to possess.  A lack of maturity, given something instead of earning it and forcing the issue are all contributing factors.  Perhaps, waiting is a tool God uses to prepare individuals for the future.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

When you don’t have the financial means to afford a place to live, food to eat or resources like a vehicle, even atheists may offer up prayers for their current situation to improve.  If there is no one on earth to lean on, its only natural to look up the heavens and hope for better days.  The Bible encourages souls to seek God instead of seeking alternative routes or taking short cuts.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

David compares waiting to a spiritual exercise like working out.  Waiting requires a gut check, seeing if you have what it takes to stick it out.  This process involves concentration, focus and a willingness to finish what you start.  Those who receive what they have been waiting for tend to appreciate what they now have.  Therefore, if you want to pursue a noble cause, trust God as you wait for good things to come.

by Jay Mankus

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Enduring a Spiritual Identity Crisis

If you enjoy or follow sports, success is defined by winning and losing.  Despite how many victories a team earns over the course of a season, if a championship is not won, fans lose hope.  In the meantime, coaches, players and stars who endure humiliating loses in the playoffs are labeled as chokers, overrated and trashed throughout social media.  Those who seek to self identify themselves using these standards will experience disappointment, failure and shame unless titles are won.  Thus, its not uncommon for people to go through some sort of identity crisis.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Non-athletes tend to use a different set of standards.  Depending upon your career choice, degrees earned and annual salary, value is placed upon your life.  Intelligence, social status and wisdom add or subtract to how the world views your importance.  Anyone called into the ministry, social work or has a low paying jobs are looked down upon by the upper class.  If you let this bother you, then you may be tempted to adopt worldly standards.  The longer you allow yourself to be defined by rich or poor, wins or losses and success or failure, the more likely you will go through a spiritual identity crisis.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening], 1 Corinthians 13:5-7.

When I moved to Chicago after getting married, living among millionaire neighbors, I tried to fit in initially.  Unfortunately, the best job I could find was making thirty thousand dollars a year, chump change to everyone around me.  Attending Willow Creek Community Church on Wednesday nights helped alter my perspective.  As I began to hear, read and meditate upon God’s standards in the Bible, my soul was comforted by the fact God keeps no records of wrong.  Therefore, if you ever feel like your life doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards, use biblical principals to overcome any spiritual identity crisis that you may endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

Too Far Gone?

Every night concerned friends, parents and teachers are wondering if the person in their thoughts and prayers is too far gone.  In same cases, broken relationships only make this situation worse.  Typically, the parent-child interaction is tense and brief with flare ups possible at any time.  If this climate persists, doubt persuades parents to believe that they have lost their child, too far gone to salvage.

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, 2 Timothy 4:10.

In a letter to a first century pastor, the apostle Paul shares his concern about a fellow believer who abandoned his faith.  While the details of Demas’ demise is unclear, it appears that this missionary regressed, craving certain aspects of life.  Perhaps, Demas was merely going through a phase, something that he needed to do prior to committing fulltime to the ministry.  The hardest part for any coach, friend, parent or teacher is letting go, giving this individual the room they need to come to their senses.

But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” – Luke 23:40-42

One of the characters in the Bible who could be considered too far gone is a criminal hanging on a cross next to Jesus.  On the verge of death, there was no hope for his future.  Nonetheless, this dire state inspired this man to seek security for the afterlife.  If Jesus can welcome a criminal sentenced to death, then no one should be considered too far gone.  For those currently enduring broken hearts, hang on to hope through prayer, asking God for common sense to break the stubborn hearts of a prodigal spirit.  Until reconciliation arrives, trust God to get you through.

by Jay Mankus

Searching for a Ray of Hope

The latitude lying within the Arctic Circle is known as the “land of the midnight Sun.”  Each summer the sun never sets, remaining on the horizon in this polar region.  While this is the season of never ending rays of sun, the other side of the world in Antarctica plunges into four months of darkness.  Unfortunately, you don’t have to reside in the South Pole to experience extended periods of darkness.  Accidents, trials and unexpected illnesses can leave dazed individuals searching for a ray of hope.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it, John 1:5.

Over the last few decades, researchers and scientists have uncovered some of the negative influences that darkness has on human beings.  Seasonal affective disorder causes depression due to the limited number of hours of daylight every winter.  Depending upon the location, schedule and where people work, some individuals only see a few hours of daylight daily until the weekend arrives.  Darkness has a psychological affect, invoking doubt, fear and uncertainty.  Thus, beside waiting for Spring to come, the Bible provides a cure for those searching for a ray of hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13,

Any day now I will be receiving an email from Hollywood about a movie, screenplay that I submitted in April.  For six consecutive summers, I have opened up “I regret to inform you” notices, rejecting my previous projects.  I’m not sure if I can handle the news of another failure, but I am trusting God to shine light into any future darkness that I face.  When storm clouds roll in and begin to surround you, rays of hope enable souls to persevere until extreme conditions subside.  In the meantime, lean on the Holy Spirit as you struggle and fight to make your dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Beware of the Weary Traveler

Drained, drowsy, exhausted, fatigued and spent are words associated with being tired and weary.  Depending upon your hobbies, occupation and physical fitness routine, energy can be released emotionally, mentally and physically.  Perhaps this is why the commandments reference loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Exercising each of these three aspects of the human body prevents the enemy, Satan, from snatching the good news of Jesus Christ from human hearts, Matthew 13:18-19.  The apostle Paul addresses this within 1 Thessalonians 5:23, urging his audience to prepare your spirit, soul and body for the second coming of Jesus.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Unfortunately, many good intentioned Christians use busyness as an excuse not to follow the advice of Jesus and Paul.  Yet, the longer any believer goes without praying, studying the Bible and worshipping God, the closer you get to the weary traveler.  This is a spiritual condition, not an actual person, where souls become vulnerable to demonic attacks.  Instead of resisting evil, weary travelers often contemplate forbidden fruits, entertain thoughts of doubt and open their minds to alternative lifestyles.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urges his readers to hold on, press on and don’t give up on following the narrow path that leads to life, Matthew 7:13-14.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

In the days of the Old Testament, devout Jews grew weary of the ancient practices for seeking forgiveness.  Animals needed to be collected, trips to the temples planned and sacrifices made by a high priest to atone for the mistakes, rebellious acts and transgressions made by you and your family.  When you consider the blood, killing and smell left behind by this grueling tradition, its no wonder that Israelites in the days of the prophet Isaiah began to lose hope.  Receiving a vision from God, Isaiah compares the Lord to eaglets nurtured and raised by caring parents.  Thus, when you feel like you can’t go on any longer, let God carry you on wings like eagles.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Today, a week doesn’t go by without news of a Christian falling from grace, caught in a surprising act of sin.  These tarnished believers often follow the pattern found in 2 Samuel 11:1-4.  Just because you are a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t make you immune to sin.  Rather, when the spirit of the weary traveler enters your soul, anything is possible.  Just ask King David who didn’t feel like going to work one day.  This decision led to idleness, boredom and a wandering spirit.  One thing led to another and suddenly a righteous man commits adultery, get’s another man’s wife pregnant and gives order to have her husband left behind and killed.  This Old Testament passage should serve as a wake up call to all Christians who are on the verge of entertaining the weary traveler.

by Jay Mankus

A Message of Hope Forgotten with Time

Its not very often that the same generation is able to witness three of the greatest miracles of all time.  First century residents living along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea were fortunate eyewitnesses to these miraculous events.  A few months prior to the census in the days of Caesar Augustus, a priest reflects upon his encounter with an angel.  The only problem is that Zacharias becomes mute due to his initial doubts.  Thus, Zacharias is forced to participate in the very first game of Charades to explain what happened behind closed doors while in the temple.  At his son John’s circumcision, Zacharias regains his ability to speak.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zacharias begins to prophesize about the hope that Israel and the world will soon experience.

And Mary said,“My soul magnifies and exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. “For He has looked [with loving care] on the humble state of His maidservant;
For behold, from now on all generations will count me blessed and happy and favored by God! – Luke 1:46-48

Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth is the first to be made aware of the conception of God’s son.  The moment Mary visit Elizabeth during the final three months of her pregnancy, the sound of Mary’s voice caused John to leap in her womb.  Immediately following this, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirt as she begins to prophecize about Mary’s virgin birth.  Although engaged to be married to Joseph, the Holy Spirit supernaturally used one sperm from God the Father to conceive, enabling Mary to be pregnant without any physical or sexual contact.  The news of this reality overwhelms Mary, inspiring what the Bible calls Mary’s song.  The beginning of this song is highlighted above as Mary praises God for this special anointing and blessing.

Now Zacharias his father was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him, and he prophesied, saying,“Blessed (praised, glorified) be the Lord, the God of Israel, Because He has visited us and brought redemption to His people, Luke 1:67-68.

Thirty three years later, Mary watched helplessly as her son Jesus was sentenced to death on a cross.  Although the Passion of the Christ depicts Mary watching Jesus being flogged thirty nine times, its unclear whether Mary was present for each of these violent lashings.  Mary watched Jesus be nailed to a cross, suffer and die hours later.  The only thing comparable today is a parent enduring the anguish of a child battling terminal cancer.  A few days later, the funeral is cancelled when an angel conveys that Jesus was raised from the dead.  According to Luke and the other gospel authors, Jesus appeared to several hundred eyewitnesses, walking, talking and revealing his scars to doubters.  While atheists, progressives and skeptics continue to plant doubt in the minds of modern day people of faith, these events are non-fiction.  Therefore, if you are in desperate need of good news, this blog is a message of hope forgotten by time.

by Jay Mankus

No Soup for You

Every so often sitcoms create a character that people connect with or relate.  Whether a friend or foe, hero or villain, this individual is like someone from your own life.  When Seinfeld introduced the Soup Nazi in November of 1995, this anal business owner was rigid, strict and quick to refuse non-conforming customers food.  This setting provided ideal segments for viewers to laugh.

Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

During my final few years of teaching high school, I relied on Summit Ministries to provide cutting edge material for my curriculum.  One of the seminars that I attended involved the concept that art often imitates life.  A 2011 article in Psychology Today eludes to how poetry often reflects cultural, philosophical and societal trends.  Thus, its no wonder that the practices of the Soup Nazi decades ago have resurfaced today.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

In recent weeks, those who support, wear apparel or work for president Trump are being denied service, harassed and heckled whenever they go.  Florida attorney general Pamela Bondi was bullied at a movie theater, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied service at a Virginia restaurant and others have been followed by protesters outside of their homes.  Perhaps, its time to go back in time to the days of Mr. Rogers so that neighborhoods will overcome a soup Nazi mentality with a spirit of hope, faith and love.

by Jay Mankus

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