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Tag Archives: insight

When You Are Moving in the Wrong Direction

Whenever you find yourself in uncharted territory, common sense leads you to ask others who have been in a similar situation. If you just ask the first person that you find and respond accordingly, you might find yourself heading in the wrong direction or going to the wrong place Whether you are dealing with an illness like cancer, considering a career change or searching for wisdom to overcome a current obstacle, the more insight you compile the better.

When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:14.

The man in the passage above is simply following the crowd, doing what the locals are accustom to do for a healed leper. This step was necessary to be fully restored back into society; receiving acceptance from spiritual leaders. While on his way to see a priest in Jerusalem, this Samaritan has a change of heart. This didn’t seem right as this man’s conscience told him to turn around. Whispers in his mind like, “why are you going to a priest instead of the One who healed you?” Some sort of internal struggle persuaded this man to turn around abruptly and return to Jesus.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; Luke 17:15.

When a couple leaves the hospital with a new born child for the first time, there is no handbook to follow step by step for the rest of your life. Sure, there are books you can read, classes you can take and grandparents to reach out to, but in the end you need to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This trial and error applies to most aspects of life, living and learning along the way. Yet, when your conscience is awakened, your heart is convicted and ears hear God’s still small voice, make sure you listen so you don’t end up going to the wrong place.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of Prayer

Seven years ago, my career path took an unexpected turn from a high school Bible teacher to the unemployment line.  Following previous setbacks, God always gave me feedback, insight or some sort of sign to know if I was on the right path.  Unfortunately, my soul has never fully healed from this crushing disappointment, not quite sure what I am suppose to do or where I need to invest my time in the future.  This perplexing situation has lead me to contemplate the mystery of prayer.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

My research has led me to narrow in on three conditions which influence whether or not prayers are answered.  According to Deuteronomy 28, blessings are directly related to diligently listening, obeying the voice of God and carefully following God’s commands in the Bible.  The second piece of criteria is provided by Moses’ predecessor Joshua 1:5-9.  The new leader of Israel introduces the concept of spiritual disciplines which begins with reading, reflecting upon and mediating upon God’s Word.  Finally, Jesus provides the final condition during a conversation with his disciples in Matthew 21:19-22.  If you place your trust and confidence in Jesus, free from doubt, ask whatever you desire in the context of God’s will and the mystery of prayer will be unlocked.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, the apostle Paul instructs first century believers on what to do now.  In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul writes about times when you are struggling to come up with words to say while praying.  According to Paul, this is when you need to lean on the Holy Spirit, trusting God to intervene as you pray.  When I evaluate my own life against these biblical standards, I can clearly see where I have come up short.  Thus, for now I need to get back to the basics: listening to God, studying the Bible, applying what I am learning and submit my life to prayer.  May the words in this blog help you better understand the mystery of prayer.

by Jay Mankus

I Wouldn’t Trade Things For the World

My wife’s oldest living relative is ninety nine.  Up until six years ago, Aunt Peg hosted a Thanksgiving Day celebration at her home in Kewanee, Illinois.  Every other Thanksgiving served as a reunion for the Hanson and Wagner families in southwestern, Illinois.  Days prior to my wedding twenty two years ago, I was introduced to ninety strangers who would soon become relatives.  While at times this was more of an interrogation, I played along trying to remember as many faces and names as I could for our reception.  Marrying into a large extended family can be overwhelming, yet I have grown to appreciate the special personalities within Leanne’s family.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me,” Matthew 4:8-9.

Working for Amazon the past five years hasn’t afforded me the opportunity to travel out to Chicago for this festive event.  Like a prodigal son, I felt compelled to make the effort this year, especially with the passing of Leanne’s father.  Flying out after work one morning, I was able to reconnect with Leanne’s side of the family.  Following a typical Thanksgiving meal, the Hansons usually puts on a talent show aptly named the Hanson Family Theater.  However, this year each attendee was asked to give a thirty second infomercial, a synopsis of their current life.  While I was dreading the idea of fifty people standing up one after another,  I was pleasantly surprised.  Instead of enduring boredom, I appreciated the commonality exhibited by almost everyone.  Faith, family and God is the bond that has kept this tradition alive for half a century.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only,” Matthew 4:10.

As Leanne and I inch closer to the half century mark in age, I had a revelation last night.  Actually, this was more of an insight to where I am in life.  As much as I complain about my current job, I see the hidden blessing of only working four nights a week.  Despite missing out on any type of social life, I have been able to attend nearly all of my kids sporting events.  I have been there to rejoice in victories, comfort after defeat and explain from a coaching perspective why things played out as they did.  My resume isn’t exciting; nor is my income self-sufficient.  Nonetheless, I have embraced my role as a father, raising my children to the best of my ability.  Sure, I have several flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, but I have reached a state of contentment.   I still have bigger dreams and goals that I would like to fulfill, but I wouldn’t trade things for the world.

by Jay Mankus

The Refueling of the Holy Spirit

Modern technology has developed a way for certain types of aircraft to re-fuel while in mid-air.  Air tankers contain a nozzle which extends and connects to crafts low on fuel like Air Force One in the 1997 Harrison Ford film.  This capability allows fighter jets to remain in the air for longer periods of time.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness, 2 Peter 1:3.
Dietrich Mateschitz invented a drink based upon a similar concept, helping human beings refuel when your energy is lost.  In 1987, Red Bull Energy Drink was sold for the first time in Austria.  This formula was inspired by functional drinks from the Far East like Green Tea.  Subsequently, if you feel like you’re about the crash, consumers continue to reach for this can to boost their energy.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, Isaiah 11:2.
The prophet Isaiah writes about a spiritual power available to those longing for discernment, insight and wisdom.  According to one of twelve disciples, the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus following his ascension to refuel spiritually.  While this Holy Ghost is invisible, it’s presence brings counsel, knowledge and understanding.  If you are currently emotionally drained, out of energy or have lost your way, cry out to the Lord in prayer so that the refueling of the Holy Spirit will begin.
by Jay Mankus

An Evening of Enlightenment

When a historian refers to the term enlightenment, its likely bringing up the age of reason spanning from 1620-1789.  This intellectual movement was inspired by books such as Novum Organum and Critique of Pure Reason.  Francis Baker and Immanuel Kant were guiding forces which attempted to change the way people thought about life.  Yet, knowledge is not the only source for enlightenment.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life, Proverbs 9:10-11.

According to Solomon, fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Scholars who hear or read this might suggest “this is absurd.”  Yet, what I think Solomon is eluding to is that individuals who do not fear God become full of themselves, oblivious to the spiritual realm.  Meanwhile, those who fear God develop discernment and insight.  This keen awareness can lead to evenings of enlightenment when you keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple, Psalm 119:130.

Fasting, prayer, reading the Bible and worship are vehicles for receiving enlightenment on earth.  While some people set out to receive enlightenment daily, others are surprised by insight from a fast, moments in prayer, a rhema from the Bible or a moving experience in worship.  While on a retreat in Indiana, I had my own evening of enlightenment.  During the closing ceremony of the night, I received a revelation from God.  One day later, I traveled several hours to meet my girl friend Leanne, proposing shortly afterward.  When you follow through, faithful to God’s calling, enlightenment is not just an evening, its a way of life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Longing for a Sense of Community

While driving home from work today, I was overwhelmed by a feeling within my heart.  My fear is that my youngest two children will graduate from high school before my wife and I find a true sense of community.  Thus, my prayer, hope and wish for 2017 is find a place where I feel right at home, able to openly share my life with others.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ, Galatians 6:2.

Although it bombed at the box office, the 2015 film McFarland presents an interesting topic for discussion.  After getting fired as a football coach, Jim White played by Kevin Costner is forced to take the only job he can find within the city of McFarland, California.  The moment Coach White begins to become accepted by the locals, he is offered the position of his dreams.  The question is will Jim White exchange a sense of community for financial security?  To avoid spoiling the ending, I will let you find out what happens for yourself.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near, Hebrews 10:24-25.

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to ascertain where you fit in.  Unfortunately, a spirit of perfectionism causes many individuals to reject co-workers or neighbors who are searching for a friend.  If I knew the answer I would tell you how to connect with a local community.  As for now, I am asking the Lord for guidance, insight and a heart willing to embrace where God wants me to be for the next decade.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Someone Else Needs This More Than You

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I received new insight about the hand of God in adversity.  I caught a glimpse of a woman reflecting upon her childhood.  After making the cheer leading squad as a 7th grader, she was cut in 8th grade.  Sobbing in her room that night, the words her father shared transformed her perspective about life.  “Honey, you had a great time last year and you’re a confident person.  Perhaps, there is another girl who is struggling with her self esteem and needs to be a cheer leader more than you.”

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24

A former colleague of mine were reminiscing yesterday at Starbucks about our years in teaching.  Some days were good, others bad and there were many that didn’t make much sense at all.  Maybe this is what Solomon is implying in the passage above.  While individuals may think they are in control,  the Lord throws the occasional curve ball in to mix things up, directing people closer to where God wants you to be.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that,” James 4:14-15.

From the time I entered high school to my days in graduate school, every job that I applied for I got.  For some reason, God blessed me over and over again like the favor of Joseph in the Old Testament.  Yet, when I moved back to Delaware, God has sprinkled in failure more than once.  While this could be due to my age, a lack of dedication or a faith that is slipping, there is one good logical explanation for all the pain that I have endured.  Someone else needed what I wanted more than me.

by Jay Mankus

 

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