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The Fervor of Faith

During a discussion with a woman at a well in Samaria, the topic of conversation transitions to worship. The woman refers to her descendants who worshiped on this mountain, pointing toward Mount Gerissim. Apparently, first century Jews were legalistic, belittling Samaritans for not going to temple at Jerusalem to worship God. However, Jesus points to a time in the future, following his death and resurrection, when individuals will be able to worship God in any place or time.

God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality), John 4:24.

In the passage below, the apostle Paul builds upon this concept. Whenever individuals enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, an intimacy develops. As faith increases, man’s relationship with God becomes a daily priority. Thus, faith isn’t something that you put back on the shelf and walk away from like a Bible. Rather, faith becomes part of you, growing into a fervor through a higher calling via the Holy Spirit.

Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength! – 1 Corinthians 16:13

This Samaritan woman mentioned by John, one of Jesus’ disciples, is introduced as a restless individual, searching for answers to life’s questions. This journey led the Samaritan woman to look for love in relationships, leaving one man after another when love disappeared. However, when Jesus talked about living water, a spark was triggered within her soul. Hungry for more, John 4:39 reveals that a fervor for faith was conceived, leading her entire family to faith in Christ. This is the kind of fervor that we all need today.

by Jay Mankus

The Enemy of Depth

Anyone who lives in a city, endures a long commute or works in a fast paced environment understands the cramp time places on relationships.  I have allowed this barrier to prevent me from developing deep and meaningful relationships.  Distracted by where I need to go and what I need to do next often leaves me feeling distant from those that I care about.  Unfortunately, as someone who always seems to be in a hurry, impatience has become the enemy of depth.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

The opposite of depth is those who suffer from relationship fatigue.  This state occurs when associates, co-workers or friends become too intense, like a leech that sticks to you and won’t let go.  When imperfections, quirks and social warts of individuals wear on your soul, any desire for intimacy fades away.  Thus, any close ties that you might have developed in the past soon dissipate as well.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Sadly, other relationships that you may have hoped to nourish over  time never amount to anything due to fear.  Possibly thinking about prior failed friendships, there is a tendency to avoid becoming too close to someone, afraid the bond that you share will be broken.  In the passages above, the apostle Paul attempts to illustrate what love looks like.  When people begin to forgive and forget, your slate of past wrongs is wiped clean.  Yet, until you emulate the character traits of love, depth will continue to be an enemy.

by Jay Mankus

Wilted Flowers… Wilted Souls

Based upon  a 2013 CNN article, roughly 224 million roses are grown to prepare for Valentine Day shoppers.  Beside candy, roses have become a symbol for this special day, with the average person spending $130 to impress their significant other.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for these expensive flowers to die.  Life can be prolonged by adding fresh water daily and trimming the stems.  Yet, in the end, the smell of flowers will fade, wilt and end up in the trash.

The human soul can relate to the final resting place for roses.  Individuals who are quiet, shy or wonder why no accepts them for who they are, often wilt like flowers.  The lack of communication, intimacy and relationships can weigh on a heart, resulting in loneliness.  Unless a soul experiences good news, hope or something positive, faith can fade into oblivion.  Like a deer that pants for water on a hot summer day, those that thirst for temporary pleasures will taste the sourness of disappointment.

According to the Bible, the soul finds rest in God alone, Psalm 62:1.  Though many will try other avenues to fill this void, nothing can satisfy like Jesus; just ask the woman at the well, John 4.  Mankind may try to stop the grass from withering and flowers from falling off their stems, yet the only cure to wilted souls is the Word of God, Isaiah 40:8.  If the thought of a cold dark winter has brought you down, may the promise of Romans 8:38-39 sustain you when all seems lost.

by Jay Mankus

A Romantic Interlude

Feelings of excitement and mystery go hand and hand with romance.  Deep inside the human heart, passion is ignited by a spark, triggering previously unknown emotions.  Curiosity, flirting and love set the scene for a romantic interlude.

After this experience fades, a void is left behind.  Within the DNA of mankind, there is a relational component often neglected by individuals.  Subsequently, human beings attempt to recreate interludes of the past, usually without success.  One of the side effects of romance are rash decisions, like that of Sarah in Genesis 16:1-5, putting any chance for romance on thin ice.

Just as men and women long for one another, God yearns for intimacy with his children.  While teaching his disciples, Jesus refers to pursuing the Lord with the same level of commitment as a romantic interlude, Matthew 16:24-26.  Sometimes in life you have to take a chance, risking humility to pursue the desires of your heart.  May the hope of John 3:16-17 inspire you to drawn near to God, James 4:8, like a romantic interlude.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Gotta Get It Right

During my last year as a youth pastor, I was responsible for running Confirmation, a year long class for 8th graders who sought to take ownership of their faith.  Before the actual ceremony during church in the Spring, I took my group away on a retreat about 30 minutes west of Columbus, Indiana.  Coming out a year earlier, I showed the movie Groundhog Day to break the ice, easing the tension for those uncomfortable with talking about God.  Essentially, Bill Murray keeps repeating the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still like this movie.  However, there are several life lessons worth noting.  First, too many individuals, me especially, become consumed with what they are doing, where they are going and what they need to accomplish every day.  As a result, blinders prevents you from appreciating, interacting and slowing down long enough to develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Secondly, distracted people often don’t recognize, see or stop to help someone in need with a smile, word of encouragement or passing prayer.  Finally, life is best served by embracing daily distractions that God provides.  These interruptions offer opportunities to minister, nurture and uplift struggling souls.

While listening to the song Get it Right by Silverline, I sensed the urging of the Holy Spirit to write this blog.  Although each day is filled with trials and errors, life is too short to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  If  you are touched by these words, join me in the quest to get it right, John 10:10.  Yet, when you fail, don’t give up, Galatians 6:9-10.  Rather, by leaning on Christ, Philippians 4:13, believe in your heart that over time, you will get it right.

Please comment on my blog how your journey is going.  This post is dedicated to Elizabeth, one of my students who gave her heart to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, at the end of our confirmation retreat.

by Jay Mankus

The First Call

Before the days of Instant Messaging, Skype and Texting, there was something socially stimulating about phone calls.  Leanne, my wife and I, spent most of our first 6 months dating over the phone.  Living 8 hours apart, distance forced us to communicate indirectly, depending on a receiver to translate the emotions and words we felt for one another.  According to Genesis 4:26, there was another type of call which happened long ago.

Separated from God, kicked out of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:24, the intimacy Adam and Eve shared on walks with the Lord together ceased, Genesis 3:8.  Whether it was doubt, guilt or shame, more than a generation went by without clearly connecting with the Creator of life.  After the Tree of Knowledge debacle and subsequent murder of Abel, contact had come to a standstill.  Yet, the birth of Seth, meaning “God has granted another child in Abel’s place,” served as a sign of healing.  Although, no one directly is given credit for breaking this silence,  Seth and Enosh opened the door for Noah’s special relationship with God.

For Moses, it was a whisper from inside a burning bush, Exodus 3:2-3.  Samuel experienced his first call from a voice in a dream, 1 Samuel 3:4.  The apostle Paul saw a blinding light on the road to Damascus before hearing Jesus speak, Acts 9:4-6.  As for me, my first call came during a nervous breakdown in high school, with my heart, empty and hungry for something more in life.  If you’ve not yet experienced your first call with God, you’re not alone.  May the words of Romans 10:1-17 lead you to your first call on the name of the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Disconnected

For a 5 day stretch from February 11th through February 15th, my cell phone became disconnected.  After applying for 5 jobs over 2 days, anyone who tried to contact my number was placed into a cyber black hole.  According to a telecommunications agent, when you switch from one cell phone carrier to another, your number goes into a virtual portal for usually 24 hours.  As soon as a previous carrier releases your old number, you can begin your new service contract.  Unfortunately, my number remained locked for nearly a week, crippling any hopes of receiving one of these new positions.

Cell phones, emails, Facebook and texting have become popular avenues to maintain daily contact with key individuals.  When these optional aren’t available, people like me panic, especially when one phone call or email is the difference between a new job and unemployment.  Yet, it could be worse.  You can also become disconnected from God.  Prayer becomes a few moments of talking to yourself, reading the Bible like trying to decipher a confusing new language and going to church develops into a meaningless ritual, hallow of any true intimacy with God.

The Bible is filled with examples of people and nations who were unplugged from God.  Moses once worked 18 hour days in Exodus 18:13, Achan’s sin hid God’s blessing from Israel in Joshua 7 and God became tired of Israel’s evil deeds in Isaiah 1:15-17.  Despite these temporary outages, God is only a confession away from reconnecting your service.  Therefore, follow the directions in James 5:13-16 and you can get back online today.  Faith is just a phone call away!

by Jay Mankus

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