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Aglow and Burning with Passion

The Sermon on the Mount serves as a collection of ideas for followers of Jesus. At the end of the first chapter of this famous speech, Jesus suggests that all Christians should strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48. The passage below inspired the childhood song “This Little Light of Mine.” In other words, God expects believers to stand out, aglow and burning with passion.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 5:13-16.

The apostle Paul adds a new dimension to this concept in his letter to the Church at Rome. Paul implies that spiritual gifts should be offered to others with a spirit of love. Building upon Romans 12:1, part of offering your bodies as a spiritual act of worship involves a passion and zeal for service. When aglow and burning in the Spirit, any desire to hide your faith departs.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:11.

Upon reading the passage above last week, Harry Dixon Loes’ song has a new meaning for me as an adult. While I don’t always feel like sharing my faith, staying aglow is essential. If you allow your spiritual fire for God to grow dim, darkness will surround you. Therefore, before the Holy Spirit fades, pass on the love of Jesus with the gifts, personality or talents bestowed upon you. Like the old camp fire song declares, Pass It On!

by Jay Mankus

How Bad Do You Want It?

To excel at a high level, many athletes join travel teams at an early age to maximize their full potential. Depending upon an individual’s commitment, desire and overall talent, coaches will push these rising stars to new heights. Parents will continue to fork over thousands of dollars each year with the goal of eventually earning a full college scholarship. The end result often relies on how bad do these student athletes want to compete at the next level.

Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect), Matthew 22:36-37.

From a spiritual perspective, God uses free will to reveal who wants it more. Instead of forcing the earth to comply, God introduced the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel in Exodus 20. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ opened the door for Gentiles to be welcomed into God’s family. For anyone who wants to excel spiritually, Jesus summarizes a primary goal: love God with all your heart, soul and mind.

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul adds another element to how bad do you want to draw near to God. Paul suggests that human bodies are on loan from God. Thus, if you want to reach your full potential as a believer, treating your body as a living temple of God is essential. Those who want it more spiritually will separate themselves via fruits of the spirit. Since talk is cheap, time will tell how bad you want to please God?

by Jay Mankus

Fitting a Square Peg into a Round Hole

The expression fitting a square peg into a round hole comes from the Apollo 13 Space Mission. The entire crew would have died from carbon dioxide poisoning if Mission Control didn’t come up with a way to fit the square lithium hydroxide canisters into the round openings of the environmental exhaust system. The movie highlights this race against time when a warning light reveals dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. A brainstorming session begins at Mission Control in Houston using plastic bags, cardboard, tape, and all materials on board of Apollo 13 to solve this dilemma.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6.

From my own personal experience, the older I get the less I see individuals open to thinking outside the box. Instead I hear the same old excuses, “this is the way we have always done it, we must follow the standard operational procedures or that’s just cutting corners.” Until an emergency arises, most people aren’t willing to deviate from the norm. However, there was a first century man who turned the Jewish culture upside down. Instead of focusing on a rigid set of rules, Jesus introduced a new way to live, expressing freedom like no one ever before or since.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

Sometime in the late 20’s AD, worshiping God in the temple at Jerusalem increased in importance. This would be like modern day Muslims traveling to Mecca for Ramadan. Just when this trend reached a buckle list status, Jesus spoke of a day when the temple would be torn in two. This teaching infuriated religious leaders, eventually resulting in Jesus’ death on a cross. Yet, Jesus placed a square peg into a round hole by revealing you don’t need to be in a building to worship God. Jesus took this concept one step further, explaining that human bodies are temples on loan from God, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. May this blog open your mind to see the vast miracles of the past and present as God continues to place square pegs into round holes daily.

by Jay Mankus

When Something is Missing

When I was younger, I wasn’t much of a student. Easily bored while sitting in class, I relied on gym class and sports to get me through each day. When I became old enough for youth group, I applied a similar strategy. The thought of hanging out with people my own age each Sunday night enabled me to endure an hour long church service. To me youth group was like a rite of passage, a weekly event that I never wanted to miss.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:20.

After becoming a youth director at a Methodist church in the country following my graduation from college, I made the assumption that teenagers would just show up like I did. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as I struggled to get a half dozen teens to come out each week. About a month into my tenure, I realized that something was missing. Students were being forced to get up early by their parents to attend Sunday School prior to the worship service. Thus, many youths developed the mindset, “well, I went to Sunday School, that should suffice.”

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation, Romans 10:9-10.

Whenever you are forced to do something, there is a degree of resentment that may enter your soul. If you just attend church or youth group as a favor to friends or parents, faith becomes nothing more than a religious exercise. What is missing in the lives of many church goers is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Whenever someone takes ownership of their faith, you turn the corner spiritually. Instead of dreading church, awakened souls take ownership of their faith when the void in human hearts is replaced by Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Finality of Hell

Prior to sharing the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus is having a heated discussion with religious leaders about the Law. According to Luke, Jesus goes from a debate over wealth to what defines adultery. When you put two and two together, Jesus tells this story to convict the hearts of any Pharisee who was willing to listen. The purpose of this parable is meant to serve as a warning to the spiritually proud about the finality of hell.

And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime fully received [what is due you in] comforts and delights, and Lazarus in like manner the discomforts and distresses; but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish, Luke 16:23-25.

Jesus clearly states that there will be no second chances following death. I guess the only exception would be those individuals who have testified about having a near death experience. The medical world refers to these miracles as the Lazarus Syndrome, pronounced dead only to come back to life. Jesus includes the request from the rich man while in hell to clarify that the Torah and Prophets already serve as a warning to steer souls toward heaven and away from hell.

And [the man] said, Then, father, I beseech you to send him to my father’s house—28 For I have five brothers—so that he may give [solemn] testimony and warn them, lest they too come into this place of torment. 29 But Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear and listen to them. 30 But he answered, No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent (change their minds for the better and heartily amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins). 31 He said to him, If they do not hear and listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded and convinced and believe [even] if someone should rise from the dead, Luke 16:27-31.

To the uncertain, wanting to make sure that they are on the right path, Jesus leaves behind another clue in Matthew 7:12-14. This is a good way to assess your motives. Do I go with the flow or am I more concerned with pleasing God? Am I seeking temporary pleasures or storing up eternal treasures? Are you bearing spiritual fruit or indulging your sinful nature? These are just a few questions that you must consider. Since there are no second chances after death, may this blog inspire you to choose Christ over self.

by Jay Mankus

Letters of Love

Prior to 10th grade, I hated the English language. Perhaps, this explains why I took 4 years of French and 2 years of Spanish in high school. As a shy stuttering student who was afraid of embarrassing myself, two English teachers laid a foundation for letters of love to express what I was unable to say out loud. Mrs. Ehrig and Mrs. Harker instilled in me a desire to write.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

This ability didn’t come naturally until I fully grasped key elements of English like grammar and spelling. This progress coincided with the coming out of my shell to let others in. Following high school graduation, I wanted to find a way to maintain these newly formed friendships. This desire gave birth to a passion for writing letters. Each year of college I devoted more and more time for letter writing to share my appreciation to those individuals who blessed and enriched my life.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us, Romans 5:7-8.

While I still enjoy writing, there is another letter of love that surpasses all understanding. The Bible is God’s letter of love revealing His willingness to give up His one and only son to die for our sins. The passages above illustrate Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Colossians 2:13-15, willing to be nailed to a cross to pardon the sins of the past, present and future. May this act of love and the attached song by the Kry remind you of God’s letter of love.

by Jay Mankus

The Time Share Theory

The term timeshare was coined in Great Britain during the 1960’s. This vacation system where a property with a divided form of ownership or use rights became popular after World War II. The downside to modern timeshares is that the exact price varies depending upon the week that you own and maintenance fees often increase every year. In addition, trying to sell your timeshare can be extremely difficult which explains the rise in companies devoted to selling unwanted timeshares.

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, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

The Time Share Theory is based upon the decisions that you make in life. The choices you make daily will reveal your priorities. During a portion of the Sermon on the Mount detailed in Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus uses the analogy, “where your treasure is, your heart will be also,” Matthew 6:19-24. Thus, whether on purpose or subliminally, habits will determine how you spend your time each week.

Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free], Matthew 20:28.

A disciple from the tribe of Levi unveils Jesus’ time share theory. According to Matthew in the passage above, Jesus viewed each day as an opportunity to serve to God. John Marks shares a story how an early morning time praying by Jesus changed and shifted what was previous scheduled, Mark 1:35-39. If your daily goal is to seize the day, how your share your time will determine the outcome. The only question remaining is will you be more like Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas season or more like Jesus?

by Jay Mankus

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