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Bring Me Back

Sometimes life is like being placed into a giant maze without a map.  Whenever you make the wrong turn, its like one step forward, two steps back.  As soon as you hit a dead end, you have to go back to where you started, retracing your steps to find a way out.  If you don’t have any helper, guide or visible signs, this journey will last much longer than expected.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

The Bible serves as a road map to bring you back to God’s desired destination.  During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares life to a series of roads.  The most popular ones are like interstate highways, well defined and marked.  However, Jesus uses the analogy of a small path to illustrate the road to heaven.  Somebody has cleared the path, but if you stray off to the left or right, its easy to lose your way.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

The author of Hebrews refers to a great Hall of Faith, saints who have showed people the way to heaven.  Comparing life to a marathon, completing this race requires endurance and persistence.  When I get up each morning, I don’t always feel like doing the right thing.  There are plenty of days when I am exhausted, tired and worn down with little motivation to stay on track.  The group Evanescence sings about this state in their song Bring Me Back to Life.  This blog and song are dedicated to those who need to be brought back into God’s presence.

by Jay Mankus

The Cave of Contentment

As you walk through various doors in life, you will eventually come across the cave of contentment.  Although this place is not a physical location, the emotions you experience will make you feel at ease, comfortable and perhaps tinkled pink.  Yet, instead of continuing your journey, some refuse to leave, content with who and where you are.

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites, Judges 6:1.

One of the byproducts of visiting this place is complacency.  Sure, a weekend getaway can recharge your internal batteries.  However, any kind of extended stay will cause you to become stagnant, limiting your options in life.  Bruce Springsteen sings about a similar state in his classic song Glory Days.  Graduates from high school reflect their former life, back in the day, just like visiting the cave of contentment.

Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds, Judges 6:2.

Unfortunately, when Israel decided to stop at the cave of contentment during the reign of Judges, life drastically changed.  This decision allowed evil to creep into their lives.  Subsequently, God humbled Israel through an oppressive ruler.  Anyone who makes an attempt to stop growing today will face a similar fate.  Although resting a while may be beneficial, trusting in previous achievements without moving forward is a step in the wrong direction.  Therefore, follow the leadership of Gideon who the Lord used to rescue Israel from the cave of contentment.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Hunger of Laborers

Part of the DNA within a man is found through their occupation.  Unfortunately, many struggle to find a job which compliments and highlights their God given talents.  Subsequently, when Christmas and holiday parties arrive in a few weeks, these conversations are often unpleasant, a constant reminder of one’s frustration of being an outcast, not where you feel like God wants you to be.

The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on, Proverbs 16:26.

If and when you find that ideal situation, you don’t need any motivation to get out of bed.  Rather, every day drives and motivates individuals, excited to pursue that path they are on.  Perhaps, this is what Solomon means by the hunger of laborers.  This state drives workers, providing a sense of purpose until their job or task is complete.  Anyone who has never experienced or tasted this sensation yearns for the day you find the perfect match.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Colossians 3:17.

For those of us who are a work in progress, the apostle Paul provides sound advice.  While on the journey called life, every deed and word count.  Therefore, dedicate your life to the Lord.  If you lose your way, remember the words of Hosea 4:6.  Since people perish without vision, set short term goals, serving as markers to lead your way.   God willing, you will one day find the hunger of laborers.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Stop the Healing

The origin of Journey’s classic song “Don’t Stop Believing” was a joint effort among the group’s members.   Co-written by Neal Schon and Steve Perry, the inspiration for the lyrics occurred during experiences on the sunset strip.  However, one sleepless night in a Detroit hotel, spawned words based upon the shadows seen from street lights below.  Since this album’s debut in 1981, Don’t Stop Believing has been embraced by individuals and teams searching for faith and hope.

There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him, Mark 7:32.

Jesus was a rock star of the first century in name only.  Instead of groupies, desperate souls similar to figures on the land of misfit toys in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer flocked to Jesus seeking some form of healing.  When doctors couldn’t help these people, they followed Jesus by land or sea just to get a glimpse or fit through the masses to touch Jesus’ cloak.  While there is no indication of a mantra coming from these crowds, I can imagine some crying out to Jesus singing, “Don’t stop the healing!”

People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak,” Mark 7:37.

Today, financial issues, a struggling economy and unemployment have caused many to doubt if miracles still exist.  These skeptics often cry out without experiencing or seeing any tangible answers to prayer.  If these pattern continues, I would not be surprised if believers lose hope and possibly stop believing completely.  When these periods of unbelief arrive, don’t forget the Jesus jingle, Don’t Stop the Healing.  May the thought of previous miracles spark new life to hurting souls.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

You Don’t Have to Wish Upon a Star to Make Your Dreams Come True

To most American children, visiting Disney World is like a rite of passage.  I still remember my first visit, seeing Snow White’s Castle, going on a steam boat and riding on “It’s a Small World.”  The fascination with this magical place continues today, enticing families with the promise,” if you wish upon a star your dreams will come true.”

When I started this blog back in February of 2012, I never imagined that I would write 1000 articles.  Initially, I wanted to keep my writing skills sharp in case I felt called to go back into teaching.  However, now this journey is preparing me of a dream to become a screen writer for Hollywood.  While this may years away, you won’t find me wishing upon a star.

When you open up the Bible, there are thousands of passages that contain hope.  Yet, few compare with Jesus’ words in Mark 11:24.  One of the crucial elements to make dreams come true is belief.  When doubt exists, prayers go unanswered.  Therefore, if you want your dreams to come true, don’t wish upon a star.  Instead, place your trust in the One who has the power to make all things possible, Luke 1:37.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle

This 1979 song details a lonely castaway, searching for love, thereby sending a message in a bottle to see if anyone shares a similar sentiment.  Message in a Bottle appeared on the Police’s second album, Reggatta de Blanc and ranks as one of the top 100 greatest guitar songs of all time by Rolling Stones Magazine.  Before the advent of cell phones, the internet and computers, individuals looking for companionship wrote letters, pouring out their souls on a piece of paper.  For some unknown reason, this song popped into my head this morning and inspired this Easter Blog.

If I could write a short message in a bottle to summary what Easter Sunday means, it would begin with the lyrics to Keith Green’s song Asleep in the Night.  His words from the 1970’s are profound, as people either don’t care anymore, are too numb to feel anything or apathy has caused many to fall asleep spiritually.  Despite where you are, what you’ve done or who you’ve hurt, Easter is a the season of new beginnings, Psalm 103:11-12.  Therefore, get out of bed and make your way to the nearest house of worship.

While some may wear their Sunday best, God wants you to come as you are, Matthew 11:28-30.  Don’t deceive yourself or try to put on a show like the Pharisees of the first century.  Rather, be yourself, come to the door and open up, for Jesus is knocking, Revelation 3:20.  Faith is not about a list of do’s and don’ts.  Instead, walking with Jesus is a journey, where you yield areas of your life over to God, one at a time.  From here its not easy, yet as Steven Curtis Chapman once sang, this is the Great Adventure.

As I experience another Sunrise Service on the beach, I’m sending out an SOS, to save our souls this Easter Sunday.

What does Easter mean to you? I would love to hear your response.

by Jay Mankus

 

Searching for a Reason to Live

Living pay check to check is exhausting, especially when your money disappears before your expenses are fully covered.  Like a high school student bored beyond measure, living for the weekend isn’t any better.  There must be something greater, with meaning and purpose out there.  Thus, my journey has begun to find a reason to live.

Over the weekend I attended a benefit concert for Kay’s Kamp and Ashley’s Orphans.  Kay was one of my former students who died of a rare form of cancer shortly after graduating from Red Lion Christian Academy.  Meanwhile, Ashley’s life was cut short prematurely in a boating accident while she attend the Elementary at Red Lion.  Despite their deaths, their legacies live on by the faith each displayed in their living years.

Lost in my attempt to provide for my family is a higher calling, a vision to make an impact for eternity.  When the Raymond Lee Band donated all of their proceeds from Saturday’s concert to these 2 organizations, my heart was convicted by my selfishness.  Perhaps, we can all learn from this example, sacrificing temporary wants for those around you who are more needy.  May the Holy Spirit, guide each of us to find a higher reason to live, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

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