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Embrace Holy Fervor

Since I wasn’t a good student early on in high school, I poured my heart and soul into sports. Whether I was running cross country, swimming, playing baseball or golf, I developed a fervor for greatness. I may have not been the most athletic and physically gifted individual, but I wanted to win more than most of my peers. While I didn’t have much of a social life, I didn’t care as long as I improved daily.

But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.

This is the type of passion the Bible refers to in the passage above. Faith provides a similar adrenaline rush that I experienced as an athlete. However, this conviction comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than seek to become a winner in a competition, faith is a driving force to deepen my personal relationship with Jesus. When God becomes who you seek to delight, holy fervor is conceived.

A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. 24 God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality), John 4:23-24.

During a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals how a desire for truth can give birth to holy fervor. Despite the flaws in this recently divorced woman’s life, a fire began to burn deep within her heart as Jesus spoke. This is the same sensation I experienced as a freshman in college when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Regardless of what happens this holiday season, make room for Jesus so that you may embrace holy fervor.

by Jay Mankus

If There Was Another Way

When individuals can’t live up to the required standards, human nature has a tendency to wonder, is there another way?  This temptation may cause some in leadership roles to make an exception, bend the rules a little bit or stretch the truth.  This mindset didn’t go so well for Adam and Eve, kicked out of the Garden of Eden for breaking God’s only rule.

After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him, Mark 14:35.

When the thought of suffering and dying on a cross entered Jesus’ mind, raw emotions began to come out.  After sharing his concerns with his inner circle, Jesus turned to prayer to lift up his burdens to his heavenly father.  During this time of prayer, Jesus essentially asked God if there was another way, an alternative to dying.  However, the more Jesus prayed, he came to the conclusion that there is only one way to complete God’s will, suffer and die on a cross.

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.

Skeptics of Christianity are offended by the shear arrogance of Jesus, claiming to be the only way to heaven.  While other religions share similar elements with Christianity, Jesus is only one who is exclusive.  These comments inspired C.S. Lewis to write a chapter entitled Lord, Liar or Lunatic?  Lewis covers each aspect of these terms, examining the true nature of Jesus.  As a former atheist, this thorough analysis transformed his life from a person of science into a man of faith.  While mankind will continue to seek another way to heaven, Jesus remains only plausible path to eternal life.  Don’t take my words; read Mere Christianity for yourself in case you still think there is another way.

by Jay Mankus

The Greatest Closer of All Time

To close refers to someone or something that is finished, like turning a page, closing the door or finalizing a deal to complete what you started.  In baseball, a closer is suppose to end a game, seal the deal and hold the lead so that victory is preserved.  Names such as Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley and Lee Smith come to my mind as the greatest ever.  However, you don’t have to play baseball to be the greatest closer of all time.

According to Psalm 37:39-40, the Lord must be considered into this conversation.  Although distant at times, God fulfills His promise to deliver, rescue and save those who trust in Him.  The Bible is filled with testimonials of the Lord’s attributes as a closer, Philippians 1:6.  One unidentified witness claims faith is the main obstacle which is preventing many from coming to this conclusion, Hebrews 11:6.  Just when you thought Jesus was going to let you down, He escaped the grips of death to save all of mankind from sin, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

In this current age of instant information, negative stories often steal the headlines, highlighting the demise of a once famous star.  When the spotlight is turned off, passing the torch to the next best candidate, father time has a rather cruel way of pushing elite individuals to the curb.  Despite this harsh reality, Jesus remains the same, Hebrews 13:8.  Therefore, if you’re tired of letting victories slip through your fingers, turn to the greatest closer of all time, who has secured an eternal place for His followers, John 14:1-3.

Please feel free to share anything you need a “closer” for or a prayer request.

by Jay Mankus

The Breathe Prayer

John Michael Talbot’s music career took an unusual turn in 1977 as he withdrew from the world to study Catholicism.  This new direction inspired albums like The Lord’s Supper and Come to the Quiet.  Today, John Michael has become an author, motivational speaker and pioneer, blazing a trail a faith for others to follow.

One of his more popular teachings today is on the Breathe Prayer.  Following a prayer of one of the earliest Christian Churches, Talbot has  created a series of youtubes to guide others as they follow this traditional prayer.  However, Talbot incorporates Christian meditation to empower and enhance a believers prayer life.  As you call on the name of the Lord, you breathe in.  When you say, “have mercy on me” you believe out.  Like a chant, you continue this for several minutes.

The word Lord is derived from 2 old English terms, Loaf and Warden.  Once these 2 words are combined, you get the meaning “the Keeper of the Bread.”  The Jewish process of making bread is listed below:

1) Wheat is cut off at the base.

2) A community of workers gather the stalks together.

3) Threshing the wheat off the stalk at the threshing floor.

4) Letting the wind, separate the wheat from the chaff, usually on a tarp, throwing each up in the air.

5) Crushing the wheat into fine pieces with a grinding stone.

6) Adding water and yeast to the flour you made.

7) Kneading the dough, placing it in a pan.

8) Baking and poking the loaf 3 times so it doesn’t explode.

Since Jesus is called the Bread of Life in John 6:25-40, the breathe prayer serves as a visual exercise, reminding hearts and minds of the identity of Christ.

Although I am an amateur in the field of Christian meditation, its refreshing to see someone develop these prayers and practices.  Since the modern church has sat back and watched as yoga has hijacked the practice of meditation from the Christian faith, there is a place for this lost art, Joshua 1:8-9.  May John Michael Talbot’s material draw you closer to God.

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

The Video Game Mentality

Young people have become experts in the video game realm.  Whether its XBox, Play Station, Wi or online gaming, their hours spent learning how to play, reading books on short cuts and mastering each level of their favorite game is impressive.  Yet, if I asked these same people if they knew what the King James, Living, NAS or NIV was, most would struggle to comprehend why there are so many different versions of the Bible.  However, if I combined the 2, maybe I could reach a common ground to speak on their level, with a video game mentality.

One of my favorite passages of the Bible is Colossians 3:17 and 3:23.  The New International Version  says “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, verse 17a.”  Or with a similar concept, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, verse 23.”  If there was such a thing as the New Video Game Translation, this is my best interpretation of this passage.  Put all your effort and focus into each game, hitting the reset button if necessary.  Keep on trying until you reach the next level.  Don’t stop there.  Rather, keep going until you know every move, every aspect and every secret of each game.  Pass on your knowledge and move on to the next adventure, challenge and further versions.

If young people dedicated their lives to Christ like they do with video games, the next great awakening would commence.  Likewise, if prayer replaced countless hours in front of a computer, game system or television screens, endless lives could be transformed.  However, living in the world and not being lead by it is another story.  Achieving balance in life is crucial, maximizing your time with fun, pleasure and work.  When these games become the Lord of young people’s lives, behaviors often change for the worse as an addictive nature engrosses their minds.  The only way to crack this video game mentality is through the giver of life, James 1:18.  Don’t ever stop believing that young men and women can change, Romans 12:1-2.  Place your requests before the Lord so that this mindset can be broken, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

by Jay Mankus

From Water Into Wine

As in the movies, every human being, regardless of their super natural powers has a weakness, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.  Super Man had his kryptonite, the Wicked Witch of the West water and Eve her apple.  When the lights go out on life, sin is the only thing preventing individuals from the miracle of eternal life.

Unfortunately, doubt, first impressions and stereotypes keep most from living the life God intended, Ephesians 2:10.  The doubting Thomas’, Debbie downers and preconceived notions people pick up from their surroundings create a dome, void of any biblical miracles.  Thus, the devil truly does steal your dreams, kill remnants of hope and destroy the desire to fulfill God’s will for your life, John 10:10.

Where O Lord are the days of your miracles?  Why can’t we see another instance of water turned into wine?  If you are like me, desperate for answers, glimpses of progress or hungry for results, you’ve turned to the right place.  Behind the scenes, God is at work, serving as the God of the living, John 11:38-44.  While you don’t hear of many modern day Lazarus’, the Holy Spirit is alive and active, Hebrews 4:12.  The spiritually dead are being revitalized, raised up by the Word of God, John 3:16-17, turning tears of water into everlasting wine, John 4:13-14.  Taste and see how good the Lord is, Psalm 34:8!

by Jay Mankus

A Skywire Faith

Every once in a while, someone goes to extreme measures to prove themselves.  On Sunday night, June 23rd, 2013, live on the Discovery Channel, Nik Wallenda did just that, becoming the first person ever to walk across the Grand Canyon on a two inch wide high wire.  Without any nets to catch a mistake, Nik battled wind gusts, a 50 pound balancing pole and fears his family would see him fall to his death.  His 1,400 foot long journey took twenty two minutes and fifty four seconds to complete, kneeling at one point, surviving to live another day.

According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.  Before risking his life, Nik had to believe his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would give him the knowledge, strength and wisdom to complete this stunt.  Wired for sound, Nik began to pray on television as high wind gusts blew through and over the canyon.  Following the model set by Jesus in Mark 6:48-51, Nik took authority over the weather, calling on His God to silence any further gusts.

Yesterday, Nik did more than just walk across a portion of the Grand Canyon.  Rather, Nik put his faith and God to the test, risking everything.  If he failed or fell to his death, atheists, agnostics and the un-churched would have scoffed at his god.  Instead, 13 million viewers tuned in, heard his prayers answered and have tweeted their amazement on Twitter.  Though, this is unlikely to be the last time you hear or see Nik Wallenda on television, thank you Nik for demonstrating a skywire faith.  Well done Nick, well done, Matthew 25:23.

by Jay Mankus

Not So Weak After All

On my only day off during last week, I spent time helping finish field work in anticipation of Opening Day for Greater Newark Baseball.  Fighting a fever, extreme exhaustion and side effects from medicine, I quickly became emotionally drained.  Unable to sleep, I wrote a blog at 4:30 am, that’s in the morning for those who slept past noon over Spring Break.  Anyway, the only strength I could muster was a lame, but effective prayer, “In my weakness Lord, be strong today!”

Minutes after verbalizing these words, I lost my keys, was late to work and felt worthless for most of my first shift.  However, as I look back on my day, somewhere near the end of my first shift, the power of the Holy Spirit kicked in.  From there, God blessed me with one amazing encounter after another.

I was able to bring a smile to hundreds of children through a 30 minute long Chick-fil-A cow appearance at the Christiana Mall.  I nearly brought one parent to tears after offering her infant a Mini-Cow.  Another woman mumbled under her breath, “I need to eat Chick-fil-A, their people take care of their customers like first class citizens.”  Between 4-8pm this evening, I was walking on air, floating on the wings of angels.  Paul was right in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, when we are weak, Christ truly is strong, and not so weak after all!

by Jay Mankus

Shout It Out

Tears for Fears once sang about releasing emotions in their song Shout.  “Shout, shout, let it all out;  These are the things I can do without, come on – I’m talking to you.”  Meanwhile, a laundry product called Shout claimed they could remove any spot on clothing by applying their special ingredients to make stains disappear.  While one brings back great memories and the other a mother’s dream, this blog is devoted to giving a shout out to words of the prophet Zechariah.

According to Zechariah 3:1, Satan is like a stain that just won’t come out, permanently damaging our spiritual clothes.  Left with filthy clothing, tainted by sin, these blemishes are a constant remainder of our imperfections, Zechariah 3:3.  Just when your mind comes to grips with this helpless state, an angel intervenes.  Shouting it out, this angel provides first class dry cleaning, replacing the old with a new outfit, Zechariah 3:4-5.

Serving as a spiritual laundry detergent, the Lord Almighty has a special day planned.  Revealed in Zechariah 3:9, God plans to remove all the sins of this land in a single day.  News like this is comparable to the excitement demonstrated by the prodigal son on the day he returned to his father, Luke 15:20.  Therefore, don’t act nonchalantly; rather stand up and shout it out, rejoicing about the forgiveness, grace and mercy poured out upon you and me to erase our dirty laundry.

by Jay Mankus

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