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Tag Archives: lost souls

Determined in the Spirit

Bent on, committed to, firm about, insistent on and obsessed with are all expressions associated with determined. The actual definition is having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it. Just as professional athletes exhibit determination to become the best in the world, the apostle Paul reached a spiritual maturity that few Christians ever display. Perhaps, Paul received a message from the Lord that his time left on earth was nearing an end. Whatever the reason, the process of becoming determined in the Spirit was conceived.

Now after these events, Paul determined in the Spirit that he would travel through Macedonia and Achaia (most of the Greek mainland), and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome [and preach the good news of salvation],” Acts 19:21.

The best way to comprehend the concept of being determined in the Spirit is by examining a letter Paul wrote to the church at Colosse. This determination is derived from a heart and mind fixated on eternity. Paul didn’t harbor hate for his enemies and spiritual opponents. Rather, Paul crucified his sinful nature by habitually concentrating on things from above, heaven. Each person in the crowds that he preached to were considered lost souls in desperate need of a Savior. This mindset motivated Paul to become driven and determined in the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory, Colossians 3:1-4.

Is it possible to become determined in the Spirit today? Well, a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount provides an easy self-evaluation for you to see if you are on the right track, Matthew 6:19-24. The context of this message is addressing proper and improper attitudes and motives. Depending upon your current spiritual condition, what do you treasure? Luke 12:34 reinforces the notion that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. When hearts embrace temporary treasures, wandering eyes will empower lust to indulge the sinful nature, 1 John 2:15-17. As for me, until I begin to treasure eternal things daily, being determined in the Spirit won’t be achievable until my heart and mind align with God.

by Jay Mankus

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That’s Nice… But I’ve Heard That Before

As I was cleaning today, I uncovered an old Concord High Yearbook sitting on the floor.  Last fall, my best friend from high school, Carl, came to Delaware to visit his parents for a week.  Catching up and reminiscing about our last high school reunion, I fetched my senior yearbook to put a face with all the names which came up.  I’m not sure what it is, but the older I get, the more I repeat myself, sharing the same story annually with my wife and kids.  As gracious as possible, I hear that apt reply, “That’s nice, but I’ve heard that before.”

From a writer’s perspective, there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9.  When you’ve spent 3 years as an editor of a monthly newsletter and 2 more as the main contributor of this blog, some days you struggle to compose a paragraph let alone an entire piece.  However, as I opened my yearbook, I had forgotten who I was, what I had accomplished and how  a simple smile made an impact on my peers.  The perfectionist in me never allowed me to accept and embrace compliments.  Thus, these words were discarded, replaced by my lack of eloquence, stuttering and other deficiency’s.

This pessimism began to change for me in college during a Group service project on St. John’s Island in South Carolina.  To my surprise, everyone in attendance received their own mailbox, near the center of our living quarters at a local high school.  However, this mail was called Care Cards, a chance for others to write notes of encouragement and thanks to those who made a positive influence at some point during the day and week.  The catch was you couldn’t open your mail bag until you got on your bus before leaving.  I was so touched by this concept I incorporated it into my own mission trips when I became a youth pastor following college.  Like my yearbook, every few years I will stumble across old mail bags, bringing tears to my eyes and joy to my soul as I savor these fond memories.

From a biblical perspective, Israel’s memory was so poor, God called Moses to devote an entire book called Deuteronomy, the second law, reminding the Jews of everything they had forgotten.  Although retention varies among children and adults today, modern pastors recycle famous words of Jesus, the apostle Paul, and Peter to refresh the memories of lost souls.  While some in church may whisper, “That’s nice, but I’ve heard that before,” someone in attendance may be hearing this truth for the first time.  Therefore, be patient if someone tends to be redundant, for someone likely needs a reminder of promises within the Bible like John 3:16.

by Jay Mankus

Stirring Up Wars

Not much has changed since the Jets and the Sharks began their fictional turf war over a girl, Maria, in the 1961 musical West Side Story.  Today, anger, bitterness and discord have built up within human beings to create ideal conditions for dissension zones.  Good intentions often fade into the night as roots of bitterness suffocate any thoughts of forgiveness.  As a result, floodgates open up for a culture of bickering and backstabbing.

Beyond the boundaries of Super Powers, factions leave third world nations with a battlefield of broken hearts, fragile souls and shattered relationships.  Hatred has found a home, setting up shop as a spirit of division is holding unwilling citizens captive.  While once foreign, America has open its doors to this nature through reality television.  A generation of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones viewers have spawned hits shows like Big Brother, Survivor and The Jersey Shore.  Seeking to get rich over night, individuals do whatever it takes, forsaking integrity, to achieve success and victory.

Going unnoticed by those with moral blinders on, the acts of the sinful nature has imprisoned lost souls, Galatians 5:19-21.  Selfish ambition has become their driving force, the wind beneath their misguided wings.  When you add envy and jealousy as fuel to this fire, carnage is aired daily through shows like Bad Boys, Cheaters and Divorce Court.  As long as comedy, sex and violence continue to sell, this process will repeat itself, stirring up more wars.  May God protect the innocent bystanders, caught in the crossfire of this mudslinging.  Pray the words of Galatians 5:16-18 so that this vicious cycle will end soon!

by Jay Mankus

Dying Nations

If you study geography, globes and maps appear to be in a constant state of flux.  Portions of Africa and other regions of the world go through transitions as individuals wrestle for control and power.  Depending upon the ruler and their worldview, citizens are at the mercy of its leaders.

According to Psalm 135:15-17, vital signs can be detected  by the finger prints left by mankind.  The images of a culture reflect their aspirations, priorities and ultimately, their god.  When idols cripple a nation, Acts 17:16, its only a matter of time before empires fall like Rome.  If America continues on its current path, the inevitable will happen, erasing any impact it has as a world leader.

To change course, nations have options if they wish to survive.  Civil wars, rebellions and revolutions are just a few of the usual suspects.  However, if 1799 is any clue from the past, only a spiritual revival can save countries from vanishing from the pages of modern textbooks.  As concerts of prayer began to change the mindset of Christians in America, God began to ignite a fire within lost souls.  May history repeat itself, giving life to dying nations across the globe thereby fulfilling the great commission in the process, Acts 1:8.

by Jay Mankus

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