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This One is For You

At any period in time, individuals will find themselves in either one of two states, blessed or in need.  This status can change at a moments notice, from having a high paying position with great benefits to being unemployed.  For those of you have endured the embarrassment of losing your job, this experience can be humbling.  Yet, life goes on, with or within out you.  The one thing God is eager to see is how will you respond to adversity?

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

The odd thing about life is that sometimes when you think you are the person in need, someone else enters your life to help you realize how blessed you truly are.  When I moved off campus in college, I used fast food restaurants as places to study.  As long as you bought something to eat, refills were unlimited so I never ran out of caffeine.  One morning I went to McDonald’s for breakfast, celebrating the two for two dollar breakfast sandwich deal.  After quickly snarfing down my first sausage and egg McMuffin, I noticed a man who appeared to be homeless.  Before taking a bite of the second one, conviction consumed my soul.  Thirty seconds later, I got up, walked over and said, “this one is for you.”

But we commend ourselves in every way as servants of God: in great endurance, in sufferings, in hardships, in distresses, 2 Corinthians 6:4.

During the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul was diligent in his daily preparations.  The passage above reveals the mindset Paul possessed as a follower of Christ.  Paul wasn’t caught off guard or surprised like modern naïve Christians.  Rather, Paul knew the cost of serving God, making this known to fellow believers in the letter above.  To a certain extent, Paul appears to view himself as being blessed by God, always searching for opportunities to help others.  Despite criticism, pushback and rumors, Paul was determined to honor God whatever the cost.  This example should inspire people today to locate the down trodden, needy and poor; then extend the love of Christ by paying it forward, “this one is for you.”

by Jay Mankus

 

What Do You Do… When You’re All Tapped Out

The term tapped out refers to reaching a point of emptiness, unable to go any farther.  A mother breast feeding her child may hit a wall, unable to produce any more milk.  Despite an infant’s cries, mom is done.  A keg on a college campus is bound to dry up, tapped out from over use.  However, one of the most common examples today relates to a parent or student, burning the candle at both ends until they crash and burn from sheer exhaustion.

1. Acknowledge your condition – Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray, James 5:13a.

In the prime of my life, I worked 90 hours a week as a youth pastor.  On my only day off, I led a Bible Study at McDonald’s in the morning, drove to Cincinnati to meet a friend (a 90 minute drive one way) and came back by dinner time to attend an adult Bible Study which required extensive reading.  Sure, this sounds like a lot, but I was young.  After my wealthy church rejected a plea for a homeless guy, I let him stay on my couch at my apartment for six months.  To justify my raise after one year, my responsibilities tripled to include Confirmation, Coaching High School Basketball and Helping out with Young Life.

2. Find someone to confide in – If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

Sometime after the first six months, I became comfortably numb, running on fumes.  Since I didn’t have anyone to intervene, I reached an emotional breaking point, unable to give anymore.  Thus, 14 months after starting my dream job, what I was born to do, I was forced to take a step back.  So… what do you do when you’re all tapped out?  Well, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail with a mentor from high school, a former coach and Fellowship of Christian’s Athletes director.  Looking back now, most of this weekend was a blur, yet I needed to retreat before I could go any further.

3. Find a quiet place to meet with God – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Before he became king of Israel, David had his own issues.  The king, who just happened to be his best friend’s dad was trying to kill him, jealous of his fame from defeating Goliath.  A man without a country, David fled for a cave, encouraged by 400 men, soldiers who had became friends.  Despite being anointed as king by Samuel, David had to wait and wait and wait some more.  Just as the mountains served as a retreat for me, this cave was like an oasis, able to shoot the breeze, wondering where to go and what to do next.  Fellowship in these close quarters likely developed friendships for a lifetime.

4. Publicly confess your sins – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed, James 5:16a.

To provide a woman’s perspective, I can’t help but mention the woman described in Matthew 9.  If you think you’ve had a tough life, just listen to her sob story.  Suffering from a bleeding disorder, she saw every specialist possible until she ran out of money.  Broke and still unhealed, she was probably forced to beg like the homeless.  Yet, fearful of contracting what she had, this woman was forced beyond the cities gates to live among the outcasts in society.  Financially tapped, healing appeared unattainable until a man named Jesus worked the earth.

5. Find rest for your soul – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, ” Matthew 11:28.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Feeling Normal Again

If you listen to voices in this world, you might be led to rejuvenate your soul.  McDonald’s proclaims “you deserve a break today!”  The classic band Chicago suggests, “everyone needs a little time away.”  The more I think about this train of thought, its a good place to start for feeling normal again.

College students often practice binge sleep habits.  After all night study sessions, they might crash for 12-18 hours at a time before arising for their next rendezvous.  Following each semester, individuals may disappear for a couple of days before feeling normal again.  Perhaps those people who are rough around the edges just aren’t getting rest to be the person God wants them to be.

During a stressful week of school or work, several things are put on hold.  These neglected areas continue to mount until time allows you to catch up.  In this struggle to stay above rising waters, I was struck by an obvious fact of life last weekend.  If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re no use to anyone, Philippians 2:4.  Whether you need recreation, sleep or time away, do what you need to refresh your heart, soul and mind so you will feel normal once again.

by Jay Mankus

 

Dining Out

The events of today can only be explained as a God instance, leading me to center of God’s will for a moment in time.  Stir crazy from not being cleared to go back to work yet, I spent 2 hours spring cleaning, purging my lame wardrobe.  After running an errand, I felt compelled to find a quiet restaurant to read and write for a while.  What followed next is best described as a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.

After enjoying a small treat from the dollar menu, I began reading a few chapters of the Bible, jotting down interesting details.  Before I started my prayer journal, a stranger approached with a few questions.  Noticing my Bible, his curiosity led to an hour long conversation.  Fifteen minutes later, a bystander joined the fray, adding to what I had begun.  To my surprise, this passionate woman was the mother of one of my former students.  When she departed, our discussion continued, reflecting on the temptations in life.

Although the conclusion wasn’t earth shattering, a seed was planted in a heart whose soul has been influenced by the hypocrisy of Christian leaders.  In life, God doesn’t force anyone to believe.  Rather, the apostle Paul suggests individuals are surrounded by visible and invisible qualities of a higher power, Romans 1:18-20.  Thus, anyone who is longing for a deeper meaning to life should start by soaking in the words of Christ, Romans 10:17, so that one day their minds will be renewed.  If you’re thinking about driving through or ordering take out, you might miss an encounter of a lifetime.  Therefore, slow down, kneel and ask the Holy Spirit for the words to share as you dine out.

by Jay Mankus

Supersize Your Faith

In the 2004 documentary film Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock wanted to know how eating 3 meals a day at McDonald’s for 30 consecutive days would impact his body.  Thus, from February 1st thru March 2nd, Morgan ate every item on the menu at least once.  The 32 year old gained nearly 25 pounds in one month, consuming 5,000 calories on average per day.  As a result, McDonald’s no longer has a Supersize Value Meal and state governments are creating legislation to eliminate soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.  While local officials are trying to attack my 7Eleven Big Gulp, I would rather supersize my faith than my body.

In the Greek, there are 2 words used to describe time: kronis and kairos.  Kronis refers to when someone asks or wants to know the exact time.  Kairos means a specific place; a special moment in time.  Mark 1:15-16 contains a quote from Jesus, “The time has come, he said.  The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”  The context of the term repent is like making a u-turn away from sin, back toward God.  Jesus wants people to change their diets so you make reach the future God has for you, Jeremiah 29:11.  In view of this, I want to propose the Supersize Your Faith Challenge.

Beginning March 1st, 2013 thru March 30th, 2013, I invite you to take a leap of faith.  I am urging all who are interested to try 3 spiritual disciplines for 30 days.  The first is reading 3 chapters of the Bible per day, 90 total.  To remember what you read, keep a notebook of any Insight you receive, Question you have and Actions you can take daily.  I will post any question you may have and try to answer it or seek another scholar to satisfy your request.

Second, I want everyone who participates to create a separate prayer journal for the month of March.  I am asking everyone to spend 30 minutes per day total, writing down prayers and praying.  To stay on task, start with any Petition you want to ask God for, then move on to Repenting any sin of action or inaction, followed by words of Adoration, thanking God for completely forgiving you and end with Your own concerns.  This usually consists of personal, family, school, work, neighborhood and church requests.  Feel free to add whatever the Holy Spirit puts on your heart.

Finally, the last piece of this challenge involves getting plugged into a local church.  Depending upon the size and scope of a church, you may want to join a weekly Accountability, Bible Study, Prayer or Sunday School Group.  Besides the obvious, attending church, reach out to people who look lost, aren’t connected or appear to be having a bad day.  Like Philip in Acts 8, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes during the 30 days of March to become the hands, feet and body of Christ!  The time is now, kairos, to consider accepting the Supersize Challenge!

by Jay Mankus

Please notify me if you are willing to embrace this adventure.

On the Other Side

My first experience with a homeless person was early on in college.  I was enjoying my favorite breakfast at McDonald’s, 2 Sausage McMuffins with Egg and an orange juice.  As I sat facing the entrance, I noticed this person right away.  They didn’t have an I’m homeless shirt on, but from the wear and tear on their clothing, it was clear they didn’t have a place to spend the night.  Immediately, I lost my appetite for a second breakfast sandwich.  Not sure what to say, I gave this man my second McMuffin in passing as I left.
A few years later, I was working as a youth pastor at a large church in Columbus, Indiana.  Of the thousand plus congregation, several had 2 homes, one in town and the other at 1 of 5 nearby lakes in the country.  When I overheard a young man looking for a place to stay in our church lobby, I was heart broken to hear we were about to turn him away.  After a minute of contemplation, I rushed to find him in the church parking lot, offering the couch in my small apartment.  He stayed nearly 6 months, earning enough money working to pay for a bus ticket back home to Texas.
In January of this year, I found myself on the other side.  I didn’t become homeless, yet as I lost my job, people treated me as if I had become one.  Since I had one month to complete teaching before my position was  eliminated, I felt like a dead man walking on death row.  Several of my co-workers would ignore me in the hallways while others pretended to forget something, turning around quickly in the other direction.  During my last week, a few of these former co-workers, apologized, claiming they did not know what to say.  Yes, it was clear, I was on the other side, feeling like the homeless man I first encountered in college.  This is why the apostles in the book of Acts ministered to the homeless, poor and those in prison.  Go and do likewise!
by Jay Mankus
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