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Who or What is Your Inspiration?

As a former professional athlete, part of my DNA is to find a way to improve daily. Sometimes this occurs naturally through trial and error, learning from the mistakes I make in life. While I rarely play video games anymore, I treat each day at work like a game, attempting to earn a new high score. This mentality was first conceived in me at a Youth Ministry Trade School that I attended in Minnesota back in 1993.

 [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving). 21 For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so—it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

One of the methods Tentmakers incorporated was called “In What Ways Can We.” Using a tool called Green Light Thinking, students were given a few minutes to write down whatever came to your mind. Following this exercise, you would re-evaluate your list by adopting the best and most practical solutions. Since this 7-week training program transformed my life, this is who I’ve become, using writing as my ministry as I work to provide for my family.

I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:12-13.

The term Tentmakers comes from the apostle Paul who became a tentmaker to pay for his mission trips in the first century. While some churches did support Paul and his ministry team, making tents allowed Paul to follow God’s will for his life. Although I’d love to write full time as a screen writer or streaming service, my calling from God and inspiration is to share my faith through this blog, Express Yourself 4 Him.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 258: Devil

Anne Wilson made her debut as a Christian artist in 2021. Wilson’s version of “My Jesus” reached number one on Billboard ‘s Hot Christian Songs chart. Perhaps Anne’s timing was ideal like the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:4. Regardless of the reason for Anne’s success, I was impressed my Wilson’s most recent single Devil.

Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [[a]loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:1-4.

When I heard this song on K-Love Radio a few weeks, I was immediately reminded of the passage above. After fasting for 40 days to prepare Jesus for his earthly ministry, the Devil tried to catch Him off guard. Jesus was tempted physically, mentally, and spiritually before telling the Devil to get lost. The lyrics of Devil reference the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58. May Anne’s song bring you comfort the next time you are tempted.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 238: There’s Gotta Be More To Life

Today’s song comes from one of five children of Christian missionaries. Stacie Orrico’s family moved to Denver, Colorado from Seattle, Washington where she was born. This new location gave Stacie her first chance to display a gifted voice at the Estes Park Christian Artist Seminar. After receiving first place in the vocalist category, Stacie realized she had the talent to pursue her own ministry.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:10.

The title of Stacie’s song There’s Gotta Be More to Life reminds me of Steven Curtis Chapman’s classic tune More to This Life. While the genres are completely different, the message is the same. Perhaps, Stacie was struggling with the old age question, “this sounds too good to be true,” Romans 6:23. May the lyrics and vibe of More to Life struck a chord with your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Unsullied Minds

The United Negro College Fund recognized in 1972 that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Just as an athlete stretches and trains to improve, minds need to be challenged and pushed daily to learn. One of Jesus’ disciples made it his objective to stir up unsullied minds. This was accomplished by reminding first century Christians of Jesus’ teaching over the course of his earthly ministry. Yet, if idleness sets in, minds will forget the biblical truths in the Bible.

Beloved, I am now writing you this second letter. In [both of] them I have stirred up your unsullied (sincere) mind by way of remembrance, That you should recall the predictions of the holy (consecrated, dedicated) prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [given] through your apostles (His special messengers), 2 Peter 3:1-2.

From time to time, I’ll stay up way past midnight writing until inspiration fades and words disappear. If I try to press on, it’s not uncommon to hit a wall mentally. When your body and mind grow tired, recalling important details that you want to communicate come to a grinding halt. There are 253 different passages in the Bible to call readers to remember a specific message of the past. This large number of reminders suggests that human minds are forgetful.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. The only way to maintain sincere and unsullied minds is by participating in a spiritual exercise. Like a form of mediation, dwelling on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:6-8, provides spiritual clarity. When you set your heart and mind on things above, your perspective on life and this world will change. If you want to stay focused, daily Bible Study and prayer will result in unsullied minds.

by Jay Mankus

What Love Can Do for You

From a musical point of view, the Beatles were one of the most influential bands of all time. Despite being from England, the sound of the Beatles was embraced by Americans and idolized as their popularity grew. From a spiritual perspective, there isn’t much that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and I agree upon. However, there was one project released as a non-album single in July 1967 that I believe in. The title “All You Need is You” said all you need to say.

For I have derived great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints [who are your fellow Christians] have been cheered and refreshed through you, [my] brother. Therefore, though I have abundant boldness in Christ to charge you to do what is fitting and required and your duty to do, Philemon 1:7-8.

One of the apostle Paul’s first century letters highlight what love can do for your life. Paul is reminded by comfort, encouragement and joy derived from the love of Jesus poured out upon him from fellow believers. When the hearts of a saint are full of the Holy Spirit, love bubbles over as a form of spiritual refreshment. Paul’s advice to one of the servants on his ministry team is to do what it fitting and required as a child of God.

Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith ([b]your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength! 14 Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us), 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

Paul takes a different direction in a letter to the Church at Corinth. Love doesn’t come naturally. Rather, you need to be alert daily, regularly on your guard and stand firm in your faith. As Christians maintain their conviction and devotion for God, love can keep you going even when you don’t have the strength to carry on. According to Paul, love should be your motivation for everything you do, loving others as Christ loved the church.

by Jay Mankus

What is God Waiting for You to Do?

I’ve never been at great student. Assignments that others finished in class took me twice as long to complete. Whether this was due to a lack of concentration or day dreaming, I never really developed a sense of urgency when it came to school. While several of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do following graduation, I changed my major three times before my junior year of college. Taking the 5 year plan, I narrowed down my future to becoming a golf course architect or youth pastor.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

During a dual internship with golf during the day and ministry at night and on the weekends, God was waiting for me to make a decision. Since I was too blunt to become a successful architect, I followed my heart into the ministry. However, indecision caused me to bounce around from position to position: Summer Workcamp Coordinator, Youth Director, Boarding School Counselor and Teacher. Being curious isn’t bad, but at some point God wanted me to become stable, staying in one place long enough to see the fruits of my labor.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you, Philippians 1:6.

Over the past 2 decades, I’ve stayed in two places for 18 years. While I’m no longer in the ministry, this blog has to suffice for now until I figure out what God wants me to do next. Of course freewill gives me the option to do whatever I want. Yet, I’ve learned that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, brings me joy that surpasses all understanding. Therefore, as I linger for now, unsure of my next assignment, I pray that I have the faith to walk through this door when it opens.

by Jay Mankus

When Did Your Ministry Begin?

During his Sunday broadcast on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Jentezen Franklin told stories of visiting his grandfather as child. Growing up in a family of musicians and preachers enabled Jentezen to develop ministry skills prior to becoming a teenager. These experiences sowed a desire within Jentezen to become a pastor. Looking back, this is where his ministry was conceived. Shortly after listening to this sermon, I received a text informing me that my spiritual mentor Ken Horne had passed away. This news led me to ponder, when and where did my ministry begin.

And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

As an individual with an addictive personality, when I accepted Jesus into my heart in December of my sophomore year, it taken take long for me to become a Jesus freak. This spiritual pursuit began attending Fellowship of Christian Athlete huddle at Concord High, led by my swim coach Ken Horne. Afraid of stuttering, I spent the next year listening, absorbing everything that I heard. From here I started attending a Methodist youth group, experienced my first Lay Witness Mission revival weekend and went on as many Christians retreats as possible. Several of these moments involved Ken, delegating to me various leaderships roles as my faith grew.

Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent (to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins), Acts 17:30.

While in college, Ken gave me my first opportunity to preach. This weekend in Friendship, Maryland was like having all the stars align in my favor. Beside having an amazing time and connecting with several young people, my stuttering disappeared. Whenever I opened my mouth, the Holy Spirit spoke through me as a vessel for God. My friend Maureen had passed away the previous year from cancer so the message God put on my heart was “It’s Time to Stop Playing Games by Getting Right with God.” At the end of my message I played the song Feel the Nails by Ray Boltz. Before the song concluded, several members of this church ran to the altar. This one event in 1990 cemented my calling and it was here where my ministry began.

by Jay Mankus

Evicted

After retiring from his Lutheran church, a pastor and his wife felt called to begin a ministry for seniors, for people their own age.  The most logical place to start was a local retirement home.  Ken and Liv Hauge reside at the Evergreens, a senior living community in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  A suburb of Washington D.C., this area has strict regulations, something the Hauge’s found out when they wanted to start a Bible Study.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion, Proverbs 28:1.

According to the civic association, the Hauge’s were required to call their meeting a book club.  Initially, they agreed even though this event was in fact a Bible Study.  To avoid this rigid restriction, this couple decided to move the group to their own apartment.  When word got out that the Hauge’s were hosting a Bible Study, they received a letter from their residential complex stating “stop holding Bible studies or face eviction.”  Why you may ask?  The apartment complex defines a Bible Study as a business which is illegal in a private residential unit.

Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance, Acts 28:31.

The Hauge’s have turned to a lawyer to fight this legal battle.  I haven’t heard an update on this battle for religious freedom, but this case is an eye opening for the kind of persecution active Christians may face in the future.  The apostles endured similar threats during the first century.  Paul was arrested, beaten and nearly killed a couple times during his ministry trips throughout the Mediterranean.  Despite these trying times, Luke implores believers in Jesus to boldly proclaim the kingdom of God whatever the cost, even if it means eviction.

by Jay Mankus

Faith Without the Buts

The word “but” is one of 7 coordinating conjunctions in the English language.  This conjunction introduces a clause or phrase contrasting it with what has already been mentioned.  But indicates the impossibility of anything other than what is being stated.  When an individual or writer opts to place a but in their sentence, this de-emphasizes the previous statement.  Thus, if you want a faith that is genuine, excuses highlighted by the term but need to be eliminated.

But He said this to test Philip, because He knew what He was about to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii (200 days’ wages) worth of bread is not enough for each one to receive even a little,” John 6:6-7.

During his three year earthly ministry, Jesus wanted to see his disciples progress, grow in their faith.  From time to time, Jesus asked questions to assess their degree of faith.  In the passage above, Jesus already made up his mind, to feed thousands of followers in the crowd.  However, Jesus is curious about how his disciples will respond to his request.  Philip took an inventory of the crowd, finding a boy with food, serving as a good starting point.  Unfortunately, Philip’s faith was overshadowed in the passage below with the one word, but.

 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” – John 6:8-9

If only Philip had the discipline to stop his mind from doubting God’s power.  Yet, when push comes to shove, human minds struggle to believe in miracles.  When conditions defy logic or science, its hard to imagine that faith can move physical mountains, Matthew 21:20-22.  Nonetheless, if disciples witnessed healings by Jesus every day, but shouldn’t have entered their minds.  Therefore, if you want a faith without the buts, cling to God’s Word so that you are regularly reminded by what Jesus has done in the past and what God has the ability to do in your future .

by Jay Mankus

Enduring a Spiritual Identity Crisis

If you enjoy or follow sports, success is defined by winning and losing.  Despite how many victories a team earns over the course of a season, if a championship is not won, fans lose hope.  In the meantime, coaches, players and stars who endure humiliating loses in the playoffs are labeled as chokers, overrated and trashed throughout social media.  Those who seek to self identify themselves using these standards will experience disappointment, failure and shame unless titles are won.  Thus, its not uncommon for people to go through some sort of identity crisis.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Non-athletes tend to use a different set of standards.  Depending upon your career choice, degrees earned and annual salary, value is placed upon your life.  Intelligence, social status and wisdom add or subtract to how the world views your importance.  Anyone called into the ministry, social work or has a low paying jobs are looked down upon by the upper class.  If you let this bother you, then you may be tempted to adopt worldly standards.  The longer you allow yourself to be defined by rich or poor, wins or losses and success or failure, the more likely you will go through a spiritual identity crisis.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening], 1 Corinthians 13:5-7.

When I moved to Chicago after getting married, living among millionaire neighbors, I tried to fit in initially.  Unfortunately, the best job I could find was making thirty thousand dollars a year, chump change to everyone around me.  Attending Willow Creek Community Church on Wednesday nights helped alter my perspective.  As I began to hear, read and meditate upon God’s standards in the Bible, my soul was comforted by the fact God keeps no records of wrong.  Therefore, if you ever feel like your life doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards, use biblical principals to overcome any spiritual identity crisis that you may endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

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