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Tag Archives: Minnesota

Removing the I Can’t From Your Vocabulary

While attending a youth ministry trade school in Minnesota, I was first introduced to the term “red light thinking.”  Growing up everyone hears the words I can’t.  This may be spoken by adults, siblings or teachers.  Whom ever spouts out this expression is suggesting that you can’t accomplish what you hope for, think about and want.  Anyone who begins to believe this will be limited in what you accomplish in life.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

To combat red think thinking I was trained to practice a simple exercise.  After you have taken an assessment of a dilemma, problem or situation, spend any where between five to fifteen minutes to write down as many possible solutions as possible.  This time involves a collection of ideas without rejection, known as green light thinking.  When every angle is considered, then you can go back and scrutinize the unrealistic.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

The older I become, the crueler and harsher critics get.  Subsequently, the young, adolescents and adults are bombarded with daily chants of you can’t.  Debbie downers and negative Norman’s pound away dramatically impacting self-esteem.  Instead of facing a world full of challenges with hope, individuals struggle to believe in their dreams.  If this mindset is not stopped, spirits of doubt will eliminate the American dream.  May prayer, a supporting church and voices of optimism propel the hopeless toward a sense of with God I can.

by Jay Mankus

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Reactions Without Responsibility

Any parent who loses a child to a drunk driver, victim of a crime or family member of a relative fatally shot wants to see justice prevail.  In the heat of the moment, especially after receiving this bad news, emotions can cause harsh reactions.  Yet, in America people are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty.  Sure, it would be nice if the court systems could speed up this process.  However, until individuals have their day in court, its irresponsible to incite violence, rush to judgment or use social media to encourage others to seek revenge.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:4

In the hours following the unfortunate shooting deaths of African Americans by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, reactions in the media were fast and furious.  Apparently, some people took black leaders, politicians and twitter posts literally.  Subsequently, now there are six dead police officers in 2 states, several more wounded and public servants have been betrayed by the citizens they are paid to protect.  The response by celebrities to the initial two deaths is a clear indication that reactions have consequences.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:5.

America has come to a cross roads, on the verge of a racial divide.  The leadership and message provided by Dr. Martin Luther King has either been forgotten or is absent from this current generation.  In view of this dire situation, its time for personal responsibility, realizing that everyone is imperfect.  During his sermon on the Mount Jesus encouraged followers to get their own lives in order before criticizing or judging other people.  The same truth applies to Americans today.  Therefore, the next time you have an urge to lash out, over react or post complaints on social media, remember these words of Jesus.  If put into practice, God’s Word can begin to transform lives one soul at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Cures for the Cold

As a former resident of the Twin Cities during the winter, even if it was for just 3 months, I know the bone chilling effects of cold weather.  Each evening, I ran 3-5 miles when thermometers dipped below zero.  On a night in February, it was close to -20 without the wind chill as I started my jog.  A couple of blocks down the road, my hair grew icicles.  After a quarter mile, I felt my body beginning to shut down.  Without a thought, I made a quick u-turn to head for home.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19.

One of the most obvious cures for the cold is the creation of shopping malls.  Beside Woodfield Mall in Chicago, nothing compares to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Built on the old site of Metropolitan Stadium, former home to the Vikings of the NFL and Twins of MLB, this mall contains an amusement park, movie cinema and 400 stores.  In this wasn’t enough, an expansion project looks to add an ice rink, dinner theater, hotels and waterpark.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me, Psalm 51:10.

However, there is another cure for the cold that is often overlooked.  This one focuses on warming up a cold and weary heart.  Sure, a hot cup of chocolate, warm fire or steaming bath will provide a temporary fix.  Yet, what can you do to re-energize your soul?  When I come inside to a numb heart, the best remedy I can recommend is a quiet time with God.   Opening the Bible, you will find nourishing words of encouragement.  May the promises within get you through the dreary months of winter.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord, Psalm 112:7.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Is Jesus Missing?

I was watching a chick flick with my wife earlier in the day when I came across a catchy punch line.  Viewing “A New Town” on the Hallmark Channel, an ambitious woman seeking to become a CEO, volunteers to oversee her companies new acquisition in New Alm, Minnesota.  Beside the culture shock of leaving the city of Miami for a small northern town, her liberal beliefs clash with the religion of rural America.  When asked if she had found Jesus, her response, “I didn’t know he was missing,” didn’t go over so well.

In professional sports, a similar line is often used to explain athletes who have turned their lives around following battles with alcohol, drugs and the law.  Finding God, Jesus or religion is a common theme of the source behind these transformations.  However, the success rate is not 100% as many are unable to completely break free from bad habits of their past.  While victims of sin tend to blame God for their travails, Jesus isn’t the one missing, we are.

A relationship with Jesus is no different than any other thing that you want in life, you get what you put into it.  Matthew 16:24-26 illustrates this concept like a blue print for how to find Jesus.  Unfortunately, most people follow the path of the actress in A New Town, forfeiting their soul on the way to the top of materialism.  The next time you feel abandoned by God, don’t be deceived by the father of lies, John 8:44.  Rather, reflect upon Jesus’ words in the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33 so that the blessings of God will convince the world that Jesus is alive.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Midnight Stroll

One of my most memorable New Year’s Eve celebrations occurred in 1992.  In the middle of a mild Winter, temperatures in Delaware soared above 70 by midday.  Instead of your typical indoor festivities, I spent most of the day and evening outside.  Spending my last New Year’s in Newark before moving to the mid-west with friends from Chrysalis and college, I had ample time to say goodbye.  After watching the ball drop, commencing 1993, a half dozen people or so took a midnight stroll.

The temperature was 62 degrees at 12:15 am, perfect to walk, star gaze and reminisce about the special times I encountered while growing up in Delaware.  I don’t recall how many miles this stroll involved, but nearly 3 hours later the temperature dropped to 26 degrees as an arctic cold front blew through, causing the pace to pick up during the last mile just to stay warm.  This was one of those nights where time seemed to stand still allowing me to soak in the memories.  Despite the sadness, I knew God was leading me to a better place, preparing me through a trade school in Minnesota to become a polished leader.

Looking back, its hard to believe 21 years have passed.  Now as a parent, strolls become like wind sprints, stopping and starting, trying to keep up with busy schedules of 3 children.  Midnight strolls would be nice if I didn’t go to sleep shortly after eating dinner on some work days.  Thus, I do my best to be balanced, while trying to survive the difficulties of life.  On this special night, may God help you to slow down enough to practice Psalm 46:10.  The more you practice this biblical principle, the Holy Spirit can provide joy and peace for you in 2014.  Have a memorable, but safe New Year’s Eve!

by Jay Mankus

A Revelation of Worship

Critics of the Bible have made numerous arguments stating their case against biblical accuracy.  One of the strongest points skeptics have made uses the words of the Scripture to enhance their position, Romans 3:9-12.  If mankind is indeed fallen, how can imperfect people become vessels of holiness.  Well, its quite possible that authors of God’s Word may have received revelations of worship.

According to Exodus 24:12-18, the Lord called Moses to go up into the mountains and stay for 40 days and 40 nights.  Despite any hidden motives or prideful moments, it was likely during this period that Moses recorded the first 3 books of the Bible, taking notes as the Lord spoke.  However, half of his job was already done, receiving stone tablets with commands, laws and further instructions for Israel.  Whenever someone meets God in a quiet place, a divine connection opens the door spiritual intervention and perhaps modern revelations of worship.

One of the places on earth where I have experienced God’s presence was at a wilderness camp in Minnesota, during the heart of winter.  In the final days of Tentmaker’s Youth Ministry Trade School, there was a mandatory 24 hours of silence.  Instead of interacting with future graduates, our final assignment was to engage the Lord through prayer, reflection and Bible Study.  This was a lonely time as I realized that my new friends would soon be spread out across the country, taking what they had learned to a new church and community.

A few months later, I spent a semester teaching at a boarding school in the Monongahela National Forest.  Known as the High Scope Institute for Ideas, this school focused on career underachievers who endured difficult living conditions.  Many of these 13-15 year olds lived in poverty with dysfunctional families.  If this wasn’t enough, several girls had already given birth to children while most boys became first time dads by age 13.  Despite these distractions, the mountain provided a special refuge.

During an activity called 20/20, students were forced to spend 20 minutes a day in solitude either journaling, reading or reflecting on life.  Although some slept, I began to write poetry without any formal background.  Soon songs began to play in my head and before I knew it, I received a revelation of worship called a Simple Confession.  The Holy Spirit gave me 12 songs which I later made into an album.  If a spirit of poetry and song writing can fall upon me just because I was still once a day; then I believe its probable that the Bible is truly the inspired words of God, given to men and women through a still small voice.  Practice Psalm 46:1o and maybe you too many receive a revelation of worship.

by Jay Mankus

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