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Tag Archives: miracles

The Guardian

The term guardian has a rich history.  The Guardian is a former British daily newspaper which began in 1821 with its last publication in 1959.  Guardian is also a media group owned by the Scott Trust; created in 1936 to secure the financial and editorial independence of its paper.   While the definition refers to a defender, keeper or protector, the concept of a guardian has inspired several movies.  Most recent films include Guardians of the Galaxy 1, 2 and 3.  In 2018, Bryan Bailey wrote a film where Garret Jackson returns to his home town seven years after his parents’ death.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills [of Jerusalem]—From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth, Psalm 121:1-2.

The Bible eludes to the true guardian.  The Psalmist refers to God as the keeper of Israel.  While invisible to the human eye, the presence of the Creator of the heavens and earth can be felt daily.  Answered prayers, blessings and miracles are subtle signs that stimulate faith of those paying attention.  Meanwhile, guardian angels are busy behind the scenes, protecting God’s saints from the fiery arrows from the evil One, Ephesians 6:16.  Although human nature may persuade some to take credit for that which God has done, God’s invisible attributes can not be ignored, Romans 1:20.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways, Psalm 91:11.

One of the greatest examples of guardian angels is found in Psalm 91.  According to the author, God commands his angels to guard you in all your ways.  The question is, do only Christians get angels or do non-believers simply reject their guardian?  Those who adhere to John Calvin’s teaching would suggest that God does not waste any angel, making guardians angels limited.  However, Armenians believe that Jesus died for everyone.  Applying this theology to angels means that everyone, not just the elect have a guardian angel.  Regardless of your theological beliefs, the important thing to realize is the Guardian in heaven is waiting for souls to repent from their sins by turning to Jesus.  May the promise of Romans 5:2 encourage you to approach God’s throne of grace.

by Jay Mankus

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Making Peace with God

Hollywood usually falls short when attempting to accurately illustrate a biblical principle.  Yet, in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the evolution of Gary Sinise’ character helps viewers understand what is means to make peace with God.  Lieutentant Dan is born into a long lineage of military officers.  In his mind, Lieutentant Dan believed he was destined to die on a battlefield in Vietnam along with his battalion.  However, Forrest Gump’s act of bravery forced Lieutentant Dan to live the rest of his life on earth without legs.  As Forrest ran off to pursue other aspirations in life, Lieutentant Dan was bound to a wheel chair.  Bitterness grew within Lieutentant Dan’s heart until Gump became a shrimp boat captain.  Volunteering as Gump’s second mate, Lieutentant Dan wrestles with his purpose on earth.  During a major hurricane, Lieutentant Dan verbalizes his frustrations, welcoming the wrath of nature head on as if to seek a duel with God.  After this storm passes, Lieutentant Dan makes peace with God.

One of the criminals who had been hanged [on a cross beside Him] kept hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us [from death]!” 40 But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?-Luke 23:39-40

A first century doctor, no stranger to death, shares a story about Jesus just before his death on a cross.  For some reason, this encounter is glanced over by the other 3 gospel authors, skipped to cover other healings, miracles and stories.  In the passage below, Luke reveals steps toward making peace with God.  The first involves acknowledging your imperfections or as the apostle Paul once said, “falling short of God’s glory,” Romans 3:23.  Once individuals confess their sins to God, step two is geared toward securing an eternal destiny.  The disciple whom Jesus loved once proclaimed, “you don’t have to hope for an answer; you can know for certain,” 1 John 5:13.  On their death bed, hanging from a cross, one criminal went to hell and other was promised to be with Jesus in paradise, heaven.  This is one of the best biblical examples of making peace with God.

We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 Jesus said to him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” Luke 23:41-43.

Whenever I attend a funeral, enter an emergency room or take off in an airplane, making peace with God is brought to the forefront.  Instead of reading a book or watching a movie, the fragility of life flashes through my mind.  Sadly, most people don’t consider making peace with God until its too late.  As my blood pressure sky rocketed yesterday while sitting in preop, I was powerless, unable to control my breathing.  When my eye surgery was cancelled, too dangerous to perform due to my elevated blood pressure, my perspective on life changed like Lieutentant Dan in Forrest Gump.  Maybe I won’t be the person I hoped for or be able to achieve the dreams that I aspire, but at some point I have to make peace with God.  I guess it’s time to surrender my goals by yielding to God’s ultimate plan for my life on earth.  Although I still don’t know exactly what that is, my recent health scare has provided me the opportunity to make peace with God where I am.

by Jay Mankus

Greatness Starts at the Bottom

Michael J. Fox starred in the 1987 film the Secret to My Success.  Fox plays Brantley Foster, a college graduate who gets laid off shortly after moving to New York City.  The premise of this movie is based upon the American Dream, starting from the very bottom and moving your way up through a company gradually to the top.  Like most college grads today, Fox found himself overqualified for most positions, but underqualified for the high paying positions.  While fictional in nature, Fox uses a worldly approach to get to the top.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” – Matthew 18:1

During a long walk between towns, the disciples lagged well behind Jesus.  At the back of a long caravan, the disciples began a heated debate on who was the greatest disciple.  While the author fail to address the content of this argument, below are a few likely positions that were taken.  Often brash, Peter begins by saying, “well Jesus did proclaim I am the petra, the rock upon which God will build his church on earth.”  John interrupts, “wait a minute, Jesus also said I am the one whom  he loves the most.”  James, brother of John, jumps into the fray “that’s nice boys, but Jesus called me first.”  When the disciples finally caught up, Jesus addresses this issue.

He called a little child and set him before them, and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 18:2-3.

The passage above is one of two main passages about the being the greatest in heaven.  Mark 9:35-37 builds upon this concept, suggesting that whoever wants to be the greatest must be a servant to all.  One thing you can say about Jesus is he practiced what he preached.  Despite healing and performing miracles daily, Jesus encouraged these people keep quiet, remaining humble throughout his earthly life.  If you combine these passages, there are two traits to consider.  First, maintain the innocence of a child by emulating your heavenly father.  Second, put the needs and wants of others before yourself.  If you want to be great on earth, start today by serving those in your spheres of influence.

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

That’s Impossible

It’s a Miracle debuted on Pax Television in 1998.  This sixty minute documentary examined true stories that on the surface appeared to be impossible.  However, as eyewitnesses recounted these events, it was clear that angels, divine intervention and the power of prayer gave birth to a miracle.  This program that ran for six seasons reminding me that with God, anything is possible.

Now as He approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her [in the funeral procession]. 13 When the Lord saw her, He felt [great] compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep,” Luke 7:12-13.

When I first read the passage above years ago, I didn’t conceptualize the magnitude of what Jesus was able to do.  I’ve attended several funerals where the victim died unexpectedly, long before they should have.  As a bystander, Jesus is moved by the Holy Spirit, stopping what he was doing to approach the casket.  When the pallbearer’s stopped, Jesus touched the bier and spoke life into this dead man.  What Jesus did defies logic and medical science, a resurrection.

And He came up and touched the bier [on which the body rested], and the pallbearers stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise [from death]!”15 The man who was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother, Luke 7:14-15.

In 2015, Project Afterlife took a closer look at near death experiences.  This Destination America series explored cases of individuals presumed dead by doctors, but miraculously awoke, given a mulligan, a new lease on life.  According to reports from missionaries in Africa, resurrections aren’t limited to the Bible.  According to eyewitnesses, persistent prayers refused to believe that their loved ones have passed on.  Like the example from the film Faith Like Potatoes, the impossible is occurring as the pronounced dead are being raised back to life.

by Jay Mankus

God Uses What Little We Have to Demonstrate How Great He Is

Whenever a team receives awards, praise and recognition, there is a temptation for the best athletes/players to take most of the credit.  Yet, God uses a series of events, methods and situations to prevent success from going to your head.  At the height of the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, thousands of people came to faith in Christ.  Instead of saying, “look at how great I am,” Paul became inflicted with a painful physical ailment.  This condition forced Paul to rely on the Lord for strength.  God used what little energy Paul possessed to demonstrate how great the Lord can work in spite of  our weaknesses.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! – 2 Corinthians 12:7

While Jews lived as slaves for nearly 400 years within Egypt, God called one man to confront their leader.  The only problem is that this man, Moses, suffered from a severe speech impediment.  In other words, Moses stuttered regularly, especially when he was nervous.  Despite this disability, God wanted Moses to be the one to lead Israel’s exodus out of Egypt.  Initially, God gave Moses a safety blanket, his brother Aaron to speak for him.  However, at some point the Holy Spirit empowered Moses to have the courage and words to stand up to Pharaoh.  Throughout this ordeal. Moses learned that God can use a faithful stutterer to do things that was once unimaginable for someone with this condition.

Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

As I look back on my own life, I was never a good student until high school.  I endured a learning disability which led to a fifth grade reading level while in tenth grade.  When you add  this to my own speech impediment, regularly stammering words, the odds were against me.  Yet, in my many weaknesses, Christ has become a strong influence in my life.  Although I am no longer a high school teacher, my former fear of speaking in public has vanished.  Sure, I probably could have done more with my life.  Nonetheless, God uses what little you and I have to demonstrate how great God is.

by Jay Mankus

The Shell Game

The Shell Game is symbolic of three stages in life: early childhood development, reaching your prime and going through a mid-life crisis.  As a child, a lack of confidence, fear and insecurities cause many young people to hide who they really are.  When afraid, frightened or threatened, most turtles seek shelter under their shell, disappearing and hiding underneath until its safe to come out.  Likewise, human beings possess a similar defense mechanism, withdrawing from society until assurance, confidence and hope is restored.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

In the early years, stuttering prevented me from ever expressing myself clearly as a child.  Being made fun of, mocked and teased was too much to endure.  These attacks against what I could not control led me to live a private life until my teenage years, participating in solitary play, imagining what it would be like for me to talk without stuttering.  After my dad was transferred from New Jersey to Delaware, a neighborhood of kids helped me come out of my proverbial shell.  Friends like Jeanette, Steven and Richie overlooked my stuttering, seeing a potential that no one else had prior.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

By the beginning of my senior year of high school, my faith in Christ, amazing friends and an unquenchable fire for life transformed me.  This one year served as a catalyst to do things I never imagined possible.  Despite periods of stammering, God inspired me to become a youth pastor, high school teacher and invest the prime of my life coaching, mentoring and sharing my faith with others.  During this fifteen year period, I was filled with unswerving faith that allowed me to experience the abundant life, witness miracles and experience a spiritual awakening within Columbus, Indiana.  Unfortunately, at some point in the last fifteen years, I have reverted back to playing the shell game, trying to hide the person that I have become.

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.

At some point in life, whether you call it a mid-life crisis or the painful reality that you’re not the same person that you use to be, this fact is hard to swallow.  Recently, I have tried to go back in time, to see where I went wrong.  When you don’t have the energy, drive or passion anymore, its hard to make progress or fix the flaws that are obviously present in my life.  What makes matters worse is seeing a shell of the person that you used to be and feel powerless to alter, change or repair the damage done.  If you reach this stage in life like me, Jesus is the only one who can mend your pain.  While restoration is a long process with bumps along the way, Jesus is like Med-Express, available at any time you need medical and spiritual attention.  As this endless shell games presses on, reach out to Jesus, who will hold your hand through the storms of life.  May this blog comfort your soul as you endure the good, the bad and the ugly in the shell game called life.

by Jay Mankus

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