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Tag Archives: missionary journeys

The Day Christians Didn’t Want Church to End

From the age of 6 to 16, my parents started to vacation in the state of Maine.  After renting a small cottage on Thompson Lake for a few years, a retired couple invited my family to stay in their A-Frame and Lodge.  Subsequently, Maine became like a second home, spending several weeks there each August.  While my birthday parties were small, I went fishing, golfing or running every day.  Eventually, my parents found a church in Oxford, about a fifteen minute drive.  To my pleasant surprise, this church ran like a clock, ending in 39 minutes every Sunday.  As a teenager eager to fish or play golf, this priest kept my attention, always short and sweet.

When the congregation of the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, talking to them were urging them to continue in the grace of God, Acts 13:43.

During one of their missionary journeys, Paul and Barnabas experienced the exact opposite reaction.  While preaching to a crowded synagogue in the region of Antioch in Pisidia, the audience in attendance did not work this service to end.  After being dismissed, several Jews and converts to Judaism begged Paul and Barnabas to keep teaching.  These souls were spiritually hungry, eager to learn more about the grace of God.  This desire reminds me of a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals two key priorities.

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:33.

Spiritual hunger isn’t natural, but when individuals take time to pray, read the Bible or worship God, the Holy Spirit alters human priorities toward spiritual desires.  Although I can’t recall ever wanting a church service to keep going, there are other moments in time that I didn’t want to end.  Spiritual retreats, certain vacations and my Tentmaker Leadership Training were so life altering that I wanted to stay.  Anytime you have to go back to reality is hard, especially if you are not happy with where you are in life.  Nonetheless, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you may find yourself like the service in Acts 13:43, not wanting church to end.

by Jay Mankus

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Focus on the Opportunities Around You

One of the difficulties in life is learning to cope with, handle and overcome criticism.  Human nature tends to cause individuals to forget the positive aspects of life by dwelling on all the negative things you hear people say about you.  I have had situations at work where I receive a critical email just before I leave for the weekend.  No matter how hard I try, these words eat away at my soul, often ruining my days off.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

According to the apostle Paul, evil is displayed in various forms every day.  Sometimes this demonstrated through corruption, immorality, sarcasm and ungodly acts.  While these events are a harsh part of reality, you have to make the best of each day God gives you.  Therefore, at some point you have to cast your cares, concerns and worries at the feet of Jesus via prayer, Matthew 11:28.  Then and only then will you be able to focus on the opportunities around you.

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in, Galatians 6:9.

Using his missionary journeys as an example, the apostle Paul didn’t always have positive encounters with an unbelieving world.  Yet, Paul realized that one trip wasn’t enough as several cities were somewhat receptive, but needed more convincing.  Thus, if you are thinking about giving up, press on so that all your dedication, prayers and service will not be deserted in vain.  The more you begin to focus on the opportunities around you, the Holy Spirit will give you the resolve necessary to reap a spiritual harvest in the future.

by Jay Mankus

The Audition

When you are young, people often try new things to see if it’s something worth pursuing in the future.  Well, my acting career was a short blimp on the radar screen.  I tried out for my high school musical during my junior year.  Hoping to earn a part in West Side Story, I knew my chances were slim after I heard one of the judges whisper, “there’s always the stage crew.”  While this audition ended in disappointment, life is full of auditions.

And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, Romans 15:20.

Following his conversion to Christ, Saul from Tarsus radically changed his priorities.  After a time of soul searching, this former religious zealot auditioned to become an apostle.  Initially rejected by the 11 remaining disciples, Saul changed his name to Paul before teaming up with Barnabas for a few successful missionary journeys.  Paul’s ambition to share the good news about Jesus Christ won his skeptics over through an unswerving faith.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them, ” Matthew 25:19.

According to the Parable of the Talents, each day serves as an audition for heaven.  On Judgement Day, Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead.  This audition is based upon how often and well you maximize the gifts God has given you.  In modern terms, the Lord is searching for individuals who seize each day, making the most of each opportunity.  Although there will be days lost and squandered due to selfish desires, it’s essential to try and try again.  May this blog inspire you to be prepared for the audition called life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Sometimes…You Have to Do What You’ve Got To Do

When I entered 2012, I never imagined I would spend the days leading up to Christmas working 6 days a week on the night shift.  I drive to work in the dark, come home in the dark and sleep in the dark during the day, Sunday-Friday.  Thank God I’m not a vampire.  Yet, when you find out you will be losing your job on New Year’s day, sometimes you have to do what you’ve got to do.

This morning the Lord reminded me of the Kurt Warner story.  While trying to keep alive his dream to play professional football, he began bagging groceries for a store in Iowa during the day.  Since his Arena League Football salary didn’t pay for all of his bills, Kurt was forced to find another job.  Deep down inside, I believe the Lord is using this time of transition to motivate me to revise my script so that like Kurt, I’ll receive that call, email or letter informing me that a producer wants to make Express Yourself into a movie.  Until that day arrives, I need to do what I’ve got to do to provide for my family.

Sacrifices are a part of every day life.  This is something God revealed to the apostle Paul following his conversion on the road to Damascus mentioned in Acts 9.  Churches didn’t have enough money to pay for Paul’s missionary journeys.  Thus, Paul became a tentmaker, making and selling tents to supplement his income,  If Paul didn’t obtain a do what you’ve got to do attitude, he might not of ever visited half the areas he did.  Instead, Paul demonstrated Colossians 3:17 and 3:23 throughout his life.  Wherever you are or whatever you do, don’t view your current situation as the end of your story.  Rather, fight through any adversity by doing what you’ve got to do until the Lord leads you to exactly where you need to be!

by Jay Mankus

In case you don’t know the Kurt Warner story, he went from the AFL, to the St. Louis Rams, to the Superbowl, winning the game and MVP honors.  I’m sure the NFL network has youtubes available to watch.

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