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Bring Me Back

Sometimes life is like being placed into a giant maze without a map.  Whenever you make the wrong turn, its like one step forward, two steps back.  As soon as you hit a dead end, you have to go back to where you started, retracing your steps to find a way out.  If you don’t have any helper, guide or visible signs, this journey will last much longer than expected.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

The Bible serves as a road map to bring you back to God’s desired destination.  During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares life to a series of roads.  The most popular ones are like interstate highways, well defined and marked.  However, Jesus uses the analogy of a small path to illustrate the road to heaven.  Somebody has cleared the path, but if you stray off to the left or right, its easy to lose your way.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

The author of Hebrews refers to a great Hall of Faith, saints who have showed people the way to heaven.  Comparing life to a marathon, completing this race requires endurance and persistence.  When I get up each morning, I don’t always feel like doing the right thing.  There are plenty of days when I am exhausted, tired and worn down with little motivation to stay on track.  The group Evanescence sings about this state in their song Bring Me Back to Life.  This blog and song are dedicated to those who need to be brought back into God’s presence.

by Jay Mankus

Upset: Dejection or Motivation?

When individuals do not experience a desired outcome, a wave of emotions come forth. As reality sets in, the finality of failure can be unsettling. In the context of sports, when the better team on paper with more talent loses, this is considered an upset. When players walk off a court or field staring defeat in the face, there are two logical options: dejection or motivation.

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.

Like any grieving process, souls initially become dejected. Depression, despair and unhappiness are like bumps in the road toward healing. However, if you don’t experience a moral victory or taste success soon, hearts can become heavy. Glimmers of hope are like rays of sunshine to help people realize that they are going to make it through another storm.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

Anyone who hates to lose will find some sort of motivation to avoid a similar fate. After getting cut from his high school basketball team, Michael Jordan went on to earn a college scholarship, make the NBA and become one of the greatest players of all time. Instead of dwelling on self pity fueled by dejection, motivation can bring you out of desolation. Like Jesus said while talking to his disciples, “anything is possible with God.”

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Enthusiasm

While attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, I received a couple of 3 ring binder notebooks.  The training material for Tentmakers Youth Ministry was close to two thousand pages on content, taking seven weeks to complete.  This intense active learning leadership course required my full attention, living out the principles I was being taught at my host family.  Nightly assignments were designed to take you out of your comfort zone, forced to interact with strangers at church, local malls and neighborhoods to finetune your conversational skills.  During this two month stretch, I was infused with enthusiasm, driven and encouraged by like minded classmates.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick, Matthew 9:11-12.

Today, when enthusiasm fades, joy disappears and my energy to do anything is gone, I retreat to find something meaningful in life.  Recently, I came across a quote from this class.  “The excitement of a group never exceeds that of its leader.”  What this statement suggests is that leaders must learn to be self-sufficient, able to recharge their own excitement level.  Although people within various groups may encourage and spur you on, leaders need a daily infusion of enthusiasm.  Without this spiritual discipline, finding motivation to make it through each day, even leaders will lose their vigor for life.

Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness],” Matthew 9:13.

Jesus addresses this issue during a first century conversation.  Righteous zealots were concerned that Jesus and his disciples were compromising their faith by socializing with sinners.  However, Jesus uses logic to show these Pharisees the error in their thinking.  The healthy, individuals who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, have learned to be self-sufficient spiritually through a daily dose of prayer, reflection and worship.  The sick, people who have lost their way, need Christians to leave their comfort zones to expand the body of Christ.  Therefore, the more you experience an infusion of enthusiasm for the lost, God can use you to be a light in a dark world to turn to you for answers.  May this blog inspire you to use your daily time with God, praying and reading the Bible as an infusion of enthusiasm.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for the Kingdom of God

Deep inside of human beings, there exists a purpose and reason for getting out of bed each day.  This invisible drive may change from time to time depending upon your career, job or motivation level.  When this sense disappears, fades or becomes unclear, mustering up enough energy to make it through a day turns into a chore.  The Bible refers to this term as vision.  This perception guides believers through trials and tribulations, remaining focused on your ultimate goal.

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent and respected member of the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God—and he courageously dared to go in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus, Mark 15:42-43.

In the first century, there was a man who found himself torn between his occupation and purpose for living.  According to a couple of verses, Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin.  This ruling council was essentially the Jewish High Court, the supreme court for religious debates.  Yet, this position didn’t satisfy Joseph’s soul, longing for something more.  This spiritual thirst conceived a desire to wait for the kingdom of God.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body, John 19:38.

According to Luke 10, there was a secondary group of disciples chosen.  These seventy two individuals are not mentioned by name.  Yet, it appears Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple, perhaps working behind the scenes as one of these 72.  The crucifixion of Jesus served as a wake up call for Joseph, knocking on Pilate’s door while Jesus was still hanging from a cross.  Three hours earlier, at noon, the day turned to night.  This cosmic event is detailed by several first century historians.  This sign from God convinced Joseph that the kingdom of God was at hand.  May the Holy Spirit open your eyes today so that you too will respond to current events with a sense of urgency like Joseph of Arimathea.

by Jay Mankus

 

God’s Second Wind

The concept of a second wind derives from running.  This phenomenon refers to a distance running often in the context of a long road race or marathon.  When athletes hit the proverbial wall, breath, energy and motivation fades.  Scientists have come up with two logical explanations for this phenomena.  Some believe the second wind is a result of the body finding the proper balance of oxygen to counteract the buildup of lactic acid within muscles.  Others point to endorphin production as the source of the second wind.  Whatever the reason, I believe God also plays a role in this process.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; Isaiah 40:29-30.

A famous Old Testament prophet eludes to the second wind.  Using an illustration of an eagle nursing eaglets, this imagery help people visualize the invisible.  Despite the jubilation of any child, energy will disappear, crashing and falling in the form of an afternoon nap.  Instead of encouraging her young to walk, mother eagles prod them out of the nest to begin flying.  As eaglets grow tired or start falling toward the ground, adult eagles intervene to rescue their young from any harm.  In the same way, our heavenly father can and does use second winds to propel his children to complete and fulfill God’s will.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint, Isaiah 40:31.

Every work week in America, human beings rely on coffee, energy drinks or soda to get them through each day.  This dose of caffeine imitates a second wind.  As individuals begin to grow sleepy, these beverages serve as drugs to boost you through grueling, long or tiresome work days.  However, has anyone whispered up a pray to God for strength?  Are people relying on a higher source for power or has earthly substances become a replacement for God?  Perhaps, this blog will make you think twice the next time you go to grab some caffeine.  Maybe, you too will come to the conclusion that God is a major source for second winds.

by Jay Mankus

Manifestions of Thanksgiving

When I write about subjects or topics foreign to me, I try to reference experts in their fields.  Prior to becoming King of Israel, David was a harpist.  Biblical accounts reveal David was hired by King Saul.  According to the prophet Samuel, David was called into the king’s room whenever Saul was being oppressed by demonic spirits.  The sound was so pleasing to Saul’s ears that these spirits would disperse soothing the king’s soul.

Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Ephesians 5:19.

Today, music has the same affect on me, serving as motivation or simply uplifting my spirits.  Music is so powerful that some teenagers can’t concentrate, think or sleep without music playing in the background.  Yet, one of Lucifer’s nicknames is the angel of song.  Thus, everyone needs to be careful of the content played.  Any sort of subtle compromise can open the door for foreign spirits to enter your life.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord, Psalm 40:3.

To nullify this surprise attack, the apostle Paul encourages individuals to make melodies in their hearts to God.  Whether this is in the form of humming, singing or whistling, this practice results in a spirit of thanksgiving.  Although some may attempt to fake this practice, replaying positive lyrics within your minds can and will alter your mood.  Those who develop a mindset for songs of worship and praise will begin to display manifestations of thanksgiving.

by Jay Mankus

The Fight for the Family

I heard an interesting saying last weekend while listening to a sermon on television.  During a conversation about parenting at church an elder replied, “when children stop listening to parents, they begin following what adults practice.”  These habits develop, form and shape what young people become.  When adults become hypocritical in the eyes of their children, the ability to have a lasting influence is lost.  This is where the fight for your family often begins.

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows, Nehemiah 4:13.

In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Nehemiah received news that the walls surrounding Jerusalem were broken down, leaving the people of Judah in danger.  Serving as a cupbearer to the king, similar to the secret service today, Nehemiah got approval to take some time away to oversee the rebuilding of the wall.  While fasting and praying, Nehemiah received a vision that enabled the construction to be completed in less than two months.  This job was completed so fast due to motivation, fixing the portion of wall closest to your home.  This concept inspired families to take ownership of their portion of the wall, eager to fight for and protect their neighbors.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

In modern times, the fight for your family is becoming more complicated.  Recently, parents of Charlie Gard were not allowed to leave the country to receive experimental medical attention.  Subsequently, Charlie was left to die in the hospital.  Depending upon the laws of your country, state or city, government regulations in some cases are taking away the rights of parents.  Meanwhile, progressive political views are slowly eradicating Judeo Christian values from American culture.  Those who stand up for the Bible are regularly maligned, ridiculed and shunned by the mainstream media.  If Christian continue to cave and fold to public pressure, traditional families will be a thing of the past.  In view of this fear, apply the words of the apostle Paul by fighting the good fight of faith. in changing times to fight for your family.

by Jay Mankus

 

Getting Old

The optimist suggests age is merely a number, a state of mind.  Meanwhile, realists proclaim father time is undefeated as age will eventually catch up to you.  Wherever you may fall on this spectrum, the secret to getting old is maintaining a positive attitude.

You will come to the grave in full vigor, Like the stacking of grain in its season, Job 5:26.

Unfortunately, when I wake up with aches, bruises and pain, motivation is the last thing on my mind.  Anyone who has endured injuries and surgeries in the past may be in a rude awakening if you bend, stretch or turn in the wrong direction.  Although I broke two ribs a few years ago, I usually cringe once a week, a sign that I am getting old.

Let his flesh become fresher than in youth, Let him return to the days of his youthful vigor; Job 33:25.

The saying time is the great equalizer applies to growing old.  When you are young, the vigor of youth energizes adults.  Yet, at some point in life desire tends to fade.  Instead of delighting in the moment, struggling individuals have a tough time experiencing joy.  Therefore, as times continues to speed up the older you get, may the vigor of the Holy Spirit empower you to possess the heart of a child.

by Jay Mankus

As Is Verse Could Be; Should Be

During my time attending a youth ministry trade school known as Tentmakers, a specific mindset was ingrained within me.  Instead of being task oriented, the curriculum stressed the importance of developing vision.  Subsequently, individuals must be realistic with their current position, the As/Is before reaching a desired destination, the Could Be/Should Be.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

According to C.S. Lewis, success is the process of arriving.  Unfortunately, many people go through life thinking if I only achieve this position, salary or status, then happiness will be achieved.  This belief sets people up for failure, rarely taking time to celebrate the little accomplishments in life.  Those few who actually reach the summit, mountain top, may be unfulfilled pondering, “is this it?”

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

To insure disappointment does not come knocking at the door, perhaps it may be beneficial to begin thinking about life in terms of As/Is, Could Be/Should Be.  While any type of change will take time to adopt and conform to, motivation in 2017 is still fresh.  Therefore, don’t waste the opportunity to transform your ways in the New Year.  Enjoy the journey with vision as your guiding light and the Lord the wind beneath your wings.

by Jay Mankus

The Hunger of Laborers

Part of the DNA within a man is found through their occupation.  Unfortunately, many struggle to find a job which compliments and highlights their God given talents.  Subsequently, when Christmas and holiday parties arrive in a few weeks, these conversations are often unpleasant, a constant reminder of one’s frustration of being an outcast, not where you feel like God wants you to be.

The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on, Proverbs 16:26.

If and when you find that ideal situation, you don’t need any motivation to get out of bed.  Rather, every day drives and motivates individuals, excited to pursue that path they are on.  Perhaps, this is what Solomon means by the hunger of laborers.  This state drives workers, providing a sense of purpose until their job or task is complete.  Anyone who has never experienced or tasted this sensation yearns for the day you find the perfect match.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Colossians 3:17.

For those of us who are a work in progress, the apostle Paul provides sound advice.  While on the journey called life, every deed and word count.  Therefore, dedicate your life to the Lord.  If you lose your way, remember the words of Hosea 4:6.  Since people perish without vision, set short term goals, serving as markers to lead your way.   God willing, you will one day find the hunger of laborers.

by Jay Mankus

 

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