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Tag Archives: personal relationship with God

When Something is Missing

When I was younger, I wasn’t much of a student. Easily bored while sitting in class, I relied on gym class and sports to get me through each day. When I became old enough for youth group, I applied a similar strategy. The thought of hanging out with people my own age each Sunday night enabled me to endure an hour long church service. To me youth group was like a rite of passage, a weekly event that I never wanted to miss.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:20.

After becoming a youth director at a Methodist church in the country following my graduation from college, I made the assumption that teenagers would just show up like I did. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as I struggled to get a half dozen teens to come out each week. About a month into my tenure, I realized that something was missing. Students were being forced to get up early by their parents to attend Sunday School prior to the worship service. Thus, many youths developed the mindset, “well, I went to Sunday School, that should suffice.”

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation, Romans 10:9-10.

Whenever you are forced to do something, there is a degree of resentment that may enter your soul. If you just attend church or youth group as a favor to friends or parents, faith becomes nothing more than a religious exercise. What is missing in the lives of many church goers is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Whenever someone takes ownership of their faith, you turn the corner spiritually. Instead of dreading church, awakened souls take ownership of their faith when the void in human hearts is replaced by Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Great Escape

Time after time, the gospel of John records Jesus escaping from danger, often using the phrase, “the time had not yet come.”  Disappointed by the spiritual blindness of religious leaders, Jesus lays into them starting in John 9:40, continuing through John 10:38.  Since God expects more from leaders, Jesus didn’t sugarcoat his words, being painfully honest.

Instead of adhering to Jesus’ warning, these Jews wanted to stone him according to John 10:31.  Unfortunately, their minds and hearts were steeped in tradition and religion, not a personal relationship with God.  Thus, with each word, the anger of the Pharisees in attendance stirred, reaching a melting point.  Out of frustration, this crowd of Jews tried to seize Jesus, John 10:39, but were unsuccessful.

In life, each individual faces their own dilemmas.  The poor seek to escape debt, the rich struggle to overcome the grasp of greed and the lonely attempt to outrun depression.  Jesus’ teaching was not easy, like the disciples’ own words in Matthew 19:25.  Yet, with God, Matthew 19:26 and through Christ, Philippians 4:13, all things are possible.  To endure the great escape from sin alone would be foolish.  Therefore, to insure your success, place your trust in Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Hebrews 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

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