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Tag Archives: power

Acts 29

The title of today’s blog is a trick question. While I was a young Christian in college listening to a motivational speaker, he asked the audience to open their Bibles and turn to Acts 29. Most of the room was flipping through the beginning of the New Testament, unable to find this page or chapter. This search continued for several minutes until one bold individual spoke out, “there is no chapter 29, Acts only has 28 chapters.”

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

This pop quiz left many in the room embarrassed. As the speaker began his lesson, this opening question served two purposes. First, this man urged believers to become better students of God’s Word. Second, to view life in terms of an unfinished chapter of the Bible where God uses modern Christians to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:8. This 60 minute speech made a long lasting impact on my life, instilling a desire to ascertain God’s will for my own life, Romans 12:1-2.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:2.

To prepare for today’s blog, I did a search for Acts 29 for fun to see what I would find. To my surprise, Acts 29 is a diverse, global family of church planters who seek to carry on the work of the apostle Paul. This ministry is characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation as churches are planted throughout the world. One of my searches located beliefs and theories that Acts 29 is simply missing. Since Acts 28 does not reveal the outcome of Paul’s trial in Rome, common sense suggests there must be another chapter. Whatever the reason for this abrupt ending, may this blog inspire you to seize each day with a renewed desire to fulfill the great commission.

by Jay Mankus

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Finding Answers in a Loss

At the end of last year, my daughter and I joined a volleyball league. Every Friday night until April, I am able to compete for an hour. While the initial reason for participating was to allow my daughter to sharpen her skills during the offseason, I find myself outclassed by much younger and athletic individuals. The ultimate purpose of any sport is to determine who is the best. Thus, when you lose more than you win, human nature begins to search for answers to explain why your team lost.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.,” Matthew 5:4.

In her 2017 song Can’t Live Without, Hollyn sings about someone who doesn’t know what they are chasing after. Using the context of a person driving in rush hour, sometimes you are so busy that lose sight of where you are actually going. Near the end of the lyrics, there is a transition which struck a nerve, ” Some people gotta lose it all to find out what they really want.” Progress, success and victory doesn’t require any need for reflection as positive momentum breeds confidence. Yet, embarrassment, failure and losing leads souls to ponder why.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me., 2 Corinthians 12:9

As a former professional athlete, I hate to lose, even if it’s playing a board game with my family at home. However, my desire to win takes joy away from competing. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states if you get rid of competition, you eliminate pride. Thus, if you take your focus off of winning and turn it toward savoring the opportunity, it doesn’t matter what the final outcome or scoreboard reads. Thanks to Hollyn’s song, I am now able to see the big picture, a father who is able to spend quality time with his daughter. While our team’s record may be mediocre, I have found an answer in a loss.

by Jay Mankus

Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

When You Come Up One Shot Short

Unlike most sports, golf doesn’t use a running clock with a set number of periods or quarters.  Rather, tournaments consist of a defined number of holes depending upon the degree of competition.  For the past sixteen years I have spent the two days after Memorial Day watching the Delaware High School State Golf Tournament.  My first ten years were spent as a head coach, the last six as a parent and volunteer on the state committee running this event behind the scenes.  Over the past two decades, I’ve seen more heartbreak than jubilation.  One golfer endured 180 shots over 18 holes while a recent senior missed out on qualifying for states by one stroke two years in a row.  In view of this, how do you move on when you come up one shot short?

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, Colossians 1:11-12.

When I experienced disappointment, failure and setbacks as a teenager, one adult suggested that I go back to the drawing board.  The point of this idiom encourages those who fail to go back to the beginning, hoping to figure out what went wrong and why.  During my final spring at Concord High, my last golf season got off to a miserable start.  After two embarrassing losses, I spent an afternoon playing 36 holes in the rain.  Channeling my anger in a positive manner, I refused to repeat the same stupid mistakes for the rest of the season.  This day served as a turning point, when God gave me a resolve to do whatever it took to reach my full potential.  By the end of the season, I was leading the state tournament after day one and despite fading on the back nine during the final round, a top ten finish resulted in all state honors.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

Sometimes, individuals are given back stage access, able to interact with celebrities and stars.  Such was the case for the earthly brother of Jesus who never believed until the resurrection.  The words from the passage above were inspired by the attitude demonstrated by Jesus throughout his life.  Jesus didn’t dwell over bad breaks, criticism or results that didn’t meet his own expectations.  Rather, Jesus remained steadfast despite coming up just short from time to time.  Therefore, when you come up one shot short in life, ask the Holy Spirit for the resolve to press on until dreams, goals or visions are fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

 

Understanding Evil

As someone who has grown to love history, you can likely predict what will happen in the future based upon previous events.  Although past civilizations may have possessed good intentions, the temptation for control, fame and power has a way to side track the most disciplined individuals.  Subsequently, enticement opens the door for evil to corrupt formerly innocent souls.  This shocking reality is where understanding evil begins.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time, Genesis 6:5.

In the years leading up to the biblical flood, a spirit of wickedness spread throughout the earth.  While specific acts aren’t mentioned, murder, violence and war are assumed based upon the accounts within Genesis 4.  As human beings gave into every kind of inclinations, cravings, desires and feelings, hearts became set on evil.  Without any voice of truth holding people accountable, humanism was conceived by doing what’s right in your own eyes.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Today, a similar culture exists where absolutes are considered old-fashioned, stale and not worth the hassle to follow.  When rules become lax in any society, integrity, morality and values tend to decline.  If this trend continues for years or decades, you can easily recognize this in day to day interactions.  This environment allows evil to enter souls through compromise.  When confronted by an authority figure, evil is often discarded by justifying and rationalizing behavior.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

When it comes to explaining the New York City terrorist attack with a dump truck, some are inspired by extreme religious beliefs.  Mass shootings like in Las Vegas and the small church outside of San Antonio, Texas typically reveal some sort of troubled past.  Like a fuse waiting to go off, evil takes over at some point, paralyzing the human conscience.  This sets the stage for disaster.  Until conviction, truth and revival return, evil will continue to reign throughout segments of society.  Only when souls ask God to return can evil be defeated.  May the presence of evil today inspire individuals to open their hearts to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Fear Tactics

Angst, dread and panic are words synonomous with fear.  When some individuals are about to lose control or power, fear tactics are employed to manipulated others.  This process can get ugly, exposing evil intentions from within.  Unfortunately, this scene is replayed daily across the country resulting in concern, distress and horror.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

When teaching the first century about the Devil, Jesus refers to this fallen angel as a thief.  This spiritual bully has a playbook of fear tactics attempting steal, kill and destroy souls.  Unfortunately, this attack is invisible, enticing, luring and tempting unknowing accomplishes to do his own dirty work.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies, John 8:44.

Sometimes I read too much into someone’s actions.  Yet, I have experienced moments where Satan used a stranger to verbally assault me.  This happened a few times when I was in youth ministry and teaching.  My initial thought was “what the hell is going on?”  Yet, after a few days of reflecting and seeking discernment from others, I realized these events were merely fear tactics inspired by demonic powers seeking to steal my joy in life.  When the father of lies comes knocking at your door, guard yourself with a hedge of protection through prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

Merry ???

Earlier in the week I went Christmas shopping for my wife.  Due to the nature of the gift, I was forced to rely on the expertise of sales associates.  After finding two similar items, I wanted to know which would be the best purchase for the long haul.  When I was finally convinced on the best brand name to buy, I approached the check out counter.  On my way out, I replied, “Merry Christmas,” that was followed by an awkward silence.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Sometime in the last few decades, Christians have become afraid of offending other people of faith.  Due to political correctness, retailers are now training new staff to avoid expressing specific phrases or words.  Subsequently, Merry Christmas has become like cheap greeting cards, X’ed out and replaced with Happy Holidays.  It’s no wonder that this cashier was uneasy, not sure how to respond to my seasonal greeting.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

The apostle Paul witnessed a spirit of timidity in his day.  When persecution broke out against the early church, fear consumed many believers.  This environment initially hampered the growth of the Way as described in the book of Acts.  Yet, as soon as fear was replaced by the love of Christ, the tides began to turn.  May this wave of the Holy Spirit arrive on the scene today to inspire people to share two special words, “Merry Christmas.”

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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