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Trying God’s Patience

Patience is one of those areas in life where I continue to struggle. Whether I’m driving in a car, waiting in a line or pleading with God in prayer for a specific request, I want things to happen on my time. History is filled with individuals who forced the issue, trying to make something happen without God. According to Moses, when human beings start to blame God for things not going as expected, we try the Lord’s patience.

Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at [Mount] Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah [proof] and Meribah [contention] because of the faultfinding of the Israelites and because they tempted and tried the patience of the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not? – Exodus 17:6-7

For the last 6 months, I’ve had my own wilderness experience. Rather than travel to a promised land, I’ve done everything in my power to find a job in South Carolina. My initial plan was to submit paperwork for an internal transfer within Amazon to a facility close to where my mother in law resides who is currently in hospice care. While I’m aware of some of my shortcomings as an individual and worker, I’m either testing God’s patience or the Lord has a completely different plan for my life.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. 12 Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer, Romans 12:11-12.

Failure and rejection are becoming a weekly occurrence to me, The last time I’ve seen this much resistance to a specific career is when I tried to pass the Players Ability Test as an assistance golf professional. Despite hitting 26 of 36 greens in regulation, I had 40 putts in round one, including a 4 putt. I missed by 2 strokes with 7 putts on the easiest hole over 2 rounds. Since my journey to South Carolina begins this weekend, I’m either going to try God’s patience by not knowing God’s will or receive a job in the final hour. Only time will tell.

by Jay Mankus

What You Say Isn’t Always What God Wants Others to Hear

As someone who works at Amazon, I come across thousands of products weekly.  Some of these units I have to examine, investigate or test.  Due to the bizarre nature of some or unusual name of others, I am tempted by sarcasm.  Without any type of a filter, I may blurt out something comical, funny or witty.  Despite how humorous my comments may be from time to time, what I say isn’t always what God wants others to hear.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

I can’t speak for other people, but I tend to go through various stages of conviction.  When I am in tune with God, my spiritual antennas are heightened.  This usually results in obeying God.  The rest of the year I experience weeks when I am numb, aimlessly wondering through life like Israel in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.  This stage produces periods of coarse joking and sarcasm, as I lose my direction and vision for life.  If I allow apathy to reign, this is where I lose control of my vocabulary, letting loose words slip.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

As I have fallen into bad habits, the Lord reminded me of this verse above.  Frustrated by my current state, I tried to apply taking my thoughts captive.  What I learned is that what was funny to me last week, isn’t funny to God.  Thus, as I performed my daily responsibilities, keeping my mouth shut was tough, much harder than I thought.  Although I blurted out a few sarcastic responses, taking every thought captive requires extreme discipline.  While I don’t have the ability to be perfect, in my own weakness to do and say the right thing, Jesus can be strong.  Therefore, I press on forgetting my past to focus on the future so that God’s sanctifying grace will make me whole.  In the meantime, make sure the words you utter reflect the compassion, grace and love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Day God Said Adios

Usually, humans are the ones who question God.  Rants such as “how can a loving God allow my child to die or why do bad things happen to good people while the wicked continue to prosper” is par for the course.  Yet, have you ever considered that God is scratching His head up in heaven daily, trying figure out the actions of his children?  Disappointed by Israel, His chosen nation, one too many times, God finally had enough, saying “adios.”

According to Psalm 95:10, God’s patience wore thin.  Expecting the parting of the Red Sea to transform hearts for a generation, the Lord’s miracles were quickly forgotten.  Faithless acts, hungry stomachs and spoiled souls unleashed the wrath of God upon a generation, Psalm 95:11.  Essentially, God vowed not to let this disobedient generation experience the promised land.  Instead, the Jews wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, prevented from tasting a land filled with milk and honey.

This lesson is similar to the words of the prophet Isaiah 1:15-20.  When followers become distracted by sin, God tunes out their prayers.  Subsequently, the Lord is waiting for believers to humble themselves, admit their wrong doing and reason with Him in prayer.  Then and only then will you experience God’s blessings, Isaiah 1:19.  However, if anyone attempt to take a short cut, don’t be surprised if God says adios.

by Jay Mankus

By the Sweat of Your Brow

 

The poor have said, “the rich have won life’s lottery!”  Meanwhile, the middle class are waiting for their big break, a chance for the world to recognize their talents.  On the other hand, the wealthy are trying to keep up with the Joneses, working harder than ever to buy their next show piece.

Whether you are wrestling with poverty, keeping your head above debt or living on cloud 9, everyone makes their living by the sweat of their brow.  Since original sin entered mankind in Genesis 3:17-19, God made life as we know it hard.  Gone are the days of milk and honey, evaporating in a promised land turned to sand.  Like the humidity of a summer sun sapping all your strength, the worries of life can wilt any soul not prepared for unexpected trials.

As I was doing my final touches of yard work before the growing season ends, I was reminded of God’s words in Genesis 3:19.  Yes, even the invincible will experience kryptonite at some point.  This will paralyze your ability to save yourself, leading to the grave, to become like the dust that God formed Adam out of.  In view of this bleak destiny, its vital to make plans for the afterlife, John 14:3.  Therefore, while you have time to breathe, take note of God’s promise in 1 John 5:13-15.  Inquire before you expire.

by Jay Mankus

A Week In Paradise


In this economy, its hard to imagine anyone having enough time or money to afford a week long trip to the West Coast during the school year.  With a summer vacation road trip traveling across the country to the Grand Canyon and back already etched in my families distant memory, I didn’t think anything could compare.  However, thanks to my extended family, most of our expenses were covered, opening the door for a memorable week in paradise.

This journey began in Ontario, not Canada, at the John Wayne International Airport in California.  After a night in Corona, not the beer, rather staying with a cousin playing pool and embracing palm trees surrounded by mountains, it was off to the Pacific Ocean.  Following my first In and Out Burger, without knowing about the secret menu, my feet first touched the chilly waters at New Port Beach before my daughter found a sand dollar adjacent to the Huntington Beach pier.  An amazing meal at Ruby’s Diner even made the pelican poses for pictures before another scenic drive through the mountains toward Palm Springs.

Even getting lost and paying the same toll twice on 2 different scenic toll roads couldn’t damper my spirits, uplifted by the view of the Pacific in the background and the pictures engraved in my mind of the Coachella Valley from my honeymoon 17 years ago.  A trip to Indian Canyons, the largest oasis in the world, was like going back in time to the days of Adam and Eve walking in the Garden of Eden.  Hiking on these trails and similar vistas on the Lykkan Trail above Palm Springs was like re-enacting Moses’ voyage up Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land before his death.

My first trip to the Salton Sea, playing disc golf in Palm Desert and experiencing Monterey Country Club from the fairway, yes I did hit it straight, was like the icing on top of a birthday cake.  However, like the classic line from Jerry Maguire, my vacation wasn’t complete until family arrived.  As nearly 100 relatives came to La Quinta to honor Uncle Tom’s 80th birthday, the conversations I had, interactions with others and time spent with my own family completed me.  Simply put, this trip was like a tiny glimpse of heaven, a week of paradise in sunny California.

by Jay Mankus

Walking in the Wilderness

After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites were eyewitness to one of the most amazing yet horrifying events in all of history.  As the Egyptian army was engulfed by the sea in Exodus 14, one might think Israel’s faith would never waver for the rest of their earthly lives.  However, a trip to the promised land which should have taken a few weeks on foot, ended up lasting 40 years.

At the beginning of 2012, I felt like the Israelites, being an eyewitness to several miracles in my 10 years of Christian Education as an Upper School Bible teacher.  While not perfect, I believed God was using my gifts and talents in the ideal place, according to His will.  One and a half days into this new year, waves of change engulfed me, flipping my world upside down.  Although, I survived this tidal wave of being let go, I have been dazed, mangled and left gasping for air.

For those who know me, I hate getting lost, especially when I receive bad directions from someone who doesn’t have a clue to where I need to go.  In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus uses the imagery of 2 roads, one which is clear, paved and heavily traveled whereas the other is barren, not always marked and hard to follow at times.  Its hard to argue with the crowd walking on the road to self gratification, but I can’t forget what I have seen on this less traveled road.

As I have spent nearly one month now unemployed, I am entering new ground, a territory I am not familiar with nor do I long to remain.  Walking in the Wilderness without a map isn’t fun.  Nonetheless, somewhere along this road, you have to put aside what you think you know by putting your trust in the only One who knows your future.  Jesus went into the wilderness to prepare Himself for God’s earthly ministry.  My prayer is that I experience this wilderness period, I will walk into my next job as a changed man.

by Jay Mankus

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