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Nourishing Yourself on the Truths of Faith

On a hot sunny day, nourishment usually comes in the form of a cold drink. Yet, as day turns into night, stomachs begin to grumble, yearning for solid food to quench hunger pains. However, nourishment isn’t limited to the physical. Beyond food and beverages, nourishment also involves other substances necessary for growth and health to remain in good condition. In the passage below, the apostle Paul eludes to spiritual nourishment.

 If you lay all these instructions before the brethren, you will be a worthy steward and a good minister of Christ Jesus, ever nourishing your own self on the truths of the faith and of the good [Christian] instruction which you have closely followed, 1 Timothy 4:6.

The most basic way to nourish yourself is by reading the Word of God, Romans 10:17. The more you read, minds are enlightened by spiritual truths to help you ascertain the will of God, Romans 12:2. According to one biblical author, as what you read begins to click and make sense, an assurance and hope is conceived, Hebrews 11:1. As the truths of the Bible take root within your heart and mind, Colossians 2:6-7, all things will work together for the good.

But refuse and avoid irreverent legends (profane and impure and godless fictions, mere grandmothers’ tales) and silly myths, and express your disapproval of them. Train yourself toward godliness (piety), [keeping yourself spiritually fit]. For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:7-8.

Unfortunately, many Christians tends to become bored which dulls their faith, Hebrews 5:11-14. If you get sloppy, stunted by an immature faith, you won’t be able to handle solid food. While speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus reminds religious teachers that the healthy can take care of themselves, Matthew 9:11-12. Meanwhile, it’s the poor and sick that need help. Therefore, as you learn to nourish yourself, you can begin to reach out to others by spreading the truths of faith.

by Jay Mankus

Just Don’t Read…Get the Know the Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake, Psalm 23:1-3.

Sheep are mentioned more than 500 in the Bible, more than any other animal.  Sheep were important to nomads and the agricultural life of Hebrews in the Old Testament.  Whether you’re talking about the 23rd Psalm or the Parable of the Lost Sheep, this animal is used to symbolize the relationship between God and his followers.  As you read the beginning of Luke 15, Jesus is like a shepherd who is willing to leave behind the faithful sheep to find the one who has wandered off.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:4-5.

Unfortunately, stubborn individuals are resistant to change. While people may experience moments of guilt from within their conscience to stop what they are doing, the disobedient tend to press on, full steam ahead. Regardless of how pure in heart that you may be, everyone dabbles in rebellion, especially when you come across a rule that doesn’t make any sense. However, until the Biblical Shepherd steers you in the right direction, you’ll do lots of wandering until you find your way home.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.

The disciple whom Jesus loved compared his spiritual leader to a good shepherd. Instead referring to an actual shepherd tending after his sheep, Jesus served as a father figure to shelter human beings from the Devil. While the attacks of this spiritual enemy have continued long after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, just don’t read the Bible, get to know the Good Shepherd, aka God’s one and only son Jesus Christ. As you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see what it takes to live the abundant life that Jesus promised in the passage above.

by Jay Mankus

Five Stones and a Slingshot

According to Rick Hess, a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Common Core standards have roots in President George W. Bush’ No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. Like so many education reform initiatives that seem to arise out of nowhere, Common Core Curriculum is another example of invisible human beings endowed with inordinate power to impose their ideas on public education. If case you were wondering, you can thank the National Governors Association for Common Core Standards. This attempt to re-invent the wheel for public education has left states and students well behind. When you add new curriculum such as the 1619 Project, Critical Race Theory, and White Privilege, America’s history is being erased before our very eyes.

David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. 33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth. 34 And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep. And when there came a lion or again a bear and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and smote it and delivered the lamb out of its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and smote it and killed it, 1 Samuel 18:32-35.

As people and societies evolve, moments arise often via technology to find a faster, more efficient and quicker way of doing things. Instead of focusing on the basics: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, those in charge want to place their own stamp on how things are done. Take for example the passage below as the king and military leader is trying to instruct a shepherd boy on how defeat a giant. Initially, David appeases King Saul, trying on a heavy suit of armor. After moving around, this equipment was too bulky, preventing David from using his agility and quickness. Although the conversation between these two is brief, it appears that David convinces King Saul to let him use what he’s good at. While the odds were against him, David trades in a suit of armor for five stones and a slingshot.

David said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and the Lord be with you! 38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 And David girded his sword over his armor. Then he tried to go, but could not, for he was not used to it. And David said to Saul, I cannot go with these, for I am not used to them. And David took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones out of the brook and put them in his shepherd’s [lunch] bag [a whole kid’s skin slung from his shoulder], in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand, and he drew near the Philistine, 1 Samuel 17:37-40.

In 1993, the Christian artist Wes King released the Robe, one of his best albums. While other songs from this collection receive most of the attention, one struck a chord with my soul. The lyrics of Second String begins with an 8th grade football player whose girl friend is a cheerleader. The only problem is this individual rides the bench, praying to get into the game. The second stanza fast forwards to high school to an embarrassing moment on his first date. The third and final stanza refers back to David’s battle with Goliath. Like a tee ball player who is being over coached by every parent in the crowd, David stops listening to everyone else by turning an attentive ear to God. When push comes to shove, you have to trust in your God given gifts and talents. Although you may be tempted to try something outside your comfort zones, five stones and a slingshot led a shepherd boy into the king’s castle.

by Jay Mankus

You Can Only Do So Much

Ten years ago, I volunteered for a week to serve as a camp counselor at an overnight Christian Camp just south of Reading, Pennsylvania.  Due to a weeklong heat wave, a cabin without air conditioning and inner ear infection that lingered the rest of that summer, I never returned for a second year.  Instead, my two sons now serve as camp counselors at Camp Cedarbrook.  During a de-briefing session over lunch, my oldest son James shared his frustrations of boys in his cabin who never listened to him.  Despite repeated attempts, numerous reminders and intervention from veteran counselors, James was unable to change these bad habits.  Unfortunately, you can only do so much in one week of time.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

Unless you are a coach, counselor, parent or teacher, you may not realize that America is on the verge of a parental crisis.  After years of appeasing, bribing and spoiling children, basic character traits, courtesy and morals are missing.  Instead cell phones, electronic devices and video games are killing social skills, creating a further divide between children and parents.  Those individuals who are diligently working to stop this trend have their own obstacles to overcome.  Abandonment, death and divorce has led to single parent homes, struggling to provide and raise kids at the same time.  Giving a word of encouragement to my son, I replied “you can only do so much on your own.”

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is a small quote from King Solomon.  This wise man compares a black smith to being the best person you can be.  When human beings enter into an accountability relationship, affirmations point out the good while flaws are pointed through honest assessments.  As long as both parties seek the best interest of the other, character is strengthened like iron sharpening iron.  For those who feel called into the ministry, you may not be able to win the hearts and souls of those who you love.  God doesn’t call everyone to be successful, but faithful.  Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed by a lack of progress in your life, remember you can only do so much.

by Jay Mankus

Whatever?

If you live in the Northeast, then you’ve been at the mercy of God this winter.  One of these days Spring will arrive, yet for now snow, sleet or freezing rain is likely in your weekly forecast.  However, these events shouldn’t be shocking since part of God’s nature is doing whatever pleases Him.

The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. – Psalm 135:6

Whether worldviews are formed through Sunday School, reading books or how you were raised, few have a clear understanding of God’s attributes.  Instead of researching the Scriptures to make sense of the bumps and bruises individuals experience, many human beings respond to trials by accusing, blaming or cursing the Lord for their misery.  When unfortunate events continue to pile up without any end in sight, even the strong can lose hope.

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.  You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.  You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” – Job 30:20-22

Although the majority of Christians are uninformed while living on earth, one day the life you endure on this planet will make sense.  I’m assuming some where along the way, God will unveil the jigsaw puzzle known as your life.  This may not happen until being called home to heaven, but one day the “whatever” in life will be revealed.

by Jay Mankus

 

Seven Days in Utopia

While its’ unclear actually who coined the phrase, “timing is everything,” this nugget of truth still applies today.  Whether you are engaging in a conversation, watching a movie or reading a book, if the timing isn’t right, your interest will quickly fade.  Such is the case of a film I recently enjoyed, 7 Days in Utopia.  As a channel surfer like most bored Americans, I stumbled across this film a few times in the past, catching it at the wrong moment.  However, last night, shortly after the opening scene, I was hooked til the conclusion.

Robert Duvall plays a Yoda like character, training Luke Chisholm, a talented but hot tempered young professional, played by Lucas Black.  Duvall takes a person who is a cross between Tin Cup and Happy Gilmore for 7 days to work on his beliefs, mind and perspective.  Trying to overcome the demons in life, Duvall reveals the scars from his past that cut short his own professional career.  With a different focus each day, Chisholm is caught off guard, realizing there is more to life than hitting a little white golf ball into a hole.  On Easter Sunday, this week comes to an end while another journey is about to begin.

Seven Days in Utopia is based upon David Lamar Cook’s novel Golf’s Sacred Journey, Seven Days at the Links of Utopia.  Although, the movie portrays Utopia as a place, its actually a state of mind.  As citizens of earth prepare for an eternal resting place, the power of the Holy Spirit can transform neighborhoods into pieces of heaven on earth.  Whether you play golf or not, I recommend this film to all who seek a higher calling, looking for more than just living 9-5.  May God lead you to a spiritual utopia.

by Jay Mankus

Keep on Reading…Until You Receive Inspiration

Although apathy permeates throughout several segments of society, there are beacons of hope that exist.  If you are a historian, books contain powerful messages of leaders who transformed their nations.  Meanwhile, starving souls searching for the meaning of life, keep on reading, flipping through pages until inspiration is found.

As for me, the Bible has become a well spring, the driving force behind this blog.  After reaching 10,000 hits today, I can’t take credit for the articles, titles or words.  Rather, I felt compelled to rely on meditating on the Bible, sermons and words that would connect with common struggles people undergo.

Whether you’re talking to someone every day at work for 3 years or writing 1000 different blogs, the longer you go, the harder it becomes to come up with new material.  While you might have some good days, conversation and pieces can become stale.  Therefore, in my quest to keep a dream alive, I will keep on reading until I receive inspiration.

by Jay Mankus

Never Satisfied

Back in January, days before my sledding accident, I had planned on giving up watching television during Lent. I was going through one of those phases in life where I sought to make history, not watch it happen. Thus, I pressed on to complete the writing on my second movie script, Behind the Devil’s Door.  Everything was moving forward as schedule until that one fateful day, January 29th.

My initial rib injury prevented me from sleeping more than an hour or so at a time, leaving me exhausted, unable to receive the rest I needed.  Ten days later, the force of a sneeze at work altered the blood flow of my internal bleeding, unknown to me, leading to several weeks of bed rest after a 4 day visit to the hospital.  Distraught, I took the advice of a relative who suggested to relax and enjoy the 2014 Winter Olympics which had just begun.  Beside listening to music, reading and writing, I didn’t have many options stuck in my downstairs recliner to avoid steps.

I don’t care if you have 1000 channels to observe daily, sooner or later you’ll be bored out of your mind, never fully satisfied by the entertainment on the big screen.  As a relatively active person, staying idle at home left me craving something more meaningful in life.  After watching the entire first season of Joan of Arcadia, I became restless longing for traces of God in Hollywood, but I was left disappointed.  To fill this void, I won’t be satisfied until the vision God has given me for my second script is complete, Philippians 1:6.

What vision or dream has God given you? Please leave a comment.

by Jay Mankus
        

Being Well Rounded or Focusing on One Thing?

As I was beginning to concentrate on specific talents that I possessed, most of the advice I received as a teenager was to become well rounded, taking a break from seasonal activities when the season concluded.  While I was experiencing a multitude of hobbies, I noticed that those individuals who focused on one sport began to surpass my own skill level.  Subsequently, I tended to excel at every sport I played except basketball, yet I never reached a great level, just very good.  Modern travel ball clubs and teams are trying to make the cream of the crop into the very best.

Today, nations across the globe are developing gifted professional athletes through a series of cutting edge schools dedicated to one specific concentration.  Although countries like China have taken this to extremes highlighted by the 2012 Summer Olympics coverage, limiting parental visitation to their sports academies, America appears to have fallen way behind the rest of the world.  Instead of indoctrinating students with a well rounded view of political correctness, education should focus on the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic.  Time will tell who is correct.

As I get down off my soap box, my role has changed from the student to the guardian.  It’s my turn to pass the torch to the next generation.  Do I allow my 3 kids to encounter various activities or do I push them toward choosing one thing to invest their time and energy?  Part of me is torn, wanting my children to be exposed to opportunities I never had the chance to participate in.  On  the other hand, you can’t teach passion, so in the end, young people will determine their future based upon the choices each makes.  The last thought I has is this: Do you want to be good at many things or do you want to be the best at one specific thing?  God’s blessings to all in 2014 as you ponder if you want to be well rounded or dedicate your time to one thing.

by Jay Mankus

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