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Tag Archives: Restoration

Falling Apart

If you have ever played golf or watched a high school match, you understand the expression falling apart. After coaching for a decade, there is nothing worse than observing a teenager lose their confidence. Since there is no coaching during a hole, all you can do is encourage, pray and uplift players on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

As a parent of a freshman and junior, I spend two days a week each spring following both of my kids. Today, a series of showers turned a warm overcast day into a fight for survival. When my daughter had a bad hole I switched over to watch my son who had his worst round of the season. Perhaps, I was the bad luck charm as wherever I went players kept falling apart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

The Psalmist provides a message of hope for anyone on the verge of falling apart. David reflects upon a time in his life where his heart was broken and spirit crushed. When David pretended to be insane before Abimelech, he hit rock bottom, ashamed of his current state of mind. Yet, by the grace of God, the Lord brought David through this difficult time. The same applies today for anyone who falls apart. Thus, in future moments of despair, cry out to Jesus who promises healing and restoration to the brokenhearted.

by Jay Mankus

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The Shell Game

The Shell Game is symbolic of three stages in life: early childhood development, reaching your prime and going through a mid-life crisis.  As a child, a lack of confidence, fear and insecurities cause many young people to hide who they really are.  When afraid, frightened or threatened, most turtles seek shelter under their shell, disappearing and hiding underneath until its safe to come out.  Likewise, human beings possess a similar defense mechanism, withdrawing from society until assurance, confidence and hope is restored.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

In the early years, stuttering prevented me from ever expressing myself clearly as a child.  Being made fun of, mocked and teased was too much to endure.  These attacks against what I could not control led me to live a private life until my teenage years, participating in solitary play, imagining what it would be like for me to talk without stuttering.  After my dad was transferred from New Jersey to Delaware, a neighborhood of kids helped me come out of my proverbial shell.  Friends like Jeanette, Steven and Richie overlooked my stuttering, seeing a potential that no one else had prior.

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.

By the beginning of my senior year of high school, my faith in Christ, amazing friends and an unquenchable fire for life transformed me.  This one year served as a catalyst to do things I never imagined possible.  Despite periods of stammering, God inspired me to become a youth pastor, high school teacher and invest the prime of my life coaching, mentoring and sharing my faith with others.  During this fifteen year period, I was filled with unswerving faith that allowed me to experience the abundant life, witness miracles and experience a spiritual awakening within Columbus, Indiana.  Unfortunately, at some point in the last fifteen years, I have reverted back to playing the shell game, trying to hide the person that I have become.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

At some point in life, whether you call it a mid-life crisis or the painful reality that you’re not the same person that you use to be, this fact is hard to swallow.  Recently, I have tried to go back in time, to see where I went wrong.  When you don’t have the energy, drive or passion anymore, its hard to make progress or fix the flaws that are obviously present in my life.  What makes matters worse is seeing a shell of the person that you used to be and feel powerless to alter, change or repair the damage done.  If you reach this stage in life like me, Jesus is the only one who can mend your pain.  While restoration is a long process with bumps along the way, Jesus is like Med-Express, available at any time you need medical and spiritual attention.  As this endless shell games presses on, reach out to Jesus, who will hold your hand through the storms of life.  May this blog comfort your soul as you endure the good, the bad and the ugly in the shell game called life.

by Jay Mankus

A Casual Perspective of Grace

Every once in a while I will come across a troubling passage in the Bible.  Separated by a couple of chapters, the author of Hebrews appears to be calling out some Jews who had developed a casual perspective of grace.  Since the culprits are not identified, you can only speculate based upon the context below.  Apparently, some individuals developed a mindset that sinning was okay, especially since God promises to forgive you.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

The problem with this mentality is that justification and rationalization often replaces penance.  The purpose of confession is to express a contrite heart by avoiding making the same mistake you made the day before.  Unfortunately, a casual perspective of grace usually leads to deliberate sin.  Willing participants begin to think, “we’ll if God is gong to forgive me anyway, I might as well enjoy myself.”  Believing this lie from the Devil can corrupt souls.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God, Hebrews 10:26-27.

In case anyone skipped over the author’s initial warning in chapter 6, this message is repeated 4 chapters later.  Sometimes the fear of God serves as a last resort, the only thing holding you back from indulging the sinful nature.  However, anyone who becomes spiritually dead due to an addictive behavior can become numb to change.  Thus, unless a friend, loved one or spiritual mentor intervenes, a casual perspective of grace can lead to eternal separation from God.  If this blog finds you hanging by a thread, reach out for help so that healing and restoration can begin.

by Jay Mankus

One Year Later

A few days before Thanksgiving, an annual eye check up revealed a serious condition.  Unsettled by these dangerous symptoms, I was sent to an eye specialist the following week.  During this visit, the pressure in my right eye skyrocketed to eighty, fifteen is considered to be normal.  Afraid glaucoma might cause me to lose vision in my eye, this doctor called his friend, the top surgeon at Wills Eye Center in Philadelphia to schedule an emergency surgery.  This is a glimpse of the emotions that I endured just one year ago today.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9.

Following a successful surgery, I looked like someone from a senior center, forced to wear those big wrap around sun glasses with dark lenses to protect my right eye.  To make a full recovery, I made routine trips back and forth from Philadelphia.  Initially, I took four different kinds of eye drops until I was slowly whittled off all of them.  Since I was taking one of these drops for nearly twenty years to battle iritis of the eye, my eye sight suffered, gradually becoming worse.  When I went to renew my driver’s license over the summer, I failed the eye test, unable to drive lawfully until this condition was resolved.  This stressful situation brought me back to the start, forced to rely solely on God for healing.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious, 1 Peter 3:4.

To the average person, December 4th is just another day on the calendar unless it’s your anniversary or birthday.  However, for me two life changing events transpired.  After hearing Skip Wilkins share his testimony at a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Speakout in high school, I dedicated my life to God in 1984 during an altar call.  I refer to December 4th as my spiritual birthday.  Thirty two years later, I trusted the Lord that my doctor would use his God given gifts to bring restoration to my worn out eyes.  Sure, it would be great to possess the 20/10 vision of my youth, but these life altering moments have drawn me closer to God.  One year later, I am thankful to be alive, to drive, see and write one blog a day until the Lord takes me home.

by Jay Mankus

No Wonder Why Got Where We Are

This week I watched a film produced in the 1980’s.  The Monster Squad targeted an audience of kids, ranging from age 8 to 12.  I guess you could say this movie was like the Lost Boys for elementary and junior high students.  While I found the plot to be interesting, I was caught off guard by the language used by these young actors.  Ashley Bank plays Phoebe, a five year old sister of the founder of the Monster Squad who meet in a treehouse.  Curse words fly throughout this film, a precursor to how millennials now live.

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 80:19

Either I lived in a bubble growing up in Delaware or I was extreme naïve to the cultural transformation that was gradually occurring.  When I cursed in public or said something inappropriate, neighbors rebuked me and on occasion told my parents.  In my little world, right and wrong was clearly defined.  Somewhere along the way, apathy, the absence of morality and a lack of integrity has allowed unethical behavior to run rampant.  By watching this depiction of life, God revealed to me how America has gotten to where we are today.

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6

When civilizations, countries and nations begin to fall apart, God uses revival to get people back on track.  In the gospel of John chapter 15 , Jesus uses an analogy of a living vine with branches.  This vine symbolizes the source for life, like water for human beings.  Anyone who attempts to live without remaining connected to this vine will eventually die.  Therefore, before it’s too late, individuals should cry out to God for restoration.  However, unless you respond to conviction, hearts will grow cold.  While I can now see how America has reached this current spiritual condition, I know that revival is the only way back to the place where the Lord wants you to be.

by Jay Mankus

 

Empty Again

The saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” first appeared in 1602, published within Francis Davison’s Poetical Rhapsody.  This expression applies to several aspects in life.  Thus, while working nights since July, I began to miss some of the television shows I use to watch with my family.  Until Saturday, a marathon to check up on a few of my favorites, I forgot how empty entertainment can leave a soul, void of any significant meaning.

Although spending an entire day as a couch potato sounds appealing, boredom is a likely destination despite how many channels your cable or dish company provides.  According to Philippians 2:4, every human does need to be refreshed, before they can be of any benefit to others.  Yet, indulging in comedies, movies and sitcoms provide temporary pleasure before fading fast.  If you choose this path, emptiness is unavoidable.

Subsequently, individuals need to look in a different direction to experience a complete restoration.  Emptiness can be replaced by practicing Romans 12:1-2, leading to a transformed mind.  Depending upon your own desire, devotion and discipline, the timing on this change varies.  Whether you’re listening to or reading the Bible, Romans 10:17, faith will not disappoint, making the empty feel whole once again.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Desperation: A Recipe for Restoration

In the 1971, Carly Simon released Anticipation, featuring the song that inspired this album.  Eight years later, Heinz Ketchup developed the slogan, “Anticipation is making me wait,” by mixing Carly Simon’s song with images of ketchup slowly flowing out of a bottle.  During an interview on National Public Radio, also known as NPR, Carly Simon shared the meaning of Anticipation.  While waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up on their first date, the lyrics to this song were formed and the rest is history.

Although ketchup and God don’t have any thing in common, Heinz’ marketing campaign and Carly Simon’s song illustrate how the Lord works behind the scenes.  God allows individuals to experience desperation, causing hearts to develop a sense of urgency.  As one hungers for something more in life like the prodigal son in Luke 15:16-20, a recipe for restoration is generated.  Thus, despite any anguish, brokenness and heartache people have to endure, the Lord uses desperation to lead hurting souls beside still waters, Psalm 23:1-6.

Everyone understands how painful waiting can be.  Whether you’re at the hospital anticipating news from a doctor regarding life or death, impatiently waiting for God to answer your prayers or searching for clues to understand the trial you are currently undergoing, each scenario breeds desperation.  Like Nicodemus, seeking out Jesus at night in John 3:1, sometimes you have to humble yourself, realize you’re not in control and kneel before God, Luke 7:37-38.  May any lukewarm spirit holding you down be expelled as God uses desperation as a recipe for restoration.

by Jay Mankus

 

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