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Times of Refreshment

While refreshments are often a light snack or drink purchased at a convenience store, times of refreshment are good for the mind. These brief moments in time tend to invigorate souls, serving as a form of revitalization. Whether this is accomplished by taking a day off of work or during an extended vacation, restoring mental and physical strength is good for your body.

So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness], 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.

The spiritual term for times of refreshment is revival. When lost souls stumble upon truths in the Bible, some promises seem too good to be true. Take the passage above as Paul provides an illustration in regards to sin. Because Jesus became the perfect lamb, living, dying and rising from the dead, when God sees you, your sin is replaced by the righteousness of Christ. This is the great news of the gospel, John 3:16-17, a time to celebrate.

I am writing to you, little children, because for His name’s sake your sins are forgiven [pardoned through His name and on account of confessing His name], 1 John 2:12.

One of Jesus’ disciples writes about this spiritual refreshment. Just as the president of the United States has the authority to pardon people convicted of past crimes, becoming a Christian gives you a spiritual pardon via God’s grace. However, like a traveler on a busy interstate, you have to get off on the Repentance Exit, Romans 5:8. Forgiveness is the process of making a u-turn away from sin, back toward God. May this blog serve as a time of refreshment and praise as you contemplate the fact that Jesus has pardoned all of your sins.

by Jay Mankus

The Ministry of Reconciliation

The ministry of reconciliation dates back to Genesis 3:6-8. After committing original sin, Adam and Eve broke their covenant with God, Genesis 2:15-17. Instead of obeying God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge pursued this couple to do what was right in their own eyes. The punishment for their disobedience was expulsion, Genesis 3:22-24.

But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him], 2 Corinthians 5:18.

In one of 4 letters written to the church at Corinth (only 2 are in the Bible), the apostle Paul introduces the ministry of reconciliation. Sin has a way of changing your priorities, focusing on earthly pleasures rather than eternal treasures. Subsequently, we all go astray, wandering off like a prodigal child until you begin to become home sick. Repentance serves as a U-Turn, fleeing sin by turning around to make peace with God.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:16.

The earthly brother of Jesus highlights what modern reconciliation resembles. As humility leads troubled souls toward confession, a foundation for revival is laid out for others to follow. When souls are healed and restored, there is an inner desire to help others receive what you have experienced. While the 2020 election will cause many to harbor bitterness in their hearts, may the ministry of reconciliation turns lives around to unite as one.

by Jay Mankus

Christ is Greater Than

The greater-than sign dates back to the 1560’s. This mathematical symbol denotes an inequality between two values. The widely adopted form of two equal-length strokes connecting in an acute angle at the right was first discovered in documents in the 16th century. Yet, there is a first century book that uses an analogy rather than the greater than symbol.

He then goes on to say, And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 20 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, Hebrews 10:17-20.

The author of Hebrews refers to Jesus as the Great High Priest. Using a reference from the Old Testament, Jesus is linked to the order of Melchizedek, Genesis 14:18-20. When you add these nicknames with someone who became a living sacrifice, 2 Corinthians 5:21, this is what makes Christ greater than any other god, rising from the dead.

And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, 22 Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water. 23 So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. 24 And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Hebrews 10:21-24.

The passage above serves as a calling to respond to God’s gift, John 3:16-17. The thought of God’s demonstration through Christ should elicit and stimulate souls to act, Romans 5:8. If modern day Christians could simply love others as God has loved us, Matthew 7:12, a revival would begin. If it only takes a spark to get a fire going, Christ could become greater than ever if hearts illuminate love, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

Moving Forward Spiritually

The context of “taking sides” below occurs in the middle of a parable. Jesus tells a story of an individual who seeks to enter a strong man’s house. However, unless you first bind the spiritual entities that protect this house (body), you won’t be able to enter. In other words, if you’re not totally with Jesus, you’re against Him. Subsequently, those who are not moving forward spiritually begin to scatter, no longer imitating the love and life of Jesus.

He who is not with Me [definitely on My side] is against Me, and he who does not [definitely] gather with Me and for My side scatters, Matthew 12:30.

This same concept applies to churches as well. During a visit to the Church at Laodicea, John wasn’t impressed. Sure, there were some good things happening, blessed with wealth. Yet, at some point in time members began to trust in their financial riches instead of God. Just like Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit song, members of the Church at Laodicea had become comfortably numb. When you stop growing spiritually, idleness results in back sliding.

I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! – Revelation 3:15-16

Forward motion is difficult to maintain when your faith is currently stalled. When individuals remove Bible Study, prayer or worship from their weekly spiritual diet, this situation only gets worse. When picking up the Bible, speaking to God or going to church becomes a chore, a spiritual spark is needed. Until revival ignites a dormant faith, most souls will remain in neutral. May this blog inspire you to jump start your faith with forward motion.

by Jay Mankus

My Own Spiritual Mr. Miyagi

In 1984, I was in the middle of my freshman of high school. As the summer began, Karate Kid debuted in the theaters starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. While I don’t recall seeing this film right away, I could relate to Daniel LaRusso’s character. As a small hundred pound teenager, I was a push over, bullied on numerous occasions. Although I didn’t turn to karate to defend myself, God had another plan for me which was revealed a year later.

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you, Psalm 32:8.

My former science teacher, Mr. Horne, started to mentor me during my sophomore year. After I joined the swim team which he coached, Ken took me under his wings. Similar to the role played by Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid, Coach Horne became like a second father. Ken was instrumental in my spiritual growth, inviting me to Concord’s Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s huddle which he led. The night I accepted Jesus into my heart as Savior, Coach Horne was there to answer the various questions that I had about faith.

Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures. 17 Let me warn you therefore, beloved, that knowing these things beforehand, you should be on your guard, lest you be carried away by the error of lawless and wicked [persons and] fall from your own [present] firm condition [your own steadfastness of mind], 2 Peter 3:16-17.

After graduating high school, my relationship with Ken only became stronger. I would regularly stop by unannounced each summer, spending hours catching up and talking about life. When Ken transitioned from a teacher to a local youth pastor, I volunteered as much as I could to support his ministry. This decision provided several memorable Lay Witness Missions, serving on the team that led revival weekends throughout the Tri-state area. These experiences prepared me to become a high school Bible teacher and youth pastor later on in life.

So, being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you not only God’s good news (the Gospel) but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us, 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

When I got engaged to Leanne in 1994, I couldn’t image my wedding without Ken. Thus, my former coach, teacher and mentor became one of my three groomsmen. During our wedding reception, Ken encouraged guests to sing Christmas carols in place of dinging glasses to see Leanne and I kiss. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I received news that Ken was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I can’t think of anything worse for a modern day apostle Paul to experience and undergo. Yet, I am thankful for all that Ken Horne has done for me as my own spiritual Mr. Miyagi. While Ken’s chances for survival are slim, there is a mansion in heaven awaiting him filled with countless blessings for his service on earth.

by Jay Mankus

The End of Integrity

At the beginning of my adult life, doing what is right when no one is looking was a motto adopted by some of my mentors. Developing a good reputation at school, work and in your community was the way I was taught to make it in this world. By going the extra mile, arriving early and staying late was how individuals got noticed by their boss or owner. The more integrity was displayed, the greater your chances were to succeed and advance.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

During my final year of college, I became friends with the owner of a local Christian bookstore. Whenever I heard a song on the radio that I liked, I would go to Jackie to find this artist or specific song. This relationship ignited a life long quest for quality Christian music. When my life was void of integrity, inspirational lyrics gave me hope to press on despite bad habits, depression and periods of hypocrisy.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love, 2 Peter 1:5-7.

If you follow current events or politics, you are likely witnessing a different standard being applied, “do as I say, not as I do.” Instead of choosing integrity, the elect are using power to bend the rules in their own favor. Even if lies have to be spread daily, the end result trumps the means. If current leaders continue down this path, I’m afraid that the end of integrity is approaching. Now is the time to pray for conviction and revival.

by Jay Mankus

Bad for Business

I spent the first two years of my youngest son’s life, James, trying to start my own business. Well before the reality show Shipping Wars aired on A&E, I was making bids to deliver freight and important documents up and down the East Coast. My shining moment occurred when I made $3000 in 24 hours, delivering a few pallets from Wilmington, Delaware to Chicago, Illinois. Since my parents lived in Cleveland, Ohio at the time, I drove 7 hours, slept for 7 hours and finished the remaining 7 hours with a couple to spare. However, I did spent $1000 on renting a truck, gas and tolls so I only profited 2K. Unfortunately, the cost of maintaining two vehicles, driving 1000 miles a week and breaking down a couple of times finally inspired me to walk away from this business by entering the classroom as a teacher.

About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way (Jesus, Christianity). 24 Now a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of [the goddess] Artemis (Diana), was bringing no small profit to the craftsmen, Acts 19:23-24.

According to Luke, the spread of Christianity had a negative impact on craftsmen during the first century. As followers of Artemis began to convert to Christ, idol worship gradually declined. Thus, requests for silver decorations, idols and shrines of Diana plummeted. This economic downturn inspired craftsmen throughout the province of Asia to gather together in Ephesus. Luke details the discussion in the passage below, trying to figure out how to restore the popularity of Artemis and idol worship throughout the world. Workmen in similar trades were panicking, fearful that if Christianity continued to spread, their occupation would no longer be in demand or needed.

These [craftsmen] he called together, along with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you are well aware that we make a good living from this business. 26 You see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but almost all over [the province of] Asia, this Paul has persuaded [people to believe his teaching] and has misled a large number of people, claiming that gods made by [human] hands are not really gods at all. 27 Not only is there danger that this trade of ours will be discredited, but also that the [magnificent] temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and that she whom all Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned and lose her glorious magnificence,” Acts 19:25-27.

During more recent great awakenings, there are more examples of how the spread of Christianity was bad for business but good for the community. This is best detailed in a book and sermons by Leonard Ravenhill who spent most of his life as a Christian evangelist. Born in Leeds, England in 1907, Ravenhill reveals how the revival of the early 1900’s transformed parts of England. At the height of this spiritual awakening, crime disappeared causing police to be laid off. As attendance at evening church services skyrocketed, policemen were hired by churches to direct traffic. Meanwhile, mules from local mines needed to be retrained as transformed miners stopped curses causing mules to not know to respond to calm, gentle voices. Although recent revivals haven’t completely transformed nearby communities, when true awakening breaks out, God’s business of saving souls prospers.

by Jay Mankus

Afraid of the Truth

Recent studies have shown how algorithms used by social media sights favor a secular worldview.  After a whistle blower from Google was fired for expressing his concerns, cable news interviews of this former engineer have exposed how these algorithms block conservative content.  When you add the recent videos released by Project Veritas, it’s clear that progressives are afraid of the truth, unwilling to participate in a fair or friendly debate.

Now after Paul and Silas had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul entered the synagogue, as was his custom, and for three Sabbaths he engaged in discussion and friendly debate with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:1-2.

During the first century, debates regularly took place in the center of town at marketplaces.  Philosophers took turns sharing their beliefs with those that followed either adding, defending or weighing the pros and cons.  The apostle Paul used this open minded climate to his favor, visiting a synagogue in Thessalonica on the Sabbath, examining the Old Testament.  Luke describes these discussions as friendly debates as each shared their biblical knowledge of the Torah.

But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ] had also been preached by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds, Acts 17:13.

After Paul and Silas were successful in convincing several Jews into converting to Christianity, civility departed.  Afraid that others might leave their synagogue, leaders gathered up some lowlifes and thugs to threaten Paul.  After fleeing Thessalonica, the bullying didn’t stop as news of a revival in Berea inspired synagogue leaders to round up another motley crew.  Apparently, being afraid of the truth is nothing new as when individuals begin to embrace biblical teachings, peer pressure is applied to change hearts and minds to revert back to what is considered socially acceptable.  Don’t be afraid of the truth; face it with an open heart.

by Jay Mankus

Lies within Your Heart

As someone who grew up in the Catholic church, I was raised to believe that priests were the only individuals who were worthy enough to study the Bible and teach God’s Word. After a revival during the 1970’s, some priests began to encourage members of their congregation to start reading the Bible outside of church. Unfortunately, the church my family attended in Wilmington, Delaware was stuck in the dark ages until my dad’s relocation to Cleveland, Ohio. About this same time, I began to open my own Bible outside of church which exposed lies within my heart.

The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart, Luke 6:45.

When I started teaching high school Bible at Red Lion, a Sunday School class that I attended introduced me to a book called Restoring the Foundations. Written by Chester and Becky Kylstra, I discovered that this book inspired a healing ministry based upon addressing ungodly beliefs individuals have collected over the course of their lives. Like spiritual baggage weighing down your heart, soul and mind, this integrated approach introduced me to new terms such as soul spirit hurts. As people unpack this baggage, exposed lies can haunt you; preventing you from being healed.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is recognized and judged by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart,” Matthew 12:33-34.

During the first century, Jesus introduced a troubling new teaching. When these words were first verbalized, I’m sure conviction silenced any whispers in the crowd. The thought of lies within your heart likely deflated souls previously filled with confidence and pride. This biblical truth sent shockwaves across town as murmurs echoed of this hidden evil from within. Scholars likely declared the words of the prophet are true, Jeremiah 17:1-10. As modern believers are introduced to this truth today, lies within your heart can finally be addressed by an integrated approach to healing.

by Jay Mankus

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