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Tag Archives: serving

Explaining the Absence of the Holy Spirit

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul reveals how God dishes out a variety of spiritual gifts.  These special abilities are given out by the grace of God.  Some of these are ordinary such as giving, serving or teaching.  Other talents are extraordinary, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, spiritual gifts like healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues often elicit jealousy in those that don’t possess a supernatural gift.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

To address issues like envy, the apostle Paul writes a similar letter to the church at Rome.  In the passage below, Paul compares spiritual gifts to a church body with many parts.  Apart or own their own, a spiritual gift glorifies individuals, not God.  However, when individuals submit to God by joining a local congregation, your gift makes a difference by filling a spiritual hole.  The purpose of any spiritual gift is to serve God by offering your body as a living sacrifice.  While certain gifts will always overshadow your gift, hearts and minds need to stay focused on the common good.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully, Romans 12:4-8.

Jesus and first century church leaders warned about counterfeit, fake and imposters who come in the name of Jesus.  These individuals still exist today, often perpetrating frauds on those who watch on television or attend a rally.  When truth exposes these people like Steve Martin in a Leap of Faith, modern churches are harmed by these spiritual stains.  Whenever spiritual gifts are used to glorify self, the Holy Spirit will move to another area, region or country.  While most people wish they had another spiritual gift, for now God seeks humble servants willing to be the hands and feet of Christ today.  The dedicated, faithful and obedient persevere during spiritual droughts, hopeful that the presence of the Holy Spirit will return when God’s timing is right.

by Jay Mankus

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On the Job Training

As advances in technology changes how businesses are run, on the job training isn’t what it use to be.  When I was younger, new employees would shadow someone for a day or possibly up to a week.  Afterward, you would be given time to ask questions, picking someone’s brain to absorb as much as possible.  Other fields offer an apprenticeship where individuals interested in pursuing a specific occupation are given a month, season or year to decide if they have what it takes to succeed.  Today, people are thrown into the fire with little training, given some sort of wiki page to fall back on if they don’t know what to do.  The end result of this age is high turnover rates as companies no longer invest in people like my father’s generation.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” John 2:3-5.

In the first century, Jesus was instructed by God to select twelve disciples prior to beginning his three year earthly ministry.  However, during an emergency at a friend’s wedding, Mary, the mother of Jesus panics.  With only six disciples part of his team, Jesus wasn’t ready to introduce the world to God’s message of salvation.  Promising to obey his parents following his Bar mitzvah at age twelve, Jesus agrees to save his mother’s friend from social disgrace, running out of vine at a wedding.  This opportunity gave the six disciples present a chance to see Jesus at work.  When you see your own boss perform a miracle, these six individuals were sold, buying into a life of serving God.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Matthew 28:19-20.

Today, on the job spiritual training often conflicts with businesses, careers or jobs.  As progressive ideas become embraced by political leaders, a wave of political correctness is shaping future policies within companies across America.  While some of these changes are beneficial, others are in direct conflict with biblical principles.  Thus, followers of Christ are asked and encouraged to ignore the Bible so that other views aren’t offended.  While my generation was taught to agree to disagree on certain issues, fulfilling Jesus’ great commission today will rub people the wrong way.  Evangelism can be a thankless calling, experiencing rejection daily.  Yet, if you want to be true to Jesus’ plea in the passage above, on the job training must involve sharing your faith in the area or areas where you are gifted.

by Jay Mankus

Lifting Up Friends to You

There will be moments in life where you will feel helpless.  Even if you are near a loved one, sometimes fate is out of your hands.  Whether you are talking about an accident, heart attack or illness, the only thing you can do is pray.  Perhaps if more people were proactive, lifting up friends to God daily, you wouldn’t have to face as many emergencies in life that some are forced to endure.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

King Solomon eludes to the power of friendship in the Old Testament.  Whenever you find an individual who shares a common interest, hobby or passion, an instant bond often develops.  If nourished, friends can quickly become like close members of the family.  According to Solomon, there is a tendency to accumulate as many friends as possible, but those who seek quality relationships over quantity will be rewarded.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.

One day Jesus uses a gardening analogy during a conversation with his disciples.  Just as a gardener cares for, prunes and nourishes plants under his or her care, a good friend does the same thing.  Likely referring to his impending death on a cross, Jesus brings up the greatest act a friend can demonstrate.  Sacrificing, serving or laying down your own wants and needs for a friend reveals love.  While this commitment may not be possible for everyone, the least you can do lift up friends in prayer to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Good for You May Not Be Right For Me

Wanting and having are two things in life that young people sometimes have to learn the hard way.  Before graduating high school, many children are pampered, given cell phones, maybe a car, food and shelter by generous parents.  Yet, college serves as a open book test for life as wanting and actually having are two different things.

But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways, Judges 2:19.

Some students gain weight quickly unable to say no to endless all you can eat buffets.  Others turn to partying to be the popular person on campus.  Temptations lurk around every corner with no guardian or parent to tell you no.  Thus, over a short period of time, people change.  As poor decisions undo your upbringing, you might reach a point where what’s good for you may not be right for me.

Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

One day the apostle Paul noticed that some of the people whom he led to Christ began to repeat the sins of their past.  To get everyone’s attention Paul provides a history lesson from the Old Testament.  Without using a hell and brimstone message, Paul urges this church to learn from past mistakes.  Whether its Adam and Eve in the Garden or the Judges who did what was right in their own eyes, each tarnished their faith.  In view of this warning, may you cling to that which is right so that what feels good does not corrupt your soul.

by Jay Mankus

How Relevant are You?

I spent the majority of my years as a student in obscurity, afraid my stuttering would embarrass me in some way.  It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I began to become relevant, serving on student council, volunteering to help build the class float for homecoming and reaching out to individuals throughout the school.  Whether popularity makes you relevant or not, I came into my own as a human being, with the highlight turning my parents basement into a nightclub for one Christmas evening during my freshmen year of college.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? – James 2:14

In the years that followed, inconsistency is the best term that describes my life.  I had my moments in the spot light, playing sand volleyball at Geauga Lake in its hey day, serving as a journalist for Travel Golf Media and store manager of Michael Jordan Golf at O’Hare International Airport.  However, I consider these personal accomplishments, not something that makes you relevant.  The best way to explain relevance is by quoting Larry the Cable Guy, ” get ur done!”  Yet, what if you invest your time and energy into things that are trivial?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead, James 2:17.

From an eternal perspective, my most relevant year was 1993.  I spent the first portion at a youth ministry trade school called Tentmaker’s, fine tuning my spiritual gifts.  The next three months involved applying this new found knowledge as a counselor and teacher at a boarding school for career underachieving junior high students.  The final six months of 93 were my finest, serving as a youth pastor in Columbus, Indiana.  These days were the epitome of relevance, meeting my wife to be in the final month of this year.  Yet, for now, I struggle to find relevance, distracted by the stress of life.  Although its nice to reminisce from time to time, its never to late to become relevant again.  May we all strive to find our place in this world so that our deeds, faith and work will not be done in vain.

by Jay Mankus

Buffer Zone

Whether you’re at home, school or work, you are bound to experience a clash in personalities.  If this turbulence happens regularly, you may be in need of a buffer.  Whether this is a cushion, defense or shield, buffer zones lessen the impact of two stubborn people.

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple, Acts 9:26.

However, sometimes a buffer can be a moderator, serving as a voice of reason.  As the Holy Spirit transformed Saul, who became Paul, the disciples were skeptical, thinking this was merely a ploy to infiltrate the first century church.  None of Jesus’ disciples were going to give Paul a second chance until Barnabas intervened.

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:27.

If it wasn’t for Barnabas’ relentless efforts, one of the greatest apostles all time never would have been discovered.  The buffer zone Barnabas provided insulated Paul from the doubts of Jesus’ disciples.  Despite their differences, Paul proved himself to be a worthy servant of Christ.  In view of this story, don’t let negative feelings prevent you from giving someone a fresh start.  And when necessary, create a buffer zone to guard and protect others from ruining someone’s reputation.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did all the Time Go?

On the first weekend in February 2012, a thought entered my mind, “why don’t you start writing a blog?”  Unsure of where to go or what to do, I consulted a few close friends with similar aspirations.  After receiving their insight, I needed to clear one last hurdle, a name which would define the reason for my blog’s existence. 1300 blogs later, I’m astonished wondering, where did all the time go?

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3.8.

There is an old adage that all good things must come to an end.  However, when you find something that you enjoy like an activity, hobby or relaxing pastime, time has a tendency to fly by.  Whenever individuals invest in leisure forms of recreation, the soul is re-energized.  Serving as a distraction from the stresses and worries in life, writing is an oasis for me.  Although I occasionally spend too much time on a blog, going in circles without any progress, I find joy in the journey.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12.

If there was a prayer or wish that would make this world a better place, it would be helping people locate jobs that they love.  Unfortunately, love doesn’t always pay the bills.  Nonetheless, there is something to be said about discovering an occupation or position that you were born to do.  The pressure of making decisions causes many to lower their standards, settling for less than ideal.  Therefore, as you wait for the clock to reach quitting time, may God direct your steps so that your dreams will come true.  Then, you too will wonder, “where did all the time go?”

by Jay Mankus

 

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