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Tag Archives: spiritual awakening

A Reason to Reconsider

Imitation is a response by an observer or observers who replicate another’s behavior. This can be viewed as a form a flattery when the originator sees others coping a dance move, expression or unique style. One of the nicknames Jesus received during the first century was the Great Magician. Jealous of Jesus’ great healing powers, religious leaders began to refer to Jesus as an illusionist, performing miracles in the name of Satan, Matthew 12:24. Despite these claims, Jesus’ ministry inspired others to become faith healers without having a personal relationship with God.

Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists also attempted to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I implore you and solemnly command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” – Acts 19:13

During a trip to Ephesus, Luke details a family of brothers who became Jewish exorcists. This isn’t a scene out of the Exorcism of Emily Rose, a 2005 film. Rather, the sons of Sceva traveled to homes filled with desperate individuals hoping to be set free from demonic oppression and possession. Apparently, this was a viable occupation, making enough money and successful enough to rid souls from imps. Yet, when this crew confronted a legion of demons, all 7 got their butts kicked, barely escaping, fleeing in fear.

This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified and exalted. 18 Many of those who had become believers were coming, confessing and disclosing their [former sinful] practices. 19 And many of those who had practiced magical arts collected their books and [throwing book after book on the pile] began burning them in front of everyone. They calculated their value and found it to be 50,000 pieces of silver, Acts 19:17-19.

Like the top grossing horror films of all time, fear gripped everyone who interviewed these brothers or witnessed this assault. According to Luke, the thought of imitating the Christian faith stopped, resulting in a spiritual awakening that spread to practicing witches. Contrite hearts began to purge their lives from anything that attempted to imitate God’s power. Subsequently, magical books worth 50,000 pieces of silver were burned. The fear of God from what happened to the 7 sons of Sceva served as a reason to reconsider previous practices by embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

by Jay Mankus

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Witnessing the Grace of God

Grace in the biblical sense refers to favor and goodness that God shows to mankind.  Thus, any example of a good, kind or merciful act can be described as the grace of God.  During the first century, a church with little guidance and oversight from the apostles experienced a great spiritual awakening.  When news of this special anointing from God reached Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to see what was happening.  According to Luke, Barnabas’ first impression was that he was an eyewitness of the grace of God at work.

The news of this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God [that was bestowed on them], he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with an unwavering heart to stay true and devoted to the Lord, Acts 11:22-23.

As soon as I read the passage above, I wanted to know what does the grace of God look like?  Just as the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles in Caesarea, this same phenomena began to take place in Antioch.   The words that Barnabas conveys to Luke is the bestowing of the grace of God.  As Gentiles repented of their sins, turned to Jesus for forgiveness and were baptized, lives were transformed.  While visiting Antioch, Barnabas spent time talking to these new converts.  Based upon these conversations, Barnabas found unwavering hearts who stayed true and devoted to the Lord.

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation], Ephesians 2:8-9.

Reading this portion of the book of Acts makes me wonder, where is the grace of God today?  Is faith dead or has the sinful nature blinded modern Christians from recognizing the grace of God?  The apostle Paul makes an interesting comment about grace in the passage above.  Grace is all God as there is nothing human beings can take credit for.  This gift is either accepted, put on hold for a while or rejected.  When grace is embraced, this is accomplished through faith.  However, Paul makes it clear that no one should boast or take credit in any way.  In view of this, may the Holy Spirit open our eyes today so that we too can witness the grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

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

Going Down the Wrong Side of the Tracks

Good and bad, right or wrong and acceptable verses evil, how can you tell the difference?  At one point in America, this wasn’t that difficult.  However, ever since liberal ideology took over public education, schools have slowly eliminated moral principles from classrooms.  Subsequently, its been like a run away caboose going down the wrong side of the tracks.

And Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person,” Mark 7:20-23.

Two Supreme Court Cases set this all in motion.  On June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court decided in Engel verse Vitale that a prayer approved by New York Board of Regents violated the first amendment.  A year later, Abington School District v. Schempp disallowed public Bible readings in classrooms for the same reason.  While groups like the ACLU celebrated these two decisions as a victory, the foundation of education was removed.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:29.

When the words of Peter were rejected by the leaders of the United States of America, this opened the door for the political correct movement to be born.  Now alive and well, this invisible book is the new Bible, dictating what is appropriate and inappropriate.  The media is the judge, condemning the guilty through smear campaigns while shining the spot light on those who play ball, usually the Hollywood elite.  Until this trend is reversed, I fear that this train will continue to go down the wrong side of the tracks until a spiritual awakening leads people back where God wants us to be.

by Jay Mankus

Shake, Rattle and Rut…

Jesse Stone wrote a 12 bar blues rock and roll song in 1954 under his alias song writing name, Charles Calhoun.  This piece was first recorded by Big Joe Turner, yet most notably sung by Bill Haley and the Comets.  Music in its truest form involves rhythm displayed in Shake, Rattle and Roll.

The opposite of this is a rut, void of any flow, inspiration or momentum.  Over the course of time, craters, ditches and potholes disrupt individuals from developing a rhythm in life.  Instead patterns of negative behavior leads to disappointment, a lack of production and unfulfilled expectations.  Once you reach these doldrums, like the dog days of summer, sometimes a spiritual awakening is necessary to break you from this mental state.

This is where I find myself today, stuck in a rut.  To escape this, I need to claim the prayer of David in Psalm 30:1-3.  The blue print laid out in this passage involves praising God from the middle of your circumstances.  Whether you’re stuck in the mud or recovering from a major trial, praise initiates healing.  As soon as you muster the strength to possess a Paul like attitude, Acts 16:25, God transforms ruts into shakes, rattles and spiritual rolls.

by Jay Mankus

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