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When You’re Too Tired to Love

As the summer months begin, it’s only a matter of time before triple digit temperatures become part of weekly forecasts. As I begin a new life living in South Carolina, the heat and humidity quickly drains me of energy. In the last book of the Bible, John writes to the Church in Ephesus. Despite severe persecution in the first century, their faith did not waver. Yet, it appears that at some point exhaustion took its toll as their love for God grew cold.

I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary, Revelation 2:3.

Before getting married, Leanne and I attended a conference in Cleveland for young couples. One of the speakers used the analogy of leftovers. This illustration warned against giving God and your future spouse the leftovers of your time. The context of this expression was at the end of a busy day when you barely have energy for anything. This appears to be what happened to the Ephesians as the only time they made for God was at the end of their days, exhausted and worn out.

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love], Revelation 2:4.

According to marriage statistics from 2020, nearly 2,400 divorces occur every single day in the United States. At this pace, by the end of just one week, 16,800 divorces and or separations commence. Sadly, if this trend continues, 875,000 couple will break their marriage vows annually in America. When you’re too tired to love, relationships with God and spouses start to fall apart. In view of these dire statistics, may Jesus give you to strength to be reunited with God and your spouse.

by Jay Mankus

A Season of Suffering

Most people think of a season in terms of winter, spring, summer, and fall. During this 4 month time period, there are often fluctuations in the temperature. Each season provides a distinct and unique trait such as snow, blooming flowers, warm weather and falling leaves. Yet, the seasons mentioned in the Bible do not how a defined time table. One may last a month while others could go on for years.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, Ecclesiastes 3:1-6.

During the exodus out of Egypt, a trip that should have taken 3-4 months ended up becoming a 40 year journey through the wilderness. Just like the Israelites who didn’t obey God’s commands and Moses’ instructions, modern day human beings rarely travel from point A to point B in a straight line. Rather, unforeseen traffic causes human beings to get impatient, changing course to try to find a shortcut.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Yet, sometimes you can follow God faithfully and end up getting lost along the way. My wife and I moved to Delaware in 1997 so that I could attend Seminary, earn my masters and become a college professor or pastor. A rare eye disease ended this quest shortly after I started, leading me on my own 25 year journey in the wilderness of Delaware. Therefore, whatever season you may have to endure in 2022, hold on to faith until the Lord clears the way for your future.

by Jay Mankus

W.E.E.D.S.

After a relatively mild and wet summer, I’ve never seen weeds flourish like this in the state of Delaware. Like an alien invasion, my garden and flower beds have become engulfed by evasive species. In a typically season, I’ll do extensive weeding a few times between spring and fall. Today, marked the fifth time, leading to a piles of weeds ten feet wide and 3 feet high.

Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and [j]begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit, Matthew 13:21-22.

This tiring task lead me to create the acronym Wild Evasive Environments Determined to Spread. While I do own a weedwacker, unless you remove the entire root system, these aggressive wild weeds will continue to come back year after year. Although paying for a regular chemical application may solve this problem, I don’t want to poison my dog or other animals.

Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also, Matthew 13:24-26.

After sharing the Parable of the Sower in public, the disciples sought a private meeting with Jesus. Baffled and confused by his analogy, Jesus begins to unwrap the meaning of different environments that exist on earth. In the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus blames the devil for sowing darnels while you sleep. Thus, when you wake up, our lives tend to become entangled by W.E.E.D.S. When this occurs, wait until the harvest for your next round of spiritual weeding.

by Jay Mankus

Light Shines Brighter in the Dark

If you live in the middle or northern parts of the United States, you have probably experienced one of the strangest Springs in recent memory.  After the Northeast experienced four noreasters in March, April has greeted the Midwest with a couple of late snow storms as winter attempts to hold on for another week.  While Spring will eventually give way to Summer, there is one truth hidden within these unusual weather patterns.  Light shines brighter in the dark.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil, John 3:19.

The Bible is filled with references to light and darkness.  Jesus uses light to illustrate that which is good, right and true.  Meanwhile, darkness symbolizes imperfections, lies and secret sins that people are afraid of, hoping that no one finds out these embarrassing deeds.  According to Jesus’ earthly brother, freedom comes from opening up, allowing light to enter darkness, James 5:16.  When confession is genuine and sincere, God’s light brings healing to wounded souls.

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, Ephesians 5:8.

The apostle Paul eludes to this transition in a letter to the church of Ephesus.  Later in this chapter, Paul writes about how human nature influences individuals to gravitate toward darkness, where there are no rules or standards.  Yet, Paul reminds believers of their decision to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, choosing light over darkness.  However, some stop growing along the way, comfortably numb.  In this scenario, imperfections are not exposed as God’s light is not fully magnified.  Although it may be difficult, painful and humbling, let God into every area of your life.  When you do, light will shine brighter in the dark to restore you back toward the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Removing the Stench

As heat and humidity replaces the cold rainy days of Spring, you won’t be able to escape sweating.  This drastic change can leave a toxic odor in the air.  Whether its deodorant or laundry detergent, it might take some time to remove the stench brought on by summer conditions.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Beyond smell, individuals can stink internally.  According to the apostle Paul, this occurs by abusing your body.  Instead of participating in wholesome activities, there is a temptation to turn to the dark side.  Like the curiosity which possessed Adam and Eve in the Garden, tasting evil is a sure way to become filled with a stench.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, Ephesians 5:2.

The apostle Paul provides a solution to remove this stench.  While we were still sinners, God sent his son to be a fragrant offering.  Like stains on a carpet, Jesus lived, died and rose again to blot out our imperfections.  The Prophet Isaiah uses the symbolism of snow to cover our sin to make us whole again.  Walk in love and you too will remove the stench of sin.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Going to the Dump

Every  summer I was exposed to a local dump in Maine.  Since our cabin did not have garbage pick up, guests were expected to take all their trash to be disposed of at the county recycling center.  The smell of the bags in the August heat was fowl, but this was all part of the complete experience of going to the dump.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

While addressing the masses one day, Jesus refers to a different kind of dump.  The context of this discussion is based upon individuals carrying around baggage.  Whether its depression, stress or worry Jesus doesn’t want people to go through life alone.  Rather, when trash in life begins to pile up, drop to your knees to unload the garbage you have collected.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

The world proclaims he who dies with the most toys wins.  Yet, when people pass away your body will eventually become dust.  Thus, our bodies are on loan from God.  The Holy Spirit is the source of life for human souls.   The opposing force known as the sinful nature wages war by bombarding minds with trash from life.  To combat this weapon used by the Devil, go to the dump daily to unload worries in prayer which God replaces with rest.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When People Die Before They Reach the ER

Unfortunately, tragedy makes the headlines as well as the front pages of news papers every summer in the form of heat stroke related deaths, infants left in vehicles too long or wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time.  Former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards tries to mentor rookies each season by proclaiming, “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”  Despite these warnings, curiosity often cause people to die before they reach the Emergency Room.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Addiction is one of many silent killers that can be curtailed by accountability.  In biblical times, communities, families and the local synagogue served as positive peer pressure, providing boundaries to keep morality in and evil out.  While everything is cyclical, apathy, humanism and vanishing absolutes are re-writing how individuals should live.  This loosening of society has perverted freedom, resulting in chaos on the streets of major cities.  According to Jesus, the seed of murder is conceived when a spirit of anger consumes a human heart.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell, Matthew 5:22.

Despite Eve’s sin, Adam’s lack of leadership and a world falling apart at the seams, no one seems to care.  An avalanche of emotions is stoking a fire of hatred, resentment and revenge.  What ever happened to common sense?  Will anyone ever wake up to smell the coffee of a society slipping away from God?  If these warning signs continue to be ignored, doctors will be helpless to act, like a M.A.S.H. unit who receives their patients too late, dead on arrival.  May the  words of a classic song “Stop Children What’s that Sound ” prompt hearts of actions to reverse the trend of a culture slip sliding away from God.

by Jay Mankus

Wilted Flowers… Wilted Souls

Based upon  a 2013 CNN article, roughly 224 million roses are grown to prepare for Valentine Day shoppers.  Beside candy, roses have become a symbol for this special day, with the average person spending $130 to impress their significant other.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for these expensive flowers to die.  Life can be prolonged by adding fresh water daily and trimming the stems.  Yet, in the end, the smell of flowers will fade, wilt and end up in the trash.

The human soul can relate to the final resting place for roses.  Individuals who are quiet, shy or wonder why no accepts them for who they are, often wilt like flowers.  The lack of communication, intimacy and relationships can weigh on a heart, resulting in loneliness.  Unless a soul experiences good news, hope or something positive, faith can fade into oblivion.  Like a deer that pants for water on a hot summer day, those that thirst for temporary pleasures will taste the sourness of disappointment.

According to the Bible, the soul finds rest in God alone, Psalm 62:1.  Though many will try other avenues to fill this void, nothing can satisfy like Jesus; just ask the woman at the well, John 4.  Mankind may try to stop the grass from withering and flowers from falling off their stems, yet the only cure to wilted souls is the Word of God, Isaiah 40:8.  If the thought of a cold dark winter has brought you down, may the promise of Romans 8:38-39 sustain you when all seems lost.

by Jay Mankus

Double Trouble: One Foot in Heaven and the Other in Hell

Anna Chapman, Klaus Fuchs and Frank Abagnale Jr. all have one thing in common, each lived a secret life as a spy for years until eventually having their cover blown.  Even in a normal day to day setting, the desire to be accepted socially does persuade some to become fake, afraid that others will reject who they really are.  Thus, when a student enters college as a freshman, some chose to blend in, living a double life.

I fell into this trap during the years at the University of Delaware.  For a semester, I was one of the most popular freshman on campus, known as one of the 4 horsemen, getting all the invites to parties, hanging out late and playing sports on “the Beach” in place of studying.  When no one was looking, I snuck out of my dorm to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting once a week as a close Christian.  Essentially, I limited my faith to once a week, for an hour, with one foot in heaven and the other in hell.

Unfortunately, this cycle repeated itself during my senior year of college.  Although my faith was not hidden at school, the summer provided a leave of absence from God, indulging in the pleasures on earth.  While not everything I did was evil, I spent too much time dangling on the fence.  I was the epitome of lukewarm, following in the footsteps of the church at Laodicea, Revelation 3:15-16.  This act of double trouble forced me to make a decision, should I stay or should I go?  Though it has not been smooth sailing, I’d rather be on a narrow path than a road that leads to destruction, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Coasting on Cruise Control

If you’re traveling cross country in a car or planning a long day trip, the invention of cruise control is a nice luxury.  Although vacation traffic may limit your opportunities, open highways, especially at night, provide a chance for drivers to rest their legs.  With only a few weeks of summer remaining, try to get away for a little R & R coasting on cruise control.

From a spiritual perspective, coasting through life is something that you want to avoid.  Unfortunately, there is where I find myself, using a busy work schedule as an excuse.  Somewhere in the last month, I’ve lost my spiritual mojo.  As a result, my devotional time is sporadic, prayer life lame and influx of the Holy Spirit is wading.  Like the classic line from Star Trek, I feel like Captain Kirk’s frequently request to Scotty, “I need more power!”

Regardless of your circumstances, sooner or later everyone grows tired, Isaiah 40:29-31.  When you reach your breaking point, find yourself exhausted or wake up spiritually numb, God saw this coming.  In these days of desperation, running on empty, you might find yourself crying uncle, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  While coasting on cruise control led you to this state, yielding to the Lord will help you rise up from the ashes of despair.  Fan into flame 2 Timothy 1:7 so that the only coasting you do in life is driving in the country.

by Jay Mankus

 

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