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Tag Archives: Sunday School

When Something is Missing

When I was younger, I wasn’t much of a student. Easily bored while sitting in class, I relied on gym class and sports to get me through each day. When I became old enough for youth group, I applied a similar strategy. The thought of hanging out with people my own age each Sunday night enabled me to endure an hour long church service. To me youth group was like a rite of passage, a weekly event that I never wanted to miss.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:20.

After becoming a youth director at a Methodist church in the country following my graduation from college, I made the assumption that teenagers would just show up like I did. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as I struggled to get a half dozen teens to come out each week. About a month into my tenure, I realized that something was missing. Students were being forced to get up early by their parents to attend Sunday School prior to the worship service. Thus, many youths developed the mindset, “well, I went to Sunday School, that should suffice.”

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation, Romans 10:9-10.

Whenever you are forced to do something, there is a degree of resentment that may enter your soul. If you just attend church or youth group as a favor to friends or parents, faith becomes nothing more than a religious exercise. What is missing in the lives of many church goers is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Whenever someone takes ownership of their faith, you turn the corner spiritually. Instead of dreading church, awakened souls take ownership of their faith when the void in human hearts is replaced by Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Scars Inside Your Soul

A decade ago I attended a Sunday School based upon the book Restoring the Foundations: An Integrated Approach to Healing Ministry. Written by Chester and Becky Kylstra, this book examines spiritual baggage from your past that hinders your ability to become the man or woman of God that the Lord desires. The beginning of this book serves as a self-reflection by analyzing previous addictions, beliefs and practices. When you follow the charts provided, this will likely unveil scars inside your soul.

Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me], 1 Corinthians 6:12.

While the terminology used by the Kylstra’s was new to me, their assessment of spiritual scars made sense. For example, Restoring the Foundations refers to soul spirit hurts as spiritual wounds you endure from previous hardships, past relationships or trials. Whenever you enter into a relationship with another human being, you give a part of your soul away. The more intimate this relationship becomes, the greater the risk for soul spirit hurts. Music, places or yearbooks may take your mind back in time, reliving the good, bad and ugly experiences from your past.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Am I therefore to take the members of Christ and make them part of a prostitute? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17 But the one who is united and joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body, 1 Corinthians 6:15-18.

The apostle Paul eludes to soul spirit hurts in the passage above. Whenever anyone enters into a personal relationship with Jesus, their body becomes a temple of God. However, any type of physical contact with someone other than your spouse will leave behind scars inside your soul. While not all of your relationships will leave behind unpleasant memories, Paul urges believers to take ownership of your own body. Any type of compromise, letting your guard down or flirting with temptation will result in scars and wounds to your soul. May Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 help believers steer clear of future harm.

by Jay Mankus

So Lame… By Hiding His Name

We live in a polarized world where any type of comment, statement or words can ignite explosive comments on Twitter.  Sometimes things can be taken out of context, but once you hit send you can’t take this back.  Subsequently, political correctness is the new bully on the block, causing conservatives and liberals to retract earlier posts.  This public pressure is deterring many from bolding expressing what people believe.  The byproduct of this atmosphere produces lame Christians that often hide Jesus’ name.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house,” Matthew 5:14-15.

This fear inspired the words to the children’s classic song This Little Light of Mine.  Harry Dixon Loes, a former student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago composed this song.  The founder of this school, D.L. Moody, wanted to serve God but wasn’t given a classroom to teach in his church.  An elder encouraged him to start a Sunday School outside of church and when his class got big enough a space would be provided.  Thus, D.L, Moody went to the beaches of Lake Michigan and began to introduce strangers to the good news about Jesus Christ.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven, Matthew 5:16.

Eventually, Moody’s following became so large, he started his own church in the 1800’s.  On the day of the great Chicago fire of 1871, Moody felt rushed at the end of his sermon.  Thus, he decided to skip his call to action, a time to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Later that night, several members of his congregation were killed by the flames.  This error in judgment burned within Moody’s heart, inspiring weekly altar calls in case another unexpected disaster followed.  Like the words of Jesus above, lamps are meant to shine light every where.  Therefore, don’t allow peer pressure to limit the light of Christ within you.  Rather, let your light shine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Moving Beyond Hunger Pains to Experience Worship

A decade ago I attended a Bible Study and Sunday School with a few individuals who introduced to me to the Daniel Fast.  When the Babylonians invaded Israel in the Old Testament, several young Jews were taken back to Babylon.  Held captive against their will, these teenagers were reprogrammed to a new culture by king Nebuchadnezzar.  Overwhelmed with conviction, Daniel proposed a 10 day eating challenge limited to fruits, vegetables and water to a chief official.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way, Daniel 1:8.

This proposal has evolved into what churches refer to as the Daniel Fast, a three week period to eat healthy.  Some where along the way, 10 days was extended to 21, usually occurring at the beginning of each year.  To avoid shocking my own body, I do a modified fast in 7 day segments.  By the end of the first week, I give up soda or tea to transition over to water.  Depending on how I feel after 2 weeks, I might do a strict fast the last 7 days.  However, the hardest part of any fast involves coping with hunger pains which can ruin the spirits of any participant.

“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink,” Daniel 1:12.

Although, I am still relatively a newbie when it comes to fasting, I discover something new each January.  During my first week of this year’s fast, the Holy Spirit placed a thought in my mind, “to move beyond hunger pains to experience worship.”  While I still have 2 more weeks to go, this mindset is helping me see the purpose of fasting, to draw closer to the Lord by worshiping God daily.  Thus, the next time you feel called to begin a fast, don’t forget to move beyond hunger pains to experience a heart set on worshiping God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Whatever?

If you live in the Northeast, then you’ve been at the mercy of God this winter.  One of these days Spring will arrive, yet for now snow, sleet or freezing rain is likely in your weekly forecast.  However, these events shouldn’t be shocking since part of God’s nature is doing whatever pleases Him.

The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. – Psalm 135:6

Whether worldviews are formed through Sunday School, reading books or how you were raised, few have a clear understanding of God’s attributes.  Instead of researching the Scriptures to make sense of the bumps and bruises individuals experience, many human beings respond to trials by accusing, blaming or cursing the Lord for their misery.  When unfortunate events continue to pile up without any end in sight, even the strong can lose hope.

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.  You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.  You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” – Job 30:20-22

Although the majority of Christians are uninformed while living on earth, one day the life you endure on this planet will make sense.  I’m assuming some where along the way, God will unveil the jigsaw puzzle known as your life.  This may not happen until being called home to heaven, but one day the “whatever” in life will be revealed.

by Jay Mankus

 

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