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Tag Archives: testimonies

A Spiritual Makeover for Troubled Souls

A makeover is a complete transformation or remodeling of something. The two most common usages apply to an individual’s physical appearance or the complete renovation of a house. Whether due to age, deterioration and or erosion, makeovers may be necessary to extend life. This may be in the form of altering one’s diet and exercise so that healthy foods and working out will promote a spiritual makeover.

And also the Holy Spirit adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]. For having said, 16 This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), Hebrews 10:15-16.

The author of Hebrews eludes to an internal change that takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit. To those who experienced this transformation in the first century shared their testimonies. One of the ways sinners alter their wayward habits is by meditating on God’s laws, Joshua 1:8. When this spiritual discipline is done with a sincere heart, minds begin shift from selfish toward eternity. As mindsets begin to change, thoughts and understanding set the stage for a spiritual makeover.

 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

The apostle Paul illustrates this transformation in the passage above. Whenever you stop living for yourself and start living for a higher calling, earthly bodies can begin to make this transition. Yet, a spiritual makeover can’t occur until you stop conforming to the patterns of this world. Just like Jesus encouraged his followers to emulate the beatitudes, spiritual transformation is an ongoing process as Christians seek to find out God’s will for your life. Unfortunately, change takes time as trial and error will close one door while opening another. It is on this journey where spiritual makeovers near completion.

by Jay Mankus

Praying for Participation and Sharing

Early on in a new school year, trying to get students to participate and share their thoughts can be difficult. As a former high school teacher, the only willing participants tend to be the class clown and teacher’s pets trying to earn brownie points. When all of their curriculum, education, and teaching methods fail to produce increased participation, don’t be afraid to pray for students to open up their hearts in your classroom.

[And I pray] that the participation in and sharing of your faith may produce and promote full recognition and appreciation and understanding and precise knowledge of every good [thing] that is ours in [our identification with] Christ Jesus [and unto His glory], Philemon 1:6.

In an obscure first century epistle, the apostle Paul writes to one of his servants in the ministry. While writing from prison, Paul prays for the participation in and the sharing of testimonies. As Christians reflect upon how they came to faith in Christ, your personal story will strike a nerve with a specific audience. The more you find opportunities to weave your faith into daily conversations, other people will begin to appreciate and understand your relationship with God.

But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully, 1 Peter 3:15.

One of Jesus’ former disciples chimes in on this topic as well. Simon Peter who was never afraid to voice his opinion appears to have gotten wiser in his later years. Based upon the passage above, Peter learned the necessity to be courteous and respectful when sharing his faith. One of my favorite hymns in college was Blessed Assurance which promotes sharing your faith. Whenever I hear the chorus, “this is my story, this is my song,” I am inspired to participate and share my faith. This continues to be a worthy cause to pray for daily.

by Jay Mankus

Entrusted to the Grace of God

As a former youth pastor, I have seen how creative teenagers have become to raise money for mission trips.  During my tenure at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana, three bus loads of junior and senior high students spent a week each summer repairing roofs for a poor community in southern North Carolina.  Anyone who donated money received an invitation to a banquet where pictures and testimonies were shared.  This event was designed to highlight and summarize all that God had done through these young people.

From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work which they had now completed, Acts 14:26. 

Based upon the words of Luke, Paul and Barnabas began this tradition at their home church in Antioch.  Paul and Barnabas traveled over 1200 miles in a little over two years.  As a result of their travel, more than a dozen new churches were established.  These new partnerships resulted in a series of letters, questions and return visits to help and nurture new converts to Christ.  According to Luke, it took a long time to communicate all that had happened, staying in Antioch an extended period, fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters.

Arriving there, they gathered the church together and began to report [in great detail] everything that God had done with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior]. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples, Acts 14:27-28.

While fasting and praying back in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to become missionary partners.  Luke refers to this event as being entrusted to the grace of God.  The church leaders in Antioch assigned the task of missionaries to these two godly leaders.  Paul was a Roman citizen while Barnabas was a wealthy man, a good combination for traveling throughout the Mediterranean.  Depending upon the gifts, resources and talents you have been blessed with, make sure you listen to God’s calling so that you will fulfill what God has entrusted you to do.

by Jay Mankus

Untouched

When my wife and I bought our home, we decided to forego cable initially.  On a good day for reception, 7 channels were available, with 4-5 normally visible.  Our favorite channel was Pax, tuning in weekly to catch Hope Island, a show about a pastor’s life outside of church and It’s a Miracle.  While each series had their moments, the testimonies shared on It’s a Miracle revealed a hidden truth.  Sometimes angels, divine intervention and prayer leave individuals untouched by trouble.

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble, Proverbs 19:23.

In the Old Testament, it was common for Jewish families to recount previous miracles experienced by Israel to their children.  The Flood, Passover and possessing the Promised Land were popular stories to reflect upon.  These encounters instilled the power of God to the next generation.  Yet, King Solomon puts these accounts into their proper perspective by stressing that the fear of the Lord is the driving force behind protecting souls from trouble.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 40:10.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, its easy for some to read too much into every day events.  This sort of daily and or weekly analysis often results in a false sense of security.  Self-reliance can make an individual believe that human effort, knowledge and strength is the source of their protection.  Unfortunately, this way of thinking discounts the invisible actions of angelic beings.  Although human beings should take some credit, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and the force behind protecting souls from danger.

by Jay Mankus

 

Petitions, Prayers and Intercession

If you are moved, passionate or perturbed by a certain issue, you might choose to start a petition.  This formal written request attempts to organize a body of concerned citizens uniting over a common cause.  While I have signed petitions in the past, I’ve never thought of prayer in this context.   According to the apostle Paul, Christians should come together to petition God through concerts of prayer.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—1 Timothy 2:1.

Growing up in a Roman Catholic church, I was taught prayer was suppose to be a private matter.  Jesus reaffirms this in the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:6.  Nonetheless, Solomon professes in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything.  Thus, whether its drug addiction, suicide or violence, its time to petition God with other like minded individuals to cease these cancers of society.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise, James 5:13.

In times of desperation, intercession is one of the last lines of defense.  I’ve read several amazing testimonies from church members interceding on behalf of missionaries in the field.  One of my favorites involves a group of believers witnessing to a tribe of head hunters.  During one particular evening, this group’s village was surrounded, fearful for their lives.  Yet, instantaneous prayers ushered angels into action, spooking these warriors away in a biblical like miracle.  Though the situation you are currently encountering may seem dire, petition, prayer and intercession is the best solution to confront mounting issues in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Stubborn Refusal to Believe

Authors Chester and Becky Kylstras have developed a simplistic approach to understanding how people form their belief systems.  Co-writing Restoring the Foundations, the Kylstyra’s rely on case studies, personal encounters and testimonies to apply biblical principles to real life.  Worldviews are shaped through experiences, which if repeated lead to beliefs.  These beliefs develop expectations such as ” if I do this or that, this should happen.”  Subsequently, behavior is dependent on the outcome of these expectations, either good or bad,

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen, Mark 16:14.

Jesus invested the last 3 years of his life on earth with twelve men.  During this great adventure, the blind received sight, mute were given a new voice and dead raised back to life.  Yet, after Jesus was crucified, the disciples relapsed into a state of doubt.  Although not mentioned in the Bible, I can hear Jesus ask, “don’t you remember all the miracles?”  Disappointed, the words of Mark 16:14 reveal a stubborn refusal to believe.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

If you believe everything happens to a reason, then life is filled with twists and turns.  While the good will lift up your spirits.  The bad and ugly times will either make or break you.  The disciples failed miserably when Jesus was gone for three days.  However, the introduction of the Holy Spirit breathed new life into the souls of these men.  This power is still available for us today.  Therefore, if you want to overcome a stubborn heart, ask the Lord in prayer to receive to receive the power of the Mighty Counselor, John 16:15.

by Jay Mankus

The Healer and the Healee

News of any sort of biblical healing today will leave skeptics wondering, “that can’t be true, can it?”  In the past, many who have claimed to be the healee only experience temporary healing, with the conditions, illness or symptoms returning sometime after their miraculous encounter.  However, in recent years an outbreak of testimonies are coming in from all over the world from the healer and the healee.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. Mark 10:46.

In the days of Jesus, a particular individual sets the scene for a special day.  Unable to see, Bartimaeus appears to have relied on pity to make a living, similar to those who stand at crowded intersections asking for money.  Yet, when news of Jesus’ arrival came, he refused to stay in his hapless state.  Yelling out despite the naysayers, Bartimaeus’ cries touched Jesus’ heart.  A desperate man filled with an unswerving faith opened the door for permanent healing.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see,” Mark 10:51.

In my own circumstances, I often doubt that God can transform my situation.  Thus, instead of experiencing healing, I tend to become the complainer or complainee.  If only I possessed the faith of Bartimaeus, things would be different.  However, as for now, I’m grasping for the resurrection power made available by the Holy Spirit.  Though the apostle Paul teaches not everyone will be healed, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12, I’m waiting for the day I meet the healer and experience permanent healing.

by Jay Mankus

Did God Really Tell Me That?

 
Although its been thousands of years since Lucifer first planted the idea of questioning God within eve’s mind, Genesis 3:1, there is a new trend gaining traction.  Sure, there will always be doubters, haters and nay sayers who will claim God does not exist.  Yet, this latest fad might be more harmful, especially when their promises come up empty.  Like a page out of the Bible, more and more people are sharing stories about how God is speaking to them in an audible voice, either in dreams, during a prayer or while reading the Bible.  Before these phanatics get excited by telling anyone who will listen, maybe they should practice 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, asking the question, “did God really tell me that?”

The reason why I say this is that gullible and hurting people are often burned by optimistic news, taking what pastors, television evangelists or faith healers say as gospel, as if these words came straight out of Jesus’ mouth.  Back in February of 2012, I began to hear countless testimonies, people who reached out to the parents of Joseph Feeley, one of my former students who had been battling cancer for 2 years.  Though I believe each had good intentions, they were proved wrong when Joseph went to be home with the Lord on February 27th, less than a month after confidently proclaiming Joseph would be healed, traveling throughout the country as a motivational speaker.

Six months later, I received a similar message at a Christian bookstore in Delaware.  Since I was still searching for a full time job, I was vulnerable, grasping at straws for anything positive.  When I wrote a blog on this encounter in late August of 2012, I was hopeful the words of this prophet might come true, “God will reward you with a great paying job, surpassing your wildest imagination.”  Unfortunately, this grandois prophecy did not occur within the time table give but who knows, maybe my position at Amazon could turn into something special.  However, like the Feeley family, I am still in a lot of pain, disappointed by the outcome of my current path.

Instead of crying over spilled milk, I won’t give up on chasing my dreams of becoming a novelist, screen writer or both.  In future blogs, I will be careful not to exploit anyone with promises unless I am certain of a specific message, truth or word of insight people need to hear.  The lesson to be learned from this blog is to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, ensuring your words don’t inflict false hope to a world searching for answers.  May these words, stirring within my heart, strike a cord, helping you to reflect before blotting out any words in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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