Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: thanking God

Not Just a Coincidence

Any well written drama includes a series of simultaneous events which peak the interest of viewers. Whether you are talking about a crime scene investigation, court case or murder mystery, things that happen at the same time are designed to lump the innocent in with the guilty individual or party. Following the clues, evidence and facts take an audience in an unexpected direction which ultimately exonerates the falsely accused while exposing who is to blame.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God, Deuteronomy 28:1-2.

While driving home from work earlier in the week, the Holy Spirit opened my mind to something that I regularly overlook. Like James Stewart’s character (George Bailey) in It’s a Wonderful Life, my life is full of blessings. Despite a normal amount of disappointments, failures and trying times, the Lord has watched over my family and friends. Instead of thanking God for all the visible and invisible blessings in my life, I dismiss many of these occurrences to fate, luck and natural events.

But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the field, Deuteronomy 28:15-16.

The lesson God is trying to teach me is that this isn’t just a coincidence. Rather, the principles of Deuteronomy 28 are being played out daily. Listening to and obeying God results in favor in the form of accomplishments, blessings and success. Meanwhile, those who fail to accept, embrace or listen to the Bible’s teaching will suffer a series of setbacks. God uses humility to reunite lost and troubled souls with their Creator. Therefore, the next time you think about ignoring God’s omnipresence on earth, remember that blessings and curses is not a coincidence.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

Beyond Tradition

In order to keep with tradition, individuals will travel across the country if necessary to be with their family.  American minds have been programmed to gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas annually, getting stressed out and becoming broke in the process.  Is this cycle really worth repeating or has the meaning of these special holidays become lost in translation from one generation to the next?  Perhaps the meaning lies somewhere beyond tradition.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, Philippians 4:6.

As a former teacher,  I know Thanksgiving has become commercialized and stripped of its original meaning to avoid becoming politically incorrect.  Yet, if you search hard enough, you will find what really happened to celebrate this occasson.  Early on the Pilgrims initially tried communism, sharing the land and it’s harvests for the common good of the community.  However, when hard working individuals realized there was no reward for going above and beyond what was expected, production declined making that first winter difficult to survive.  Recognizing this flawed system, the following year families were allowed to keep any excess harvest, bartering and trading with Indians.  When the concept of this free market system took off, the Pilgrims and Indians came together after the fall harvest to thank God for providing enough food to get families through the winter.

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High, Psalm 7:17.

Unless you are homeless or poor, it’s hard to appreciate the effort necessary to collect, gather and store food for several months without a refrigerator or modern applicances.  Some nights, families went to bed starving, not knowing when or if another meal will be provided.  This desperate environment forces you to either work tiredlessly for food or develop a complete trust that God will somehow supernaturally provide.  Today, Americans have so much more than the Pilgrims ever did that many become spoiled, complaining about superficial aspects of life.  Sure, it would be great to be rich, buy family members lavish Christmas gifts and not have to worry about making a car or house payment.  Yet, it’s time to go beyond the tradition of Thanksgiving and Christmas to see life for what it is, a gift from God.  Don’t let earthly demands for these holidays steal your joy.  Rather, each time you wake up, look around at the blessings you have been given so that a spirit of gratitude will reign despite what others may do or say this holiday season.

by Jay Mankus

Dropping Anchor to Pray

During a trip to Rome, the apostle Paul’s ship got caught in a northeaster, sending violent waves that crashed against his boat for three days.  Fearful of nearby rocks, the crew dropped anchor upon the sandbar beneath them.  As 276 people waited in the dark, each began to pray for daylight to come quickly.  In the end, this decision to drop anchor kept everyone on board safe.

Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight, Acts 27:29.

Its uncanny how people tend to wait until the last second to pray.  Instead of thanking God for the little things in life, God has become like Monopoly’s Get out of Jail Free Card.  Subsequently, the Master of the Universe is a crutch people only use when they are in trouble.  When the good times roll, complacency makes the average person think its there doing, not a blessing from God.  Thus, this cycle continues today, using prayer as a last resort.

Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Perhaps, the apostle Paul also became fed up with this mentality during his life.  In his first of two letters to the church of Thessalonica, Paul urges believers to pray without ceasing.  Whether you are sitting, traveling or walking, prayer is a powerful weapon if relied upon.  Dropping anchor to pray shouldn’t be saved for emergencies.  Rather, prayer provides a covering, a hedge of protection against demonic attacks.  Therefore, in good, bad or indifferent times in life, don’t forget to drop anchor to pray.

by Jay Mankus

 

Base Camp

During an expedition in Alaska, a man went for a short hike one morning when a blizzard fell upon this region.  Quickly turning back to return to base camp, white out conditions blinded this man, causing him to become disoriented.  After 15 minutes of wondering around, this man’s wilderness trained kicked in.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me, John 15:4.

Taking his backpack, this man took a stake, hammering it into the ground until it wouldn’t move.  Then, he tied rope to this stake, serving as marker, going in a circle 25 feet, then 50, 75 and so on.  Finally, after extending his rope to its farthest setting, 100 feet, this man bumped into base camp, thanking God for saving his life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing, ” John 15:5.

This story reminds me the words of the disciple whom Jesus loved in chapter 15 of his gospel account.  John is trying to encourage his readers to stay connected to God through Jesus.  Jesus is like the stake in the illustration above serving as a firm foundation.  Without this reference point, the man from Alaska would have died.  In the same way, those who try live apart from Christ will lose their lifeline.  In view of this, don’t wander far from base camp unless you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, staying connected to Jesus while you are away.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Brain Fart Caught on Camera

With millions of America engrossed in the finish of Super Bowl XLIX, one of the most incredible catches of all time will be forever vacated by a brain fart caught on camera.  With the New England Patriots clinging to a 28-24, Seahawk receiver Jermaine Kearse went up for a 45 yard pass on 3rd and 10 which was deflected and bounced off his knee before reeling in Russell Wilson’s pass while on his back.  After Marshawn Lynch advanced the football to the 1 yard line, Seattle was less than 3 feet from repeating as NFL champions.  As television commentators were considering whether or not New England should allow Seattle to score, Seattle’s play caller had a brain fart, failing to give the ball to their best option.  Instead a 2nd down pass was intercepted, leaving most football fans in shock, with Patriots fans thanking God for this bizarre ending.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Beyond the field of competition, brain farts are a daily reality, especially for those who must make tough decisions.  When faced with pressure or under duress, the human mind may not function properly.  Stress tends to alter one’s ability to make quick judgments.  Perhaps an overwhelming disappointment early on in life may cause some to avoid seeking positions of leadership, afraid to fail.  Known as gun shy, this may explain what happened in the final minute of this year’s Super  Bowl.  Somewhere during the 40 seconds between plays, doubt, hesitation or uncertainty cost a franchise a title.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:7.

Unfortunately, the media will likely ridicule this decision for years to come.  Some may even call it the worst decisions in Super Bowl history.  However, in the grand scheme of life, this is just a game that men get paid to play.  Thus, the costliest brain farts occur in the real world, where one bad choice has consequences.  Once the emotion of victories and losses fade, make sure that you don’t fall into a pattern of neglect.  Just ask Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriot, who is now on trial for double murder.  Regardless of your current mood, may the Lord give you a peace that surpasses all understanding to press on after any brain fart moment that you have to endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

Rocky Road

On the way to see the wizard, Dorothy, Toto and the cast of misfits she picked up on the way to Oz didn’t always have a smooth journey.  The scarecrow, tinman and lion all had major flaws, but the company they provided on the yellow brick road was worth the risk.  Alone, Dorothy would have not been able to overcome the rocky road that the wicked witch brought forth.  Together, working as a team this motley crew, defeated the enemy, setting the witches servants free.

In life, I wish you could travel from point A to point B without any obstacles.  However, each day has its own set of detours, pot holes and road blocks.  One day you have a teaching job, the next day you don’t.  Others have seen marriage vanish before their eyes.  Meanwhile,  accidents, tragedy and illness ends the life of some way too soon.  Essentially, life is a rocky road with twists and turns that no one other than God can foresee.

Subsequently, the Bible warns its readers of the nightmares that greet individuals, James 1:2-4.  Although some suffer more than others, trials come in various shape and sizes.  Perhaps, as unfortunate events enter one’s life, faith and trust increases, forcing believers to climb, crawl or walk along a narrowing path, Matthew 7:14.  Looking back over the past 5 years, I thank God for the rocky road that I’ve endured.  As a disciple once said, “sometimes you have to go through fire to be refined for future endeavors,” 1 Peter 1:6-7.  May the rocky roads that you’ve encountered prepare you for future blessings in God’s time, Ecclesiastes 3:11

by Jay Mankus

Passing on a Winter Tradition

One of my most fondest memories as a child was playing in the snow.  My parents had a toboggan that  our family would pile on, going down steep hills on golf courses or at state parks.  When the snow was too high to drive any where, I created a luge slide off of our back steps or went across the street to Jeanette’s.  Although I never went as fast as I did on the toboggan, I always looked forward to building bigger and better courses each year.

Photo

When my 3 children were still young, I began to make a short slope off the back deck.  Although my wife wasn’t initially thrilled with the idea, its become a winter tradition, that is of course when we get snow in Delaware.  Over time, this luge course has turned into extreme tubing, starting on top of a slide on the deck, continuing down the steps of my deck, guided by picnic table benches, winding around a U-shaped wall before ending some where near the back fence.  Who said adults couldn’t still have fun or be a kid at heart.

Photo

Anyway, with my oldest son now in driver’s ed, it won’t be long until there’s an empty nest with no one left to entertain or raise.  Thus, I hope I cherish each snow day that I have with my children before they’re all grown up.  While my body isn’t what it use to be, I still enjoy playing hard and passing on an appreciation for life.  In the end, I pray that my children will develop their own winter traditions, thanking God each time it snows.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: