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The Peerless Bridge

Following its opening on April 15, 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was selected as “One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World.”  This 17.6 miles Bridge-Tunnel provides a direct link between Southeastern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula. Anyone who has driven this stretch of US Highway 13, you don’t have to worry about heights. However, as the road disappears underneath a major shipping channel, a peerless faith is necessary to get you safely through darkness to the other side.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses], Hebrews 11:1.

Peerless refers to beyond comparison, incomparable, matchless, second to none and unsurpassed. The author of Hebrews devotes an entire chapter to illustrate individuals who possessed a peerless faith. Names such as Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham are synonymous with faith. The key to possessing a peerless faith involves an unwavering trust in an invisible God. Instead a living by sight, seeing what’s in front of you, a peerless faith keeps going by reaching out for Jesus’ hand when it gets dark.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out], Hebrews 11:6.

While in college, I was introduced to the Bridge Illustration during an Evangelism Explosion Course. This analogy used the Grand Canyon as the great divide between mankind and God. This cliff was formed by the sins of the world, a form of spiritual erosion making this gap wider and wider each day. The only way to get to the other side is by crossing the peerless bridge. While unseen by the human eye, this invisible structure is in the form of a cross. The only way to heaven is by crossing over on this peerless bridge.

by Jay Mankus

Recounting the Stages of Your Journey

Back in 2007, I took my family on a month long vacation to see the Grand Canyon.  This trip took several years of planning and saving, but it was worth every penny spent.  From Skyline Caverns, Shenandoah National Park, the Great Smokey Mountains and the Ozarks, this was merely an appetizer before for the main course.  Along way, dining in restaurants across the south western part of the United States was fascinating and surreal.  This journey opened my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation within each of the 20 plus states I visited.  Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in New Mexico, the Indian Rock Cave and Trail near Fairfield Bay Arkansas, the Painted Desert in Arizona and Wind Caves National Park in South Dakota are must see destinations if you travel via car or RV.  My one bit of advice is that you can’t see everything so pick a couple of places and savor each day you have while site seeing.

Moses recorded their points of departure, as the Lord commanded, stage by stage; and these are their journeys according to their points of departure, Numbers 33:2.

In the passage above, Moses recounts the journey Israel made from the Exodus out of Egypt to the Jordan River, waiting to enter God’s promised land.  Earlier in this Old Testament book, Moses records the numbers of people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who make this trek.  Without modern equipment like moving vans and paved roads, the staging of half a million people was no easy task.  Yet, with the Lord’s help along with the elders, Israel was on the verge of seeing one of God’s promises fulfilled.  To a certain extent, recounting your previous steps helps you in the future if you face a similar project or task.  Failing to develop this sort of practice may result in repeating the same mistakes of your past.

You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I surpassed many of my contemporaries among my countrymen in [my advanced study of the laws of] Judaism, as I was extremely loyal to the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul recounts the stages of his spiritual journey.  Paul refers to three aspects of his life: before Christ, his conversion experience and how the Holy Spirit has changed his life since beginning a relationship with God.  While this may be obvious to you, Paul realizes that everyone’s journey is different.  Sometimes you succeed and other tests you fail miserably.  Yet, its important to be real, reflecting upon the good and bad.  If the journeys of Christians are perfect, the average person will feel unworthy, unattracted to faith in Christ.  However, when believers publicly confess and share their shortcomings, James 5:16, healing can begin.  While most people want to put on a good front, the world is hungry for honesty.  Therefore, don’t miss out on the teachable moments the Lord gives you each day to recount the stages of your spiritual journey by sharing your testimony.

by Jay Mankus

Faith Without Hesitation

When I was young, I got caught in a severe thunderstorm.  However, it wasn’t the lightning I was worried about.  I found myself on the other side of a raging creek, with the water level rising with each second that I waited to jump.  I stood three feet away from safety, yet there wasn’t room for a running start, stuck between two boulders.  My mind said you won’t make it, but fear of the impending weather caused me to jump.

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.

Not much has changed since I made this leap of faith.  However, the older you get, the obstacles increase in difficulty.  Unfortunately, the longer you postpone or wait to face trials, the harder they become.  Creek beds turn into rivers and rivers into lakes.  Hesitation may seem normal, but leads to doubt.  Genuine faith leaves second guessing behind, resulting in a solid spiritual foundation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Evangelists often use what is known as the road to Romans to illustrate faith.  Using the passage above, designers of this analogy refer to sin as the Grand Canyon separating human beings from God.  Even if you were a world long jump champion, you can’t physically make it to the other side.  The solution to this problem is the cross of Jesus.  Although invisible, Christians walk by faith to get to the other side.  In view of this, don’t procrastinate any longer.  Rather, display a faith without hesitation.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Silence Kills

As human beings enter life on earth, God places certain instincts within babies, crying to get their mother’s attention.  Once talking commences, whining is replaced by mine, ooh and wanna.  Born inside of every child since Adam and Eve, the sinful nature is at war with silence.  If gratifications aren’t instantly met, silence can kill inclinations to be self-absorbed, training infants in the way they should go. Proverbs 22:6.

On the other hand, silence also separates individuals from God, Romans 3:23, as sin establishes a barrier deeper than the grand canyon, Romans 6:23.  Created to be in communion with the Lord and mankind, silence often steal, kills and destroys faith.  If this wall isn’t broken or lifted, souls will die void of any hope, joy or love.  Perhaps, someone or something is blocking this line, muffling God’s still small voice, 1 Kings 19:12-13.

No one is immune to silence, especially when prayers lifted up to heaven go unanswered.  Waiting is one thing I detest, rather pointless to a person in desperate need of answers.  Yet, despite my feelings, there are clues left behind by in the Bible which shouldn’t surprise me.  According to a servant of God who was sawed in two for his faith, silence is a way of life, Isaiah 40:27-31.  As Israel complained to this prophet, God reveals a message of hope to those still waiting in the dark for a response.    Therefore, if you are like me, scratching your head, trying to make sense life’s trials, may silence kill any hint of impatience within you, replaced by spiritual strength from the only One who can breathe life into a tired and weary soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

When the World Around You Begins to Fall Apart

Seven years ago, I felt like I was on top of the world.  My family and I spent a month traveling around the country, with the Grand Canyon as the main attraction.  A year later, we had enough money to put an addition on our house, giving each of our 3 children the privacy of their own room.  With the summers off as a teacher, a good paying hard-scaping job provided the extra funds to buy accessories for this new project.  However, as I cut my grass today, I realized that I have slowly allowed the world around me to fall apart.

By foregoing a few upgrades on our addition, there is now a water fall directly under the front door during each rain storm.  This lack of foresight has led to a now rotted door frame which needs to be replaced.  Recognizing I didn’t have the financial resources to maintain my yard properly in the spring, I waited to see what would happen without applying fertilizer, lime or weed and feed.  The consequence has been a yard of clovers, weeds and vegetation more suitable for a jungle than a neighborhood.  The appearance of the exterior of my home highlights that lack of care, concern and priority I possess for having a green thumb.

When you don’t set aside time for things or make it a priority, decay often follows.  When neglect turns to denial, people’s lives can  fall apart.  On the other hand, you don’t want to waste your life trying to pretend to be happy on the outside, yet when the camera is off, you’re a wreck.  Thus, balance is crucial, Philippians 2:4, taking care of your own needs before you can be of any help to others.  Honestly, I don’t know if my yard can be saved, but for those around me, hurting or in need of encouragement, that is where I need to invest my time for now.  Take part in this spiritual harvest, Matthew 9:37-38.

by Jay Mankus

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