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Inspiration Doesn’t Follow a Schedule

The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something is known as inspiration. This invisible force tends to reveal itself in the form of artistry, creativity, flair, imagination, and vision. While attending a youth ministry trade school more than 25 years ago, I was introduced to Green Light Thinking. This exercise channels inspiration from our minds on to a piece of paper. During this 5 minute period, there is no such thing as a bad idea, writing down every inspirational thought.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

According to the apostle Paul, authors of the Bible were inspired by divine forces. Whether morning, day or night, inspiration doesn’t follow a schedule. Like momentum that fluctuates back and forth in a close athletic competition, spectators are on the edge of their seats until the end of the game. This is the type of anticipation that Christians should experience each time they open up the Word of God. When hearts and minds become open to the spiritual realm like a sponge, inspiration will flow.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

During a conversation with his disciples, Jesus unveils what the Holy Spirit will resemble when it arrives on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2. This invisible Spirit is like a personal guide to direct you toward the Truth, the meaning of life. There isn’t a set place or time to meet. Rather, the Holy Spirit counsels those of you who are paying attention, keeping in step with this inspirational force, Galatians 5:25. Despite what your daily schedule may bring, may you be open to the possibility so that you go with inspiration when it arrives.

by Jay Mankus

Make My Heart Like Yours

Music can be similar to relationships.  The more open minded you are, the likelihood of you accepting and embracing someone or something increases.  Unfortunately, stereotypes about an artist, genre or musician cause individuals to give up on a certain sound after a few seconds of listening.  Subsequently, the careers of millions fail, far short of where they hoped, rejected before having a real shot to succeed.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Such is the case of Linda Elias, wife of Rick whose own career far surpassed hers.  Rick spent a decade as a member of Rich Mullins Ragamuffin band and his music was featured in the 1996 Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do.  As for Linda, following in the Belinda Carlisle genre, I thought her 1991 album The Meaning of Life would jump start her career.  However, in Christian music industry, unless you’re Amy Grant, you’re not going to get the attention you deserve.  As a result, you can’t find any of Linda’s songs on Pandora or You Tube.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Nonetheless, during my recent fast I have started listening to one hour of inspirational music a day.  While soaking in the lyrics to Make My Heart Like Yours, I was moved, touched by God.  This song is more like a prayer, wishing that one day our hearts will become more like Christ.  In this song, Linda confesses her failures and shortcomings.  Leaning on God’s grace, she yearns to be transformed.  As I am daily reminded of my own sins, I am eager, waiting for God to make my heart like his son’s, Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Linda’s album the Meaning of Life is available at Amazon.com for those willing to give a promising artist a chance.

 

Where Do Certain Thoughts Come From?

At age 10, I began to experience a reoccurring nightmare.  Maybe I watched one too many scary movies, but each night I was awaken in the same manner.  Whether I was restless or enjoying a peaceful sleep, an image appeared out of no where.  First, I felt the sensation of slipping off a cliff.  Once I reached a free fall mode, I was at ease until the ground came into view.  Just before striking the canyon floor, my body shook, waking me up.  This went on for nearly 2 years.  Why, I’m not sure.  Perhaps, God allowed these thoughts to enter my mind to lead me toward the meaning of life.

A couple of years ago, I was driving my family home after vacationing in Chicago for a week.  It was getting late, the sun had set and everyone in the car was asleep.  I was traveling on the Ohio Turnpike, heading east toward the Maumee River.  As I was approaching the river valley, a whisper entered my mind, “drive off the bridge.”  Shocked initially, it didn’t take long to determine the origin of this thought.  Similar to the Dana Carvey’s Church Lady skit on Saturday Night Live, “could it be Satan?”

Over the course of a lifetime, the mind will become weary, bombarded with a plethora thoughts.  If individuals are careless, lazy or tempted, souls are vulnerable.  When you try to fight a spiritual battle with mental discipline, sooner or later you will lose.  Therefore, its essential to practice 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, by taking your thoughts captive.  Whether thoughts are from God, Satan or your own sinful desires, how you respond to them will dictate the path that you choose.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Under a Full Moon

Whether you are star gazing, taking a midnight stroll or finishing a round of golf at twilight, a full moon provides a special aura in the air.  Occurring once a month or every 29.53 days, full moons form on the 14th or 15th day of the lunar calendar.  Well before the days of Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video, the gravitational forces of the moon’s orbit tends to bring out the worst in people, leaving a history of bizarre stories.

Coincidence or not, the term lunatic is derived from the Latin word Luna.  Subsequently, beliefs have formed which attempt to explain unusual behavior under the canopy of a full moon.  Its no wonder that horror movies continue to be inspired by legends of this monthly event.  Although there is no conclusive evidence, hospitals see a rise in accidents, women go into labor at an alarming rate and police departments have their hands full all because of a full moon.

In his book More Than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell examines the life of Jesus.  Dedicating a chapter to one of his theories, McDowell suggests that there are only 3 logical conclusions one can make about his life.  Either Jesus is a crazed lunatic, a habitual liar or the Lord of all?  As another full moon rises above a summer sky, may Josh’s question bring you to ponder the meaning of life, John 10:10.  While secular music embraces the dark side of the moon, come into the light by trusting in Jesus, 1 John 2:6.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Late to the Party

Cinderella was held up, late to the ball due to jealous step sisters.  David wasn’t even invited, until a prophet passed on his brothers, getting a late invitation, 1 Samuel 16:10.   Today, many try to play it cool, arriving casually late to make a grand entrance.

In life, there is one party you don’t want to be late to or forget about.  The prodigal son became engrossed in his own sinful desires, seeking to indulge in the pleasures of this world, Luke 15:13.  This invisible force is one of the greatest distractions, 1 John 2:15-17, causing half of the 10 virgins to miss the party entirely, Matthew 25:10-13.

At a funeral, heaven is often assumed, whether you made your reservations or not, 1 John 5:13.  Some may get a second chance, surviving a near death experience.  Regardless of the cards you are dealt, the road you choose lies in the choices you make, Deuteronomy 30:15.  Don’t be late to the final party in life or else you’ll have eternity to regret it.

by Jay Mankus

What Did He Know that Others Didn’t?

According to Webster, confidence is a feeling or belief that someone is good, possessing the ability to succeed.  Although this may be confused with cockiness, success is a state of mind, ushering individuals toward pleasant places.  Apparently hidden within the words of Psalm 16 are clues to the meaning of life, left behind by a man who possessed a heart of gold.  However, its worth pursuing, what did David know that other kings of Israel never grasped?

Some how David understood the teachings of Jesus without ever meeting him.  If you don’t believe me, take for instance the words of Psalm 16:2 and John 15:4.  While Jesus is using a parable about a vine, gardener and branches, David came to this conclusion on his own.  Meanwhile, the concept of Psalm 16:11 and John 10:10 are nearly identical minus the portion about the thief called the devil.  Sure, David was a shepherd prior to becoming king and Jesus was a shepherd for lost people, Luke 19:10, but who communicated these spiritual truths to David.

Despite his complaining, disappointment and frustration from seeing the wicked prosper, God used prophets, the words of the Old Testament and a still small voice, known today as the Holy Spirit to bring David to a place of spiritual maturity.  The king recognized failures often occurred when he relied on his strength and wisdom.  Furthermore, David had reached an age where he began to see answered prayers, blessings and miracles from time spent on his knees.  Thus, the path of life, his purpose for being born and taste of the abundant life filled this king with a blessed assurance.  May you come to a place like David where God is real and his promises are fulfilled!

by Jay Mankus

Finding The Real You

Whether you enter a high school as a parent, visit a college with your child or observe your own workplace, people are trying so hard to fit in that it is easy to forget the real you.  Thinking they aren’t good enough on their own to be accepted by their peers, individuals seek to emulate Hollywood stars and pop culture to find approval.  Behind this mask, a heart, soul and mind wrestle between reality and the facade you are living.  This suppression blinds many youth from discovering the real you, often leaving a trail of remorse, regret and shame.

History isn’t exempt from this dilemma as one of the Bible’s greatest characters struggled with his own self image.  According to Genesis 25:27-28, Jacob was a mama’s boy early on.  Not blessed with the physical talents of his twin brother, Jacob was quiet, staying at home afraid to compete against the other boys his age.  Fearful of being exposed as a wimp, Jacob became a humble servant around the house, doing whatever his mother told him.  When the time came from receiving the birthrate from his father Isaac, Genesis 27, Jacob felt like he had to dress, look and smell like Esau to earn dad’s blessing.  Several thousand years later, teenagers across the country find themselves in Jacob’s shoes.

While speaking to Jesus in the dark, John 3:1-9, Nicodemus was searching for the meaning of life, knowing deep down in his heart that following the laws of the Pharisees wasn’t the answer.  Privy to the truth, the disciples of Jesus receive greater insight in Matthew 16:24-27 to eternal life.  The secret to finding the real you is through surrender.  As Michael W. Smith once sang about, “Love isn’t love until you give it away!”  Despite being a paraphrased version of Jesus’ words, the moment you yield your body as a life offering to the Lord of Creation, Romans 12:1-2, the Holy Spirit unveils the real you in the form of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.  Let the words of scripture guide you toward the path of righteousness, Psalm 119:105.

by Jay Mankus

Whateverism

 

Over the last 30 years, the term whatever has become synonymous with sarcasm, a common phrase used by valley girls, a brief fad during the 1980’s.  From an English teacher’s perspective, whatever can be used as a pronoun, adjective or informal interjection, designating a thing, number or slang comment.  On the other hand, whateverism refers to an unyielding attempt by a forceful mind to convert simple moral truth into limitless shades of grey according to the Urban Dictionary.

Whateverism is the polar opposite of fundamentalism which is founded upon absolute truth, where right and wrong is clearly defined with moral constructs.  In a culture of increased sensitivity, whateverism is most commonly used when an individual politely agrees to disagree with a person from another faith, saying something like, “that’s nice for you, but I’m content with where I am.”  Since the Bible and prayer has been banned from public education in America in the 1960’s, Hollywood has interjected examples of whateverism within classic movies like City Slickers and Grand Canyon.

In City Slickers, Billy Crystal is undergoing a mid-life crisis, convinced by his wife to spend a few weeks with the guys to go find himself.  During his vacation as a cattle wrangler, he meets Curly, a cowboy who teaches Crystal about the meaning of life using whateverism.  Meanwhile, Kevin Kline, Danny Glover and Steve Martin paths cross unexpectedly in the film Grand Canyon.  As each cast member struggles with various trials, the answer to life can be found by experiencing the Grand Canyon.  Although each of these answers to life’s problems sound somewhat appealing, I’d rather be 100 % confident in Acts 4:12 than find out afterwards I was wrong.  May the promise of Isaiah 55:6 come true for you!.

by Jay Mankus

Reinvention or Revolutionary?

K.I.S.S. is one of the first acronyms I was introduced to in high school, referring to the expression Keep It Simple Stupid.  Whether you are talking about a complex matter, difficult course or the meaning of life, individuals must be careful not to over analyze things.  As long you can narrow a topic down to its most basic ideas, the less confused you will be and if yourjob relies on explaining details to others, the clearer your message will become.

Jesus modeled K.I.S.S. by regularly talking to people on their level, using stories that a vast majority of citizens could relate to and understand.  Jesus wasn’t concerned about theology, emphasizing who God the Father is, their relation to one another and how you can enter into a personal relationship with the Creator of life, John 3:16-18.  In regards to discipleship, you don’t need a PhD to grasp how to grow a Bible Study, Church or Home Group.  Go into the world, where light is fading or snuffed out, take the gift or talent implanted within you, 2 Timothy 1:6 and go develop like minded believers just as Jesus invested 3 years of his life in 12 men.

Unfortunately, some where along the way, people have begun relying on self-help material, trying to reinvent the wheel instead of simply keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  Book after book, theory after theory, video series and the like  claim to be revolutionary, yet are they?  If King Solomon claimed nearly 4,000 years ago there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9, why are many gullible people who are persuaded by their sales pitches?  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know this: Nike’s motto is noteworthy for those hungry for change, Just do It! – Matthew 28:19-20

by Jay Mankus

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