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Tag Archives: traveling

How Praying Can Direct Your Life

A first century doctor provides a case study on prayer in the book of Acts.  Luke also served as a historian, traveling along side of the apostle Paul to document each missionary journey.  In the chapter below, Luke interviews a man named Cornelius and Peter about a special God instance.  Before meeting one another, each man prayed to God within a 24 hour period.  What takes place in the passage below illustrates how praying can direct your life.

About the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had come to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius was frightened and stared intently at him and said, “What is it, lord (sir)?” And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and gifts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God [an offering made in remembrance of His past blessings], Acts 10:3-4.

A centurion from an Italian Regiment is described as God fearing.  This reverence for God resulted in a devout faith; becoming a family man.  Cornelius earned a reputation for being a charitable man, giving donations to Jews and known as a prayer warrior.  Apparently, praying in the afternoon was a daily habit, resulting in a vision involving an angel from God.  This encounter results in a series of directions which Cornelius acts upon and follows.

The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” – Acts 10:9-13.

Meanwhile, 21 hours later God begins to move within Peter as he prays to the Lord.  During a conversation with Luke, Peter describes his experience to a trance.  The hunger within his stomach sets the stage for a teachable moment for Peter.  Initially, Peter rejects God’s message which is contrary to the law of Moses.  However, after God repeats himself a second time, Peter agrees to be open to this new teaching.  Thus, prayer gave a non-Jew in Cornelius hope while changing the heart of Peter to accept future Gentiles, non Jews.  If God can speak to two praying individuals, then image what God can do when communities pour their hearts out to God in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

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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

An Absentee Christian

This state usually begins with a logical excuse.  Perhaps, you’re traveling, on vacation or under the weather so you decide to skip church.  Like any other form of compromise, the second time is always easier, sleeping in after a long week at work.  If this pattern continues, it won’t be long until you become an absentee Christian.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, Romans 7:18.

In election years, the phrase absentee voters is a common term.  This applies to students going out of state to attend college or someone who spends weeks on the road for business trips.  If you plan ahead, anyone can request an absentee ballot which you can fill out and mail to insure your vote counts.  Unfortunately, absentee Christians tend to be wayward souls who don’t have a church home, have lost faith or are caught somewhere in between.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

When I awoke this morning, I can’t deny the truth any longer, I have become an absentee Christian.  Sure, I could use my recent surgery and night work schedule as an excuse, but God isn’t pleased with my lack of obedience.  All I can do is follow the example set by Jesus’ earthly brother, to publicly confess my sins so that healing will come quickly.  As for now, I’m a humbled absentee Christian trying to get back where the Lord wants me to be.

by Jay Mankus

 

Coasting on Cruise Control

If you’re traveling cross country in a car or planning a long day trip, the invention of cruise control is a nice luxury.  Although vacation traffic may limit your opportunities, open highways, especially at night, provide a chance for drivers to rest their legs.  With only a few weeks of summer remaining, try to get away for a little R & R coasting on cruise control.

From a spiritual perspective, coasting through life is something that you want to avoid.  Unfortunately, there is where I find myself, using a busy work schedule as an excuse.  Somewhere in the last month, I’ve lost my spiritual mojo.  As a result, my devotional time is sporadic, prayer life lame and influx of the Holy Spirit is wading.  Like the classic line from Star Trek, I feel like Captain Kirk’s frequently request to Scotty, “I need more power!”

Regardless of your circumstances, sooner or later everyone grows tired, Isaiah 40:29-31.  When you reach your breaking point, find yourself exhausted or wake up spiritually numb, God saw this coming.  In these days of desperation, running on empty, you might find yourself crying uncle, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  While coasting on cruise control led you to this state, yielding to the Lord will help you rise up from the ashes of despair.  Fan into flame 2 Timothy 1:7 so that the only coasting you do in life is driving in the country.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Sheep Without A Shepherd

If you’ve ever gone to a mall to people watch, it doesn’t take long to see who knows where they are going and who is lost, trying to find their way.  Whether you’re driving a car, searching for something you’ve misplaced or walking on a unmarked trail, everyone from time to time experiences the pain of loss.  In the midst of this crisis, a sense of helplessness paralyzes souls, making it obvious that no matter hard one tries, you can’t save yourself.

While traveling throughout towns and villages, Jesus observed the crowd of individuals following him.  Watching intently, tears began to swell up in his eyes, as Jesus saw this group as sheep without a shepherd, Matthew 9:35-36.  They were looking for something more in life, hoping that Jesus had the answer.  Like sheep aimlessly roaming the countryside, hungry hearts longed for meaning to life.

Today, the silent majority wonders when their Shepherd will return.  As chaos abounds, modern sheep have been led astray by false prophets, hypocritical leaders and the twisting of the Bible.  Exiting the church after high school or during college, pessimistic sheep are searching for alternative means to enter heaven’s gate.  Although some turn back, coming to their senses like the prodigal in Luke 15, a growing number remain sheep without a shepherd.

by Jay Mankus

 

In the Middle Seat

Before the days of mandatory car seats and vehicles with air conditioning, I usually found myself in the middle seat, between my 2 older sisters.  Recently, I was forced to take the only empty seat on an airplane, traveling from Chicago to Los Angelos for 4 hours with 2 strangers.  Whether as a child or adult, being caught in between can be unsettling.  Yet, while in this position, you have the ability to influence others.

After serving 6 years on a church board, I realized that I was sitting in the middle pew, between the shepherd and his sheep. John 10:1-5.  Unfortunately, I lost sight of the role God had placed me in.  A similar fate spread to most of the other elders, who wilted when the going got tough.  Although I thought I had done what I could, hindsight has revealed I should have been more proactive in protecting God’s flock.

From a modern perspective, the man and or woman in the middle has a great opportunity to sway others toward their worldview.  When a leader seizes the moment, their witness, good or bad, can mold, shape and transform innocent bystanders, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.  By rubbing off on those whom you encounter, you have the power to Leave Jesus as portrayed in Send the Beggar’s song on their Closer to Complete album.  Therefore, if you want to leave your mark on this generation, don’t let the sun go down until you have maximized each moment you find yourself sitting in the middle seat.

by Jay Mankus

How Much Longer?

In anticipation, children nag from their back seat, “how much longer daddy until we get there?”  Meanwhile, students whisper to the nearest watch bearer, “how many more minutes until this class is over?”  During a blow out, the losing coach asks his assistants a rhetorical question, “how many more minutes do we need to endure?”  Finally, the long suffering soul cries out to his Heavenly Father, “how much longer will this trial last?”

Unfortunately, most things in life are linked to time.  Winter lasts too long, Spring is too wet, Summer too hot and Fall too cold.  Instead of either accepting or embracing moments in time, most people are stuck in the past or wish to skip ahead to the future.  The only thing fair about life is the chance to breathe.  The aborted, still born and premature who may survive a few precious hours or days are dealt a bad hand, forced to fold.  The key to life is making the best of your hand, playing until the game of life has ceased.

Therefore, complaining about this or that seems rather pity, Philippians 2:14.  Yes, everyone would like to know the answers to important questions, but God will reveal what you need to know at an appointed time, Esther 4:14.  While the Dealer is still giving you cards, there must be a reason for today, Ephesians 2:10.  Thus, don’t ask God how much longer?  Rather, say, “thank you Lord, may I have another day.”   Like the prophet of old, “Here, I am Lord, send me to play another hand,” Isaiah 6:8.

by Jay Mankus

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