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Tag Archives: trusting God

More Than Just a Strange Thing

Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror show which is currently in the middle of its third season on Netflix.  This television series was created, written and directed by two brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer.  The setting of this show takes place back in the 1980’s, an era where it was common for teenager boys to binge on playing video games.  This passion or should I say addiction causes many boys to lose touch with reality.  Today, this obsession continues as many boys and girls are consumed by modern online games like Fort Nite.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?  Who has strife? Who has complaining?  Who has wounds without cause?  Whose eyes are red and dim? – Proverbs 23:29

In a recent episode of Stranger Things, social media exploded over their reaction between a scene with two teenage boys.  To avoid a spoiler alert, two characters get into an argument about girls.  One boy wants to pursue a girl that he likes while the other is not ready to grow up, clinging to his love for video games.  Unfortunately, this innocent scene has led a number of people on twitter to question the gender of this boy who doesn’t like girls at this time.  This is just another example of individuals reading way too much into a fictional show.

Your [drunken] eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things [untrue things, twisted things], Proverbs 23:33.

In 1997, the band Common Children released the song Strange Rain on their Delicate Fade album.  The lyrics of Strange Rain refers to the washing away of innocence.  The more children are exposed to adult content, growing up is accelerated.  In the second stanza of Strange Rain one line strikes a cord with me “when wonder fades in time forgive us for this crime.”  The more young children experience, hear or see things that they shouldn’t, innocence is stolen and wonder for life fades away.  While parents try to shield their children from danger, strangers things lurk around every corner.  This is where trusting God becomes essential.

by Jay Mankus

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It’s Amazing the Difference One Day Makes

If you do a search of “what a difference a day makes,” you will find a series of sermons on this topic.  Some use examples of extreme events such as the dropping of the first atomic bomb, experiencing a natural disaster or witnessing a terrorist attack like September 11th, 2001.  These devastating days are compared to the silence of an aftermath, where time seems to stand still.  Whenever trials arise, individuals are forced to confront change, trusting God one day at a time.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

For any of you who have played golf before, a typical round is similar to the quote from Forrest Gump, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you will get.”  Unlike any other sport, practicing doesn’t mean you will improve.  The more you play golf, the easier it becomes to pick up bad habits.  Thus, a bad swing, chip or putt can unlock demons of doubt that will haunt you throughout the rest of your round.  This is what my daughter Lydia endured during his first round of this years Girls Delaware Junior Golf Championship.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

Following the first round, my daughter wanted to quit golf.  Twenty four hours later, Lydia figured something out on the range prior to her round and everything clicked.  Beside a few holes, she was either chipping or putting for birdie.  Despite a few three putts, Lydia played the round of her life consistently hitting her driver over 200 yards.  There are certain things in life that don’t make any sense.  Yet, when attitudes awake to a new day and confidence returns, it’s amazing the difference one day makes.

by Jay Mankus

Get Ready for Whatever May Happen

Basic combat training in the Army lasts for ten weeks.  This process is designed to turn civilians into soldiers.  This training involves marching, shooting and survival skills to prepare new recruits for life in the Army.  This military camp serves as a weeding out process to expose the out of shape, weak and unfit  Ultimately, a drill sergeants goal is to get soldiers ready for whatever may happen on the battle field.

The very night before Herod was to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries were in front of the door guarding the prison. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared [beside him] and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter’s side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off his hands, Acts 12:6-7.

The Bible can be used in a similar fashion as a training manual for Christians who want to become spiritually fit.  The book of Acts records the history of the first century church as well as sharing valuable life lessons.  During an encounter with an angel, Peter is not sure what to think.  Initially, Peter is sleeping when an angel being wakes him up in the middle of the night.  Like anyone who is a deep sleeper, this experience didn’t seem real, more like a vision.  However, the more this angel spoke, Peter realized he wasn’t dreaming.

The angel said to him, “Prepare yourself and strap on your sandals [to get ready for whatever may happen].” And he did so. Then the angel told him, “Put on your robe and follow me.” And Peter went out following the angel. He did not realize that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city. Of its own accord it swung open for them; and they went out and went along one street, and at once the angel left him, Acts 12:8-10.

Apparently, the words “get ready for whatever may happen” got Peter’s attention.  As if reliving a scene from a movie, Peter can’t believe what is happening.  Like a ghost, this angel and Peter sneak past all the guards in a high security prison.  Following each step made by this angel, before long Peter finds himself outside the jail on a city street.  If there is anything you can learn from this angel story, it is trusting God means becoming ready for whatever may happen in life.

by Jay Mankus

What Could Have Been and Has Come to Be

Eight teen years ago today, my wife and I welcomed our second child Daniel into this world.  As time passed, it became clear that our oldest James would be the student and that Daniel would become the athlete.  While James has been blessed with more God given talent, Daniel is more passionate about sports.  Whether it was baseball, golf or ultimate frisbee, Daniel always stood out, eventually becoming the best.  With one year left of high school, only God knows the chapters left to be written.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, Jeremiah 29:11.

However, as Paul Harvey shared on the radio for years, the rest of the story reveals what could have been.  At the height of his popularity, Daniel’s world came to a halt, almost losing his life to diabetes the summer before his freshman year of high school.  There were subtle signs looking back, but I ignored these as needing to hydrate during a hot humid summer.  The news of this diagnosis was shocking, especially for a young teenager.  As a parent, there is a helpless feeling, unable to undo these events or heal my son to ease his pain.  Despite the doctor’s visits, expensive treatments and uncertainty, I am thankful Daniel is alive and well today.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Unless you are diabetic, you can’t relate to the daily shots of insulin needed to stay alive.  As technology advances, perhaps someone will create a new device to help ease this burden.  Nonetheless, you can’t dwell on what could have been.  Rather, for now God is teaching me to focus on what has come to be, a man who is seeking to pursue higher education.  Exactly where is still a question mark, but if things proceed as planned, hopefully golf is part of God’s plan.  You see, Daniel’s middle name is Payne, in honor of my favorite golfer Payne Stewart.  Like a wise king once wrote, “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose previals.”

by Jay Mankus

Save Your Strength

During the course of your life, you will encounter at least one extreme circumstance. The Bible refers to these events as trials, unforeseen periods that will rock your world. Unexpected things that boggle the mind temporary or permanently interrupt individuals from a wonderful life. How you respond to these situations will impact the rest of your life on earth.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.

According to the passage above, one first century man began to suffer from a rare physical ailment. The apostle Paul compares his pain to a thorn in the flesh. Perhaps some sort of barb, prickly plant or spike resulted in an infection. However, Paul also implies that this condition might have a spiritual connection. Either Satan received permission from God to torment Paul like the Old Testament case of Job or this the accident that led to this wound was used by God to humble Paul.

But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

At some point, Paul pleaded with the Lord in prayer, asking God to remove this pain from his life. Instead of receiving an answer to this prayer, a whisper from the Holy Spirit brought an unusual message, “save your strength.” From a human perspective, maybe this eludes to worry which serves no particular purpose. However, God unlocks a powerful message about life, the more you trust in God the less you will rely on human effort. Therefore, if you want to experience the power of Christ, save you strength.

by Jay Mankus

Weather or Not?

Whenever I go on vacation, I try to check weather forecasts prior to leaving.  Depending upon the site you choose, you can research temperature up to ten days or hour by hour.  Usually, this helps me know what clothes to pack.  Unfortunately, just because a network has the most sophisticated technology in the world doesn’t make their anchors weather experts.  Anyone with a weather radar channel or doppler program open can see weather systems approaching.  However, unless you understand what you seeing on a screen, the exact forecast will always be in doubt.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4

This past weekend I had planned a family ski trip in the Poconos, two hours north in Pennsylvania.  The early projections called for heavy snow Saturday, causing me to alter my initial plans.  To make matters worse, the state of Pennsylvania issued a state of emergency at noon Saturday.  Two days of skiing at Camelback Mountain turned into one, but snow didn’t start falling until five in the afternoon.  Right on the ice/snow line, estimations ranged from three to twelve inches.  To a certain extent, my families plans were held hostage by an ever changing weather report.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

In times of doubt and indecision, individuals are forced to rely on common sense.  When you aren’t able to decide which way to go or turn, the Bible introduces the concept of trusting God.  You may take the information provided like a weather forecast, but God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25, can direct you like it did for the apostle Paul during the first century.  Perhaps, this explains why the translators of the King James Bible use the term Holy Ghost to describe the Holy Spirit.  This invisible force serves as a counselor, a guiding hand during times of darkness.  Whether or not forecasts are correct, trusting God can turn cloudy or foggy mornings into an ideal day on the slopes.  Sometimes the weather is merely a state of mind.  When trust is present, fear is replaced by a loving appreciation for God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When You Put God First

Leadership refers to being in the position to guide a group of people.  Leadership roles vary from a boss, captain, head, principle or superior.  While some people are born with leadership skills, most individuals learn from a mentor.  This process often begins as a teenager, continuing throughout life as you take the baton before its your turn to handoff to someone else.  During the exodus out of Egypt, Joshua was waiting in the wings until replacing Moses as the leader of Israel.

He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” Then Joshua fell with his face toward the earth and bowed down, and said to him, “What does my lord have to say to his servant?” – Joshua 5:14

The goal at hand in these days was to enter God’s promised land.  The obstacle, facing a land of giants protected by a mighty wall surrounding Jericho.  As captain of the army of the Lord, Joshua doesn’t exhibit an earthly style of leadership.  Rather, Joshua is overwhelmed by the presence of God, falling prostrate to the ground, bowing on his knees.  Perhaps, Joshua is uncertain, not sure what to do.  Thus, Joshua seeks God’s counsel, eagerly waiting for direction.

The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy (set apart to the Lord).” And Joshua did so, Joshua 5:15.

In the passage above, Joshua is merely modeling what Moses taught him.  Back in Exodus 3, an angel of the Lord first appeared to Moses in a burning bush.  Just Moses took off his sandals, obedient to the Word of the Lord, Joshua does the same, acknowledging this holy ground.  According to Jesus, when you put God first by seeking after righteousness, Matthew 6:33-34, all these things will be given unto you.  The testimony of Joshua is living proof as the walls of Jericho turned to rubble with the blast of seven trumpets in Joshua 6.  Whatever you do in life, don’t forget to put God first.

by Jay Mankus

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