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Who or What is Your Inspiration?

As a former professional athlete, part of my DNA is to find a way to improve daily. Sometimes this occurs naturally through trial and error, learning from the mistakes I make in life. While I rarely play video games anymore, I treat each day at work like a game, attempting to earn a new high score. This mentality was first conceived in me at a Youth Ministry Trade School that I attended in Minnesota back in 1993.

 [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving). 21 For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so—it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

One of the methods Tentmakers incorporated was called “In What Ways Can We.” Using a tool called Green Light Thinking, students were given a few minutes to write down whatever came to your mind. Following this exercise, you would re-evaluate your list by adopting the best and most practical solutions. Since this 7-week training program transformed my life, this is who I’ve become, using writing as my ministry as I work to provide for my family.

I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now. 13 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 16:12-13.

The term Tentmakers comes from the apostle Paul who became a tentmaker to pay for his mission trips in the first century. While some churches did support Paul and his ministry team, making tents allowed Paul to follow God’s will for his life. Although I’d love to write full time as a screen writer or streaming service, my calling from God and inspiration is to share my faith through this blog, Express Yourself 4 Him.

by Jay Mankus

Placing Your Trust in the Divine

Following my first observation as a teacher, I was told that I didn’t have enough posters in my room. I thought this was a strange critic, but I took this to heart. While on vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, I visited one of the numerous outlets at this tourist destination. I don’t remember how many Bible posters I bought that day, but one of those was Proverbs 3:5-6.

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help, Psalm 146:3.

When I attended a youth ministry trade school, this verse was one of 26 that I memorized over the course of 7 weeks. The final week of my training was spent at a Wilderness Camp with 24 hours spent in silence. The purpose of this time was to reflect on my past, enjoy the moment and dream about the future. What I learned was to place my trust in the divine.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Unfortunately, human nature has a way of convincing individuals to trust in yourself. Perhaps this is the reason why King Solomon shares the message above to one of his sons. Despite his vast wealth and wisdom, Solomon realized that it was the Lord who was the source behind his blessed life. I pray that this blog will convince someone today to place their sole trust in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 6: Carry On

If you are old enough, everyone has the favorite time of their lives. For me this was 1993 as I ventured west from Delaware to Minnesota to attend a youth ministry trade school. This 7-week intensive training program transformed my life and gave me an inner confidence that I could do anything. The friendships that I made along the way were a blessing. When my initial interview at a church in Rapid City, South Dakota didn’t go well, I spent a semester teaching at a boarding school in West Virginia.

O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His doings among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them, Psalm 105:1-2.

Little did I know that teaching Communications and Poetry would ignite a desire to write. I created an album entitled A Simple Confession with 12 songs and wrote a book of poems. Before the year was over, I was offered a full-time youth ministry position in Indiana and met Leanne, my wife at a national convention. Before leaving Minnesota, I came across an obscure band named Shadow Wings. After listening closely, I discovered Pat Benatar is a lead vocalist on the Carry On Album. While the attached link isn’t the greatest, I wanted to introduce you to the song Carry On by Shadow Wings.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Upon graduating from the University of Delaware, I accepted a position as a Summer Work Camp Coordinator. Since the pay wasn’t great, I took a part time job as a Youth Director to put gas in my car. For the first six months of my adult life, I slept on a couch in my sister’s basement. When my car broke down just before Christmas, I depleted all of my savings, without the funds for food or gas. This is my story of overcoming anxiety and panic attacks.

Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? 32 For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all, Matthew 6:31-32.

A prosperous future was certainty is doubt, but I knew that God had something better for me. As a desperate man, I found as many odd jobs that I could to survive. In my spare time, I practically lived at Cornerstone Church. I led an Accountability Group and Bible Study at night and painted whenever I wasn’t working. Despite the anxiety and panic living inside of me, serving God daily helped keep me in the present. In my poverty, I put my complete faith and trust in the Lord.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

Jesus addresses anxiety and panic attacks in his Sermon on the Mount. Instead of directing his message toward human beings, Jesus uses the birds of the air as a way to illustrate how God provides for all creatures. Since God created human beings in His own image, how much more does and will God provide for you and me? Subsequently, when I was $400 short of being able to attend a Youth Ministry Trade School, my church took a love offering for me. I received the exact amount that I needed. In the years that have followed, I don’t always feel peace, but I know the Lord will provide daily bread to survive.

by Jay Mankus

An Atheist with Passion

During a late night drive to Liberty University, I took a stroll down Memory Lane. Listening to a 2 CD set from In Reach, a Christian Band with lead vocalist Brett Williams, I was taken back in time to the 1990’s. The Waterline album debuted my senior year of college and Power and Promise came out while I was attending a Youth Ministry Trade School. A line from their song Savannah, “An Atheist with passion” reminded me of a former student.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light, Matthew 6:22.

Since 2011 was my last year of teaching high school, certain songs tend to help me recall the good and difficult times in my classroom. Jennifer was a byproduct of a broken home. Apparently, her older sister was the only adult in the house, making sure she got her two younger sisters to school on time every morning. While Jen’s parents claimed to be Bible believing Christians, their actions continued to feed fleshly desires. Subsequently, this hypocrisy left a sour taste in Jen’s soul, conceiving an Atheist with passion.

But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! – Matthew 6:23

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns his followers of the side affects of darkness. When addictions, bad habits or poor choices continue to happen, it’s only a matter of time before you too may find yourself in a similar state like Jennifer. During tests and quizzes, Jen regularly shared her disdain for Christianity. As a Bible teacher at this time, it was a hard pill to swallow. Yet, as time went by, all I could do was be a light for Christ. All Christians can do today is hope and pray that something you say or live out will persuade future Jen’s to leave their state of darkness by coming to the light.

by Jay Mankus

When Misery Leads to Desperation

After graduating from college, I spent my first six months in the real world serving as a social worker. I made $500 for the entire summer before getting a part time job as a youth director. I made $100 a month, lived in my sister’s basement and slept on a couch. After being accepted to attend a Youth Ministry Trade School, I needed to raise $500. I volunteered at my home church, painting the entire basement, hoping to earn enough money. When my car broke down just before Christmas, I didn’t know how I was going to get to Minnesota, let alone pay for it. This moment of misery conceived a spirit of desperation to do whatever it took.

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. 13 And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. 14 And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want, Luke 15:11-14.

Jesus tells a story about a boy who was of a similar age. Based upon the passage above, this young man saw his surroundings as dollar bills. Instead of waiting his turn to receive his father’s inheritance, this selfish boy pressed the issue, convincing his father to divvy up a nice lump sum of money. The Parable of the Prodigal Son reminds me of Jason Stevens’ character in the film the Ultimate Gift. Spoiled by a billionaire uncle, Jason spent his families wealth in a lavish and reckless manner. This privileged lifestyle continued until Jason was left behind a series of gifts following his uncle’s death. After being cut off from his mother’s inheritance, poverty led to misery, being homeless led to desperation, sowing a seed to change.

So he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs. 16 And he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]. 17 Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants, Luke 15:15-19.

You don’t have to be rich or poor to experience misery. If your career, job or life isn’t fulfilling, emptiness will conceive a desire to alter your course, direction or path. The longer you continue toward this dead end, souls will hunger for change. As soon as the prodigal son began to crave the sloop fed to pigs, he finally came to his senses. The moment misery hovers over you, human beings get restless, eager to get out of their predicament. As conditions worsen, desperation drives the helpless to act. May this blog remind you that it’s never too change to change, no matter how grim your current situation may be.

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Enthusiasm

While attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, I received a couple of 3 ring binder notebooks.  The training material for Tentmakers Youth Ministry was close to two thousand pages on content, taking seven weeks to complete.  This intense active learning leadership course required my full attention, living out the principles I was being taught at my host family.  Nightly assignments were designed to take you out of your comfort zone, forced to interact with strangers at church, local malls and neighborhoods to finetune your conversational skills.  During this two month stretch, I was infused with enthusiasm, driven and encouraged by like minded classmates.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick, Matthew 9:11-12.

Today, when enthusiasm fades, joy disappears and my energy to do anything is gone, I retreat to find something meaningful in life.  Recently, I came across a quote from this class.  “The excitement of a group never exceeds that of its leader.”  What this statement suggests is that leaders must learn to be self-sufficient, able to recharge their own excitement level.  Although people within various groups may encourage and spur you on, leaders need a daily infusion of enthusiasm.  Without this spiritual discipline, finding motivation to make it through each day, even leaders will lose their vigor for life.

Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness],” Matthew 9:13.

Jesus addresses this issue during a first century conversation.  Righteous zealots were concerned that Jesus and his disciples were compromising their faith by socializing with sinners.  However, Jesus uses logic to show these Pharisees the error in their thinking.  The healthy, individuals who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, have learned to be self-sufficient spiritually through a daily dose of prayer, reflection and worship.  The sick, people who have lost their way, need Christians to leave their comfort zones to expand the body of Christ.  Therefore, the more you experience an infusion of enthusiasm for the lost, God can use you to be a light in a dark world to turn to you for answers.  May this blog inspire you to use your daily time with God, praying and reading the Bible as an infusion of enthusiasm.

by Jay Mankus

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