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A Life Void of Passion

My earliest recollection of passion began in Junior High as friends debated the best music video on MTV, the greatest rock band and favorite sports teams.  In High School, I began to live by the 3 G’s: Girls, Golf and God, fluctuating in order depending upon the timing or season.  By the time college arrived, my interests shifted toward amusement parks, intramural sports and sand volleyball, with the latter dominating most of my summer nights.  When I began my career as a youth pastor, interacting with families, karaoke and water sports consumed most of my time.  As a family man, I have mellowed, spending time listening to music, working on my golf green out back and writing on a daily basis.

Passion is embodied in enthusiasm, excitement and feelings.  Although I still possess hot button issues inside my heart, most of the things I once held dear don’t illicit much of a response any more.  Sure, it would be nice for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl or witness another local team win a championship, but I refuse to place my hope in someone or something that disappoints you 99% of the time.  Likewise, I find it futile to debate music, politics and television shows.  As Solomon once said, “everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 2:11, in reference to pleasures on earth.  Perhaps, this may explain why I am currently living a life void of passion.

If you have ever reached this point, emptiness tends to cause you to lose your voice, bored by most of the conversations you hear.  However, when you find a cause worth living for, passion can and will return.  In Acts 4:29, the passion of Jesus Christ prevented the disciples from being shut down.  Rather, the power of the Holy Spirit consumed their souls, not able to forget about the risen Savior who suffered, died and rose again 3 days later.  This is the passion I am missing, lost in translation between the pages of the Bible and putting faith into action.  May the fire of Christ followers burn bright in your region so that lives void of passion will be invigorated by the power of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

What the Hell is Going On Out There?

Legendary coach Hank Stram roamed the sidelines for nearly 2 decades in the American Football League, most notably for the Kansas City Chiefs.  Thanks to Steve Sabol of NFL Films, Stram was regularly microphoned, giving the public access to Hank’s commentary on the game he coached.  Subsequently, archives exist of  in game reactions to his teams play on the gridiron.  One of Stram’s famous sayings was “what the hell is going on out there?”

After this past week of events in the world, perhaps you are like me thinking, “what the hell is going on?”  Tension on the Gaza strip, terrorists shooting down a passenger airline and countries falling apart at the seams.  Like a perfect storm brewing in the tropics, hurricane force winds are starting to impact society.  Have these signs always been there or has the world lost touch with their Creator?

Unfortunately, the only person you can control is yourself.  Despite this truth, failure is inevitable, Romans 3:23.  Thus, you have a world full of imperfect people, tempted by evil, power and selfish desires.  These elements create conditions where hell meets earth.  To answer the question what the hell is going on out there is simple using biblical terms.  Innocent children, Luke 15:11-13, are swayed by curiosity, seeking to find pleasure in life.  Void of meaning, prodigals wander around longing for a father’s love and forgiveness.  This vicious cycle continues til someone displays the love of Jesus.  Until the lost experience agape love, hell on earth will linger.  May God’s grace and mercy come quickly.

by Jay Mankus

 

Gotta Get It Right

During my last year as a youth pastor, I was responsible for running Confirmation, a year long class for 8th graders who sought to take ownership of their faith.  Before the actual ceremony during church in the Spring, I took my group away on a retreat about 30 minutes west of Columbus, Indiana.  Coming out a year earlier, I showed the movie Groundhog Day to break the ice, easing the tension for those uncomfortable with talking about God.  Essentially, Bill Murray keeps repeating the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still like this movie.  However, there are several life lessons worth noting.  First, too many individuals, me especially, become consumed with what they are doing, where they are going and what they need to accomplish every day.  As a result, blinders prevents you from appreciating, interacting and slowing down long enough to develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Secondly, distracted people often don’t recognize, see or stop to help someone in need with a smile, word of encouragement or passing prayer.  Finally, life is best served by embracing daily distractions that God provides.  These interruptions offer opportunities to minister, nurture and uplift struggling souls.

While listening to the song Get it Right by Silverline, I sensed the urging of the Holy Spirit to write this blog.  Although each day is filled with trials and errors, life is too short to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  If  you are touched by these words, join me in the quest to get it right, John 10:10.  Yet, when you fail, don’t give up, Galatians 6:9-10.  Rather, by leaning on Christ, Philippians 4:13, believe in your heart that over time, you will get it right.

Please comment on my blog how your journey is going.  This post is dedicated to Elizabeth, one of my students who gave her heart to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, at the end of our confirmation retreat.

by Jay Mankus

Forgotten Commandments

History has a habit of uncovering relics from the past.  Caves hid the Dead Sea Scrolls until 1946 when 981 texts written in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrews were discovered over a 10 year period.  However, there are always things in plain sight which get overlooked, neglected by those too busy to slow down.

As I opened Leviticus 19 today, I stumbled upon an expanded version of the 10 commandments.  Although some of the passages are subtle reminders, God conveys to Moses the whys to keeping decrees and laws.  These biblical nuggets offer common sense, direction and a foundation for faith.  Nonetheless, unless you accept and practice these precepts, you will be vulnerable to straying off course.

There are several reasons why commandments are forgotten.  First, the Bible offends those comfortable with how they are living, reluctant to change.  Second, people don’t like to be told that they are wrong, especially if there are eternal consequences.  Third, since truth has become relative, everyone has their own take on right and wrong.  In the end, Leviticus 19 serves as a wake up call, to alert those sleep walking through life.  May the words of Scripture breathe life into sleepy, tired and weary souls.

by Jay Mankus

Shake, Rattle and Rut…

Jesse Stone wrote a 12 bar blues rock and roll song in 1954 under his alias song writing name, Charles Calhoun.  This piece was first recorded by Big Joe Turner, yet most notably sung by Bill Haley and the Comets.  Music in its truest form involves rhythm displayed in Shake, Rattle and Roll.

The opposite of this is a rut, void of any flow, inspiration or momentum.  Over the course of time, craters, ditches and potholes disrupt individuals from developing a rhythm in life.  Instead patterns of negative behavior leads to disappointment, a lack of production and unfulfilled expectations.  Once you reach these doldrums, like the dog days of summer, sometimes a spiritual awakening is necessary to break you from this mental state.

This is where I find myself today, stuck in a rut.  To escape this, I need to claim the prayer of David in Psalm 30:1-3.  The blue print laid out in this passage involves praising God from the middle of your circumstances.  Whether you’re stuck in the mud or recovering from a major trial, praise initiates healing.  As soon as you muster the strength to possess a Paul like attitude, Acts 16:25, God transforms ruts into shakes, rattles and spiritual rolls.

by Jay Mankus

To Infinite and Beyond

Buzz Lightyear was introduced into pop culture in 1995, the star in Disney’s Animation Toy Story.  Like every great figure, Buzz’s catch phrase “to infinity and beyond,” endeared Americans to this small yet larger than life character.  The Toy Story series of films has grossed 1.9 billion dollars worldwide, giving a green meaning to infinite and beyond.

If Jesus arrived on the scene for the first time today, He might reference Buzz Lightyear  in a modern day parable.  With an emphasis toward low information voters, Jesus has a record of meeting people where they are, attracted by pop culture.  Subsequently, Jesus might begin with Hollywood to gain the attention and interest of listeners.  However, like a flip of the switch, Jesus weaves biblical truth into every story, pointing lost sheep toward eternity.

The One whom Jesus loved was privileged to private access, greater than even Peter.  Beyond his own gospel, this disciple added 3 additional letters filled with elements of his conversations with the Lord.  Perhaps the most revealing is found in 1 John 5:13.  If you hope to experience infinite and beyond, this passage provides the assurance you need.  When you add Romans 10:9-10 to this equation, you can boldly proclaim like Buzz Lightyear, heaven is a prayer away from of a world where infinite is beyond human comprehension.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Tainted

To blight, contaminate or destroy highlight terms to describe the word tainted.  This suggests prior to someone or something being tarnished, innocence and purity existed.  Like the days before Adam’s failure to lead and Eve’s misguided curiosity, perfection was in reach.

Unfortunately, individuals have now been infected with an undetectable virus.  This blemish has marred human DNA, corrupted by a nature designed to be at war with God, Galatians 5:16-18.  Defiled by sin, Romans 3:9-12, attempts to be disciplined, do right and stay out of trouble is no longer a given, Romans 7:14-20.  This stain on human beings has left a path of destruction throughout history.

While ruin daily visits once regarded saints, the promises of James 5:16 provides hope for the hapless.  Although stigmatized by the world, wounded souls seek refuge at the altar of God.  When the burdens of life become too heavy to handle on your own, come to Jesus for He will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.  Like an infomercial for dirty laundry, shout out your sins to the Lord and He will transform your life from tainted to become as pure as snow, Isaiah 1:18.

by Jay Mankus

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