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A Hap-Hazard Faith

Aimless, chaotic and dis-organized are terms associated with haphazard.  Although there is nothing wrong about being casual, some things require your full attention.  Unfortunately, as standards across the board continue to decline, a new mindset has developed, “why should I follow all the rules if no one else does?”

This seed of doubt has inspired a generation with a faith that can be best described as haphazard.  On Sunday’s, most people put on their happy faces.  By Monday, the memory of church often fades, depleted by stress and worry.  If traces of faith are neglected by believers, the love for God and others can disappear, replaced with selfishness.

Subsequently, many walk away disappointed, like the rich young ruler who tried to impress Jesus in Matthew 19:16-25.  The moral of this story is that no one is ever good enough to earn their way to heaven, Romans 3:9-12.  Regardless of your level of commitment, redemption can only be obtained through Christ, Romans 5:6-8.  While a haphazard faith may be a current reality, pray that the Word of the Lord, Romans 10:17, will resurrect dead or dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

 

When God Turns Out the Lights

Always is one of those words that is regularly spoken, yet rarely applied.  Similarly, patience is a trait people know they need, but refuse to pray for it.  Consistent, unfailing and unconditional are terms that characterize God’s love.  However, when God turns out the lights during a trial, many respond with complaining, doubt and frustration.

On the other hand, the last thing individuals who experience death, gloom or tragedy need to hear is their loss is all part of God’s will.  While answers might be provided over the course of time, broken and wounded hearts need time to sort through the pain inside.  Yet, when God does turn out the lights, always is a good place to start.

According to the author of Psalm 105, when you don’t have the energy to press on with life, look toward the Lord for strength, verse 4.  However, this isn’t something you can do occasionally.  Rather, the Psalmist urges his audience to always seek God’s face.  If you want answers, sometimes or most of the time doesn’t cut it.  Therefore, the next time God turns out the lights, illuminate this darkness with faith ignited by God’s Word, Psalm 119:105.

by Jay Mankus

 

Living in First Class for a Day

As a son of an immigrant to this country, I understand the concept of hard work.  Although I never saw my dad much as a kid, I knew he was trying to provide a better life for our family.  Subsequently, I didn’t become obsessed with fashion or style in my teenage years.  Rather, I learned to appreciate what I had despite being jealous at times by peers who flashed their wealth.

However, I haven’t been excluded from certain luxuries in life.  Every so often, I have been privileged to be a guest of first class.  When the opportunity presents itself, I’ve been blessed by attending the Stanley Cups Finals, Monday Night Football games and double header of a Cleveland Indians in a Luxury Suite.  While each experience has special memories, nothing compares to this past weekend’s NASCAR Race at the Monster Mile.

My wife’s company was given Infield Passes for Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover Downs.  These tickets included a Meet and Greet with Ryan Newman, tour of the garage area and access to the Quick and Loans Hospitality RV all day long.  With my kids tagging alone, my family was spoiled, living in first class for a day.  This event gives me a new appreciation for NASCAR as well as everything that goes on behind the scenes at a race.  Whenever you have a special invite in the future, seize the moment and thank God for the special chances you get to live in first class for a day.

by Jay Mankus

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Imprints on Heaven

While listening to a sermon over the weekend, I was challenged to reflect on what if any impact I’ve had during my days on this planet.  Jesus and the apostle Paul, shared a similar message, urging their listeners to begin to store up treasures on earth, Matthew 6:19-21 and Colossians 3:1-4.  If heaven does exist and Jesus went ahead to prepare the way, John 14:2, then its time you and I begin the imprinting process.

Although minor in many ways, my first mark involved music.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I felt compelled  to inform people of God’s love.  Sorting through a vast collection of Christian music in college, I created a mix that I began to give to individuals, just as a high school friend did for me.   Trying to introduce people to contemporary artists, one particular creation entitled A Father”s Love struck a cord with several friends and strangers.  In the days of writing letters, words of encouragement appeared in the mail box, confirming that I was on the right track.

My greatest inscription occurred during a Lay Witness Mission, a fancy name for a retreat geared toward reviving souls for a  spiritually dead or dying congregation.  Beside being an active participant during youth group activities, my main responsibility was to share a brief testimony, what God was teaching me or doing in my life.  At a moment’s notice, I was suppose to be ready.  Well, I waited and waited and waited.  Finally, on Saturday night, I was told I would be talking to the entire congregation.  After praying with my roommate that night, the Lord took over so when the appointed time came, I opened my mouth and the Holy Spirit spoke.  Before finishing, I offered up a call for action, then played a song.  As I looked up, some were actually running to the altar, dedicating their lives to Jesus.

Since this day, I guess I can include my wife, kids and a decade as a Bible teacher.  However, in between the victories, there have been plenty of moments of failure, idleness and periods of self-indulgence.   When you taste defeat, the best pill to swallow is humility, an important practice to keep you on the narrow path to heaven, Matthew 7:13-15.  As the second coming of Jesus draws near, don’t forget to leave your imprints on earth while heaven awaits for those who call on the name of the Lord, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

 

Tone Deaf or Tuned Out?

Technology is changing so quickly that sometimes the media can’t keep up.  While the elderly long for the days of the type writer, youth are downloading the next app to make their life more enjoyable.  For the computer illiterate, if this divide continues, there will be a large portion in society who will either become tone deaf or simply tune out these changes.

Today, the typical print media and evening news is on the verge of becoming extinct.  With the advent of twitter, camera phones and internet blogs, news is outdated by the time articles are written or news is reported.  Perhaps, this may explain the sensationalism in journalism through coverage, headlines and graphic videos..  This desperate attempt suggests the main stream media is losing their power to influence minds as talk shows and pod casts have emerged.

As for the average Joes like me, we might get lost in the shuffle.  Yes, I can know how to blog, email and make a video for my youtube account, but too much information can be overwhelming.  The less informed may get to a point where they think, “what’s the point,” giving up on technological advances.  Regardless of where you stand on this issue, God remains in control.  Thus, whether you become tone deaf or tune out, don’t forget to find life by living in the pages of the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

 

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