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Come and Give Me Wings

At my age, I don’t wake up with the same fire and passion that I once possessed.  Beyond the spiritual realm, I find inspiration from music.  One of the more recent artists which touched me is Set My World on Fire by Britt Nicole.  On her Neon Feather Remix album, this song combines a great beat with moving lyrics.  The chorus asks God to come and give her wings to help fulfill her dreams in life.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways, Psalm 91:11.

According to the Psalmist, this isn’t as far fetched as you think.  However, what does it mean to command the angels and what method ensures that you will be able to usher angels into action?  Based upon the words of Moses, obedience to God is a major factor depending upon how careful you are in following the Lord’s commands.  Yet, asking angels to come and give you wings seems more like fantasy rather than reality.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them, Psalm 34:7.

Perhaps, holy fear is the missing link, preventing Christians from seeing their prayers answered.  David is not the only one who made this connection.  King Solomon claimed fearing God is the beginning of wisdom.  Although I can’t recall a time I experienced angelic intervention, Jesus once said,”you don’t have because you haven’t asked.”  While this topic is foreign to me, in your time of need, don’t be afraid to cry out to God to come and give you wings to overcome the mountain standing in your way.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Your God is Too Small

Confidence and faith often go hand and hand.  However, when individuals struggle to find consistent results, doubt causes many to question the power of God.  Thus, as circumstances go from bad to worse or dire, belief in God tends to shrink.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

The author of the first Catholic letter, James, written to Christians scattered throughout the Middle East, witnessed this lack of faith during the first century.  James compared this behavior to the waves and wind on the Mediterranean Sea.  Whenever unexpected storms rolled in, the composure of believers disappeared, blown and tossed like a rag doll.

And have mercy on those who doubt; Jude 1:22.

The last author of these letters, Jude, had pity on those who wilted during trials in life.  Essentially, those people who demonstrated this mindset served a small God.  In view of this, James urged the community of faith to avoid falling for this lie.  Therefore, the next time doubt tries to whisper “you don’t have a prayer,” cling to the power of the resurrection to supersize your God.

by Jay Mankus

Theories about Falling Apart

I grew up in the soft rock era as nearly every album contained a minimum of one ballet per side.  During the 1980’s, radio stations played the same 12-15 songs in a loop.  Except for all request lunch hours or evenings with Delilah, individuals waited in their cars, on their deck or listening to a stereo as depicted in Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do.  Groups like Air Supply sang about being lost without their significant other in All Out of Love.  However, when it comes to theories about falling apart, no one compares to the band Chicago.  While I loved their music, their songs are filled with break up lyrics, trying to recover from one broken relationship after another.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me, John 15:4.

Canadian Rock band Thousand Foot Krutch continues to expand upon theories about falling apart.  In their video of the song Falls Apart, TFK uses ropes like strings on a puppet.  The lyrics suggest that everything falls apart when they walk away from their girl.  However, beyond the obvious is a spiritual message.  Whenever a person of faith walks away from God, their life begins to slowly fall apart.  Like Bette Midler’s famous song, the Lord is the Wind Beneath Our Wings.  Thus, any type of absence, departure or period of prodigal journey will weaken the human soul.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

In a private meeting with his disciples, Jesus gives one final theory about falling apart.  The Lord compares himself to a vine, the source of life.  God plays the role of a gardener, pruning those areas of life that are unproductive.  By staying connected through Bible Study, prayer and worship, spiritual nourishment is provided.  However, the moment you become disconnected, removing God from the equation, emptiness replaces the Giver of Life.  Therefore, if you feel like you’re on the verge of falling apart, tap into a higher power to rejuvenate a thirsty soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Life Get’s in the Way of Your Plans

The older you become, the more likely it is that one phone call will radically change your life.  Bad news has a way of stealing joy as well as altering any plans that you have previous made.  Just before Christmas, my wife’s mom was rushed to the hospital.  In the week’s that have followed, there have been ups and downs, resulting in a series of trips to Chicago to see her mother.  In the end, everyone will pass, but preparing for the inevitable is like riding a roller coaster in the dark.

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

In moments like these, the wisdom of Solomon shines light on what’s truly important.  Sure, developing goals are helpful to create a five or ten year plan for prosperity.  Yet, beyond a man’s or woman’s heart, the Lord will throw an occasional curve ball to keep you off balance.  Subsequently, if your steps aren’t in alignment with God’s calling, a detour will likely be coming, drawing you back to where you need to be.  Whether that’s taking care of an ailing parent or pursuing a promotion to keep get your children through college, only time will time.  Yet, for now life is like a wheel of fortune, around and around it goes, where it stops nobody but God knows.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10.

So what do you do when life get’s in the way of your plans?  First, praying can serve as a vehicle for healing as well as a source of comfort.  Second, seek counsel from those who have already gone through a similar situation.  This provides prospective as well as the ability to avoid making the same mistakes as your predecessor.  Finally, cling to the promises of the Bible, memorizing these passages to instill in you hope that God is not finished using and working through you.  May the Holy Spirit guide your steps the next time life get’s in the way of your plans.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Bend without Breaking… I Don’t Think So

As technology evolves, the development of statistics has exploded.  Subsequently, professional sports now collect several interesting stats.  In football, if a defense gives up lots of yards, but holds their opponent’s to field goals, these teams are referred to as having a bend but not break defense.  When a winning squad has a comfortable lead, some coaches will go into what’s called a prevent defense.  On a few occasions, this decision has back fired, resulting in a shocking comeback victory for the losing team.

No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes, Psalm 101:7.

This mentality has carried over into life, leading to a serious moral dilemma.  As lines between right and wrong have been altered, erased or removed, the concept of integrity is disappearing.  Whether its a co-worker, politician or student, people seem to have become experts on compromise, using exaggeration, generalization and rationalization to justify their actions.  If I didn’t know the truth, I’d be tempted to suggest that maybe its okay to bend the rules a little bit without actually breaking them.

For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light, Luke 8:17.

One of the reasons the media rejects Christianity is that its full of standards for life.  If the Bible’s commandments, decrees and laws can be brought into question, doubt will cause many to lose faith, turning their attention toward man made guidelines.  In additional, if the resurrection of Jesus can be proved to be a hoax, the principles of the Bible will be dismissed.  However, the Word of God continues to be the anchor of faith for those who believe today.  Therefore, don’t be fooled by modern logic, bending but not breaking rules.  Rather, hold fast to the apostles teaching, testing everything you hear with scripture so that you won’t find yourself living in a prevent defense mode.

by Jay Mankus

The Daughters of Prophecy

A forecast, prediction or prognostication are words synonymous with prophecy.  In this age of cynicism the majority of people I know have their doubts.  In fact, some may place these individuals in the same category as mediums, palm readers or psychics.  However, the apostle Paul refers to four woman in Ephesus as daughters of prophecy.

He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied, Acts 21:9.

This concept is foreign territory for most people.  During a few stints of unemployment four years ago, I met a stranger in a Christian bookstore.  This man came up to me at the counter and began to claim I would soon be blessed with a high paying job, beyond my wildest dreams.  When you’re desperate, sometimes you cling to any positive news, no matter how outlandish it appears.  Unfortunately, I got sucked in, was set up for failure and as time flew by without an answer to my prayers, I lost hope in the idea of prophecy.

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy, Acts 2:17-18.

Nonetheless, I can’t overlook Paul’s claims.  Based upon the context, these girls did not make up prophecies or try to impress Paul.  Rather, they only shared what God revealed to them.  While not a woman, Agabus accurately recounts Paul’s persecution in Jerusalem before it happens.  Luke was so impressed that he makes sure this prophet is mentioned in Acts.  I  can’t explain this rare spiritual talent, yet the Bible is clear, four daughters living in Ephesus possessed the gift of prophecy.

by Jay Mankus

The Key to Helping the Weak

If you are observant, you will likely cross paths with an exhausted, fragile or shaken soul.  Unfortunately, many symptoms of the weak are subtle.  This leads the driven, focused and self-centered to be oblivious, unfazed by the down trodden, hurting and wounded.  Unless you slow down, similar to the words of the Psalmist, you won’t notice or take the time to help the weak.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth,” Psalm 46:10.

A natural response to a bad day is to over-react, allowing a spirit of bitterness or worry to consume you.  Thus, when you are able to get over this disappointment, the sooner you can begin to turn your attention to the concerns of others.  In a letter to the church of Colosse, Paul encourages members to bear with each other; sharing the burdens of those hurting.   Though it may be difficult to forgive some individuals, its a start in the right direction to helping the weak.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others, Philippians 2:3-4.

Finally, the key to helping the weak is found in the art of giving.  Jesus claims it is better to give than receive.  While part of human nature will expect something in return, I’m learning the joy of giving without expectation.  It’s not easy, but the sooner people can get over the life’s not fair stage, your perspective can change.  May the Lord revitalize your hearts to become a student of giving.

by Jay Mankus

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