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A Life Void of Substance

Substance can be defined as a particular kind of matter with uniform properties.  Yet, something as simple as water can be labeled as boring.  Subsequently, human nature draws individuals toward that which is intoxicating or stimulating.  Those who lack this substance can get lost, disappearing from sight, hidden by strong personalities.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot,” Matthew 5:13.

As someone born with a severe speech impediment, I have never been known to be eloquent.  If you don’t possess this quality, it’s essential to add flavor to the lives of those whom you meet.  However, if you lose your passion for a career, hobbies or life in general, there is a tendency to become stale, adding little to daily conversations.  Unfortunately, this is where I currently find myself, a life void of substance.

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent, Exodus 14:14.

The times when I become alive are often influenced by my hot button issues.  These topics allow me to express my knowledge, love and perspective.  When conversations do not provide an opportunity to open out, there is another source which adds flavor.  Whether it’s opening up the Bible, fellowship with believers or times of prayer, God unveils spiritual insight to those listening.  Therefore, if you find yourself on the verge of a life void of substance, fuel up on the Holy Spirit to add flavor to the lives of those you interact with.

by Jay Mankus

When Your Mind Get’s in the Way

Depending upon how you were raised, parents give advice, guidance and warnings as you grow up.  Some of the common phrases of my generation were “think before you speak, open mouth insert foot” and simply “think.”  These words suggest that sometimes your mind gets in the way.

But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!”  – Numbers 13:31

In the Old Testament, God had promised Israel a new land flowing with milk and honey.  Before entering this place, Moses sent out a team to explore this region.  Known as the 12 Spies, only two brought back a positive report.  The other ten were misled by minds gripped with fear.  This first glance underestimated the power of God as their minds got in the way.

 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it,” Numbers 13:30.

In the end, the voices of Caleb and Joshua were silenced by the majority.  However, if you want to overcome doubt, leaders must raise their voices to convince the feeble and weak.  The next time you hear a crowd minimizing the power of God, step out in faith to persuade the masses.  If you don’t the human mind will get in the way, leaving you outside of the blessings God has in store for you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

So Lame… By Hiding His Name

We live in a polarized world where any type of comment, statement or words can ignite explosive comments on Twitter.  Sometimes things can be taken out of context, but once you hit send you can’t take this back.  Subsequently, political correctness is the new bully on the block, causing conservatives and liberals to retract earlier posts.  This public pressure is deterring many from bolding expressing what people believe.  The byproduct of this atmosphere produces lame Christians that often hide Jesus’ name.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house,” Matthew 5:14-15.

This fear inspired the words to the children’s classic song This Little Light of Mine.  Harry Dixon Loes, a former student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago composed this song.  The founder of this school, D.L. Moody, wanted to serve God but wasn’t given a classroom to teach in his church.  An elder encouraged him to start a Sunday School outside of church and when his class got big enough a space would be provided.  Thus, D.L, Moody went to the beaches of Lake Michigan and began to introduce strangers to the good news about Jesus Christ.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven, Matthew 5:16.

Eventually, Moody’s following became so large, he started his own church in the 1800’s.  On the day of the great Chicago fire of 1871, Moody felt rushed at the end of his sermon.  Thus, he decided to skip his call to action, a time to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Later that night, several members of his congregation were killed by the flames.  This error in judgment burned within Moody’s heart, inspiring weekly altar calls in case another unexpected disaster followed.  Like the words of Jesus above, lamps are meant to shine light every where.  Therefore, don’t allow peer pressure to limit the light of Christ within you.  Rather, let your light shine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The End of Innocence

As I look around, listen and observe modern culture, I feel like a foreigner living in a strange land.  Maybe I lived a sheltered life up to this point in time?  Yet, the anger expressed, constant acts of disrespect displayed and vulgar vocabulary casually verbalized daily signal the end of innocence.

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble, Proverbs 16:4.

I’m clearly not the first to suggest this.  During the glory years of the nation of Israel, Solomon recognized similar signs.  After reflecting upon why this may be occurring, King Solomon came to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason.  Perhaps, these social cycles serve as a transitional period like the cleansing of the tides in the ocean.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today, Genesis 50:20.

Despite how bleak the future looks on the surface, it’s important to remember the words from Joseph above.  Although his brothers meant to harm him through an act of revenge, God allowed this to occur to lead Joseph to the land of Egypt.  Once the timing was ideal, the Lord elevated Joseph to second in command, preparing the region for seven years of famine.  As you experience turbulent times in life, may the Lord give you the foresight to remain optimistic whatever the situation.  Use the end of innocence as an opportunity to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of this age.

by Jay Mankus

From That Time On

There were a series of events which took placed before Jesus began his earthly ministry.  Since the prophets of the Old Testament wrote about these specific details, Jesus waited patiently until this day arrived.  Following his baptism, John’s imprisonment and move to the Land of Zebulun and Naphtali, everything was set for Jesus to put God’s plan into action.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” Matthew 4:17.

According to the verse above, Jesus’ message was clear, repent for the kingdom of God is near.  To avoid over kill, Matthew writes this statement once as a simple reminder, from that time on.  Whether Jesus was addressing a large crowd, a small group or speaking one on one, repentance played a crucial role.  This term refers to turning 180 degrees away from addiction, bad habits and unwholesome desires toward the grace and mercy of God.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, Luke 19:10

During a public conversation heard by several eyewitnesses, Jesus makes a remarkable admission.  Prior to meeting with a repentant tax collector, Jesus reveals his purpose for coming down to earth.  The statement above refers to seeking and saving that which Adam lost in the Garden of Eden.  This is two fold: the authority stolen by Satan and intimacy which Adam and Eve shared with God, walking and talking together day.  If you ever lose your way, don’t forget Jesus’ simply message: repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

by Jay Mankus

Never Be The Same

There are moments in life that serve as life altering experiences.  Whether this is a decision to begin a new career, relationship or adapt to an unexpected event, your life will never be the same.  Like a fork in a road, you have to decide the path your life will take.

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.

The Christian Group Red sing about this on their Innocence and Instinct album.  The context of the song Never Be the Same refers to entering into a relationship with Jesus.  Unlike any other earthly experience, God’s love is unconditional.  For anyone who has been burned, disappointed or let down by unfulfilled promises, this concept is hard to grasp.

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.

Yet, any prodigal who has come to their senses, God’s timing serves as a saving grace.  While modern church leaders attempt to manufacture this setting through long drawn out altar calls, the desperate will run to God.  After the emotion of God’s forgiveness fades, the hard part is setting time aside daily to maintain this connection.  You can’t force anyone into a relationship that they have no interest in.  However, if freewill is allowed to run it’s course freely, new Christians will never be the same.

by Jay Mankus

What Are We Praying for?

Frederick Douglass is a key figure featured every February during Black History month.  After escaping slavery in Maryland, Douglass completed his autobiography in 1845.  If you attended a public school, you probably never heard about this man’s great faith.  While talking to a friend earlier in the week, I was amazed to hear about his concept of prayer.  This made me wonder, what am I actually praying for?

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word, Psalm 119:9.

Instead of praying for the obvious, God’s blessings on your family, friends and work, Douglass narrowed in on a few simple things.  First, as a slave, Frederick prayed that his master would not beat him.  From here, Frederick fervently asked the Lord to have mercy on him so that his service would please his master.  Within his autobiography, Douglass comments on how his master’s treated him.  Oddly enough, those who claimed to be Christians treated him the worse.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

Following this conversation, I was convicted, wondering how cruel I have treated others in this life.  Beyond the bubble that I live in, my actions are far from the grace, love and mercy Jesus demonstrated on earth.  Instead of treating prayer like some kind of Christmas wish list, perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics.  Whether this means using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide or quoting parts of Psalm 119, something has to change.  May this blog inspire you to put into practice Jesus’ words above, starting prayer by seeking God’s kingdom and righteous first.

by Jay Mankus