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Stepping Up

If you have ever been a part of any team, you know that accidents, illness or injuries are bound to occur.  Thus, those who sit on the bench need to watch closely in case something unexpected happens.  When starters have to be taken out, the observant will know what to do.  Unfortunately, the disinterested who do not like to pay attention to details often experience embarrassing moments on the field.  For this reason, professional sports have developed a next man up mentality.  This concept better prepares alternates, the second string and subs for success when opportunities do arise.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” – Exodus 18:14

In life, God has given individuals the chance to be part of a team through families.  Depending upon the leadership and organizations skills of parents, daily responsibilities are broken down into assignments called chores.  This use of delegation insures that more than one person is helping out around the house at a time.  If a dominant member attempts to do everything on their own, this person will likely get burnt out or when this figure is no longer around, the entire household begins to fall a part.  Perhaps, this may explain why mothers are considered the glue that holds a family together.

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.   Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him, Exodus 18:17-19.

Since my wife’s father’s car accident and subsequent death, I have realized how little I have chipped in to help raise my children.  All my energy goes into working, leaving my emotionally and physically drained.  Thus, when I am around my house, I do a few things here and there, but not nearly enough as the leader of my household.  After reading the words of Jethro, Moses’ father in law, I can see the error of my ways.  My priorities have been mainly self-seeking up to this point.  Therefore, it’s time for me to step up, to be the kind of father the Lord wants me to be.  I still have a long way to go, but at some point in life, everyone needs to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit which fuels hearts to step it up at home.

by Jay Mankus

From Bad to Unbearable

There is an old cliché of going from bad to worse.  However, in some circumstances individuals experience unbearable conditions.  Sometimes this occurs due to an accident, illness or trial.  Whenever you encounter one of these extremes, faith and perseverance are essential to survive.

“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.  But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God,’ Exodus 5:7-8.

During Israel’s 400 years of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh took out his frustrations on the Hebrew servants.  Beginning in Exodus 5, the quota of work remained the same, but the workers were forced to now collect straw to make bricks.  This decision was like the last straw forcing God’s hand to ramp up the plagues on Pharaoh.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

One of Jesus’ brothers records a mindset necessary to overcome harsh periods in life.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that when most people hear it you reply, “yeah right.”  Nonetheless, staying positive is half the battle.  Any type of negativity can poison minds resulting in an avalanche of doubt.  Therefore, the next time things go from bad to worse in your life, consider it a pure joy so that those who endure will receive the crown of life.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did I Go Wrong?

Life tends to be a series of choices which lead you to the place where you end up.  Sure, accidents, illness and tragedy may be the exception to this rule, but it doesn’t take much to take the wrong path.  Compromise starts off subtle, lulling souls to sleep spiritually.  Before you know you have a problem, its often too late as people are left to ponder, “where did I go wrong?”

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot, Romans 8:7.

Some might argue that its impossible to know if you are exactly where God wants you to be.  Meanwhile, others claim the conscience was designed into every human being to regulate your soul.  Yet, if your mind isn’t right, thoughts can become hostile to God.  Whenever anyone drifts off course from the path God desires you to take, Satan can use your own mind against you to justify false actions and behaviors.  Thus, determining where you went astray can be more difficult than it seems.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua 24:15.

As Joshua leads a new generation into God’s promised land, it was fitting to urge Israel to consider who they are willing to serve.  The blessings are out there, fruits for those who remain on the straight and narrow.  Yet, the sooner you recognize where you went wrong, the quicker you will find reconciliation.  Therefore, I’m calling all prodigals to come to their senses to find forgiveness, hope and the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

Traumatized

 

One of the medical websites I researched lists 5 specific categories of trauma.  Complex, Early Childhood, Medical, Refugee and Traumatic Grief.  The actual definition of this term refers to any experience that inflicts deep distress or is emotionally disturbing.  This state is often induced by accidents, injuries or witnessing someone die.  Anyone who endures such an event can be traumatized for hours, days, weeks or months.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you, 1 Peter 5:7.

Anyone alive during the life of Christ may have seen one of the most brutal ways to die.  After receiving up to 39 lashing in the public square, Jesus carried a cross until Simeon took over and then was crucified.  Even those who despised Jesus’ message, must have felt pity or remorse at some point.  Despite his innocence, Herod followed Jewish tradition, setting the criminal Barabbas free as a mob demanded Jesus to die in his place.  If those who have seen this gore in the Passion of the Christ struggle to watch, image the trauma exhibited by those who were disciples and followers of God’s son.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron, Psalm 107:13-16.

One of the difficult signs of trauma is that its often invisible.  Sure, body language, facial expressions and posture reveal someone who is mourning.  Yet, wounds to the soul go unnoticed, lingering for months, years or in worse case scenarios, a lifetime.  In certain cases, guilt causes some to remain traumatized until they forgive themselves.  This situation is played out in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams playing a psychologists tells Matt Damon, an orphan its not your fault.  If you find yourself trying to recover from a traumatic events, may the prayer of the Psalmist above provide the words to receive the healing that you seek and strive to achieve.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Price of Life

Whenever you have an accident, are diagnosed with a disease or face a long rehab, its hard to put a price on life.  After breaking two ribs and collapsing a lung, two ambulance rides cost nearly one thousand dollars each.  Treatments for cancer can accumulate into the tens of thousands.  Meanwhile, braces, surgeries and wheel chairs aren’t too far behind, cutting into the life savings of those face with life altering conditions.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

On the road to recovery, individuals have to consider the cost.  Do you I want to extend my life?  Or do I want to end my suffering?  Sure, parents and loved ones will often do whatever necessary to keep the hope of healing alive.  Yet, as time goes by, its up to the injured party to possess the desire and will to carry on.  So what is the price of a life?  Should you place a limit or should you adopt the Master Card slogan that life is priceless?

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, Matthew 16:25.

According to Jesus, there is something else more important than saving your life.  The human soul is more valuable as it controls your eternal destiny.  Thus, before you extend all your time and energy on trying to survive, don’t forget about eternal life.  One of Jesus’ disciples claims that you can know for sure before you die, 1 John 5:13.  Therefore, make your reservation today as a soul destined for is a horrible fate to face.  The price of life is worth it all as long as a decision has been made, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Faster Faster Won’t You Make It Better Now

Built into the DNA of children is a natural inclination to seek comfort from mothers.  Whether its an accident, fall or scrape, there is something soothing about receiving a hug, kiss or touch from mom.  When I lived in New Jersey, my mother was an EMT.  Perhaps, it was a premonition that I was an accident waiting to happen.  Anyway, when I broke my leg in two places jumping off an above ground pool, did a face plant into the asphalt while riding my bike and nearly lost my finger after it was slammed into a car door I cried out, “faster faster won’t you make it better now?”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

From a spiritual perspective, adults and child alike apply this same concept to prayer.  However, instead of crying out to moms’, individuals are seeking immediate help from their heavenly Father.  In cases of death, illness or sudden trauma, God is the last resort, a life line hoping to turn around a dire situation.  While answers from the Lord vary, desperate times push souls to a sense of urgency.  Depending upon the age, dilemma or energy within each prayer lifted up, everyone is searching for a quick resolution with a happy ending.

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him,” Joshua 24:24.

In the song Faster Faster on Esterlyn Lamps debut album, the lyrics appear to be geared toward a counselor or friend.  In the chorus, an individual who has made poor choices in life cries out at the tops of their lungs, “faster faster won’t you make it better?”  Whether this plea applies to a pastor, teacher or youth pastor, anyone who makes foolish decisions wants to escape the consequences.  Unfortunately, reality paints another picture, often with grime results.  Therefore, don’t wait until something bad happens to get right with God.  Rather, like Joshua in the Old Testament, make your decision today to serve and follow the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Witnesses of the Holy Spirit

If you have ever witnessed an accident, there are several things which must take place before you can leave.  The police must be contacted, vehicles must be moved off to the side and witnesses need to give their account of what happened.  The authorities are trying to create a 360 degree picture of the scene.  When all of the accounts are written down, an accurate perspective is usually derived.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him, Acts 5:32.

When it comes to testifying about that which is unseen, accumulating information is much more difficult.  Perhaps a prayer spoken up to heaven is answered in a relatively quick time.  Or a financial need is met in a supernatural manner.  Some may even see a miracle unfold which defies logic.  If you have encountered any of these scenarios, maybe you have been a witness of the Holy Spirit.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19.

The apostle Paul puts a different spin on this topic.  Relying on Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 16, Paul suggests this counselor can actually enter your body.  This Holy Ghost transformed his brethren from scaredy cats to bold evangelists.  This display of faith likely inspired a generation of believers.  Although the presence of the Holy Spirit may be rare in these days and times, don’t be surprised if you become a witness to the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus