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Without You I’m a Disaster

You don’t have to experience the heart break of a broken relationship to know loneliness, pain and suffering.  Busy schedules may hide your grief momentarily, but idle time will eventually reveal the hole in your heart.  Reflection often stokes emotions held in check until now.  Over the holidays some will come to the conclusion without you I’m a disaster.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful,” John 15:1-2.

My Darkest Days sings about this reality in their song Without You.  While most people will think of this in a context of a man and woman, this also applies spiritually.  Biblical scholars and theologians reference John 15:1-8 as the answer to this connection.  Jesus uses an illustration of a gardener watering his vineyard.  Jesus is symbolic of the vine, human beings are the branches and the Holy Spirit nurtures and oversees life.  Unfortunately, many individuals attempt to live without remaining connected to the vine, Jesus.  This decision usually results in disaster.

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.  “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 15:4-5.

One of the ways Christians neglect Jesus’ instructions is by trying to go through life without any regular time attending church, praying or reading the Bible.  While you may not recognize the difference, each day without interaction with God breeds selfish tendencies.  If this pattern continues, you will likely reach a point where you think you don’t need God.  Sure, in times of desperation Jesus will be like crutches until you can walk again on your own.  As someone who went down this path in college, your mind becomes transformed by the world, believing in lies whispered to you by the Devil.  Justification and rationalization become a new religion.  As 2018 approaches, I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to help you see without accepting Jesus into your heart, Romans 10:9-10, life is a disaster waiting to happen.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Murmuring

As technology replaces words with emojis, the English language is losing descriptive terms.  One example is known as murmuring; where individuals complain without confronting or solving the problem in question.  Rather, dissenters quietly express their displeasure via gripes, moans or muttering.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, Acts 6:1.

If you belong to a church, there should an annual congregational meeting.  The purpose of this event is for church leaders to illustrate through a financial report where all gifts and tithes are invested or spent.  If this document does not appear to be genuine or above reproach, expect the murmuring to begin.  During the first century, apostles discovered that they were overlooking the needs of certain widows.  This complaint convinced leadership to separate teachers from servants.  In this case, murmuring was effective.

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables,” Acts 6:2.

Today, social media has revolutionized murmuring.  Instead of sitting in the back of a church grumbling, disagreements are posted as blogs, posts or tweets.  Some of this dirty laundry goes viral, creating dumpster fires that affect, impact and wound the body of Christ.  Those afraid of confrontation are empowered to express how things should be without talking to anyone.  In the end, this type of murmuring does more harm than good.  If this trend continues, no one will want to enter certain churches due to past murmurings of the disenfranchised.  The next time you feel the urge to mumble discontent, realize that any complaint may cause a child of God to stumble.  May this image put to rest unwholesome talk which tears down the church.

by Jay Mankus

Where’s the Meat?

In 1984 the Wendy’s Fast Food Chain introduced one of the most memorable advertising slogans of my time, “where’s the beef?”  Actress Clara Peller receives a small burger on a large bun which sets the stage for this classic line.  This commercial convinced customers for a period of time that you had to go to Wendy’s to enjoy a beefy hamburger.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil, Hebrews 5:14.

In spiritual houses of worship, there is a similar question asked by hungry souls, “where’s the meat?”  Due to a movement toward entertaining church services, there appears to be more fluff and less detailed teaching.  Thus, many believers are struggling to grow, lacking challenging sermons filled with spiritual meat.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” Matthew 9:12.

During a conversation among disciples and Pharisees, Jesus makes an assumption about spiritual growth.  Sooner or later, the spiritually mature must grow up by learning to take care of their own faith.  When you reach this stage in life, you can feed yourself through times of Bible Study, fellowship with other believers and prayer.  As you develop healthy spiritual disciplines, you can find the meat, godly principles, within the Bible daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

An Absentee Christian

This state usually begins with a logical excuse.  Perhaps, you’re traveling, on vacation or under the weather so you decide to skip church.  Like any other form of compromise, the second time is always easier, sleeping in after a long week at work.  If this pattern continues, it won’t be long until you become an absentee Christian.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, Romans 7:18.

In election years, the phrase absentee voters is a common term.  This applies to students going out of state to attend college or someone who spends weeks on the road for business trips.  If you plan ahead, anyone can request an absentee ballot which you can fill out and mail to insure your vote counts.  Unfortunately, absentee Christians tend to be wayward souls who don’t have a church home, have lost faith or are caught somewhere in between.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

When I awoke this morning, I can’t deny the truth any longer, I have become an absentee Christian.  Sure, I could use my recent surgery and night work schedule as an excuse, but God isn’t pleased with my lack of obedience.  All I can do is follow the example set by Jesus’ earthly brother, to publicly confess my sins so that healing will come quickly.  As for now, I’m a humbled absentee Christian trying to get back where the Lord wants me to be.

by Jay Mankus

 

Stimulate Wholesome Thinking

When I was younger, the FCC held higher standards, limiting adult content to late night television.  Now, whether its sitcoms laughing at broken marriages, questionable commercials during sporting events or indecent lyrics within modern songs, wholesome thinking is being phased out.  In a recent Philadelphia radio ad, charities are now selling tickets to hear local celebrities made fun of, mocked and roasted in public.  I guess sin does sell.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving, Ephesians 5:4.

Unfortunately, negativity is nothing new.  In a letter to church officials in Ephesus, Paul addresses a concern he experienced first hand during his long stay.  When an individual steps across an unwritten line, there’s a temptation to join in, similar to a feeding frenzy.  Even if you didn’t start teasing someone or throwing another under the bus, resisting the desire to jump in is difficult.  Weekly, I find myself participating, indulging in unwholesome talk before its too late to take something back.

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking, 2 Peter 3:1.

The disciple Peter who also had a reputation for running his mouth came to a crossroads.  At some point near the end of his life, Peter became an advocate for wholesome thinking.  Torn up inside over the collateral damage of hurtful words, Peter encouraged believers to embrace wholesome thinking.  Therefore, if you’re feed up by societies destructive vocabulary, join this fight by stimulating those around you to engage in wholesome thinking.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Why Am I Watching This?

If I asked you the question, what are the first ten things you do when you get up, you may be caught off guard, only be able to recall a few things.  Yet, each morning people shave, shower, turn on the weather, read a blog or newspaper, check emails and charge their phone without much thought.  However, routines can become so ingrained within human beings that occasionally you have to stop yourself to ponder, “why am I doing this?”

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

Since changing my work schedule from days to night two years ago, my sleeping patterns have been sporadic.  Sometimes I’ll find something on television that promotes sleep.  Unfortunately, good movies like a classic will peek my interest, causing to invest several hours viewing instead of sleeping.  Thus, in 2016 I have made a concerted effort reign in my daily routine.  Yet, early on I found myself picking up the clicker to check one of my favorite channels before I heard my conscience say, “why am I watching this?”

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8.

Free will is a powerful weapon, often applied in misguided ways.  Nonetheless, God doesn’t force us to pray, go to church or read the Bible.  Therefore, if you want to break away from bad habits of the past, its not an easy venture.  However, the more I unplug from television and talk radio, the clearer my thoughts become.  While I’m not perfect and still have a long way to go, maybe you too may want to revisit your own daily schedule.  May the Holy Spirit guide you along the way, Galatians 5:25 as you replace the meaningless with power spiritual disciplines.

by Jay Mankus

Signs, Symptoms or Somewhere in Between?

Prior to ascending into heaven, Jesus tried to give his disciples a glimpse of what to expect in the near future.  Based upon one’s belief, signs will appear naturally as an outpouring of one’s faith.  As a spiritual fire grows inside the human heart, random acts of kindness emerge.  Yet, few display or possess the ability to cast out demons or speak in tongues.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues, Mark 16:17.

Perhaps the absence of these unique gifts is a symptom of society.  Faith is not always rationale, especially when the Lord calls you to do strange and unusual things.  Thus, the fear of what others may think about you can cripple genuine faith.  The desire to please mankind has resulted in a church void of signs which accompany faith.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, 1 Corinthians 12:4.

Somewhere in between, there are individuals disgusted by a lukewarm heart.  Stuck in neutral, souls are thirsting for something more, longing for a life with meaning and purpose.  Therefore. if this blog finds you ready for a change, fan into flame the talents hidden within you.  Then, maybe one day soon the fruits of the Holy Spirit will begin to ooze out of you like signs that accompany faith.

by Jay Mankus