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Forgetting to Thank the One Providing the Blessings

The expression “you don’t know what you had until its gone” often hits home over the holidays.  Each year death takes away someone or something special from our lives.  Unfortunately, when life is going well, people forget to be grateful.  Take for example the Israelites, freed from 400 years of oppression and slavery.  Yet, this wasn’t enough as hungry stomachs led to complaining and grumbling.  When God answered their prayers in the form of manna, bread from heaven, the magic of this miracle soon wore off, craving more.  As quail arrived, sent by the Lord, the Israelites forgot to thank the One providing the blessings.

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD‘s hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death,” Exodus 16:3.

Doctors tend to notice certain details that most individuals miss.  In the case of Luke, a first century physician, his version of the Healing of 10 Lepers mentions an unique observation.  Leprosy attacks the vocal cords, limiting one’s ability to project their voices.  One of the ten healed by Jesus was overcome by emotion, crying out at the top of his lungs for the first time in years.  While Jesus is disappointed that only one person came back to thank him, Luke highlights the immediate healing experienced by this man.  The other nine took their speech for granted, yet one man did not miss the opportunity to thank the One who performed this blessing.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

On Thanksgiving Day, hearts and minds tend to be fixed on cooking, football or shopping.  Instead of slowing down to enjoy life, the pursuit of happiness causes souls to search for self-gratification.  This exercise usually leads to disappointment or emptiness.  Therefore, this year on this sacred day, make sure you take the time to thank the good Lord above for all the blessings in this life.  If you don’t, you will miss a golden opportunity to prepare your heart to catch the spirit of Christmas, with good tidings and great joy to all!

by Jay Mankus

A Mid-Faith Crisis

Hollywood’s depiction of a mid-life crisis doesn’t get much better than the 1991 film City Slickers.  Billy Crystal plays a man in his late 30’s who has lost his joy for life.  Depressed, disappointed and struggling to maintain hope for the future, Crystal is sent away by his wife to find himself during a week in Colorado with his buddies.  Disturbing their trail guide, a chain of events culminates in a mid-faith crisis, a watershed moment for Crystal and his 2 friends.

Beyond the big screen, dysfunctional faith forces individuals to confront life’s problems or ignore them, wishing they will disappear.  Enduring a restless night, hours of reflection revealed a troubled heart.  Some where during the last 5 years, I began to neglect most of the relationships in my life.  Subsequently, I find myself in a mid-faith crisis, not sure where to begin.  As my faith has turned lukewarm, Revelation 3:16, not pleasing to the Lord, its time to start over or like the life lesson in City Slickers, do everything better with Christ’s help.

In times of intense difficulty, its easy to throw up your hands, wave the white flag and withdraw into a shell.   Yet, each crisis provides a crossroad where you will wilt under pressure or trust God in the dark.  This critical moment will dictate your proximity to God.  As one who is approaching 30 years of walking with Jesus, I wish I could say faith gets easier the older you become.  Unfortunately, complications in life prove to serve as obstacles, mountains that prevent you from experiencing genuine faith.  Whenever you approach, face or stand in a valley of despair, remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:21-22 to conquer any mid-faith crisis you encounter.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

One Another

The pied piper is often a dynamic leader who attracts others to follow his cause and ways.  However, without consistency, these individuals can be abandoned, left for someone or something better.  If there is no one around to inspire you, people tend to fall back into their complacent habits.  Perhaps, this is where you and I fit into God’s puzzle.

The author of Hebrews is a mystery, with a few candidates, but no clear clue to unveil the actual writer.  Nonetheless, this book contains essential instructions for church goers sitting in the pew.  According to Hebrews 10:23-25, one another are placed into a congregation to call other believers to persevere when the going get’s tough.  When a situation appears hopeless, the faithful are encouraged to be a voice of reason, uplifting disappointed souls.

King Solomon thought so highly of this concept, he suggests one another is crucial to overcoming oppression, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

1. One worker can motivate the other to reach their goal for the day, setting the tone for others to follow.

2. A friend can help their mate if one falls down or is tired, picking up the other to press on another day.

3. If lost, two people can endure cold temperatures together, surviving until a search and rescue team arrives.

4. Finally, alone one person can be over powered, but two soldiers can band together to defend themselves.

God designed human being to spur one another on  toward love and good deeds, Hebrews 10:24.  In view of this truth, Christians should be inspired to continue meeting together, holding their peers accountable, verse 25.  Without another, all you’re left with is one, separated from the flock with the devil waiting to pounce, 1 Peter 5:8.

by Jay Mankus

When God Seems Dead…

In the upcoming movie  God’s Not Dead, based upon a true story, a college philosophy professor presupposes God is dead.  Not surprising by today’s standards, one student who refuses to sign a paper agreeing with his assumption, faces an uphill battle which may cost him more than just a good grade.  As a result, God is put on trial in Philosophy 150, with one defendant testifying to his existence.  The outcome will be determined this spring for those who are interested.

For the rest of us, life tends to bring periods when God seems distant, far removed from our situation, acting as if He doesn’t care or doesn’t exist.  Yet, this thought is nothing new, questioned by countless of individuals throughout history, even a famous king.  According to David, godly people had vanished from his kingdom, with no one in his sight, Psalm 12:1.  Instead, liars using flattery to get ahead in life had taken over society, frustrated David as the wicked prospered and the righteous were disappearing, Psalm 12:2-4.

Since God’s ways are not man’s ways, Proverbs 19:21, the Lord will arise from his apparent slumber.  When God does return, He and only He will judge mankind according to what they have said and done, Matthew 12:36.  For now, you have a life to live, “like sand through an hour glass, so are the Days of our Lives,” one of the few soap operas I watched.  Anyway, the closer individuals begin to experience John 10:10, the more people will realize God’s not dead, he’s alive in those who shine the love of Jesus, Matthew 5:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Sure About That?

Whether its an April Fool’s joke or a student trying to pull a prank on one of their teacher’s, its important to double and triple check your information before informing others.  Like the internet picture of a 90 foot snake 2 years ago, those who believed this story were quickly disappointed.  Maybe this is why so many in our culture struggle to accept the testimonies about Jesus in the Bible.  Hoping not to be deceived, a typical reply is, “are you sure about it?”

After reading books such as The Bible as History, The Case for Christ and the entire Bible, I’m more confident than ever about this evidence.  Yeah, stories of a burning bush, talking donkey and light that spoke aren’t every day occurrences.  Throw in a guy walking on water, calming storms and raising the dead, skepticism sets in, unable to rationalize the impossible.  However, as archeologists uncover chariots on the bottom of the Red Sea, find a giant boat in the middle of the  mountains in Turkey and artifacts that proved Jesus lived during the first century, maybe this isn’t as far fetched as once thought.

One thing is certain, people are going to believe what they want to believe.  Each religion will emphasize, interpret and slant information in their favor.  Meanwhile, each church, mosque and temple will de-emphasize certain facts to lean others toward their particular worldview.  In the end, I can’t force anyone to believe what I do.  All I can do is present angles, details and elements that might one day lead someone to say, “I am sure about that!”

by Jay Mankus