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Tag Archives: fellowship

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

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Where Are Your Footprints Leading?

For those of you who have pets, it doesn’t take much for a kitten, puppy or other new member of the family to reap havoc.  Like any child who knows their in trouble, sometimes animals try to hide their mess.  In this case, all you have to do is follow visible signs of destruction before you reach the guilty party.  Yet, child and pets aren’t alone as even adults have moments of weakness, sending a poor message by taking steps in the wrong direction.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth, 1 John 1:6.

Unfortunately, grown ups tend to make life much more complicated than it is.  Subsequently, sometimes its important to simplify life, going back to the basics.  The Bible kids classic song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See is a great place to start.  These lyrics warn individuals of the lasting consequences of walking in darkness.  Tasting forbidden fruit, lusting for someone or something or crossing the line known as sin, could become a life style if you’re not careful.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.   But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23

In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares the correlation between your eyes and sin.  Essentially, eyes are a lamp created to guide and direct people throughout life.  However, if used inappropriately, these beacons of light can become a source for evil.  Thus, whether you are young or old, Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See still applies.  In view of this choose wisely and if you make mistakes along the way, repent quickly.  May the footprints that you leave on earth point souls to the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Law vs. the Law

In the case Abington verse Schempp, the United States Supreme Court deemed the public reading of the Bible to be illegal.  Since this decision over fifty years ago, religious freedoms continues to be attacked, leaving new legislation which often contradicts New Testament teachings.  Subsequently, Christians are confronted with the dilemma, do I follow the law or the Law?

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching, 1 Timothy 4:13.

The 19th century is known as the era of the evangelist according to church history.  As revival spread throughout the east coast of the United States in the early 1800’s, churches began to hold services outside, often using tents.  Evangelist George Whitfield traveled to places like Pike Creek, Delaware and a town divided by the C & D Canal, now bearing his name, Saint Georges.  Whitfield was effective because he emulated 1 Timothy 4:13, using the Bible to convict, inspire and revive souls.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer, Acts 2:42.

The foundation which caused the first century church to explode in growth fueled the first and second great awakening.  Unfortunately, when a government creates laws which deny a believer from publicly displaying their faith, confusion and compromise often ensue.  Thus, a generation of politically Christians have veered from biblical teaching to please mankind.  This movement has watered down the gospel of Jesus Christ, leaving seekers dumbfounded.  This is the end result when man’s laws contradict God’s laws.  Perhaps this situation will turn around soon, but for now choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

 

Cures for a Sinful Heart

While in college, I heard a motivational speaker who made perfect sense.  One of the subjects he addressed was the impact sin has on individuals.  However, when addressing this topic you need to be sensitive.   People don’t want to be told that they are sinners who are on their way to hell.  Rather, people are longing for solutions, cures for a sinful heart.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, Hebrews 3:13.

Since I attended this seminar, my perspective changed from an accuser to an encourager.  This method is a better approach, opening the door for future conversations or chances to witness to someone in their time of need.  Essentially, the average person is an expert at sin.  The hard part is waiting for the right setting, finding a common ground.  However, what separate the sick from the healthy are those who apply biblical principles by purging sin from their lives.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things, Colossians 3:1-2.

Transformation begins when Christian change their mindset from worldly pleasures toward spiritual desires.  The apostle Paul discusses this battle within Romans 8.  Thus, as individuals begin to practice the words of Joshua 1:8, meditating on the Bible is like flipping a switch from darkness to light.  Although, this is much easier said than done, fellowship, prayer and worship can lay a foundation to insure cures for a sinful heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

R and R

R & R is a military phrase made popular by the 1970 television series MASH.  This abbreviation is slang for rest and recuperation.  In the show, nurses and surgeons would receive weekend passes throughout the year, usually spending time relaxing and recreating.  This break from the stress of life provided individuals a chance to unwind, before returning back to work.

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works, Hebrews 4:4.

Perhaps, its time for busy Americans to apply this biblical principle.  Although, its hard to imagine the Creator of life needing to rest, God created the Sabbath for us.  In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knew the wear and tear a week takes on individuals.  Thus, the soul needs a break, to refuel on fellowship, prayer and worship.  Without taking a day to recharge, people will eventually, crash from sheer exhaustion.

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish, Jeremiah 31:25.

One day, Jesus was disappointed by the lack of faith in those places where he performed miracles.  After lashing out at those who failed to believe, Jesus makes a plea to those in the audience who were hurting, tired or weary.  Within Matthew 11:28-30, the Lord lays out a blue print for finding rest.  First, don’t be ashamed to come to Jesus with your excess baggage.  Second, let go of your burdens, by laying them upon the altar of grace.  Finally, lean on the Holy Spirit to revive your soul.  In this, I pray that you will experience R & R.

by Jay Mankus

 

Making Yourself Available

In my younger days, I had a hard time saying no to those who asked a favor or needed something done.  Gullible and naive, I thought I had unlimited energy, pressing on to serve others.  When I approached 40, I reached my breaking point, crashing and burning from years of overextending myself.  Subsequently, I have gone into social hibernation, still healing and numb from my last year as a high school teacher.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:12.

By removing yourself from a community, you miss out on the blessings of relationships.  Initially, it feels good to be unattached, flexible to do or go where you want.  However, God created individuals to be in fellowship with one another, sharing burdens, concerns and joys.  Thus, I miss the interaction, joint projects and sense of belonging that friends provide.  Therefore, as I am about to end my Daniel Fast, its time to make myself available once again.

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality, Romans 12:13.

Unlike professional athletes who retire when they have lost their ability to compete, a Christian is suppose to serve for a life time.  The author of Hebrews compares life on earth to a marathon which require perseverance, pacing yourself one day at a time.  Some where along the way, I removed myself from the game of life, sitting in the bleachers ever since.  While I may not have the passion I once possessed, its time to fan into the flame my spiritual gifts.  I’m not sure where this will take me or what I will do, yet I sense the Holy Spirit’s calling, “make yourself available.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Did My Fervor Go?

As a child, there was nothing like the anticipation of opening presents under a Christmas tree.  I must confess that sometimes I snuck down stairs in the middle of the night just to see what was in my stocking.  On a couple of occasions I dozed off under our tree, before going back up to my bed so I wouldn’t be seen.  Unfortunately, somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, I lost my fervor for life.

Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John, Acts 18:25.

One of the more interesting characters of the Bible is a man named Apollos who first met Paul during a trip to Ephesus.  Although this man from Alexandria was an outsider, his passion for God made up for his limited knowledge.  To a certain extent, I see a lot of Apollos in me during my early years in youth ministry.  I didn’t possess the theological background that most youth pastors acquire, yet my determination and fervor was strong.  Yet, when I left the ministry for good 5 years ago, my fire has dimmed.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

Previous mentors would suggest that I haven’t re-fueled, not spending enough time in Bible study, prayer or worship.  Other friends might lean to a lack of commitment, fellowship and service to a local church.  While this advice may be true, the most logical reason for losing my fervor is a lack of joy.  When you’re a perfectionist, its hard to enjoy the little things in life.  Thus, as I continue to search for answers, I cling to a life verse from high school.  Whatever I do in the future, I must devote my heart to serving the Lord.  If you find yourself in a similar state this year, may the Lord show you the way to rekindle your fervor for life.

by Jay Mankus