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Pressing On

Sometimes life can resemble a Little League Baseball game.  You get off to a great start, feed off of momentum and develop a big lead.  Just as you are about to taste victory, a bad break halts your progress.  One thing leads to another resulting in an avalanche of disappointment.  Before you know, the tables are turned as you find yourself on the losing side.  At some point, you have to pick your head up, shake it off and press on to see another day.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

If your life was transposed on to a graph chart, there would be a series of peaks and valleys.  As individuals experience various phases in life, beliefs, practices and values may change.  Such is the case of Rock star Bob Dylan who began to search for meaning in life during the late 1970’s.  This journey spawned the album Slow Train Coming, a reflection of his encounter with God.  One of the singles Dylan created was entitled Pressing On, a prayer for those struggling to press on in this life.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path, Matthew 13:19.

Unfortunately, many who begin a relationship with God often end up falling away.  According to the passage above, Satan is the force that stops people from pressing on.  Centuries earlier, King Solomon urged the nation of Israel to guard their hearts, Proverbs 4:23.  The apostle Paul takes this concept one step further by taking your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  If you truly want to persevere following setbacks in life, take this biblical advice so that you will press on.

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 Purging of the Second Glance

The concept of the second glance was first introduced by Jesus during his first century teaching simply known as the Sermon on the Mount.  Speaking to common citizens with many in attendance the poor and middle class, Jesus gave a brief history of the Ten Commandments.  Instead putting his listeners to sleep, Jesus make a shocking revelation.  Lusting at someone in your heart as a second glance is equivalent to committing adultery.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” Matthew 5:27-28.

Gasps, murmurs and whispers likely echoed throughout this crowd.  Meanwhile, a spirit of conviction struck the pure in heart, exposing the guilt of unwholesome stares of their past.  Hidden from view, hearts began to acknowledge the truth from Jesus’ statement.  Instantaneously, minds connected the dots from appreciating one’s beauty to lustful stares which give birth to fascination and impure thoughts.  Although everyone heard the message, it’s likely that only some believed the act of a second glance broke the  seventh commandment.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell,” Matthew 5:29-30.

Jesus provides the cure to the second glance in the verse above.  Quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus urges his audience to purge that which influences you to sin.  Indirectly, Jesus is referring to masturbation, pornography and voyeurism.  While this advice seems rather harsh, Jesus wants individuals to remove the atmosphere, bad habits, conditions and images that promote sin.  For me this spiritual house cleaning took years to completely scourge from my life.  If you truly want to purge yourself from the second glance, I highly recommend reading Restoring the Foundations: An Integrated Approach to Healing.  This book will help you connect the dots, setting in motion the path to healing.  Remain steadfast on your journey toward freedom.

by Jay Mankus

Silenced by Satan

As someone born with a severe speech impediment, I often wonder why God allows suffering on earth.  From a logical perspective, I understand that enduring trials makes individuals stronger over time.  Yet, I feel as if I spent the first portion of my life silenced by Satan.

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw, Matthew 12:22.

Based upon the verse above, I wasn’t alone as demons and evil spirits have the power to cause someone to be mute.  Although I am not a doctor, I’ve heard plenty tell me “we really don’t know what’s causing this or that.”  Thus, there are medical conditions that can only be cured through spiritual activity.

And Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer,” Mark 9:29.

While Hollywood films usually portrays demons that take the form within demonic possession, this isn’t the whole story.  Demonic oppression is the most common form, likely occurring within the lives of countless individuals daily.  Without a hedge of protection from prayer, anyone is vulnerable to this attack.  Whether it’s the inability to say what’s on your heart or distracted by powers of darkness, this threat is real.  Therefore, if you want to be set free from Satan’s clutches, seek out prayers warriors in your church so that the good news about Jesus Christ will be professed.

by Jay Mankus

Special Needs

There is one common term that I heard as a teacher which was foreign to me initially.  When my school developed a program to help these students, I began to grasp some of the learning disabilities which exist.  Yet, as I spent time with my cousin Mary the past 24 hours, I have a better understanding of what it means to have a special needs child.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

Eight years ago, my cousin gave birth to twins, a girl and boy.  A great job and two healthy children provided a promising future.  Yet, an untimely divorce followed by a late diagnosis of her son has left Mary in a no win situation.  Based upon my recent interaction, my heart goes out to any family who is given the task to raise a child with special needs.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.

I tend to be a confident person, but when it comes to special needs, I feel helpless.  Depending upon the specific condition, I become paralyzed, not knowing what to say or do.  While most programs the government attempts to run usually fails, special needs children is an area where family and parents need help to overcome these extreme situations.  May God raise up leaders to address and solve this growing need in America.

by Jay Mankus

Giving God Some Space

When I was in high school, it wasn’t uncommon for a girl to tell her boy friend that she needed some space.  What girls were trying to say to guys like me was she needed time away to clear her mind.  Somehow I was suffocating this relationship and freedom was necessary to let this individual breathe.  Unfortunately, this conversation usually meant the beginning of the end, a nice way to say I’m breaking up with you.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, James 4:14.

If you apply this concept to God, countless individuals express this with their own actions, not making time for the Lord daily.  However, this assumes that people actually took time to invite God into their lives initially.  As churches close down, go out of business or are forced to join another congregations to survive, it appears that Jesus is low on our priority list.  Instead giving God some space to work within your heart, soul and mind, busy schedules drown out the Holy Spirit’s whisper to draw near.

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.

Last weekend I heard a local missionary speak about giving God same space.  What she meant by this expression is opening your calendar to allow God to speak.  Whether it’s a day, week or month, stop what you are doing and begin listening for the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my own life that I ignore God completely.  Christians can’t expect to spend eternity in heaven if they haven’t invested any time on earth storing up heavenly treasures.  In view of this fear, get up a little earlier, stay up later or get away over the weekend to give God some space to invigorate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Hanging of John Brown

Funerals and wakes are meant to celebrate someone’s life.  This time of reflection gives individuals a chance to say goodbye, paying respect to people whom may have touched your life.  Following the hanging of John Brown, a wide array of Americans paid homage to this abolitionist.  Poet Henry David Thoreau gave a speech simply entitled Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown where he referred to this man as the Soul’s Errand.  In a recent documentary produced by Ken Burns, John Brown is called the Meteor that ignited the Civil War.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done, Psalm 78:4.

Historians remember John Brown as a failure in most aspects of his life.  Unsuccessful as a businessman, Brown felt compelled by God to help end slavery.  Following the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas by pro-slavery forces, Brown and his supporters fought back by killing five men in May of 1856.  However, three years later John Brown’s fortune would change.  During a raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, John Brown tried to form a resistance to set slaves free.  Yet, this attempt ended in the death of some men, desertion by others and his own conviction for treason by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Thus, John Brown was hung in public.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, Matthew 6:20-21.

There are two certainties in life. First, you will die unless Jesus returns prior to your death. Second, the seeds that you sow in life will produce a legacy.  While speeches at memorials focus on the good that individuals accomplished in life, not everyone will paint a rosy picture of interactions with you.  In view of this fact, I hope that I can develop a sense of urgency to dedicate my life toward worthwhile causes.  Life is too short to give up before you taste success.  Therefore, seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness by setting your heart on eternal treasures; a fate that John Brown was wiling to die for.

by Jay Mankus