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Tag Archives: Indiana

An Evening of Enlightenment

When a historian refers to the term enlightenment, its likely bringing up the age of reason spanning from 1620-1789.  This intellectual movement was inspired by books such as Novum Organum and Critique of Pure Reason.  Francis Baker and Immanuel Kant were guiding forces which attempted to change the way people thought about life.  Yet, knowledge is not the only source for enlightenment.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life, Proverbs 9:10-11.

According to Solomon, fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Scholars who hear or read this might suggest “this is absurd.”  Yet, what I think Solomon is eluding to is that individuals who do not fear God become full of themselves, oblivious to the spiritual realm.  Meanwhile, those who fear God develop discernment and insight.  This keen awareness can lead to evenings of enlightenment when you keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple, Psalm 119:130.

Fasting, prayer, reading the Bible and worship are vehicles for receiving enlightenment on earth.  While some people set out to receive enlightenment daily, others are surprised by insight from a fast, moments in prayer, a rhema from the Bible or a moving experience in worship.  While on a retreat in Indiana, I had my own evening of enlightenment.  During the closing ceremony of the night, I received a revelation from God.  One day later, I traveled several hours to meet my girl friend Leanne, proposing shortly afterward.  When you follow through, faithful to God’s calling, enlightenment is not just an evening, its a way of life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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Finding a State that is More Than Enough

It doesn’t take much for someone to lose their confidence, mojo or swagger.  Life has a way of being cruel, dropping bombshells out of no where that can paralyze souls.  Thus, if you take a few moments to observe individuals around you, you’ll find many going through the motions.  Struggling to get through each week, I finding myself in a similar pattern, hoping to discover a state that is more than enough.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children, Hosea 4:6.

When you’re left looking for answers to get out of a funk, sometimes you need to examine the past to see what’s led to previous success.  For me, the greatest influence in my life was nearly two months I spent at Tentmakers Youth Ministry Trade School.  Every day I was challenged, equipped and pressed to develop a vision oriented life style.  Once I received a full time position in Columbus, Indiana, I applied a 90 day action plan to perfection.  Unfortunately, after 90 days I was in foreign territories, not sure what to do.  Subsequently, I lost my way and passion for youth ministry.

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

I guess what I am trying to say is that I’m tired of mediocrity.  Yet, until I rebuild a life based upon discipline, purpose and vision, the crappy results will remain the same.  When push comes to shove, something has to give.  Therefore, join me in this quest to find a state that is more than enough by rediscovering the abundant life of Christ.  Sure, there will be growing pains but the effort is worth the journey.

by Jay Mankus

 

Silencing Her Critics

When I think of an Open Mic night, I usually picture amateur comedians or singers trying to get noticed to start their careers.  However, in the ministry, open mic nights often serve as a precursor to the end of an event, conference or retreat.  This time gives individuals a chance to share what’s on their heart or what God taught them.  Touched by this concept on numerous occasions in high school and college, I adopted this practice once a month as a youth pastor in Indiana.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul, Psalm 66:16.

Several students gave moving testimonies in our chapel, a small prayer room in the church basement which held about 50 people comfortably.  While a member of my student leadership team usually spoke, one month a shy girl volunteered.  She was an outcast, unattractive and not very interesting when she talked.  However, on this particular Sunday evening, she silenced her critics.

“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him, Luke 8:39.

Opening up about trying to kill herself, brought most of the room to tears.  However, a spirit of boldness entered this rejuvenated soul, thanking those who showed random acts of kindness along the way.  For one shining moment, she was a star sent to give a heavenly message to stir the hearts of her teenage peers.  I’m not sure what has happened to this child of God, losing touch with many of my former students, but I will never forget the night she silenced her critics.

by Jay Mankus

Jumping to Conclusions

Gossip can be a compulsive hobby for those who indulge in the grapevine.  When you add an inquisitive mind to this equation, information can be misinterpreted.  Subsequently, individuals often jump to conclusions based upon their desired outcome.

And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” – Mark 3:22

Shortly after he began his earthly ministry, Jesus gave the religious leaders plenty to talk about.  Healings and miracles created a huge following.  However, once Jesus began to perform exorcisms, that was taking this faith thing too far.  Unable to comprehend Jesus’ power, teachers of the law started a rumor, assuming Jesus was the prince of demons in disguise.

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. – Mark 3:25-26

If you have ever lived in a small town, drifted off the beaten path or don’t correct misleading reputations, you too will find yourself part of an exaggerated story.  A month before leaving my youth pastor position in Columbus, Indiana, people claimed that I said the world was coming to an end.  While studying the Book of Revelation, certain individuals began to improvise causing some of my friends to buy into these lies.  In view of this, the next time you feel an urge to jump to a conclusion, make sure you test everything you hear, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, before you pass on information.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Gotta Get It Right

During my last year as a youth pastor, I was responsible for running Confirmation, a year long class for 8th graders who sought to take ownership of their faith.  Before the actual ceremony during church in the Spring, I took my group away on a retreat about 30 minutes west of Columbus, Indiana.  Coming out a year earlier, I showed the movie Groundhog Day to break the ice, easing the tension for those uncomfortable with talking about God.  Essentially, Bill Murray keeps repeating the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still like this movie.  However, there are several life lessons worth noting.  First, too many individuals, me especially, become consumed with what they are doing, where they are going and what they need to accomplish every day.  As a result, blinders prevents you from appreciating, interacting and slowing down long enough to develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Secondly, distracted people often don’t recognize, see or stop to help someone in need with a smile, word of encouragement or passing prayer.  Finally, life is best served by embracing daily distractions that God provides.  These interruptions offer opportunities to minister, nurture and uplift struggling souls.

While listening to the song Get it Right by Silverline, I sensed the urging of the Holy Spirit to write this blog.  Although each day is filled with trials and errors, life is too short to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  If  you are touched by these words, join me in the quest to get it right, John 10:10.  Yet, when you fail, don’t give up, Galatians 6:9-10.  Rather, by leaning on Christ, Philippians 4:13, believe in your heart that over time, you will get it right.

Please comment on my blog how your journey is going.  This post is dedicated to Elizabeth, one of my students who gave her heart to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, at the end of our confirmation retreat.

by Jay Mankus

Starving for Conversation

Everyone has their own warts, imperfections that prevent people from achieving peace and prosperity.  For me, my greatest weakness is the inability to slow down to enjoy, indulge or relax by conversing with co-workers, family and neighbors.  Thus, by the end of the day or week, I often find myself starving for conversation.

While a youth pastor in Indiana, I spent 50 hours a week minimum interacting with youth, parents and church staff.  Since my job description involved investing in relationships, I spent countless hours reclining, sharing and walking with a wide range of personalities.  Whether I was tubing in a lake, attending a sporting event or sitting on a dock having an impromptu Bible Study, these were my best years, bringing out my God given talents.

Now twenty years later, its time to reinvent myself as I hunger and thirst for meaningful conversations.  Starting with the beatitudes appears to be a logical starting place, Matthew 5:3-12, encouraging individuals to be listeners first.  From here, the apostle Paul provides good advice in Colossians 4:2-5, adding flavor to the conversations you encounter.  Perhaps, by applying these biblical principles, I will be content, satisfied by future conversations.

What advice do you have for others searching for fulfilling conversations?

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Grace

Grace is a dying word in most cultures as bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness harbors in the hearts of hurt people.  Instead of experiencing the unmerited favor of God, guilt is preventing individuals from accepting this free gift, Romans 5:8.  Meanwhile, the condition of forgiveness introduced by Jesus in Matthew 6:15 isn’t being met by followers, revoking the power of grace upon their lives.

While serving as a youth pastor in Indiana, one student was placed into my life to teach me about grace.  Despite my attempts to reach out to this high school junior, I was her enemy, the adult who took the job of the person who led her to faith, Romans 10:9-10.  On one occasion, her mother approached me, giving me a hug with tears in her eyes, confessing, “I’m sorry my daughter hates you!”  This trial tested me, putting my faith into a spiritual  fire, 1 Peter 1:6-7.  Without this encounter, I might not understand the power of Grace today.

On Sunday, I attended a friend’s church, needing to be showered in God’s grace.  In the middle of singing for 30 minutes, the lyrics struck a cord with my soul.  Usually stoic and reserved, especially the older  I get, the Holy Spirit moved me to tears.  Lifting my hands up toward heaven, I sensed my disappointment, stress and worries being washed away, swept clean by the power of grace.

If you’ve been touched by God, please share your story in the comment section below.

by Jay Mankus