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Tag Archives: miracles

Closing Your Mind to God’s Power

As a parent of three children between the age of 13 and 20, words reveal a common mindset that often goes unnoticed.  Perhaps, a decade of teaching high school has heightened my awareness to this growing epidemic.  A lack of confidence, low self-esteem and sheltered from positive influences is to blame for this spiritual condition.  What is this crisis?  Individuals who have closed their minds to believing in God’s power to change any grave or impossible situation.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

This lack of perception was present among first century disciples of Jesus.  Human nature caused these servants of God to confuse being good with salvation.  When a model example of righteousness was turned away by Jesus, doubt began to creep into the disciples minds, wondering if anyone could be saved?  However, in the passage above, Jesus corrects this flawed mindset by highlighting that nothing is impossible with God.  Unfortunately, Satan has convinced many believers today that God doesn’t have the power to alter, improve or transform their current dilemma.

For nothing will be impossible with God,” Luke 1:37.

A first century doctor provides a cure for this lack of faith.  Luke prescribes that when doubt begins to weaken your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, turn your attention toward history.  The past serves as a reminder of God’s previous power in the lives of Elizabeth, Mary and various miracles throughout the Old Testament.  This record proves that nothing is impossible with God.  Therefore, don’t let the father of lies convince you to close your mind to God’s previous miracles.  May the word of God, Romans 10:17, open your minds to the mega possibilities when you let the Holy Spirit into your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Overcoming a Miscarriage

As a former seminary student, I have come to appreciate the Greek language.  Unlike English which tends to be bland, dull and generic, Greek uses a variety of words to clearly distinguish raw emotions.  For example, the term miscarriage refers to the spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus before it is viable, usually between the 12th and 28th weeks of gestation.  From a scientific perspective, this is an acceptable definition.  Yet, for any woman who has endured this horrific event, the English language fails to detail the emotional anguish, heart break and pain couples go through in the days that follow a miscarriage.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

While I can’t imagine the disappointment women experience, I do have a unique connection to miscarriage.  My mother’s third child was a still born, a form of miscarriage.  I never met this individual who would have been my third sister.  There is no logical explanation to suffice why this took place.  Yet, a few years later, my parents tried one more time to have a child.  I’m sure deep down my father wanted a boy to avoid being drastically outnumbered.  Nonetheless, as my parents persisted, I was conceived, born during the summer of 1969.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4. 

According to the Bible, there will be no crying in heaven.  For the lost souls mothers and fathers never got the chance to meet, love and raise, they go immediately to heaven.  Although this fact may not comfort those still hurting, God longs to wipe away your tears, to heal and mend your broken heart.  After your period of mourning comes to an end, may God give you a spirit of perseverance to try again.  If your biological clock for giving birth is coming to an end, don’t forget the miracles of Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary.  May this blog serve as a means to help you overcome the pain of a miscarriage.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?

While most people have moved on with their lives following Easter Sunday, there is something I want you to consider about this religious holiday.  One of Jesus’ last words before dying on a cross reflects the anguish within his heart and soul.  In order for God’s plan to redeem mankind to be completed, Jesus’ heavenly father watched from a distance as his son died.  This lack of action caused Jesus to cry out, “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?”

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46

If God let Jesus suffer and die, then human beings face a similar fate.  Despite God’s love for His one and only son, sometimes it feels like God turns his back on us as well. When Christians are in trouble, most reach out to God in prayer, begging and pleading with the Lord for divine intervention.  When a period of time passes without a clear answer, miracles don’t happen or a friend dies, many people feel like God has abandoned them.  When God doesn’t act immediately, its not uncommon to believe or think that God has forsaken you.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20.

Behind the scenes, God is more like the father portrayed in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Unfortunately, while on earth Christians must live by faith, not by sight.  Human nature craves and longs for signs from God.  Yet, faith must remain firm when God is silent.  Like a roller coaster that goes up and down, there will be moments when God’s presence seems near.  However, faith needs to steer you during periods of darkness.  If you lose hope, you too may be tempted to exclaim, “eli, eli, lama sabachthani which translates my God my God, why has you forsaken me into English.  In the meantime stay strong or if you have to, lean on others to get you through trials in this life.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus’ Bucket List

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two terminally ill men seeking to fulfill a list of wishes before each pass away in the 2007 film Bucket List.  This movie has spawned a worldwide movement, awakening souls to make the most of their time on earth.  Books, social media and you tube videos have helped spread this grassroots movement to live out your childhood dreams.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning [to [j]Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere]. 46 Three days later they found Him in the [court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions, Luke 2:41-46.

As I read through the New Testament, it appears Jesus had his own bucket list consisting of three goals.  The first occurs immediately following his bar mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony where a twelve year old boy becomes a man.  Similar to Confirmation for Christians, this tradition allowed Jesus to officially join the temple and begin to teach.  Jesus was so excited by this opportunity that he spent three days inside the Nazareth temple listening to and debating adults.  According to Luke, Jesus spoke with authority without having any former education.

When the wine was all gone, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus said to her, “[Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? My time [to act and to be revealed] has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it,” John 2:3-5.

While waiting 12 years to finally teach, Jesus spent the next 18 living in obscurity as a carpenter.  After John the Baptist was imprisoned, this set the stage for next phase of Jesus’ life, to become a fisher of men.  However, Jesus needed to call twelve men to become his disciples, only half way there at the time of the wedding above.  Jesus’ second item on his bucket list was performing miracles, waiting for his ministry team to be complete.  Yet, Jesus promised to obey his parents at the end of Luke 2, choosing to honor his mother’s request anyway.

There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name, John 20:30-31.

This initial miracle pails in comparison to the last item on Jesus’ bucket list.  Jesus refers to preparing a place for his disciples in heaven, John 14:1-4.  However, completing his mission on earth involved suffering and dying.  This final goal took 3 years of planning, a selfless heart and the will to finish what God began.  Thus, while hanging on a cross, Jesus signals the accomplishment of this final item in John 19:30.  When Jesus says, “it is finished,” this means that Jesus completed the will of God on earth.  While checking off items from a bucket list is an honorable pursuit, the greatest thing you can do in life is identifying, obeying and completing God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

 

Losing Touch with Reality

There are moments in life where you will be in high demand.  Depending upon the emergency, project or situation, people will turn to you for advice.  To avoid any impure motives, pride or selfish ambitions, Jesus developed a morning routine.  This spiritual discipline involved getting up early, withdrawing to a quiet place and praying to God.  As a way to clear his mind, Jesus meditated, listened in silence and poured out his heart to God.  This daily exercise prevented Jesus from losing touch with reality.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Jesus’ disciples.  Caught up in the instant rock star status of their leader, it appears the disciples were afraid to tell fans no.  After Jesus healed his mother in law, Peter sought to please people, hoping everyone could experience the joy his own family felt.  Subsequently, Peter became like Jesus’ agent, booking appointments for future healings and miracles.  When Jesus was located the next day, Peter had to scrap his plan as God gave Jesus a clear vision for the future.

Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father].” Mark 1:36-38.

Recently, I have been so consumed with my own dreams, goals and objectives that I have lost touch with reality.  I guess I became so focused, fixated on what I wanted that I haven’t taken the time to be still and meet with God.  Sure, I’ve had my morning devotions and prayer, but as soon as I was finished its back to what I want to do.  This is a dangerous place to find yourself, blinded by selfish ambition.  If you want to avoid making the same mistake that Peter and I have made, take a step back, find and quiet place and listen to the Lord.  If you make this a weekly practice, you will be less likely to lose touch with reality.

by Jay Mankus

Its Sad What Most People Accept as Normal

Depending upon the hand you are dealt in life, unforeseen events can ruin any hopes that you have to live a normal life.  One woman in the Bible suffered from a rare bleeding disorder for 12 years.  During this ordeal, this woman spent her life savings on a potential cure.  Whatever good intentions these doctors possessed, each diagnosis, medicine and treatment failed.  Prior to hearing about Jesus, any thoughts of resuming a normal life were gone.  With nothing to lose, this woman fought her way through the crowds, reaching for one of the tassels on Jesus’rabbinical robe.  The moment her hand touched Jesus, she was immediately healing.  Sensing this release of power, Jesus sought out this woman.  The purpose of this conversation was to clarify the true reason for this miracle.  When science tells you, “that’s impossible,” faith is the vessel God uses to defy logic.

A woman [in the crowd] had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much [suffering] at the hands of many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse, Mark 5:25-26.

In the days that followed, Jesus encounters a man who spent most of his days at a healing pool.  An invalid for nearly 4 decades, the idea of walking seemed to be a long shot.  This body of water in Bethesda was known for healing various illnesses through the years.  According to local reports, angels of the Lord stirred these waters at appointed seasons, with the first person to enter being healed.  Unfortunately, the slow reflexes of this paralyzed man prevented him from being the first one in the water.  Looking depressed, Jesus wasn’t sure if this man wanted to be healed.  This dialogue was necessary as doubt prevents miracles from occurring.  Thus, after this exploratory phase is complete, Jesus had another obstacle to overcome, the legalism of the Jewish Sabbath.  Religious leaders added man made regulations which prevented any type of physical exertion that included healing.  Subsequently, Jesus uses common sense as a way to ask permission to restore this man.  Remaining silent, Jesus goes ahead anyway, choosing good over doing nothing.  Against all odds, this man got up and began walking for the first time in 38 years.

There was a certain man there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?” – John 5:5-6

In the past 20 years, I have battled iritis, arthritis of the eye.  Until the last 2 years, I endured periods of pain and discomfort.  Yet, today my vision is fading in my right eye.  Its sad to say, but I’ve accepted poor vision as a normal way of life.  Deep down, I want to believe that a miracle is possible based upon the 2 passages above.  However, maintaining the resolve of the woman with a bleeding disorder is tough to do.  Perhaps, some of you have a similar issue, crippled by an emotional, physical or spiritual ailment.  Instead of accepting your condition as the new normal, faith can help you rise above the mountains in front of you.  Therefore, don’t go down without a fight, wrestling with God in prayer.  You may have to wait 12 or 38 years to receive answers, but if you battle like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, there is a chance for a miracle to touch your life.

by Jay Mankus

Friends Along the Way

As a child, there was nothing like a sleep over, especially if it meant going away with a friend or neighbor’s family.  High school brought class trips, spending a day or weekend on a field trip.  College introduced the concept of road trips, going some where at the spur of a moment, chilling and hanging with buddies.  For those who marry, weddings result in Honeymoons and if kids arrive, family vacations in the future.  Ultimately, as you go through life alone or with a significant other, each day serves as an opportunity to become friends along the way.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, Luke 8:1.

If you use the Bible as a source, Jesus lived in relative obscurity, serving as a carpenter in Nazareth.  Single and living with his mother, Jesus wasn’t searching for a woman or seeking to build his business.  Rather, Jesus was waiting until the Holy Spirit revealed the ideal time to begin his earthly ministry.  When this moment arrived, Jesus spent a majority of his time on the road, traveling from town to town with his twelve disciples.  As people began to receive healing, experience miracles and transform their lives, a bond developed between Jesus and his followers.  I guess you can say Jesus was a model for finding friends along the way in life.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told the parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4.

As I look back on the past 6 years of my writing, there is only one earthly person I can credit for my progress.  Spencer Saints who has his own travel blog entitled Friends Along the Way, Friendsalongtheway.org, is the person who encouraged me to pursue a writing career.  Through the years, Spencer introduced me to a writer’s group, started his own and steered me in the right direction as I began to write movie scripts.  We all meet friends along the way in life, but few express how they feel before they are gone.  May this blog inspire you to reach out to those who have helped you along the way, especially during the bleak moments in life.

by Jay Mankus