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Tag Archives: Reading the Bible

A Year Without Church

Before his tragic death in a plane crash, Keith Green created the song Asleep in the Night.  Although the original context refers to someone sleeping in, missing church on Easter Sunday, this song applies to my current dilemma.  Due to my grave yard work schedule, I can’t seem to get my lazy butt out of bed on Sunday morning.  Subsequently, 2016 can be described as a year without church, the fewest weeks I’ve ever attended.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living, Luke 15:13”

I wish I had a decent excuse, but what good would that do.  Like any other sin, missing church involves a lack of discipline, choosing laziness over obedience.  Instead of receiving God’s blessings of fellowship, praise and words of inspiration, I have become like the prodigal who continues to move in the wrong decision.  Hopefully, I will come to my senses soon so that I can spent 2017 in the house of God.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,” Luke 15:17-18.

When you miss a day praying or reading the Bible, you can’t get it back.  Sure, you might try to do twice the praying or reading the next day to make yourself feel better, but the truth is something else was more important to you on the days you tuned out God.  Part of me still sees the Lord from an Old Testament perspective, one of judgement and wrath.  Yet, the New Testament opens the door on a loving God, desperately waiting for his children to give Him the attention He is worthy of.  May you learn from the errors of my way by visiting a local church regularly and invest time at home daily with the living God of the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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All is Not Lost

Classic movies tend to provide quotable lines which become part of pop culture.  Although some get more attention, one that comes to mind often goes unnoticed.  In Animal House, Kevin Bacon play Chip Diller who plays a character similar to a ROTC college student.  During a parade high-jacked by Delta Tau Chi who were recently kicked out of school, Chip tries to maintain a panicking crowd.  As people begin to run down the sidewalk, Diller cries out, “all is well, remain calm.”  Unfortunately, Chip goes trampled as his words got drown out by fear.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! – Psalm 37:7

If you turn on cable news or talk radio, not much has changed.  It’s almost as if networks seek to scare people, trying to out do competitors.  This ambulance chasing mentality will continue until the public stop listening, watching and get news in some other manner.  In fact, the times I tune out the world and other outside distractions, I feel great and tend to hear God’s calling much clearer.  Therefore, all is not lost, especially when you slow down to be still before the Lord.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him, Psalm 62:5.

When I lived in Chicago back in the mid 1990’s, I attend Willow Creek Community Church, just down the road from our apartment.  Pastor Bill Hybels spoke about the importance of finding a quiet place each summer to spend time with God.  The Psalmist above provides a similar message.  Despite any silence you might experience, waiting for God’s presence either through prayer or reading the Bible sparks spiritual growth.  Sure, everyone has their days, weeks and months in the dark.  Yet, in the stillness of the night, the Holy Spirit still speaks truth to convince individuals that all is not lost.

by Jay Mankus

 

Watch Out for The Easy Way Out

One of the more teachable moments in Hollywood comes from a scene from A League of Their Own.  When the Rockford Peaches star catcher played by Gina Davis quits the team, manager Tom Hanks confronts her before driving home with her husband.  Davis’ excuse was that “it got too hard.”  Hank’s response, “It’s suppose to be hard, if it wasn’t everyone would play.”  Thus, whether you are an athlete or trying to make the best of this life, make sure you don’t take the easy way out.

I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense, Proverbs 7:7.

In the past few weeks, I’ve struggled to put my priorities in order,  Subsequently, my time reading the Bible, praying and working out has been pretty lame.  I could take the Gina Davis approach, claiming its just too hard to keep up with, perhaps taking a holiday from God.  On the other hand, each day without God brings me closer and closer to person in Proverbs 7:7, deteriorating what common sense that I still possess.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it, Matthew 7:13.

In the famous poem known as Footprints, 2 sets of footprints become one while walking on the beach.  This imagery suggests that sometimes God carries us when we can’t go any further.  As you read this blog, maybe you’re exhausted, tired or ready to give up the fight.  Before you decide, make sure you don’t succumb to the easy way out.  Pray, show resolve and hang tough!

by Jay Mankus

 

Something is Missing

In the realm of Marvel Comics, each super hero has a weakness.  Despite their power and strength, beneath the surface lies a kryptonite, a force that evens the playing field.  If these figures allow this element to remain in their presence, their impact on society is minimized.  The same can be said about normal human beings who experience mediocre lives, struggling to ascertain what’s missing, preventing you from reaching your full potential.

To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:8.

Although its probably over analyzed in sports, each year a Cinderella team comes out of no where to contend and sometimes win a championship.  On paper, there’s no logical explanation for this.  Yet, when individuals and a group come together to form perfect chemistry, an atmosphere for success is achieved.  Despite what the experts may say, when you surround yourself with the right people, you will be surprised by results that follow.

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.

A thought occurred to me yesterday at work, something is missing in my life.  My enthusiasm, joy and passion for life is gone.  As I tried to put my finger on the real issue, another message came to me.  The missing ingredient for me is a church home.  Prayer and a personal quiet time reading the Bible can only take you so far.  After experiencing the demise of Red Lion Evangelical Free Church and School up close as leader, its been hard for me to go all in, afraid of getting hurt again.  Yet, if I want to reach the summit of my potential, the missing link for me is committing 100 % to a congregation that I can serve in.

by Jay Mankus

 

Put it Down and Turn if Off

As I was about to pray this morning, I began to remember several things I needed to do.  This and that and oh by the way became one distraction after another.  Before I went any further I heard a whisper that grabbed my attention, “put it down and turn it off.”

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Maybe I am the only one who struggles with this, but if I don’t start the day off by reading the Bible and prayer, my schedule usually fills up quickly.  Thus, the moment I start a project around the house or turn on the television, time with the Lord becomes a distant memory.

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come,” Mark 1:38.

Perhaps, this may explain the events of Mark 1.  Jesus recognized the distractions awaiting individuals each day.  To avoid getting sidetracked, following the crowd or failing to go where God wants you to be, a quiet time is a great way to become plugged into the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the next time you feel the urge to put God on hold, put what you’re doing down, turn off the television or your phone and be still before the Almighty God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Ignorance

Blindness, unawareness and vagueness are what I call kind synonyms for ignorance.  Harsher terms involve crudeness, disregard and incapacity.  Scholars often blame a lack of education, innocence or not being enlightened by social etiquette.  Whenever you go or whatever you do, you are destined to encounter some form of ignorance.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

Before the decline of a biblical family in America, social skills were taught at home.  Character, discipline and hard work were displayed by parents, not just empty words.  If children ever got in trouble in school, parents handled behavior problems at home.  Unfortunately, a spirit of ignorance has enabled a younger generation to find an excuse for their actions or shift the blame, sometimes playing the race card.

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance, Hebrews 9:7.

From a theological perspective, the ignorant can be classified as amoral.  The immoral are those who have been exposed to right and wrong, but chose not to follow what they were taught.  The moral obey the boundaries laid down by their belief system.  Meanwhile, the amoral are those individuals who have never been introduced to specific absolutes.  Thus, ignorance continues to exist today until conviction, usually from reading the Bible, opens our eyes to see the error of our ways.

by Jay Mankus

Why Am I Watching This?

If I asked you the question, what are the first ten things you do when you get up, you may be caught off guard, only be able to recall a few things.  Yet, each morning people shave, shower, turn on the weather, read a blog or newspaper, check emails and charge their phone without much thought.  However, routines can become so ingrained within human beings that occasionally you have to stop yourself to ponder, “why am I doing this?”

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Since changing my work schedule from days to night two years ago, my sleeping patterns have been sporadic.  Sometimes I’ll find something on television that promotes sleep.  Unfortunately, good movies like a classic will peek my interest, causing to invest several hours viewing instead of sleeping.  Thus, in 2016 I have made a concerted effort reign in my daily routine.  Yet, early on I found myself picking up the clicker to check one of my favorite channels before I heard my conscience say, “why am I watching this?”

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.

Free will is a powerful weapon, often applied in misguided ways.  Nonetheless, God doesn’t force us to pray, go to church or read the Bible.  Therefore, if you want to break away from bad habits of the past, its not an easy venture.  However, the more I unplug from television and talk radio, the clearer my thoughts become.  While I’m not perfect and still have a long way to go, maybe you too may want to revisit your own daily schedule.  May the Holy Spirit guide you along the way, Galatians 5:25 as you replace the meaningless with power spiritual disciplines.

by Jay Mankus