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Tag Archives: serve

It’s Better to Have a Mary Christmas

The Bible introduces the world to an average family coping with a typical sibling rivalry.  However, in this case, both sisters are adults, revealing two distinct personality traits.  While its unclear who is the oldest, it appears Martha plays the role as the responsible one, working diligently to clean the house, cook and prepare for holiday guests.  Like any individual, this work can be exhausting, creating tension with those who don’t help or share in this burden.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, Luke 10:38-39.

Meanwhile, Mary is drawn in a different direction, like a social butterfly longing to interact with visitors.  Jealous of her sisters conversation with Jesus, resentment brews within Martha’s heart.  Sensing this bitterness, Jesus serves as a moderator to address this family crisis.  According to a doctor who either knew the family or felt this story was worth passing on, Jesus reveals what is better, seizing the time you have with close friends and family.

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:40-42.

Unfortunately, a similar scene is played out in American homes every Christmas.  The perfectionists work diligently to make the decorations, meals and the tree just right.  On the surface everything is peaceful until someone doesn’t pull their own weight.  When this moment arrives at your home, its better to emulate the character of Mary so that you will experience a very Merry Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

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Where Did I Go Wrong?

Life tends to be a series of choices which lead you to the place where you end up.  Sure, accidents, illness and tragedy may be the exception to this rule, but it doesn’t take much to take the wrong path.  Compromise starts off subtle, lulling souls to sleep spiritually.  Before you know you have a problem, its often too late as people are left to ponder, “where did I go wrong?”

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot, Romans 8:7.

Some might argue that its impossible to know if you are exactly where God wants you to be.  Meanwhile, others claim the conscience was designed into every human being to regulate your soul.  Yet, if your mind isn’t right, thoughts can become hostile to God.  Whenever anyone drifts off course from the path God desires you to take, Satan can use your own mind against you to justify false actions and behaviors.  Thus, determining where you went astray can be more difficult than it seems.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua 24:15.

As Joshua leads a new generation into God’s promised land, it was fitting to urge Israel to consider who they are willing to serve.  The blessings are out there, fruits for those who remain on the straight and narrow.  Yet, the sooner you recognize where you went wrong, the quicker you will find reconciliation.  Therefore, I’m calling all prodigals to come to their senses to find forgiveness, hope and the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

Life Without Sight?

When I first moved to Delaware, I worked 2 jobs and went back to school to try to finish my Masters in Theology.  After 2 successful years, I began to develop some eye issues.  Unfortunately, the strain on my eyes was too much as I was diagnosed with iritis 15 years ago.  While dropping out of school helped, its been a decade of ups and downs, unsure if my medication would improve my condition.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:4.

In the past 6 months, one of my eyes has been unresponsive for some reason.  Thus, I’m facing a dangerous scenario of either surgery or possible losing my sight in this eye.  For someone planning on writing a movie script per year in retirement, this is a major problem.  Thus, one has to wonder why this trial has knocked on my door.  This is where faith, science and the human body collide.

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven, James 5:15.

Despite the odds confronting me, I am still holding out hope for a miracle.  As I wait a month for my next check up, all I can do is be a good patient by following my doctor’s instructions.  Meanwhile, I will lift my situation up to the great healer in the sky.  The anticipation and waiting will be tough, yet I serve a living God who has a record of restoring sight to the blind.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Man of Broken Promises

Sometimes you have to listen closely to what you say.  If you don’t, you could end up blowing smoke, carelessly throwing out words void of meaning.  As I reflected upon recent conversations with my children on my days off, its sad to say that I’ve become a man of broken promises.

A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool, Ecclesiastes 5:3.

Just because someone is intelligent, does not make them immune from making foolish decisions.  The context of the passage above likely refers to Solomon’s struggles to please his wife.  Like any good husband, there is a desire satisfy the needs of those whom you love.  Unfortunately, Solomon acquired 700 wives and 300 concubines as king of Israel, making it extremely difficult for him to be a man of his word.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow, Ecclesiastes 5:4.

As I try to pick up the pieces of my tattered reputation, the words of Ecclesiastes serve as a good place to start.  Whether you are talking to friends, family or neighbors, don’t promise anything you can’t keep.  If anything, limit your commitments and over deliver.  For if you don’t heed this message, you may wake up one morning like me and realize that you’ve become a man of broken promises.

by Jay Mankus

 

Who am I and Where did I Come From?

I was watching a documentary on meanings to life recently.  One of the interviewers suggested two likely possibilities.  “Either life occurred due to an accident or some sort of a Creator.”  The Big Bang Theory is on one side of this argument as the ideal conditions were present to occur.  Meanwhile, the opposing view suggests God spoke and bang life was conceived.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, John 3:16.

Regardless of what you believe, there is another question to consider.  What should individuals do with your time each is given on earth?  Eat, drink and be merry or consider the eternal consequences and rewards for every action?  While the first choice seems obvious, the latter considers a life devoted to serving a higher power.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him, John 3:17.

From some reason, when I was twelve, I began to reflect upon the meaning to life before I fell asleep each night.  As I pondered this question for over a month, life doesn’t make sense to me to be born out of thin air, live for a while and then die.  Something inside my soul felt like there had to be more, a place after earth.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to this eternal promise in 1 John 5:13.  During this period of enlightenment I realized that I am a child of God, created to serve and worship the Lord; trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide me throughout this life.

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

What is God Cooking Now?

Anyone who desires or longs to be a cook may choose a career in culinary arts.  This school involves teaching students government standards, preparation procedures and provide wisdom about what it takes to be successful.  However, novice chefs tend to learn from trial and error.  Meanwhile, others learn the hard way that they don’t belong in the kitchen.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

Beyond menus and specials, God has His own way of cooking.  The Bible refers to methods like smelting, pottery and purification.  Trials in life are like sitting in a crock pot, slowing blending a myriad of ingredients into a tasty meal.  Likewise, God takes the gifts and talents individuals possess, using disappointment, heartache and setbacks to mold people into vessels, instruments ready to serve the kingdom of God.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13.

However, like secret recipes of famous restaurant chains, God’s seasoning is unknown.  There are instructions inside the Bible, but the time and temperature is still a mystery.  Faith is the missing link, the glue that holds the church together until the final dish is unveiled.  In the mean time, may the Lord give you guidance, patience and understanding as you eagerly wait for God to finish what’s brewing inside of you.

by Jay Mankus