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Tag Archives: Worship

Saltless Without the Supernatural

The older I become, the harder it is for me to become energized.  Perhaps, a lack of vision is to blame.  Yet, as I dig a little deeper through prayer and reflection, I think I have found the culprit.  Apparently, I have lost my saltiness, losing the ability to add flavor to the lives of those whom I come in contact.  This may explain why I have so little to say wherever I go.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot,” Matthew 5:13.

In the first century, salt was used as a preservative, caking and packing fresh meat to slow down the spoiling process.  Prior to electricity, if you wanted protein hunting or fishing was the only option.  Salt allowed leftovers from lunch for dinner until this endless cycle continued the next day.  In the passage above, Jesus uses Sermon on the Mount as a teachable moment to interject salt into every day conversations.

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another,” Mark 9:50.

For those of us not gifted with a type A personality, another source is necessary to fill this gap.  This is where the sinful nature must submit to the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:16-18.  Until you become separated from this tempting force, you will be saltless without the supernatural.  Like filling up a car, the shy, quiet and uninspired must plug into God through Bible study, prayer and worship.  You could try other methods like I have but you likely come up empty.  May this blog motivate you to have salt in yourself by sharing what God is teaching you daily.  May the salt be with you.

by Jay Mankus

 

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SWAG

Swag is one of those words that has evolved over time.  Initially short for swagger, swag is a personality trait which naturally flows out of confident individuals.  Professional athletes display this by playing to the crowd, swaying and strutting after successful impacts during a competition or game.  Journalists sometimes equate swag with gravitas, inner qualities that attract others to want to be around those who possess this special gift.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Recently, I stumbled upon an acronym for swag, Spiritual Wonders Anointed by God.  Although my employer refers to swag as stuff we all get, I know from experience not everyone receives the same allotment in life.  Rather, some people are more blessed than others, attaining and obtaining much more than the average person.  While a portion of success can be linked to dedication, hard work and perseverance, God’s role in swag can not be denied.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:14.

Spiritual wonders anointed by God can be explained by guardian angels or ministering spirits.  Without divine intervention, there may be some of you who would not be alive today if it wasn’t for this insight and protection.  Meanwhile, swag can be developed from a permanent meaningful lasting relationship with God.  As one begins to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord each week, the Holy Spirit living inside of you can produce swag.  As a new year approaches, may the Lord inspire you to draw near to God so that your faith will flourish in 2018.

by Jay Mankus

I Wouldn’t Trade Things For the World

My wife’s oldest living relative is ninety nine.  Up until six years ago, Aunt Peg hosted a Thanksgiving Day celebration at her home in Kewanee, Illinois.  Every other Thanksgiving served as a reunion for the Hanson and Wagner families in southwestern, Illinois.  Days prior to my wedding twenty two years ago, I was introduced to ninety strangers who would soon become relatives.  While at times this was more of an interrogation, I played along trying to remember as many faces and names as I could for our reception.  Marrying into a large extended family can be overwhelming, yet I have grown to appreciate the special personalities within Leanne’s family.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me,” Matthew 4:8-9.

Working for Amazon the past five years hasn’t afforded me the opportunity to travel out to Chicago for this festive event.  Like a prodigal son, I felt compelled to make the effort this year, especially with the passing of Leanne’s father.  Flying out after work one morning, I was able to reconnect with Leanne’s side of the family.  Following a typical Thanksgiving meal, the Hansons usually puts on a talent show aptly named the Hanson Family Theater.  However, this year each attendee was asked to give a thirty second infomercial, a synopsis of their current life.  While I was dreading the idea of fifty people standing up one after another,  I was pleasantly surprised.  Instead of enduring boredom, I appreciated the commonality exhibited by almost everyone.  Faith, family and God is the bond that has kept this tradition alive for half a century.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only,” Matthew 4:10.

As Leanne and I inch closer to the half century mark in age, I had a revelation last night.  Actually, this was more of an insight to where I am in life.  As much as I complain about my current job, I see the hidden blessing of only working four nights a week.  Despite missing out on any type of social life, I have been able to attend nearly all of my kids sporting events.  I have been there to rejoice in victories, comfort after defeat and explain from a coaching perspective why things played out as they did.  My resume isn’t exciting; nor is my income self-sufficient.  Nonetheless, I have embraced my role as a father, raising my children to the best of my ability.  Sure, I have several flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, but I have reached a state of contentment.   I still have bigger dreams and goals that I would like to fulfill, but I wouldn’t trade things for the world.

by Jay Mankus

Confessions from a Complainaholic

I must admit that it doesn’t take much to set me off.  The sad part is that I don’t even need to be around other people to express my frustrations.  Whenever I am driving to work, I become enraged, pointing out every little imperfection made by other drivers.  While sitting in a pew at church last Sunday, I came to a realization.  My name is Jay and I am a complainaholic.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Perhaps, I have become a product of the environment in which I live.  Residing within an hour of Philadelphia. aka Negadelphia, I vocalize what I hear, negative comments.  On the eve of Thanksgiving, my human nature is at war with how God wants me to behave.  Thus, I am stuck in the mud, trying alter my current state of disappointment toward a Christ like attitude.  This transformation requires divine intervention.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:20.

After reading a series a verses in the Bible, I have discovered the power of Thanksgiving.  On my first day back to work, I began to sing songs of praise, repeating the chorus from worship songs earlier in the day.  This simple adjustment enabled me to become more like a servant than a constant complainer.  I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but for now I plan at taking things one day at a time, praying that a spirit of Thanksgiving will replace my complainaholic nature.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Where Did My Joy Go?

At the beginning of any relationship, there is an anticipation that consumes your body.  Similar to adrenaline, there is a rush each time you hold hands, embrace or hear the sound of this significant other’s voice on the phone.  As you experience this initial stage of courtship, your mind can’t keep thinking about the person you love.  Joy abounds every moment you spend together.  Then, little by little over time, joy disappears.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.

This pattern also affects individuals who enter into a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Introductions to faith occur in various places, from Bible studies, one on one conversations, spiritual retreats and revivals.  When you begin to connect with God through prayer, study and worship, a peace that surpasses all understanding begins to emerge.  As you interact with other believers, this spiritual bond deepens, filling souls with the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, hardship, temptations and worries in life suffocate the joy most people have for the Lord.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full, John 16:24.

Within a letter to the church of Rome, the apostle Paul urges individuals who are single to avoid marriage unless called to do so.  The context of these words refer to the struggle to keep Christ first when married.  No matter how disciplined, focused and strong you are, the weight of the world can easily erode joy for life.  Thus, while you may not have the feelings you once possessed, faith is designed to carry you through the rough stretches in life.  If faith without deeds is dead, the same concept applies to joy.  This explains why my joy for life has vanished.  In view of this, make sure you rely on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, so that joy will return and live again.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Something Greater Than the Temple

Traditions play an important role in life.  Religious traditions passed on by parents influence what you believe, especially early on in life.  During the first century, Pharisees displayed a holy reverence for Solomon’s Temple.  This passion for a physical place to worship the Lord soon became a stumbling block, limiting God’s power in their lives.  Subsequently, during one encounter with religious leaders Jesus refers to something greater than the temple.

 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here, Matthew 12:6.

Today’s Roman Catholic Church shares some of the practices of Judaism.  Modern priests play a similar role as great high priests in the Old Testament.  However, instead of sacrificing animals to forgive sins, confessionals are used to hear and forgive the sins of their congregation.  While there is a movement to encourage members to read and study the Bible on their own, traditions of the past have stunted spiritual growth.  Thus, the concept of a place greater than the temple is still foreign to many.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

The apostle Paul understood what Jesus meant by something greater than the temple.  Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, an earthquake destroyed the temple that the Jews held in high esteem.  This event opened the door for a transformation to occur, from the temple into your own heart, Romans 10:9-10.  Thus, using a priest as a mediator between God and man was no longer necessary.  Instead, followers of God need to view their bodies as a living temple of the Holy Spirit.  When modern believers make this connection, the human heart becomes greater than the temple.

by Jay Mankus

Elevation or Heresy?

In this age of Progressivism, bizarre news stories once thought to be a joke are now becoming reality.  Such is the case of a new church in Denver, Colorado known as the International Church of Cannabis.  According to a recent interview with the pastor by Jesse Watters, this church uses marijuana as a Holy Sacrament to reach a new level of faith.  Is this new practice a form of elevation or merely heresy?

Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things, Proverbs 23:33.

The context of the passage above refers to drinking too much vine.  The consequence of doing such a thing can result in hallucinations.  If you pass by liquor stores in your community, you might see the words Wine and Spirits.  The spirit part eludes to the passage above.  Since alcohol is a drug, cannabis produces a similar state.  The question is does God want his worshippers to experience this high in church?

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble, Romans 14:21.

During a private conversation with his disciples within Matthew 18:1-6, Jesus warns his leaders about causing children to stumble by following in the footsteps of your own sin.  According to the son of God, it would be better to have this person tied to chains and thrown into the sea to die alone.  Thus, the apostle Paul makes sure no one in the first century forgets about this teaching.  Sure, the idea of cannabis as a Holy Sacrament sounds enticing, but using a drug in any form of worship service is simply heresy.

by Jay Mankus