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Tag Archives: Worship

Are You Still Sleeping?

From time to time, my soul is filled with an overwhelming sense of conviction.  This guilt comes from spiritual naps, periods of my life where I fell asleep to what God wanted me to do, say or stand up for.  The Bible refers to this state as lukewarm.  Past generations used words such as wishy washy to explain how lame my faith can be at times.  To be bluntly honest,  I am fighting a losing battle, wrestling to stay above rising flood waters pulling me under.

And He came back and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Were you unable to keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep [actively] watching and praying so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” Mark 14:37-38.

No one is immune to sleeping as the human body is hard to control.  This requires an intent focus, like a disciplined athlete training for their next competition.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for someone to slip into merely going through the motions.  Whether you are talking about prayer, reading the Bible or worship, these practices can become a mundane event, void of spiritual fire or zeal.  I guess you can say this is where I am, still sleeping, unable to awaken from this spiritual funk.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

According to the apostle Paul, those who find themselves in this spiritual state need to cry out to the Holy Spirit for help.  Instead of babbling the same old powerless prayer, ask God to intercede through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I’m tied of doing the same lame thing, hoping for a better outcome.  Therefore, join me in an awakening of the soul to once again put into practice the word of God.  If you’re still sleeping like me, its time to get up, Luke 21:36.

by Jay Mankus

Flying Blind

From time to time, pilots will face extreme conditions.  During periods of heavy fog, misty skies or massive storms, aircrafts will be flying blind.  Under these circumstances, navigators are forced to rely on their instruments to get safely back to the ground.  Unfortunately, when human beings are thrust into similar scenarios on earth, computers aren’t much of a help.

While He was passing by, He noticed a man [who had been] blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi (Teacher), who [a]sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but it was so that the works of God might be displayed and illustrated in him, John 9:1-3.

Over the past month, I have been writing blind, struggling to see the letters on my keyboard.  Due to a recent flare up, my iritis has blurred my vision, turning each blog post into a chore.  Subsequently, the quality of my content has suffered, doing the best I can with the current state of my eyes.  Nonetheless, the Lord has given me the courage to press on, sharing what the Holy Spirit continues to place on my heart.

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.

According to the apostle Paul, Satan has the ability to blind human minds.  As people rush through busy schedules, minds can become distracted, flying blind through life.  While pilots have advances technology to lean on in adverse conditions, the Bible refers to spiritual weapons available for believers in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Although not mentioned by name, this passage eludes to fasting, claiming the promises of the Bible in prayer and worship.  Therefore, the next time you feel like you’re flying blind, make sure you take the time to arm yourself with spiritual weapons to

and the powers of darkness in this world.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Enemy of Our Souls

How you ever noticed the large-scale systematic plan that is occurring worldwide?  This clever marketing scheme distracts individuals from the real problem, the enemy of our souls.  The 2017 version of the film It has recently become the top grossing horror film of all time, amassing over 300 million in sales.  I’m amazed how people can take a diversion to a theater to experience their monthly fright night, yet fail to recognize the personal demons that terrorize individuals daily.  This invisible war is crushing, destroying and wounding human souls who don’t know what to do or how to fight back.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, Ephesians 6:10-11.

Roman soldier’s were equipped with spikes on the bottom of their sandals.  Similar to techniques used during the Revolutionary War, battalions were taught to hold the line of defense so that the enemy could not come up from behind for a sneak attack.  Prior to any battle, Roman soldiers began to dig in like a baseball player entering the batter’s box.  This practice enabled warriors to secure their footing, entrenched and ready to fight.  Unfortunately, most people are caught off guard, flat footed, unable to stand up against the schemes of the Devil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Ephesians 6:12-13.

As a former teacher, I made plenty of mistakes.  Some from a lack of experience, maturity or wisdom.  As I reflect upon this decade of my life, one common error that haunts me is overlooking specific details.  In the passage above, verse 12 gets most of the attention, unveiling the spiritual realm that exists in another dimension.  Yet, the end of verse 13 is the key, the solution to the enemy of our soul, making sure that you have done everything to stand.  Do you start end day with Bible Study, take time to pray, make the effort to fellowship with believers, seek out godly council and worship the Lord in song?  Depending upon your exposure to Christianity, this check list may be shorter or longer.  Nonetheless, if you truly want to live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, you have to prepare like a soldier gearing up for battle.  May this blog arm you with necessary resources to protect your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Feeding Your Faith

Dieting is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions that adults make each January.  At the start of each year, more and more churches promote the Daniel Fast, based upon a ten day challenge made with a guard in Daniel 1:11-12.  This diet involves fruit, vegetables and water to challenge and encourage members to develop healthier eating habits.  Some who have been successful adopting Daniel’s diet into their daily lives may even consider a fluid’s only fast.  This follows Jesus’ model in Matthew 4:1-2 prior to beginning his earthly ministry.  Beside losing weight, my ultimate goal for fasting is to feed my faith.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16. 

Unfortunately, fasts are not for everyone, especially for those with medical conditions.  Others find that fasts result in irritation, easily annoyed by the slightest thing.  Whether you attempt to fast or not, everyone is under attack, wrestling with the human flesh inside of you.  If you use the Devil’s temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 as a case study, the flesh is awakened by weakness.  However, each soul is different, vulnerable to various types of temptation.  Thus, one person may be tempted daily by food, another struggles with obedience and some simply possess bad judgment.  In the end, you have to decide if you are going to feed faith or your flesh?

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want, Galatians 5:17.

How you respond to this question will dictate the path your life takes.  The imagery of Matthew 7:13-14 illustrates how attractive the broad road can be.  Thus, if you don’t exercise the discipline necessary to keep the desires of the flesh in check, faith will be crippled.  One of the reasons why I start each January with a modified Daniel Fast is to reconnect with God.  It doesn’t take much to become sidetracked or be sucked back into the bad habits of your past.  Therefore, if you find yourself fighting a losing battle with your flesh, try a new approach with a combination of fasting. praying and worship to ensure that your faith will be well fed.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

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