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We Need to Talk

Bruce Springsteen refers to the time spent in high school as Glory Days.  While every year has its moments, my time at Concord High are filled with memories I still cherish.  However, there was one phrase I hated to hear, “we need to talk.”  Whether this was a girl friend, parent or teacher, the news was almost always negative.

“Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own, ” Joshua 1:11.

Sometimes these conversations resulted in the end of a relationship.  Others received a bombshell in the form of a divorce or a terminal illness.  Meanwhile, those asked to stay after class were confronted with an accusation or some sort of discipline.  None of these discussions seemed pleasant at the time, but talking about delicate issues prepares people for what lies ahead.

Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you after he said, ‘The LORD your God will give you rest by giving you this land, Joshua 1:13.

In the Old Testament, God and Joshua had a “we have to talk” moment.  The purpose of this meeting was to inform Israel what was necessary to do before entering into the Promised Land.  Sometimes God is waiting for people to change their bad habits prior to bestowing blessings.  Until this transformation occurs, mediocrity will reign.  While 2017 is still fresh for many of you, draw near to God so that the Holy Spirit will guide you in the way to go next.

by Jay Mankus

 

Hijacking Controversial

At the top and bottom of every hour, news updates distinguish the important issues from the trivial.  These sound bytes shape the daily talking points found on the front page of national publications.  Yet, who decides this information, what measuring stick is used and how is content filtered?  If you read between the lines, it appears that some entity, group or individual is hijacking controversial.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Matthew 7:1.

While the definition of controversial refers to giving rise to public disagreement, the media is slanting this term based upon a secular worldview.  Subsequently, anything related to Trump must be controversial.  As if trying to alter thoughts, poison minds and scare the uninformed, this strategy has been successful up to this date in time.  However, in this age of social media controlled by political outsiders, perhaps controversial will be set free.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, Matthew 7:2.

Like any person who ages, I have changed with the times.  In some areas I have become more conservative and liberal in others.  Yet, I don’t go out of my way to define others who share different beliefs as controversial.  In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded his audience about the danger of judging others.  May this practical advice change the current tide to release controversial back to its original intent.  And by doing so, the world will end up becoming a more pleasant place to reside.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Get A Little Closer

In 1983, Arrid Extra Dry debuted this “Get a Little Closer ad” to promote their deodorant.  Like any corrupt mind, the context of this commercial can be perverted.  To avoid controversy Arrid’s marketing campaign promised consumers a long lasting product.  By applying deodorant, body odor would be hidden protecting individuals from embarrassment as you draw near the one you love.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The biblical context of the expression “get a little closer” does not require any deodorant.  Smell does not derive from exercise or working out.  Rather, the presence of sin is passed down through generations and from within due to a sinful nature which creates a fowl stench.  Subsequently, human beings are in desperate need of a cleansing which can only be achieved when you get closer to God than you ever have before.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool, Isaiah 1:18.

This special deodorant does not have a price tag.  Nor does this need to be applied over and over again.  As individuals draw near to God with a humbled heart, sincere confession activates this spiritual cleansing.  Although future mistakes will bring you back to your knees, a graceful God longs to settle this matter quickly.  Therefore, don’t let another day go by without getting a little closer to the Only one who can purify your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Thornbush in a Drunkard’s Hand

Forrest Gump gave America the notion that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”  This imagery reminds individuals of the days of generic Valentine Day boxes filled with an unlabeled variety of flavors.  Unfortunately, few movies address delicate issues like alcoholism in When a Man Loves a Woman.

Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool, Proverbs 26:9.

According to King Solomon, drunkenness is nothing new.  Jewish wedding receptions often lasted several days with some extended for a week.  It was common for hosts to bring out cheap wine once most of the guests were hammered, unable to tell the difference anymore.  Whether Solomon is referring to an actual event following a party or using hyperbole, drinking numbs the pain of individuals.  The physical affects with a thornbush will be felt after the alcohol wears off.

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap, Luke 21:34.

One of the hardest transitions facing young people is learning to have fun in life without alcohol.  When my father was transferred to Cleveland while I was in college, making new friends was tough.  After meeting some people my own age, I became their designated driver whenever this group went clubbing on the Flats in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  Unfortunately, most of them could not dance without getting drunk.  Not wanting to wait one evening, I traded places with a girl friend, helping the crew down 3 pitchers of beer.  While I was the life of the party for a few hours, the lingering affects of this spree lasted 2 days.  Thus, I know what its like to be a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand and its not a place where you’ll ever want to visit.  Heed the passage above to avoid the pain I endured.

by Jay Mankus

Searching Out Matters That are Too Deep

Whether you are a student, teacher or parent, sooner or later you will meet or run into individuals who like to dig deep.  While this isn’t a bad thing, there is a point in conversations, discussions and lectures that go way too deep.  Any time this invisible line is crossed, people tune out, especially students who don’t have the foggiest idea what their professor is talking about.

It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep, Proverbs 25:27.

Since Solomon was considered one of the wisest people to walk the face of the earth, its refreshing to know that even he was self aware of this problem.  Its unclear whether one of his wives or children confronted him about talking over people’s heads, yet God convicted him of this flaw.  Knowledge is like a good snack, but if you eat too much you will spoil your appetite for further discussions on a subject.

Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king.  He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”  The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”  But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”  hen the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother,” 1 Kings 3:24-27.

Despite the warning about digging too deep, there are exceptions to this rule as described by the wise ruling made by King Solomon above.  When a mother accidentally rolled over on top of her baby, he died.  In the heat of the moment, she swapped her dead baby with one next to a woman sleeping.  This is the context which allowed Solomon to test these woman to see who the real mother was.  Subsequently, individuals should use similar methods today to detect truth from those trying to pull a fast one by you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Unhinged

Bonkers, confused and loopy describe individuals who have become unhinged.  Emotions can make someone unbalanced, rambling on about their blight.  Following the election of Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States, a day doesn’t gone by without a liberal from Hollywood becoming unhinged on social media.  These statements often resemble phrases written by King Solomon in the Old Testament.

Like the useless legs of one who is lame is a proverb in the mouth of a fool, Proverbs 26:7.

In today’s politically correct climate, the verse above would elicit outrage if read out loud.  Immediately, there would be calls for protests, public apologies and some sort of punishment for expressing such a thought.  Yet, these same critics do not realize how many Americans are offended by their daily tirades.  As liberals, progressives and socialists continue to search for reasons why Hillary lost, the silent majority sit quietly on the sidelines entertained by the unhinged foolish behavior displayed by poor sports.

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly, Proverbs 26:11.

When you can get a word in among a group of chatty individuals, the best thing to do is let them keep talking.  Unless you have something important to say, its better to let the unhinged continue their rants.  In the end, words are meaningless without action.  Subsequently, all the celebrities who have failed to follow through on their vows to leave this country after Trump won has disqualified themselves, losing all credibility.  Though tomorrow will likely bring another meltdown, get your popcorn ready for another laugh as fools continue their folly.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Let Yourself Go

To deter drug use during the 1980’s, Nancy Reagan came up with the slogan “Just Say No.”  While some historians have labeled this former public service announcement a failure, she was on the right track.  People don’t wake up and become addicts over night.  Rather, addictions develop through a series of poor choices, one compromising decision at a time.  Thus, a far better warning is don’t let yourself go where evil lurks.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls, Proverbs 25:28.

Discipline is a vehicle to keep individuals out of danger.  Similarly, self-control can guide people when they are tired or weary.  Nonetheless, temptation attacks minds, implanting fantasies, lustful desires and ill-conceived ideas.  Escaping these thoughts require divine intervention.  However, prayer does not always prevent people from tasting forbidden fruit, going beyond defined boundaries into the unknown longing for a permanent high.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Yesterday, I missed working out for the first time in 2017.  Sure, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I know what this decision can result in.  As an expert snoozer, not getting up the first time your alarm goes off can set a precedent.  The next time you roll over to hit snooze sends a message which feeds your sinful nature, “I’ll get up when I want to.”  If you have great expectations for 2017, don’t let yourself go any further.  Before laziness takes over, trust in the Lord to keep you on track to fulfill what God has called you to do.

by Jay Mankus