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Staying in Tune

There was a time in my life when I possessed musical talents.  For three years I played the alto saxophone, improving each year.  When I visited my grandmother for the holidays, I quickly picked up the piano, able to play Christmas carols.  Unfortunately, some where along the way, my interests waned, forgetting the notes, rhythm and ability to play an instrument.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen, Amos 5:23.

C.S. Lewis adds a piano analogy within Mere Christianity.  In one of his introductory chapters, Lewis takes three key components: tune, notes and music sheet.  For performers to correctly play an instrument, it must be tuned properly to produce a quality sound.   Next, individuals must have the knowledge to play the appropriate key or note.  Finally, unless you understand how to read a music sheet, a song doesn’t flow or make sense.

And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him, 1 Samuel 16:23.

Beyond music, these elements are essential if you want to stay in tune with God.  The conscience in connection with the Holy Spirit enables individuals to discern God’s still small voice.  Convictions, gut feelings and minds swayed by prayer serve as notes, clues as to where to go and what to do.  Finally, as people begin to read and study the Bible, principles for life are revealed like notes on a music sheet.  While C.S Lewis’ words are more than a half of a century old, these timeless truths provide a guide to stay in tune with God.

by Jay Mankus


Under the Power of the Devil

Hollywood has a fascination with the Devil, casting roles played by both men and women.  Whether its Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled or Harvey Keitel in Little Nicky, the Devil’s powers vary in each film depending upon the character or title.  Ideas inside a producers mind, stereotypes about Lucifer and a screenwriters insight come together to illustrate the power of the Devil.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him, Acts 10:38.

In the real world, demonic forces are usually invisible.  Beside haunted houses, paranormal activity and unusual events, attacks of the Devil are hidden.  To pull back this veil, its important to open the Bible to prepare yourself for the inevitable, a confrontation with temptation.  Jesus’ own encounter reveals three basic temptations: physical, mental and spiritual.  If you’re not ready, you are in danger of becoming under the power of the Devil.

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.

During my time in college, I had friends who went on mission trips overseas.  While I can’t speak on their behalf, their testimonies are riveting.  A roommate spoke of an ordeal with a warlord in the Caribbean.  A former teammate shared about stumbling upon a demonic stronghold in a third world nation, struggling to catch his breath in this one region.  While I’m not an expert in this area, I do know Satan presents a clear and present danger.  Therefore, make sure you don’t allow yourself to give the Devil a foothold on your life or you may become the next victim under the power of the Devil.

by Jay Mankus



Forgetting to Thank the One Providing the Blessings

The expression “you don’t know what you had until its gone” often hits home over the holidays.  Each year death takes away someone or something special from our lives.  Unfortunately, when life is going well, people forget to be grateful.  Take for example the Israelites, freed from 400 years of oppression and slavery.  Yet, this wasn’t enough as hungry stomachs led to complaining and grumbling.  When God answered their prayers in the form of manna, bread from heaven, the magic of this miracle soon wore off, craving more.  As quail arrived, sent by the Lord, the Israelites forgot to thank the One providing the blessings.

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD‘s hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death,” Exodus 16:3.

Doctors tend to notice certain details that most individuals miss.  In the case of Luke, a first century physician, his version of the Healing of 10 Lepers mentions an unique observation.  Leprosy attacks the vocal cords, limiting one’s ability to project their voices.  One of the ten healed by Jesus was overcome by emotion, crying out at the top of his lungs for the first time in years.  While Jesus is disappointed that only one person came back to thank him, Luke highlights the immediate healing experienced by this man.  The other nine took their speech for granted, yet one man did not miss the opportunity to thank the One who performed this blessing.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

On Thanksgiving Day, hearts and minds tend to be fixed on cooking, football or shopping.  Instead of slowing down to enjoy life, the pursuit of happiness causes souls to search for self-gratification.  This exercise usually leads to disappointment or emptiness.  Therefore, this year on this sacred day, make sure you take the time to thank the good Lord above for all the blessings in this life.  If you don’t, you will miss a golden opportunity to prepare your heart to catch the spirit of Christmas, with good tidings and great joy to all!

by Jay Mankus

Now and Then

Its hard to believe that on this day twenty years ago I married Leanne Marie Wagner.  Having a wedding in Chicago two days after Thanksgiving can be risky, at the mercy of the weather.   An unwelcomed winter storm could have arrived at any time, but on November 25th, 1995 the Lord was on our side, blessing us with sun and a fifty degree day.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

Most wedding vows include the phrase “for better or for worse.”  This term appears within the marriage service section of the Common Book of Prayer.  Published in 1549, the concept of persevering with a marriage til death due us part can be traced back to the late 1300’s.  Unfortunately, sticking with your spouse throughout one’s life get’s harder and harder as modern cultures have accepted and embrace divorce as a viable option.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25.

While premarital counseling is a good place to start, you’re never really fully prepared for marriage.  The intimacy of marriage reveals all of your imperfections, leaving individuals vulnerable, at the mercy of your mate.  In addition, time has a way of adding weight, losing luster and deteriorating parts of your body.  Anyone can be in love on their honeymoon, but true love takes an unyielding will.  Thus, now and then, I vow to keep my promise to my wife Leanne until death due us part.

by Jay Mankus


Life Isn’t Meant to be Fair

Common Core Standards are based upon the premise that every child should have a common experience in life.  To distribute the wealth of knowledge across cultural, economic and social lines, education has been dumbed down in an attempt to create equality.  The fatal flaw within this K-12th curriculum is that life isn’t meant to be fair.  Subsequently, one person will be rich, another poor, some will be blessed while others are cursed and the disciplined will achieve great heights as the lazy fall short of the goals they set in life.

So the last will be first, and the first last, Matthew 20:16.

Somewhere along the way, public education has placed a priority on self-esteem instead of fulfilling Darwin’s teaching.  My best recollection of high school was survival of the fittest, a series of tests and trials to reveal the best  One of my greatest teachers, Mrs. Ehrig challenged me, pushing me to a place I never thought I could reach.  She didn’t care about how I felt, just ways to motivate me to unlock my potential.  The myriad of excuses must end, replaced by the core principles which once made America’s schools elite.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Outside of the classroom, churches must communicate a biblical message explaining how and why life isn’t fair.  If sermons portray unrealistic teachings like a prosperity gospel, believers will be set up for disappointment.   Experiences shape beliefs so to prevent individuals from a disenfranchised faith, truth should rise above fiction.  While each person is dealt a different hand in life, you have to play with the cards, talents God gives you.  Although some days you may feel as if the deck is stacked against you, make the most of each day you are given as you endure the good, bad and ugly circumstances within this life.

by Jay Mankus

Standing in the Way of Progress

Cantankerous, inflexible and pertinacious are words associated with stubborn.  Depending upon which study you reference, individuals become set in their ways between age 16 to 25.  Whether students choose to pursue college or stop their education following high school, worldviews are often set by the early twenties.  Subsequently, when a new way of thinking is introduced, many are caught standing in the way of progress.

So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way? – Acts 11:17

Unfortunately, I grew up during the infant phase of computers, forced to take typing classes in high school.  Thus, as technology changes electronics annually, its hard for me to keep up, lagging behind as I adjust to updated programs.  Part of me wants to keep the status quo, doing tasks the way I am accustom to.  Yet, if I don’t face reality I may find myself standing in the way of progress.

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life,” Acts 11:18.

During the first century, Peter struggled to adapt to the societal advances.  Raised as a Jew, Peter was taught to avoid associating with Gentiles.  However, as the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his family, Peter was faced with a dilemma.  Hold on to past stereotypes or embrace the movement of God?  In the end, Peter realized that if he did not accept Gentile converts to Christianity he would be standing in the way of progress.  In the same manner today, as the world drastically changes, ask the Lord to give you the heart of Christ to avoid standing in the way of spiritual progress.

by Jay Mankus




When Pain is Your Teacher

One of Rush Limbaugh’s weekly quotes on his E.I.B. radio talk show is that learning never stops.  Commencement refers to the beginning, the start of a new life.  However, when pain becomes your teacher, few want to finish, often dropping out of the school of life.

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life, Genesis 3:17.

In the real world, tutors exist in the form of mentors.  If you earn their respect, perhaps you might be able pull from their years of wisdom to help you along the way.  Nothing is ever easy, but if you can endure failures, heartaches and setbacks, you might be able to graduate on the next class God has in store for you.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:9.

Unfortunately, pain never ceases, a byproduct of original sin.  The remnants of the fiasco in Eden have gradually spread, poisoning souls to the core.  The events of modern terrorist attacks is merely the fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians.  Therefore, whether we like it or not, pain is the teacher which shapes the human heart.  As the school of hard knocks proceeds, may the trials of life serve as a purification process to refine faith in those who believe.

by Jay Mankus




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