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Stimulate Wholesome Thinking

When I was younger, the FCC held higher standards, limiting adult content to late night television.  Now, whether its sitcoms laughing at broken marriages, questionable commercials during sporting events or indecent lyrics within modern songs, wholesome thinking is being phased out.  In a recent Philadelphia radio ad, charities are now selling tickets to hear local celebrities made fun of, mocked and roasted in public.  I guess sin does sell.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving, Ephesians 5:4.

Unfortunately, negativity is nothing new.  In a letter to church officials in Ephesus, Paul addresses a concern he experienced first hand during his long stay.  When an individual steps across an unwritten line, there’s a temptation to join in, similar to a feeding frenzy.  Even if you didn’t start teasing someone or throwing another under the bus, resisting the desire to jump in is difficult.  Weekly, I find myself participating, indulging in unwholesome talk before its too late to take something back.

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking, 2 Peter 3:1.

The disciple Peter who also had a reputation for running his mouth came to a crossroads.  At some point near the end of his life, Peter became an advocate for wholesome thinking.  Torn up inside over the collateral damage of hurtful words, Peter encouraged believers to embrace wholesome thinking.  Therefore, if you’re feed up by societies destructive vocabulary, join this fight by stimulating those around you to engage in wholesome thinking.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Finding Treasures in Darkness

In the midst of a storm, darkness prevents most individuals from seeing any meaning or purpose in trials.  Instead of reflection, anguish, bitterness and resentment are common responses.  Yet, in my most recent period a pleasant surprise arrived in the form of a special friendship.  After both losing our jobs a month apart, God allowed each of us console one another, finding a treasure in darkness.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name, Isaiah 45:3.

In the famous poem simply known as Footprints, the author writes about periods in life where God carries you.  Walking along a beach, the Lord’s footprints disappear as each waves comes crashing into shore.  Yet, somehow, someway, most survive to see another day, hoping darkness will fade.  Job learned this the hard way as he friends began to question his faith, suggesting God was punishing him for something he had done in the past.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold, Job 23:10.

As you walk through moments of darkness alone, people tend to choose temporary distractions to numb the pain inside their heart.  Nonetheless, the weaker you get, the easier it becomes to trust in an invisible God.  When there is no one else to lean on, faith is refined, smelting the impurities.  However, if you hang on long enough like Job, you will experience God’s divine providence in the form of treasures in darkness.

by Jay Mankus

 

Monday Morning Atheist

An atheist is defined as anyone who lacks belief or denies the existence of a God or gods.  Unfortunately, as another weekend flies by the anguish of starting a new week of work weighs heavy on restless souls.  Thus, when the average American awakes on Monday morning, not many people feel close to or seek God to find the strength to carry on.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

In his book entitled Monday Morning Atheist, Doug Spada encourages readers to switch God on as Monday morning arrives.  When Christianity becomes a religion, the emphasis is placed on Saturday or Sunday as the day of worship.  Thus, God can be limited to your churches doors if you embrace this mindset.  Faith is designed to be a relationship that lasts 7 days, not something that you pick up whenever you feel like it.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Jesus sets the example for those who tend to be distracted by others or stressed by the upcoming schedule you have to meet.  While his disciples are swayed by human demands, Jesus took the first moments of each day to spend with his heavenly father.  Therefore, don’t allow worry to lead you to become a Monday morning atheist.  Rather, slow down, be still before the Lord and let the Holy Spirit influence the steps you take 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Lord’s Patience

If you have children, coach or teach, then you understand willful disobedience.  Unfortunately, human nature tends to cause adults to become angry, frustrated or resentful.  In the heat of the moment, its not uncommon to say or do something you regret.  If only individuals possessed the Lord’s patience.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.

One of the more awkward conversations in the Bible occurs in John 21.  Peter meets face to face with a resurrected Jesus.  Without bringing up Peter’s public denial, Jesus asks him if he the loves the Lord three times.  These words cut to the heart, a painful reminder of Peter’s past transgression the week prior.  Before the day was over, Peter received a glimpse of the Lord’s patience.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” John 21:18.

In this age of instant gratification, its hard to allow time to take its course on life.  Instead of pressing others to comply with your rules and regulation, sometimes you have to let those whom you love to wander off.  Only when people come to their senses will the day of repentance arrive.  Therefore, as a friend, mentor or parent don’t force the issue.  Rather, pray that the Lord’s patience will awaken souls and lead to salvation.

by Jay Mankus

Discovering Talents Within

Few people know that I wanted to be an artist in 9th grade.  Earlier on in high school, my electives were drawing courses to see if I had potential to pursue this desire.  Unfortunately, the older I became, my artistic gift vanished.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, 1 Corinthians 12:4.

While doing yard work today I had an epiphany.  The artist within still exists, just in an unlikely form.  Although I may be one of the worst Pictionary drawers of all time, landscaping has become my new tapestry.  Thus, I have turned my back yard into a nine hole par 3 course with 6 different pin locations.  After re-sculpting a pot bunker, I can enjoy this with my children all summer long.

To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,1 Corinthians 12:8.

According to the apostle Paul, each individual possesses talents within.  However, the Holy Spirit is the vessel that helps people reveal these hidden gifts.  Time, trials and a willing heart will eventually bring spiritual gifts to the surface.  Therefore, if you’re growing impatient or feel like the Lord can’t use you, pray for insight to discover your talents within.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

And Then I Three Putted

Golf is one of those hobbies that parallels life.  Sometime you may be right down the middle while others will find you deep into the woods or within a hazard.  Unlike most sports, practice doesn’t always insure progress.  Thus, the game of golf can be cruel causing even professionals to waste an amazing shot with a three putt.

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, James 1:3.

During my final year of coaching high school golf, I drove a par 4 with a 2 iron hybrid.  Unfortunately, when I got to the green, I had a 40 foot putt over a ridge to a hole on the other side going away from me.  Focusing on the line, I forgot to hit the ball hard enough, ending up 1o feet short.  Two putts later this once and a lifetime drive was a distant memory ruined by a three putt.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything, James 1:4.

In this life, its common to celebrate prematurely, before a day, round or year is over.  As over confidence or pride lures individuals into a false sense of security, victory is often replaced by defeat.  Thus, before you complete your next competition, project or task, finish strong.  Or else you may be like me, interrupting a moment of glory with the sobering reality, “and then I three putted.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Seducing the Unstable

Fluctuating, volatile and unpredictable are terms synonymous with unstable.  This character flaw can cause individuals to be blown and tossed by winds of change.  When you throw in an invisible force luring souls with temporary pleasures, the stage is set for seducing the unstable.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

A pawn of Satan in the past, Peter is possibly referring to his own seduction.  Prior to Jesus’ resurrection, his faith was weak despite witnessing countless miracles.  Reflecting upon his previous mistakes, Peter appears to have been careless, unprepared for the Devil’s daily attacks.  This lack of insight influenced Peter to deny Jesus publicly three times.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings, 1 Peter 5:9.

Now older and wiser, Peter leaves behind a game plan to avoid falling into this trap.  Although not mentioned, using prayer as a hedge of protection provides individuals with a barrier of resistance.  Thus, if you feel like you’re starting to teeter in the wrong direction, cry out to the Lord Jesus so that you will be spared from Satan’s seduction.

by Jay Mankus

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