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The HEART of the Matter

Recently, the media has been quick to jump to conclusions, especially when current events align with liberal talking points.  The recent feeding frenzy began following a church shooting during a Bible Study at a Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Sadly, nine dead African Americans are being used as a political pawn to accomplish a specific agenda, ban the Confederate Flag.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Luke 6:45.

Since June 17, the night of these murders, anyone who displays, owns or doesn’t condemn this flag has been labeled an accessory to this hate crime.  Afraid of negative press, P.G.A. star Bubba Watson decided to paint over the flag on his General Lee, Nascar offered fans attending the July 4th weekend race at Daytona American flags in exchange for Confederate ones and several in the south have removed this symbol from state buildings and court houses.  While this act of terror on Christians is an awful tragedy, the human heart is the main culprit not a flag.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

During debates with religious leaders and discussions with his own twelve disciples, Jesus proclaimed that what comes out of a man or woman makes them unclean.  Hearts set on evil are like ticking time bombs ready to explode.  Whether killers display a Confederate flag or swastika, acts are conceived by angry hearts according to Jesus, Matthew 5:21-22.  There will always be opinions which have some valid points.  However, owning the Confederate flag doesn’t make you anti-Christian or anti-black.  Rather, those who are raised and taught to embrace bigotry are planting seeds of evil for future actions.  May those filled with hatred receive a spiritual heart transplant to insure future attacks will cease.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Going Back in Time to Move Forward

Disney’s animation movie Cars premiered at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 26th of 2006.  Lightning McQueen, the star and voice of Owen Wilson, illustrates what happens when an individual seeks to do whatever it takes to reach the top of their profession, the Piston Cup for McQueen, whatever the cost.  Just before reaching his goal, Lightning accidentally stumbles upon Radiator Springs, a once booming town on Route 66.  Forced to fix a portion of the road he destroyed, McQueen is taught a series of life lessons before moving on to his final race of the season.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Over the weekend, I spent a portion of 4th of July weekend in Amish country.  Spending the night at a bed and breakfast, I felt like I was transported back in time to life without technology.  There was no television, internet or bars to make a call.  Instead, there were books, nature and others to converse with.  Spoiled by distractions in life, it became painfully clear during my visit that my communication skills have deteriorated.  Tuning out others with technology had become a way of life for me, a misguided attempt to hide my inadequacies.  Thus, going back in time has created a thirst for conversations in the future.

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

Today, emails, Facebook and Twitter are flawed forms of communication.  While you may be able to express what you feel or think, often this form of expression is self-centered, void of any genuine face to face interaction.  Although emails may be convenient, they are superficial, not offering time for questions and answers like good old fashion meetings.  Perhaps, this generation has become too dependent on technology.  Sure, any information you desire is only a click away, but people are what makes the world go round.  Therefore, everyone needs time to get away, slow down and cruise the streets of a real life Radiator Springs.  Only when you go back in time for some rest and relaxation will you be ready to move forward.

by Jay Mankus

Does it Really Matter Who the Greatest of All Time Is?

Debates are nothing new except perhaps the venue in which they take place.  Philosophers gathered in Athens to discuss and exchange their worldviews.  Jews went to the synagogues to hear rabbis share their interpretations of the Torah.  Today, opinions are posted, tweeted and vocalized on talk radio, with sports fans often adding their own two cents on who is the greatest of all time.

But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest, Mark 9:34.

This temptation is not limited to sports as even followers of Jesus wanted to know who was the best disciple.  I can imagine Peter saying, “I walked on water” before John chimes in “well, I’m the beloved one.”  Back and forth, each of the twelve probably revelled in their moment of glory before another voice drowns out the one before.  Sensing their discussion was getting out of hand, Jesus intervenes by defining the perimeters for the greatest of all time.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all,” Mark 9:35.

In eternal terms, the individual with the largest mansion in heaven will be the one who is the greatest servant of all.  In my mind, Mother Teresa is one of the front runners, but history provides ample choices to be number one.  Nonetheless, modern Christians must adhere to these standards or risk the chance of being rejected by Christ.  Therefore, don’t waste your breath on arguing who is the GOAT.  Rather, commit yourself to taking on the nature of a servant, Philippians 2:6-7.

by Jay Mankus

 

Has God Left America Yet?

You don’t have to be a historian to recognize the United States of America aren’t so united.  Sure, negative news overshadows any decent, encouraging or trace of optimism out there.  Nonetheless, even if a positive news network did exist, remaining realistic in this time of hate crimes, moral decay and political hypocrisy would be difficult.  In my mind, there’s only one thing left to ask, “has God left America?”

Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals, Judges 2:11.

If the Supreme Court is a foreshadowing of the future, its only a matter of time before the Lord removes his blessing.  In recent days, Oklahoma courts have ruled the 10 Commandments monument outside the state capitol must be removed.  While atheists, progressives and revisionist historians will say, “what’s the big deal,” the founding fathers are shaking in their graves at the removal of one of the last beacons of truth in America.  Though history goes in cycles, when you eliminate concrete absolutes, leaders of this country are opening the doors to a chaotic society.

They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD‘s anger, Judges 2:12.

No one likes to be told what to do, except for the government who is regulating what you eat, say and so on.  In the past, God allowed Israel to be taken captive, living in exile for hundreds of years.  Despite these tangible lessons, individuals still strayed from the Lord, only turning back during the tough times.  The events of 9/11 did the trick for a little while, but now the hearts of many have turned cold.  Has God left America completely, probably not.  Yet, if the cultural trends continue, there won’t be any room left for freedom of speech, religion or worship.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Spirits that Can Rob Your Speech

The paranormal was always something left for Hollywood, displayed through horror movies when I grew up.  Maybe  I was naive, but I believed the spiritual realm was simply a fantasy, too bizarre to be true.  However, the older I become, I am beginning to open my mind to the reality of a dark, invisible and sinister power working behind the scene to strip individuals of freedom.

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech, Mark 9:17.

Jesus’ disciples experienced a similar event which challenged their belief system.  After initial success in healing people in need, an evil spirit halted their ability to heal a boy.  Dumbfounded, the disciples appear to have reached out to the Pharisees to get their thoughts.  Finally, Jesus arrives onto the scene to straighten out their misconception, explaining that certain demons require prayer to be cast out.  This was the missing link for this boy to regain his speech, robbed from an early age.

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” Mark 9:22.

Today, more than 70 million people worldwide suffer with stammering or stuttering.  Every day more than three million Americans wake up not knowing if or when they will stutter.  As someone who struggled to express myself until I was healed in college, I understand what I feels like to be robbed of your speech.  Though I’m not a doctor, I believe conditions vary, based on medical issues, a lack of confidence and spirits of doubt.  I’m not sure why God choose to heal me, yet I pray for those who are currently fighting against spirits trying to rob souls of their speech.

by Jay Mankus

 

Words that Elevate Faith

In the early 1980’s, Bill McCartney was an ordinary college football coach at the University of Colorado.  Following a breakthrough, McCartney realized that he couldn’t treat each player the same.  To get the most out of his team, some athletes were challenged, others provided with words of encouragement and an occasion, a hug to elevate their psyche.  This communication style lifted the Buffalo’s to the 1990 National Championship.  Later on that same year, God inspired McCartney to found Promises Keepers, a ministry to strengthen the faith of married men.

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes,” Mark 9:23.

When the disciples vowed to heal a father’s son, he hoped healing would come soon.  Unfortunately, these novice healers weren’t able to improve this boy’s situation, powerless against the strong demonic forces within this child.  As Jesus approached some Pharisees speaking with his disciples, He was likely shaking his head in disappointment.  Like a doctor examining a patient, Jesus asks the father for a brief history of his son’s condition.  Following their discussion, Jesus recognized the need for prayer mixed with words that might elevate the faith of this boy’s father.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”- Mark 9:24

If you read in between the lines, belief or lack there of is a contributing factor to one’s faith.  Those who have never been exposed to healing, miracles or a supernatural event will likely doubt the presence of a higher, supreme being.  Yet, it only takes one encounter, experience or positive influence to ignite the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, don’t listen to the naysayers, negative voices and pessimistic chatter which abounds.  Rather, walk as Jesus did and inspire others like Coach McCartney so that the words that come out of your mouth will elevate the faith of those around you.

by Jay Mankus

Does Saving Your Life Mean Forfeiting Your Soul?

Rarely do you hear the terms forfeit and save in the same sentence.  Perhaps, you could be referring to a Little League team that may have to forfeit a game, unable to field enough players.  Thus, this forfeit could save a pitcher for an opponent’s next game or start a win streak that saves their season.  However, this isn’t the context of Jesus’ conversation with his twelve disciples in Mark 8.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it, Mark 8:35.

Speaking to future apostles of Acts, Jesus’ words could be limited to anyone seeking to devote their lives to full time ministry.  However, the choice of vocabulary suggests something similar to closing remarks made by Moses during his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30.  Life is like a series of choices, each leading you either in the right or wrong directions.  Therefore, when anyone decides to follow the path of saving your own life, with each step, people are approaching the unfortunate reality of forfeiting their soul.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.

From a personal perspective, obedience either illustrates one’s investment in storing up heavenly treasures on earth or proves their divestment, clinging to the ways of this world.  If your heart is where your treasure is, Matthew 6:21, then how you spend your time reveals who you are living for.   Like the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, people can’t handle the truth.  Since life is a marathon and not a sprint, there is time to change your course.  Whatever you decide, be careful not to save yourself or else you will be in danger of forfeiting your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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