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Giving God Some Space

When I was in high school, it wasn’t uncommon for a girl to tell her boy friend that she needed some space.  What girls were trying to say to guys like me was she needed time away to clear her mind.  Somehow I was suffocating this relationship and freedom was necessary to let this individual breathe.  Unfortunately, this conversation usually meant the beginning of the end, a nice way to say I’m breaking up with you.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, James 4:14.

If you apply this concept to God, countless individuals express this with their own actions, not making time for the Lord daily.  However, this assumes that people actually took time to invite God into their lives initially.  As churches close down, go out of business or are forced to join another congregations to survive, it appears that Jesus is low on our priority list.  Instead giving God some space to work within your heart, soul and mind, busy schedules drown out the Holy Spirit’s whisper to draw near.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8.

Last weekend I heard a local missionary speak about giving God same space.  What she meant by this expression is opening your calendar to allow God to speak.  Whether it’s a day, week or month, stop what you are doing and begin listening for the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my own life that I ignore God completely.  Christians can’t expect to spend eternity in heaven if they haven’t invested any time on earth storing up heavenly treasures.  In view of this fear, get up a little earlier, stay up later or get away over the weekend to give God some space to invigorate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Pot Dilemma

Since the discovery, exploration and colonization of America, tobacco has been a part this culture.  From the Indians, on to the Pilgrims and to the Amish of today, growing tobacco is an annual tradition.  This crop was part of a thriving industry until medical research revealed a connection to cancer in the 1960’s.  Advertisements, commercials and movie stars portrayed smoking cigarettes as cool.  Despite warning labels placed on packaging, tobacco companies continued to profit.  High schools offered smoking courts to students who sought a daily nicotine high.  Yet, in the last twenty years, the demonization of tobacco has taken extreme measures to reduce the smoking population.  Sin taxes, the banning of smoking establishments in major cities and public service announcements hope to snuff off this harmful hobby.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If leaders in the Progressive Party get their way, the government will soon control what you eat or drink.  This implementation began with the national school lunch plan, forcing students to eat healthy.  The only problem is you can’t force someone to do something they are not ready to do.  Sure, you can try through coercion like putting outrageous taxes on soda or sugar products.  This may deter individuals but at some point Americas will realize what is happening.  What’s next coffee or a modern tea party response?  When you don’t allow free will to play itself out, freedoms will be taken away one at a time.  Local and state governments are now applying high school tactics at a national level where one person’s trespass bans an act for everyone else.  Yet, why would a growing number of states now be open to legalizing marijuana?

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires, Romans 13:13-14.

Initially, states introduced legislation for medical pot use only for killing pain.  Today, 17 states has developed or passed similar laws.  A few states out west have expanded earlier bills by allowing pot shops.  Recently, Denver has reported a large homeless population possibly due to drug addiction.  Meanwhile, state officials blame this on a lack of affordable housing.  My one question for the pot dilemma is if it took a couple of centuries to realize smoking cigarettes was bad for your health, how long will it take to scrutinize pot smoking?  I lost a good friend from high school to cancer due to smoking pot.  Another friend from college was unable to have kids, killing his sperm count from excessive pot smoking with this issue eventually ending his marriage.  I’m sure my readers have there own nightmares. While tobacco companies were demonized for corporate profits, state governments are set up to make millions in tax dollars.  Will there be a sense of urgency to uncover the dangers of smoking pot or will states hide behind this new slush fund?  This is the pot dilemma.

by Jay Mankus

Stirring Up A Hornet’s Nest

The European hornet is the largest vespine in North America.  Yet, it’s the only true hornet found in this country.  These insects create nests out of surrounding plant materials forming a paper like hive.  The queen can lay two eggs per day under ideal conditions.  When threatened, hornets will attack as I learned as a teenager, stung a half dozen times while cutting my backyard.  There are not many things in life that compare with running away from a stirred up hornets nest.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

During a conversation with his disciples, Jesus reveals a similar power to riled up hornets.  While actions, behavior and choices are clearly visible to the human eye, the source behind natural responses is hidden.  In the passage above, Jesus pulls back the spiritual dimension to unveil the dangers of demons.  The individual in question was set free from an unspecified addiction.  However, anyone who does not purge themselves from conditions, influences or people that may tempt you to return, a relapse is highly probable.

And also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Luke 8:2.

Unless you live in a third world nation, the thought of demonic activity, demons and powers of darkness is left for Hollywood horror films.  Unfortunately, those individuals who need immediate help are often considered crazy, insane or off the deep end.  If demons were actively affecting the lives of common people in the first century, why would this concept disappear over time?  In fact, as morality declines this activity would likely increase.  Thus, the next time you experience an unsettling scene where someone loses it, this stirred up hornet’s nest may be energized by one or multiple demons.

by Jay Mankus

The Hanging of John Brown

Funerals and wakes are meant to celebrate someone’s life.  This time of reflection gives individuals a chance to say goodbye, paying respect to people whom may have touched your life.  Following the hanging of John Brown, a wide array of Americans paid homage to this abolitionist.  Poet Henry David Thoreau gave a speech simply entitled Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown where he referred to this man as the Soul’s Errand.  In a recent documentary produced by Ken Burns, John Brown is called the Meteor that ignited the Civil War.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done, Psalm 78:4.

Historians remember John Brown as a failure in most aspects of his life.  Unsuccessful as a businessman, Brown felt compelled by God to help end slavery.  Following the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas by pro-slavery forces, Brown and his supporters fought back by killing five men in May of 1856.  However, three years later John Brown’s fortune would change.  During a raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, John Brown tried to form a resistance to set slaves free.  Yet, this attempt ended in the death of some men, desertion by others and his own conviction for treason by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Thus, John Brown was hung in public.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, Matthew 6:20-21.

There are two certainties in life. First, you will die unless Jesus returns prior to your death. Second, the seeds that you sow in life will produce a legacy.  While speeches at memorials focus on the good that individuals accomplished in life, not everyone will paint a rosy picture of interactions with you.  In view of this fact, I hope that I can develop a sense of urgency to dedicate my life toward worthwhile causes.  Life is too short to give up before you taste success.  Therefore, seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness by setting your heart on eternal treasures; a fate that John Brown was wiling to die for.

by Jay Mankus

Behind the Bins

Before technological advances spoiled average citizens, Main Street was the heart of America.  Whether you parked at one of the meters, rode a bike or took a stroll through town, each day was a social event.  Weekly visits allowed individuals to put names with faces as friendships developed.  Grocery, hardware and repair shops enabled strangers to get to know the workers behind the bins.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Today, center cities, main streets and town halls are slowly fading away.  As more stores close, online orders are replacing the typical shopping experience.  Sure, mega malls still serve as a place to go on a cold, hot or rainy day, but this decay of socialization is ruining conversational skills.  If you don’t believe me, just watch young people interact in a public setting, unable to take their eyes off of cell phones.

As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man, Proverbs 27:19.

Although it’s nearly impossible to go backwards in time technologically speaking, there must be something people can do to reconnect.  Facebook does provide old friends a new way to touch base, but unless you take the time call someone on the phone, instant messages are superficial.  Beside the Bible, there are two books that I recommend which if applied can help you rediscover relationships.  How to Win Friends and Influence People and Bringing Out the Best in People can awaken the art of conversation by helping you get to know the people behind the bins.

by Jay Mankus

Dreams Unlike Any Other

One of the least studied areas of the human mind is the power of dreaming.  Sometimes dreams are influenced by something you experienced, heard or saw earlier in the day.  This is the case of Julia Ward who passed by Union soldier’s singing a song about John Brown’s body on her way to the Willard Hotel.  The next night Julia Ward had a dream where the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic came to here.  This was truly a dream like any other.

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

When I was in college, I attended a local accountable group in Newark, Delaware.  While this group rotated homes on and off, we began meeting at my friend Eric’s house.  There were occasional nights where individuals drifted off on tangents, but most evenings I tried to stay on task, holding people to the promises and vows made the prior week.  On one particular evening, I couldn’t resist adding my own two cents, “why do you keep giving the same lame excuse time after time.”  That night I had a dream that I was in a bookstore.  When I turned the corner, I saw a book with a title exactly what Eric needed to help improve his quiet times with God.  Later that week, I went to look for some new music at a nearby Christian bookstore when I actually lived my dream.  Except, in this case as I turned the corner I bought this book, sharing my supernatural experience the following week.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” Acts 2:17.

According to a first century doctor, the Holy Spirit will usher in a future time where people of all ages will experience dreams and visions.  Although no exact time is mentioned, an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit will be the sign from heaven.  I won’t speculate whether this time has passed or is yet to come, but I will not limit what God can do.  Whether it’s the inspiration for a famous song or a call to action to help a friend,  I can’t wait to pass on the next amazing testimony about dreams unlike any other.

by Jay Mankus

A Race Against Time

When you hear someone mention the term race, it’s often in reference to Track & Field, Horses or Nascar.  Yet, my use is in the context of a personal battle.  Currently, I have fluid in my left eye along with a recent collapsed cell wall.  The sad thing is that this is my good eye.  Following emergency glaucoma surgery in December, a cataract has developed in my right eye to blur my vision.  Subsequently, I’m in a race against time to finish the book that I started this Spring.  Meanwhile, I still have a collection of screen plays I need to edit and an additional script in my head.  God willing I am hoping to complete these projects while I can still see.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him, 1 John 5:14-15.

Seeing and believing are two different aspects of faith.  According to the verse above, prayers should be based upon God’s will.  However, if what you are asking is foreseeable in the context of God’s will, you should be confident in having this request honored.  The only problem with my current dilemma is I’m not sure if it’s in God’s will for me to write full time.  As for now, I am trying to maximize my time away from work so that I can make the most of the gift of sight.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

This second verse on prayer refers to overcoming mountains, persisting despite obstacles blocking your current path.  Since last winter, I wake up daily not knowing if my vision will be blurred or clear.  I have the faith for the Lord to heal and restore my sight, but a medical miracle has not arrived.  The only thing I can do is press on like the persistent widow.  This woman of faith did not stop praying until she received the outcome she desired.  Perhaps, perfect vision is illogical to hope for in prayer.  Yet, I cling to the promises in the Bible waiting for a miracle to occur in connection with God’s will.  This is my race against time.

by Jay Mankus