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A Sign of Understanding

As a former high school teacher, I learned the importance of reading the body language of my students.  When I began to see stares of cluelessness, I knew it was time to slow down and repeat the point I was attempting to make.  After attending a seminar as part of continuing education, I adopted a new concept into my classroom.  Following a process of nominees, volunteering and voting, each class chose a representative to be the voice.  This person helped me comprehend who was lost and what needed more review prior to tests.

And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding,” Job 28:28.

In the spiritual realm, God has His own criteria for signs of understanding.  Job uses similar language to Solomon in the book of Proverbs, but adds another element at the end.  It’s one thing to have knowledge about a topic.  Yet, unless you apply what you know it’s meaningless.  Thus, the fear of the Lord is displayed when individuals shun evil.  According to Job, those who possess understanding steer clear of any traces of evil.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction, Proverbs 1:7.

When I was younger, I often heard parents and teachers repeat the same saying.  “If you play with fire long enough, eventually you will get burned.”  Based upon the verse above, fools refuse to listen to advice.  This leads naive individuals to be scarred by powers of darkness.  When evil is not shunned, the judgment of those who play with fire become clouded.  In view of this scenario, don’t just know what is right, apply God’s principles by shunning evil.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Spiritual Walk with Friends

Talking a walk after dinner was a popular form of exercise 25 years ago.  This trend became a special way to occupy time with good friends.  As I reflect upon my life, 3 spiritual walks stick out.  The first occurred with Liz and Dave, two friends I met through Chrysalis and the Walk to Emmaus movements.  When you began any walk, you never what is going to be discussed.  On this late night stroll, a spiritual of confession took over as one by one each confessed secret scars from the past.  Confessing deep, dark sins served as a form of healing which formed a bond that lasted for years.

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, Luke 24:13.

A few years later I got together with a friend who became the best man in my wedding.  On this specific night, I thought we would walk a few miles.  Fifteen miles later, I wore out a brand new pair of shoes as an accountability relationship took flight.  After we both got married, Dave and I spent one night a week walking several miles throughout the city of Newark.  No matter what was going on, each of us withdrew from the hustle and bustle of life to express the concerns on our hearts.

They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him, Luke 24:14-16.

The most memorable conversation while walking will be a chapter in a book that will go along with my movie Express Yourself.  When I was dating Leanne, one Saturday afternoon we walked around the city of Neenah, Wisconsin.  Since I didn’t want there to be any surprises, I shared my life story for hours walking hand and hand.  I’m not sure how many miles were logged, but this day served as a foundation of trust in our relationship.  While I don’t have the energy of my youth, it’s never too late to partake in a spiritual walk with friends.

by Jay Mankus

The Bible and the Declaration of Independence

A rare copy of the Declaration of Independence was recently discovered at the West Sussex Records Office in Chicester, United Kingdom.  The unique aspect of this copy is that the names of the founders are randomly placed on the back.  In the original, the names of the founders are aligned by the state each represented.  Researcher Emily Sneff and Harvard Professor Danielle Allen spent 2 years tracking down this piece of history.  Based upon the differences, new theories have been introduced with some questioning history as we know it.

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God, Hebrews 3:12.

The unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrolls has had a similar impact on the Bible.  Since 1946 archaeologists have collected 981 manuscripts which support the authenticity of the Old Testament.  Despite these historical treasures, there is a movement to treat the Bible and Constitution as a living document.  While authors of the Bible refer to this book as living and active, this means the message within God’s Word can penetrate soul and spirit to touch the human heart.  On the other hand, those who view the Bible as a living document refers to changing with the times making biblical principles obselete.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

Although many people put on a good front, pain exists deep inside individuals searching for answers to life.  Over time you will come across those who think they have all the answers.  These so called experts may even introduce new ideas to combat moderns issues.  Yet, in the end, the Bible and Constitution have withstood the test of time.  The prophet Isaiah came to a similar conclusion thousands of years ago, “the grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of God stands forever.”  May these two documents serve as a guiding light as you try to make it through the ups and downs in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Over Playing the Victim Card

Over the past year, cable news networks have reported about the transformation occurring on college and university campuses throughout the United States.  Some of these exclusives have addressed the transition from education and knowledge based curriculum toward political and social activism.  One college professor recently gave students the option to either take a final exam or participate in a group project.  The class chose to protest Trump at a nearby rally.

“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,” Job 27:2.

One of the angles disgruntled voters are taking is victimology.  Instead of fighting through adversity, battling disappointment and overcoming failures, the victim card is being played over and over again.  Sure, many individuals are dealt an unfair hand in life.  This is a painful reality in this life.  Yet, God is not pleased when his own followers join the crowd of the disenfranchised.  Seeking pity from the privileged isn’t the right course of action.  Rather, the Lord has a better choice for those unable to grasp why bad things happen to good people.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When his friends began to hint that recent trials were self-inflicted, part of some secret sin, Job began to play the victim card.  Within Job 27, this man of integrity begins to blame God for his problems.  This was Job’s fatal flaw, an inappropriate response to his hardship.  The apostle Paul introduces a more appropriate course of action.  Despite how you really feel inside, negative comments, harsh criticism and demoralizing words doesn’t solve your situation.  Rather, ask the Lord for rays of hope, signs of progress and a spirit of optimism.  In doing this, you will turn your victim card in for a peace that surpasses understanding.

by Jay Mankus

Where are the Harvesters?

If you have ever visited several churches over the course of a month, methods, styles and terminology vary.  Some denominations expect priests, pastors or preachers to do the core of the discipleship, evangelism and ministry work.  Yet, Jesus tell his disciples a completely different approach.  God’s plan involves harvesters.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” Matthew 9:37.

In this age of megachurches, spiritual growth is misleading.  Visitors often treat facilities like the latest trend, hopping from the old to the new as long as it satisfies your soul.  When the crowd begins to move in a different direction, loyalty is pushed aside.  This mentality causes individuals to become consumers, not servants.  Thus, harvesters are vanishing as a new generation of Christians take center stage in the church.

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field, Matthew 9:38.

One of the logical reasons for this void is known as the 90:10 rule.  Ten percent of congregations does ninety percent of the work at church.  This overuse can wear out willing volunteers.  If these harvesters aren’t given a break, burn out can occur.  In view of this, discipleship, nurturing and training is essential to unite the body of Christ.  When spiritual workers become a rarity in your house of worship, may a spirit of prayer prompt the Holy Spirit to bring harvesters out of retirement and back into action.

by Jay Mankus

Hope verses Heart-break

Anticipation, day dreaming and utopia are synonyms for hope.  Like an anxious child eager to open presents on Christmas morning, hope is like a promise waiting to be unwrapped.  The only problem is sometimes the hype doesn’t live up to your own expectations.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer, Romans 12:12.

When desires are unfulfilled, a wave of agony, dire and sadness replace inner joy.  In these moments of disappointment, its easy to overreact.  However, if you are not careful, heart-break can lead to depression.  If healing does not occur, hope can fade like the setting sun.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

If this blog finds you down in the dumps or recovering from a broken heart, the Bible provides two words of encouragement.  The first urges individuals to rely on prayer in times of trouble.  Prayer serves as a source of hope.  Meanwhile, if your spirit has been crushed by a relationship, tragedy or uncertainty don’t lose hope.  God promises to surround you with either angels, friends or strangers to get you through the tough times in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Coming Together

History tends to move in cycles, rising and falling as leadership, ideology and worldviews change.  There are moments in time for conquest, peace and war.  Each major event leaves its imprints on civilizations, cultures and society.  At some point, regardless of what you feel, it’s important to come together.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The author of Hebrews encourages individuals to do the same thing with God.  This process begins with a sincere heart.  Like the guilt, remorse and sorrow Adam and Eve endured following trespassing against God’s lone rule in the Garden of Eden, modern citizens experience a similar feeling.  This conviction serves as a sign to get your life right with God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful, Hebrews 10:23.

The final step to coming together involves hope.  One of the ploys the Devil uses is making people feel like God hasn’t forgiven them after publicly confessing sin.  Thus, many place their trust in feelings, not faith.  Thus, clinging to an unswerving hope is what will get you through periods of darkness.  Finally, life isn’t complete unless you begin to spur on others toward love and good deeds.  This mindset sets the stage for truly coming together.

by Jay Mankus