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When Loose Lips Sink Relationships

One of Billy Joel’s most profound songs Honesty debuted on the airways in 1979.  Part of the 1978 album 52nd Street, the chorus of this ballad suggests honesty is such a lonely word.  Perhaps, Billy Joel was on to something, prophetic, sharing a glimpse of what the future would hold.  Before gun or fist fights, human beings often talked out their differences, no matter how heated a conversation got.  Unfortunately, in this age of Facebook, texting and Twitter, loose lips expressed on social media can sink relationships.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! – Psalm 141:3

Depending upon your personality, you will either seek confrontation or run away.  Texting has emboldened some former cowards by avoiding face to face encounters.  Yet, what is posted, typed or shared can create a wedge between friends.  Politics, religion and worldviews are factors that tend to divide neighborhoods.  When opinions are openly expressed on these topics, loose lips sink relationships.

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.

The apostle Paul provides a solution to those who have fractured relationships due to careless words.  Sure, all human beings are imperfect, prone to moments of weakness where the choice of language is inappropriate.  In view of this, the more positive you remain, the less likely you will offend friends and strangers.  Faking this will prove to be a waste of time so its essentially to be genuine and honest.  While no one will ever be 100% encouraging all the time, this is the goal to restore formerly loose lips to repair relationships.

by Jay Mankus



Turn It Up

In a contest, the best players and teams have a tendency to coast at points during the regular season.  Falling into this trap often leads to disappointing loses and major upsets.  At some point you have to respond, by raising your level of competition.  If you are dedicated, gifted and talented, when you turn it up success usually follows.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

According to one of the Old Testament prophets, vision requires patience, resolve and timing.  If you are impatient, you may quit before seeing and tasting the fruits of your labor.  Therefore, when others are on the verge of giving up on a shared dream, remain steadfast by turning up the intensity.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Perhaps the apostle Paul is referencing Habakkuk in the verse above.  The notion of delayed gratification is a foreign to this generation.  In life you can’t just put a prayer request on a credit card, then wait for it the mail to be delivered.  Although some prayers do get answered instantaneously and or quickly, this is not the norm.  Rather, in times of doubt, turn up your faith, waiting for a spiritual harvest to arrive.

by Jay Mankus

The Missing Piece to a Puzzle

As a child, my parents chose Thompson Lake, Maine as the spot for our family vacation.  Every August for a decade, my father took any where from one to three weeks off to reconnect with family.  Before this trip, my mom or dad picked up a large jigsaw puzzle, usually between 5000 and 10000 pieces.  These puzzles became a family tradition to complete on cold and rainy days or uneventful evenings.  Without a television to distract us, corners were completed first, then the hard part began.  Filling in grass, mountains, the sky or water was an endless pursuit of trial and error, trying to see if nearly identical pieces would fit.  When this tough stretch was completed, anticipation grew as pieces were put in place fast and furious.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of puzzles that any came with 4999 and 9999, missing the final piece to the puzzle.  Despite a fervent search of the floor, nothing was uncovered, leaving a bitter taste of disappointment.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” – Luke 15:8

The idea that puzzles intertwines with life has some traction.  Sometimes individuals find themselves faced with a difficult decision, a dilemma or struggling to grasp why something they want has not been granted.  The reason behind earthly trials isn’t usually known at the time you go through it, yet time has a way of revealing answers to unsolved mysteries.  During these periods of uncertainty, I often feel like a missing piece to a puzzle.  The only problem is every time I think I’ve found exactly where I think I fit in life, I discover that my gifts, skill set or talents don’t match, unable to complete the puzzle.  At this point, there is a temptation to betray your true identity by asking others, “who do you want me to become?”

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

The apostle Paul refers to a church as a body with many parts.  Similar to a jigsaw puzzle, it takes time to figure who you should connect with and what role best suits your personality.  If you take 1 Corinthians 12 literally, local churches are like unfinished jigsaw puzzles waiting for the right individual to come and serve.  Unfortunately, a growing mindset of what’s in it for me is preventing couples or families from taking a leap of faith.  Anyone burned by past negative experiences are gun shy, afraid of reliving the pain of broken relationships.  In the end, each person possesses unique gifts or talents no one else can offer.  Yet, free will is designed to allow you to get involved when your ready.  Therefore, if this blog finds you struggling to fit in, may the Holy Spirit lead you to complete another church, puzzle or soul.

by Jay Mankus

Where Has the Honor Code Gone?

Last weekend I caught a rerun of the 1992 film School Ties.  Starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris O’Donnell, the storyline places a Jewish quarterback recruited to attend a Catholic boarding school for his senior year.  After a jealous benched quarterback played by Matt Damon finds out this secret was hidden from teammates, David Green played by Brendan Fraser is ostracized.  When a student drops his crib, cheat sheet after a mid-term examine, Honor is put to the test.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

The concept of an honor code is introduced and built upon throughout the movie.  However, a history teacher refers to this as a living document, something founded by students and evolves over time.  While not mentioned, this principle is based upon the words from one of Jesus’ earthly brothers.  What the Bible is saying is that sins of action are the same as sins of inaction.  Subsequently, honor codes can not survive unless those who witness wrong doing actually confront anyone guilty of breaking a rule.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul, Psalm 143:8.

Newly acquired worldviews have provided a loop hole for individuals to justify their actions.  This shift has altered the principles many citizens once embraced.  Perhaps, this may explain the current culture of exaggeration, lies and untruths that make up most political campaigns.  The losers are young children who aren’t seeing godly principles modeled out by today’s leaders.  Forced by pressure to succeed, a growing number of people are cutting corners, disregarding honor for end results.  May the power of the Holy Spirit reverse this trend by softening hardened hearts with a contrite spirit and heart for repentance.  Pray for honor to be restored.

by Jay Mankus



An Attitudes Impact

In the ESPN 30 for 30 entitled, the Gospel According to Mac, former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCarthy recounts his quest to bring the Buffalo’s a national championship.  One of the overriding themes involves learning how to motivate each player who respond differently to criticism, failure and mistakes.  During the second hour of this 2 hour documentary, the founding of Promise Keepers is covered through a series of clips from old speeches.  One excerpt includes a quote on attitudes, claiming a person’s attitude is four times more important as their overall talent.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, Philippians 2:14.

Attitude is one of those qualities which usually remains hidden until adversity arrives.  However, in the heat of the moment, pose is tested.  Attitudes are directly proportional to feelings expressed through body language and words.  Depending upon the individual, stored up emotion can explode, unleashed in the form of complaints, gossip or pessimism.  According to the apostle Paul, this is nothing new as attitudes can impact a group, family or an entire neighborhood.  Like a vulnerable forest in seasons of extreme drought, any spark can trigger devastating fires.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5.

To overcome this potential threat, the apostle Paul believes the cure to this condition lies in the obtaining a specific mindset.  Despite being the son of God, Jesus became humble taking the nature of a servant.  Jesus set the model for what attitude should resemble.  However, this isn’t something you can do on your own.  Rather, transformation begins with faith by grace.  When you place your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit serves as a counselor to fashion and mold your attitude.  The end goal is to acquire a Christ like mindset.  This may take a life time to achieve, but an attitude’s impact can alter lives for eternity.

by Jay Mankus


Searching for a Sense of Worth or Sheer Fantasy?

In this day and age, people will do almost anything to receive recognition.  This pursuit often causes individuals to cross the line between right and wrong.  In an attempt to please their bosses, employees at Wells Fargo opened 2 million fake bank accounts over a five year span.  It’s one thing to develop a sense of worth through working, but sometimes chasing fantasies perverts reality.  These acts are lost in translation, hidden by pressure to excel.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense, Proverbs 12:11 – NIV.

The Bible was written in 3 languages: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.  Since the entire Old Testament is Hebrew, there are words or verses that don’t translate well.  Subsequently, the verse above is confusing until you examine a more accurate version below.  The Hebrew language similar to Greek is a much more descriptive.  At first glance above, it appears Solomon is against chasing after fantasies, a waste of time and effort.  Unfortunately, the context refers to people attempting to cut corners and expecting the same productivity.

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread; but he that followeth the worthless is void of understanding, Proverbs 12:11 – Darby Translation.

If you have ever attended a Christmas or company party, it can be a great time or an awkward experience.  This is where men tend to gather, tell others their occupation and brag about their sense of worth.  The most successful typically dominant the conversation while the humble and less important see their self-esteem slowly disappear when compared to everyone else.  When this evening is over, you have 3 logical choices.  First, stop wasting time and start doing what you love.  Second, become defensive and begin to gossip or re-evaluate where you are, set some goals and begin to incrementally chase after these fantasies.  May these words inspire you to press on, reach high and fulfill God’s plan in life.

by Jay Mankus



Clinging to the Vine

If you have ever tried to climb a tree, it doesn’t take make to lose your grip.  Any type of misstep, re-positioning or weak branch can start an unexpected descent.  During a recent adventure of trying to dislodge an arrant Frisbee from a tree, I found myself in a free fall reaching out for anything that would break my fall.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

In the spiritual realm, I’ve faced myself in similar downward spirals where in moments of weakness I have tried to cling to the Vine.  According to one of his disciples, Jesus is compared to a vine, the life source to which branches are attached.  However, once broken or cut off, these limbs are worthless, unable to protect you from spiritual harm.

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned, John 15:6.

Subtle signs, also known as acts of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21 often rear their ugly heads when individuals try to live apart from the Vine.  Acts, behavior and character gradually declines, transforming decent human being into completely different people.  Before this sinister force takes roots, its essential to become reconnected to Jesus.  Bible Study, prayer and worship are daily avenues to reunite you with the Lord.  If you feel like your faith is wavering, don’t let it continue.  Rather, cling to the Vine and connect with like minded followers who seek to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15.

by Jay Mankus