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Under Appreciated

As I race to complete my movie script for Hollywood’s premiere screen writers competition, I was recently overwhelmed by a wave of emotions.  While retracing my steps through my days in high school, I was struck by how good my life has been.  The reason for this joy are the countless individuals I have crossed paths with.  Unfortunately, when I was younger immaturity prevented me from appreciating the friends who touched my life.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God, Colossians 3:16.

In the rat race called life, its easy to lose sight on what’s important.  Whether its pursuing a career, chasing a dream or providing for your family, special moments can be overlooked.  Anxiety, stress and worry prevent people from seeing the blessings God has provided.  If you continue on this path, distracted by the negative aspects in life, you will follow in my footsteps, under appreciating special individuals.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace, Numbers 6:24-26.

Apathy is an invisible force which attributes to under appreciation.  Like a spell cast on an unwilling soul, boredom and laziness prey on selfish desires.  Unless you become alert, by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, you could become the next victim.  In view of this, may the Lord give you a heart of appreciation so that those around you will receive the thanks that they deserve.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Last weekend was the first Bay Hill Invitational without its tournament host Arnold Palmer who passed away last fall.  Beside his banner career as a former major champion on the PGA tour, Arnold Palmer was a sports icon whose fans established an army of followers.  Palmer’s passion and vision gave birth to a 24 hour channel devoted to golf, the Golf Channel.  This network aired a week of programming to honor this special man by remembering the thousands of people he touched.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

One of the specials entitled Arnie and Me recounts stories and testimonials from letters Arnold Palmer wrote by hand himself.  Despite the temptation to change with the times by sending emails or texts, Arnold Palmer felt letters were much more personal.  Thus, in victory and defeat, Arnie spent half a century encouraging the heartbroken and praising the successful.  You didn’t have to be famous to receive a letter from Arnie.  Nor did you have to be a golfer.  Rather, if you touched his heart or was moved to compassion, a letter was sent.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it,” Habakkuk 2:2.

After watching this show last weekend, a spirit of conviction fell upon me.  During my years in college, I wrote up to 100 people during one semester.  Yet, the cost of stamps, time and a lost interest caused me to end this hobby decades ago.  While I probably won’t restart writing letters, this experience has led me to journal my daily thoughts in this blog.  I’m not sure how long this will last or what direction I may go in.  Nonetheless, I believe the lost art of letter writing is something you may want to consider if you feel God is calling you to encourage, inspire or touch souls like the countless letters of Arnold Palmer.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Pursuit for Truth

Due to an outbreak of fake news, news, political and social media sites are hiring fact checkers to decipher truth from fiction.  However, if one worldview does not belief in absolute truth, distinguishing opinions from reality becomes challenging.  Unfortunately, this pursuit for truth often ends up in a he said, she said dispute.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14.

One of the first sermons I ever heard on the Armor of God has stuck with me.  The pastor was using the analogy of getting dressed.  Unless you enjoy wearing tight clothes or have gained weight around the waist, pants require a belt to stay on.  Yet, if you become careless, lazy or negligent, you can get caught with your pants down.  This occurs when you embrace false statements that on the surface appear to be true.

And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth,” 1 Kings 17:24.

There is a fine line between seeing and believing.  Yet, anyone who consistently demonstrates a pattern of integrity will eventually earn the respect of outsiders.  The woman in the account above may have heard about Elijah, but his actions won her over.  Subsequently, if you want to pursue truth beware of rhetoric.  Rather, take your time, examine the whole context and test what you hear using biblical principles to ascertain truth.

by Jay Mankus

 

Take It or Leave It

In recent years, those who live according to a secular worldview are claiming the Bible no longer applies to modern life.  Meanwhile, any law, principle or rule within the written Word of God is labeled as bigoted, discriminating and sexists.  Yet, if these skeptics actually took the time to read the Bible, individuals would begin to see the lofty expectations that exist.  Free will does not force anyone to adhere to these standards.  Rather, its up to you, take it or leave it.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:46-48.

The legal world uses an interesting term, plausible deniability.  This means that an individual can be excused from guilt, like a disclaimer or waiver.  The Bible uses a similar word to plausible deniability, amoral.  Moral refers to knowing what is right and doing it.  Immoral is the opposite, knowing what is right, but failing to obey.  Amoral comes into play when someone is held to a standard that they were never taught.  Subsequently, if you have never attended church, heard the gospel or read the Bible, you are only held accountable for that which you have been introduced.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

The purpose of this blog is to simplify the message of the Bible, take it or leave it.  The consequence of sin results in a guilty verdict from the jury.  The punishment for this crime is death, eternal separation from God.  However, the judge steps in to offer a special plea deal.  Actually, God is willing to pardon all offenders with one simple gift.  Jesus paid your bail in full, but the choice is yours, take it or leave it.  You can receive this as your own, taking ownership of faith.  You can reject it and so by live according to the world’s standards.  Or you can wait for a while, but either way, the clock is ticking.

by Jay Mankus

Making Room for God’s Servants

Churches, temples and other places of worship ask their members to pitch in.  This typically involves gifts, offerings and tithes to help maintain buildings, ministry needs and running costs.  Yet, in the early days of any congregation, sacrifices and time are crucial.  Those who see the big picture often make room for God’s servants.

She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God.  Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us,” 2 Kings 4:9-10.

In the Old Testament, there’s an account of a woman who came up with a selfless idea.  Not wanting to act alone, she shared this with her husband, convincing him to put an addition on their home.  When construction was completed, she left on open invitation to the prophet Elisha to stay whenever he was in the area.  This act of kindness was repaid by the Lord.

“About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” – 2 Kings 4:16

The symbolism of a barren woman in the Bible represents a lack of blessing from God.  Meanwhile, those who give birth to multiple children are deemed to have God’s favor.  The context of the passage above suggests this woman was well beyond the age of child bearing.  Despite this fact, Elisha promises the impossible, the miracle of a future son.  While not every kind act of repaid in full, the Lord honors those who make room for God’s servants.

by Jay Mankus

 

Divine Help

When the average person hears the name Ebenezer, many think of the character in the Christmas Carol.  The depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge as a grumpy and selfish old man taints the biblical meaning of this word.  Subsequently, few know that Ebenezer means divine help.

So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city, Genesis 23:17-18.

When Abraham’s wife died in the Old Testament, he purchases a plot of land.  The unique quality of this terrain included a large cave.  Abraham’s intent was to find a place for his entire family to be buried.  Like a private cemetery, this place became known as the cave of couples.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Several generations later, Solomon recognized the importance of having a partner.  While he took this concept too far by taking 700 wives, God revealed to Solomon the vital role of a woman.  Although modern feminists continue to argue, complain and fight for woman’s rights, those who study the Bible understand a woman is a divine helper sent by God for men to reach their full potential.

by Jay Mankus

 

Grace or No Grace

One of the best illustrations I heard for grace comes in the form of an acronym.  God’s riches at Christ’s expense.  The concept of grace refers to free and unmerited favor; something you didn’t earn or deserve.  The apostle Paul suggests there may be an occasional exemption made for a good person, but grace isn’t grace without a sacrifice.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die, Romans 5:7.

The beauty of grace comes in the form of the surprise.  You could be having the worst day of your life, on the verge of becoming a prodigal or set on rebellion.  No matter the candidate, God’s grace falls upon the worthy and unworthy.  This is where the human mind struggles to grasp this concept as the grace which people extend on earth is often based upon results.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

This mindset produces the thought, “grace or no grace.”  This selfish desire turns selective, forgiving those whom you like while holding grudges against those you despise.  Human nature feeds this desire as grace is only offered to family, friends and the deserving.  May the words of the passage above guide hearts and minds in the right direction, to love and forgive others just as Jesus did for you and me.

by Jay Mankus