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Minds over Matters

 

In 1972 the United Negro College Fund adopted the slogan “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Since this decision other organizations have used this saying to stress the importance of education, knowledge and learning.  However, is there ever a time when minds interfere with matters in life?

These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ, Colossians 2:17.

C.S. Lewis introduces the term diabolical pride within a chapter in Mere Christianity.  While attitude, arrogance and egos are a sign of confidence, success can go to one’s head.  Subsequently, individuals can become narcissitic, blinded by pride.  This character flaw essentially prevents people from considering the advice, opinions and wisdom from others.

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind, Colossians 2:18.

Perhaps this topic inspired the words of the apostle Paul within a letter to Christians in Corinth.  Similar to religious leaders steeped in tradition, minds can become puffed up by idle notions.  In the end, relative matters are ignored due to ignorant minds influenced by worldly philosophies.  Instead of recognizing the obvious, minds have a habit of getting in the way, preventing the masses from seeing what truly matters in life.  Wake up today before your mind forgets what is truly important.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Working Hand of God

Whether you are an artist, architect or designer, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  In the early stages of any project, its hard to visualize the direction and progress an individual is making.  Yet, time has a way of shaping the horizon, unveiling blind eyes to the Creator of this world.

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, Colossians 2:11.

Unfortunately, I find myself in a transitional phase, a moment when my calling is a mystery to me, vague and unclear.  During these periods of darkness, the hand of God on your life is invisible.  Like a storm cloud shading the sun, sometimes days turn into night.  Although the hand of God is at work, a lack of progress can make people feel like their life doesn’t have any rhyme or reason.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:6.

According to Acts 16, the apostle Paul was arrested for healing a slave girl oppressed by a spirit during a visit to Philippi.  While behind bars, Paul was not able to see the hand of God at work initially.  However, following an earthquake, Paul realized this trial occurred so that he would be able to meet and lead the prison guard along with his family to Christ.  This event inspired the works above in Philippians 1:6.  In view of this, as you struggle to make sense of trying times, don’t forget that behind the scenes the hand of the Lord is at work.

by Jay Mankus

Fullness or Unfulfilled?

While many Americans may not be as wealthy as they wish, some local restaurants offer buffets, all you can eat when you are hungry.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the discipline to stop when I’m full.  Rather, I gorge myself, eating more in a one sitting than a child living in a third world nation eats in a week.  Thus, I find myself full, yet unfulfilled.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, Colossians 2:9.

I started 2016 losing 20 pounds in the month of January, only to regain 10 this past month.  The human body is tough to manage, craving food but making those who lack discipline to feel shame and regret.  God promises to provide daily bread, enough money to take care of and feed your family.  Yet, there must be something else as when I taste the pleasures of life I often leave empty and unsatisfied.

And in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority, Colossians 2:10.

The apostle Paul writes to members of the church in Corinth struggling with a similar issue.  The conclusion he draws is that no matter hard someone tries to possess an abundant life, its futile without Jesus.  In your quest to become full, many leave the faith unfulfilled.  Thus, if you ever reach this state, listen to words of the passage above.  Reach out to Christ in prayer and God can make you both full and fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

Fact Checkers

Sometimes you find yourself stuck in a place with no where else to go.  You may be in a room full of people with whom you disagree, a guest at a table taking part if a foreign topic of conversation or at a restaurant with a television on airing an opinion that floors you.  This is the setting that I found myself in, forced to observe CNN analysts pick apart Melania Trump’s speech like gossiping teenage girls tearing apart their enemies.  Its ironic that these same fact checkers have been asleep the last 7 years, turning a blind eye to the current administration that they worship.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged, Matthew 7:1.”

While everyone is entitled to their opinions, the fact is no one is worthy enough to cast the first stone.  Sure, the average American citizen has their moment of integrity, doing the right thing when no one is looking, but how long does this stage of conviction last?  If enough individuals stood up for fairness, justice and righteousness, police officers would be needed as much as they are today.  The sad reality of these times is the media is exempt from scrutiny for the most part, trashing whoever or whatever movement that gets in their way.  Just ask Tea Party members who are marginalized despite their impressive grass roots movement.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, Matthew 7:2.

The only positive step forward is to put into practice the closing remarks of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.  The next time you have the urge to criticize, condemn or complain, take the plank out of your own eyes first.  Perhaps, once you’ve gotten your life in order, there will be opportunities to correct others.  Yet, for now its time to look into the mirror and see what’s out of place within us.  The closer one gets to God, the greater sin appears, causing the apostle Paul to suggest “he’s the greatest sinner of all.”  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, meaning the further away you slide, the better you feel about yourself.  May a spirit of conviction fall upon future fact checkers before any further words roll off their tongue.  Look within before you point out the flaws in others.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Do You Go From Here?

Everyone will hit that proverbial bump in the road at some point in life.  This moment of inconvenience could be a quick pit stop, a rough stretch or turn into a dead end.  If the latter is you, its hard to start over, especially if you’re not sure where to go from here.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

Upon receiving the news of my most recent rejection from Hollywood, fourth in five years, I’m starting to have second thoughts on my writing career.  Part of me truly believed my latest script Dragged Behind the Devil’ s Door would be a box office hit, but now that reality is setting in I wonder if I’m on the right track or simply chasing some improbable fantasy.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13.

Perhaps the apostle Paul went through a similar phase during his first century mission trips throughout the Middle East.  Instead of seeing progress, Paul experienced failure, persecution and suffering.  While writing a letter to one of his favorite churches, Paul had a vision that gave him direction for the last portion of his life.  May the words above serve as a message of hope to those ready to give up, quit or abandon your calling.  Although I’m not sure what role writing will play in the next stage of my life, I need to forget past disappointments by straining toward what is ahead, eternal life with Christ my Lord.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Death of Professional Sports

In the 1996 film Jerry McGuire, Tom Cruise plays a hot shot sports agents who begins to develop a conscience.  When a defense men in the National Hockey League that he represents sustains another concussion, Cruise chooses money over his clients health.  Seeing right through this scheme, the son goes off on Jerry, setting the stage for conviction.  Unable to sleep with his guilt, McGuire has a vision which turns into a mission statement.  Unfortunately, this decision leads to his firing from the firm he practically built.  This mentality no longer exists just in Hollywood.  Rather, its a sign that the death of professional sports is near.

The way most leagues are run today, labor unions seek to get each player top dollar.  However, as salaries rise so do season ticket prices, parking and stadium concessions.  At some point, the annual income of fans will be tapped out; unable to commit to a full season.  Meanwhile, as stars continue to be insulted by excessive million dollar contracts not big enough for their ego, when will the masses begin to revolt?  Although I love watching sports on television, I see a day in the future when even I will tune out professional sports.

Back in its infancy, athletes worked jobs during the off-season as sports were more of a hobby with little pay.  This generation of stars played for the love of the game.  These pioneers made it possible for today’s athletes to flourish, earning more money than their wildest dreams.  Unfortunately, when individuals become bigger than life they lose touch with the middle class.  I try not to be negative, but if this current trend continues, it won’t be long before professional sports dies.

by Jay Mankus

 

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