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What Have You Died For Me Lately?

If the media could only see the foolishness of their standards.  A politician may be the greatest leader in the world only to have their legacy ruined, magnified by a single poor decision broadcasted over and over again.  One professional athlete may be on the verge of being the greatest of all time until one bad performance causes supporters to boo.  Meanwhile, successful business men and women are being fired for a few careless words, sharing their world views on touchy subjects.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, Hebrews 6:3-4.

This absurd trend reminds me of what the Bible refers to as the Passion Week.  The week before Jesus’ death on a cross, the masses were.shouting out praises.  “You’re amazing, the best, greatest and wonderful!”  Seven days later, peer pressure turned these cheers into shouts of “crucify Him!”  In other words, what have you done for me lately?   If you haven’t, then you are as good as dead, part of yesterday’s news.

And who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:5.

The author of Hebrews brings up an interesting angle to this discussion.  Essentially, there were Jewish Christians who were perverting God’s grace in the late first century.  Subsequently, Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t enough to stop their sinful ways.  Rather, grace was a convenient crutch to lean on, a Get Out of Sin free card.  Turning the tables over in regards to their earthly temple, bodies, Hebrews turns up the heat, suggesting each blatant sin is like crucifying Jesus all over again.  Therefore, it’s not what have you died for me lately; Jesus died once and for all, for all sin.  Thus, go now and leave your life of sin.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” – John 8:10-11

by Jay Mankus

 

A House of Prayer

In this competitive climate, churches are thinking outside the box to attract perspective families and individuals.  One of the latest trends involves offering guests a cafe, food court or cook out to influence people to attend.  Those with more resources may host a week long carnival, summer camp or vacation Bible school to sway those on the fence to join.  Yet, beyond all this window dressing, each congregation should be a house of prayer.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts, Mark 11:15-16.

Perhaps the first century Jews overlooked this fact, turning God’s temple into a Flea Market.  Sometimes funds are low causing leadership to develop alternative views.  Thus, instead of trusting God to supernaturally provide, temple leaders looked toward the world.  Based upon the reaction of the chief priests, their hearts had become hardened, trying to get rid of their main critic.

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.” – Mark 11:17.

Any type of competition can take your eyes off of your main purpose.  Unfortunately, during my time as a youth pastor, I lost sight of the fact the church is a house of prayer.  Sure, its nice to be wooed with creative ideas.  Nonetheless, prayer is what will change the hearts of men and woman.  Therefore, as you search for a church to call home, make sure prayer is a core principle, practiced inside and outside its doors.

by Jay Mankus

What Is Causing So Many To Pull the Trigger?

In the hours following the latest mass shooting, it’s hard to believe that Thursday night’s tragedy at a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater is becoming a normal occurrence.  Although the scene may vary between a business, mall or school, the outcome is the same, leaving behind a trail of death, injuries and scarred souls.  These weekly acts make me wonder “what’s causing these individual’s to pull the trigger?”

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them, 1 John 2:15.

The alarmist might blame this on Shoot Em Up Video games.  Psychologists may point toward stress, troubled emotions or unsettled issues from the past.  Preachers will likely reference a culture turning away from God, a sign of the end of days.  Yet, something inside of me thinks demons are preying on vulnerable hearts and minds searching for a way to take out their frustrations on a life that hasn’t turned out the way they hoped.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world, 1 John 2:16.

Though no one will know the actual answer until this is revealed in heaven or on Judgement Day, it’s difficult for me not to overlook powers of darkness.  Cain killed his brother over jealousy.  David planned the death of Uriah out of lust for a married woman.  Judas Iscariot committed suicide brought on by guilt.  If all this happened in the past, why isn’t it logical to believe that spirits are planting seeds of evil inside human beings.  While not every situation is the Devil’s fault, fleshly desires, pride and worldly influences all play a role in causing individual to exercise free will by pulling the trigger.

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever, 1 John 2:17.

by Jay Mankus

 

When the Truth is Silenced

If you have ever traveled to a foreign country, not every place you visit is safe.  Depending upon freedom of the press that exists, certain key elements, information or issues may be withheld, sugarcoating the truth.  Thus, whether you are a citizen, resident or just passing by, the message communicated in newspapers or portrayed on television may not be true.  As political correctness redefines daily coverage of the news, the truth of specific matters is often silenced.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

The Bible is no longer a moral compass to reference in America.  Nor is the Ten Commandments a measuring stick since its offensive to those who hold other worldviews.  Rather, a New Age is being introduced to public education through Common Core, where there is more than one answer to a question.  Subsequently, truth is now relative, silencing ethical and moral truths of the past.

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

This topic reminds me of a classic Memorex commercial.  Sometimes technology can be used to deceive individuals from reality.  Films like Enemy of the State, The Net and Live Free or Die Hard illustrate how breeches in security can collapse an entire nation.  In addition, laws like Net Neutrality do the opposite of what they claim, actually silencing the truth rather than defending it.  In view of these signs of the end of days, may the Holy Spirit protect you from lies by clinging to God’s truth.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Shaken

Confidence is something that is not always visible, especially in those who are guarded, laid back and stoic.  However, competitors have a keen sense when someone is about to crumble, like a shark drawn to blood in the water.  Whether its displayed through body language, fear in someone’s eyes or a loss of composure, these warning signals empower opponents to press on toward victory.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

This is what makes sports fascinating for me to watch.  Regardless of the sport, every season possesses at least one shocking upset, unthinkable initially until momentum causes the confidence of an individual or team to be shaken.  While most recover the following day or season, some never reach their full potential, permanently damaged from this life altering event.

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught, Proverbs 3:26.

The same can be said about careers, jobs and positions in life.  You may find a dream job where you flourish, maximizing your God-given talents.  However, new leadership, management or ownership changes your job description, finds someone to replace you or eliminates your department completely.  This reality has impacted many Americans resulting in shattered confidence and broken dreams.

I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me, Galatians 2:20.

To recover requires prayer, a support system and mental toughness similar to the early church.  After Jesus died, his twelve disciples were on the verge on disbanding.  However, the resurrection transformed these men, restoring their confidence and emboldening their faith.  If this blog finds you down in the dumps, may the promise of the resurrection lift your spirits as you attempt to regain the confidence that you’ve lost from prior disappointments.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back After Rejection

“There is nothing in this life that can destroy you but yourself. Bad things happen to everyone, but when they do, you can’t just fall apart and die. You have to fight back. If you don’t, you’re the one who loses in the end. But if you do keep going and fight back, you win.” – Alexandra Monir

For a scientist, trial and error is merely a series of experiments to ascertain whether or not your theory is correct.  Thomas Edison didn’t give up after ten, one hundred or one thousand failed tests.  Rather, he pressed on, bouncing back after countless rejections to invent the light bulb.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:12-13.

In today’s climate, you have to be mentally tough to survive.  The best baseball hitters in history only succeeded thirty three percent of the time.  Perfectionists would never survive this degree of failure.  Thus, perspective is crucial to mustering up the strength to carry on.

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded, 2 Chronicles 15:7.

Last weekend I received my third rejection letter in the past four years in my quest to become a professional screenwriter.  My first movie, Express Yourself never had a chance, not knowing the proper format to get noticed.  The second, Behind the Devil’s Door was better, yet after submitting it I realized the flaw of my conclusion.  Sometimes I wonder if I should continue with my third, Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door or invest my time in something else.  Despite thoughts of doubt, I can’t quit until I feel like I’ve done everything in my power to make this dream a reality.  Therefore, regardless of the adversity that you endure, ask God to give you the faith to bounce back following rejection.

by Jay Mankus

Finding and Losing Friends

For any child, the first day of school can be overwhelming.  Thoughts of “will I know anyone, will they like me and will there be someone I can relate to” can haunt the quiet and shy.  Beside hoping to have good teachers, most kids just want to know will I find, keep or lose friends this year?

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

Looking back on my own life, I have been blessed on finding friends, yet cursed by losing friends, often through moves.  I found my first friend while playing baseball at age six only to lose him a year later following my dad’s transfer to Delaware.  This pattern seemed to repeat itself, drawing close to several neighbors before another relocation to Cleveland broke my heart once again.  After graduating college, I lived in 6 states and 6 months, finding and losing friends to distance.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel, Proverbs 27:9.

Today, technology allows individuals to rekindle friendships from the past.  Whether its Facebook, Skype or texting, its nice to know that people you’ve lost touch with still care.  However, its not the same as talking on the phone or seeing someone face to face.  Regardless of who you are or what you do, finding and losing friends is a way of life.  Nonetheless, my prayer for those whom I hold dear is that one day we will be reunited forever in heaven, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

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