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Lady Poverty

I heard an interesting sermon last weekend on a topic previously unknown to me.  A priest was giving a summary of the life of Saint Francis.  Born into a wealthy family, Francis was torn between the pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps and his faith.  According to a 13th century eye witness. Francis took off his clothes in public, stripping down until he was naked, giving his possessions to the poor.  This act demonstrated Francis’ rejection of the world while placing his sole trust in his heavenly father.  This leap of faith inspired the Lady Poverty movement resulting in amazing servants like Mother Teresa.

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you,” Leviticus 25:35.

Francis of Assisi traveled to the Vatican hoping to get a meeting with the Pope.  The goal was to gain support from Rome so tht Francis’ calling would not be some rogue movement.  Unfortunately, Francis’ first attempt failed, unable to get the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Years later Francis wrote a famous letter to Clare which led to his second visit to Rome.  This time Francis was successful, getting the Pope’s blessing to start the Lady Poverty movement which still exists today.  While I’m not encouraging people to literally follow in Francis’ footsteps, tackling poverty concerns in your area should suffice.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? – 1 John 3:17.

The passage above should speak to every heart.  While poverty may be hidden in some neighbors, a growing number of busy intersections are filled with people with signs begging for food or money at red lights.  Although this may be a public nuisance in the eyes of local politicians, its a sad reality of broken families and people who have no one to help them in their time of need.  The Bible eludes to Christians as the hands and feet of Christ.  Yet, as cars continue to look the other away, passing by the poor suggests that the Lady Poverty movement is dying.  In view of this, may hearts, minds and souls be drawn to lend a helping hand when you have the opportunity to give.

by Jay Mankus

Not Just a Guess

I have grown to appreciate the Amplified Bible this year.  While this translation of Scripture can be confusing upon first sight, this version gives you a full perspective of the context in which each book and verse was written.  Although you may choose to use your favorite commentary while studying the Bible, I don’t have to guess when I read the Amplified Bible.  What makes this version unique is that all the possibly translations from Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew into English are provided in italics.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses], Hebrews 11:1.

Given the title of the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11 records the triumphs of faith throughout the history of the Bible.  This chapter details godly men and women who walked by faith, not by sight.  These individuals did not guess.  Rather, each was filled with an assurance not of this world.  Like a deed to a title, hope was divinely guaranteed by promises made throughout the Old Testament.  This conviction directed, guided and steered these souls to spiritual heights that the world still struggles to comprehend.

By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible, Hebrews 11:3.

The greatest feature of any faith is the enduring confidence that one possesses.  While doubts will appear from time to time, those who have decided to follow Jesus are often filled with divine power.  This inherent trust arrives during periods of hardship and trials, sending hope on dark days.  According to the apostle Paul, faith begins when people hear or read the Bible, Romans 10:17.  If you’re tired of going through life guessing, may the Holy Spirit nudge you to take a leap of faith.  God willing, you will soon possess the confidence mentioned in 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

An Imperfect Process

During a recent writing session, a friend asked me how I have been able to write over 2000 blog posts.  After a pausing a moment, the hardest part is making sure you don’t repeat yourself.  Coming up with new content is an imperfect process, trial and error filled with as many failures as success.  Some of my personal favorites end up bombing with little views with mediocre posts often receiving surprising interest.  Yet, some never make the final cut, deleted, erased or put on hold until the timing is right.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written, John 21:25.

During a seminary class on the New Testament, I discovered the 66 books of the Bible had a similar process.  The Council of Jamnia was held in Yavneh sometime around 90 AD to canonize the 39 books of the modern Old Testament.  Some of Solomon’s Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom were excluded from this list.  Meanwhile, the council of Nicaea met in 325 to complete the same process for first century epistles inspired by Jesus for the New Testament.  Two letters written by the apostle Paul to Corinth were left off, not deemed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Thus, when you read the letters to the Corinthians, you only have half the story.  On one occasion, the apostle Paul received disturbing news about the spiritual regression of new Christians living in Corinth.  Paul was so upset that a spirit of angry filled one of this excluded letters.  Perhaps, after proof reading his words, Paul was consumed with guilt, deciding not to send this it with a messenger.  This story serves as a teachable moment to think before you speak, reflect before you hit send or exercise self-discipline when your frustrated.  While every writer strives for perfection, imperfect people do their best to share what God puts on their hearts.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

You Might Want to Check This Out

Whenever a student enters their first semester of high school or college, transitioning to this next level can be difficult.  Some professors and teachers understand this, providing subtle hints during lectures.  The more serious might exclaim, “what aren’t you writing this down.”  Meanwhile, savvy veterans tend to be more entertaining, coughing in gest “this seems like a good test question,” winking to anyone paying attention.  Ultimately, I learned that anytime facts, information or statistics were repeated, it was something I should definitely study.

If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:43-44.

During a first century speech to his disciples, Jesus repeats the same sentence almost verbatim three times.  The subtext above this passage in my Bible reads Dire Warnings,  I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious, but you might want to check into this beginning with Mark 9:44.  Since the previous verse mentions hell, this statement refers to an eternal reality.  From a literal stand point, Jesus highlights a constant gnawing on human flesh in a place without any escape from fire.  Jesus’ dire warning is to scare souls straight from this state of eternal suffering.

If your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It would be better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell, 46 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:45-46

Jesus’ advice to avoid this destination is through the Old Testament practice of purging.  While Jesus isn’t telling people to physical remove parts of your body, the actual call to action refers to removing the source of temptation within your life.  For an alcoholic its getting rid of any beverages that might cause you to stumble.  Those addicted to pornographic must place filters on computers, cancel mail subscriptions and remove all magazines that promotes lust.  Everyone has a weakness.  There is no such thing as a superman or super woman.  Rather, each must meditate, pray and act immediately upon conviction so that any traces of temptation are removed.  May you be successful in this constant battle to avoid the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

Flying Blind

From time to time, pilots will face extreme conditions.  During periods of heavy fog, misty skies or massive storms, aircrafts will be flying blind.  Under these circumstances, navigators are forced to rely on their instruments to get safely back to the ground.  Unfortunately, when human beings are thrust into similar scenarios on earth, computers aren’t much of a help.

While He was passing by, He noticed a man [who had been] blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi (Teacher), who [a]sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but it was so that the works of God might be displayed and illustrated in him, John 9:1-3.

Over the past month, I have been writing blind, struggling to see the letters on my keyboard.  Due to a recent flare up, my iritis has blurred my vision, turning each blog post into a chore.  Subsequently, the quality of my content has suffered, doing the best I can with the current state of my eyes.  Nonetheless, the Lord has given me the courage to press on, sharing what the Holy Spirit continues to place on my heart.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

According to the apostle Paul, Satan has the ability to blind human minds.  As people rush through busy schedules, minds can become distracted, flying blind through life.  While pilots have advances technology to lean on in adverse conditions, the Bible refers to spiritual weapons available for believers in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Although not mentioned by name, this passage eludes to fasting, claiming the promises of the Bible in prayer and worship.  Therefore, the next time you feel like you’re flying blind, make sure you take the time to arm yourself with spiritual weapons to

and the powers of darkness in this world.

by Jay Mankus

 

Somebody’s Watching You

Hollywood was been warning individuals for years through movies that somebody is watching you.  In 1995 Sandra Bullock starred in The Net, illustrating computer security concerns of the world wide net in this cyber murder mystery.  Three years later Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight took this concept further in Enemy of the State highlighting how satellites and technological advances can be used to spy on American citizens.  Twenty years later, Google, Facebook and tracking devices have made this fear a reality, using cell phones and tablets to actually track where you are and what you’re saying if certain features aren’t turned off.  While the popularity of social media continues to climb, many have become distracted, unaware that somebody is watching you.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good, Proverbs 15:3.

From a spiritual sense, the somebody who is watching your every move is the Creator of the heavens and earth.  The biblical term for this supernatural ability is omnipresence.  According to various authors who have written books describing judgment day, this data is collected over the course of each life.  After you die, every deed is made into a movie reel as your entire life flashes before your eyes.  Following this presentation, God separates the sheep, followers of Jesus from goats, those who rejected God by their actions, behavior and deeds.  If this process does occur, this serves as a warning for the world to shape up by giving your life to Jesus before your hourglass of time runs out on earth.

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord, Jeremiah 23:24.

After wandering away from the Lord during my first semester of college, I came to my senses feeling empty by what the world had to offer.  Through Christian groups on the University of Delaware campus, I went through what I call my spiritual rehab.  On one occasion I was introduced to the word integrity.  A friend illustrated this in terms of doing what’s right when nobody is looking.  This image should be the mindset for all modern day Christians.  For some reason, human nature makes people believe darkness or secrecy can hide sins from God.  However, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah exposes this false notion.  In view of this truth, may the Holy Spirit fill you with integrity so that as God watches your deeds will be pleasing in His sight.

by Jay Mankus

Voices from the Grave

After spending a long weekend enjoying the warmth of Florida, the remaining days of my family vacation served a different purpose.  My wife’s father bought a condo back in the 1990’s when her brother JD was pursuing a career as a professional golfer.  Following my marriage proposal to Leanne, I spent a winter living in Florida with JD to fulfill my own dream.  With the passing of Jim Wagner last fall, it was time to clean out everything that has accumulated over the past 25 years.  Before putting this property on the market, sorting through what was left behind was necessary and to my surprise like hearing voices from the grave.

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead, James 2:26.

When death separates the living from the deceased, one of the few things you have remaining are the memories of your time together on earth.  Two of my visits to Oldsmar, Florida were business trips, serving as a staff writer for Travel Golf Media.  One of the perks of this job was playing golf for free along with a photographer.  Thus, Jim and Leanne took turns helping me, saving several hundreds of dollars in greens fees in the process.  While going through a closest I found several hats, a golf shirt and score cards from these memorable rounds of golf.  Upon seeing these items, it was like hearing Jim’s voice again saying, “thanks for a great round!”

And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead,” Matthew 8:22.

The hardest part about coping with death is letting go.  Some mourning individuals create a memorial in their homes with letters, pictures or clothing worn by this loved one.  Meanwhile, deadly accidents have crosses or wreaths to remind you of the fallen.  Yet, at some point you have to move on.  During a discussion with potential candidates, Jesus urged eager disciples to let the dead bury their own dead.  Jesus isn’t trying to be cruel or harsh.  Essentially, Jesus is commanding his followers to focus on the living, those near you who need your help.  Therefore, if you want to leave your own legacy take Jesus’ advice so that your actions may serve as voices from the grave after you are gone.

by Jay Mankus