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Category Archives: Truth

More Than Just A Ditch

If you have ever visited Palm Springs, California, you will see a series of concrete channels.  While this desert region only receives between 2-5 inches of rainfall annually, these man made ditches serve a purpose.  When the rare storm hits this area, water quickly runs off of the surrounding San Jacinto mountains into the Coachella Valley.  Without these flood canals, portions of the city would be washed away.  Although an eye sore to residents and visitors at times, the construction of these ditches collect and restore water levels to this oasis in southern California.

But now bring me a harpist.” While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha 16 and he said, “This is what the Lord says: I will fill this valley with pools of water. 17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink, 2 Kings 3:15-17.

During the reign of  Jehoshaphat, the prophet Elisha visits the king of Judea.  Asking for a musician, the melody of a harpist inspires a prophecy from the Lord.  Unusual at first, God commands Judea to dig at ditch in the middle of a desert.  Void of air conditioning and state of the art construction equipment, citizens began this project by hand and whatever tools available.  Similar to the springs underneath the desert in California, water began to fill each ditch dug.  When God asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense, sometimes you have to exercise your faith until you see the benefits of your hard labor.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable, Romans 11:29.

Unfortunately, many people don’t receive special gifts or unique callings.  Rather, you have to grind your way through life, often blindly trusting God through confusing and dark periods.  Like Dory’s character in the Finding Nemo film, instead of following her just keep swimming command, God wants his followers to keep digging.  This may get boring from time to time, but you never know when you are going to hit gold.  Therefore, keep the faith as what God is doing through you is more than just digging a ditch.  As long as you remain faithful, springs of joy are bound to rise up at any moment.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Use the Force of the Holy Spirit

In the context of Star Wars, the force is a metaphysical and ubiquitous power.  King Kayos is the first character to utter the expression, “may the force be with you.”  To awaken a certain kind of spirituality within his audience, George Lucas uses the concept of dualism to illustrate two opposing powers.  While the Jedi utilize the light side of the force, the Sith exploit the dark side, setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil for dominance in the universe.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him, Mark 1:12-13.

Descending from heaven to restore what Adam lost, Luke 19:10, Jesus is sent to earth by God the Father to complete a secret mission.  When the timing was right, Jesus followed the force of the Holy Spirit.  This calling drew Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, similar to Jedi’s led to spend time with Yoda, training to prepare for future battles.  While in the desert, Jesus fasted and prayed, using the power of the Holy Spirit to prepare his heart, soul and mind for a three year ministry on earth.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

After completing God’s will, Jesus died on a cross, rose from the dead and ascended back into heaven.  Prior to his exit from earth, Jesus spent forty days, relaying a great commission for his disciples to carry out.  Today, followers of Jesus are still seeking to complete the instructions found in Matthew 28:18-20.  To help us on this journey, the apostle Paul provides further directions in the passage above to guide individuals along the way.  Therefore, if you’re not sure where to go or what to do, cry out to the Lord so that the force of the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf to guide you toward the light and away from Satan’s darkness.  Use the force daily, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

The Hunger for Healing

When a doctor, diagnosis or science renders a decision about a dire condition, there are typically two common responses.  The initial one results in grief, pity and sorrow, especially if you hear those dreaded words, “there’s nothing I can do.”  The latter is often found in fighters who ignore the obvious by clinging to a higher power, praying for the impossible.  When life deals you a losing hand, my question to you is how great is your hunger for healing?

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was, Mark 1:32-34.

The gospels of Mark and John highlight the degree of hunger necessary to usher in miracles from heaven.  The first passage takes place after Jesus performs his first miracle in the city of Capernaum.  Casting out a demon from a Jewish man at the local synagogue, a light bulb went off in the minds of several eye witnesses.  Whether this was verbalized or not, the citizens of this small town began to think, “if this man can cast out a demon, surely Jesus can heal me as well.”  After sunset everyone in town gathered outside Simon Peter’s house.  Despite the darkness outside, a sense of urgency grew within these desperate hearts, seeking healing today, not tomorrow.  Although some may have waited past midnight, this hunger was rewarded through a series of healings.

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me,” John 5:5-7.

The second encounter begins with pessimism.  Anyone who has endured the same condition for 38 years without receiving an answer to prayer can lose hope.  Perhaps, this explains the conversation Jesus has with this depressed individual.  Like a doctor examining a patient, Jesus gets to the point, “do you want to be healed?”  This man is symbolic of many Americans today, wanting to be healed, yet offering up good excuses to explain why their condition has not improved.  Nonetheless, Jesus shows compassion and grace, restoring this man’s ability to walk.  While some theologians will say its not in God’s will for everyone to be healed on earth, the spiritual appetite that you display can help you beat the odds by stirring heaven’s angels to perform a miracle in your life.  Don’t give up; don’t ever give up hope in the power of Jesus’ name!

by Jay Mankus

Watch Out for Parasites

Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea star in the 2008 film Fireproof.  Cameron plays Caleb Holt, the captain of a local fire station who has allowed his job and pornography addiction to ruin his marriage.  After his wife files for divorce, Caleb is sent a diary called the Forty Day Challenge by his father to help save his marriage.  On day 23, the theme is watch out for parasites.  These words convict Caleb of this bad habit, prompting him to destroy his computer with an aluminum baseball hat.  This moving clip should urge individuals to begin to examine their own lives to see if any parasites are currently on the prowl.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism.  These minute creatures feed off of its host, deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.  Similar to a leech which feeds off of human blood, these pests can drain, sap and wear on your soul.  If action is not immediately taken, parasites will destroy, kill or steal any joy that you have for life.  In an analogy about a shepherd watching over his sheep, Jesus refers to a thief who seeks the destruction of others.  This is what parasites do, taking pleasure in feasting on the exploits of others.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If you read passages like Job 1, Satan is a spiritual parasite who relies on demons to do his dirty work.  Spirits of depression, fear and loneliness cause individuals to drift apart from their support systems.  Once isolated, demonic parasites prey on these troubled souls, resulting in tragedies like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  After talking to his lawyer, Nikolas Cruz confessed to acting upon voices within his mind to shoot up his former school.  While the national media’s attention is focused on banning guns and addressing mental illness, no one is talking about the powers of darkness that inspired this senseless act.  May this week’s unfortunate events serve as a warning to watch out for parasites.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Mental Health: Exploring What Well-Being Means

According to preliminary reports, Nikolas Cruz was suffering from mental health issues before entering a Parkland Florida high school with a gun on Valentine’s Day.  Some people close to the family believe the death of his adopted mother last year only worsened his condition.  Perhaps, this might explain behavioral problems that resulted in the expulsion from two private schools.  Yet, if mental health refers to a level of psychological well-being, what does this really mean?

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Who determines what level of behavior or emotion is satisfactory and what is unsatisfactory?  Depending upon the measurement or standard applied, experts might come to different conclusions.  Another factor relates to the role that faith and religion should play in this discussion.  On a recent episode of the View, Joy Behar mocked vice-president’s Mike Pence’s Christian faith.  Behar believes that anyone who hears God speak to them either through Bible Study or prayer is a sign of mental illness.  This comment received laughter and applause from the audience.  Sadly, no one is laughing days after 17 people were killed with more in critical condition in south Florida hospitals.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ, Colossians 2:8.

The Bible uses a two part process to decipher mental health from mental illness.  According to the apostle Paul, those who dwell and focus on spiritual things experience peace of mind.  Meanwhile, those who reflect upon earthly cravings lead to unfulfilled lives, void of purpose and meaning.  Anyone who falls into this second catalog is vulnerable to human traditions and philosophies of the world.  In a recent confession, Nikolas Cruz said he acted upon the demons in his mind, a byproduct of his obsession with guns and violent video games.  Therefore, if you want to alter your current state, set your heart and mind on things above.  This is accomplished through daily Bible study, fellowship with other believers and prayer.  May a desire to exercise this practice elevate the well-being of your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

A Glimpse of Insanity

On October 21st, 2007 Kyle Walker was suspended from a New Jersey school.  This seven year old had been a bad boy, drawing a stick figure of a gun.  This act violated the school board’s zero-tolerance policy when Kyle’s picture was seen by another student on his bus. Amid mounting pressure from atheist groups and concerned parents, Orange County public schools in Florida banned the Bible from being distributed to students according to a January 14th, 2015 article.  Surely, the presence of absolutes upon which this country was founded is too offensive for progressive minds to handle.  Meanwhile, football coaches Gary Weiss of Catalina High School and Joe Kennedy of Bremerton, Washington were each fired for standing up for their players rights to pray before and after each game.  Not willing to be silenced by administrators, these men lost their jobs for following what each believed to be good, right and true.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

These are just a few examples of what public education is trying to teach millennials.  Based upon these four accounts, what are students really learning.  First, guns are bad, even if a kindergarten shows an interest in hunting by drawing an image of a stick gun.  Second, the Bible is a dangerous book.  This piece of literature reflects a period of American history that many current leaders are ashamed of, attempting to right the wrongs of the past.  Finally, the first amendment does not apply to prayer.  Any administrator, coach or teacher who seeks to express their faith in the form of prayer will be punished, reprimanded and in recent cases lose their jobs.  When you add up all of these teachable moments, I am beginning to see a glimpse of insanity as right has become wrong and wrong has become right.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him, James 1:5.

Thus, as you hear, see or read updates on February 14th’s school shooting at a Parkland high school in South Florida, keep this mind.  In the next few days, guns will be blamed for Nikolas Cruz’ shooting rampage that has killed 17 with more in critical condition.  As facts begin to surface, this young man had been kicked out of two private schools prior to be kicked out of a third, the one he re-entered on Valentine’s Day.  I’m not sure about security for a school of over 3000 students, but I’m sure measures will be taken to prevent future attacks.  The high school that my two boys have attended have a cop car parked outside the front and only entrance.  Meanwhile, the doors are locked as visitors can only enter the school through the main office.  When one student exercises freewill by giving into evil desires, common sense doesn’t apply.  Thus, as you begin to form your own beliefs about this shooting, don’t overlook the obvious.  When absolutes are de-emphasized and replaced by opinions, the door is opened for a glimpse of insanity to enter public schools.

by Jay Mankus

Whose Hands Are You Holding?

Assurance, confidence, dependence and expectation are words associated with trust.  Human beings have a tendency to become co-dependent, relying on someone or something.  In the Peanuts Cartoon, Charles Schultz developed a character, Linus, who couldn’t function without his security blanket.  Meanwhile, some individuals can be insecure, clinging to family, friends or strangers when loneliness sets in.  Depending upon the circumstance, whose hands you hold during times of trials reflect whom you ultimately trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

One day, a father took his son aside to discuss an important life lesson.  This conversation is condensed in the passage above.  Solomon who received wisdom from the Lord passed his insight down to one of his many sons.  This command goes against mainstream beliefs, urging readers to hold God’s hand when you don’t understand why something is happening.  Like faith in the dark, when life takes unexpected twists and turns, trust in the Lord with all your heart.  This action suggests that you are all in, clinging to God’s hand.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! – Psalm 40:4

Solomon’s father, David, provides his own perspective of trust in the passage above.  From a man who went from a lowly shepherd to king of Israel, David recognizes God’s role in his ascension to the throne.  David views his status as a blessing from trusting the Lord as a child.  Unfortunately, some people handle success poorly, boasting and taking all the credit themselves.  If you want to guard against arrogance and pride, make sure that you are holding God’s hand, looking up instead of trusting in your own understanding.

by Jay Mankus