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Category Archives: Truth

The Lie that Leads to Death

Every time I watch It’s a Wonderful Life I discover something new.  As I listened to a conversation between George Bailey played by James Stewart and Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), God revealed to me a spiritual truth.  After Uncle Billy loses $8000 at the bank, George panics, begging Mr. Potter for a loan.  A series of questions during this exchange leads Mr. Potter to proclaim, “George, you worth more dead than alive,” referring to George’s fifteen thousand dollar life insurance policy.  These words lead George to contemplate jumping off a bridge to save his family from experiencing bankruptcy.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14.

In the 1985 comedy Better Off Dead, John Cusack plays Lane Meyer, a high school skier who get’s dumped by his girlfriend.  Desperately trying to win Amanda (Beth Truss) back, a series of stunts go unnoticed.  While everyone in his family is succeeding, Lane sees himself as a failure.  With his only friend a nerd, Lane comes to the conclusion that he would be better off dead, then people would miss him.  At the time, watching someone attempt suicide unsuccessfully day after day seemed funny.  What I realized last night is suicide is the lie from the Devil that leads to death.

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

During my days as a junior high student,  I was a mess.  My mood swings were volatile, usually more down than up.  Since I lived for the moment, living and dying with the outcome of every sporting event that I competed in, I experienced emotions like a roller coaster ride.  Depression influenced me to believe that I too would be better off dead.  After devising a plan, I changed my mind when a friend from school beat me to it, hanging himself.  While I haven’t had an angelic encounter like George Bailey, the thought of suicide blinds you from realizing the gift of life is wonderful.  May this blog help you expose the lie that leads to death.

by Jay Mankus

 

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I Wouldn’t Trade Things For the World

My wife’s oldest living relative is ninety nine.  Up until six years ago, Aunt Peg hosted a Thanksgiving Day celebration at her home in Kewanee, Illinois.  Every other Thanksgiving served as a reunion for the Hanson and Wagner families in southwestern, Illinois.  Days prior to my wedding twenty two years ago, I was introduced to ninety strangers who would soon become relatives.  While at times this was more of an interrogation, I played along trying to remember as many faces and names as I could for our reception.  Marrying into a large extended family can be overwhelming, yet I have grown to appreciate the special personalities within Leanne’s family.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me,” Matthew 4:8-9.

Working for Amazon the past five years hasn’t afforded me the opportunity to travel out to Chicago for this festive event.  Like a prodigal son, I felt compelled to make the effort this year, especially with the passing of Leanne’s father.  Flying out after work one morning, I was able to reconnect with Leanne’s side of the family.  Following a typical Thanksgiving meal, the Hansons usually puts on a talent show aptly named the Hanson Family Theater.  However, this year each attendee was asked to give a thirty second infomercial, a synopsis of their current life.  While I was dreading the idea of fifty people standing up one after another,  I was pleasantly surprised.  Instead of enduring boredom, I appreciated the commonality exhibited by almost everyone.  Faith, family and God is the bond that has kept this tradition alive for half a century.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only,” Matthew 4:10.

As Leanne and I inch closer to the half century mark in age, I had a revelation last night.  Actually, this was more of an insight to where I am in life.  As much as I complain about my current job, I see the hidden blessing of only working four nights a week.  Despite missing out on any type of social life, I have been able to attend nearly all of my kids sporting events.  I have been there to rejoice in victories, comfort after defeat and explain from a coaching perspective why things played out as they did.  My resume isn’t exciting; nor is my income self-sufficient.  Nonetheless, I have embraced my role as a father, raising my children to the best of my ability.  Sure, I have several flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, but I have reached a state of contentment.   I still have bigger dreams and goals that I would like to fulfill, but I wouldn’t trade things for the world.

by Jay Mankus

You’ll Never Know Unless You Ask

December is the season for watching Christmas classics.  Every year networks have some sort of X number of days, re-airing animations, children and hallmark Christmas shows.  Recently, I sat down while my wife and son were watching Home Alone.  I can’t remember the last time I saw this film, but one scene got my attention.  Attending a Christmas Eve service, Macaulay Culkin is talking to his neighbor in the back of the church.  This discussion reveals a broken relationship between a father and son without any communication for years.  After this man gives Macaulay advice, Macaulay turns the tables, “you’ll never know unless you ask your son?”

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive, Colossians 3:13.

Throughout this country, previous disagreements create tension over holidays spent together.  When maturity is present, differences can be overcome.  Unfortunately, when arrogance, bitterness or pride enters the equation, relations turn cold.  As a former teacher and youth pastor, I have listened to a number of heart breaking stories of families falling apart.  Emotions tend to make individuals say things that they often regret.  A few careless words in the heat of the moment can divide the closest of friends.  After cooling off, if you want to make amends, you’ll never know until you ask.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses, Mark 11:25.

One of the hardest parts of uniting two people who are convinced that the other is at fault lies in the principle of forgiveness.  According to Jesus, prayer should incorporate reflection, thinking about anyone that you are holding a grudge against.  The purpose of this practice is to reconcile, making right previous wrongs done by you or approaching others whom you haven’t forgiven for a past transgression.  The apostle Paul builds upon Jesus’ words, adding the concept of bearing with each other.  In the final scene of Scrooged, Bill Murray proclaims it’s never too late to find forgiveness.  Therefore, if you are alone and afraid this Christmas, wondering if reconciliation is possible, you’ll never know unless you ask.

by Jay Mankus

Escaping the Demon of Dread

 

Dread is one of those words rarely expressed verbally, but it’s affects are on display daily.  This inner fear causes individuals to anticipate something with great apprehension.  Synonyms include emotions such as anxious, terror and worry.  Whenever someone experiences overwhelming events, the demon of dread has a way of attaching itself to souls.  Unless you are prepared, things can snow ball out of control, inciting panic.  This is a normal day for those under the extreme burden of dread.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation,” Matthew 12:43-45. 

This reality isn’t just a rerun of some Halloween horror movie made by Hollywood.  Rather, anyone without discipline, faith or a set routine can experience this spirt like a black cloud that hovers over your life.  Dread influences minds, transforming a normal person into a miserable son of bitch, pardon my French.  If you overcome initial attacks, the passage above suggests demonic entities run in packs, feeding off of each other.  Even after sweeping your spiritual house clean, you are still not out of the woods.

And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer,” Mark 9:29.

Prior to his death and resurrection, Jesus sent out his disciples two by two.  The purpose of this exercise was to prepare these disciples for the future, life after Christ.  Similar to a trial basis, this gave Jesus a chance to see who would sink and who would swim.  Following this time on their own, Jesus had a question and answer session for disciples, serving as an evaluation of their journeys.  One team came across a demon that wouldn’t leave.  In response, Jesus replied, this kind can only be driven out by prayer.  Today, many people, including me are oppressed by dread.  While I am an amateur in the arena of demons, the only way to escape the demon of dread is through prayer.  May this advice lead you to find peace in the near future.  If necessary, fast and pray so that healing will arrive soon.

by Jay Mankus

 

One Year Later

A few days before Thanksgiving, an annual eye check up revealed a serious condition.  Unsettled by these dangerous symptoms, I was sent to an eye specialist the following week.  During this visit, the pressure in my right eye skyrocketed to eighty, fifteen is considered to be normal.  Afraid glaucoma might cause me to lose vision in my eye, this doctor called his friend, the top surgeon at Wills Eye Center in Philadelphia to schedule an emergency surgery.  This is a glimpse of the emotions that I endured just one year ago today.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9.

Following a successful surgery, I looked like someone from a senior center, forced to wear those big wrap around sun glasses with dark lenses to protect my right eye.  To make a full recovery, I made routine trips back and forth from Philadelphia.  Initially, I took four different kinds of eye drops until I was slowly whittled off all of them.  Since I was taking one of these drops for nearly twenty years to battle iritis of the eye, my eye sight suffered, gradually becoming worse.  When I went to renew my driver’s license over the summer, I failed the eye test, unable to drive lawfully until this condition was resolved.  This stressful situation brought me back to the start, forced to rely solely on God for healing.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious, 1 Peter 3:4.

To the average person, December 4th is just another day on the calendar unless it’s your anniversary or birthday.  However, for me two life changing events transpired.  After hearing Skip Wilkins share his testimony at a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Speakout in high school, I dedicated my life to God in 1984 during an altar call.  I refer to December 4th as my spiritual birthday.  Thirty two years later, I trusted the Lord that my doctor would use his God given gifts to bring restoration to my worn out eyes.  Sure, it would be great to possess the 20/10 vision of my youth, but these life altering moments have drawn me closer to God.  One year later, I am thankful to be alive, to drive, see and write one blog a day until the Lord takes me home.

by Jay Mankus

Distracted During the Season of Giving

The commercialization of Christmas has influenced how this religious holiday is now celebrated.  Advertisements appeal to humanistic tendencies, often suggesting that bigger is better.  Unfortunately, rarely do commercials address the price of these exotic gifts that few can afford.  Subsequently, in an attempt to impress those whom you love, it’s easy to become distracted during the season of giving.  Instead of getting excited, I dread all I need to do.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn, Luke 2:7.

In modern terms, Jesus was born in a cheap bed and breakfast without a bed, room or special meal for Mary and Joseph.  This humble beginning would make most people ashamed, afraid to talk about the poverty Jesus was born into.  Nonetheless, this child of God altered the Jewish faith and gave hope to Gentiles, those born outside of God’s chosen people.  This child showed adults how to live, how to lead and ultimately, to lay down his life for mankind.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16.

One of the Bible’s most famous verses also details God the Father’s selfless act, sending his son to earth, to live, die and rise again to so others may have eternal life.  While it’s hard to ignore the never ending ads, don’t allow the pressure to out spend others this season ruin your Christmas spirit.  Rather, start each day in prayer, seeking God’s discernment for opportunities to help, serve and reach out to others in need this Christmas season.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Time To Drop Your Own Stone

One aspect of human nature is an inclination to pile on.  Whether this is criticizing, joking or teasing, when everyone is doing it, your conscience may be confused.  Despite sensing that this behavior is wrong, the temptation to make fun of someone no one likes often promotes a knee jerk reaction.  At the end of the day, the desire to conform influenced you to cast a stone that inflicted pain.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  – John 8:3-5

Old Testament law can be construed as harsh, with no room for grace.  One day the religious leaders tried to ensnare Jesus, putting him in position to oversee the death of a woman caught in adultery.  The passage above gives a brief summary on the context, seeing if Jesus would fulfill the law of Moses.  Instead of talking, Jesus bent down to begin writing in the sand with his finger.  Although the content is unknown, whatever was drawn began to convict hearts.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,”  John 8:7.

To avoid knee jerk reactions on this day, Jesus posed a question for everyone in the crowd to consider.  If you think this woman is guilty, go ahead, pick up your stone and throw it.  However, if sin is living in you, you could be next?  According to the remainder of this passage, little by little, individuals dropped their stone and went home.  Perhaps, twitter followers, negative people and those who have a tendency to overblow situations need this reminder.  Maybe you will come to the same conclusion I recently did.  It’s time to drop your own stone.

by Jay Mankus