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Tag Archives: communication

A Substitute for Reality

As a student, whenever a substitute was standing up front or sitting in a chair, it was like a holiday.  Although plans were passed on, most periods turned into a study hall, a break from the normal routine.  Whether this lasts for a day, week or longer, this individual serves as a substitute for reality.

Stressed out by the events of a week, human beings often turn to their televisions to escape.  Whether its a favorite channel, show or sporting event, this time mends the broken and heals wounded souls temporary.  However, if this habit becomes a life style, entertainment can become a substitute for reality.

Perhaps  the breakdown of the American family started with different viewing interests.  Once on, there isn’t a need for communication as the big screen turns into an alternate reality.  If this pattern continues, minds zone out, numb to deadening relationships inside their home.  As soon as the number of televisions increase to multiple rooms, the stage is set for a divided house.  May those on the verge of falling into this trap, awaken before this idol becomes a permanent substitute for reality.

by Jay Mankus

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Who’s Leading Who?

Over the course of a year, there tends to be a couple of messages, sermons that I can’t avoid.  As conviction lingers, the truth conveyed doesn’t go away.  While laying in bed the other night, one thought kept repeating itself, “who’s leading who?”

When you enter into a new relationship, Romans 10:9-10, priorities should change.  However, if you are use to living a certain way, its hard to adjust or alter your lifestyle.  Although some Christians may talk a good game, yielding control over to Jesus as Lord can be a constant struggle.  Subsequently, some days you do it your way and occasionally you take God’s advice.

The apostle Paul suggests the an internal battle is brewing, Galatians 5:16-18, with sinful desires trying to remain in control.  Meanwhile, these distractions attempt to block your communication with God, Galatians 5:25.  The only way to distinguish God’s still small voice is by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.  The Lord doesn’t force the issue.  Rather, the choice is yours: to live by the Spirit or indulge your fleshly desires.  Who’s leading who?  This answer will be revealed by the fruit that you bear, John 15:7-8.

by Jay Mankus

 

Wilted Flowers… Wilted Souls

Based upon  a 2013 CNN article, roughly 224 million roses are grown to prepare for Valentine Day shoppers.  Beside candy, roses have become a symbol for this special day, with the average person spending $130 to impress their significant other.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for these expensive flowers to die.  Life can be prolonged by adding fresh water daily and trimming the stems.  Yet, in the end, the smell of flowers will fade, wilt and end up in the trash.

The human soul can relate to the final resting place for roses.  Individuals who are quiet, shy or wonder why no accepts them for who they are, often wilt like flowers.  The lack of communication, intimacy and relationships can weigh on a heart, resulting in loneliness.  Unless a soul experiences good news, hope or something positive, faith can fade into oblivion.  Like a deer that pants for water on a hot summer day, those that thirst for temporary pleasures will taste the sourness of disappointment.

According to the Bible, the soul finds rest in God alone, Psalm 62:1.  Though many will try other avenues to fill this void, nothing can satisfy like Jesus; just ask the woman at the well, John 4.  Mankind may try to stop the grass from withering and flowers from falling off their stems, yet the only cure to wilted souls is the Word of God, Isaiah 40:8.  If the thought of a cold dark winter has brought you down, may the promise of Romans 8:38-39 sustain you when all seems lost.

by Jay Mankus

So That’s Where It Comes From

Adults have different styles of communication, producing a wide range of reactions, even within their own children.  The authoritarian will claim, “this is the way its always been so there is no highway option.”  Meanwhile the laissez faire, who are often soft spoken will allow flexibility, offering little resistance to correction.  This broad spectrum of coaching, parenting  and or teaching leaves a gap, with many blanks to fill in between to properly convey crucial information.

As I child, I remember hearing daily pleas such as “wash your hands, brush your teeth and think before you speak.”  Maybe I was naive, but I never questioned or wondered why these things were so important.  I simply assumed by father knew best so I tried my best to follow directions.  While reading the Old Testament last week, I stumbled upon the source of my dad’s first command, Leviticus 15:11.

Before the invention of microscopes, God understood how germs spread.  Thus, to combat this concern, the Lord told Moses to tell the Israelites to wash their hands after going to the bathroom or before eating.  Although Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has influenced many to go to extremes, washing your hands is a simple way to remain healthy.  As Paul Harvey says in his famous radio deliveries, “Now you know, the rest of the story!”

What commands do you recall from your childhood?

by Jay Mankus

 

Spirit Led; Not Technology Driven

If any of you are a parent or grand parent, perhaps you shake your head as I do watching teens stare at their game systems and cell phones instead of engage in an actual conversation.  Beside sending your kids outside to play, I’m afraid this generation is being led by the spirit of technology.  Sure, the technology misfits like me need their oldest to get most gadgets around the house to work, but isn’t there something parents can do to develop healthy communication skills?

Before ascending to heaven, Acts 1:9-11, Jesus promised to send a counselor to guide people through life.  While Pentecostals often make the mistake of limiting the Spirit of God to spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, the apostles provide clues to become driven by the Holy Spirit.  Philip kept his head up after hearing the Holy Spirit’s still small voice in Acts 8:29, eventually leading an Egyptian to faith in Christ.  Meanwhile, Paul sensed in his heart to avoid visiting Asia on a missionary journey as God’s Spirit kept him from entering their cities, Acts 16:7.

One of the greatest clues left behind is found in Galatians 5.  Inside each human being, there is a war between good and evil as the acts of the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21 battle fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  As modern technology drives souls to feed their fleshly desires, an invisible forces seeks to intervene, urging individuals to stay on the course of faith.  The key to overcoming today’s technology driven culture is found in Galatians 5:25.  By tuning into God, with eyes and ears alert and open, the apostle Paul suggests you can keep in step with the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, if you emulate this spiritual practice, you will provide a blue print for loved ones to become Spirit led, not technology driven.

by Jay Mankus

Why People Don’t Listen

Eyes

As a former teacher, there were many days I talked to blank stares, bowed heads and confused faces.  Maybe the topic I spoke on was boring, students stayed up too late the previous night or I was tuned out by their minds, not as entertaining as their favorite television stars.  However, one of the main reasons people don’t listen is because deep down inside, they probably don’t believe what you saying applies, will change or impact their lives.

 

Moses encounters a similar experience within Exodus 6:9-12, confused by Israel’s response to the message God gave him.  Based upon verse 9, the distress of slavery and the wear and tear of beat downs by Egyptian officials took a toll on their hearts.  After approaching a 4th generation of bondage, it appears no one could foresee the miracle God was waiting to perform.

This mentality is alive and well today, made stronger by an I know it all attitude.  If you include opinions, political views and well defined worldviews, breaking down the walls to clear communication is extremely challenging.  This likely explains why Jesus used the phrase “you have ears but don’t hear and eyes but do not hear,” addressing the Pharisees for their stubbornness.  May the Holy Spirit help you conquer this worldwide dilemma, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, to influence those whom you come in contact with daily.

by Jay Mankus

The Brady Bunch Generation

One might say Sherwood Schwartz was a pioneer, conceiving a sitcom for blended families well before society was willing to accept divorce.  Inspired by a 1965 column in the Los Angeles Times, Schwartz developed a vision for a show which took 3 girls and their mother played by Florence Henderson, joining them together with Robert Reed who had 3 boys of his own from a previous marriage.  When you add Alice, a live in maid staring Ann Davis, the Brady Bunch was born.  This suburban family related to average citizens, coping with the same struggles a parent, teenager and sibling face daily.  As shows like Little House on the Prairie became unrealistic, not achievable anymore, the Brady Bunch’s success led to 117 episodes from 1969-1974.

My favorite episode illustrates the battle which exists between brothers, Greg and Peter, who end up drawing a line down the middle of their room, attempting to distinguish who owned what.  Relying on emotions, not wisdom, their joint decision is not well thought out as Greg has complete control of the bathroom, yet only Peter has access to the hallway door.  Unfortunately, some people never mature, participating in ridiculous feuds over animals, children and possessions.  This moral decay continues today as a typical two parent family with one mom and one dad is now a minority, on the verge of becoming obsolete.  The Brady Bunch Generation has placed its stamp on American culture, embracing the imperfections so prevalent within mankind.

Genesis 31:1-2 reveals the beginning of a Brady Bunch like dispute between Laban and Jacob, whose name is later changed to Israel.  This tiff causes Jacob to flee without talking out his differences, like a child trying to run away from home in Genesis 31:17.  Laban pursues Jacob, eager to get things off his chest, Genesis 31:26.  Like a good solider, Jacob quietly waits for his turn to respond, beginning to rumble like a volcano ready to blow, Genesis 31:35-42.  Previously afraid of confrontation, Jacob releases his feelings which had been stored up for over 20 years.  Once both men had spoken their mind, this exchange sets the scene for an unique peace treaty in Genesis 31:43-55.  Instead of using tape to divide their territories, Laban and Jacob decide to use a heap of stones, creating a pillar.  This structure laid the boundary, similar to modern day property lines, agreeing not to intrude on the others’ life anymore.

This episode and biblical account reveal several great life lessons.  First, communication is crucial to maintaining peace with friends, family and neighbors.  Second, expressing your emotions allows you to let go of any grudge or resentment that you may have toward an individual.  Finally, when you bring other witnesses into your dispute, this serves as accountability down the road to prevent you from repeating the same mistake over again.  No one can ever achieve perfection, but if you give God your best, Matthew 5:48, He can make the rest of your days on earth like a story book ending, at least as good as life can get.

by Jay Mankus