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Perhaps Its Time to Get Off Your High Horse

As a child, adults, parents and teachers often quoted euphemisms.  These indirect expressions were meant to drive home a point during a teachable moment.  Whenever I appeared to be too judgmental, I heard “get off your high horse.”  The point of this phrase serves as a rebuke to stop criticizing everyone.  Essentially, this a warning to avoid claiming to have a superior moral ground than everyone else.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:39.

In the attached You Tube scene above, a man is forced to determine the eternal fate of his two children.  The only catch is one can go to heaven with the other eternally condemned to hell.  The angelic being reveals flaws, imperfections and secret sins formerly unknown to this father.  After a brief period of contemplation, Mack declines to go through with it, offering himself up to take his child’s place in hell.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? – James 4:11-12

After watching this powerful clip from the Shack, conviction consumed my heart.  To a certain extent, I felt like I was the character in the movie, guilty of the same crime, judging others prematurely.  Everyone has a reason for the behavior that they display daily.  Whether its innocence lost at an early age, bad parenting or unwholesome addictions, each impacts actions, character and words.  The key to getting off your high horse is developing a heart that breaks for the pain of others.  May this scene and these words inspire you to see the people in this world through the eyes of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Battle Scars

In 1998, a film brought the battlefields of war into movie theaters across the country.  Using the invasion on the beaches of Normandy during World War II as a backdrop, Saving Private Ryan graphically depicts the brutal nature of war during an extended battle scene.  Those who survived were haunted by images of splattered blood, cries for help and the silence of death.  Some of these individuals returned home with visible signs of this violent venture.  Others possessed emotional and mental scars, like a part of their soul was ripped out and left behind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

More than eighty years later, descendants have their own battle scars.  Survivors of the Holocaust have to live with the knowledge of what happened to innocent Jews.  Immigrants have the memories of the hell they went through just to make it to America.  Meanwhile, those living in crime infested areas stay awake at night wondering, who is going to be next?  There are many that express how unfair life is or could be.  Yet, blaming, complaining and denigrating others didn’t save the world from Nazi Germany.  Rather, victory is achieved by forgetting your own battle scars by coming together for a greater purpose and cause.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

Instead of making situations better, divisiveness by modern politicians is only adding scars, one soul at a time.  Words are cheap, a campaign slogan to help get elected.  Yet, what this world needs are leaders who inspire others to rise above their own battle scars to make the most of life.  My largest scar is three inches long, what’s left of an ankle surgery from high school.  Prior to this procedure, I was told by doctors that I would never run again.  My Christian friends refused to believe this fate, offering up prayers to the Most High.  In the end, these prayers of intervention proved science wrong, healing me to be able to compete in athletic competitions throughout my life.  While not every story has a happen ending, come to Jesus with the battle scars from your past so that you will find rest for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Angels with Error

The book of Job, the person not what Trump wants to create, is the oldest book in the Old Testament.  What this means is that Job was finished prior to Genesis.  Why its not clear if Job lived before the flood, he does talk about walking with dinosaurs.  Due to the atmospheric changes in the weather following the flood and lack of dinosaurs mentioned on Noah’s ark, Job could have died prior to Genesis 7.  Another clue is found in the first few chapters of Job’s book, referring to Satan by name twice and angels with error.  All of this leads me to believe Job experienced a moment in time when 1/3 of the angels were kicked out of heaven, falling to earth in the form of demons.

If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, Job 4:18.

Theology introduces many terms which were created and developed to help common church going individuals to understand the complex.  One of these biblical ideas is the concept of free will.  The definition eludes to freedom given by God to make choices without coercion or force.  This element also applies to angels, also known as cherubs, seraphim and archangels.  The context of Job 4 is Eliphaz, a close friend of Job addresses and begins to contemplate why Job has endured several trials.  While the initial statement refers to trust, one possible explanation is that angels with error, now demons, have unleashed their wrath.

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day, Jude 1:6.

According to Jesus, everyone will face a day of judgment.  While the facts of life will be presented in the form of video clips that include highlights and low lights, this will be a scary day for all.  Nothing that you do now can save you.  What I mean by this is that in the end, there is no one righteous.  All have exercised free will, falling short of God’s glory.  Yet, Romans 5:8 gives the hopeless hope through God’s demonstration of love.  While I deserve hell and damnation, God sent His one and only Son to restore that which was lost, Luke 19:10.  Despite angels with error, eternal life is in reach of the humble by grace through faith.  Reach out today by accepting God’s free gift, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

Fear Tactics

Angst, dread and panic are words synonomous with fear.  When some individuals are about to lose control or power, fear tactics are employed to manipulated others.  This process can get ugly, exposing evil intentions from within.  Unfortunately, this scene is replayed daily across the country resulting in concern, distress and horror.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

When teaching the first century about the Devil, Jesus refers to this fallen angel as a thief.  This spiritual bully has a playbook of fear tactics attempting steal, kill and destroy souls.  Unfortunately, this attack is invisible, enticing, luring and tempting unknowing accomplishes to do his own dirty work.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies, John 8:44.

Sometimes I read too much into someone’s actions.  Yet, I have experienced moments where Satan used a stranger to verbally assault me.  This happened a few times when I was in youth ministry and teaching.  My initial thought was “what the hell is going on?”  Yet, after a few days of reflecting and seeking discernment from others, I realized these events were merely fear tactics inspired by demonic powers seeking to steal my joy in life.  When the father of lies comes knocking at your door, guard yourself with a hedge of protection through prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

Nights Void of Holiness

Franz Xaver Gruber composed the melody to Stille Nacht in 1818, giving birth to the classic Christmas carol known as Silent Night.  An Austrian school teacher, Gruber was likely inspired to write this song while serving in his church in Arnsdorf, Austria.  Beginning in 1816 Gruber took on the role as organist and choirmaster at St Nicholas Church.  Working with Joseph Mohr, a catholic priest who write the lyrics in German, the two combined their gifts to debut this song for a Christmas Eve mass 2 years later.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them, Luke 2:6-7.

If you believe the political pundits, public educators and progressive agenda in America, you may be convinced of a different America than the actual founders.  Instead of pointing to a Continental Congress which spent several hours in prayer seeking God’s insight, you will be pointed toward slave owners who should not have the right to be heard or followed.  This tense climate has given birth to nights voids of holiness.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord, Luke 2:10-11.

The 1988 film Diehard based upon the book written Roderick Thorp has recently become an usual Christmas classic.  Few people realize the irony behind one of the main characters.  The leader of a terrorist group and mastermind of a scheme to steal millions of dollars of bonds shares the last name with the composer of Silent Night, called Hans instead of Franz.  While Christmas is suppose to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World to Mary, a virgin, I can’t recall a recent night void of violence.  Instead of experiencing holy nights, many endure a fallen world on the verge of hell.  Despite this painful reality, don’t let others steal the joy of Christmas.  Rise above the Ebenezer Scrooges and recent terrorist attacks to share love to others this season.

by Jay Mankus

 

Words from Heaven and Hell

Greetings like good morning, how are you, how was your weekend and hey are everyday expressions which promote conversation.  The Bible suggests that words can represent heaven or hell depending upon the context, manner and tone which is spoken.  Thus, before you begin another work week, be careful in the words that you choose.

The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream, Proverbs 18:4.

The apostle Paul uses the analogy known as fruits of the spirit to identify words from heaven.  Anything that reflects love, joy and peace uplift those who hear these traces of heaven.  The remaining characteristics mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 encourage action, not just words.  Coaches, parents and teacher who adorn children within a loving environment promote a fountain of wisdom as described by Solomon.

The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating, Proverbs 18:6.

Unfortunately, the words of hell are much more prevalent in today’s culture.  Whether its critics within the media, gossip or tweets filled with venom, the sinful nature is in full display weekly.  Those exposed to only the negative can become jaded, losing the will to live.  Therefore, the next time you have the opportunity to add a comment to a conversation, choose the words of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Fallen Stars

The fifty stars on the American flag represent the 50 states meant to unite this country.  Meanwhile, the red and white stripes, thirteen in all, symbolize the 13 British colonies that declared their independence from Great Britain.  Based upon recent events in North Carolina and Wisconsin, it appears that some states are like fallen stars, a glimpse of what they once were.  So how did America get where it is currently, filled with civil unrest?

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 2 Peter 2:4.

Well, perhaps failing schools, a rejection of moral absolutes and the silence of religious leaders is a good place to start.  On the other hand, Common Core Curriculum, revisionist history adopted by modern SAT’s and the radicalization of college campuses is producing a generation of progressives, abandoning the spiritual principles this country was founded upon.  When you add cell phone cameras, a liberal media and a lack of personal responsibility to this equation, its always someone’s fault, not yours.

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day, Jude 1:6.

Last night, I listened to an interview of 2 NFL players from the Carolina Panthers.  One described the last 24 hours in Charlotte as living in a war zone.  Oddly enough, after former NBA star Michael Jordan gave one million dollars to support Black Lives Matters, protesters involved with this group looted and ransacked his Charlotte Hornets down town store.  I understand the concept of protests, but stealing, shutting down local businesses and verbally assaulting police officers isn’t solving the problem.  Either this event is drawing the world closer to Jesus’ return or God is in the process of removing his blessing from a once great country.  If the latter is true, may God have mercy on us all, especially upon the fallen stars.

by Jay Mankus