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Tag Archives: KIng Solomon

Betting on the Future

On May 14th, 2018 the United States Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law on commercialized sports betting.  Prior to this ruling, Las Vegas was one of the few places in this country to legally place a bet on March Madness or the Super Bowl.  This decision has opened the door for other states to grab a piece of the pie.  Based upon initial reports, one hundred and fifty billion dollars in illegal wages are made every year.  Thus, for states like Delaware and New Jersey who have recently passed legislation to allow gambling on sports, local government officials are betting on the future.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it, Proverbs 13:11.

If gambling on sports was illegal until now, one has to wonder why would past legislators initially outlaw this practice?  King Solomon referred to the love of money as vanity, Ecclesiastes 5:10.  A first century doctor warns believers against falling prey to covetousness, Luke 12:15.  An associate of the apostle Paul urges Christians to avoid earthly practices that begins with compromise and ends by forfeiting your soul, Mark 8:36.  While playing the lottery, fantasy sports and making bets with friends seems innocent, if victorious these practices can accumulate ill-gotten gain.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.

The phrase follow the money first appeared in William Goldman’s screenplay All the President’s Men.  Since this film, other movie’s has illustrated the corruption and demise that comes along with a hunger and thirst for money.  While the optimism for sports betting is currently high, the spiritual consequences for those who indulge in gambling can have lasting affects.  After a visit to Atlantic City several years ago, I came face to face with individuals who came to town with money but left broke or homeless in a worst case scenario.  Only time will tell if betting on the future was worth the risk.  Yet, for now keep your life free the love of money, content with the life that God has given you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Playing God

If you take the time to catch up on breaking news, you might notice a disturbing new trend.  Instead of providing the full context of a conversation, sound bytes are used to promote a certain narrative.  Instead of relying on truth, justice and the American way, political allegiances have been formed.  This decision has replaced the Bible with political correctness.  Anyone who does not adhere to this new standard is attacked, exposed and slammed for intolerance.  The idea of a corrupt media was something I thought was impossible, left for nations of dictators from third world nations.  Yet, as the media’s elite begin to play God, redefining right and wrong, I’m afraid of what the future holds.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment, James 2:13.

In 2009, Paramore released Playing God, a single from their third album Brand News Eyes.  Lead singer Hayley Williams was one of the authors of this song, collaborating with band members Josh Farro and Taylor York.  The music video begins with Hayley sitting in her car, staring at a cross and a button of Jesus on her dashboard.  This time of reflection sets the stage for a new concept, what if God did not introduce freewill?  Instead God used force, to tie people up so they didn’t go where God didn’t want them to be.  While God refuses to participate in this mindset, adults, other siblings and parents from time to time like to play God.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Known for his wisdom, King Solomon addressed this topic during his day.  According to Solomon, everyone has an idea, a plan for their lives.  While your heart may guide you throughout this life, God ultimately establishes the direction you will take.  Along the way, barriers, obstacles and road blocks stand in your way, altering your course.  Thus, the sooner you start keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, the better off you will be.  Rather than condemning those around you for not following the path of integrity, make sure you show mercy to others so that when you do fall, forgiveness will be extended to you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Stages of the Heart

Solomon refers to the heart as the well spring of life.  This vital organ controls the flow of blood throughout the human body using the circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to internal tissues.  Unfortunately, accidents, age and viruses each influence the degree to which each heart functions.  From an external perspective, anxiety, depression and stress also wage war on human hearts.  These spiritual factors result in what I call the stages of the heart; shifting some where between soft, hard and moldable.

“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds,” Jeremiah 17:10.

The first phase is soft like Jell-O.  This type of heart is extremely sensitive, causing individuals to over react or read too much into a conversation.  If you try to pick up a piece of Jell-O, it can shake like an uncontrollable wave.  Emotional outbursts are an obvious sign of this condition, revealing an immature heart.  People that fall into this category need to toughen up, learning to better cope and deal with things beyond their control.  Placing your sole trust in Jesus is a good place to start for soft hearts, Proverbs 3:5-6.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

The polar opposite of this stage is a calloused heart, hardened by various trials and tribulations that people have endured.  When minds became jaded by what you feel to be an unfair hand dealt by God, circumstances are prime for hearts to turn to stone.  The group Foreigner once sang about this condition, using an analogy to compare a woman’s heart to be As Cold As Ice.  Hardened hearts often reflect someone who is apathetic, no longer caring about things in life as they once did.  When struck firmly, these hearts can shatter.

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.

The final stage are hearts molded out of clay.  During a letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul refers to God as Abba Father.  When translated into English, this refers to a child being molded and fashioned by a spiritual father.  When clay is dropped or falls, the potter can fix, repair and reshape the clay back into its original form.  Thus, the goal in this life is to develop a moldable heart, open to God’s advice in the Bible.  While no one knows what tomorrow brings, may the Lord give you a new heart and spirit to thrive in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Lifting Up Friends to You

There will be moments in life where you will feel helpless.  Even if you are near a loved one, sometimes fate is out of your hands.  Whether you are talking about an accident, heart attack or illness, the only thing you can do is pray.  Perhaps if more people were proactive, lifting up friends to God daily, you wouldn’t have to face as many emergencies in life that some are forced to endure.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

King Solomon eludes to the power of friendship in the Old Testament.  Whenever you find an individual who shares a common interest, hobby or passion, an instant bond often develops.  If nourished, friends can quickly become like close members of the family.  According to Solomon, there is a tendency to accumulate as many friends as possible, but those who seek quality relationships over quantity will be rewarded.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.

One day Jesus uses a gardening analogy during a conversation with his disciples.  Just as a gardener cares for, prunes and nourishes plants under his or her care, a good friend does the same thing.  Likely referring to his impending death on a cross, Jesus brings up the greatest act a friend can demonstrate.  Sacrificing, serving or laying down your own wants and needs for a friend reveals love.  While this commitment may not be possible for everyone, the least you can do lift up friends in prayer to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Replacing the Desire to Be Cool with Christ

No matter who you are, everyone has a desire to be accepted by others.  This craving for acceptance causes many to react differently around their peers.  At some point the desire to be cool trumps doing the right thing.  If this behavior persists, there is little room for Jesus to co-exist.  Therefore, sooner or later you have to decide between being cool or following Christ.

“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.  “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? – Matthew 15:16-17

In the past week, conviction was awakened me from a dead and dying soul.  What I have discovered from the Holy Spirit is that I care more about being cool than living out my faith.  In the passage above, the disciples had become dull, numbed by worldly influences.  Today, these temptations are greater than ever, successfully distracting many from practicing character, integrity and godly principles.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them, Matthew 15:18.

According to Jesus, the heart is the core of this matter.  While Pharisees and religious leaders believed eating food without washing your hands made people unclean, Jesus corrects their flawed thinking.  King Solomon referred to the heart as the well spring of life.  Those individuals who don’t guard their heart, allow coolness and the sinful nature to reign, taking over.  Thus, unless you begin to purge yourself by beginning to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, transformation will not occur.  May this blog speak to your heart by replacing the desire to be cool with Christ.

by Jay Mankus

When You Lose the Battle with Death

When you are young, birthday, graduation and wedding invitations are commonly received in the mail or online.  A few years later these invites still come, but they are for baby showers, baptisms and high school or college reunions.  Yet, as age catches up with you, these pleasant celebrations are replaced by the grim reality of life, death.  Although you may outlive family, friends and relatives, eventually even you too will lose the battle with death.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

If you take the words of Genesis literally, prior to original sin, God designed mankind to live forever.  However, after sin entered the world, the curse of death was slowly introduced.  Abel was the first human being to die and laid to rest in the ground.  In the passage above, King Solomon eludes to the fate of every human being.  Early in his radio career, Rush Limbaugh used the saying, talent on loan from God.  Despite how infallible you may feel, life is a gift from God that will one day come to an end.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

The context of this blog comes in the midst of tragedy as my wife and children wait helplessly near the bedside of her dying father due to a serious car accident last Thursday night.  Although Jim is still alive as I write, time is not on his side.  Thus, as sorrow and tears fill those who love Jim Wagner, you have to look toward eternity for comfort.  Like the criminal on the cross, it’s never too late to inherit eternal life.  If you are not sure of your own eternal fate, pray the words of 1 John 5:13 so that you can have assurance when you lose your own battle with death.

by Jay Mankus

Rediscovering the American Spirit

While Hurricane Harvey and Irma have received most of the headlines this month, another human interest story hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.  As Americans watched images of devastation, flooding and property loss from these storms, compassionate hearts have been compelled to act.  Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watts thought maybe he could raise some money using social media.  More than thirty million dollars later, donations continue to pour in.  Meanwhile, average citizens with boats, trailers and trucks have driven to Texas to aid in the search and rescue of stranded homeowners.  Countless others have provided clothes, diapers and water for victims who have lost everything except their lives.  In the face of adversity, these hurricanes have revived the American Spirit.

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

From a historical perspective, King Solomon is considered one of the wisest human beings to ever walk the face of the earth.  In the passage above, Solomon points to the goal Israelites should strive to achieve.  Human beings can be fragile, often in need of a social companion.  Whether this is a classmate, co-worker or friend, life is easier when you have someone close to pick you up after a fall.  Sometimes falling refers to a physical act, but others struggle with a lack of confidence, depression or insecurity.  Based upon the context of Genesis 2, Adam spent a portion of his life searching for a suitable helper.  Initially, Adam looked for companionship among animals, likely taking some home as pets.  Yet, at some point these relationships didn’t suffice, eventually resulting in God creating Eve.  The Lord in his infinite wisdom understood the power of one person helping another in need.  Like the pay it forward movement, as one person demonstrates random acts of kindness, other good Samaritans are motivated to join in.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:33.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus uses an analogy to illustrate what happens every day.  Sometimes people get into an accident, need help or are stranded along side of the road.  The people that should come to the rescue like priests and religious people use a busy schedule as an excuse to continue on their way.  The social outcast like the Samaritan ends up saving the day.  One of the points Jesus is trying to make is which one are you?  Are you going to remain on the sideline, failing to lend a helping hand to the countless who lost a home or family member?  Or will the selfless response by J.J. Watt inspire you to abandon your own worries to reach out to someone less fortunate?  Many the power of the Holy Spirit fall upon the volunteers in Florida and Texas to rediscover the American Spirit.  Although there will be other natural disasters in the future, I pray that this kindred spirit of giving continues to impact the lives of individuals forced to start over from scratch.  When communities love their neighbors as themselves, this world becomes a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus