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Tag Archives: relationships

Estranged

The term estranged is usually found in the context of a broken marriage or a relationship beyond repair.  When you feel alienated, disconnected or severed from someone, estrangement is likely already underway.  This unfortunate state can result in depression, loneliness and sorrow.  However, you can also be estranged from God.

“He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me,” Job 19:13.

While the Creator of heaven and earth is invisible, subtle reminders exist in the form of a sunrise, picturesque day or the sounds of nature.  Enduring hardship, the stress of life and unforeseen trials usually distract individuals from the Lord’s presence.  Meanwhile, as bad things begin to happen to good people, God is usually the first to blame.  Without any clarity, meaning or insight, estrangement from God often continues.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

According to the apostle Paul, the process of becoming estranged can be self inflicted.  People bitter from the hand they have been dealt, ignorant of God’s nature and set in their ways develop harden hearts.  This stubbornness leads to break ups, divorce and splitting close ties with people you once cared about.  If you find yourself somewhere within the estranged process, may the power of the Holy Spirit ease your pain by reuniting you with the people you love.

by Jay Mankus

 

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The Point of the Cross

In the Old Testament, initial commandments, laws and principles were passed down through word of mouth from one generation to the next.  Until Moses arrived upon the scene, there was no written word of God.  As one of the forefathers of Israel, God spoke directly to Moses, usually in the mountains on either Mount Horeb and or Sinai.  One of the messages delivered to Moses is that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the early first century, Jesus built an earthly ministry using disciples.  Prior to his death of the cross, Jesus revealed the purpose for his human sacrifice.  Befuddled by Jesus words, many of his followers thought he would become an earthly king.  Thus, it wasn’t until resurrection Sunday when the disciples began to connect the dots.  The apostle Paul writes several of his epistles about the point of the cross.  Jesus who had no sin became sin for us so that in Christ, we might become the righteous of God.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2.

An entire chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to Jesus’ relationship to the cross.   According to 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus conquered sin and death with his resurrection.  In a letter to the church at Colosse, Paul talks about how Christians are buried with Christ in their baptism and raised with Him through the resurrection.  So what is the point of the cross?   Life begins at the cross, Matthew 16:24-26, as you deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus as a servant and vessel of love.

by Jay Mankus

Make My Heart Like Yours

Music can be similar to relationships.  The more open minded you are, the likelihood of you accepting and embracing someone or something increases.  Unfortunately, stereotypes about an artist, genre or musician cause individuals to give up on a certain sound after a few seconds of listening.  Subsequently, the careers of millions fail, far short of where they hoped, rejected before having a real shot to succeed.

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.

Such is the case of Linda Elias, wife of Rick whose own career far surpassed hers.  Rick spent a decade as a member of Rich Mullins Ragamuffin band and his music was featured in the 1996 Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do.  As for Linda, following in the Belinda Carlisle genre, I thought her 1991 album The Meaning of Life would jump start her career.  However, in Christian music industry, unless you’re Amy Grant, you’re not going to get the attention you deserve.  As a result, you can’t find any of Linda’s songs on Pandora or You Tube.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Nonetheless, during my recent fast I have started listening to one hour of inspirational music a day.  While soaking in the lyrics to Make My Heart Like Yours, I was moved, touched by God.  This song is more like a prayer, wishing that one day our hearts will become more like Christ.  In this song, Linda confesses her failures and shortcomings.  Leaning on God’s grace, she yearns to be transformed.  As I am daily reminded of my own sins, I am eager, waiting for God to make my heart like his son’s, Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Linda’s album the Meaning of Life is available at Amazon.com for those willing to give a promising artist a chance.

 

The Threat of Faith

According to the scientific community life evolves.  As environments or habitats change, creatures and human beings are forced to adapt if they want to survive.  The same can be said about worldviews.  When truth is conveyed, realized or revealed, belief systems are put to the test.  This is the threat of faith.

For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us, Acts 6:14.

People will always go through periods of change.  Whether its puberty, relationships or unforeseen trials, each day provides a series of surprises.  Through the good and bad, hearts rejoice and grieve, while emotions rise and fall.  Yet, when what you have always known is challenged, faith and doubt collide.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

Through the years, time can take a toll on wounded souls.  In the case of the Jews, religious leaders thought the Jesus movement would destroy Judaism.  Thus, this threat elevated tensions, fueling resentment against Christianity.  As more and more individuals believed and were baptized, faith became a threat.  Nonetheless, when souls hear or read the words of the Bible, faith becomes a friend in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

Love and Marriage

The sitcom Married with Children mocked the biblical concept of love and marriage.  However, as Christian couples in America began to live hypocritical lives, often resulting in divorce, I guess you can say Hollywood had plenty of material to work with.  Nonetheless, for ten seasons Al Bundy portrayed a new form of love and marriage, laughing at the struggles an average family endures on a weekly basis.

“Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother, Mark 12:19.

During another week in history, “Let’s See if We can Fool Jesus This Time,” also known as Passion Week, the Sadduceees refer to still other aspect of love and marriage.  Referencing Jewish Law found in the Torah, a religious leader tries to play Trivia Pursuit with Jesus.  Before the answer to his question is provided, it is clear he was no match for the King of Kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven, Mark 12:24-25.

Love prior to entering any relationship is tough enough on its own.  However, when you add marriage to this equation, the complication is magnified.  The apostle Paul chose to remain single, not wanting this distraction in his life.  Yet for those who are stuck as Al Bundy often eluded to his own marriage, a different form of love is required, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Therefore, pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23 so that the love you display may have an eternal impact.

by Jay Mankus

Forget Me Not

Myosotis sylvatica, a member of the borage family, consists of a light blue flower regarded as a symbol of friendship.  As Spring showers bring May flowers, Forget Me Not arrangements are a popular gift.  Despite their beauty, time will cause the most gorgeous flowers to fade.  Likewise, absence can cause anyone to forget an important anniversary, birthday or relationship.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you,” Isaiah 49:15.

Distance, distractions and neglect are primary factors which lead to forget.  Work hours may cause a father to not spend enough time with family.  Misguided priorities can steer someone off course, resulting in poor choices and wasted opportunities.  Finally, a state of busyness can lead faithful followers to fall away from God, gradually slipping away by missing church, godly fellowship and quiet times praying and reading the Bible.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. – Psalm 137:5

Psalm 137:5 acknowledges that even God’s chosen people were vulnerable to a short term memory.  Thus, to avoid this from going any further, this servant of God asks to lose their gifts and talents rather than abandon the Lord.  Today, one careless decision, lazy day or rut can break God’s heart.  While Valentine’s Day is full of Forget Me Not cards, one prayer from heaven rains down to earth daily, hoping God’s children will not forget their heavenly Father.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Sitting on the Sidelines or Fighting to the End?

Take, take, take.  A common theme in an ever increasing selfish world.  When communities, churches or marriages begin to fall apart, most sit along the sideline watching the situation deteriorate.  Meanwhile, few have the strength to fight to the very end.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, 1 Peter 4:10.

From 2010 through the present, I’ve witnessed two special relationships end.  The first was a special church family that I became entrenched in, serving as an elder for six years and teacher for another ten years at its adjacent high school.  While many abandoned Red Lion as it first started to take on water, I tried my best to do what I could.  Although, I probably should have been more outspoken initially, the odds were stacked against me.  In the end, the church closed its doors and the school was sold to another denomination, causing several colleagues, including myself to lose their job.

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, Matthew 20:26-28.

The second divorce began as the first became final.  The baseball league that my sons played in under went a similar myriad of trials.  Trying to prevent an identical ending, I spent two years investing my time in the youth of Greater Newark.  Like a M.A.S.H. unit, the efforts I provided extended the life of the league for a couple of years.  Stepping aside to allow the next generation of parents to lead, most have passed the buck, unwilling to save this sinking organization.  While GNBL’s future is bleak, my only question is who will get off their butt, move beyond the sidelines and fight to the very end?

by Jay Mankus