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Tag Archives: righteous

Wanted: Dead or Alive

In 1987 Bon Jovi released the song Wanted: Dead or Alive as their third single from the Slippery When Wet album.  The title of this song pays homage to Jon’s admiration of Old West heroes.  Whether this was a poster or a sheriff seeking to purge his town of criminals, this phrase became synonymous with a quest for justice.

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers, Proverbs 21:15.

While classic movies pay tribute to the age of Cowboys and Indians, one aspect of life has not changed.  Evil continues to exist today in various shapes and forms.  Demons masquerade as angels of light using the gullible, weak and unknowing as accomplices of the Devil.  Jesus even had to rebuke one of his own disciples, Peter, proclaiming, “get behind me Satan.”

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, Amos 5:24.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of western sheriffs, Jesus offers some interesting advice.  According to the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 16, if you want to find life you must be willing to lose it.  Meanwhile, if you attempt to save your life, you will lose it.  Today, God is searching for new deputies.  However, before you enlist you must consider the cost: do you want death or hope to come alive?

by Jay Mankus

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When Confidence Fades Away

There was a time in my life when I believed that I could do anything.  A few months after graduating from the University of Delaware, I felt like I was missing something.  This emptiness led me to pursue a leadership trade school in Minnesota called Tentmakers.  Following my completion of this youth ministry training in March of 1993, I was equipped with the tools I was previously missing.  This training propelled me to new levels of confidence.  Unfortunately, beginning in 1994 this confidence faded away, never to fully recapture again.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

During my fifteen years of coaching, I’ve seen similar situations occur on the athletic field.  Golf is probably the one sport where confidence is essential.  One day golfers may flirt with shooting par and the next can’t break 50 for 9 holes.  Meanwhile, I’ve seen dominant pitchers be unhittable one day and the next can’t find the strike zone.  Confidence is like fuel that drives individuals.  When it runs out its easy for people to become lost, a shell of who they once were.

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught, Proverbs 3:26.

There is a term which refers to someone floundering, flopping back and forth without any sense of direction.  This state is often a by product of confidence that fades away.  If you have ever reached this point in life like me, Solomon encourages people to lean on God.  While you may not regain the heights you once obtained, the Lord promises to restore hope to those who have endured the pain of lost confidence.

by Jay Mankus

Unworthy

There is a growing movement in America based upon entitlements.  If you asked a senior citizen about entitlements, one might bring up social security if they are retired.  However, millennials have broadened this term, believing healthcare and other government programs are what they deserve.  Yet, when you open the Bible, the opposite is true.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one,” Romans 3:10-12.

During a visit to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul reminds his listeners of a statement made by an Old Testament prophet.  Regardless of how disciplined you may be, hard you work or pure your intentions, no one is worthy.  This concept is difficult to grasp, especially to those who live in a bubble, protected by justification, rationalization and a secular worldview.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

As for me, I recently started studying the book of Job.  I have had some bad things happen in life, but nothing compares to the series of trials Job endured.  Job developed a severe rash similar to poison ivy resulting in a constant itch and oozing puss.  When three friends came to visit, Job 2:12-13, each began to weep aloud, unable to fathom Job’s pain.  Based upon this context, I’m undeserving of God’s love.  Instead of being ungrateful, I need to be content on what I receive, either good or bad.  Don’t let a world full of entitlements spoil your mind.  Rather, come to a place of unworthiness so you will understand that the Lord gives and takes away.

by Jay Mankus

Payments in Life

In 1983, Donna Summer released the song “She Works Hard for the Money.”  While this song appeared on Summer’s eleventh album, its become one of her most popular singles through the years.  Co-written by Michael Omartian, the context of the chorus refers to Onetta Johnson, a rest room attendant at Los Angeles’ Chasen’s Restaurant.  After meeting this exhausted woman during a brief conversation, the idea for this song was conceived.

The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death, Proverbs 10:16.

The Bible refers to two different types of payments in life, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament.  The context of king Solomon’s version is based upon the sowing and reaping principle mentioned in Galatians 6:8.  However, this also can be understood as you receive wages based upon the attention to detail, effort and your overall focus.  Subsequently, anyone who chooses righteous over temporary pleasures and treasures will have their life extended.  Meanwhile, those who break the law, cut corners or swindle others out of their money will earn sin and death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Nonetheless, the apostle Paul brings good news for those who need a second or third chance in life.  Examining the symbolism of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, Paul uses the concept of payments to prove his point.  The wages for sin, which encompasses all of mankind is eternal separation from God.  However, there is hope for the world, a new lease on life for anyone looking to change their life around.  This good news comes in the form of God’s free gift, grace through faith that leads to eternal life.  2 payments, 1 life; the choice is yours as eternity awaits.

by Jay Mankus

 

Rosewood Revisited

The 1997 film Rosewood starring Jon Voight and Don Cheadle details the horrific events of the first week of January 1923.  Known as the Rosewood massacre, a rural town in Levy County Florida, this movie depicts the events which culminated into a race riot.  This history lesson provides a painful reminder of how white parents taught their children not to play with African American kids.  When a white woman lies about being raped by a black man, all hell breaks loose throughout Rosewood.

But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, Amos 5:24.

As I watched this for this first time in years, some of the scenes are reminiscent of modern events.  Whether its Black Lives Matters protests, tension between law enforcement and the African American community or violent acts upon innocent people, a mob mentality influences one’s ability to use common sense.  The byproduct of this distraction often leads to emotionally outbursts, harsh comments and regrettable actions.  This is the climate in which we now reside, helping to explain some of the awful headlines in the news.

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers, Proverbs 21:15.

If you revisit Rosewood or watch it for the first time, its not easy to digest.  Some of the content will make you cringe.  Other parts may shock you or cause you to feel sympathy for how black were mistreated by white for centuries.  Yet, one must look toward the future while remembering the words of Dr. Martin King Jr, “its not about the color of our skin, but the content of our character.”  In view of this, may this country come together as one to live, learn and rise above past transgressions.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Buying Memories

If you are a parent, there is a fine line between celebrating special days and spoiling your children.  Birthday parties, Christmas presents and surprises always make some sort of impact on kids.  These events leave an imprint, a way of expressing your love.  However, is there ever a time when buying memories becomes superficial, fake or over the top?

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever, 1 Timothy 5:8.

As a son of an immigrant, I was always taught to be frugal.  From my grandmother down to my parents, wasting money on unnecessary splurges was frowned upon.  Thus, I’ve become a tightwad, careful to make what little I do have last.  Yet, during my oldest son’s last Spring Break as a high school senior, I let my guard down.  This moment of weakness led to an unprecedented spending spree in an attempt to buy memories for a life time.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous, Proverbs 13:22.

Although it was difficult to say goodbye to hundreds of dollars that is now gone, I am at peace with how the money was spent.  Several foul balls at the Phillies’ game were just in front of us or right over our heads.  The conversation over an expensive seafood meal was enjoyable and at times made me laugh.  When you add my daughter finding a whole sand dollar while snorkeling and my oldest son digging up a perfect shark tooth, our time together was priceless.  Therefore, if you ever have the opportunity in the future to leave a lasting impression, buying memories when the time is right will bring you unexpected joy.

by Jay Mankus

The Hands of God

Stephen King has written a plethora of books, several of which have become classic films.  Taking horror in a new direction, King’s 1994 mini-series entitled the Stand portrays an end of days film in America.  Following a biological outbreak, only 10 percent of the population survive with the righteous calling the heartland home.  Meanwhile, those tempted by evil make their way to Las Vegas.  In the end, the Hand of God comes down to rescue the saints from a nuclear bomb.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, Acts 13:2.”

Throughout history, God’s hands have been invisible, mysteriously protecting faithful Israelites.  Accounts abound within the Old Testament.  Noah and his family escaped the flood.  Abraham and Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah before its demise.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived a fiery furnace and Daniel spent a night in a lion’s den, without harm.  Are these merely coincidences or the hands of God?

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off, Acts 13:3.

According to the New Testament, God’s hands are extended from heaven through his followers.  When the elders laid hands on people, discernment, gifts and wisdom are imparted.  Similar to a prayer circle, believers expect God to do great things.  Without faith, even Jesus could not perform miracles in his home town.  Yet, when a concert of prayer is formed around a person in need, the hands of God are more than a legend; His power become a reality to those who receive this blessing.

by Jay Mankus