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A Solution to Avoid Becoming Side Tracked

While there have been many discerning scholars, famous philosophers and biblical prophets throughout history, I don’t think anyone could image how social media is influencing modern times.  Whether its a pod cast, Instagram post, tweet or You Tube video going viral, every day is like a circus, filled with individuals seeking attention, fame and fortune.  Becoming side tracked from what you need to get accomplished daily if you have a cellular device in your hand or pockets makes staying focused even harder.  Just as curiosity led to Eve’s down fall in the Garden of Eden, Americans are amusing themselves toward a slow spiritual death through a state of constant distractions.

No soldier in active service gets entangled in the [ordinary business] affairs of civilian life; [he avoids them] so that he may please the one who enlisted him to serve, 2 Timothy 2:4.

The apostle Paul writes about daily distractions during the first century.  The mentality necessary to avoid getting emotional caught up in the affairs of society requires military readiness taught in the armed forces.  An active soldiers’ main concern is carrying out and fulfilling their commanding officers’ instructions.  From a spiritual perspective, Paul is encouraging believers to focus on serving God.  Romans 12:1 is symbolic of beginning and completing boot camp, pushing your body to its limits.  As you dedicate your life to God, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal the Lord’s will for life which is phase two.  The more focused your are on serving Jesus, the less concerned you will be with daily events beyond your control.

And if anyone competes as an athlete [in competitive games], he is not crowned [with the wreath of victory] unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer [who labors to produce crops] ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Think over the things I am saying [grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you insight and understanding in everything, 2 Timothy 2:5-7.

The apostle Paul finishes his illustration with an athlete and farmer.  While different, the more each puts into their trade, the skies the limit.  Sports is based upon determining who is the best through a series of competitions during a defined season.  Meanwhile, farmers must work if they want food.  If each treats their land like a prized possession, the outcome will likely be positive.  If you reap what you sow is an accurate principle, then every individual has a choice, to seize each moment or waste your life away.  Sure, deciphering what God’s will can take a life time, but if you develop the resolve to press on, the promise of 2 Timothy 2:7 can be a reality.  As I struggle and wrestle with overcoming the bad news reported each day, join me in a venture to avoid becoming side tracked anymore.

by Jay Mankus

Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt

A friend who is a local pastor in Newark has a mantra that he repeats once a month, “hurt people hurt other people.”  Those who receive verbal attacks in the form of negative comments, put downs and sarcasm tend to build up resentment in their hearts.  At some point this frustration will boil over resulting in an emotional explosion.  This climate stunts one’s ability to love others on a constant basis.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, Isaiah 61:1.

Hurt people often wear emotions on their sleeves, sending out negative electricity when rubbed the wrong way.  Sadly, there are demented individuals who get their kicks by picking on someone until they explode.  This trend is made worse by social media sites which allow violent videos that gain attention or go viral.  In my mind, there isn’t anything funny about hurt people hurting others.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, John 14:27.

Jesus has provided a solution to hurt people in the passage above.  To overcome hate, Jesus extended peace to first century citizens.  Since talk is cheap, Jesus lived out love, reaching out to children, the helpless, poor and sick.  Even when the disciples wanted to call it a day or night, Jesus offered his time to strangers every day.  Despite being falsely accused, sentenced to death and dying on a cross, Jesus loved like He was never hurt.  In view of this, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with strength so that love will not die.

by Jay Mankus

 

Somebody’s Watching You

Hollywood was been warning individuals for years through movies that somebody is watching you.  In 1995 Sandra Bullock starred in The Net, illustrating computer security concerns of the world wide net in this cyber murder mystery.  Three years later Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight took this concept further in Enemy of the State highlighting how satellites and technological advances can be used to spy on American citizens.  Twenty years later, Google, Facebook and tracking devices have made this fear a reality, using cell phones and tablets to actually track where you are and what you’re saying if certain features aren’t turned off.  While the popularity of social media continues to climb, many have become distracted, unaware that somebody is watching you.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good, Proverbs 15:3.

From a spiritual sense, the somebody who is watching your every move is the Creator of the heavens and earth.  The biblical term for this supernatural ability is omnipresence.  According to various authors who have written books describing judgment day, this data is collected over the course of each life.  After you die, every deed is made into a movie reel as your entire life flashes before your eyes.  Following this presentation, God separates the sheep, followers of Jesus from goats, those who rejected God by their actions, behavior and deeds.  If this process does occur, this serves as a warning for the world to shape up by giving your life to Jesus before your hourglass of time runs out on earth.

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord, Jeremiah 23:24.

After wandering away from the Lord during my first semester of college, I came to my senses feeling empty by what the world had to offer.  Through Christian groups on the University of Delaware campus, I went through what I call my spiritual rehab.  On one occasion I was introduced to the word integrity.  A friend illustrated this in terms of doing what’s right when nobody is looking.  This image should be the mindset for all modern day Christians.  For some reason, human nature makes people believe darkness or secrecy can hide sins from God.  However, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah exposes this false notion.  In view of this truth, may the Holy Spirit fill you with integrity so that as God watches your deeds will be pleasing in His sight.

by Jay Mankus

Setting Aside Self

While social media is designed to express what you’re doing, thinking or updating your status, the Bible reminds readers of a much simpler time.  Before modern technological inventions, life revolved around family.  Whether this meant following in your father’s footsteps, setting out to explore a new frontier or take over a family business, you didn’t eat or drink without working hard.  People didn’t have idle time to contemplate whether your life was acceptable or worthy of by your peers.  Rather, selfish desires were set aside for the greater good.

Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and [e]take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me], Mark 8:34.

In the first century, Jesus set high standards for his followers.  There were no surprises or speculation about what to expect.  Rather, Jesus required a full commitment, setting aside any selfish ambitions or desires.  In addition, Jesus laid out three major steps as well as a willingness to endure whatever may come during your faith journey.  According to the gospel of Luke, these extreme measures caused lesser known disciples to turn away, unable to commit.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

To a certain extent, some people are so over committed today that they do nothing well.  Others withdraw, doing little or nothing outside of school or work.  According to the apostle Paul, discipline is available through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This unseen force is attainable through the fruits of the Spirit, but only when you set aside self.  Many individuals struggle throughout life with discipline due to the inability to say no to their flesh.  This weakness is stunting their growth, unable to break free to reach their full potential.  If you are willing and spiritual hungry, set aside self so that God’s will may come into focus.

by Jay Mankus

 

Serenity

If you over hear a conversation at work, follow social media or watch the news, serenity is one of the last things you will find.  Perhaps, if you travel to the Caribbean, retreat to the mountains or go on vacation, signs of serenity will emerge.  Unfortunately, many people rush through life, becoming distracted by concerns, stress and worries.  These burdens make the possibility of experiencing a calming, peaceful and tranquil environment doubtful.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

When I was younger, I wanted to be older, able to freely roam the earth like the prodigal son.  Now that I am old, I wish I enjoyed and savored the days of my youth.  Besides going to school and playing sports, I had it made.  Sure, there are always periods or phases that you would like to forget, but the teenage years should have been the best.  Yet, puberty, self-esteem issues and giving into temptation often derails childhood dreams.  Meanwhile, the older you become, the more complicated life gets.  These negative influences make serenity a foreign concept.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you, Isaiah 26:3.

The Old Testament offers some advice to those who seek to find serenity.  First, Solomon implores individuals to place their trust in the Lord.  According to this former king, those who practice this by faith will receive insight as God straightens your path through life.  Second, the prophet Isaiah talks about developing a mindset.  Peace, a by product of serenity is obtained by fixing your mind on God.  If you feel overwhelmed by the chaos that exists daily, may these words inspire you to find a state of freedom from the storms and disturbances within this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Murmuring

As technology replaces words with emojis, the English language is losing descriptive terms.  One example is known as murmuring; where individuals complain without confronting or solving the problem in question.  Rather, dissenters quietly express their displeasure via gripes, moans or muttering.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, Acts 6:1.

If you belong to a church, there should an annual congregational meeting.  The purpose of this event is for church leaders to illustrate through a financial report where all gifts and tithes are invested or spent.  If this document does not appear to be genuine or above reproach, expect the murmuring to begin.  During the first century, apostles discovered that they were overlooking the needs of certain widows.  This complaint convinced leadership to separate teachers from servants.  In this case, murmuring was effective.

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables,” Acts 6:2.

Today, social media has revolutionized murmuring.  Instead of sitting in the back of a church grumbling, disagreements are posted as blogs, posts or tweets.  Some of this dirty laundry goes viral, creating dumpster fires that affect, impact and wound the body of Christ.  Those afraid of confrontation are empowered to express how things should be without talking to anyone.  In the end, this type of murmuring does more harm than good.  If this trend continues, no one will want to enter certain churches due to past murmurings of the disenfranchised.  The next time you feel the urge to mumble discontent, realize that any complaint may cause a child of God to stumble.  May this image put to rest unwholesome talk which tears down the church.

by Jay Mankus

Skeletons of Your Past

Despite how perfect some individuals may act, behave and live out on a daily basis, everyone possesses imperfections.  These blemishes often result in a dark side with secret addictions, bad habits or unthinkable acts that would shock the average person.  This collection of scars accumulate into skeletons of your past.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us, 1 John 1:8-10.

There was a time in American history where honesty was the best policy.  However, sometimes revealing a skeleton or two from your past can do permanent damage.  Recently. Pete Rose admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a minor back in the 1970’s.  This confession sent shockwaves across the country, igniting outrage throughout social media.  Based upon the comments posted, it’s as if this was the worst act ever committed.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The second aspect of confession is taking the steps toward the road to recovery.  Perhaps, this may explain the criticism of Rose over his lack of contrition for his previous transgressions.  Thus, if you want to experience healing from the skeletons of your past, you must learn to walk according to the Holy Spirit.  Based upon the apostle Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will provide a way out when temptations arrive.  In your journey toward healing, may the Lord guide you out of bondage to find freedom in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus