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Doubt Kills

An arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities of water or amounts of debris highlight the magnitude of a tsunami.  This act of God can erase a beach, tropical destination or village in a matter of minutes.  Like a scene out of a chapter from Revelation, the Christmas morning tsunami which struck Thailand in 2004 devastated this region.  In the passage below, the earthly brother of Jesus compares doubt with a spiritual tsunami that can ravage souls.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

From time to time, I will cross paths with an extremely negative individual.  Fueled by doubt, this unhealthy presence can persuade hopeful hearts to become consumed by stress, worry and unrest.  Unless this invisible force is extinguished, doubt will continue to spread, poisoning souls one group at a time.  While the initial traces of doubt may appear vague, roots of bitterness will rise up from within troubled hearts, brewing until verbal assaults are unleashed in person or via social media.

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen, Matthew 21:21.

Jesus addressed doubt on numerous occasions with his own disciples.  These exchanges reveal his frustration as future leaders of the church became numb to the miracles performed by Jesus daily, John 21:25.  Perhaps, the words in the passage above are a call to snap out of it; wake up to the power of faith.  Using the surrounding mountains as a teachable aid, Jesus exclaims, “see that mountain over there, you can move that which stands in your way through faith.”  Yet, if doubt lingers, any dreams that you have will die.  Therefore, believe, have faith and put your trust in God before doubt kills another victim.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Your Personality

Charisma, magnetism and presence separates one person from the next.  These qualities are built into human beings like DNA.  Some individuals are born with charm, gravitas and hutzpa, naturally flowing out of their souls.  Other people like me rely on confidence to display their personality.  Unfortunately, when things don’t go your way, depression can cause you to forget or lose sight of who you are and the person God wants you to be.

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

In their song, Back to the Start, Esterlyn writes about this topic.  While I am not sure if losing your personality is possible, you can lose your way.  When and if this occurs, the author of this song encourages anyone struggling to go back to the start.  Conviction, guilt and remorse has a way of eating at souls.  This nagging feeling can suck the life out of those who dwell on the negative.  Thus, before things get any worse, go back to the foot of the cross, where grace, mercy and forgiveness can be found.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:5.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is easier said than done.  Those who give into the desire to strive for perfection usually end up disappointed.  Meanwhile, the temptation to be in control entices individuals to place their sole trust in themselves.  This ill-fated decision blinds minds from God’s willingness to provide daily bread for those who believe.  If today’s blog finds you losing touch with your personality, go back to the start so that your confidence will be placed in the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What am I Suppose to do Now?

In my thirty five years as a Christian, rarely have I received answers to prayers instantaneously.  Yet, this past Sunday was one of the exceptions as God immediately sent words of healing to my deflated soul.  Prior to attending church, I often watch a few of my favorite pastors.  Some times one of them may have an off day, but all three spoke directly through the television to my heart.  Dr. Tony Evans, James Merritt and Jentezen Franklin each gave me insight on what I am suppose to do next.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.

The first piece of advice was to start where you are.  Depending upon your current spiritual state, this could be humbling, ashamed of how far you have fallen.  Yet, for now, suck it up, set your ego aside and ask Jesus to mend your bruised, broken and battered heart.  Once you come to grips with this reality, start to give and use what you have.  Whether this is gifts, talents or time, follow in the footsteps of the faithful servants in the parable of the Talents.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing, James 1:22-25.

James is preaching to himself in the passage above, referring to his numerous years of inactive faith, listening to Jesus’ words without the conviction to act.  This leads me to my final point, do what you can while you have the opportunity to serve.  In a letter to the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul uses a sports analogy to drive home this point, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  Striving to attain earthly trophies is noble, but you can’t take them with you in the next life.  Therefore, invest your time on earth striving to earn crowns that will last by doing what you can now.  May this blog give you the vision that you need to press on in this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Straight Out of the Saul Alinsky’s Playbook

Saul David Alinsky was born in 1909.  During the span of his 63 years on earth, Alinsky invested most of his time as a community organizer, socialist and writer.  Saul Alinsky is best known for his 1971 book Rules for Radicals.  Modern leaders such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have credited Alinsky for successfully running movements for change.  Saul Alinsky’s book contains 13 rules to promote social change.  Three of these rules are applied by the mainstream media daily.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, Hebrews 5:11-12.

As I hear, read or see another conservative being attacked, criticized or slandered by Hollywood elites, liberals and progressives, you can make the connection that these troubling comments are coming straight out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook.  For example, the fifth rule states that ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.  If you watch modern comedy shows, jeering, mockery and scorn emulates this rule.  Meanwhile, the eighth rule: Keep the pressure on serves as a mantra to chip away at the founding of America’s Judeo Christian values.  Finally, political talking points are shared throughout cable news and print media outlets to fulfill rule thirteen: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning], 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul refers to what the world will be like during the end times, prior to Jesus’ second coming.  Perhaps, constant vulgar comments are merely a sign of individuals turning away from God.  This void is being replaced by deceitful and seductive spirits causing once normal human beings to act like crazy people.  If this trend continues, doctrines of demons will spread into all avenues of life, corrupting souls and poisoning minds.  May these troubling times serve as a wake up call to test everything you hear, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  The more you study the word of God, your eyes will be opened to Satan’s attacks against faith.

by Jay Mankus

Focus on the Opportunities Around You

One of the difficulties in life is learning to cope with, handle and overcome criticism.  Human nature tends to cause individuals to forget the positive aspects of life by dwelling on all the negative things you hear people say about you.  I have had situations at work where I receive a critical email just before I leave for the weekend.  No matter how hard I try, these words eat away at my soul, often ruining my days off.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

According to the apostle Paul, evil is displayed in various forms every day.  Sometimes this demonstrated through corruption, immorality, sarcasm and ungodly acts.  While these events are a harsh part of reality, you have to make the best of each day God gives you.  Therefore, at some point you have to cast your cares, concerns and worries at the feet of Jesus via prayer, Matthew 11:28.  Then and only then will you be able to focus on the opportunities around you.

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in, Galatians 6:9.

Using his missionary journeys as an example, the apostle Paul didn’t always have positive encounters with an unbelieving world.  Yet, Paul realized that one trip wasn’t enough as several cities were somewhat receptive, but needed more convincing.  Thus, if you are thinking about giving up, press on so that all your dedication, prayers and service will not be deserted in vain.  The more you begin to focus on the opportunities around you, the Holy Spirit will give you the resolve necessary to reap a spiritual harvest in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Pray Now or Pay Later

The words pray now or pay later popped into my head nearly five years ago.  Looking back, I don’t remember if a Bible verse, lyrics of a song or a sermon conceived this concept.  Nonetheless, this phrase inspired me to write a book which turned into a screen play.  In a sense pray now or pay later is a mission statement to avoid subtle compromises that eventually leads individuals to give into temptation.  This process doesn’t happen over night.  Rather, carelessness, poor choices and self trust often results in painful consequences in the future.

After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him. 36 He was saying, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You; take this cup [of judgment] away from Me; but not what I will, but what You will,” Mark 14:35-36.

The night before his final day on earth in human form, Jesus felt compelled to pray.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to confide in his inner circle, James, John and Peter.  Overwhelmed by the weight of a heavy soul, Jesus wrestled with God in prayer, wondering if there was another way.  Yet, knowing his purpose for being born, Jesus yielded with the words, “not what I will but your will be done.”  Jesus understood that praying now would give him the strength to submit to and fulfill God’s will, dying on a cross as the perfect Lamb of God.

And He came back and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Were you unable to keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep [actively] watching and praying so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 39 He went away again and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again He came back and found them sleeping, because their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know how to answer Him. 41 He came back a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough [of that]! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is near!” – Mark 14:37-42

When the disciples were unable to stay awake the first time he asked them to pray, Jesus reveals the key to pray now or pay later.  To avoid temptation, you must keep actively watching over your life in prayer.  This reason for this necessity is that God’s Spirit within you is willing, but your body is weak, vulnerable to giving into temptation.  Proactive prayer such as asking God to place a hedge of protection around you and your loved ones is a great place to start.  However, when a sense of urgency to pray disappears, you might find yourself like the disciples falling away or betraying Jesus at the first sight of adversity.  May this passage above and the words pray now or pay later awaken your soul to commit your life to a concert of prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right

In any social setting, there are preconceived thoughts based upon appearance, attire, background, education, intellect and wealth.  If character is excluded from this set of standards, people can be misled, confusing right from wrong and vice versa.  Like Samuel waiting to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel, the heart is often overlooked.  While David’s brothers fit the physical features of a leader, David’s heart set him apart from his siblings.  Thus, Samuel told Jesse to call his youngest son from the fields, led by the Holy Spirit to anoint David.

Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume; 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume, Luke 7:37-38.

Several hundred years later, another famous anointing took place.  Unfortunately, the disciples were fooled by the tarnished reputation of an unwelcomed guest.  To make matters worse, this woman broke and wasted a valuable vial of perfume.  The actual worth of this bottle was equivalent to nearly a years pay for a first century laborer.  This display blinded religious leaders from the true intentions of this woman.  Staring at the spilled perfume as if it was a load of cash blowing in the wind, the man who invited Jesus over to his house is offended by Jesus’ interaction with this prostitute.  Subsequently, in Simon’s eyes right is wrong and wrong is right.

Now when [Simon] the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a [notorious] sinner [an outcast, devoted to sin],” Luke 7:39

Over reactions like Simon are carried out within homes every night in the 21st century.  Instead of seeing things for what they are, preconceived notions blind decent human beings from the truth.  Thus, knee jerk reactions lead to conflict, division and tension within Christian homes.  Perhaps, everyone needs to become more like Jesus, expecting the best in others regardless of past or present reputations.  May this passage of the Bible speak to your soul, opening your heart to forgive, forget and extend God’s grace and mercy to others.  If you don’t, you too may confuse right from wrong and wrong with right.

by Jay Mankus