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Tag Archives: The Bible

What Did He Just Say?

During my decade long run as a high school teacher, there were many unexpected situations that I wasn’t prepared for.  One such circumstance involved students who sought to curry favor with me hoping to soften me up.  As a Christian teaching in a faith based school,  I was naïve to teenagers with hidden agendas.  Knowing the hearts of human beings, nothing got past Jesus.  Unafraid of offending individuals, potential disciples of Jesus often replied, “what did he just say?”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” Luke 9:68.

During one such exchange, Jesus uses an unusual illustration to address someone who vowed to go wherever Jesus went.  The passage above summarizes this conversation, suggesting this man walked away disappointed, unable to meet Jesus’ expectations for committed disciples.  Based upon the context, Jesus plainly states that there will be many nights without a place to call home.  Life as a servant of God takes many twists and turns, relying on faith to know where to go and what to do.

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” Luke 6:70.

The next dialogue in the verse above comes across as cold hearted.  Surely, a son or daughter should be able to return home to pay their last respect to a parent.  However, the term dead symbolizes the past or those spiritually gone, unable to reach.  Thus, the goal of a disciple is to focus on the future, proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ wherever the Holy Spirit leads you.  Jesus made the standards for a disciple so high that only those willing to surrender their lives completely could meet this criteria.  While Jesus made several head scratching statements in the Bible, the more you reflect upon his words, the clearer God’s call to action becomes.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Fence Jumping

Before the days of gated communities and security cameras, home owners erected fences to keep people off their property.  Animals lovers added big guard dogs to scare off potential trespassers.  Despite these obvious warnings, if these obstacles meant saving time through a short cut, I was willing to take the risk as a teenager.  Depending upon who was with me at the time, we would approach cautiously and look in every direction to see if it was safe.  When the timing was right, my friends and I jumped the fence, ran and cleared the other side.

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out, John 10:2-3.

The Bible refers to a different kind of fence, a shepherd’s pen.  Early in the morning, first century shepherds led their sheep to a pasture to graze during the day, leading them with his staff.  Before night fall, the shepherd would count each one before placing them back into a pen for the night.  However, his work was not done, often sleeping outside overnight to protect his sheep from potential fence jumpers, wild animals hoping to get a free meal.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it, Matthew 7:14.

Today, fence jumpers still exist.  Some do so to escape a troubled past, hoping to find a new life on the other side.  Some find the grass greener on the opposing side of their fence.  A combination of discontentment and jealousy entice these people to consider exchanging one fence for another.  Meanwhile, others try to find the easiest way possible through life, even if it means cutting some corners here and there.  According to Jesus, only a few enter through the eternal gate that leads to life.  While countless attempt to jump this fence, no one has or will ever be successful.  Therefore, if you want to enter this place you must listen for and to the Shepherd to lead you to the gate of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

A National Anthem in Crisis

Prior to the events in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11th 2001, the relationship between sporting events and the playing of National Anthems had become a mundane ritual.  If you take away the Olympics, playoffs and the Super Bowl, anthems were rarely ever televised.  Some professional sports even played anthems while players were still in the locker room.  However, post 9/11 the singing of Francis Scott Key’s song united this nation for a minute or so daily.  I was in Philadelphia for the first National Football League Monday Night Football game following this terrorist attack.  When a flag the shape of the United States was displayed across the entire field, the crowd went crazy, setting the stage for an emotional national anthem.  Those professional athletes who have chosen to kneel or sit have forgotten what the national anthem represents.  As more begin similar displays as a protest, the future of America’s national anthem is in jeopardy.

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! – Psalm 105:2

As a former teacher, I understand pressure to remove the national anthem at professional sporting events isn’t the end but the beginning of an attempt to erase any trace of God from American history.  During homeroom or over a loud speaker, public schools read a daily passage or verse from the Bible up to the early 1960’s.  The reading communicated a morale, trait or value teachers hoped to instill within their students.  When a few atheists were offended, a law suit followed that removed the Bible permanently from public education.  When schools obliged others were upset about students and teachers praying for each other.  This too was banned, stripping God’s influence from the classroom.  Looking back at history, schools have never been the same as God has removed his own blessing from those who have not made room for Him.  Then, there was the 10 commandments, “surely we can’t allow human beings to read and see these rigid rules.”  Today, religious leaders are arrested if 10 commandment statues aren’t removed from all court buildings.  Finally, there is the pledge of allegiance which has been made optional for children or simply discarded all together.  If the national anthem is silenced, there’s always something else atheists, leftists and progressives will deem offensive.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted, Isaiah 49:13.

I hope the owners of professional sports teams don’t cave to public pressure like weak minded republicans more interested in gaining approval from the press rather than upholding American values.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp.  When this promise was made, I don’t think Trump realized how deep and dangerous this resistance would be.  While the media continues to label the Trump presidency as the worst ever, the horizon appears to be void of any leaders willing to stand up for the national anthem.  Sure, there may be some closet defenders, afraid to vocalize their opinions.  Yet, America appears to be on the verge of a social war between the past and the present.  As someone who grew up in a military family, respect was impressed upon me.  Unfortunately, some where along the way respect for God and country has slowly faded away.  In view of this decay, may God raise someone up to carry the torch for the National Anthem so that this treasured tradition does not disappear like those now forgotten.  Stand up and sing, thanking God for all the Lord has done for this land called America.

by Jay Mankus

 

Beware of the New Age of Pharisees

At the beginning of the first century, two types of religious leaders emerged.  The lesser known Sadducees were members of the ruling class of Jewish priests.  Meanwhile, the Pharisees were a strict sect of law abiding individuals who stringently observed rites and ceremonies of the Torah.  This group’s legalistic mentality added rules and regulations not mentioned in the Bible.  Thus, it wasn’t uncommon for these elite members to play a gotcha style religion.

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation,” Luke 20:46-47.

Two thousand years later, a new type of Pharisee have arrived on to the scene.  Fueled by the gospel of political correctness, new talking points are introduced daily.  Controlling the airways, anyone who attempts to challenge, deviate or question progressive views are reprimanded.  Anyone who does not apologize by retracting previous statements are attacked, defamed and smeared by the media.  Those who cave to these threats become enslaved by this manmade religion.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction, 2 Peter 2:1.

One of Jesus’ disciples receives a vision about the end of days.  According to Peter, false prophets will introduce various heresies.  A heresy is defined as any belief or opinion which is contrary to biblical doctrine.  Unfortunately. if the media controls and defines the narrative, absolute truth is suppressed.  This is the danger of these times as the influence of this new age of Pharisee intensifies.  In view of this cultural climate, follow the advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 by testing everything you hear with the Word of God; then cling to that which is good.  May you endure these trying times as a New Age of Pharisees emerges.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Life Void of Substance

Substance can be defined as a particular kind of matter with uniform properties.  Yet, something as simple as water can be labeled as boring.  Subsequently, human nature draws individuals toward that which is intoxicating or stimulating.  Those who lack this substance can get lost, disappearing from sight, hidden by strong personalities.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot,” Matthew 5:13.

As someone born with a severe speech impediment, I have never been known to be eloquent.  If you don’t possess this quality, it’s essential to add flavor to the lives of those whom you meet.  However, if you lose your passion for a career, hobbies or life in general, there is a tendency to become stale, adding little to daily conversations.  Unfortunately, this is where I currently find myself, a life void of substance.

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent, Exodus 14:14.

The times when I become alive are often influenced by my hot button issues.  These topics allow me to express my knowledge, love and perspective.  When conversations do not provide an opportunity to open out, there is another source which adds flavor.  Whether it’s opening up the Bible, fellowship with believers or times of prayer, God unveils spiritual insight to those listening.  Therefore, if you find yourself on the verge of a life void of substance, fuel up on the Holy Spirit to add flavor to the lives of those you interact with.

by Jay Mankus

A Vessel of Healing

When the term vessel comes up in a conversation, I immediately visualize a cruise ship, sail boat or the SS Minnow from Gilligan’s Island reruns.  While I have never experienced the amenities of a luxurious cruise, this vessel takes you where you want to go.  Sure, the weather may not always cooperate, but the goal is to arrive at each selected destination.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

When it comes to healing, the Bible refers to vessels as a vehicle for change.  Thus, spiritual vessels must avoid the popular stops and distractions the majority tend to visit.  Jesus uses the analogy of a broad road that attracts a large crowd of people.  However, in the end, this place is empty, void of any permanent satisfaction.

For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, the sea, the stands, and the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, Jeremiah 27:19.

Unfortunately, if you want to be a vessel of healing, you must accept the fact that this will be a lonely journey.  Jeremiah is nicknamed the weeping prophet as many of the messages he received from God to convey to Israel were negative.  The truth hurts as Jack Nicholson famously states as Colonel Jessup, “you can’t handle the truth.”  Vessels of healing must ignore the temptation to be popular by faithfully obeying the Holy Spirit.  In a world desperate for leadership, healing and truth, step out in faith as the Lord is waiting for A Few Good Men, to become vessels of healing.

by Jay Mankus

America’s Uncivil War

Rarely does a war develop overnight.  Usually there are a series of events which convince one side to consider a response.  Acts of aggression, conflicts or injustice tend to trigger battles that can last for years.  On some occasions leaders earn the support of their country due to just, moral or social causes.

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him, 2 Timothy 2:4.

Such is the case of America’s Civil War.  The country became divided over slavery following president Abraham Lincoln’s election.  Northern states wanted to free slaves while the South fought for state rights.  In February 1861, seven southern states declared their secession to form the Confederate States of America.  An attack on Fort Sumter commenced this four year war.  In the end, history remembers this period as a positive step in the right direction since the North’s victory gave birth to the civil rights movement.

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division, Luke 12:51.

One hundred and fifty years later, a different kind of war is developing.  However, this battle isn’t between state lines.  Rather, America’s uncivil war is based upon ideology.  Liberals and Progressives have joined forces to rid America of conservative values.  Activist judges, indoctrination using education and revisionist historians are slowly erasing the works of America’s founding fathers.  With most of the mainstream media on their side, God may soon be banned from America, using the same strategy that kicked the Bible and prayer out of public education.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask, James 4:1-2.

The earthly brother of Jesus shines light on why this uncivil war continues.  According to James, the root of uncivil acts, behavior and words comes from unfulfilled desires.  When people don’t get their way, internal frustrations come out in various forms of rage.  Social media tempts angry souls to vent everything within.  This just adds fuel to the fire igniting like minded individuals to carry on this war.  The only means to peace or a truce rests in God’s divine intervention to send another revival to save this land that I love.  May God have mercy on us all.

by Jay Mankus