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Tag Archives: the devil

Let the Weeding Begin

 

Unless you love a freshly manicured yard or need the money, not many people get excited about doing yard work.  Beside heat and humidity, keeping up with rampant weeds that overtake a garden can be demoralizing.  You may spend an entire weekend pulling up every invasive plant only to see others re-emerge in it’s place a few days later.  While using weed killer products like Roundup is an option, most of the modern products are so watered down that there isn’t enough chemicals inside to permanent remove these nuisances of the neighborhood.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, Matthew 13:41.

Jesus introduces an new concept of weeding during a private meeting with his disciples.  Unable to figure out the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus begins to reveal the symbolism of this story.  According to the passage above, at the end of this age Jesus will command the angels to weed out all negative influences on earth.  These forces are demonic, evil and unruly spirits who have led astray willing participants.  Unfortunately, this process won’t begin until Jesus’ second coming, leaving vessels of the Devil that create chaos.  This dark power eventually filled Stephen Paddock, taking the lives of 58 innocent victims.

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.

While individuals wait for the weeding to begin, many people like me have a lot to clean up.  Time, weariness and unkempt souls have led everyone to do something dishonorable.  Although these actions vary in degree, hearts should develop a sense of urgency to get right with God.  Instead of judging others, perhaps a little soul searching may reveal areas of decay in desperate need of healing.  Therefore, as evil continues to flourish, it’s time to commence your own spiritual weeding so that through the Holy Spirit you will become an honorable vessel ready to serve your Creator.  Let the weeding begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

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A Split Decision

In the context of boxing, split decisions occur when judges view a contest from opposing points of view.  Unlike unanimous decisions where there is a clear victor, contestants may sway judges by a great comeback or regaining control of a fight.  While modern technology and social media use round by round scorecards today, no one knows what the judges think until the final results are announced at the end of each bout.

 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand, Matthew 12:25.

Throughout the course of each day, arguments tend to result in split decisions depending upon your worldview.  These disagreements can create divisive debates that divide rather than unite.  After President Trump’s comments last Friday in Alabama about National Football players kneeling during the national anthem, professional athletes, owners and most of the media created a firestorm.  After these attacks went viral, citizens from the heartland, Nascar and veterans chimed in to support their president.  A week later, a split decision still exists, with convincing arguments on both sides.

 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges, Matthew 12:27.

During the first century, another controversy began to brew.  The Pharisees felt like Jesus was making a power play, introducing a new concept to Judaism.  This teaching was heresy in the eyes of religious leaders.  Jealous of Jesus’ ability to heal, a rumor spread about Jesus working behind the scenes with the Devil to fool everyone.  Using logic, Jesus began to poke holes in their theory, responding with the two passages above.  These words remind me of today’s current debate over standing or kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.  In the end, if America doesn’t come to a point where people agree to disagree, the end will be in sight.  Therefore, the next time you attempt to play the role of judge and jury, take a step back and let God be the ultimate judge.

by Jay Mankus

 

Following in the Footsteps of Judas

As one of my college professors once proclaimed, “If you don’t know history, it is bound to repeat itself with the next generation.”  While reading the passage below, I began to wonder, what caused a disciple of Jesus to fall from God’s grace?  How could someone who spent nearly three years with Jesus betray Him in such a manner.  This topic requires further attention so that others do not follow in the footsteps of Judas.

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him, Mark 14:43-45.

According to John 12, Judas Iscariot served as the money changer.  In modern terms, Judas was the treasurer of the 12 disciples.  Whenever individuals donated to Jesus’ ministry, Judas was responsible for collecting and distributing this money to pay for food and travel during this three year span.  While it’s not mentioned, anyone healed by Jesus would have felt compelled to give something exchange for each miracle performed.  Although not everyone possessed money, the wealthy likely contributed a handsome sum.  As gifts and tithes started pouring in, Judas began to help himself like a corrupt politician.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it, John 12:4-6.

Based upon the passage above, careless use of expensive perfume set Judas off.  Enraged by a prostitute wasting this by anointing Jesus, Judas’ bitterness opened the door for the Devil to enter.  During the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Jesus confronts Judas, referring to him as the Devil.  This public rebuke in front of his peers pushed Judas over the edge, making a deal with religious leaders in exchange for money to hand Jesus over to them.  Whenever individuals allow greed, money or selfishness to influence decisions, integrity is lost.  If you want to avoid this slippery slope, take heed of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24.  Failing to do so may lead to following in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot.

by Jay Mankus

When You Can’t Figure Out Life On Your Own

Before Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and the International Code that bears his name, creative people have always found ways to secretly communicate.  In the first century, Jesus spoke in parables to convey nuggets of truth.  These interesting stories illustrate important facts about life.  However, these allegories are meant to make people think, pondering the hidden meaning within each parable.  This style of communication often dumbfounded Jesus’ own disciples, seeking private meetings to make sure they correctly interpreted and understood what Jesus was trying to say.  Unfortunately, when you can’t figure out life on your own, Jesus isn’t around anymore to ask in person.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” Matthew 9:12-13.

After healing a paralyzed man in his home town, Jesus shares the passage above.  The first part of this verse makes sense, the sick need a doctor as the healthy have either learned to self medicate or don’t have a life threatening condition that requires immediate attention.  The second comment requires further thought, Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice.  Since Jesus is likely addressing the Pharisees who witnessed this miracle, sacrifice can be seen as a form of teetotalism.  Following a set of rules perfectly will always result in failure, disappointment or frustration.  Realizing the limitations of the human body, Jesus urges individuals to offer mercy to all, even for those who don’t deserve it.  While this may not be exactly what Jesus means, it’s a good place to start.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16.

The author of Hebrews builds upon desiring mercy.  Without mercy, you can’t comprehend grace.  Thus, when sinners are forgiven, especially those who deserve punishment, the human mind struggles to fathom this concept.  Meanwhile, those who go and learn what Jesus means are able to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.  However, when you can’t figure life out on your own, Jesus promised to leave behind a counselor, John 16:13.  This invisible presence will guide you through periods of darkness.  Sometimes you might think God’s Spirit has left you, but it’s likely the Devil trying to convince you otherwise.  Press on and don’t give up as the Holy Spirit is waiting to help you figure out the mysteries in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

I’m Not A Lost Cause

In my early years, I suffered from bouts of depression.  Unable to clearly communicate to others due to stuttering only complicated this issue.  While in junior high, I considered suicide as a viable option.  I guess at some point the Devil convinced me that my life was a lost cause.

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

One of the ways to escape depression is through regaining confidence.  Unfortunately for me, I was volatile, fluctuating between cocky and worthless.  Since the only thing I had going for me early on in life was sports, I lived and died with each game or result.  This type of emotional roller coaster wasn’t healthy as I lacked the substance necessary to endure for the long haul.

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

In the lyrics of Remedy Drive’s song Resuscitate Me, there is a line which reminds individuals like me that my life is not a lost cause.  Rather, when you enter into a relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, purpose and meaning is found.  Instead of living a self serving life focused on a “what about me mentality,” Jesus takes lost sheep and shows them the way, John 14:6.  Join me on this journey to convey to others “you’re not a lost cause.”

by Jay Mankus

Songs to Get You Through the Storms in Life

When radio was in it’s prime, I spent summer days as a teenager hanging out on my back deck with friends listening to music.  Except for all request lunch hours, you could guess which dozens songs were played on an hourly loop until the next set of singles were released.  The only thing comparable from this era that remains today is Delilah Radio.  One of the few DJ’s to survive advances in technology, Delilah’s nightly show plays songs to get it’s listeners through the storms of life.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Like the various genres that exist, my tastes in music has evolved over time.  Early on, I turned to songs from Air Supply, Chicago and REO Speedwagon to get me through trying times.  Unfortunately, some of these songs made me more depressed, especially ballads by Chicago.  Thus, I began searching for something more meaningful.  Lyrics with encouraging, positive and uplifting messages.  My good friend Mindy introduced me to a new sound, inviting me to my first Christian concert.  My swim coach Ken Horne who also served as the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s school huddle leader, furthered my knowledge of this brand of wholesome music.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27

These two individual inspired a life long quest to uncover hidden gems.  This lead me to discover a huge Christian warehouse where I could listen to music before buying it.  Meanwhile, Jackie, the former owner of the Sonshine House was my guide to find my favorite songs played a new local Christian station.  When I didn’t have anyone to ask, I developed a successful system based upon album covers.  Those artists who spent a little extra money on design and graphics usually produced solid tunes.  Sure, I bought plenty of duds void of any decent songs, yet I pressed on to share my passion with others.

Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him., 1 Samuel 16:23.
On this journey, I came across Christians who practiced legalism, referring to any secular form of music as being inspired by the Devil.  Years later I read a quote from Wes King in an article on the difference between Christian and secular music.  King’s opinion struck a cord with me that I have adopted.  “There are two types of music, that which glorifies God and those that glorify self.”  Depending upon your preference, you need to make sure you don’t get caught up judging the opposing side.  Rather, it’s best to seek and tell others about those songs which help you overcome the storms in life.  Below is a list of artists and topics that have helped me endure various hardships in life.
Crying Out for Help: Breathe on Me by Jennifer Knapp
Coping with Suicide: For Annie by Petra
Finding Answers: Is There Anybody Out There by Secondhand Serenade
Finding New Life: The Lost Get Found (remix) by Britt Nicole
God’s Presence: Hold On by Stellar Kart
Holding on to Hope: The Anchor Holds by Ray Boltz
Loneliness: He Won’t Let You Go by The Kry
Long Distance Friendships: Somewhere Somehow by Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith
Overcoming Addiction: Pull by Curious Fools
Perseverance: For Those Who Wait by Firefight
Starting Over: A Father’s Love by Billy Crockett
Seeking Forgiveness: When God Ran by Benny Hester
Starting Over: Back to the Start by Esterlyn
Struggling with Integrity: Get it Right by Silverline
Struggling with Problems in Life: Therapy by Reliant K
The Fullness of God: The Love of Christ by Wes King
Overcoming Failure: Perfect Love by David & the Giants
Overcoming Self-Esteem Issue: Mirror by Barlow Girl
When You’re About to Quit: Six Candles by FM Static
When You’re Losing Faith: Faith Like That by Jonah 33
by Jay Mankus

The Pot Dilemma

Since the discovery, exploration and colonization of America, tobacco has been a part this culture.  From the Indians, on to the Pilgrims and to the Amish of today, growing tobacco is an annual tradition.  This crop was part of a thriving industry until medical research revealed a connection to cancer in the 1960’s.  Advertisements, commercials and movie stars portrayed smoking cigarettes as cool.  Despite warning labels placed on packaging, tobacco companies continued to profit.  High schools offered smoking courts to students who sought a daily nicotine high.  Yet, in the last twenty years, the demonization of tobacco has taken extreme measures to reduce the smoking population.  Sin taxes, the banning of smoking establishments in major cities and public service announcements hope to snuff off this harmful hobby.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If leaders in the Progressive Party get their way, the government will soon control what you eat or drink.  This implementation began with the national school lunch plan, forcing students to eat healthy.  The only problem is you can’t force someone to do something they are not ready to do.  Sure, you can try through coercion like putting outrageous taxes on soda or sugar products.  This may deter individuals but at some point Americas will realize what is happening.  What’s next coffee or a modern tea party response?  When you don’t allow free will to play itself out, freedoms will be taken away one at a time.  Local and state governments are now applying high school tactics at a national level where one person’s trespass bans an act for everyone else.  Yet, why would a growing number of states now be open to legalizing marijuana?

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires, Romans 13:13-14.

Initially, states introduced legislation for medical pot use only for killing pain.  Today, 17 states has developed or passed similar laws.  A few states out west have expanded earlier bills by allowing pot shops.  Recently, Denver has reported a large homeless population possibly due to drug addiction.  Meanwhile, state officials blame this on a lack of affordable housing.  My one question for the pot dilemma is if it took a couple of centuries to realize smoking cigarettes was bad for your health, how long will it take to scrutinize pot smoking?  I lost a good friend from high school to cancer due to smoking pot.  Another friend from college was unable to have kids, killing his sperm count from excessive pot smoking with this issue eventually ending his marriage.  I’m sure my readers have there own nightmares. While tobacco companies were demonized for corporate profits, state governments are set up to make millions in tax dollars.  Will there be a sense of urgency to uncover the dangers of smoking pot or will states hide behind this new slush fund?  This is the pot dilemma.

by Jay Mankus