RSS Feed

Tag Archives: vulnerable

Now and Then

Its hard to believe that on this day twenty years ago I married Leanne Marie Wagner.  Having a wedding in Chicago two days after Thanksgiving can be risky, at the mercy of the weather.   An unwelcomed winter storm could have arrived at any time, but on November 25th, 1995 the Lord was on our side, blessing us with sun and a fifty degree day.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

Most wedding vows include the phrase “for better or for worse.”  This term appears within the marriage service section of the Common Book of Prayer.  Published in 1549, the concept of persevering with a marriage til death due us part can be traced back to the late 1300’s.  Unfortunately, sticking with your spouse throughout one’s life get’s harder and harder as modern cultures have accepted and embrace divorce as a viable option.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25.

While premarital counseling is a good place to start, you’re never really fully prepared for marriage.  The intimacy of marriage reveals all of your imperfections, leaving individuals vulnerable, at the mercy of your mate.  In addition, time has a way of adding weight, losing luster and deteriorating parts of your body.  Anyone can be in love on their honeymoon, but true love takes an unyielding will.  Thus, now and then, I vow to keep my promise to my wife Leanne until death due us part.

by Jay Mankus

 

Advertisements

Finding the Weak Link

Whenever law enforcement or the FBI wants to bring down a powerful criminal, perhaps they might start with surveillance.  After a period of time, officials will search for a small fry who has access to the big fish.  When the weak link is identified, this individual is pressured to provide important information.  If this person does not cooperate, threats of prosecution often persuade them to go along.

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him, Mark 14:1.

Early in the first century, religious officials realized they could not outwit Jesus, so they began to secretly probe his twelve disciples.  During this process, the chief priests identified someone they could influence.  Miffed by Jesus’ waste of perfume, the treasurer Judas Iscariot, was tweaked enough to turn to the dark side.  Tempted by thirty pieces of silver, Judas agreed to betray Jesus with a kiss.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly, Mark 14:4-5.

Regardless of how strong someone may appear, each possess flaws, imperfections and weaknesses.  Thus, no one is exempt from being exposed as a weak link.  Satan knows your kryptonite, scanning back and forth throughout the earth, waiting to pounce on the isolated, vulnerable and weak.  Therefore, be on guard, armed with the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-20 so when the days of evil come, you will be ready to defend yourself.

by Jay Mankus

Forget Me Not

Myosotis sylvatica, a member of the borage family, consists of a light blue flower regarded as a symbol of friendship.  As Spring showers bring May flowers, Forget Me Not arrangements are a popular gift.  Despite their beauty, time will cause the most gorgeous flowers to fade.  Likewise, absence can cause anyone to forget an important anniversary, birthday or relationship.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you,” Isaiah 49:15.

Distance, distractions and neglect are primary factors which lead to forget.  Work hours may cause a father to not spend enough time with family.  Misguided priorities can steer someone off course, resulting in poor choices and wasted opportunities.  Finally, a state of busyness can lead faithful followers to fall away from God, gradually slipping away by missing church, godly fellowship and quiet times praying and reading the Bible.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. – Psalm 137:5

Psalm 137:5 acknowledges that even God’s chosen people were vulnerable to a short term memory.  Thus, to avoid this from going any further, this servant of God asks to lose their gifts and talents rather than abandon the Lord.  Today, one careless decision, lazy day or rut can break God’s heart.  While Valentine’s Day is full of Forget Me Not cards, one prayer from heaven rains down to earth daily, hoping God’s children will not forget their heavenly Father.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

McFarland USA

As a former cross country runner, the story of McFarland intrigued me.  While not every sport is perfect, nor will every athlete possess special memories, yet cross country is like a good book you can’t put down.  Eager to find out the conclusion, the message of the movie McFarland USA is a story book ending vanishing from America, a species on the verge of extinction.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

For those foreign to the term Cross Country, family is at the very essence of this sport.  Perhaps, long bus rides to attend Saturday invitationals is forced upon participants initially.  However, after the training is over, the stop watch reset and pain fades away, strangers share a common bond of sweat and tears.  Regardless of the final outcome, the journey to improve far surpasses wins and losses.  In the end, treasured memories exist, as vulnerable hearts pour out their souls to teammates, welcoming people into their lives they never dreamed of or imagined.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31

The most important message of McFarland USA is choosing community over a career.  When success at a small school leads to a dream job, most follow the money, looking for an easy excuse to leave.  Yet, Coach Jim White’s legacy, played by Kevin Cosner, was built as the lives of his runners began to be transformed.  While his resume did include victories, he brought hope to hopeless Latinos.  Therefore, the next time you think you’re on the verge of striking it rich, make sure you don’t run anyone over on your way out of town.  Although wealth may feed your family, becoming a part of a community enriches your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Y2 Decay

It’s hard to believe that its now been 15 years since the Y2K scare.  Due to the coding of DOS based programs, there were growing concerns that software would default from 1999 to 1900 resulting in the loss of sensitive information including bank accounts on January 1, 2000.  Thus, businesses, programmers and IT support spent over a year along with millions of dollars to update technology with modern solutions.  Although there were some minor glitches, the world survived.

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. Proverbs 27:23

While advances in modern living have improved annually, the same can’t be said about the faith of Americans.  Except for a period of time following the aftermath of 9/11/01, church attendance has been on a downward spiral for the last 15 years.  According to a Fuller Institute Study, 2.7 million church members will become inactive sometime throughout this year.  Several of whom will leave their church home feeling hurt, neglected or wounded.

I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. – Ezekiel 22:30

The byproduct of this decay has resulted in a society vulnerable to half-truths and misleading documentaries, void of absolute truth.  Recent attempts by atheists in Hollywood to portray a biblical Noah and Moses failed miserably.  If this trend continues, a nation of faith established by our founding fathers will be forgotten.  May those called by God, like the prophet in Isaiah 6:8, step forward to lead the lost out of darkness into the light.  During times of despair, fight off spiritual decay by placing your feet on the solid rock of Christ, Psalm 40:1-3.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Secrets of the Heart

If you are a keen observer, subtle signs like body language may get your attention.  Others who are good listeners can detect clues, hidden signals individuals are trying to express without being obvious.  Such is the case of the Psalmist; author of Psalm 119.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. – Psalm 119:10.

This passage suggests that good intentions can be derailed by an impure heart.  Human efforts only take you so far as a disease has been passed on into DNA, resulting in generations of imperfect people.  The weeping prophet did not hold anything back in his warnings to the nation of Israel, calling the heart deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17:9-10.

10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. – Romans 3

While the heart is the well-spring of life, Proverbs 4:23, its fragile and vulnerable.  Harsh words can cut like a knife, leaving spiritual wounds deep inside an innocent soul.  For this reason, Jesus urged his followers to become born again, receiving a heart transplant through the indwelling of a Mighty Counselor, John 3:3-5.  Even if you experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the heart still needs further protection, Ephesians 6:12-18.  Therefore, as you uncover secrets of the heart, lean on God’s grace until the cleansing of your heart, sanctification, is complete.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting on the Night to Fall

Like criminals, Satan plans out his attacks well in advance.  Although not everyone is successful, each serves a purpose, trying the wear individuals out.  Once a saint ventures out on their own without the armor of God, they become vulnerable regardless of how godly a man or woman may be.  Essentially, Lucifer is waiting on the night to fall.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. – 1 Chronicles 21:1

Exhibit A, take a successful leader of Israel like King David in 1 Chronicles 21:1.  Victorious in battle over a nation with giants, Philistine, David’s mind begins to ponder, “look what I’ve done.”  David mistook God’s blessing for his own success.  Instead of acknowledging the true source, Satan preyed on David’s thoughts, sowing seeds of pride.  According to this passage, this idea gave birth to sin, James 1:13-15, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” – Matthew 16:23

Exhibit B may even be more powerful, found in Matthew 16:13-23.  Peter goes from the hero of this passage to the goat in the course of a few minutes.  Perhaps, Peter’s mind also became corrupted, puffed up by the notion he was the only disciple who professed Jesus to be the Son of the Living God.  Peter’s failure is exactly why the apostle Paul adds 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, making sure that all believers take their thoughts captive since he knows the devil is waiting on the night to fall.

by Jay Mankus