Advertisements
RSS Feed

Operation Going Dark

Going dark is military lingo for the sudden termination of communication.  This decision is designed to prevent enemies from detecting chatter or revealing the location of a squad or unit.  While communication appears to have ceased, in reality contact has moved from a public channel to a private communication channel to avoid eavesdropping from opposition forces..

Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life,” John 8:12.

While military operations have code names, physical operations focus on a specific part of the human body.  As for me, I will be having cataract surgery on my right eye to improve my vision.  Initially, I will be going dark, forced to stop writing until the healing process enables me.  Starting next Friday, this site may not post a blog every day.  I’m not sure what the future holds, but God willing daily devotions will resume in His time.

The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it], John 1:5.

The third example of going dark is the least pleasant option.  Whether through curiosity, disobedience or rebellion, some people will turn their back on God.  This decision blocks the light of truth, distorting right from wrong.  The longer individuals remain separated from God, going dark becomes a lifestyle not just a term.  May this blog serve as a warning to urge wanderers to turn back toward God’s light.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

How God Works Behind the Scenes

One day a family emergency arose in the house of Kish.  Those of you who are pet owners understand the frustration when your dog gets out, roaming the neighborhood until you are able to get them back on a leash.  According to the passage below, donkeys escaped from a back field and did not return.  Similar to a household chore, Saul is requested to take a servant with him to corral these animals.

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, had wandered off and were lost. Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you and arise, go look for the donkeys.” And they passed through the hill country of Ephraim and the land of Shalishah, but did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there and the land of the Benjamites, but they [still] did not find them, 1 Samuel 9:3-4.

From a human perspective, Saul was embarking on a minuscule task to help his family.  Based upon the details provided by Samuel, this unsuccessful search went on for a couple of days.  This quest just so happened to enable Saul to cross paths with a revered prophet.  While Saul and his servant look for a couple of donkey, Samuel was searching for Israel’s first king.  This unusual encounter illustrates how God works behind the scenes.

Now a day before Saul came, the Lord had informed Samuel [of this], saying, 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him as leader over My people Israel; and he will save My people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have looked upon [the distress of] My people, because their cry [for help] has come to Me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, “There is the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall rule over My people [as their king],” 1 Samuel 9:15-17.

Tonight you may have to work.  Others may be forced to go to school tomorrow morning.  Over the weekend, you will likely have to fix something, start a project or work on something around the house.  These mundane exercises often bring about boredom, a waste of time to many Americans and individuals throughout the world.  Yet, just as Samuel was secretly searching for a king, God is behind the scenes waiting for the next person who is willing to stand in the gap, by awakening their faith, Ezekiel 22:30.

by Jay Mankus

My Grand Father’s Rocking Chair

Prior to the breakdown of traditional families in America, my parents generation were committed to maintaining relationships with their extended family.  Despite living four hours away, I visited grand parents on each side of my family 3-4 times per year.  I didn’t need ancestry.com to know who my relatives were.  Rather, I grew up sitting around a large kitchen table listening to stories for a minimum of 30 minutes per meal.  My earliest recollections of my mom’s father, a resident of Hershey, Pennsylvania was sitting on his lap eating chocolate kisses.  While this chair rocked, it is considered a glider, green leather upholstery with stained wooden arm rests.  As I grew up, Grandpa Kautz and I developed a special bond, the love for golf.  After retiring, my grandfather became a starter at Hershey Country Club, able to play golf for free after work.  Prior to his death, my wife Leanne and I were able to play 18 holes with him on this course.  Although none of us played well, I still cherish the memories of this day.  Following his death, my grandfather left me 2 possessions, his golf clubs and his rocking chair/glider.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

Last spring, my wife and I traveled down to Tampa, Florida to clear out her father’s condo.  Jim Wagner was an avid golfer who visited this place a few times each winter to avoid harsh Chicago winters.  After 25 years of vacations, the condo was sold following Jim’s death in 2017.  It’s amazing how many possessions you can accumulate and fit into a two bedroom condo over a quarter of a century.  Sorting through each closet was emotional for my wife, a 3 day chore that resulted in several piles: donations, keep and trash.  One of the items that was headed for the dumpster was a tall lamp made out of driftwood.  At first glance, I agreed to throw this out.  However, this piece of furniture grew on me, especially with the brightness, illuminating one side of the master bedroom.  Thus, I couldn’t part with this light, driving it back to Delaware.  Prior to this trip, my grandfather’s chair was collecting dust in the corner of my bedroom.  Due to a lack of light, I wasn’t able to see so I kept finding another place to read.  As strange as it may be, it seems that this glider was waiting for my driftwood lamp to make an unusual partnership.  Now, a day doesn’t go by without turning on this lamp  before sitting down to read, write or watch television.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

Jesus made a practice of finding a secluded place to spend time with his heavenly father each day.  The passage above doesn’t provide a specific location like a desert, mountainside or the wilderness.  On another occasion, Jesus encourages an audience to go find an empty room, close the door behind you before praying.  Prayer, study and worship isn’t meant to be public act to bring attention to yourself.  Rather, God wants individuals to locate an intimate setting so that there is nothing to distract you.  As for me, my grandfather’s glider and driftwood lamp has become like an inner sanctuary.  As I open up the Bible, study these pages and pour my heart out to God in prayer, I connect with God.  To a certain extent, this chair has become my Cave of Abdullah, 1 Samuel 22.  This place in my house now serves as a refuge, where I can retreat from the troubles and worries of life.  While I could always do better, become more committed and focused on the Lord, I continue to withdraw each day as God waits in eager expectation for me to turn on my lamp and recline in this chair.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

This chair has become an

A Leader Can’t Lead Until They Know Where They are Going

Everyone will face moments of indecision.  These periods are marked by confusion, hesitation and uncertainty.  Those who are normally confident may become more reserved until clarity returns.  During trying times, some may opt to seek the counsel of others, retreat to an isolated place to refocus or withdraw to reconsider their current state.  Ultimately, a leader can’t lead until they know where they are going.

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s house heard about it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was suffering hardship, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. There were about four hundred men with him, 1 Samuel 22:1-2.

While waiting to become King of Israel, David came under siege.  Trying to secure his future, the current King Saul began to target David, chasing him to a remote cave.  This location served as a place of refuge for supporters of David.  Unsure of where to go next or what to do, these men came together to encourage one another.  As time passed, Samuel refers to David as the captain of these men, preparing to lead them all in the near future.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36 Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father],” Mark 1:35-38.

Every morning twelve men eagerly awaited Jesus to reveal their travel plans for the day.  In the passage above, Jesus provides a blueprint for ascertaining what God wants you to do and where to go.  By getting up early, finding a secluded area and praying to his heavenly father, Jesus became the leader of the greatest mentor of men.  Yet, the son of God still needed thirty years of preparation to put this plan into action.  Thus, make sure you don’t rush through life.  Rather, refuel daily with a personal quiet time so you lead people to the road less traveled.

by Jay Mankus

Running Like the Devil is Chasing You

Depending upon the time of day, I like to listen to the radio while I write.  During today’s news update, there were two murder suicide’s featured in the area.  After watching an episode of Lost Season 1 last night, one scene came to my mind, a conversation between Locke (Terry O’Quinn) and Jack (Matthew Fox).  Locke suggested that some people look like the Devil is chasing them.  In the case of these four victims, they didn’t run fast enough to avoid death.

After [Judas had taken] the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly [without delay],” John 13:27.

In the passage above, Jesus makes the statement Satan entered Judas Iscariot during the last supper.  Bible commentaries suggest this possession accelerated Judas’ desire to betray Jesus.  Knowing what was about to come, Jesus exhorts Judas to finish his plan without delay.  Unfortunately, the moment individuals think things through in their mind, the act of sin quickly follows.  By this time, it’s often too late to turn back.  Using the analogy above, the Devil has caught you from behind and won’t let go.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

Temptation is like a classic car chase scene from a movie.  Initially, the good character is in the clear, far from harm.  However, as this pursuit continues chaos, distractions and traffic place the bad guy within striking distance.  Unless you flee from evil, minds will eventually embrace earthly desires.  Thus, the more you stare at temptation, it’s only a matter of time before the Devil grabs ahold of your life.  Therefore, be alert, on guard and keep watch so you stay well out of the Devil’s reach.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Baby Jesus or the Man in a Red Suit?

According to Washington Irving, the concept of Santa Claus emerged in the United States beginning in 1773.  In Washington’s 1809 book the History of New York, Americans borrowed from Sinterklaas, a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat.  Commercial stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, followed by separate sections for holiday advertisements in 1840.  In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model.  The tradition of blending a real life Santa Claus to attract Christmas shoppers began in 1918.

Now they were also bringing their babies to Him, so that He would touch and bless them, and when the disciples noticed it, they began reprimanding them, Luke 18:15.

For the unchurched, Santa Claus has slowly replaced Jesus as the reason for this season.  As atheists, liberals and progressives continue to be offended by nativity scenes set up in public squares, law suits, public pressure and political correctness is eliminating the traces of this sacred holiday.  As a generation of babies, toddlers and young children have sat upon the laps of adults dressed up as Santa Claus, the concept of a baby Jesus is fading away.  Meanwhile, when asked by men in a red suit, “what do you want for Christmas,” Santa Claus has been elevated by many unknowing children to a god like status.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ, Colossians 2:8.

Apparently, fairly tales and wise old tales was not just a modern phenomena.  According to the apostle Paul, first century leaders who opposed Christianity began to develop plans to mislead followers of Christ.  These schemes appear to have been successful in deceiving some believers who did not possess a strong spiritual foundation.  The context of the passage above refers to becoming rooted in Christ, relying on the Bible and prayer to serve as a spiritual guide through life.  Anyone who does not practice similar spiritual disciplines are vulnerable to believing in lies, John 8:44.  This dilemma has led me to ponder, who will today’s children believe: baby Jesus or the man in a red suit?

by Jay Mankus

I Can’t Help Myself

My father was born in Lithuania.  As immigrants from certain Europeans countries began to migrate to the United States, stereotypes began to develop.  Whether it was the era, how my dad was raised or specific mannerisms, my father tended to be stoic unless he was angry.  Meanwhile, my mom who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania wasn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve.  Like any child, I exhibit a combination of qualities from each of my parents.  Nonetheless, whenever my heart is moved or touched by something special, I can’t help myself, easily brought to tears.

As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; 13 and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:12-14.

During the first century, Jews and Samaritans were enemies as hatred and resentment spilled over from the past.  This tension began when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  The north whose second capital was relocated upon a hillside in Samaria often did what was right in their own eyes.  The southern kingdom remained more true to God as some kings reminded citizens of their spiritual heritage.  The main issues between Jews and Samaritans began during 722 B.C. when Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity.  The byproduct of this siege led to intermarriages between Gentiles and Israelites.  Thus, Samaritans earned the reputation of being only half Jewish, labeled and ridiculed for centuries.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; 16 and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

Recognizing this portion in history, Jesus is shocked by how little appreciation is shown to God by 9 Jewish lepers.  On the other hand, the Samaritan leper is overwhelmed after being healed.  According to a first century doctor, this man couldn’t help himself, praising God over and over again.  Sometimes in life, stereotypes influence how people act, behave and interact with others.  Yet, when you slow down and look around to see the numerous minor miracles in your life, you too can model the thanksgiving demonstrated by this Samaritan leper.  May the example of this first century man inspire you to develop a new outlook on life in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: