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Category Archives: Truth

Open Up to Know the Living God

In the opening scene of American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball introduces Lester Burnham.  Played by Kevin Spacey, Lester shares that he has been dead inside for sometime.  Lester’s not sure how or when this happened, but something in his soul can’t stand the person that he has become.  This confession sets the stage for Lester to wake up from this spiritual slumber so that he can truly live once again.

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [b]Himself.He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being, John 1:1-3.

Ten years ago, I was living a dream, teaching the Bible to high school teenagers and coaching golf.  While it took me nearly 40 years to discover God’s will for my life, I was blessed by God for a decade as spiritual fruits began to blossom.  Unfortunately, when Red Lion Christian Academy was sold and the church was disbanded, a part of me died.  After pouring my heart and soul into this institution, I was fired and left leaving like a failure.

In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it], John 1:4-5.

Like Lester’s character in American Beauty, joy returned to me in the midst of sorrow. While attending a memorial service for two members of the Hanson family over the weekend, spending time with my extended family brought a new appreciation for life. You never know when your time will be up; when your life will permanently expire. Therefore, it’s time to live by start taking chances and try to become all that God wants you to be. As I start to wake up from my spiritual slumber, join me by opening up to know the living God.

by Jay Mankus

Pace Yourself

I possess one of those addictive personalities where I tend to follow an all or nothing mindset. When I become passionate about something, I develop the “eye of the tiger” fueled by an intensity to accomplish whatever I set my mind to do. Unfortunately, emotional excitement doesn’t last forever. Subsequently, when I don’t pace myself, I often crash and burn before experiencing the thrill of victory.

Be strong (confident) and of good courage, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go, Joshua 1:6-7.

As Israel began to prepare to enter into God’s promised land, Joshua provides advice for spiritually pacing yourself. Joshua suggests that courage can be conceived from reading the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible which were available to the Levitical Priests. As you begin to live in the pages of the Bible, don’t turn away, drift or stray from God’s commands. As you begin to practice keeping the Sabbath holy, pacing yourself is possible.

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success, Joshua 1:8.

Whether you’re running or trying to endure the hectic schedule of a busy work week, meditating and reflecting upon biblical principles will help your sanity. Meanwhile, Joshua suggests that those who maintain a daily time of Bible Study will become prosperous and successful. As you learn to set the spiritual pace for believers to follow, the example that you display daily will inspire others to observe and practice spiritual disciplines.

by Jay Mankus

Write It Out in Plain Sight

John Heywood wrote “A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue” in the 1500’s. The printing of this book is the first known author to address the concept “out of sight out of mind”. As God called Moses to write out what the Jewish faith refers to the Second Law, the book of Deuteronomy serves as a refresher to anyone who may have forgotten one of God’s laws. Understanding the shortcomings of human beings, God’s plan was to write out in plain sight to overcome the reality of out of sight out of mind.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord]. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] Deuteronomy 6:4-6.

In the passage above, the Holy Spirit leads Moses to take the first commandment and write it out in such a way to help people understand how to love an invisible God. This is accomplished by putting everything you have which includes all your heart, soul and mind. Don’t just say follow and keep this commandment, but demonstrate this through action as love flows out of your heart. Part of Jesus’ teaching is that you will know my followers by their love, John 13:34-35.

You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets (forehead bands) between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates, Deuteronomy 6:7-9.

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen society that seems to become more corrupt and darker with each passing generation, 1 Peter 2:11-12. Despite this reality, writing out inspirational verses of the Bible on a note card or sticky note gives your a reminder of what you should shoot for in life. While perfection is unachievable in our mortal bodies, writing out what is admirable in plain sight, Philippians 4:8-9, provides a daily goal and vision for the future.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming A Shipwrecked Faith

There are segments in some of the apostle Paul’s letters where he uses imagery like Jesus. Rather than speak in parables, Paul compares a natural event to a spiritual condition. At the end of his initial letter to Timothy, Paul compares a fading faith to experiencing a shipwreck. Serving as a warning to other first century Christians, Paul calls out two people by name for making a mess of their lives.

Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith, 1 Timothy 1:19.

According to the passage above, one of the reasons believers find themselves slipping into troubled waters is due to a lack of confidence and trust in God. Perhaps Paul is referencing Jonah 1:4-14 where grown men lose all hope as a violent storm is about to destroy their vessel. If not this, Paul might be sharing what he learned while being shipwrecked just off the coast of Malta in Acts 27:13-20. On both occasions, all the passengers on board lost faith.

Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan in order that they may be disciplined [by punishment and learn] not to blaspheme, 1 Timothy 1:20.

If faith is based upon assurance, confidence and hope in the Lord, Hebrews 11:1-6, anyone who is overwhelmed by the external forces confronting them is experiencing a shipwrecked faith. While its unclear what Hymenaeus and Alexander did or didn’t do, Paul uses their fall from grace as a teachable moment for others. If you currently find yourself shipwrecked, trying to pick up of pieces of your life, look to James 1:2-12 to ride out this storm. You may not feel better initially, but as you live and learn from past mistakes, faith will recover as you draw near to God.

by Jay Mankus

God’s First Patient in Need of Mental Health

The summer of 2021 has brought back a sense of normalcy for those who have endured and survived the Coronavirus. Yet, a series of professional athletes from multiple sports have confessed an internal struggle that few people rarely verbalize. As golf and tennis stars have failed to meet and surpass their own expectations, depression, emotional distress and a lack of confidence has taken a toll on players like Naomi Osaka and Bubba Watson.

And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed, Genesis 4:4-5.

After his parents were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Cain was forced to farm on less fertile land. In fulfillment of the punishment placed upon Adam for his disobedience, Genesis 3:17, trying to plant crops in an arid climate made Cain’s trade increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, Cain’s little brother Abel was prospering as a shepherd. When a root of bitterness grew within Cain’s heart, God tried to intervene with a face to face conversation.

And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. And Cain said to his brother, Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? – Genesis 4:6-9

As earth’s first mental health session began in the passage above, Cain wasn’t very happy with what God was suggesting. Apparently, God could sense the envy and jealousy brewing within Cain’s heart. As this festered, evil thoughts entered into Cain’s mind. Instead of pushing back the idea of murder, the Devil convinced Cain to follow in his father’s footsteps of disobedience. Don’t wait until it’s too late to to break the sins of your parents, Exodus 20:5. Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart publicly so that healing and restoration can begin, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

Making a Copy for Yourself

Before the days of printing presses, tape recorders and photo copiers, God called Moses to begin writing down what we now know as the Torah: first 5 books of the Bible. The first book Moses completed was passed down from generation to generation orally. These stories were shared and told in Jewish homes to train up children to avoid making the same past mistakes made by God’s followers, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. When Moses reached his final book of Deuteronomy, God impressed upon him the need for visual reminders.

And when he sits on his royal throne, he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, out of what is before the Levitical priests, Deuteronomy 17:18.

Instead of just listening to stories passed down to you, God felt a need for individuals to have their own copy of these historical accounts. As spiritual leaders of Israel, this process began with the priests. These elders didn’t have the internet to connect to in order to read all of God’s commands in Leviticus to follow. The best way to avoid making a mistake or missing a step along the was making these principles widely known.

And he shall keep it with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn [reverently] to fear the Lord his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes and doing them, 20 That his [mind and] heart may not be lifted up above his brethren and that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left; so that he may continue long, he and his sons, in his kingdom in Israel, Deuteronomy 17:19-20.

God understood the principle “out of sight out of mind.” The solution to this dilemma was to take Moses’ scroll and tablet so that Israel didn’t forget God’s decrees, instructions and precepts. From a modern perspective, there are countless versions of the Bible and resources like Bible Gateway available to help people see what the Bible says. However, if you’re like me, if I don’t write down what I read, I’ll quickly forget these biblical lessons. Therefore, if it’s on a note card or sticky pad, make a copy for yourself to keep God’s Word close to your mind and heart.

by Jay Mankus

Broken Vessels in Desperate Need of Help

The other night I was talking to a former colleague. Our conversation focused on individuals who portray super hero like characteristics in an attempt to be admired and promoted. As some individuals in leadership roles continue this facade, it’s only a matter of time until the truth comes out. While anyone can pretend that everything is dandy, fine and rosy, the reality is every human being is a broken vessel in desperate need of help.

But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use], 2 Timothy 2:19-20.

The apostle Paul introduces an analogy to two first century churches. Romans 9:21 compares God as a potter and human beings as clay. If people go an extended time without spiritual water, Psalm 1:2-3, even the strongest will begin to crack as faith dries up. Until individuals are willing to submit to God, you won’t be able to be fashioned and molded into who God wants you to be, 2 Corinthians 4:7. Admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward healing.

So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat or republican, an atheist or a Christian, rich or poor, everyone needs help. You may be embarrassed of your secret addiction, bad habit or emotional state, but help is just a prayer away. You may not know what to say or where to go, but a simple confession is a great place to start, James 5:16. Whenever you take the risk of being real and genuine, God will send someone or a group to help pick up the pieces of your life. This is when the potter takes a lump of clay and transforms it into a wonderful piece of art.

by Jay Mankus

The Sequence of Story

A sequence is a particular order in which related events, movements, or things follow each other. In the process of telling a story, the best communicators set the scene using what some writers refer to as the 10 magic words. This information highlights who a story is about and details the journey which is about to begin. Depending upon the author or story teller, the sequence of story involves a beginning, middle and end.

Then the disciples came to Him and said, Why do You speak to them in parables? 11 And He replied to them, To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given, Matthew 13:10-11.

From a biblical perspective, the son of God used parables to connect with first century citizens. A parable is story structure used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson as told by Jesus in the Gospels. The New Testament details 46 different parables as Jesus tried to explain mysteries and secrets of the kingdom of heaven. My favorite is the Parable of the Sower as Jesus reveals how the environment in which you live influences the person that you become.

Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy, to the assembly (church) of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah): Grace (spiritual blessing and divine favor) to you and [heart] peace. We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [O] brethren beloved by God, we recognize and know that He has selected (chosen) you;For our [preaching of the] glad tidings (the Gospel) came to you not only in word, but also in [its own inherent] power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction and absolute certainty [on our part]. You know what kind of men we proved [ourselves] to be among you for your good, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.

While writing 13 letters known as epistles, the apostle Paul developed a story structure known as U Centered Writing. Paul regularly starts his letters by getting the attention and gaining the interest of fellow Christians. Once this is accomplished, Paul creates a felt need, a flaw or weakness that believers need to work on. The remainder of his letters are designed to create a sense of urgency so that a commitment to change is conceived. Whether you’re writing a letter, telling a story or working on a screen play, stories continue to speak to human hearts and provide hope or inspiration to make a difference in the life that God has given you.

by Jay Mankus

When Faith Does Not Hold Up Under Temptation

Despite how proud you may be, everyone experiences an embarrassing moment in life like Simon Peter. One day you boldly proclaim “I’ll never do that” only to succumb to temptation in the days or weeks that follow. When actions don’t match what you say or believe, hypocrisy leaves a sour taste for those observing this fall from grace. This is one of the consequences of what happens when faith does not hold up under temptation.

Not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether it be by some [pretended] revelation of [the] Spirit or by word or by letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] arrived and is here. Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition), 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.

There are several reasons why faith does not hold up under temptation. Sometimes this is a continuation of a spiritual slide that began out of a period of idleness, similar to what happened to King David in 2 Samuel 11:1-2. Meanwhile, faith is only as strong as your environment, Matthew 13:19-23. If spiritual foundations are weak, Colossians 2:6-7, when storms or trials arrive unexpectedly, faith tends to waver as winds and waves continue to strengthen.

Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. 13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

In a historic chapter about past failures made by Jewish leaders in the Old Testament, the apostle Paul wraps up this section with a valuable lesson. According to Paul, every temptation offers a way out. Unfortunately, when the pressure to conform mounts, it’s hard to take your eyes off of temporary pleasures. Instead of bowing down to temptation, keep your head up so that you will see the door to escape temptation so that faith will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

The Hidden Principle of Rebellion

Rebellion refers to an open resistance to an established government or ruler. In the earliest days on earth, God kept in simple by giving Adam and Eve freedom from every area of the Garden of Eden accept for one. The only boundary to steer clear from was to abstain from eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis 2:16-17. Moses doesn’t mention any craving, desire or enticement until a crafty serpent began to open Eve’s mind to rebellion.

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity, Genesis 3:1-5.

At the beginning of this encounter, Eve does the right thing by repeating God’s warning to avoid fruit from this tree. As Satan continued his subtle persuasion, Eve’s mind was open to bending this rule. According to Moses, Adam was right there with her, listening to Satan’s justification and rationalization to rebel against God. Instead of interrupting this conversation and tell Satan to get lost, Adam’s idleness opened the door for rebellion to enter the earth.

For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until [c]he who restrains is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one (the antichrist) will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8.

The apostle Paul unveils Satan’s plan of introducing the hidden principle of rebellion to mankind. While this lawlessness has been restrained for now by the power of the Holy Spirit, there will come a day when this is unleashed. Immediately following the second coming of Jesus, the anti-Christ will reign the earth for 7 years until the battle of Armageddon. Yet, for now human beings must use prayer as a hedge of protection so that rebellion doesn’t poison your soul and ruin your life.

by Jay Mankus

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