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Category Archives: Truth

More Than Just a Strange Thing

Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror show which is currently in the middle of its third season on Netflix.  This television series was created, written and directed by two brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer.  The setting of this show takes place back in the 1980’s, an era where it was common for teenager boys to binge on playing video games.  This passion or should I say addiction causes many boys to lose touch with reality.  Today, this obsession continues as many boys and girls are consumed by modern online games like Fort Nite.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?  Who has strife? Who has complaining?  Who has wounds without cause?  Whose eyes are red and dim? – Proverbs 23:29

In a recent episode of Stranger Things, social media exploded over their reaction between a scene with two teenage boys.  To avoid a spoiler alert, two characters get into an argument about girls.  One boy wants to pursue a girl that he likes while the other is not ready to grow up, clinging to his love for video games.  Unfortunately, this innocent scene has led a number of people on twitter to question the gender of this boy who doesn’t like girls at this time.  This is just another example of individuals reading way too much into a fictional show.

Your [drunken] eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things [untrue things, twisted things], Proverbs 23:33.

In 1997, the band Common Children released the song Strange Rain on their Delicate Fade album.  The lyrics of Strange Rain refers to the washing away of innocence.  The more children are exposed to adult content, growing up is accelerated.  In the second stanza of Strange Rain one line strikes a cord with me “when wonder fades in time forgive us for this crime.”  The more young children experience, hear or see things that they shouldn’t, innocence is stolen and wonder for life fades away.  While parents try to shield their children from danger, strangers things lurk around every corner.  This is where trusting God becomes essential.

by Jay Mankus

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A Messenger of God

Romans gods began taking on the forms that people would recognize today during the dynasty of the Etruscan kings.  This reign of the city of Rome took place during the 6th century BC.  During this period, Romans adapted a group of three Etruscan gods as the focus of state worship.  Based upon the passage below, the city of Lystra also practiced the worship of ancient Greek gods as well.

Now at Lystra a man sat who was unable to use his feet, for he was crippled from birth and had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, and Paul looked intently at him and saw that he had faith to be healed, 10 and said with a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet.” And he jumped up and began to walk. 11 And the crowds, when they saw what Paul had done, raised their voices, shouting in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” – Acts 14:8-11

This belief led eyewitnesses of a healing to refer to Paul and Barnabas as gods in human form.  This wasn’t a joke as Barnabas was nicknamed Zeus and Paul Hermes.  Based upon these labels, Barnabas is the elder statesman where as Paul is the messenger, the voice of God.  Whenever you witness a miracle, events that follow are often seen in a positive light.  Thus, as Paul began to speak following the healing of a crippled man, the crowd was amazed by his words.

They began calling Barnabas, Zeus [chief of the Greek gods], and Paul, Hermes [messenger of the Greek gods], since he took the lead in speaking. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance of the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates, and wanted to offer sacrifices with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are only men of the same nature as you, bringing the good news to you, so that you turn from these useless and meaningless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything that is in them, Acts 14:12-15.

For someone who have posted over 1,700 blogs, the quality of my message varies.  Sometimes writer’s block causes me to struggle to complete an average blog.  On some occasions, inspiration naturally flows out of me resulting in a creative blog.  However, whenever I keep in step with the Holy Spirit by staying in tune with the Bible, a post turns into a message from God.  While I don’t possess the gift of healing like the apostles, I am committed to listening to God’s still small voice so that I can fulfill my role as a messenger of God.

by Jay Mankus

A Whopper of a Fishing Tale

After my two older sisters graduated from high school, family vacations were centered around common hobbies that I shared with my father.  My father usually took most of the month of August off, allowing time to bond with his family.  When I wasn’t off playing golf, several hours were spent in a boat combing Thompson Lake for an ideal fishing location.  The locals would tell stories of a legendary fish, hiding in the numerous caverns at the bottom of this massive lake.  Yet, except for my dad’s recording setting catch of a northern pike and some memorable battles with large bass, nothing of biblical proportions ever developed.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said, “And we are coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. As morning was breaking, Jesus [came and] stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish [to eat along with your bread]?” They answered, “No,” John 21:3-5.

When I entered college, my father planned a few Spring Break trips to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  A typically week consisted of 3 to 4 rounds of golf with fishing scheduled in the afternoon or early evening.  At dinner the night before of one of our outings, my father overheard someone at the bar talking about blues swimming/running up the coast.  It just so happened that we weren’t scheduled to go golfing so we followed this lead to a fishing pier on the Atlantic Ocean.  The first hour was slow, with one or two bites on the entire pier.  Then, it happened, blue fish after blue fish, like a scene of Jesus feeding the ten thousand, fish kept biting cast after cast.  When our cooler was full, we kept fishing, giving several away to strangers who missed a whooper of a real fishing tale.

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat (starboard) and you will find some.” So they cast [the net], and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish. Then that disciple (John) whom Jesus loved (esteemed) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer tunic (for he was stripped for work) and threw himself into the sea [and swam ashore]. But the other disciples came in the small boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish, John 21:6-8.

In the last chapter of the four gospels, John records an amazing fishing story where Jesus locates a school of 153 fish that were brought ashore.  Peter spent an entire night trusting in his own abilities, coming up empty, embarrassed to tell Jesus that he had struck out.  Instead of giving up, Peter humbled himself by following Jesus’ advice.  Successful fisherman show the resolve and will to never quit.  The thought of coming back empty wasn’t an option so Peter obeyed Jesus’ instructions.  This passage reveals an important message, when you fail, try, try again.  Those who are remain faithful to God’s calling will reap a harvest similar to a whooper of a fishing tale.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Amazing the Difference One Day Makes

If you do a search of “what a difference a day makes,” you will find a series of sermons on this topic.  Some use examples of extreme events such as the dropping of the first atomic bomb, experiencing a natural disaster or witnessing a terrorist attack like September 11th, 2001.  These devastating days are compared to the silence of an aftermath, where time seems to stand still.  Whenever trials arise, individuals are forced to confront change, trusting God one day at a time.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

For any of you who have played golf before, a typical round is similar to the quote from Forrest Gump, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you will get.”  Unlike any other sport, practicing doesn’t mean you will improve.  The more you play golf, the easier it becomes to pick up bad habits.  Thus, a bad swing, chip or putt can unlock demons of doubt that will haunt you throughout the rest of your round.  This is what my daughter Lydia endured during his first round of this years Girls Delaware Junior Golf Championship.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

Following the first round, my daughter wanted to quit golf.  Twenty four hours later, Lydia figured something out on the range prior to her round and everything clicked.  Beside a few holes, she was either chipping or putting for birdie.  Despite a few three putts, Lydia played the round of her life consistently hitting her driver over 200 yards.  There are certain things in life that don’t make any sense.  Yet, when attitudes awake to a new day and confidence returns, it’s amazing the difference one day makes.

by Jay Mankus

The Day Christians Didn’t Want Church to End

From the age of 6 to 16, my parents started to vacation in the state of Maine.  After renting a small cottage on Thompson Lake for a few years, a retired couple invited my family to stay in their A-Frame and Lodge.  Subsequently, Maine became like a second home, spending several weeks there each August.  While my birthday parties were small, I went fishing, golfing or running every day.  Eventually, my parents found a church in Oxford, about a fifteen minute drive.  To my pleasant surprise, this church ran like a clock, ending in 39 minutes every Sunday.  As a teenager eager to fish or play golf, this priest kept my attention, always short and sweet.

When the congregation of the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, talking to them were urging them to continue in the grace of God, Acts 13:43.

During one of their missionary journeys, Paul and Barnabas experienced the exact opposite reaction.  While preaching to a crowded synagogue in the region of Antioch in Pisidia, the audience in attendance did not work this service to end.  After being dismissed, several Jews and converts to Judaism begged Paul and Barnabas to keep teaching.  These souls were spiritually hungry, eager to learn more about the grace of God.  This desire reminds me of a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals two key priorities.

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:33.

Spiritual hunger isn’t natural, but when individuals take time to pray, read the Bible or worship God, the Holy Spirit alters human priorities toward spiritual desires.  Although I can’t recall ever wanting a church service to keep going, there are other moments in time that I didn’t want to end.  Spiritual retreats, certain vacations and my Tentmaker Leadership Training were so life altering that I wanted to stay.  Anytime you have to go back to reality is hard, especially if you are not happy with where you are in life.  Nonetheless, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you may find yourself like the service in Acts 13:43, not wanting church to end.

by Jay Mankus

Being Phased Out

If you work for a big company, sooner or later you will experience the pain of being phased out.  Sometimes this may be certain positions or an entire department that are eliminated to reduce cost and save money for shareholders.  Industries like coal may be phased out in my lifetime by cleaner, more efficient energy.  Meanwhile, other famous companies file for bankruptcy due to a lack of vision.  Richard Sears began using printed mailers in 1888 to advertise watches and jewelry.  This eventually gave birth to the Sears Catalog in 1943.  However, when Amazon was established in 1995 using the internet as an online catalog, Sears didn’t change their business model in time to save their company and customers.

But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place, Acts 12:16-17.

When Herod Agrippa I gave orders to have James the brother of John executed, Peter became a marked man.  According to Luke, religious leaders encouraged the king of the Jews to arrest and put Peter to death following the Passover celebrations.  While imprisoned, an angel of the Lord led Peter to escape.  However, based upon the passage above, Peter went into hiding, keeping a low profile.  It was during this period that the Lord rose up a godly man who would surprise Peter spiritually.  Saul who changes his name to Paul in Acts 13 is used to phase Peter out.  When the Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria heard the gospel message, Peter was no longer needed as God raised him up to reach a Jewish audience.  A new voice was necessary to introduce the Gentiles to the good news about Jesus.  Thus, Peter is replaced by Paul to start the final phase, taking the Bible to the ends of the earth.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Acts 1:7-8.

According to the book of Revelation, Jesus will not return until every land, nation and tribe has a chance to either receive or reject Jesus as Savior, Romans 10:9-10.  This final phase is approaching 2,000 years and no one knows how much longer the Great Commission will take to complete.  Sure, there will always be guesses, projections and speculation, but only Jesus knows when this mission will end.  No one likes to be phased out, especially when you are forced to sit on the sidelines as someone else takes your place.  Nonetheless, if you aren’t gathering for God, you are likely scattering by leading others astray.  If this occurs, don’t be surprised if God sends someone else to finish the job that you were assigned.  This might result in being phased out by a believer who is more spiritually prepared than you.  However, failure does not mean the end.  Learn from your past mistakes so that the Holy Spirit will inspire you to be ready the next time God calls.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Look Me in the Eye

Whenever an engaging conversation is taking place, eye contact is fixated on the other.  Although this may change slightly when individuals are walking and talking, there will be momentary pauses to maintain eye contact.  Unfortunately, the popularity of social media is changing how young people communicate.  Instead of looking at people in the eye, texts are sent, skype is used or images are exchanged via Snap Chat.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is how his name is translated) opposed them, trying to turn the proconsul away from accepting the faith. But ]Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit and led by Him, looked steadily at Elymas, Acts 13:8-9.

In the passage above, Paul felt compelled to confront a spiritual opponent.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul addresses Elymas, a sorcerer who tried to prevent a proconsul named Sergius Paulus from placing his faith in Jesus.  Thus, Paul does not shy away from confrontation, looking at Elymas in the eye and rebuking him publicly.  Paul uses the teaching of Jesus from John 8:44 to refer to Elymas as a son of the devil.  Finally, Paul asks how long will this interference continue?

And said, “You [Elymas] who are full of every [kind of] deceit, and every [kind of] fraud, you son of the devil, enemy of everything that is right and good, will you never stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? – Acts 13:10

During my last year as a high school teacher, texting exploded in popularity.  During the golf season, some of my players would text me a message at practice, off on another hole.  Afraid of confrontation, some golfers would send bold texts, demanding more playing time.  When I addressed their concerns face to face, words were few, often shying away from reality.  Nearly ten years later, communication skills continue to decay.  Perhaps, it’s time for Christians to start keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, by looking at people in the eye.

by Jay Mankus

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