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A Critical Time for Grace

One of the earliest references to someone being “canceled” occurred on a VH1 Reality show back in 2014. One of the cast members of Love and Hip Hop: New York kick started what Americans now refer to as Cancel Culture. Cisco Rosado used the expression “you’re cancelled” to his girl friend Diamond Strawberry at the time. In the 7 years that have followed, beliefs, opinions and political ideologies are under attack, outed by social media daily.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

The Cancel Culture has become like a feeding frenzy, looking for a reason to eliminate and silence anyone who is unwilling to conform to a secular worldview. As active members of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter diligently search for offensive posts and words, these miserable individuals will stop at nothing to get their way. These control freaks don’t appear to be letting up as any mistake, slip up or verbal misstep is magnified daily.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

Subsequently, this is a critical time for grace. Rather than continue down this road of condemnation and finger pointing, forgiveness must find to a way to restore sanity. As the Cancel Culture begins to ruin, smear and take down their own, perhaps a spirit of common sense is emerging. Nonetheless, you can’t sustain peace until God’s grace provides second chances to change for the better. May this blog remind the masses of God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

by Jay Mankus

Weston the Pedestrian

Edward Payson Weston was a grown man as the 1860 Presidential Election approached. Weston was so sure that Abraham Lincoln would not win this four way race that he made a bet with a friend. If Lincoln wins, Weston vowed to walk from Boston all the way to his inauguration in Washington, DC. While reaching a news stand, Weston was shocked to read that Lincoln had indeed won the 1860 Presidential Election.

Wealth [not earned but] won in haste or unjustly or from the production of things for vain or detrimental use [such riches] will dwindle away, but he who gathers little by little will increase [his riches], Proverbs 13:11.

To make the inauguration in time, Weston figured out that he would have to walk 50 miles a day. Prior to his departure, Weston carefully plotted his 9 day journey using maps. Two years later, Weston published “The Pedestrian,” a record of this walk that got Weston to Washington on inauguration days, but 5 hours after Lincoln’s speech concluded. Instead of accepting defeat, Weston used this experience to become a walking sideshow, walking for hours at local roller skating rinks on the east coast.

But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing, 1 Timothy 6:9.

There are 6 passages in the Bible to warn readers against betting. Unfortunately, between state lotteries, scratch off cards and newly formed sports betting sites, there is a new movement to get rich quick. Despite all the advertisements and commercials detailing how much the latest winner received, there are always more losers than winners. The streets of Atlantic City and Las Vegas are littered with homeless individuals who came seeking fame and fortune, but left broke and broken. May this blog serve as a warning to avoid becoming addicted to gambling.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Break a Child’s Spirit

In this age of child prodigies, being an elite athlete in any sport forces many to grow up way too fast. Instead of living a carefree life until attending college or a trade school, the pressure to be the best can take a toll on young adolescents. If a parent begins to live their lives vicariously through this phenom, the fun of competing can quickly fade. Subsequently, many children end up resenting sports due to a controlling father or mother.

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit,] Colossians 3:21.

First time parents tend to become more strict with their first child and gradually become more lenient with every child thereafter. Yet, in the first century, Jewish father’s were disciplinarians, prone to demonstrate a tough love. Based upon the apostle Paul’s observations of parenting in the Church at Colosse, several children were walking around defeated, unable to please their father. This is likely the inspiration behind Paul’s command, “don’t break their spirit.”

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

Since my father served in the military, my initial years as a parent involved stern discipline. Yet, as my two boys, James and Daniel, learned how to speak, I had to ease off the throttle before I broke the spirit of my boys. To suddenly alter and change your ways isn’t easy as you can go too far in the lenient direction. Nonetheless, the goal of any parent is to train up a child in the ways of the Lord so that a legacy of faith will be left behind, Proverbs 22:6.

by Jay Mankus

Planned Obsolescence

The Centennial Light is the world’s longest lasting light bulb. Installed in 1901, this bulb remains in use today in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department in California. Prior to this notoriety, members of the fire department would leap up and touch this light bulb as a form of good luck before leaving for their next emergency. This light bulb is one of the last traces of a time when Made in America meant a striving toward perfection.

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

Apparently, the Shelby Electric Company who manufactured the Centennial Light Bulb made their products too good. While customers were satisfied by this dependable light bulb, production in factories came to a screeching halt. Concerned with their future, Light bulb Manufacturers formed the Phoebus Cartel. The initial meeting took place in Geneva, Switzerland. To ensure their future, corporations in this field came up with the concept planned obsolescence.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:8.

The byproduct of this business concept is that customers have been literally screwed ever since. Planned Obsolescence is the policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete. Instead of purchasing long lasting reliable products, light bulbs now require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design to limit a bulb’s light to 100 hours of use. Over 100 years later, consumer expectations have plummeted. This is what happens when human beings don’t practice Colossians 3:23 or take pride in their work.

by Jay Mankus

A Place Where Peace and Harmony Reign

If you stop to observe your own environment, peace may be a rare commodity. Whether it’s driving in a car, going grocery shopping or a day at work, the rat race called life causes many to become stressed out. If you can’t change the external forces around you, Ephesians 6:12, it’s time for an internal transformation. The apostle Paul provides a blueprint for those who want to find peace and harmony in Colossians 3.

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always], Colossians 3:15.

This process begins with a new attitude, mindset, and perspective, Colossians 3:1-4. Paul encourages first century Christians to look beyond the present by focusing on eternity. However, before minds can fully change, one must put aside past addictions and bad habits. Like a trip to the cleaners, as individuals begin to put on their new self via the fruits on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, finding peace and harmony is possible.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

In the passage above, Paul provides a spiritual recipe by mixing the Bible with songs of praise. Just as faith comes directly from listening to and reading the teachings of Jesus, Romans 10:17, singing biblical truths stirs human souls. Unfortunately, there are temporary pleasures lurking around every corner to trip you up or lead you to revert back to your former way of life. Therefore, if you want to find a place where peace and harmony reign, sing a new song to the Lord, Psalm 33:3.

by Jay Mankus

For the Moments I Feel Faint

During a private meeting with his disciples, Jesus reveals 3 non-negotiable expectations, Matthew 16:24. Denying yourself is likely referencing Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-9. Once you develop the proper mindset, the next command to take up your cross which is different for each individual. The cross that you bear may cause some to feel faint. Yet, this is where your own weakness opens the door for Jesus to become strong.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Depending upon your specific calling, the weight of the cross that you bear varies. Perhaps, this explains Jesus’ final demand, “follow me.” At the end of Luke 9:57-62, Jesus meets candidates to be appointed as one of 72 other disciples. The three that Luke mention each have an excuse to put God’s calling on hold. The point of Jesus’ 3 non-negotiable expectations is so that his followers finish what they start.

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:10.

Taking up the cross of Christ isn’t easy. This life long expedition may incite fear, bring trouble and inflict your life with pain. Reliant K’s song For the Moments that I Feel Faint talks about this spiritual journey. The lyrics of this song urges listener’s to never underestimate the hope of Jesus. Just as the apostle Paul struggled with some sort of physical or spiritual condition, lean on God’s grace so that you will be filled with supernatural strength as you carry your cross.

by Jay Mankus

What a Special Friend Can Do for You

Before the Coronavirus spread to the United States in the March of 2000, my daughter Lydia was thinking about ending her Pole Vaulting career. The 2020 Winter Track Season was blah; not progressing at pole vaulting or meeting any new friends. As a Field Event specialist, not part of any running events, it’s hard to experience the sense of being part of a team. This all changed when Lydia met Bree at the 2020 Winter Track State Meet.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Instead of dreading track, this instant friendship has transformed my daughter’s perspective of this sport. Bree has been like a big sister, introducing Lydia to everyone in the pole vaulting community. In her first two seasons, Lydia enjoyed pole vaulting, but she could live without it. Now that my daughter has been welcomed by the local pole vaulting community, a new desire to improve was conceived. When a special friend enters your life, these individuals take you to new heights, often pushing you closer toward self actualization.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:13.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon distinguishes the difference between having several acquaintances and a special friend. Genuine friends stick around when everyone else tends to leave during times of hardship. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to the sacrifices that friends make with the greatest being laying down their own life. We all need special friends like Bree. Looking back, if it wasn’t for Bree, Lydia probably would not have broken her school record which she now holds by herself at 9’6″.

by Jay Mankus

An Unknown Melody

An English poet and Anglican clergyman named John Newton wrote the words to Amazing Grace in 1772. Seven years later this Christian hymn was published. In the 2006 film Amazing Grace, British politician Wilber Wilberforce and Newton cross paths. In the attached clip above, Newton had lost his sight by this time in his life. However, Newton is a passionate supporter, urging Wilberforce to do whatever it takes to end the slave trade.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

When you examine the credits of any song, there is usually two categories. While the gifted have the ability to craft the lyrics and melody, most songs have an author who writes the lyrics and musician to develop the cords. Yet, when I looked up the credits to Amazing Grace, after John Newton the melody is similar to a poem marked anonymous. After listening to a sermon yesterday, some attribute the melody to a ship full of slaves humming as they pass the time.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

In the first century, the apostle Paul encouraged Christians to sing songs of praise. If you look back to an experience in Philippi, Paul and Silas began a worship service at midnight after being imprisoned, Acts 16:25. Paul practiced what he preached, moved by the Holy Spirit as he poured out his heart and soul in song. While we may never know the origin of Amazing Grace’s melody, it’s never too late to make your own melody of thanks to God.

by Jay Mankus

The Dominion Covenant

The Dominion Covenant is based upon teaching in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Holy Bible. The passage below introduces the covenant between God and mankind. Authority over the earth and all of it’s living creatures was given over to Adam in Genesis 2:8-9. Adam’s initial role was to serve as the caretaker of the Garden of Eden. Another responsibility was added in Genesis 2:20, performing taxonomy by classifying and naming animals.

God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth, Genesis 1:26.

Author Joseph Mattera writes about Twenty Amazing implications of the Dominion Covenant. The first is based upon the passage above: God made human kind in His Image which shows the sanctity of life. Mattera builds upon this in his second implication as God’s desire to create human beings in His own image shows creative potential and power for future caretakers of the earth. Unfortunately, modern governments and political leaders have forgotten about the Dominion Covenant.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And God blessed (spoke good of) the seventh day, set it apart as His own, and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had created and done. This is the history of the heavens and of the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens—Genesis 2:1-4.

Instead of trusting citizens and homeowners to do the right thing, law makers have turned the tables, given native animals, plants, and waterways more rights than human beings. As environmentalism has become a religion to liberals and progressives, the future of the Dominion Covenant is at risk. As plans for the Green New Deal expand, the natural resources within the earth which were once seen as a blessing, have now become politicized. May a spirit of common sense and a desire to be good stewards of the earth restore sanity and the Dominion Covenant can be restored.

by Jay Mankus

The Shadow of Things to Come

Foreshadowing is a literary term that serves as an indication, a warning of future events. Shakespeare mastered the art of foreshadowing, sprinkling this technique within several of his literary pieces. From a biblical point of view, the Old Testament is full of foreshadowing as hints of a Messiah started dropping following Original Sin, Genesis 3:15. Prophets of old placed imagery into the Bible to prepare first century Jews for Jesus’ arrival.

Such [things] are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value. But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ, Colossians 2:17.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul refers to the shadow of things to come. This passage serves as a way to unwrap the science of God. Theology unveils the connection between Jesus and God the Father. Colossians 2:13-15 illustrates how Jesus was able to conquer death and cancel the written code set up in the Old Testament. The foreshadowing here is likely the future church, belonging to and united by Jesus.

Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, Colossians 2:18.

Unfortunately, premature judgements, labeling and stereotypes have corrupted modern day churches. As leaders act as umpires instead of spiritual mentors, the gospel message has been watered down. When preachers end up becoming hypocrites, void of any spiritually fruit, souls are left with a bad taste. If Christians aren’t prepared for the storms of life, the shadow of things to come will bring ruin rather than rest. May this blog serve as a warning to prepare yourself for future rough patches, James 1:3-6, like a shadow of things to come.

by Jay Mankus

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