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As a father who recently celebrated his oldest son’s wedding, the term engage makes me think of the process a couple goes through prior to getting married.  Yet, synonyms of engage provide a much broader scope.  Absorb, captivate, engross, occupy and seize refer to an engaging encounter, the act of focusing on a specific activity or making the most of your time.  Couples who are dating that are not engaged does not mean they are disengaged.  Rather, one, or both parties are unsure that their significant other is Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he had discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place day after day with any who happened to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Upon his first visit to Athens, this city full of idols greatly distressed the apostle Paul.  Instead of withdrawing to a place of safety, Paul began to ask locals about the history of these idols.  Apparently, Paul had daily discussions with these Jewish believers, asking if any inspirational or positive idols existed.  By engaging God-fearing Gentiles, Paul discovered a altar dedicated to an unknown God and a poet who spoke of God’s offspring.  This search for something good inspired Paul to approach the philosophers who debated in a public square daily.

They took him and brought him to the Areopagus (Hill of Ares, the Greek god of war), saying, “May we know what this [strange] new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some startling and strange things to our ears; so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners visiting there used to spend their [leisure] time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new,) Acts 17:19:21.

Unfortunately, the art of persuasion is disappearing.  Past historical events like the Scopes Money Trial led Christians like William Jennings Bryan to debate atheists in a public forum.  Instead of continuing this tradition, modern politicians use the media to attack, demonize and smear the reputation of their opponents.  Subsequently, instead of putting aside differences to embrace being Americans, belief systems are creating an expansive divide.  The end result is that adults are acting like spoiled children, disengaging from those who don’t share their worldview.  The only way to alter this trend is through prayer and fasting so that engaging the lost will bring hope to dead and dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

The Grind of Life

Inside a coffee grinder, beans are crushed, pounded and smashed into submission until the process is complete.  Sometimes circumstances in life performs a similar act on individuals, grinding and pressing people until their energy is sapped.  Drained, exhausted and spent, my joy for living has been misplaced by a sea of despair.

Perhaps anguish is the guilty party, sucking souls of contentment, fun and thanksgiving.  Despite being known as a man after God’s own heart, 1 Samuel 16:7, David wasn’t exempt from this emotional state.  Psalm 31:10 expresses the toll the grind of life takes on the human body.

Lately, my faith has been void of joy, left behind during my healthier days when work was something I took for granted.  If you take James 2:26 literally, you can’t have one without the other.  Thus, joy is a byproduct of faith, a fruit inspired by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  Like the Samaritan woman, I need to go to the well of living water, John 4:10, so that the grind of life doesn’t crumble my faith.  If you’re thirsty for something more in life, absorb the words of Jesus in John 4:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Potty Mouth

If you are honest with yourself, we have all had a regretful moment in reflecting, “I can’t believe I just said that!”  At times in life, often unexpected, the strangest things come out of our mouths.  This is likely the context of Psalm 59:12, when mere words become like venom, filling ears with poison and contaminating the souls of children.

There was a time, not so long ago when communities helped police themselves.  Adult figures served as guardians, instilling character within neighborhoods.  If a child ever publicly cursed, displayed disrespect or harmed another kid, parents would immediate intervene, forcing this individual to apologize and vow never to do this act again.

Today, the fear of confrontation, law suits and a gradual decay within society has led to an epidemic of sins of the mouth.  Whether you are at your local mall, walking through a park or catching a quote family show on television, put downs, 4 letter words and F-bombs have become common place.  Garbage in, garbage out has impacted children under the age of 10, spewing out what they hear, without any regard to listening ears.

The Bible’s diagnosis of this problem places the blame on the human heart, Jeremiah 17:9.  According to Jesus, the heart serves as a storage center, absorbing up good and bad things, Luke 6:45.  Vocabulary is simply a byproduct of what your heart has accumulated.  Therefore, if you want to stop these sins before they roll off your tongue, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life, Proverbs 4:23.  Replace these sins of the mouth with the peace of Christ, Colossians 3:15-17.

by Jay Mankus

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