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The Fatherless

You can find out a lot about someone based upon their action, behavior and content of spoken/written words.  While James is often considered the earthly brother of Jesus, few people realize he spent many years without a father.  Beginning in the second chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus’ father Joseph is not mentioned.  While there are many theories to explain Joseph’s absence, most scholars believe Joseph died several years before Jesus began his earthly ministry.  Thus, its assumed by the author John, Joseph is dead leaving James fatherless.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless, James 1:26.

Anyone who is blessed with having godly influences along the way in life tends to possess key insight.  Like the brothers of Joseph in the Old Testament who thought he was crazy, James had similar thoughts about Jesus.  Based upon the words chosen above, James doubted his brother prior to his resurrection.  Although he doesn’t specify, James likely joked about, made fun of or used sarcasm upon hearing Jesus’ boisterous claims.  Conviction inspired James to state religion is worthless without keeping a tight reign on your tongue.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world, James 1:27.

Beside helping the poor, James gives believers 2 areas where people should express their faith.  Likely thinking about his mother Mary, supporting widows is a worthy cause.  Meanwhile, orphans abandoned by their families or left homeless due to tragedy is just as needy.  Perhaps, James experienced times in life when he needed a father, but Joseph was long gone.  Though you may not know an orphan, that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone younger to mentor.  Desperate souls are longing for a friend to guide them through life.  Yet, without the helping hands of Christ’s servants in action, the lonely will remain feeling fatherless.

by Jay Mankus

 

Whatever Happened to Being Normal?

From time to time, part of my job requires me to test videos to determine if there is a defect within a device, episode or scene.  Over the course of a year, I come across a wide variety of genres from action, comedy, drama and horror.  While I should have observed this sooner, extremes are taking over, especially on reality television.  This makes me wonder, whatever happened to being normal?

My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! – Psalm 31:15

If you believe Hollywood, bad boys are attracting all the pretty girls, you can have your own movie and series if you’re a jackass and the more outlandish you are, sooner or later the cameras will find you.  Maybe I’m just too old fashioned, but some where along the way entertainment in America has gone off the deep end, forgetting the normal majority who make up most of this country.  While it may be boring, not news worthy and uninteresting, the average man, woman and child fly under the radar, giving their all daily.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

One of the most underrated messages comes from the 1999 movie October Sky, based on the life of Homer Hickam.  While his dad is portrayed as a jerk at times in the film, deep down Homer’s real hero is his father.  Although the term normal refers to someone who is average, regular and traditional, these individuals are the backbone of America.  Sure, it would be great to strike it rich, win the lottery or become an instant celebrity.  Yet, normal human beings are dependable, someone you can trust in time of need.  Therefore, don’t get carried away by what you see on television.  Rather, be grateful for those who are normal.

by Jay Mankus

Waking Up in the Wrong World

In the not so distant past, complainers were once ignored.  As time was wasted by being petty, hard working individuals built this country, trying to earn a piece of the pie.  Dreams were acted upon, not just idle talk without action.  Like waking up in a daze, I now find myself stuck in the wrong world, trying to figure out how this happened so fast.

Unfortunately, atheists have led the way, convincing lawyers that being offended by God has to stop.  Thus, the minority is the majority, transforming the spiritual climate of the United States.  When you add in political correctness, education without morality and families without faith, the days of Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver are gone.

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter

While driving back and forth to work, I stumbled across House of Their Dreams by Casting Crowns.  These lyrics talk about people who come to the realization that their career and or life isn’t what they had in mind.  This stunning truth is like a prodigal who comes to their senses, Luke 15:17.  Whether its Christmas or the dawn of a new year, may the state of your soul inspire you to seek something more, John 10:10.  Although we all have to cope with a wrong world, apply the principles of 1 Peter 2:11-12 so that you don’t wake up in the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

Astroturf

Prior to 2009, astroturf was merely an all purpose athletic surface, created for professional sports franchises in cities with baseball and football teams in 1965.  However, as soon as the Tea Party spread to the local level, poising a threat to democrats, liberals and republicans in power, this term was given a new meaning.  Fueled by political talking points, this phrase was repeated countless times by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed, attempting to de-emphasize the genuine nature of this grassroots movement.

Fast foward 6 years and the shoe now is on the other foot.  The recent protests across this country following the verdict in the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury of officer Darren Wilson are being organized by Occupy Wall Street.  Although the media is portraying these marches in metropolitan cities as a natural out crying of support, Moveon.org is active behind the scenes pulling the strings.  If the mainstream media possessed a conservative agenda, perhaps astroturf would make a comeback.  Yet, for now, viewers of the news must be careful of symbolism over substance.

If you are searching for leadership, results over time will reveal truth from fiction.  While force is the choice for many protestors, history conveys a different message.  Transformation is possible, but not with violence.  Rather, trend setters like Jesus, Martin Luther King and Ghandi displayed love to touch a generation.  Therefore, don’t let what others say influence the crowds you join.  When you see the genuine thing in person, you can distinguish astroturf from men of action.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

I Can’t Wait Another Day to Act

Whether you’re brushing your teeth, combing your hair or shaving, mirrors reflect the grim reality of physical features.  Every minor imperfection is magnified, leaving a spirit of disappointment hovering over hearts, minds and souls who have let their bodies go.  As I looked at my expanding waist line the other night, one thought reverberated in my head, “I can’t wait another day to act!”

Gone are the days of high metabolisms as bad eating habits show up quickly.  In the meantime, the freshman 15 has led to the married 25, resulting in the lazy 50.  When your eyes are opened to a crisis of weight, you have 3 options: accept it, continue in a state of deny or be motivated to make drastic changes.  As for me, I’m somewhere between accepting and action, praying for the discipline for success.

Luke 14L28 suggests that everyone should consider the cost before making any decision.  Whether you’re contemplating a career change, diet or move, you have to weigh the pros and cons.  Although I haven’t developed a concrete plan, exercise and giving up soda is a good place to start.  Regardless of the obstacle standing in your way, don’t wait another day or else the additional calories may be too much to overcome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

How Would You Respond to This?

Like most men, I’m not as emotional as my wife, nor do I get involved in the lives as others like she does.  However, today I witnessed something gut-wrenching.  On my out of a local restaurant, I saw an elderly man with his head down on a table.  Continuing toward the exit, I noticed the reason for his grief on the other side of the glass, a lone suitcase on the floor.

Before the days of retirement communities, families took care of and watched over their grandparents.  This wasn’t a nuisance or something to dread, rather it was expected.  This was the least you could do to pay homage to the legacy each lived.  Unfortunately, this man is a casualty of the times, a victim of families destroyed by abuse, abandonment and divorce.  With no where to go, this broke man took a break from his misery, hoping to wake up with a place to call home.  How would you respond to this situation?

Before my eyes was a modern day parable of the good Samaritan, Luke 10.  Immediately following the sending out of 72 disciples, they were put to the test to see what they were made of.  As for me, I re-enacted the character of the priest and Levites, pausing before moving on with my life.  Disappointed by my failure, I pray that a good Samaritan arrives to lend a helping hand.  When you face a similar scene, how will you respond to this?  May the Holy Spirit fill you with a heart of action to be the hands and feet of Christ to the brokenhearted.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

You Shouldn’t Have to Ask

In life, there are no certainties, as each day on earth involves a plethora of possibilities.  Whether good, bad or indifferent, blessings and curses usually come and go like an endless cycle.  Nonetheless, when faith is the issue, you shouldn’t have to ask someone where they stand; this should be obvious.

The example Jesus uses can be found in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:13-16.  Faith is compared with salt, adding flavor to one’s life by preserving the soul through mediating, reading and reflecting on the Bible, Joshua 1:8.  Subsequently, faith should ignite hearts toward action, illuminating the love of God through deeds, a Christ like example and encouraging words.

According to the apostle Paul, gifts, personalities and talents vary, Romans 12:6-8.  Thus, being outspoken and vocal is not essential.  Rather, faith should compel individuals to demonstrate their commitment for Jesus on a regular basis, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.  By displaying faith, co-workers, family members and neighbors should be drawn to you, pondering, “something is different about him or her?”  You shouldn’t have to ask me, you should see this little light of mine shine daily.

by Jay Mankus

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