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Where Liberty and Church Street Meet

Shipping Wars, a reality television show on A&E debuted on January 10th, 2012.  Simulating the competitive nature of this trade, I spent 2 years of my life pursuing this career back in 2000 and 2001.  In order to make money, you have to be willing to spend it up front.  In fact, I once made $2000 in 24 hours, driving an overnight delivery from Wilmington, Delaware to Chicago.  Unfortunately, this never happened again as like most Americans, I struggled to make a living.  Nonetheless, as I drove a weekly route up to East Rutherford, New Jersey, the World Trade Center was always there to greet me in the sky as I drew near.  This beacon of light stood where Liberty and Church Street met.

As the summer of 2001 faded into fall, I made an emergency trip to New York City, passing the twin towers for the last time.  After 9/11, lights lite up where this grand building once resided, but approaching New York was never the same.  When the United States was attacked on our own soil, the pursuit of life and liberty took on an entirely new meaning.  In the aftermath of this terrorist attack, churches experienced an initial awakening, packed for prayer vigils and services.  More than 10 years later, church attendance is declining and liberty is under a different kind of battle, invisible to the human eye.

On the Atlantic Coast of America, most downtown areas are filled with centers for worship.  The further west you travel across the fruited plains, the less this scene is repeated.  As progress occurs in society, traditions tend to fall by the wayside, surpassed by modern thinking.  While atheists are still trying to have the steel cross found in the Twin Towers remains removed from the 9/11 memorial, this relic is a symbol for a lost and dying world, John 3:16-17.  As the Freedom Tower replaces the World Trade Center at Liberty and Church Street, may this day in history never be forgotten, especially on this Independence Day, July 4th.

by Jay Mankus

Traces of Azusa Street

One hundred and six years prior to William Seymour’s preaching which transformed downtown Los Angeles, many Americans had abandoned God.  According to a 17th century historian, Ian Murray reports this moral decay in the book Revival and Revivalism.  Based upon his research, 1799 was one of the darkest periods for followers of Jesus in the United States.  Church attendance rapidly declined, mock communions were often held on college campus’ and committed prayers dwindled down to a few.  Religious persecution grew, causing the weak to deny their faith and true believers to meet in secret, fearful of being targeted by a growing godless culture.  When all seemed lost, America experienced its first great spiritual awakening in 1800 through an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

A century later, another movement was on the verge of breaking loose, but this time it began across the pond in England.  Leonard Ravenhill, a 20th century  historian on revival went to the origin of this spiritual outbreak to see what elements precipitated God’s presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Behind average at best preaching and worship, an anointing of prayer led to an outpouring of confession.  As a result, the area crime rate dropped to zero as prisons became empty.  By the time police were being laid off, churches hired these men to direct the traffic in and around prayer, teaching and revival meetings.  Reaching beyond the church doors, miners felt compelled to stop cursing and swearing, resulting in retraining of mules since they didn’t know how to respond to kind words.

As a black man living in Houston, William Seymour was forced to sit outside the main lecture area, listening to God’s teaching through an open door in a hallway.  Attending Charles Parham’s Bible School in 1905, Seymour did not allow his one blind eye to quench his thirst for God’s Word.  Introduced to the teaching of glossolalia, known today as speaking in tongues, William felt called to take this teaching to the streets of LA.  On a street called Azusa, Seymour founded the modern Pentecostal movement as the gifts of the Holy Spirit spread like wildfire across the country.  Oppressed by theology, Seymour believed God is the same yesterday, today and the future, including spiritual gifts in his belief system.

Today, spiritual gifts tend to be divisive, separating the body of Christ instead of uniting under the guise of light.  Both sides of the argument can assume equal blame as some churches disregard Paul’s teaching regarding orderly worship mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 & 14.  Meanwhile, the frozen chosen have grown cold, lacking love and a sense of respect when it comes to discussing theology in a god honoring manner.  As for me, I’ve been on both sides of this issue throughout my life.  However, currently, I believe there are traces of Azusa Street in the future for America and across the world.  Go no further than South Korea and Nigeria’s revival in the past 10 years to realize, God is not done with mankind.  Therefore, as you live day to day, don’t be surprised if traces of Azusa make their way to your own street corner.

by Jay Mankus

Stirring Up Wars

Not much has changed since the Jets and the Sharks began their fictional turf war over a girl, Maria, in the 1961 musical West Side Story.  Today, anger, bitterness and discord have built up within human beings to create ideal conditions for dissension zones.  Good intentions often fade into the night as roots of bitterness suffocate any thoughts of forgiveness.  As a result, floodgates open up for a culture of bickering and backstabbing.

Beyond the boundaries of Super Powers, factions leave third world nations with a battlefield of broken hearts, fragile souls and shattered relationships.  Hatred has found a home, setting up shop as a spirit of division is holding unwilling citizens captive.  While once foreign, America has open its doors to this nature through reality television.  A generation of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones viewers have spawned hits shows like Big Brother, Survivor and The Jersey Shore.  Seeking to get rich over night, individuals do whatever it takes, forsaking integrity, to achieve success and victory.

Going unnoticed by those with moral blinders on, the acts of the sinful nature has imprisoned lost souls, Galatians 5:19-21.  Selfish ambition has become their driving force, the wind beneath their misguided wings.  When you add envy and jealousy as fuel to this fire, carnage is aired daily through shows like Bad Boys, Cheaters and Divorce Court.  As long as comedy, sex and violence continue to sell, this process will repeat itself, stirring up more wars.  May God protect the innocent bystanders, caught in the crossfire of this mudslinging.  Pray the words of Galatians 5:16-18 so that this vicious cycle will end soon!

by Jay Mankus

Theological Divides

Early in the first century AD, a spirit of jealousy entered into Jewish believers, Acts 15:1-2.  Since the introduction of the covenant of Circumcision in Genesis 17, God had set apart the descendants of Abram as His chosen people.  Thus, the thought of any Gentile receiving the grace of God was foreign, rejected by those who clung to the theology of the Pharisees, Acts 15:5.  Like the Judiazers within Galatia, to become a Christian was to follow in the traditions of the Old Testament, causing even Barnabas to stumble, Galatians 2:11-13.

Today, a new form of Judiazer is present as the elite and misguided perform isogesis, reading their own beliefs into passages of the Bible not supported by the original context.  As a result, heresy’s come and go, confusing the faith of new believers and ticking off others within the body of Christ.  Sects of the pentecostal movement claim salvation is dependent upon speaking in tongues, with hell destined for those who don’t.  Meanwhile, liberalism has allowed a spirit of fear to enter into the pulpit, leading some pastors to become afraid of offending their members with the Word of God.

From my view in the bleachers, another Acts 15 letter needs to occur to straighten out the confusion which exists within 21st century followers of Christ.  Instead of obtaining Psalm 133:1, Satan has poisoned innocent minds, Acts 14:2, leaving behind a wall of theological divides.  May the words of Colossians 3:12-14 serve as an outline, a starting place to tear down these invisible walls.  Pray that Colossians 3:15-17 would become a reality before the church in America becomes a museum like Europe.  Act now to demolish these divisive barriers.

by Jay Mankus

Above the Law

If you look hard enough, stories of entitlement, greed and pride fill the weekly news cycle.  Forgetting history, these individuals act as if they are above the law.  Whether its a politician, professional athlete or another scandal within the Internal Revenue Service, the law will always catch up with those trying to outrun it.

This morning, a New England Patriot’s Tight End was charged with first degree murder of his former friend, Odin Lloyd.  Fame, money and a rebellious spirit has ruined the once promising career of Aaron Hernandez, released by the Patriot’s 2 hours after today’s arrest.  The memories of fallen stars like O.J. Simpson and Rae Carruth did not ring a bell or serve as a wake up call.  Until last week, Hernandez acted and behaved as if he was still above the law.

Fortunately, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty, despite what the local press and media claim.  Regardless of the outcome, maybe these consequences aired throughout cable news networks today will serve as humble pie to those on the verging on following a similar path.  The Bible was meant to be a guide, Psalm 119:105, a blue print, John 10:10, leading people toward a greater life.  However, as in the days of Moses, everyone has a choice, Deuteronomy 30:15.  Each one you make will either lead you closer to life or beyond the law.  Get back on track now, Matthew 7:13-14, while there is still time!

by Jay Mankus

Mountain Dew

As spring fades into summer, a natural phenomena occurs nearly every morning.  Appearing on blades of grass, dew  forms as exposed surfaces cool by radiating its heat through water droplets.  Those who are early risers, walk their dogs before work or play golf at day light either see footprints left by individuals or feel the cooling refreshing remnants of dew on their feet.

By the 1940’s, another dew made its presence known in America.  Now produced by the Pepsi Company, Mountain Dew was invented by Barney and Ally Hartman in Tennessee.  As the popularity of this carbonated fountain drink grew in the south, the brand and rights were purchased by Pepsi Cola in 1964.  The idea was to attach the image of cool and refreshing dew into a product which would quench the thirst of parched souls.

King David uses mountain dew in another context within Psalm 133.  Initially, David opens his song with a heart felt call to unity within the body of Christ in verse 1.  To express how sweet this feels, David paints a picture of being anointed with oil, in the tradition of the Old Testament, verse 2.  To finish his case in verse 3, David compares dew that forms on a mountain with the blessings of the Lord.  Therefore, the next time you see dew of any kind, think of all the blessings God desires to bestow upon those who call on the name of the Lord, Romans 10:11.

by Jay Mankus

Weather or Not?

Many folks in America are probably thinking along the same wave lengths, ” this is the strangest spring I can ever remember?”  As traces of winter pop up weekly, summer can’t get here soon enough.  However, in the mean time, you are stuck with a daily dilemma, whether or not to trust in the so called experts to accurately predict the weather?

As a little league coach, 7 days in a week aren’t enough to make up the games rained out and those cancelled hours in advance only to witness sunny skies appear.  Despite these interruptions to schedules, there is a silver lining.  Rain can slow down one’s pace in life, bring families together or provide needed ingredients for a successful garden.  For others who work at airports, malls or stores, weather delays can make for some of the most profitable days of the year as well as provide shelter to take a walk inside.

The question arises, how much will you allow weather to influence your mood?  Weather related depression is common for cities like Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.  Like a cruel mistress, weather can lead you on, only to crush your spirit late in the day.  In the end, the choice is yours, making the best of today, James 4:14, putting worries about tomorrow on hold.  Weather or not, how will you respond when another front washes out your plans?

by Jay Mankus

The Other Closet

As many heard yesterday, Jason Collins has become the first openly gay athlete in one of the 4 major sports while still playing, a center for the Washington Wizards.  Revealed in the cover story of Sports Illustrated, Collins talks about the relief of being forthright.  This confession has resulted in a media feeding frenzy, with leading figures, including the president, adding their two cents on this historical day.

21 hours ago

While one closet has been opened, another closet remains shut, locked for similar reasons.  For many growing up in the 1980’s, faith was communicated as something private, saved for your home and family.  Thus, many secret believers kept their mouths shut, fearful that they might be exposed or labeled as a Jesus freak.  According to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, many Christian’s in Hollywood continue this tradition today.  In their minds, coming out could either ruin their career or lead to less opportunities.

I wish there was common ground, a meeting place to resolve conflicting beliefs, yet religion has a history of dividing families, states and nations.  Freewill is a powerful option, a choice to obey or disobey, accept or refuse and express yourself or hold feelings in.  In the end, God allows you to make your own decision, Romans 1:18-20, letting your own desires take over.  However, my prayer is that as individuals come out of the other closet, the media will have the same admiration and respect as they do for Jason.  May love, keep the great American melting pot together.

by Jay Mankus

The Breath of the Lord

Norway rat

During the dark days of the Black Plague, sneezing was an early indication of this disease.  Thus, the expression, “may God bless you,” was aptly spoken, hoping the individual who sneezed would not die.  This spoken prayer was the only line of defense people had, since scientists were initially baffled by this outbreak.

In the beginning of this world, God created Adam to live forever, breathing life into his body.  However, like the Black Plague, sin’s influences and presence after the fall, gradually sucked the life out of mankind.  The toll of this spiritual disease eventually forced God to limit human life to 120 years.

Today, there is a different kind of threat, the absence of the presence of God.  Just as in the decay of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, America is experiencing a similar power outage of God’s blessing.  Disobedience, idols and worldliness has eliminated the breathe of the Lord in many regions of the world.  Like the words of the prophet Isaiah 40:7, America and other dying nations are overdue for the breathe of the Lord.  May desperate souls rise from the ashes, made whole again by the Holy Spirit!

by Jay Mankus

Inside The Mind of A Terrorist

10 hours ago

In the infancy of America, terrorism was fought on the shores of Tripoli, as supply ships bound for the Atlantic were held hostage or sunk .  Since 9/11/01, the war on terror has shifted to sneak attacks on our own soil.  With the bombing at yesterday’s Boston Marathon, many Americans want to know, what’s inside the mind of a terrorist.

16 hours ago

Like Japanese pilots during World War II, there is a kamikaze mindset within most terrorists as some do change their mind.  Nonetheless, this willingness to die to accomplish a Jihad, Holy War, is often unstoppable for public officials.  The term kamikaze literally means God wind or divine wind.  Unfortunately, once a terrorist buys into this notion, the unthinkable is played out on television like yesterday’s 2 bombings near the finish line in Boston.

However, what makes any terrorist like a fire cracker waiting to explode is the belief that by dying they are actually doing God’s will.  While recent movies on terrorism have suggested a terrorist is promised 72 virgins in heaven for their sacrifice on earth, it doesn’t matter whether this its fact or fiction.  Once the idea to commit suicide or set off bombs in the name of Allah is conceived, the process of James 1:13-15 is set into motion.

17 hours ago

May God help all of us in America and anyone else in the world currently battling terrorism.  My hope is that anyone thinking of such destruction will be convicted in their hearts and be led toward peace.  Freewill is a powerful weapon, yet prayer can still penetrate the mind of a terrorist by altering their future acts.  Pray for your enemies as Jesus called to his disciples and followers to do in Matthew 5:43-48.

by Jay Mankus

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