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Amusing Myself to Death

The definition of entertainment refers to providing and or receiving amusement or enjoyment.  Early cultures built theaters, often used to host plays to provide comic relief from the troubles in life.  In recent years, sports allows individuals to release their stress for a couple of hours each weekend.  However, if you get too comfortable or close to the finer things in life, you may be in danger of amusing yourself to death.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

After a long week of work, I tend to find myself on a recliner soaking in something on television.  While I do spent time outside playing golf, at my current age, I prefer to be entertained.  Perhaps this explains why I have a hard time turning the channel when movies like A Few Good Men, Bourne Identity or Shawshank Redemption come on.  Its strange how reruns can attract someone’s attention, wasting valuable time that could be spent fulfilling your dreams.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there, Acts 17:17.

One of the best resources for escaping the grips of amusement is Summit Ministries.  During my decade of teaching, Dr. Jeff Myers and John Stonestreet were at the forefront of preparing students for college.  One of their common messages is that life imitates art.   The best way to address this is by engaging today’s culture through apologetics.  Just as the apostle Paul persuaded the people of Athens, this world needs a leader to snap people out of their spiritual slumber.  May the Lord awaken couch potatoes with the saving grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Thrills That Kill

One of my favorite summer pastimes is visiting amusement parks across the country.  Whether its  Cedar Point, Kings Island or one of the 6 Flags venues, there is nothing like the thrill of riding on a roller coaster.  This rush of adrenaline creates a sensation that makes you feel like you’re flying through the air.  However, for the paranoid, history serves as a notice that some rides can kill.

According to an NBC News report from July of 2014, most amusement accidents occur to children, roughly 4,400 per year or 20 per week during the peak season.  The most recent investigation on amusement park death found 52 individuals died over a 15 year people, with the latest victim a woman from Texas who fell out of a 14 story wooden coaster.  Despite strict safety regulations, there is no guarantee when the next malfunction will end in disaster.

From a spiritual perspective, there is a reason why God includes guidelines for life in the Bible.  If ignored, its easy to wander into trouble, just ask Eve.  Meanwhile, the acts of the sinful nature have been added for New Testament readers, warning people of the dangers of indulging in Turkish delights, Galatians 5:19-21.  Just as Peter explored Narnia, attractive to the promises of the White Witch, most human beings can’t resist the pleasures of earth.  Thus, if you’re not careful, you might develop a taste for thrills that can kill.

by Jay Mankus

Pawns of the Devil

According to Webster, a pawn is someone used by others for their own purpose.  Pawns vary from a dupe to a puppet and in extreme conditions, a hostage.  When you consider Jesus’ insight in John 10:10, there are 3 stages to pawns of the Devil.  Initially, time is used to steal children away from God.  To further this separation, ambitions, dreams and goals are plucked, one by one, killing any hopes of emotional, physical and spiritual prosperity.  Finally, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, lives are destroyed figuratively and literally.

Pawn #1 is subtle, using amusement, entertainment and obsessions to lure committed followers off the narrow road.  Throw in a little compromise, enjoyment and worldly pleasures and before long, priorities began to change.  One of the signs of Satan’s success is a lukewarm spirit, causing souls to lose focus of what’s truly important in life.  Add an onslaught of trials and those pure in heart wander into uncharted waters, opening their eyes to a whole new world like Eve.  If you look across the fence long enough, you might find yourself on the other side.

Pawn #2 is merely a byproduct of time.  Once temptation begins to dig its claws deep into hearts and minds, the outcome shouldn’t be surprising.  Spiritual neglect is replaced by bad habits, careless behavior and loose lips.  The presence of a disciplined life is a distantly memory, kicked to the curb by fleshly desires.  Hooked, lined and sinking fast, the light of Christ fades into addictions of darkness.  At some point, individuals become puppets of the Devil, accomplishing his will through a hypocritical and tainted testimony.

Unless intervention occurs, Pawn #3 resembles a tsunami.  The first wave starts by destroying marriages and or relationships near and dear to your heart.  Isolated, the second wave brings financial ramifications as consumption, gambling and waste make their way to your shores.  Just when you think the storm has subsided, the surge is relentless building in size and wrath.  If you survive, a pitiful soul remains, a shell of the person you were before the pawns of the Devil entered your life.  For those still standing, remember the words of Peter, a failure himself, resist the devil by keeping the faith, 1 Peter 5:8-9.  May this revelation encourage hearts to draw near to the One true God, 1 Timothy 2:4.

by Jay Mankus

Quiet Waters

Words like silent, tranquil and undisturbed seem so far away from reality.  While America was sleeping, peace has been replaced by violence, slipped into minds full of mush through video games.  Those who are too busy to care, indulge or play, find their amusement is movies, pop culture and the latest car chase on television.  A life full of distractions, interruptions and noise drowns out the serenity of God’s quiet waters.

This promise of Psalm 23:2 may be a flashback from the image portrayed in Psalm 1:1-3.  Those blessed souls who are able to outran the wicked, flee from the presence of careless sinners and avoid joining a crowd full of mockers find their way through the jungle of life.  Beyond the temptations, lies a bubbling brook, full of love, joy and peace.  This living water offered by Jesus in John 4:10 produces conifers, trees that stay green 365 days a year.  Prosperity is like the morning dew, a subtle reminder of God’s presence in this sacred place.

Once you experience this hidden spring, its hard to find enjoyment in the ways of the world.  Sure, temporary pleasures abound, yet nothing satisfies, quickly losing its allure.  The old Southwest Airlines’ commercials have it partially right.  Yes, you’ve got to get away.  However, where you need to arrive is upon the shores of God’s quiet waters.  Like Kokomo, its a mythical destination that only a few find, Matthew 7:13-14.  May the spirit of God, guide you, step by step, until you reach the healing pool, John 5:1-7.  It doesn’t matter why you came or what state you’re in, as long as you believe entering quiet waters will leave you transformed, once and for all.  Get fulfilled today, Matthew 5:6.

by Jay Mankus

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