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Tag Archives: Billy Joel

All Those Who Were Listening

While Billy Joel refers to honesty as such a lonely word in his 1979 song, teachers often feel the same way about listening.  As a former high school teacher who spent a decade standing in front of teenagers, rarely did I grab the attention of an entire class.  This became apparent during each chapter review prior to the next text as only a handful of students were prepared.  At some point during my lectures, these informed students were attentive, able to concentrate or kept an open ear to what I was presenting.  While uniformed students may cram their way toward a good grade, all those who are consistently listening receive blessings from God.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message [confirming God’s acceptance of Gentiles]. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, Acts 10:44-45.

While interviewing Peter about an encounter with Gentiles, Luke narrows in on the power of listening.  Based upon Peter’s recollection of this day, not everyone in the audience was listening to his sermon.  This became obvious when those talking in the back or whispering on the side did not receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Whether the words above are a direct quote from Peter or an observation made by Luke the author, “the Holy Spirit only fell on those who were listening.”  While not mentioned, the rest of the crowd sat around dumbfounded, likely disappointed that they missed this blessing from God.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied up until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is [the fulfillment of] Elijah [as the messenger] who was to come [before the kingdom]. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words, Matthew 11:13-15.

When John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, a delegation of John’s disciples was sent to Jesus to make sense of his earthly ministry.  John’s disciples wanted to know if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.  Thus, as these men approached Jesus, they hung on every spoken word.  Following a tribute to John the Baptist, Jesus ends his comments with a plea to listen.  Based upon the quote above, there are two types of listening: casual and responsive.  Jesus doesn’t want people to nod in agreement.  Rather, God desires followers of Christ to become doers of the Word by putting Jesus’ advice into action.  Blessings will bestowed upon all those who are attentively listening.

by Jay Mankus

Past Due

The phrase past due is an accounting term that refers to past the date on which a payment should have been made.  Those notices appear in the mail or as an email to warn customers of their violation.  This reminder is like a courtesy call, a method to encourage individuals to immediately pay the amount owed.  Yet, money is not the only that is past due.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng, Psalm 109:30.

The most obvious past due response is thanks.  While American’s celebrate Thanksgiving every November, I often forget to thank the people who have helped me along the way.  Giving thanks shouldn’t be just an annual event.  Rather, thanksgiving should be a daily practice, slowing down enough to verbally share how much you appreciate your friends, family and co-workers.  Similar to Billy Joel’s song Honesty, thanksgiving can be such a lonely word.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name, Hebrews 13:15.

The second response that is past due is praise.  The Psalmist suggests that human beings were created to praise God, Psalm 150.  Prior to entering into a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10, I was selfish and self-seeking.  Yet, when Jesus came into my life, I began to see the connection between blessings and God, James 1:17.  The earthly brother of Jesus wrote about this claiming that every good and perfect thing on earth comes down from heaven.  Although money may get the most attention in life, don’t forget to praise and thank God this holiday season.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Heartbeat of Joy

Joy can result from one of many sources.  Whether its your first date, graduating, marriage or the birth of a child, each elicit an expression of joy.  However, the heartbeat of joy comes from hearing individuals speak that which is right.

My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right, Proverbs 23:16.

When Billy Joel completed his piano ballad Honesty in 1978, his lyrics reference the lack of shame people display after failing to tell the truth.  While the words are vague about who or what event Joel is referring to, Billy acknowledges that honesty is such a lonely word.  The longer truth is hidden, the slower the heartbeat of joy becomes, sucking the life out of many.

Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him, John 18:38.

Truth is similar to talent.  You may not be able to fully explain what it is, but when you see it, you will recognize it.  The more people experience truth, the better you will feel, rejuvenated by that which is right.  May the beginning of a new year, 2017, motivate you to seek what is right so that your heart will rejoice.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Loose Lips Sink Relationships

One of Billy Joel’s most profound songs Honesty debuted on the airways in 1979.  Part of the 1978 album 52nd Street, the chorus of this ballad suggests honesty is such a lonely word.  Perhaps, Billy Joel was on to something, prophetic, sharing a glimpse of what the future would hold.  Before gun or fist fights, human beings often talked out their differences, no matter how heated a conversation got.  Unfortunately, in this age of Facebook, texting and Twitter, loose lips expressed on social media can sink relationships.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! – Psalm 141:3

Depending upon your personality, you will either seek confrontation or run away.  Texting has emboldened some former cowards by avoiding face to face encounters.  Yet, what is posted, typed or shared can create a wedge between friends.  Politics, religion and worldviews are factors that tend to divide neighborhoods.  When opinions are openly expressed on these topics, loose lips sink relationships.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

The apostle Paul provides a solution to those who have fractured relationships due to careless words.  Sure, all human beings are imperfect, prone to moments of weakness where the choice of language is inappropriate.  In view of this, the more positive you remain, the less likely you will offend friends and strangers.  Faking this will prove to be a waste of time so its essentially to be genuine and honest.  While no one will ever be 100% encouraging all the time, this is the goal to restore formerly loose lips to repair relationships.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Billy Joel Was Right

For many, music serves as a time warp, taking you back to the days of your youth upon hearing a song on the internet, mp3 player, radio or television.  According to 1 Samuel 16:21-23, music contains healing powers, soothing the soul of King Saul.  When I was younger, 8 track players were on their way out, vinyl had hit its peak and cassette players were the rage.  As for musicians, I was partial toward Billy Joel, Chicago and REO Speedwagon.  Two days ago, I couldn’t get one of Billy Joel’s song out of my mind.

Honesty was released in 1979 on Billy Joel’s 6th album 52nd Street.  The more I played the lyrics over in my mind, especially the chorus below, a truth hit home.

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.

In this politically correct age, void of honest humor, honesty has become a lonely word.  Instead of pushing individuals toward greatness, they are coddled, hand fed and led to believe they are greater than they really are.  Public education is the biggest offender of this crime against humanity.

My high school teachers told us the truth, even when you didn’t want to hear it.  These words served as inspiration and motivation to prove others wrong.  As a parent of 3 children now, all in public education for the first time, administrators need to apply the message of Billy Joel’s song.

Students don’t need award ceremony after award ceremony, celebrating who came to school every day and who didn’t.  This generation needs to be challenged by demonstrating tough love.  Affirmation and encouragement is important, yet to be a rugged individual, you must learn to endure hardship, embrace trials and pursue excellence.  The more you hear the truth through constructive criticism, your ability to reach your full potential increases.  As you practice this for yourself, you will see Billy Joel was right, honesty is a lonely word.  Change it now!

by Jay Mankus

On a personal note, its nice to hear how great you are.  However, to be the best writer I can be, please send me comments about topics I am not covering, how I can improve my writing or flaws you pick up reading my blogs.  Perfection may be impossible to achieve, Matthew 5:48, but trying to achieve it often results in future benefits or break throughs.  Any constructive criticism you are willing to send my way is greatly appreciated.  Good day and may God bless you all!

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