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Where Was God in Uvalde?

Following the most recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, one of the first headlines I saw on social media pierced my heart. This one particular comment blamed God for not intervening. The exact quote was “Where was God in the Uvalde School Shooting?” Unfortunately, when freewill is exercised and someone has already made up their mind like Cain, the only thing remaining is the actual act of evil.

But for [a]Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it, Genesis 4:5-7.

Based upon the initial investigation into the life of the school shooter Salvador Ramos, he had a speech impediment, a stutter that caused other students to tease him. Beside recently dropping out of high school, Salvador’s family had a criminal record that led him to live with his grandparents. One psychologist suggested that the pictures of graduating seniors displayed throughout downtown UValde may have been one of the triggers that caused Salvador to snap.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

While Texas officials may never uncover the reason for Salvador’s evil actions, the Bible shines light upon what is going on inside of sinful minds. Cain was envious of his younger brother Abel who was blessed by God. This jealousy conceived hatred inside of Cain’s heart that Jesus compares to the root of murder in Matthew 5:21-22. Meanwhile, temptation does originate from God. Rather, temptation is an internal process that baits, entices and lures people like Salvador to sin. Just like God tried to talk Cain out of getting rid of his brother, God’s attempt to change Salvador’s mind was unsuccessful to stop freewill.

by Jay Mankus

A Touch of Faith

While seeing is believing, feeling Jesus’ hand where a nail once held him to a cross resulted in a touch of faith for Thomas, John 20:27-28. Jesus uses this moment to express how blessed those individuals who have never seen Jesus, but still believe. The authors of the four gospels share their own encounters, personal experiences, and recollections of Jesus. Some of these accounts may stir your heart that produces a touch of faith.

[We are writing] about the Word of Life [[a]in] Him Who existed from the beginning, Whom we have heard, Whom we have seen with our [own] eyes, Whom we have gazed upon [for ourselves] and have touched with our [own] hands, 1 John 1:1.

The touch move rule in chess is the most basic rule when competing in any tournament. If a player deliberately touches one a piece on the board when it is their turn to move, they must move or capture that touched piece if it is legal to do so. From a spiritual standpoint, when you reach out to touch a person or thing, your senses confirm that this object is real. Meanwhile, when your heart is touched by God, the Holy Spirit prompts you to act.

Until the day when He ascended, after He through the Holy Spirit had instructed and commanded the apostles (special messengers) whom He had chosen. To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God, Acts 1:2-3.

According to the four gospels and the Book of Acts, following Jesus’ resurrection he appeared to and interacted with over 500 people. Prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-6, followers of Jesus were in awe of God’s power to raise a human being from the dead. The Great Commission served as a blue print for the first century Church, Acts 1:8. Yet, when a doubting Thomas felt the scar in Jesus’ palm, this touch of faith is all that he needed to transform his life.

by Jay Mankus

Sharing the Comforts of Home

In the past 20 years, my parents have been blessed to have two dream homes. The first was in Ohio where my father was promoted to a leadership position at his company’s corporate headquarters. Upon retiring, my folks were able to build one from scratch across from the Indian River Bay. Over the past 20 years, my parents have shared the comforts of home with my family and their grandchildren.

Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it, Hebrews 13:2.

The author of Hebrews refers to a similar form of hospitality. Since first century churches didn’t have a physical building like today, members would open their homes as a weekly gathering place. Apparently, shy and quiet individuals began to feel left out, not welcomed like the more outgoing. This shortcoming is pointed out in the passage above with a call to share the comforts of your home with believers.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

The apostle Paul alludes to another element of hospitality. As people endure troubling times, everyone reacts a little differently. Some withdraw due to depression, others become sarcastic and people like me become comfortably numb. When reaching out to hurting people, you don’t have to beat out what’s inside. Rather, share the comforts of home and when the timing is right, the hurting will bear their souls to you when they are ready. Until then, keep consoling and encouraging anyone who is crushed in spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Committed to Becoming a Good Steward

The Bible refers to a steward as a servant who is mindful that Jesus will return at anytime. This individual behaves like a servant who will be held accountable by their boss, colleagues and or superiors. My introduction to this term came through reading the Parable of the Talents. This story shared by Jesus illustrates the sense of urgency that a good steward develops and strives for each day they are alive.

As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the [f]extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor], 1 Peter 4:10.

Former talk show legend Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase “talent on loan from God.” When Rush was diagnosed with stage for cancer back in 2020, he began to open up about his relationship with God. For most of his life, Rush made it a point to avoid using his conservative radio program to proselytize. Yet, as death drew near, Rush revealed a charitable spirit by donating more than 2 million dollars to the Tunnel to Towers foundation.

And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more. 21 His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [b]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [c]blessedness) which your master enjoys, Matthew 25:20-21.

For most of my adult life, I made just enough to scrape by. When I was a Christian High School teacher I often relied on private donations to pay my bills. Yet, in the past few years I have been blessed by God with a good paying job. In lieu of this recent success, my heart is convicting me to become a better steward. Instead of accepting hand outs, it’s my turn to begin secretly giving to the causes I believe in. May the Holy Spirit stir all of us to become a good steward in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

The Struggle to Conform to God’s Will

Have you ever wondered, “why is it so hard to find your place in this world?” While you may have discovered your spiritual gift, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, finding the ideal position where you can flourish is no small task. If you are blessed to be able to actually do what you love, there is still one thing to consider. Are you serving the Lord with your God given talents or do you find yourself struggling to conform with God’s will?

Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even [f]slothful in achieving spiritual insight]. 12 For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food, Hebrews 5:11-12.

According to one biblical author, struggling to conform to God’s will is a sign of spiritual immaturity. From a psychological perspective, Abraham Maslow suggests that there are certain basic needs that haven’t been met or fulfilled. Subsequently, most people go throughout life without reaching what Maslow calls self-realization. The apostle Paul provides an alternative view based upon developing the mindset of offering your body as a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1.

For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! 14 But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law, Hebrews 5:13-14.

Paul’s teaching compliments the passage above. When you struggle to conform with God’s will, one of three issues is likely present. Either you’re not living a purpose driven life, your thoughts tend to dwell on the sinful nature rather than the Holy Spirit or spiritual action and deeds are missing from your faith. Similar to the message Jesus shares with the Pharisees in Matthew 9:10-13, the spiritual healthy are able to take care of themselves by conforming to God’s will. The sick and sinners need a spiritual doctor to show them the way, Romans 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

Open Up to Know the Living God

In the opening scene of American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball introduces Lester Burnham.  Played by Kevin Spacey, Lester shares that he has been dead inside for sometime.  Lester’s not sure how or when this happened, but something in his soul can’t stand the person that he has become.  This confession sets the stage for Lester to wake up from this spiritual slumber so that he can truly live once again.

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [b]Himself.He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being, John 1:1-3.

Ten years ago, I was living a dream, teaching the Bible to high school teenagers and coaching golf.  While it took me nearly 40 years to discover God’s will for my life, I was blessed by God for a decade as spiritual fruits began to blossom.  Unfortunately, when Red Lion Christian Academy was sold and the church was disbanded, a part of me died.  After pouring my heart and soul into this institution, I was fired and left leaving like a failure.

In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it], John 1:4-5.

Like Lester’s character in American Beauty, joy returned to me in the midst of sorrow. While attending a memorial service for two members of the Hanson family over the weekend, spending time with my extended family brought a new appreciation for life. You never know when your time will be up; when your life will permanently expire. Therefore, it’s time to live by start taking chances and try to become all that God wants you to be. As I start to wake up from my spiritual slumber, join me by opening up to know the living God.

by Jay Mankus

Where You Once Walked

The longest book in the Bible begins it’s first chapter by comparing life to talking a walk. Depending upon the choices that you make, you will follow one of two paths, Matthew 7:13-14. The broad road is a popular destination, the easiest and most convenient choice with the vast majority of the crowd going in this direction. Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken coincides with the narrow path, regularly passed over in this life.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night, Psalm 1:1-2.

As a Christian, your walk is an outline for your testimony. The apostle Paul provides a blueprint to follow in Galatians 1:10-24. Spiritual walks are comprised of 3 phases in your life: how you lived prior to being introduced to Jesus, how you entered into a personal relationship with Jesus and how your life has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Where you once walked gives others hope that they too have time to change for the better.

It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices]. But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, Colossians 3:6-9.

The passage above serves as a warning to those individuals considering the idea of reverting back to their old ways. While no one is perfect, Romans 3:9-12, Christians are called to a higher standard, Matthew 5:46-48. Where you once walked is a reflection of your old self, Colossians 3:1-4. Instead of dabbling in the past, Galatians 5:25, Paul exhorts Christians to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. May this blog inspire you to walk with God despite the temptation to go back where you once walked..

by Jay Mankus

Things Seen and Unseen

The expression “doubting Thomas” comes from an encounter between Jesus and one of his disciples following his resurrection. Despite having a conversation with Jesus, Thomas wanted more proof, John 20:27. Thomas wanted to see and feel the scars, the holes in Jesus’ hand where He was hung from a cross. In John 20:29, Jesus refers to future Christians who believe without seeing. These individuals will be blessed as each walk by faith, not by sight.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure. 26 So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, Romans 8:24-26.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Rome. Instead of talking about doubt, Paul uses hope as an object of faith. Rather than have the opportunity to see and touch Jesus, future believers must rely on hope to trust first century eyewitnesses who heard the gospel message in person. Faith in what is unseen is made possible via the Holy Spirit which serves as a spiritual counselor, John 16:13.

For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him, Colossians 1:16.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, Paul reinforces this concept. Reflecting upon the Trinity, Paul highlights Jesus’ role in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Although a secular society continues to attack the Bible’s infallibility, this is where your faith is put to the test. During a message about the End Times, Jesus suggests that many people will abandon their faith, Matthew 24:10-13. The next time doubt creeps into your mind, remember that faith is the assurance of what is unseen, Hebrews 11:1.

by Jay Mankus

Real Estate

The term Real Estate is first mentioned in the 1660’s. Derived from Old English, “real” meaning “existing, true”. The English took this concept from the Latin word Realis. The brainchild of modern real estate in the United States dates back to 1906 when young entrepreneurs Coldbert Coldwell and Benjamin Banker established The Coldwell Banker Company. These pioneers paved the way for the 869,595 real estate companies that exist today national wide

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me, John 14:1.

After my two older sisters graduated from high school, my mother became an agent for Century 21. This was the perfect time to enter this business, the golden age of real estate. I spent a decade working my own schedule around all the Open Houses my mom either listed or showed. While taxes and specific fees always knock down the total amount you actually make, my family was blessed by the extra income my mother earned by selling homes.

In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also, John 14:2-3.

In the final week of his earthly ministry, Jesus introduced his disciples to the biblical version of real estate. According to the passage above, Jesus speaks of a place with many dwelling homes. Jesus already went to God’s open house, excited by the possibilities. The goal is to secure a place, making a deposit for the future. The disciple whom Jesus loved goes one step further, 1 John 5:13, claiming that you can know for sure. The only real estate worth investing in on earth is guaranteeing your place in heaven. While you can’t see it, belief and faith will take you there.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed More than Ever Before

Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. These attitudes to strive for while on earth each begin with the word blessed. Jesus suggests that those who demonstrate or possess these qualities will be filled with peace and prosperity. These 9 traits are realistic goals depending upon your DNA and personality type. However, you won’t have every spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Nonetheless, once these hidden talents are revealed to you, blessings come as these gifts are put into action, 2 Timothy 1:6.

Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. 20 But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Matthew 6:19-21.

In the second chapter of his sermon, Jesus turns his attention toward motives. While probing human hearts, Jesus calls his followers to look inward to examine where you stand. Using treasures in the context of priorities, Jesus wants to know if your focus is on the eternal or temporary? Jesus suggests if your heart is in the right spot, the Lord will provide everything you need for life, Matthew 6:33. However, if you are distracted by fame, fortune or temporary pleasures, blessings will be replaced with a spirit of emptiness.

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, Malachi 3:8-10.

An Old Testament prophet adds a new dimension to the source of blessings. According to Malachi, blessings are directly linked to the tithe individuals give to their local church. Those who withhold their income by giving less than ten percent of their salary will experience limited blessings. Malachi refers to this lack of trust as a way people defraud God. However, if you come to a point in your life when you acknowledge that everything you have is a gift from God, hearts are drawn toward tithing. Therefore, if you want to see the storehouses in heaven open up before your very eyes, make 2021 the year you began giving back to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

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