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Devoid of Light

A recent eye examine revealed that I am practically blind in my right eye.  The culprit is a large cataract in my eye that is blurring my vision daily.  Subsequently, for the second time in three years I will be having surgery to hopefully improve and repair this condition.  For someone who writes daily and desperately wants to pursue a career as a Hollywood screen writer, the odds are stacked against.  When you find yourself devoid of light, unable to see what you’re reading or about to type, my future seems bleak.

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it in a cellar nor under a basket [hiding the light], but [instead it is put] on the lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive, focused on God], your whole body also is full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. But when it is bad [spiritually blind], your body also is full of darkness [devoid of God’s word], Luke 11:33-34.

In the passage above, Jesus compares eyes to the lamp of the human body.  The goal is to place yourself into ideal positions, able to see every angle of what’s happening around you.  Just as fashion designers put lighting to highlight certain aspects of a new home, eyes were created by God to provide spiritual discernment and perception.  The more you focus on God, the clearer things become in life, resulting in good choices.  However, the moment you allow spiritual blindness to enter your life and persist, lives can spin out of control.  Thus, decision making is like being in a fog, devoid of light to lead you out of this darkness.

Be careful, therefore, that the light that is in you is not darkness. 36 So if your whole body is illuminated, with no dark part, it will be entirely bright [with light], as when the lamp gives you light with its bright rays,” Luke 11:35-36.

Beginning in the Old Testament, authors referred to the Bible or Word of God as a source of light.  Amy Grant and Michael Card once sang about this truth in the song Thy Word.  The chorus is straight out of scripture, Psalm 119:105.  God’s Word is like an old oil lamp shinning light into the darkness of night.  Although you may not know where to go initially, wise teachings serve as a light to direct and guide your feet.  While I am anxious about my upcoming eye surgery the last week in November, I do have the promises within the Bible to keep me hopeful.  As I struggle with the possibility of being devoid of human light, seeing, I know my heavenly father has a plan for me to get me through this period of darkness.

by Jay Mankus

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Opening Your Eyes to the Suffering of Friends

When I was younger, I was naive.  This immaturity lead me to become blind, oblivious to the needs of my friends.  Carl who eventually became my best friend in high school often punched me in the shoulder, shouting out “punch buggy” yellow or blue.  Behind this aggression was a boy crying out for help as he silently watched cancer take his mother’s life.  I could have been there for him, providing a shoulder to lean on.  Yet, I was consumed by my own life.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him, Job 2:11.

News of the tragedy that struck Job spread to his friends and neighbors.  Since no funerals are referenced, these three men dropped what they were doing to comfort Job.  However, as they approached, the sight of Job’s condition was overwhelming.  This brought out raw emotions, crying with their friend.  Based upon the words used by Job, none of these friends could come to terms with what happened, remaining silent for a week.  Sometimes a hug is more powerful than words.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was, Job 2:12-13.

In this day and age, its easy to connect or reach out to friends using social media.  Since my emergency eye surgery last November, I posted on Facebook a need for prayers a couple of times.  I’ve been amazed and touched by the outpouring of support that I have received.  In the moments immediately following requests for prayers, I have felt the healing power of your prayers.  This experience has inspired me to open my eyes to the suffering of friends.  May this blog inspire you to reach a helping hand like the friends of Job in chapter 2.

by Jay Mankus

When Things Don’t Add Up

Parents who have grown up in the same area or town where their children attend school develop perspective.  Depending upon their memory, adults can compare their education with the current system.  Taking time to read modern textbooks may shock some, yet the informed aren’t surprised.  The dumbing down of information attempts to sway young minds full of mush to buy into the liberal agenda being dished out daily.  However, when things don’t add up like recently implemented Common Core curriculum, even public school teachers are waking up to this debauchery of education.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. – Ephesians 5:3

Back in my day, several teachers were like personal trainers, pushing you beyond what you could handle.  A few were like drill sergeants, mean S.O.B.’s until you graduated, when you saw the logic behind their madness.  These adults instilled in me a discipline, life skills and a work ethic I have exchanged for monthly pay checks.  Although, I wish it was larger, being challenged has made me a better person.  I only wish my children could escape the coddling that exists today for a taste of what I endured in school.  Nonetheless, when things don’t add up, a parent must intervene to steer their kids in the right direction.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. – Ephesians 5:4

Whether you are watching a commercial, public service announcement or some new television show, it doesn’t take long to notice flaws.  Though the world view you possess may alter or blind you in same ways, consciences scream out the truth, pointing you in the way you should go.  However, if you begin to buy into the lies sold daily, your logic may not begin to add up.  This is where rationalization takes over, trying to justify your error in judgment with thoughts like “everybody does it.”  As you make your way through life, don’t forget to stop and think about the choices you are making.  Or else you may wake up one morning to a soul that doesn’t add up to the will God wanted for your life, Romans 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Not So Happy Thanksgiving

For most of my days, I’ve lived a sheltered life.  However, my first job after graduating from college brought me to inner city Wilmington, Delaware as a social worker.  My eyes were opened to the homeless, poor and unfortunate.  This experience led me to serve the needy during my first Thanksgiving in Chicago, going to a homeless shelter near Cabrini Green, one of the roughest projects in Chicago.  I didn’t see any television cameras or professional football players handing out free turkeys, what I observed was a not so Happy Thanksgiving.

Everyone should get of their comfort zones once in a while to see what its like on the other side.  I’m not talking about Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places.  Rather, I think its healthy to see how little other people have so that you may begin to appreciate all the things you have accumulated in life.  Fashion, shopping and temporary pleasures blind most individuals to what’s really important: family, faith and fellowship.  Without this type of perspective, a spoiled generation will continue to whine, “what’s in it for me,” while the less fortunate have another not so Happy Thanksgiving.

Clothes, food and a place to call home is foreign to some individuals.  Though many may receive a Turkey to cook, how long will the leftovers last?  Will some have to wait til Christmas before the next act of generosity finds these helpless souls?  Therefore, as you watch the parades, gather for a feast and watch some football for dessert, don’t limit your giving to a couple of times per year.  Rather, take a look around and see who you can help so that a not so Happy Thanksgiving can turn into a very Merry Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

Making the Most of A Run Down Man

According to a 2006 report in the St, Petersburg Times, each season an NFL player spends on a team’s roster their life expectancy declines by almost 3 years.  This article suggests the National Football League is killing their players and is turning a blind’s eye.  However, you don’t have to participate in a professional sport to feel run down.  The wear and tear of life strains individuals in a different manner.

Financial stress, mental fatigue and overwhelming emotions can sap the energy of hard working souls like the summer sun.  Meanwhile, any type of accident, unexpected illness or trial can result in a crippling debt that some families never recover from.  If you reach this state, only a higher power can make the most of a run down man.  Colossians 3:17 and Philippians 4:13 provide a glimmer of hope to prop up these weary bodies.

Knocked down, humbled and fighting to stay alive, maintaining a positive outlook isn’t easy.  Nonetheless, footprints in the sand reveal that God has carried people through the storms in life.  When you don’t have the strength to tarry on, wings like eagles provide a boost of energy, Isaiah 40:30-31.  If you’ve ever found yourself confessing, “I can’t go any further,” the power of Christ thrives in weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  Therefore, if you want to make the most of a run down body, lean on prayer to lift you to new heights.

by Jay Mankus

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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I Couldn’t Do It Justice

Once upon a time, there was a mother who gave birth to a son who was blind.  Heart-broken but not hopeless, this loving mom became the eyes to illuminate her son’s darkness.  Similar to a radio broadcast, she tried to paint a vivid picture of the world her son could not see.  Day after day, this scene repeated itself until news of a medical miracle arrived.

After saving up enough money, this woman made an appointment with an eye doctor who had success with a cutting edge operation.  Following a consultation, a surgery was schedule for this boy who had only known darkness.  Anticipation was in the air, yet to achieve maximum vision, bandages were required to remain over the boy’s eyes for a couple of days post this procedure.  Time would tell if the boy would be teased or thankful.

What happened next was like a scene from out of the Bible, John 9:6-7.  As the doctor unwrapped the cloth, rays of light penetrated the boys face.  Exuberant, the boy ran to the window to look outside for the very first time.  Speechless, a joyful mother listened as tears began to stream down her face.  “Mom, it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined!  I can’t believe how many details you left out.”  In response, wiping away tears, she replied, “I couldn’t do it justice my darling for God’s creation is beyond our understanding.”

by Jay Mankus

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