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24

To the casual observer, this title suggests I am referring to the television series starring Kiefer Sutherland. While this counter-terrorist drama brought Jack Bauer to life, I mention this because 24 is the only television show that I have followed live since getting married in 1995. In the early years of my marriage, cable wasn’t a priority, just watching the four major networks and whatever else our antenna could pick up. While visiting my father in law in Chicago, 24 watch parties were a common occurrence, fixated for the entire hour once a week.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

However, the real meaning of today’s title is the number of years that I now have been married. For today, November 25th is my 24th wedding anniversary. While eating brunch with my groomsmen, I watched Ohio State, where I did part of my college internship, lose to Michigan in college football. As the 3 pm wedding time drew near, Chicago was seasonably warm, in the fifties. While Leanne did most of the planning, my input was the music, having two friends sing in our wedding and DJ from Indiana where I served as a youth pastor. My favorite part of this day was personally greeting each row, meeting and talking with family and friends. Yet, it’s hard to believe that 24 years have passed in a blinking of an eye.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord, Proverbs 19:14.

Looking forward, next year will mark a quarter of a century and the following year will mean that I have spent half of my life on earth with Leanne. What Moses says in Genesis about marriage is true, two people become one. While selfish desires still exist, part of marriage is coming together as a team to follow God’s will. Three children and one wedding later, there are still many events that await in the future. Yet, I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to meet Leanne Marie Wagner at a youth workers convention 26 years ago. I pray that as our home becomes an empty nest in three years that the Holy Spirit will guide us in the years ahead. As for today, I wish my bride Leanne a happy anniversary.

by Jay Mankus

The Cost of Life

Twenty years ago, the best man in my wedding convinced me that it was a good idea to purchase my first life insurance plan.  With my wife’s blessing, I agreed as this friend was also an insurance agent, excited to have me as one of his first clients.  Well, I made it to age 48, causing my policy to come up for renewal in January.  As a reward for out living this, I received a letter in the mail.  To my surprise, the cost of my next plan has tripled, suggesting that keeping me as a customer may be too risky.  This shocking reality has opened my eyes to the cost of life.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? – Luke 14:28

If you have a calculator with you or is easily available, jot down a couple of numbers before you start adding up everything.  What do you annually pay for auto insurance, cable, electric, food, gas, health insurance, internet, phone and water?  Before you get any more depressed, starting estimating the price of life for just one year on earth.  Perhaps, this may explain why adults are leaving civilization to begin living off the grid.  Those addicted to modern inventions are stuck flipping the bill to the cost of this life.

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith, Hebrews 13:7.

Growing up as a teenager, the Price is Right was my favorite game show, watching this on sick days or reruns after school.  While I understand the concept of this popular show, somewhere along the way the price of life has gotten out of control, no longer right.  The thought of waiting for a bus, living without a cell phone or foregoing internet access seems unbearable.  Yet, if you want to reclaim your freedom from the almighty dollar, you might want to begin making plans to purge yourself from unneeded distractions that inflate the cost of life.

by Jay Mankus

The Call to Serve

If you still have a land line and cable, every in coming call shows up on your television.  Anyone without caller ID has another benefit of technology, a new way to screen your calls.  Thus, if you don’t want to talk to a telemarketer or don’t have time to chat with a friend who tends to be long winded, you have the option to let phone ring until the answering machine picks up.

The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come, Matthew 22:2-3.

Those who practice this form of call screening may miss someone from their past, present or someone God wants you to meet.  Meanwhile, God’s calling can be obscure, occurring at the least likely time or place.  Therefore, if you are unable to discern, hear or sense the whisper of God, you will be replaced by a more willing participant.

But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business, Matthew 22:5.

Whether you read the Old or New Testament, two common themes exist.  First, human beings were created to praise God.  Second, each person was designed to serve the Lord with their God given gifts.  Sure, everyone goes through periods of disobedience, rebellion and vacation, taking a break from God.  The call is waiting for you daily and the message is clear, to serve.  Don’t be like those in the parable of the wedding banquet who came up with lame excuses.  Rather, make the most of the time that you have, by applying the talents within you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Forgiveness for Having Such a Thought

If you have ever taught, then you’ve heard some pretty shocking things come out of children.  During my first day of teaching 7th Grade, I was surprised by the conversation within my homeroom.  Apparently, several of my students had a television in their own room, able to watch a plethora of cable movies.  Thus, as a new teacher in a Christian school, I couldn’t believe what was coming out of the mouths of these youth.

Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart, Acts 8:22.

Peter had a similar encounter with an adult during the first century.  Perhaps Simon was a spoiled child growing up, getting whatever he wanted.  Thus, this privileged mindset led Simon to request something he would later regret.  Jealous of the apostle’s healing power, Simon’s thought process led him to attempt to bribe Peter for access to the Holy Spirit.  Floored by this gesture, Peter went off, demanding an immediate apology from Simon.

Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me,” Acts 8:24.

Sometimes a lack of discipline causes individuals to think out loud.  Subsequently, when a careless word is spoken, repentance is necessary.  Since no one is perfect, its essential to admit when you’re wrong.  Thus, whether you are Simon or a participant of a verbal blunder, don’t forget to ask forgiveness for such a thought as this.  The sooner you confess your wrong doings, the quicker you can experience the fullness of God’s grace.

by Jay Mankus

How Do You Make Money Last?

One of the most famous passages in the Bible pertaining to money is found in 2 Kings.  An apprentice of Elisha dies, leaving behind a widow and two sons in debt.  As creditors are eager to collect the overdue interest, this woman seeks out wisdom from the prophets.  Probably feeling foolish initially, she follows their directions, filling up jars of oil one at a time.  In fact based upon Elisha’s words, this oil would flow until she ran out of jars.  Although not money, the Lord supernaturally provided oil until her debts were paid off in full.

When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing, 2 Kings 4:6.

My grandmother possessed similar wisdom as an immigrant to this country.  A survivor of World War II, she displayed frugality to her children despite how strange it may appear to today.  First, she placed plastic over every couch, sofa and mattress to ensure it would last.  Second, each spring she planted a large garden on the side of the house to lessen the cost of groceries.  Finally, to avoid going into debt, she opted to walk to work rather than drive a car, finding a nursing position at a hospital in town.  Looking back, my grandmother was the queen of stretching money as far as it could go.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it, Malachi 3:10.

Today, the times may not be as bleak, yet expenses continue to mount.  Added necessities such as cell phone bills, cable, the internet and insurances tend to suck up monthly pay checks before you or a savings account has a chance to enjoy it.  Subsequently, budgets are created to promote discipline and good spending habits.  Yet, even this can’t make money last.  Beside finding the dream job or a position with ample pay, the answer lies in the principle of tithing.  Somehow and someway, as individuals begin to give back to God the first fruits He deserves, an unexplainable miracle occurs, God provides.  Whatever your financial situation may be, may God reveal to you storehouses in heaven as you fully tithe.

by Jay Mankus

Empty Again

The saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” first appeared in 1602, published within Francis Davison’s Poetical Rhapsody.  This expression applies to several aspects in life.  Thus, while working nights since July, I began to miss some of the television shows I use to watch with my family.  Until Saturday, a marathon to check up on a few of my favorites, I forgot how empty entertainment can leave a soul, void of any significant meaning.

Although spending an entire day as a couch potato sounds appealing, boredom is a likely destination despite how many channels your cable or dish company provides.  According to Philippians 2:4, every human does need to be refreshed, before they can be of any benefit to others.  Yet, indulging in comedies, movies and sitcoms provide temporary pleasure before fading fast.  If you choose this path, emptiness is unavoidable.

Subsequently, individuals need to look in a different direction to experience a complete restoration.  Emptiness can be replaced by practicing Romans 12:1-2, leading to a transformed mind.  Depending upon your own desire, devotion and discipline, the timing on this change varies.  Whether you’re listening to or reading the Bible, Romans 10:17, faith will not disappoint, making the empty feel whole once again.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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