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Tag Archives: character

America is Only as Strong as Her Moral and Spiritual Forces

During a 1952 sermon, the reverend Billy Graham provided a prophetic message about the United States of America.  Using the passage of 2 Chronicles 7 to serve as his context, Graham compared the Israelites in the Old Testament with America.  When families, individuals or nations experience the misfortune of hardship, your degree of character will be revealed.  Thus, during times of disaster, drought or death, America is only as strong as her moral and spiritual forces.

If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people, 2 Chronicles 7:13.

Ten years following this statement, the Supreme Court removed prayer from public education using the separation of church and state as it’s rationale.  One year later, public Bible readings over the morning announcements was also banned from public education.  Using each of these cases as predetermining factors, other states followed these rulings to weaken moral and spiritual forces in America.  By 1980, atheists, liberals and progressives waged war against the ten commandments, having these civil and ethical standards also removed from public schools.

And My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land, 2 Chronicles 7:14.

When you turn on cable news, follow social media sites and or listen to talk radio, current events are a by product of these past judicial decisions.  Instead of focusing on doom and gloom as society edges closer to the verge of lawlessness, the best course of action is to humble yourself before the Lord.  As you do, confess and pray for positive results, that revival will sweep across this land.  Billy Graham devoted 58 years of his life, from 1947-2005, traveling the globe to conduct 417 Bible Crusades in 185 countries.  This wasn’t done for selfish ambition or self promotion.  Rather, Billy Graham understood that America and the world is only as strong as her moral and spiritual forces.

by Jay Mankus

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When God Allows Your Life to be Turned Upside Down

After two weeks of tests, everything was set for my cataract surgery this morning.   While a routine physical revealed high blood pressure, two days ago my latest reading was 130 over 80.  Perhaps, I became a little complacent, throwing a pizza party for my department Wednesday night.  When I reached preop, the nurse was unsettled by my blood pressure, most likely due to the sodium in the 4 slices of pizza I eat the night before.  Additional tests didn’t improve, only escalating my stress level.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

I spent the next 30 minutes waiting as physicians came in and out of my room.  For a few moments, I felt like I was part of a drama on television, the patient who passes away.  I should have seen this coming as the woman at the front desk asked, “do you have a living will and testament with you?”  To make matters worse one nurse began to lecture me, interrupting me each time I tried to respond.  “You need to eat better, take this serious, see a cardiologist.”  This exchange only worsened my condition.  Thus, my surgery was cancelled, recommending that I go directly to the emergency room.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Working on 8 hours of sleep over the past 4 days, 72 hours, I opted to go home and sleep.  Meanwhile, my wife stayed home from work in case I needed to be rushed to the hospital.  As for now, I have been put back on high blood pressure medication until further notice.  The surgery has been postponed until January, requiring visits to my primary doctor and cardiologist before my surgeon will give the thumbs up.  As for now, carbs, soda and unhealthy foods are out.  I’m not sure how my body is going to adjust, but if I want to see my children grow up changes must be made now.  I’m not sure why I have to endure this trial now, bot God allows lives to be turned upside down to prepare individuals for the future.

by Jay Mankus

Watch That Thought

The origin of “loose lips sink ships” was coined as a slogan during WWII.  This idea was developed by the US Office of War Information.  The goal of this slogan was to limit the possibility of people inadvertently giving useful information to enemy spies.  Thus, the initial phrase read “loose lips might sink ships.”

If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed, 2 Thessalonians 3:14.

According to a first century doctor, Thessalonica developed a shady reputation.  When a couple of Jews were offended by the apostle Paul’s initial message, a group of bullies were gathered up to interrupt Paul’s speech.  Acts 17:5 refers to several lowlifes and thugs who formed a mob.  Due to the dangerous conditions, Paul and Barnabas were sent away at dark to escape to Berea.  When you verbalize your emotions and feelings, loose words are bound to come out of your mouth.

Now these people were more noble and open-minded than those in Thessalonica, so they received the message [of salvation through faith in the Christ] with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

After watching the stark contrast between these two cities, Luke is compelled to illustrate the qualities that made the Bereans noble.  First, instead of overreacting to a new concept, teaching or thought, be open minded.  Second, after listening intently to a foreign idea, examine the Scriptures to see if this is accurate, true.  Therefore, the next time you have the urge to open your mouth prematurely, watch that thought by following in the footsteps of the Bereans.

by Jay Mankus

 

Seeing God

My first exposure to the true meaning in the Bible came through two college courses.  Biblical and Classical Literature began by reading all 66 books of the Bible and ended with several classics like Beowulf.  My second class, the Bible as Literature wasn’t as interesting.  While examining the symbolism of the Bible with other ancient stories was educational, I don’t think my college professor went to seminary.  These experiences taught me not to read too much into literature.  Rather, take each piece in its original historical context.  Perhaps, this may explain why Joshua urged readers of the Bible to meditate on God’s laws day and night so that important details are not missed or neglected.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.

In the first century, a spiritual leader entered the scene as a vivid story teller, using analogies called parables to captivate an audience.  In the passage above, Jesus lists a series of beatitudes.  According to Jesus, any individual who pursues these spiritual ambitions will be blessed by God.  If anyone wants to develop a pure heart, three traits are necessary: godly character, integrity and moral courage.  These values are a mindset, steps toward becoming spiritually mature.  For those who stay the course, seeing God work in your life won’t be a concept that you read in a book.  Rather, your eyes will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit altering, changing and transforming your life.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

A disciple of Jesus makes an interesting connection in the passage above.  As children, babies cling to their parents, relying on their mother’s milk for food and father’s leadership for direction.  Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, eager to bless, hold and interact with them.  Yet, when children grow up, innocence is lost as negative adults begin to verbally squash a teenager’s dreams.  John tells first century adults to live in anticipation of God’s promises in the Bible.  Live by faith like children expecting to walk hand and hand with God in heaven.  The key to making this a reality is developing a pure heart.  As hearts become aligned with God’s will, you will see God move in America.

by Jay Mankus

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

The term vibe can be best described as ambiance, aura, character and spirit that oozes out of your soul.  Others refer to this quality as charisma, a trait that a pied piper demonstrates.  People who exhibit a strong personality tend to develop a following.  Whether this occurs within your community, on social media or at your place of employment, these groups may resemble a tribe as in the days of the Old Testament.

So Moses and Aaron took these men who were designated by name, 18 and assembled all the congregation on the first day of the second month, and they registered by ancestry in their families (clans), by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names from twenty years old and upward, head by head, 19 just as the Lord had commanded Moses. So he numbered them in the Wilderness of Sinai, Numbers 1:17-19.

During the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites traveled in 12 groups.  These groups were named after the 12 sons of Israel.  Moses refers to these descendants as Tribes.  In the early days on earth, the order of your birth often dictated your ability to be successful in life.  Unfortunately, during the days of Judges, individuals began to do what was right in their own eyes.  Instead of keeping the ten commandments, worldly judges gave off bad vibes.  Thus, many tribes gradually became spiritually bankrupt.

What good has it done me if, [merely] from a human point of view, I fought with wild animals at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised [at all], let us eat and drink [enjoying ourselves now], for tomorrow we die. 33 Do not be deceived:“Bad company corrupts good morals,” 1 Corinthians 15:32-33.

In a letter to the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul warns Christians about negative influences in life.  Within a culture steered by philosophy, it wasn’t hard to justify and rationalize certain types of behavior.  In the passage above, Paul is blunt, warning people about getting close to those who demonstrate sketchy character.  Like the sowing principle, the vibe you give off to certain groups of people.  Therefore, don’t be mislead by bad company.  Rather, let your light shine throughout your community, Matthew 5:16, so that others will be drawn to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Be Careful How You Listen

Every September, from 2002 to 2012, I met the parents of my students during an open house at Red Lion.  After sharing the same spiel for several years, God gave me a vision about what it means to listen from a biblical perspective.  This idea turned into a visual presentation, pouring water from a bottle three times onto a hard table top, then adding a paper towel and finally into sponge.  After each pour I asked these adults what they witnessed and what each scenario represents.

So be careful how you listen; for whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a longing for truth], even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him,” Luke 8:18.

Water poured onto a table top represents a hardened heart.  When students don’t like a class, subject or teacher, their hearts become calloused.  Thus, whenever a lesson is presented, their minds and thoughts are elsewhere.  Adding a paper towel to the table is symbolic of being half-hearted.  Since a paper towel can only absorb so much water, it only does half the job.  This type of student only listens when they feel like it.  When topics are boring, confusing or over their head, they tune out.  The ideal form of listening is acting like a sponge, absorbing everything that you hear.  The Bible refers to this student as being whole hearted, all in and ready to hear.

“But be on guard, so that your hearts are not weighed down and depressed with the giddiness of debauchery and the nausea of self-indulgence and the worldly worries of life, and then that day [when the Messiah returns] will not come on you suddenly like a trap,” Luke 21:34.

Jesus regularly used the expression,”he who has ears, let him hear.”  Based upon the two passages above, those who possess a teachable heart want to learn, listening intently.  However, those who do not have a longing for truth will lose any desire for character, integrity and morality in the future.  Meanwhile, later on Jesus urges those willing to listen to guard their hearts.  When hearts become vulnerable to spiritual attacks, individuals can be dragged down by the heartache and pain in life.  Therefore, be careful how you listen so you will begin to apply biblical principles that result in a teachable heart.

by Jay Mankus

You Can Only Do So Much

Ten years ago, I volunteered for a week to serve as a camp counselor at an overnight Christian Camp just south of Reading, Pennsylvania.  Due to a weeklong heat wave, a cabin without air conditioning and inner ear infection that lingered the rest of that summer, I never returned for a second year.  Instead, my two sons now serve as camp counselors at Camp Cedarbrook.  During a de-briefing session over lunch, my oldest son James shared his frustrations of boys in his cabin who never listened to him.  Despite repeated attempts, numerous reminders and intervention from veteran counselors, James was unable to change these bad habits.  Unfortunately, you can only do so much in one week of time.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

Unless you are a coach, counselor, parent or teacher, you may not realize that America is on the verge of a parental crisis.  After years of appeasing, bribing and spoiling children, basic character traits, courtesy and morals are missing.  Instead cell phones, electronic devices and video games are killing social skills, creating a further divide between children and parents.  Those individuals who are diligently working to stop this trend have their own obstacles to overcome.  Abandonment, death and divorce has led to single parent homes, struggling to provide and raise kids at the same time.  Giving a word of encouragement to my son, I replied “you can only do so much on your own.”

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is a small quote from King Solomon.  This wise man compares a black smith to being the best person you can be.  When human beings enter into an accountability relationship, affirmations point out the good while flaws are pointed through honest assessments.  As long as both parties seek the best interest of the other, character is strengthened like iron sharpening iron.  For those who feel called into the ministry, you may not be able to win the hearts and souls of those who you love.  God doesn’t call everyone to be successful, but faithful.  Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed by a lack of progress in your life, remember you can only do so much.

by Jay Mankus

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