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A Different Type of Refuge

In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as America’s first National Wildlife Refuge.  More than100 years later, 560 refuges exist nationwide encompassing more than 150 million acres of water and land.  Hollywood embraced this movement with their 1993 film the Pelican Brief starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.  The People for the ethical treatment of animals continue this mission today, putting animals in front of the line, with human beings pushed to the side.

King David introduces a different type of refuge in Psalm 59:16.  Whenever David was having a bad day, he withdrew to a quiet place to seek God’s help through prayer.  Although David may not of seen results after he said Amen, a sense of peace filled his heart.  Despite the chaos surrounding him, the Lord’s presence provided hope to carry on.  Words like Psalm 63:6-8 recount a spiritual refuge, where humans can find rest for their souls.

With America’s economy still sputtering, its hard to forget about rising gas, groceries and living expenses.  While some may be prospering, many are searching for a place of refuge where hope, peace and relaxation are present.  Though manufactured for fish and wildlife, this doesn’t prevent predators from cutting short lives.  Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted by life’s trials, flee to a quiet place like Mark 1:35 to find a different type of refuge.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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How Do You Measure Up?

Whether you’re daddy’s little girl or the son of Mr. so and so, its hard to live up to a parents lofty expectation.  Sure, most kids have their own aspirations and dreams, but with expectations comes the pressure to succeed.  Thus, every day at a concert, musical or sports complex across the fruited plains, fans are cheering their children on, hoping for the best.

A growing number of adults and guardians are precariously living their lives through their children.  Subsequently, parents have become like sports agents pushing youth into joining clubs and travel teams to fine tune their skills.  If successful, teenage prodigy’s are formed, dedicated to pleasing their moms and dads.  However, will these fragile souls continue or surpass expectations for greatness?

One of the greatest things I did in college was to opt to play intramural sports rather than play at the division 1 level.  Although winning was important, the thrill of competition and friendships surpassed my own expectations.  Sooner or later, you have to take ownership of your life, separating yourself from your parents goals.  Therefore, whatever you do in life, live out Colossians 3:17 and Colossians 3:23 so that God will be glorified by your life.

by Jay Mankus

No Pets for You

During the 7th season of Seinfeld, episode 116 introduced the “Soup Nazi” to pop culture.  Larry Thomas played this vibrant character, excessively strict and unwilling to bow down to the requests of patrons like Jerry, Elaine and George.  Subsequently, when the Soup Nazi felt disrespected, he coined the phrase, “no soup for you,” becoming an instant sensation and regular guest on Seinfeld.

While reading Exodus 11:27, I was surprised to see cats and dogs are deemed unclean by God.  Any creature with paws and walk on all fours are off limits.   Any Jew who touched a cat or dog would become unclean til evening, forced to wash their clothes as well.  Essentially, God was telling the Israelites, “no pets for you!”

Today, OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, takes the words of the Bible to the extreme.  According to Jesus, what you touch doesn’t make you clean or unclean.  Purity or the lack there of comes from within, Luke 6:43-45.  Therefore, your heart determines your actions, behavior and words.  In view of this truth, Jesus urged his followers to set their hearts on things above, Matthew 6:19-21.  The apostle Paul takes this one step further in Colossians 3:1-4, encouraging individuals to set your hearts on eternal things.  Whether you like pets or not, the Bible doesn’t restrict animals today; God introduced free will to enable you to make your own choices.

by Jay Mankus

 

Is That All I Needed?

After spending 3 seasons as an assistant golf professional and another 10 coaching high school boys and girls, I’ve seen my share of bad golf swings.  While many were beyond help, I did have a few success stories.  The most recent involved a player who had a decent short game, but their swing produced a slice like an out of control boomerang.  Observing from behind the range, I discovered a major glitch.  With one slight adjustment, this senior went from struggling to break 60 consistently for 9 holes to shooting 94 for 18 in his last conference tournament.

The other day, I left my house without my Bible and journal before leaving for work.  My daily routine involves getting to work 30 minutes early, listening to music, read and journal my prayers and thoughts before each shift.  Unprepared, I had to wing it, quietly preparing myself for another 40 hour week.  Since I was running late, I only had a few minutes before exiting my car.  Void of any earth shattering content, I yielded my future over to the Lord, placing it solely in His hands.  Twenty minutes later I was called back to my seasonal management position leading me to ponder, “is that all I needed?  Is this what God was waiting for me to do?”

Whether you’re trying to improve your golf game or follow God, sometimes the slightest adjustment produces amazing results.  Perhaps, this was the message Moses was trying to relay to Israel before his retirement, Deuteronomy 28:1-14.    Either way, the next time you experience periods of inconsistency, invite the Lord to become your Rock during the trying times in life, Psalm 28:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

Silencing Liars

In this age of Blogs, Facebook and Twitter, sooner or later someone will post something untrue about you.  When I taught junior high, a student snuck into my room and used my school computer to open up a My Space account in my own name without permission or support.  Meanwhile, a few years later an educational blog claimed I was a faith healer, charging $25 per healing.  Although the second site was a practical joke to illustrate how gossip spreads, the first was intended to harm my reputation as a teacher.  When facts don’t add up with the truth, its time to silence liars

David was a war hero, skilled musician and chosen by God to become Israel’s second king.  Despite having great intentions, 1 Samuel 16:7, David was young, curious and easy prey for temptation.  Thus, when he decided not to report to work for several months, not going off to war in 2 Samuel 11:1, David committed adultery, tried to cover up his own child and had Bathsheba’s husband murdered.  Unfortunately, David’s reputation is often tied to this rebellious streak, opening the door for future innuendos and rumors.  Psalm 63:11 addresses David’s prayer to cease the mouths of his critics.

When you do fall, especially in public, its hard to repair the trust of others that you have broken.  There will always be those who will point out your blemishes.  However, as you walk in the steps of Jesus, 1 John 2:6, the amount of your enemies will decline as long as your talk matches your walk.  If you’re struggling to silence false statements made against you, claim the words of David in Psalm 63:11 to silence the liars in your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Sheep Without A Shepherd

If you’ve ever gone to a mall to people watch, it doesn’t take long to see who knows where they are going and who is lost, trying to find their way.  Whether you’re driving a car, searching for something you’ve misplaced or walking on a unmarked trail, everyone from time to time experiences the pain of loss.  In the midst of this crisis, a sense of helplessness paralyzes souls, making it obvious that no matter hard one tries, you can’t save yourself.

While traveling throughout towns and villages, Jesus observed the crowd of individuals following him.  Watching intently, tears began to swell up in his eyes, as Jesus saw this group as sheep without a shepherd, Matthew 9:35-36.  They were looking for something more in life, hoping that Jesus had the answer.  Like sheep aimlessly roaming the countryside, hungry hearts longed for meaning to life.

Today, the silent majority wonders when their Shepherd will return.  As chaos abounds, modern sheep have been led astray by false prophets, hypocritical leaders and the twisting of the Bible.  Exiting the church after high school or during college, pessimistic sheep are searching for alternative means to enter heaven’s gate.  Although some turn back, coming to their senses like the prodigal in Luke 15, a growing number remain sheep without a shepherd.

by Jay Mankus

 

Making A Clear Distinction

In a world of diminishing absolutes, making a clear distinction between right and wrong isn’t what it use to be.  Shades of grey have entered the equation, leaving the truth uncertain.  To erase this confusion, one must shine the light of the Bible on this matter to distinguish the moral from immoral.

History reveals this struggle is nothing new as periods in time are filled with examples of people who blended in like chameleons, hiding their faith from society.  This pattern led Moses to challenge Israel to make a clear distinction between holiness and common citizens in Leviticus 10:10-11.  This lesson from the past should challenge us to examine our own lives to ascertain where do you stand?

When you’re feeling good about yourself, pride will lead you to hold a higher view than your actions actually display.  On the other hand, when your day of humility comes, you might feel like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15.  Despite the good and bad that you do, Jesus still wants believers to shine their light, Matthew 5:13.  Like the childhood song proclaims, don’t hide your light anymore, make a clear distinction today by imitating God, Ephesians 5:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

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