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Tag Archives: choose life

The Shadow of Death

Every morning and evening before sunset, shadows reflect the landscape of the earth.  Mountains, rolling hills and trees leave imprints of what is near or around you.  Once darkness exchanges day with night, shadows are limited to moonlight, stars and the northern lights.  However, the shadow of death can apear at a moments notice, signaling that your days on earth are numbered.  24 hours ago there was a murder suicide in my neighborhood, taking the lives of two twenty year olds.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me, Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 23 is a common Bible reading at funerals.  As a shepherd living under the stars, shadows were a normal sight for David.  Yet, the painful reality of death inspired David to coin this chapter.  The only time I have witnessed death was just before my oldest sons birth.  Since my grandfather’s health was failing, family was noticed as everyone gathered around his bed.  Struggling to breathe, my sister Cindy began to read Psalm 23 to ease his pain.  A few minutes later, grandpa Kautz gave up his spirit.

“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.”

One of the forefather’s of Israel, Moses eludes to the shadow of death in his farewell address before Joshua takes over for him as leader.  Moses provides an unique perspective, using choices as an analogy.  According to Moses, the choices you make daily lead to one destination or the other.  Life and death are a series of choices that shape the path you will take in life.  If this is true, choose life so that the shadow of death will be held off until later on in life.

by Jay Mankus

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I’m Sick of It

Every once in a while a song will speak to me.  The timing is perfect, preparing you for the lyrics about to be sung.  Whether its a coincidence, divine intervention or fate, this message connects with your soul.  Such is the case of Skillet’s song Sick of It.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

The opening stanza speaks to people struggling with life.  This appeals to those who keep trying to make there life better without any signs of improvement on the horizon.  Like a boxer on the verge of giving up training for a big fight, progress will determine if you continue.  Anyone who is tired of losing often throws in the towel before letting things play out.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2 Peter 1:3.
In the film Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins has a I’m sick of it moment.  Frustrated by the injustice he has endured, Dufresne finds himself at a crossroads in life with one of two choices to make.  “Either get busy living or get busy dying.”  This same question must be addressed by anyone sick of their current situation.  May you choose life.

by Jay Mankus

Creatures of Instinct

If you have ever read about or studied the spiritual climate prior to previous great awakenings, morality tends to move in cycles.  When individuals experience the happier days in life, human beings can forget about the Creator above who brought good tidings and great joy.  If this trend continues, it won’t be long before your flesh leads you to become creatures of instinct.

But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish, 2 Peter 2:12.

Although each previous generation claim they had it harder, those who lived during periods of self-control were likely spared from the beast of lust.  For those born in ages of disobedience or sexual revolutions, the forces of temptation are magnified.  As complacency, justification and rationalization kick in, the desire to indulge intensifies.  Thus, many become pawns of the sinful nature.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world, 1 John 2:16.

When the dust settles, creatures of instinct find a valley of sin standing in their way from God’s hands of forgiveness.  As the apostle Paul states in Galatians 5, an opposing force acts as a sparing partner.  Free will adds to this equation, placing a priority on decision making.  Thus, if you follow in the footsteps of Moses, choose life before a creature of instinct leads you down the wrong road.

by Jay Mankus

Freewill, Destruction and Restoration

One of the best visual illustrations of freewill can found in the last book of the Bible.  While on the Island of Patmos, John compares freewill to a door with a special feature.  This door does not have a handle on God’s side.  Thus, God can call and knock, hoping individuals will hear His voice, but only you can let God in.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me, Revelation 3:20.

Unfortunately, disobedience is a common response to God’s calling.  According to the apostle Paul, people have a tendency to set their hearts and minds on the flesh.  Those who become distracted by the world regularly ignore, reject or put God on hold.  Jesus warned his followers of falling into this pattern, referring to a broad road that leads to destruction.  Moses in his farewell address simplifies this concept by proclaiming that each day individuals have the opportunity to select life or death by the choices you make.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, Romans 8:5.

Fortunately, those who mess up by sinning are given a second chance.  Lamentations 3 provides a promise for those longing for forgiveness as God’s grace is available day after day.  Therefore, when you utilize freewill, opting for disobedience over obedience, there is hope for those who are facing destruction.  Yet, God is not holding your hand, forcing you to do what is right.  The choice is yours.  In view of this, lean of God’s mercy the next time you fall down, followed by acts of contrition as a sign of penance.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

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