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Pushing and Shoving

Pushing and shoving are often associated with a heated argument, fight or skirmish.  When tempers flare, maintaining self-control is a difficult task.  In my half century on earth, I have only been involved in two fights.  While eating lunch in junior high, someone called my name, I stood up and then was blind sided by a punch, dropping to the floor immediately.  A few years later, I was defending a younger neighbor who was black from a high school student who wanted to beat him up.  Although I didn’t want to fight, I stepped in to protect my friend.

But as Jesus went, the people were crowding against Him [almost crushing Him], Luke 8:42b.

The Bible refers to a difficult kind of pushing and shoving.  The passage above would be equivalent to a modern day outdoor rock concert, with fans trying to get as close as possible to their favorite member of a band on stage.  Although its unclear, I’m assuming the disciples served as body guards, attempting to hold the masses back from crushing Jesus.  Nonetheless, these desperate souls did whatever was necessary to touch Jesus while he passed by.

And a woman who had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years [and had spent all her money on physicians], and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His outer robe, and immediately her bleeding stopped, Luke 8:43-44.

When people are hurting, ill or plagued by an unknown condition, there are different levels of urgency.  An initial diagnosis may be cause for concern, but some take no immediate action.  However, as symptoms intensify, hope turns into fear.  The woman in the passage above went from doctor to doctor, spending her life savings without any improvement.  This dire state prompted this woman to push and shove her way through a massive crowd of spectators until Jesus was in reach.  When you reach this point of desperation, cry out to Jesus so that healing and restoration becomes reality.

by Jay Mankus

Cures for the Cold

As a former resident of the Twin Cities during the winter, even if it was for just 3 months, I know the bone chilling effects of cold weather.  Each evening, I ran 3-5 miles when thermometers dipped below zero.  On a night in February, it was close to -20 without the wind chill as I started my jog.  A couple of blocks down the road, my hair grew icicles.  After a quarter mile, I felt my body beginning to shut down.  Without a thought, I made a quick u-turn to head for home.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19.

One of the most obvious cures for the cold is the creation of shopping malls.  Beside Woodfield Mall in Chicago, nothing compares to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Built on the old site of Metropolitan Stadium, former home to the Vikings of the NFL and Twins of MLB, this mall contains an amusement park, movie cinema and 400 stores.  In this wasn’t enough, an expansion project looks to add an ice rink, dinner theater, hotels and waterpark.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me, Psalm 51:10.

However, there is another cure for the cold that is often overlooked.  This one focuses on warming up a cold and weary heart.  Sure, a hot cup of chocolate, warm fire or steaming bath will provide a temporary fix.  Yet, what can you do to re-energize your soul?  When I come inside to a numb heart, the best remedy I can recommend is a quiet time with God.   Opening the Bible, you will find nourishing words of encouragement.  May the promises within get you through the dreary months of winter.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord, Psalm 112:7.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Thirsting for the Wrong Things

I spent the first half of my life trying to gain weight, always shiny and frail.  Exercising was a way of life, running 5 miles and swimming 3 miles a day at my physical peak, resulting in only a 4 percent body fat.  However, once I stopped running a year after I got married, my weight ballooned for the first time in my life as I began to thirst for the wrong things.  Although I survived a near death experience of alcohol poisoning at a friend’s wedding after college, my gut now contains a 12 pack of soda.

 
Unfortunately, the days of burning off calories for me have subsided as my waist size is running out out belt loops.  Forced to a diet during my running and swimming days, the only time I pigged out was the spring, able to walk off any weight gain on the golf course.  Today, if I don’t limit my intake of snacks, soda or treats, my scale gives me the bad news at the end of the day.  While the message of Luke 12:19 sounds good, “take life easy, eat, drink and be mercy,” the context refers to a rich fool.  Thus, I am either looking in the wrong place for answers or I’ve lost my former discipline to abstain from things harmful to my body.

The 4th chapter of John records the longest conversation Jesus encountered in the Bible.  Like most modern struggles, a Samaritan woman began to thirst for the wrong things in life.  This unhealthy desire led to an unfilled life, chasing after love, never to be found in the 6 relationships she sought, John 4:15-18.  Unaware of who she was talking to, Jesus offered a cure to her dilemma, John 4:10-14.  Something inside of this woman’s heart spurred her on to tell others, John 4:28-30.  This hunger for the truth led this Samaritan and several others to believe, John 4:39-42.  Taste and see that the Lord is good, Psalm 34:8.

by Jay Mankus

A Solution for Pollution

Prior to the 1970’s, rivers and streams in the United States were treated like garbage disposals, passing on your trash to someone else down stream.  After the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught on fire for the 5th time, the modern environmental movement was born.  These pioneers inspired the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

From a societal point of view, individuals have been crashing and burning for centuries.  As a result, daily doses of anger, frustration and lashing out have gone airborne, leading to a different type of pollution.  Commencing with curiosity and temptation in the Garden of Eden, sin has entered this world.  Signs of this toxic behavior have corrupted children, scarred adults and wounded innocent bystanders.

If a government can establishment an agency to nurture God’s creation, why can’t the church develop a solution to cure polluted souls?  At this moment in time, planet earth is in dire need of ambassadors, representing Christ in a dark and desolate culture.  One of the first steps is to recognize the source of soul pollution, Romans 3:23.  The next logical process requires a check up visit to see the Doctor of Life, receiving the antidote for this disease, John 3:16-17.  Finally, the best solution for eliminating soul pollution is to embrace our own weaknesses, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, trusting that Christ will incinerate our lusts, inappropriate passions and self-seeking desires.  Join me in this battle of flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:10-12.

by Jay Mankus

Lost Lips

“I can’t believe I just said that,” occurs more and more in today’s society.  While working in Philadelphia nearly 15 years ago, I became a regular in an establishment in Bensalem, 30 minutes north of downtown, passing time during my hour long lunch break.  An older couple sat in their usual perch, spewing venom, cursing like sailors day in and day out.  Four letter words echoed throughout this restaurant, regardless if innocent ears were present or not.

In most cases, individuals are shaped by their parents or guardians, with the good, bad and ugly sprinkled in together.  Right and wrong is determined over time as one’s worldview draws the lines in the sand.  Those positive traits passed on to children, inspire kids to cling to and acquire these attributes.  Meanwhile, the bad habits demonstrated by misguided souls are left behind, at least as much as one can flee before their natures became ingrained within you.  Lost lips just don’t appear out of the blue, its a lifelong journey of picking up unwholesome slang deemed acceptable by peers.

The Psalmist provides a cure for this disease, a prescription to heal this ailment.  Psalm 119:13 suggest a spiritual washing your mouth out with soap.  Instead of regurgitating poisonous words, replace lost lips with the Words of the Bible.  As you recount God’s laws, blessings will replace any curses that you once verbalized.  Though your current state of affairs might be summed up as lost lips, there is a God in heaven who wants to transform your vocabulary, Ephesians 5:4.  Therefore, be wise, making the most of every conversation you partake in, Ephesians 5:15-16.

by Jay Mankus

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