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The Path to the Dark Side

While watching the latest film in the Star Wars series, I was struck by a single line.  Like any of the movies, Rogue One uses the imagery of darkness and the force.  Without playing the spoil role, one conversation references a path to the dark side.  This topic also relates to real life as it only takes one poor decision to begin a slide in the wrong direction.

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

As someone who struggles to sleep at night, there are many evenings where I wonder off in the dark to go down stairs.  Despite knowing all the obstacles that I need to dodge, its doesn’t take much to bang into, trip or stumble along the way.  Until I get close to a source of light, I’m susceptible to hurting myself.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined, Isaiah 9:2.

Whenever anyone tries to live this life on earth on mere human strength, failure is an obvious destination.  Thus, a supernatural force is necessary to escape the temptation of the dark side.  This is what makes Christmas so special, as the promise of a Messiah is fulfilled through the birth of Jesus.  Therefore, if you want to assure yourself the path to heaven, 1 John 5:13, choose the light, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit to flee the dark side.

by Jay Mankus

 

Out of Touch; Nearly Out of Time

Late Night Shows and comedy segments often do a Man on the Street interview to get a laugh.  If the topic was the meaning of Memorial Day, young kids would likely reply with selfish comments.   “A three day weekend, time off school, the first day of summer”.  Unfortunately, remembering those who have died while serving the United States has become out of state out of mind.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth, 1 John 1:6.

The concept of the soul was inspiration for Hall and Oates 1985 song Out of Touch.  Afraid individuals would lose their soul, John Oates etched this chorus: You’re out of touch I’m out of time But I’m out of my head When you’re not around.  This sense of urgency is missing from a generation spoiled by the freedom in America.  As more and more veterans pass away annually, their time has come to an end.

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did, 1 John 2:6.

Spiritually speaking, the church is out of touch and nearly out of time to sway a country leaning to the left.  As hearts and minds embrace secular humanism, who will stand up, blaze a new trail and ignite souls to pursue Christ.  Perhaps, most are still out of touch, distracted by a world gone wild.  Nearly out of time, who will come forth to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Learning to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Death, financial worries and illness are the 3 most common trials that trigger depression.  If any of these obstacles linger or are replaced by another debilitating force, its hard to remain optimistic.  Thus, learning to get back up when life knocks you down begins with words of encouragement.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:9-10

In the moment of his greatest distress, David sought refuge in a cave within Adullam.  When his friends heard of his despair, they joined him to uplift David’s spirits.  Unable to stand on his own, David was able to get back up, inspired by their camaraderie.  Subsequently, a rejuvenated soul compelled David to become their leader.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. – 1 Samuel 22:2

After I lost my job on New Year’s Day 2012, I was crushed.  I felt like I had just been punched in the gut, without any warning.  However, 2 close friends stood by me in these days of darkness.  One brought my family a meal that night and another scheduled a time to meet weekly.  Through the good and bad, the friends God provides in times of need have helped me get back up when life has knocked me down.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And Then… It Was Night

There is something unusual that occurs as the sun goes down.  Perhaps people think that no one will see their actions, hidden by the dark.  This mentality is nothing new as even first century Christians fell prey to this flawed mindset, Romans 13:11-13.

When the night arrived, Judas Iscariot left the Last Supper.  Caught off guard by Jesus’ accusation of betrayal, a thought conceived in his mind was acted upon.  Unseen by everyone except God, Judas was exposed by his disingenuous kiss on Jesus’ check.

Whether you’re battling demons of addiction, bad habits or poor choices, don’t let the temptations of night knock your off track.  Although this is easier said then done, the environment you choose will be influenced by how well you listen and learn, Matthew 13:1-9.  Follow in the steps of Romans 13:14 so that when the night arrives, your soul will be prepared to ward off evil spirits of your past.

by Jay Mankus

I Couldn’t Do It Justice

Once upon a time, there was a mother who gave birth to a son who was blind.  Heart-broken but not hopeless, this loving mom became the eyes to illuminate her son’s darkness.  Similar to a radio broadcast, she tried to paint a vivid picture of the world her son could not see.  Day after day, this scene repeated itself until news of a medical miracle arrived.

After saving up enough money, this woman made an appointment with an eye doctor who had success with a cutting edge operation.  Following a consultation, a surgery was schedule for this boy who had only known darkness.  Anticipation was in the air, yet to achieve maximum vision, bandages were required to remain over the boy’s eyes for a couple of days post this procedure.  Time would tell if the boy would be teased or thankful.

What happened next was like a scene from out of the Bible, John 9:6-7.  As the doctor unwrapped the cloth, rays of light penetrated the boys face.  Exuberant, the boy ran to the window to look outside for the very first time.  Speechless, a joyful mother listened as tears began to stream down her face.  “Mom, it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined!  I can’t believe how many details you left out.”  In response, wiping away tears, she replied, “I couldn’t do it justice my darling for God’s creation is beyond our understanding.”

by Jay Mankus

The Cure to Nightmares

Gone are the days of the Boogie Man living beneath your bed.  Hollywood has devised more sidious figments of your imagination such as Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers and Hannibal Lecter.  All it takes is a scary movie, darkness and isolation to invite nightmares into your dreams.  This is where fear turns an ordinary evening into a terrifying experience.

When you add fuel to this fire by indulging in graphic images on television, the degree only intensifies.  Although dreams come and go, anyone who opens the door to demonic activity, Ephesians 4:26-27, will need a spiritual remedy to set their mind free from nightly horror.  Thoughts such as,” its just an R-rated movie, what harm could possibly come from this,” will likely dig a hole that can haunt souls for years.

According to the Psalmist, there is a cure for nightmares.  Sleepless nights will come to an end as you begin to dwell in the shelter of God’s wings, Psalm 91:1.  This isn’t a casual relationship, coming and going as you please.  Rather, Psalm 91:2-4 suggests a devout faith, trusting in the Lord, not your own strength to overcome obstacles, snares and trials in life.  As your commitment level breeds spiritual disciplines, God promises to protect you from Satan’s flaming arrows in the day and conscience from fear at night, Psalm 91:5.  Applying these principles lead to sweet dreams once again.

by Jay Mankus

Deliver Us From Evil

The fast pace of life can cause individuals to overlook the obvious.  In a rush to keep up with the bills, stress has blinded me from an important biblical truth.  According to Jesus, one of the things you should pray for on a daily basis is protection from evil, Matthew 6:13.  The outline what Christians refer to as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father suggests evil is a by product of giving into temptation.  Perhaps this might explain the apostle Paul’s warning in Ephesians 4:26-27.

Whether you tend to follow directions, live on the fence or like to play the role of a rebel, evil is on the other side of the door called temptation.  Good intentions don’t mean a thing unless you walk with the king, 1 John 2:7.  Words are meaningless without action as many, me included, need a heart transplant to our feet from evil, Psalm 51:10-11.  If anyone thinks you can walk in the dark and just turn on the light whenever you want is fooling yourself.  Compromise will derail souls, convincing minds to believe in lies, 2 Corinthians 614.

If there as anything communities, families or schools can do to create a hedge of protection is to ask God to deliver us from evil.  However, this must be combined with the James 5:16 principle as confession lays a foundation for spiritual change.  God doesn’t honor lukewarm prayers.  Rather, by putting your heart, soul and mind into prayer, cry out to the Lord, believing your prayers will be answered, Matthew 21:21-22.  May the Holy Spirit fill you with perseverance to stay motivated to fight this unseen battle, Galatians 5:16-18.

by Jay Mankus

 

Guard Rails: Real Life Bumper Bowling

Its not uncommon for youth to embrace their parents’ hobbies.  A one time opportunity for me soon became a weekly obsession.  While some of my peers were out partying on Friday night, I spent 3 years bowling, filling in as a sub for a league.  Before the days of bumpers, there was nothing to keep loose shots from entering the gutter.

Outside of bowling lanes, Guard rails were designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous areas while driving.  Unfortunately, not every street  contains such a guide.  On country, desolate or rural roads, poor counties can not afford, support or justify spending that much money.  However, when someone dies in a car accident, their life is priceless.

From a spiritual perspective, the Bible is like bumpers, a guide to keep you from falling of course, Matthew 7:13-14.  The life lessons, principles and truth inside of God’s Word serves as a light source, Psalm 119:105, to help you see down the road.  Although invisible, conviction, gut feelings or promptings from the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, can lead souls through the darkness in life.  May the words of this book provide you with the direction you are searching for today.

by Jay Mankus

 

Why the World is Falling Apart

Gone are the days of Wilbur Wilberforce, when politicians did the right thing without taking a poll, trying to get re-elected or win public approval.  In an attempt to get ahead, integrity has been swept under the rug, trampled by greed, power and souls seeking victory whatever the cost.  Lurking in the darkness, the reason for this decline lies in John 8:34.

Slavery, a grave reminder of the past, is alive and well inside the heart’s of human beings.  Although mankind think they are in control, sin is large and in charge, holding individuals captive, Romans 7:14-20.  Perhaps this truth led the apostle Paul, one of the godliest men to ever live to claim he was one of the greatest sinners ever, 1 Timothy 1:15.  If you had to diagnosis why the world is falling apart, sin is a prime suspect.

Discipline, good intentions and self-control may appear to be full proof, but in the end its like fool’s gold.  Subsequently, the grasp of sin prevents countless from doing the right thing, Romans 8:5-8, something Paul knew from personal experience.  Until people acknowledge the reality of their soul, a sinner in desperate need of a Savior, John 3:3-5, the world will continue its downward spiral.  May the Lord help put people back together, one soul at a time, Luke 15:7.

by Jay Mankus

Writing in the Sand

The idiom “caught with your hand in the cookie jar” is used when a person is caught doing something wrong.  Meanwhile, the phrase “caught red-handed” refers to being caught in the act of committing a misdemeanor, with the evidence there for all to see.  Either way you want to express or slice it, sooner or later everyone will be exposed as a sinner.  This is the situation you will find a woman, caught in the act of adultery in John 8:3.  Eager to follow the Law Moses commanded, the religious leaders are waiting on Jesus for final approval, to commence the stoning.

Seeing right through them, Jesus turns to an unusual but effective strategy, writing in the sand, John 8:6, 8.  Up to this point, Jesus had always followed a question with a question, not responding directly to the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  However, readers are left wondering, “what in the world did Jesus write in the ground with his finger?”  This debate continues today with suggestions of biblical laws, jotting down the thoughts of these leaders, secret sins each accuser had done or was in the process of committing.  Unfortunately, no one will know for sure until heaven, left to ponder what written words could have caused each Jew to drop their stone and leave the temple courts.

As Easter Sunday, 2013 draws near, you must remember Jesus’ spoken words to this woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” John 8:11.  Even if you have been caught with your hand in a cookie jar, there is redemption available to those humbled and sorry for their sin, John 3:16-17.  However, if you fail to leave your sin at the altar, relapse is almost assured, ruining Jesus’ sacrifice, Hebrews 10:26-27.  Thus, embrace Jesus’ writing in the sand, receive God’s faithfulness, 1 John 1:8 and flee from darkness by walking in the light, 1 John 2:6.

by Jay Mankus

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