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As a father who recently celebrated his oldest son’s wedding, the term engage makes me think of the process a couple goes through prior to getting married.  Yet, synonyms of engage provide a much broader scope.  Absorb, captivate, engross, occupy and seize refer to an engaging encounter, the act of focusing on a specific activity or making the most of your time.  Couples who are dating that are not engaged does not mean they are disengaged.  Rather, one, or both parties are unsure that their significant other is Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he had discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place day after day with any who happened to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Upon his first visit to Athens, this city full of idols greatly distressed the apostle Paul.  Instead of withdrawing to a place of safety, Paul began to ask locals about the history of these idols.  Apparently, Paul had daily discussions with these Jewish believers, asking if any inspirational or positive idols existed.  By engaging God-fearing Gentiles, Paul discovered a altar dedicated to an unknown God and a poet who spoke of God’s offspring.  This search for something good inspired Paul to approach the philosophers who debated in a public square daily.

They took him and brought him to the Areopagus (Hill of Ares, the Greek god of war), saying, “May we know what this [strange] new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some startling and strange things to our ears; so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners visiting there used to spend their [leisure] time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new,) Acts 17:19:21.

Unfortunately, the art of persuasion is disappearing.  Past historical events like the Scopes Money Trial led Christians like William Jennings Bryan to debate atheists in a public forum.  Instead of continuing this tradition, modern politicians use the media to attack, demonize and smear the reputation of their opponents.  Subsequently, instead of putting aside differences to embrace being Americans, belief systems are creating an expansive divide.  The end result is that adults are acting like spoiled children, disengaging from those who don’t share their worldview.  The only way to alter this trend is through prayer and fasting so that engaging the lost will bring hope to dead and dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

Tasting But Not Believing

Every once in a while individuals will eat something that doesn’t sit well.  Certain drinks or foods will leave a bad after taste.  Other combinations can result in bad breath, heart burn and stomach cramps.  If you are trying to win a friend over to your favorite restaurant, sometimes tasting is not believing.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

Human nature causes individuals to encounter several phases over the course of one’s life.  Whether its curiosity, emotion or peer pressure, the hesitant will put their toes in the water first to see if they want to dive in or not.  The author of Hebrews warns first century citizens about applying this same principle to Christianity.  Unfortunately, a let me try it for a while to see if I like it mentality cause many souls every year to abandon their faith.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them, Mark 4:15.

This mindset has filtered down into many traditions like dating, marriage and sex.  The world uses a car buyer analogy, wanting to test drive something before they purchase it to justify living together before getting married and premarital sex.  Perhaps this is want Jesus was referring to in Mark 4:15, warning souls against walking by sight instead of by faith.  In life it only takes one moment of compromise before temptation leads you to taste forbidden fruit.  If this behavior develops into a pattern, your life may be summarized by tasting but not believing.

by Jay Mankus



Dating Nightmares

If Solomon proclaimed there is a time for everything, then its important every now and then to laugh at painful memories from your past.  While I wasn’t laughing at this specific moment, my worst dating nightmare could be a classic comedy movie or at worst a perfect idea for an episode in a sitcom.  This memory began on the first day of school, my senior year in high school.  While trying to memorize my locker combination, an attractive new student wandered down the hall, a couple of lockers away from me.  Before the week was over, I asked her out and she said yes; this was the highlight of my weekend.

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:4.t

Upon arriving at her home to pick her up, I didn’t realize I had asked Marcia Brady out on a date.  Before I knew it, I was being interrogated like a suspect for a crime.  Questions such as “have you had a speeding ticket in the last 6 months” bombarded like a dodge ball game gone bad.  Thirty minutes later, I was set free, but I felt like I was attending a funeral rather than a date.  While everyone in front of me and behind me at the movie theater were cracking up at my jokes, my date never giggled once.  Upon asking if she wanted to go out for ice cream afterward, she replied with another rejection.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

A hand shake later, I thought my nightmare was finally over.  Except in the 1980’s, every teenager went to the mall to socialize and people like me worked at the mall.  Thus, while working Saturday, the next evening, my date from Friday night pranced around the mall with her boyfriend.  Hoping I would see them together, she wouldn’t have to explain her cold reception.  Intervening, my best friend Carl distracted me twice after my shift was over to avoid a confrontation, taking me in a different route around the mall.  Despite experiencing a nightmare at the movies, I did find out what a good friend I had and still have today.  Thus, even in disappointment, God will show you who your true friends are when the nightmare is over.

by Jay Mankus

Distorted Love

Saint Valentine served as a Roman priest in the days of Emperor Claudis II, living during the mid to late second century.  While multiple sources can’t agree on the exact year of his death, all point to February 14th as the day he was beheaded.  For what you may ask?  When Claudis made a decree to ban marriage, Valentine secretly married young couples to keep the covenant of marriage alive.  After receiving a beating similar to that of Jesus, a sword placed in the hands of a gladiator ended his life.

If this is true, how did Valentine’s Day evolve into what it is today?  My researched revealed a pagan festival of love known as The Feast of Lupercalia.  Ancient birds in Rome began to mate every year in the middle of February near a cave bearing the same name.  This annual migration inspired pagans to participate in carousing, drunkenness and sexual promiscuity.   The distortion of this day is likely due to the blending and mingling of Valentine’s values on marriage with festivities of Lupercalia.

Therefore, tonight as you and your loved one celebrate a special evening together, don’t believe what you hear or see on television.  While the candy, flower and jewelry commercials are uniquely crafted, you don’t have to go to Jared to display your love.  When I proposed to my wife, I don’t have a ring; what I had was much more sentimental.  I placed the twist tie, from the first care package I received when Leanne and I were dating 8 hours a part.  When I finished these chips, I placed this in my car, a symbol of her love for me,  waiting for the perfect time to say I love you forever.  When you don’t have anything to spend, the best gift you can give is yourself!

by Jay Mankus

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