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Divine Visitations

According to a 2020 survey, 77 percent of Americans believe in the concept of a guardian angel. Meanwhile, a number of celebrities have recently opened up about their own divine visitation. Jurassic Park star Chris Pratt told Esquire Magazine about a man from Hawaii who brought him a message from God while he was homeless. Denzel Washington saw an angel as child and met a woman a few days later who shared a prophecy about his future fame. Samantha Fey goes into further details about these accounts in an article entitled True Stories of Heavenly Encounters with Angels.

And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred. 15 And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. 16 But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him, Luke 24:13-16.

When a first century doctor writes about another divine visitation, it’s worth examining his story. According to Luke, 2 of Jesus’ disciples had planned a trip to the village of Emmaus on Resurrection Sunday. This 7 mile walk gave those traveling ample time to talk. Apparently, the resurrected Jesus blended into the crowd, asking a series of questions. Based upon the words of Luke, Jesus is curious about what these men remembered. The other members of this group can’t believe these are being asked. Nonetheless, Jesus’ personality goes unrecognized for the entire day until they broke bread together. As soon of their eyes were opened, Jesus vanished, likely into the setting sun.

Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further. 29 But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. 30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them 31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly), Luke 24:28-31.

Whether you’re talking about biblical events or modern day encounters, why does this happen? Why is it necessary for God to send a messenger to human beings? Perhaps a busy schedule has distracted individuals from what they were meant to do? Maybe Christians have lost their way, lost their confidence or broken dreams have caused people like me to stop and pick up the pieces? These brief visits serve as a spark to reignite your joy for life. While some may provide promises that never come to fruition, divine visitations are necessary to help the lost get found, the broken healed and the wayward back on track. May this blog give you the boost that you need to carry on with the rest of your life in 2021.

by Jay Mankus

Grounded

During my years as a teenager, grounding was a common form of discipline. When a child became as tall as their parent or guardian, grounding replaced spanking for inappropriate, rebellious or wrong behavior. If you received bad grades on a report card, the punishment would range from grounded for a weekend, month or marking period depending upon how bad or the strictness of your parents.

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves, And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].” You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? – Hebrews 12:6-7

Grounded also refers to a pilot who is prohibited or prevented from flying. In the 2012 film Flight starring Denzel Washington, pilot Whip Whittaker is on a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta. When the plane suffers a
severe mechanical breakdown in midair, Whittaker played by Washington
does a miraculous job crash-landing this plane. Initially, Whip is treated like a hero until a toxicology test reveals traces of alcohol and cocaine in his blood stream. Thus, Whittaker is grounded until the investigation into this crash is complete.

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose], Hebrews 12:11.

When I was young, I remember my initial spankings. This isn’t because of any emotional scars. Rather, it’s the words my parents shared prior to being spanked, “this is going to hurt me more than you.” My sarcastic mind didn’t understand what they were trying to say until I read Hebrews 12. Discipline is a form a love, extreme intervention at times to alter the steps of a wayward child. While grounding didn’t seem like a good idea when I was a teenager, now as a parent grounding has a new meaning. Although the PC police frowns upon biblical discipline, may the Lord give you insight and wisdom to discipline you own or future children properly.

by Jay Mankus

Change Your World

In the first century, one man set out to change the world.  This higher calling wasn’t rushed.  Nor did this man leave anything up to chance.  Rather, Jesus waited for the appointed time prior to selecting twelve disciples to lay a foundation for change.  Dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s, Jesus kept in step with the Holy Spirit to carry out the necessary Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  Fasting, praying, being baptized, spreading goods news about the kingdom of God, training future leaders and surrendering to authorities set the stage for the climax.  As the crucifixion of a perfect lamb was about to be laid to rest in a tomb, a resurrection cancelled the written code the moment death was conquered, Colossians 2:13-15.  This one supernatural act has changed the world forever.

 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him, John 3:16-17.

The film Equalizer debuted In 2014, introducing a character who wanted to change the world one person at a time.  Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a retired CIA black ops operative using a local hardware store as his mission field.  When McCall sees injustices that occur within his spheres of influence, he acts immediately to accomplish the greater good.  After hours, during breaks or on the job interactions are used by Robert to develop relationships, challenging co-workers, customers and strangers to be the best you can be.  During one moving scene, Robert talks to a girl who is trapped by her pimp, unable to break free to fulfill her dream to become a singer.  Not wasting this opportunity, Robert exclaims, “change your world!”

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Sometimes when you feel the urge to make a difference in this life, its hard to know where to start.  Depending upon the atmosphere, circumstances or environment, many good intentioned individuals can become overwhelmed before ever getting started.  Thus, changing your world for the better requires a joint effort.  From a spiritual perspective, ground work must by laid through fasting and prayer.  Like the building of an ministry team, when the timing is right God will raise up leaders to fill the gaps that exist.  Yet, while you are waiting for the world to change, don’t lose heart.  Rather, let faith guide you until agents for change arrive.  May the words of this attached scene from Equalizer inspire you to change your world beginning today.

by Jay Mankus

Who’s the Bigot Now?

Bigotry is often cyclical, with ebbs and flows as nations rise and fall.  Depending upon one’s exposure, upbringing or stubbornness, prejudices are hard to break, especially if the world around you is rapidly changing.  In the 20th century, Archie Bunker was a symbol of America’s bigotry.  Despite the comical elements of this hit television series, the content was a sad reality of a segregated society unable to embrace the Great Melting pot of immigrants.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 7:12.

Near the end of the 1970’s in several mid-Atlantic states, desegregation tried to changed this dilemma.  As for me, I became the minority overnight, bused to inner city Wilmington for three years of Elementary school.  In hindsight, the shoe was on the other foot, as I was exposed to the daily hatred African Americans faced in a country dominated by white people.  Similar to the scene in Remember the Titans, Coach Boone played by Denzel Washington tells his assistant Coach Yoast, “welcome to my world,” following by a drive by shooting at his home that endangered his daughter.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Galatians 5:14.

Today, ambulance chasers, media sound byte paparazzi and those searching to smear a rising political star will occasionally use bigotry, intolerance and race baiting to accomplish their goal, to destroy their enemies.  When you add the advent of modern technology, it doesn’t take long for an embarrassing moment, foolish act or slip of the tongue to go viral.  Instead of following the Golden Rule, doing unto others as you want others to do unto you, some will do whatever it takes to get ahead.  Therefore, rather than improving race relations the selfish are using this sensitive issue to divide souls.  Although pockets of racism still exist, some aren’t improving this situation by bringing up old wounds of the past.  Actions, time and truth will reveal who the bigots are now.

by Jay Mankus

 

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

 

 

More Power

As I was watching a rerun of Crimson Tide today, I am reminded of the impact Star Trek has had on Generation X.  Denzel Washington uses a famous line from this series to inspire Vossler, an electronic specialist, to regain radio transmission of their sub as soon as possible to avert a nuclear war.  Whenever Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner in Star Trek, felt the U.S.S. Enterprise was in danger, he would contact Scottie, asking for more power to engage warp speed to dodge trouble.

Since I have spent the last 6 days working the night shift, I have been in warp speed mode.  During this fast paced week, I have been  lethargic, lacking the spiritual power I need to remain rock solid in my faith.  While the Bible was only a few steps away, my body seemed paralyzed, unable to reach out, open the Word up and begin reading.  Meanwhile, prayer was just a breath away, but my transmission between God and I failed.  Thus, I am in desperate need of an infusion, like the Jeff Deyo song More Love, More Power.

The former lead singer of Sonic Flood, Jeff Deyo reveals that more power is available through worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.  According to Psalm 149, praise has a generating effect on our body, sparking dancing, rejoicing and singing.  When you initiate a relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, the power of the Holy Spirit produces a life altering result, Romans 8:1-4.  Therefore, if you are experiencing a power outage or spiritual shortage like me this week, don’t be discouraged.  Claim the promise of Philippians 4:13 like Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer and God will provide a wave to guide you safely to shore!

by Jay Mankus

an honest servant of Christ

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