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Focusing on the Darkness Within

According to a 2015 article in Time Magazine, the top ten television shows of all time include Friends, Breaking Bad, the X-Files, Game of Thrones, Seinfeld, the Sopranos, Saturday Night Live, I Love Lucy, Mad Men and the Simpsons.  While five of these programs were comedies, the others contain adult content, graphic images and violence.  Based upon the series chosen on this list, American audiences are searching for something to laugh at and tune into nteresting dramas.  In order to grab someone’s attention, producers focus on the darkness within souls to spice up weekly episodes.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. 23 But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

When tragedy strikes in the form of mass shootings, blame immediately goes to guns and gun owners.  After the facts reveal the true motives of any massacre, some of these events may be blamed on terrorism, others on bullying and some remain unexplained.  Whatever the inspiration may have been, rarely do experts, media panels or psychologists point the finger in the direction of Hollywood.  From time to time, mature video games that desensitize the frailty of life receive a portion of the blame.  Yet, unless a shooter survives their day of reckoning, no one will ever know for certain why school shootings happen.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:5-7.

The word light appears 272 times in the Bible.  Meanwhile, darkness is mentioned 162 times.  Two of Jesus’ disciples highlight the positive aspects and negative concerns of these terms.  According to Matthew, darkness is like a poison that corrupts hearts internally before external actions magnify evil from within.  John takes a different approach, comparing light to a truth detector.  Anyone who pretends to be a Christian while maintaining a relationship with darkness is a fool.  The ultimate goal is to expose any darkness within you by daily reading and studying the Bible.  Although Christians can’t control what Hollywood or others do, the decisions that you make will determine your destiny.  May the light of Christ guide you through the darkness.

by Jay Mankus


Miracles from Heaven


While waiting to see my eye doctor, I stumbled upon an article on Miracles from Heaven.  The piece in People’s Magazine recounts the events of Anna Beam, a 10 year old battling a debilitating disease.  To avoid ruining the ending for those who plan on seeing this 2016 film, Anna experiences what can only be described as a miracle from heaven.

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them, Mark 6:5.

Those who are agnostic or atheist will tend to explain stories like by with chance, destiny or fate.  However, when someone is presumed dead and awakens completely healed and transformed, even skeptics have to admit the validity of this true story.  For some it only takes one brush with death to straighten up.  Unfortunately, many individuals use up their 9 lives quickly without ever learning from previous mistakes.

He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village, Mark 6:6.

Depending upon your definition of a miracle, there are countless that occur daily.  The birth of a child, recovering from an illness and the sunset are examples of this term.  Yet, Jesus reveals an important factor in regards to miracles.  Without faith the power to perform miracles ceases.  Thus, in order for miracles to continue in America and throughout the world faith must be exercised.  Until this atmosphere develops and prospers, miracles will remain few and far between, confined to Hollywood until revival commences.

by Jay Mankus



The Gift of Imperfection

Sports uses cards, errors, flags, fouls and misconducts to magnify mistakes made by participants.  The world isn’t as kind calling individuals frauds, hypocrites and losers when actions, behavior or words don’t live up to their expectations.  While the 2006 film The Ultimate Gift illuminated several gifts that people take for granted daily, one is missing from their list.  Perhaps the greatest of all is the gift of imperfection.

Although Jesus’ goal is to strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48, to obtain this is impossible.  Romans 3:9-12 breaks the bad news to mankind as everyone who has attempted this feat has failed at some point in their quest.   Since sin was conceived in the Garden of Eden, a generation of misfits have come up short, unable to please God, Romans 3:23.  Like a mad scientist going back to the drawing board, the sinful nature has foiled any hope of earning salvation on your own, Romans 6:23, requiring plan Z.

At the end of the road, hanging by a cross, Jesus has come to our rescue, Colossians 2:13-15.  Despite my intentions on wanting to control my own destiny, Jesus holds the keys to the kingdom, Matthew 16:19.  Therefore, I need to grasp the secret the apostle Paul discovered during an illness, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  The gift of imperfection forces souls to place their entire trust in the hands of an unseen God.  The weaker one is, 1 Timothy 1:16, the stronger the Holy Spirit can become.  May you experience this special gift, securing your reservations for eternity, 1 John 5:13, by letting go through faith.

Feel free to comment or share a time when you were weak, but Christ was strong!

by Jay Mankus



Not The Ending I Envisioned

Gary Sinise played Lieutenant Dan, a Vietnam squadron leader who holds a grudge against Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, feeling that his destiny was stolen by Gump’s heroic efforts.   Lieutenant Dan believed he was meant to die with his army on the battle field.  Thus, he confronts Forrest, turns to alcohol to drown his sorrow, spending the rest of his life bound to a wheelchair, at least in his mind.

Meanwhile, all Forrest wanted was to be Jenny’s girl, his only friend growing up.  Wherever Forrest was, he thought of Jenny, writing letter after letter, hoping for a storybook ending.  Unfortunately, Forrest received these letters back, returned unopened.  After momma died, Forrest turned to running to clear his mind, tracking thousands of miles across the country.  Despite getting his girl, she dies of H.I.V. before they can grow old together.

Whether you are reading a book, watching a movie or living an act from your life, often the scene doesn’t conclude as you wish.  Instead, the curse of Genesis 3:16-19 provides an alternate ending such as death, paralysis or suicide.  Today, I feel like Lieutenant Dan in the shrimp boat during Hurricane Camille.  However, I’m not telling God “is that all you’ve got?”  Rather, I’ve surrendered, whispering “I can’t take anymore disappointment!”

Psalm 33:10-11 provides the answer to those befuddled by the direction their life has turned.  The Lord foils the plans of nation and thwarts the purposes of people.  I have become a causality of this truth, unable to comprehend the logic of God’s ways.  Yet, somewhere in the pages the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 exists.  Getting to this scene and waiting is the hardest part.  May God’s unfailing love rest on you as you trust the Lord to complete the work that He has begun in you, Philippians 1:6.

by Jay Mankus

The One That Got Away

My father was an avid fisherman, taking the family to Maine each summer to go bass fishing and Nags Head, North Carolina during Spring Break to catch blues coming up the Atlantic coastline.  Sure, golf was always on the agenda, but his quest was trying to catch the big one.  Now retired and residing on a golf course with several lakes, my own children enjoy nightly excursions to catch bass, perch and sunfish.  While success usually followed his line, I often wonder about the big one that got away.

Three years ago, there was a 10 pound bass spotted periodically along a canal.  Many had seen it, but no one was successful in reeling this behometh on to dry land.   Over a 3 day weekend, my oldest son James and I appeared to have something large bite our lines, only to have the line snap shortly thereafter.  As I was reeling in a small sunny, I felt a tug, like a snapping turtle had grabbed ahold of my line.  For roughly 10 minutes I battled this unseen creature, hoping it was the beast.  However, just as I was sensing victory, the line went dead.  One minute later, the only thing remaining was an empty hook.  Since there were no visible signs of a turtle, whatever attacked my rod must have ripped the sunny off the hook, swallowing it’s victim whole.  I’ve caught my fair share of fish, but I regret the 10 pounder that got away.

In athletics, Olympians’ shake their head over the gold that slipped from their reach.  Meanwhile, the scholar will analyze why an elite college or graduate school passed over their application.  The student ponders what went wrong to lose their high school sweetheart and the unemployed struggle to find the explanation behind why they did not receive a job offer.  Disappointment is a subtle reminder of an imperfect world, filled with empty promises and broken dreams.  Despite how painfully it is to start over in life, you need to let go of the one that got away, learning from this loss so that it doesn’t happen again.  May the truth of James 1:2-4 strengthen you to press on, to stay beat and hopeful of a date with destiny to celebrate the day the big One didn’t get away!

by Jay Mankus

By the Sweat of Your Brow


The poor have said, “the rich have won life’s lottery!”  Meanwhile, the middle class are waiting for their big break, a chance for the world to recognize their talents.  On the other hand, the wealthy are trying to keep up with the Joneses, working harder than ever to buy their next show piece.

Whether you are wrestling with poverty, keeping your head above debt or living on cloud 9, everyone makes their living by the sweat of their brow.  Since original sin entered mankind in Genesis 3:17-19, God made life as we know it hard.  Gone are the days of milk and honey, evaporating in a promised land turned to sand.  Like the humidity of a summer sun sapping all your strength, the worries of life can wilt any soul not prepared for unexpected trials.

As I was doing my final touches of yard work before the growing season ends, I was reminded of God’s words in Genesis 3:19.  Yes, even the invincible will experience kryptonite at some point.  This will paralyze your ability to save yourself, leading to the grave, to become like the dust that God formed Adam out of.  In view of this bleak destiny, its vital to make plans for the afterlife, John 14:3.  Therefore, while you have time to breathe, take note of God’s promise in 1 John 5:13-15.  Inquire before you expire.

by Jay Mankus

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