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When You’re Too Tired to Love

As the summer months begin, it’s only a matter of time before triple digit temperatures become part of weekly forecasts. As I begin a new life living in South Carolina, the heat and humidity quickly drains me of energy. In the last book of the Bible, John writes to the Church in Ephesus. Despite severe persecution in the first century, their faith did not waver. Yet, it appears that at some point exhaustion took its toll as their love for God grew cold.

I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary, Revelation 2:3.

Before getting married, Leanne and I attended a conference in Cleveland for young couples. One of the speakers used the analogy of leftovers. This illustration warned against giving God and your future spouse the leftovers of your time. The context of this expression was at the end of a busy day when you barely have energy for anything. This appears to be what happened to the Ephesians as the only time they made for God was at the end of their days, exhausted and worn out.

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love], Revelation 2:4.

According to marriage statistics from 2020, nearly 2,400 divorces occur every single day in the United States. At this pace, by the end of just one week, 16,800 divorces and or separations commence. Sadly, if this trend continues, 875,000 couple will break their marriage vows annually in America. When you’re too tired to love, relationships with God and spouses start to fall apart. In view of these dire statistics, may Jesus give you to strength to be reunited with God and your spouse.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 24: When God Ran

When most of the world was panicking about the threat of Y2K on December 31st, 1999, I was listening to a local Christian Radio station. As one century came to an end, this program began the Countdown of the Top 100 Christian Songs of the 1900’s. While I didn’t necessarily agree with all the selections, today’s song was ranked #4 on this list.

But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, Acts 16:25.

Benny Hester would have been more popular than Michael W. Smith, but Benny made one crucial mistake. Back in the days when a divorce wasn’t an option for a Christian, Benny did the unthinkable and got remarried. Immediately, Christian bookstores across the country began to remove Benny’s music from their shelves. Yet, Hester’s prodigal experience set the stage for his hit song When God Ran.

by Jay Mankus

Let Marriage be Held in Honor

In my earliest years as a child living in New Jersey, divorce wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. After moving to Delaware, I was introduced to this term when one of my friends mom got divorced twice. During my teenage years, it was still uncommon to enter a home where parents were divorced. Yet, as I entered high school, more and more adults began to give up on failing marriages.

Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous, Hebrews 13:4.

Perhaps this trend was encouraged by popular shows like Mash which regularly showed members of the Army cheating on their spouses. Distance and loneliness was seen as an acceptable reason for breaking marriage vows. At some point in the 1980’s, affairs, flings and one night stands aired weekly on major network television. Once cable arrived, temptation and sexual fantasies trampled this once sacred vow.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]. 22 He who finds a [true] wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:21-22.

This Bible may be considered an old fashion book with values that no longer applies to modern day life. Yet, King Solomon makes an interesting observation in the passage above. The words you speak, the people you hang around and the beliefs that are formed will shape your destiny. These self fulfilled prophecies will either produce healthy or failed marriages. May this blog persuade you to hold marriage as an honorable and sacred tradition.

by Jay Mankus

Side by Side

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=you+tube+of+side+by+side+scene+in+evan+almighty&qpvt=you+tube+of+side+by+side+scene+in+evan+almighty&view=detail&mid=48CD7DEF805AAABCA2D048CD7DEF805AAABCA2D0&FORM=VRDGAR

When you watch a movie for the first time, there will be things that you miss.  Perhaps, you went to the bathroom, got something to drink or ran out for a refill of popcorn.  Either way, watching a second time will reveal a catchy phrase, funny line or memorable moment that slipped by you the first time.  As I caught a rerun of Evan Almighty over the weekend, I was touched by a conversation between Morgan Freeman and Lauren Graham.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.  And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.  Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, Genesis 7:6-8. 

Freeman who plays God is serving as a waiter at a restaurant where Graham, Evan Baxter’s wife looks depressed.  Leaving her husband behind, she thinks Evan played by Steve Carell is in need of intervention for mental health issues.  In this time of crisis, she abandons her husband afraid of what might happen in the future.  Before severing this relationship completely, God provides a word of advice to persuade Mrs. Baxter to return.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone? – Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

The key to any marriage is standing side by side.  Most wedding vows include “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, til death due us part.”  According to an article from Marriage Today, one out of three marriages in America end in divorce.  Yet, this doesn’t tell the whole story as some states and regions have a much lower rate than the national average.  Although the data is not available, it’s safe to say that those couples who have remained married have stood side by side through thick and thin.  No matter how hard it may be at times, those who endure trials together, stay together.  May thewords, “side by side,” renew and revive the covenant of marriage.

by Jay Mankus

 

Special Needs

There is one common term that I heard as a teacher which was foreign to me initially.  When my school developed a program to help these students, I began to grasp some of the learning disabilities which exist.  Yet, as I spent time with my cousin Mary the past 24 hours, I have a better understanding of what it means to have a special needs child.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

Eight years ago, my cousin gave birth to twins, a girl and boy.  A great job and two healthy children provided a promising future.  Yet, an untimely divorce followed by a late diagnosis of her son has left Mary in a no win situation.  Based upon my recent interaction, my heart goes out to any family who is given the task to raise a child with special needs.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.

I tend to be a confident person, but when it comes to special needs, I feel helpless.  Depending upon the specific condition, I become paralyzed, not knowing what to say or do.  While most programs the government attempts to run usually fails, special needs children is an area where family and parents need help to overcome these extreme situations.  May God raise up leaders to address and solve this growing need in America.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed, Fortunate or Normal

I spent last night eating dinner at my parents house.  Beside the normal topics of conversation, I began ask about cousins I haven’t heard from or seen in years.  Unfortunately, each relative’s update included a similar pattern, ending with disappointment, divorce or unfulfilled potential.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. 

Like anything in life, there is a temptation to compare yourself with others.  While my life hasn’t been perfect or void of adversity, I feel quite fortunate and blessed.  Up to this point, the Lord has provided daily bread, a sense of accomplishment and passion to pursue my dreams.  Then again, maybe I’m just normal, making the most of what God has given me.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17.

When you study what the Bible says about blessings, you have to be careful not to take verses out of context.  The apostle writes to Philippians after surviving an earthquake and seeing the hand of God in allowing trials to occur.  Meanwhile, the brother of Jesus reflects upon how God is in control, despite how bad your current situation may be.  Nonetheless, when you have experienced a good and decent life, you’re either blessed, fortunate, normal or a little bit of all three.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Humble Beginnings

Every life is like a book with a beginning, middle and end.  However, sometimes portions of life doesn’t make sense until insight is provided from the future.  As for me, its clear that I started from humble beginnings.  Born with a severe speech impediment, life didn’t seem very fair.  In addition, I was accident prone, crashing face first into the pavement on my bike, breaking my leg in two pieces after jumping from an above ground pool and having the tip of my pinky finger caught in a car door.  These events summed up my early days on earth.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted, Matthew 23:12.

However, little did I know that all these things likely occurred to keep me from becoming full of myself.  As my athletic talents began to blossom, strange occurrences immediately followed crowning moments.  Appendicitis, a complete ligament tear and head on collision prevented me from becoming a prideful person.  Looking back, perhaps my analysis is incorrect, but something in my soul makes me believe these trials kept me humble.  Furthermore, this experience helped me realize that my talents are on loan from God.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” James 4:6.

Like me, Jesus also came from humble beginnings.  When his future father, Joseph, was about to divorce Mary, God intervened.  Yet, Jesus was born into poverty, forced to work hard as a carpenter to make a living.  Growing up in Nazareth, a town with a terrible reputation, Jesus had a lot to overcome.  Nonetheless, when the appointed time arrived, God the Father raised his Son up to find favor on earth.  May those of you enduring hard times currently, remember the promise of humility, that those who are humbled will be lifted up!

by Jay Mankus

Why Blogging Should Be A Lifelong Pursuit

In the second Ultimate Gift movie the narrative shifts toward the life of Red Stevens, a billionaire in the oil business.  After Jason Stevens’ girl friend abruptly leaves, Red’s grandson seeks the council of Mr. Hamilton played by Bill Hobbs, the firm’s attorney.  During this conversation Hamilton loans Jason Red’s diary, an account of his rise to the top.  Along the way, Red journals each life lesson beginning as a young teenager.  This daily exercise gave birth to the ten gifts Jason faces in the first film.

“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him,” 2 Samuel 12:4.

Another illustration of writing can be found in Fireproof starring Kirk Cameron.  When his marriage hits the skids, Caleb Holt, Kirk’s character, considers divorce until a near death encounter changes his heart.  Desperate to salvage his marriage, Caleb turns to his father for advice, who suggests following a forty day Love Dare Challenge.  Early on, Caleb goes through the motions until God transforms his heart.  Fighting a losing battle with pornography, these recorded words provide a blueprint to overcome a life void of purpose.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! – 2 Samuel 12:5

When individuals take the time to contemplate, reflect upon life and question their beliefs, pioneers of literature are born.  During my years of taking seminary classes, I found myself drawn to Augustine of Hippo.  Augustine regularly spent time in his backyard, relaxing his mind by observing his garden.  In this quiet place, a theologian was spawn connecting the dots between life, philosophy and biblical principles.  According to Jerome, Augustine’s practice of documenting his beliefs established anew the ancient faith.

He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity, 2 Samuel 12:6.

Today, the closest thing to a diary is blogging.  Although motives for writing are different, words serve as a map of where you are, where you’re going and show where you have been.  After beginning a pursuit to become a screen writer in my free time, I thought about ending this blog, blazing a trail in a different direction.  However, during a car ride on Thanksgiving Eve, I now feel called to continue this for life.  Though my topics may be sporadic, this daily habit helps me keep in touch with my soul as I express myself for Him.

by Jay Mankus

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” – 2 Samuel 12:7a

Now and Then

Its hard to believe that on this day twenty years ago I married Leanne Marie Wagner.  Having a wedding in Chicago two days after Thanksgiving can be risky, at the mercy of the weather.   An unwelcomed winter storm could have arrived at any time, but on November 25th, 1995 the Lord was on our side, blessing us with sun and a fifty degree day.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

Most wedding vows include the phrase “for better or for worse.”  This term appears within the marriage service section of the Common Book of Prayer.  Published in 1549, the concept of persevering with a marriage til death due us part can be traced back to the late 1300’s.  Unfortunately, sticking with your spouse throughout one’s life get’s harder and harder as modern cultures have accepted and embrace divorce as a viable option.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25.

While premarital counseling is a good place to start, you’re never really fully prepared for marriage.  The intimacy of marriage reveals all of your imperfections, leaving individuals vulnerable, at the mercy of your mate.  In addition, time has a way of adding weight, losing luster and deteriorating parts of your body.  Anyone can be in love on their honeymoon, but true love takes an unyielding will.  Thus, now and then, I vow to keep my promise to my wife Leanne until death due us part.

by Jay Mankus

 

Waking Up to a Whole New World

Twenty years ago, adult, controversial and risque commercials appeared after dark, when most children were asleep.  The culture was much more conservative, careful not to corrupt the innocence of youth.  Unless you are living in denial, today everything is fair game, waking up to a whole new world.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

Social media is setting the pace daily, led by what’s trending on Twitter, followed by the latest eye catching video on Youtube.  Subsequently, a new generation lives by an entirely new set of standards, distant from the ethics of the Bible.  What once was wrong has become mainstream, normal to an accepting society, open to news ways of thinking.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

Caught in the middle, the church is forced to balance grace with truth.  Although kinder and gentler, its difficult for those raised in the Fire and Brimstone Era to get past obvious sins.  Thus, when a microphone is put in front of a pastor’s face or as the camera rolls, its hard not to portray these individuals as judgmental, void of the love of Christ.  Despite what Christians believe about abortion, homosexuality and divorce, its better to demonstrate faith rather than shoving your beliefs in someone’s face.  Waking up to a whole new world will require an emphasis on living examples of Jesus to reverse these trends and possibly inspire a revival throughout the land.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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