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For Those Who Fall for the Same Trick Time After Time

No one likes to be described as being weak. This condition or state of lacking strength is an insult that doesn’t sit well. Nonetheless, if you are honest with yourself, everyone has a weakness, a chink in their armor. During a battle, enemies will examine and study their opponent, trying to ascertain their most vulnerable position.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

Compromise, doubt and rationalization are elements that an invisible adversary narrows in on. Human minds are attacked day after day with some falling for the same trick time after time. Evil thoughts are planted within minds in the form of a subtle whisper, “did God really say?” As time has evolved, children have altered this question, “did my parents really say that?” “My coach, counselor, teacher or relative won’t mind if I do this?”

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

As a former victim, Peter compares the Devil to a powerful predator. As ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, Satan scans the globe daily stalking his next potential prey. Despite this warning, countless souls fail to take this threat seriously. Subsequently, articles, breaking news and headlines detail the most recent Christian who has fallen, caught in another shocking sin. Perhaps, this blog will awaken souls to this spiritual emergency so that future individuals do not fall for this same old trick anymore.

by Jay Mankus

Searching for a Ray of Hope

The latitude lying within the Arctic Circle is known as the “land of the midnight Sun.”  Each summer the sun never sets, remaining on the horizon in this polar region.  While this is the season of never ending rays of sun, the other side of the world in Antarctica plunges into four months of darkness.  Unfortunately, you don’t have to reside in the South Pole to experience extended periods of darkness.  Accidents, trials and unexpected illnesses can leave dazed individuals searching for a ray of hope.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it, John 1:5.

Over the last few decades, researchers and scientists have uncovered some of the negative influences that darkness has on human beings.  Seasonal affective disorder causes depression due to the limited number of hours of daylight every winter.  Depending upon the location, schedule and where people work, some individuals only see a few hours of daylight daily until the weekend arrives.  Darkness has a psychological affect, invoking doubt, fear and uncertainty.  Thus, beside waiting for Spring to come, the Bible provides a cure for those searching for a ray of hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13,

Any day now I will be receiving an email from Hollywood about a movie, screenplay that I submitted in April.  For six consecutive summers, I have opened up “I regret to inform you” notices, rejecting my previous projects.  I’m not sure if I can handle the news of another failure, but I am trusting God to shine light into any future darkness that I face.  When storm clouds roll in and begin to surround you, rays of hope enable souls to persevere until extreme conditions subside.  In the meantime, lean on the Holy Spirit as you struggle and fight to make your dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Faith or Fiction

Before the public broadcasts of television evangelists, Americans still believed in God’s power to perform miracles.  However, after organizations like the Christian Research Council began to expose some of the fraudulent methods used by so called healers, faith in America declined.  This hypocrisy turned faith into fiction.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

Doubt has always been the greatest stumbling block to faith.  While talking to his disciples, Jesus used a fig tree void of fruit for a teachable moment.  After cursing this tree, it immediately withered.  Astonished by this amazing act, each began to ask themselves, “what will Jesus do next?”  Seconds later, Jesus uses an analogy of a mountain to distinguish faith from fiction.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

Whenever placed into an impossible situation, miracles seem improbable.  Mountains of doubt often remove faith from someone’s mind.  This negativity causes many to never ask God for help or divine intervention.  However, Jesus wants individuals to use prayer aligned with faith to remove fiction from the equation.  Therefore, when the odds are against or your back is against the wall, cry out to God so that a miracle is made possible through faith.

by Jay Mankus

Standing Still or Forward Motion?

While growing up in Delaware, I got caught outside in a torrential rain storm one summer afternoon.  Trying to find the shortest route to my house, I came to the banks of Namaans Creek.  At this section of the stream, it was a about a five foot jump across raging waters.  The longer I waited, the more dangerous this situation became.  Thus, I was forced to make of one of two decisions; stand still and wait it out or take a leap of faith, proceeding in forward motion.  I choose the latter, just clearing the ledge on the other side.

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies, 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Unfortunately, I have spent most of the last five years standing still, afraid to take chances.  At some point in time, apathy sets in.  This often leads to becoming comfortably numb, like Pink Floyd’s 1965 hit song.  The longer you remain in the same place, the harder it becomes to change.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s unsettling when you know you are not where God wants you to be.  According to the Bible, those who become idle eventually end up back sliding, slipping further and further away from God.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Philippians 4:8.

Nearly forty years later, Reliant K released their new album Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right, But Three Do in 2003.  My favorite song from this project is Forward Motion, a reminder to avoid idle time.  Although I can’t change my past, I do have the ability to alter my future.  Thus, if this blog finds you in a similar position, stuck in a rut, don’t let doubt paralyze your faith.  Rather, trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding so that a leap of faith will place you in forward motion, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you throughout life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

God of the Impossible

If you follow, read or watch the news, it’s hard to remain positive.  Like the down trodden in this life, hope can disappear for extended periods of time.  Thus, many are left alone, stuck in an impossible situation praying for a miracle.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you,” Matthew 17:20.

For some the story of David and Goliath is nothing more than a fairy tale, a figment of one’s imagination.  Yet, history conveys the truth found in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 17.  While David’s size was an obstacle, a midget compared to the giant mocking God on a daily basis, his experience as a shepherd prepared him for this battle.  Against all odds, David shot down Goliath with his sling shot opening the door to become king of Israel.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father,” John 14:12.

When Jesus traveled throughout the Middle East during the first century, doubt was prevalent.  Doing the impossible was a dream blocked by the mountain known as reality.  Thus, Jesus found it necessary to regularly talk about the power of faith and belief.  As Jesus began to cure, heal and perform miracles, the impossible seemed to be within reach.  Therefore, don’t let doubt keep you trapped.  Rather, cry out of Jesus so that the God of the impossible will return to perform another miracle.

by Jay Mankus

 

By Whose Standards are You Following?

Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.  However, if you enter a conversation which has already started, you might come away with a different perspective than those who were present at the very beginning.  Unless you take time to confirm your inclinations, you may be missing crucial details.  When information is passed off to second and third hand parties, context tends to get lost.  Subsequently, sloppy communication opens the door for alterations, exaggeration and gossip.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Matthew 7:1.

As a former Bible teacher, the verse above is one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible.  The media loves to quote this when their worldview is questioned.  The perception is that no one should be able to judge another person.  Yet, if you read ahead, you’ll find the point Jesus is trying to make.  Jesus is referring to hypocrites who judge others while doing the same exact thing.  As individuals remove the plank, the sin from their lives, they earn the right to correct others.  However, until this area is under control, no one is credible.

“God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you,” 1 Corinthians 5:13.

The Bible refers to two standards for life, those inside the church and those outside.  God expects more from those who decide to follow Jesus.  Whenever I hear or see debates on television over Matthew 7:1, no one brings up the words of the apostle Paul.  As I introduced the principle above to my classes, the concept of expelling sinners brought outrage from some students.  The situation within the church of Corinth is at the final stage of the Matthew principle based upon Matthew 18:15-17.  Before you reach this point, the Bible encourages individuals to confront people face to face and with a few close friends if necessary.  If no progress is made and sin is full blown, this is where the church steps in as a last warning so to speak.  Like an alcoholic in denial, sometimes you have to walk away until prodigals see the error of their way.

If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector, Matthew 18:17.

Like a concerned parent, I can’t force my readers to believe what I do.  Rather, I try to point out the convictions on my heart.  In the end, you will live according to a certain set of standards.  These will likely be altered, chanced or modified along the way.  Nonetheless, may you carefully develop what you believe so that when attacked by outsiders, you will be able to defend what you know to be true.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Turn It Up

In a contest, the best players and teams have a tendency to coast at points during the regular season.  Falling into this trap often leads to disappointing loses and major upsets.  At some point you have to respond, by raising your level of competition.  If you are dedicated, gifted and talented, when you turn it up success usually follows.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

According to one of the Old Testament prophets, vision requires patience, resolve and timing.  If you are impatient, you may quit before seeing and tasting the fruits of your labor.  Therefore, when others are on the verge of giving up on a shared dream, remain steadfast by turning up the intensity.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Perhaps the apostle Paul is referencing Habakkuk in the verse above.  The notion of delayed gratification is a foreign to this generation.  In life you can’t just put a prayer request on a credit card, then wait for it the mail to be delivered.  Although some prayers do get answered instantaneously and or quickly, this is not the norm.  Rather, in times of doubt, turn up your faith, waiting for a spiritual harvest to arrive.

by Jay Mankus

Regress or Resolve

If you live long enough, everyone will experience periods of atavism, backsliding and reverting back to previous habits of your childhood.  The dictionary refers to this as regression, where individuals return to a less developed state.  These lapses can last a few days, linger or develop into addictive states.  Thus, the sooner one acts, the better you will be in the future.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death, Romans 7:11.

Unfortunately, depression is a powerful force.  This mood can oppress the soul, crippling any good intentions to escape.  Beside prayer and fasting, resolve is one of the last hopes for anyone stuck in a rut.  Imaging the person you use to be and seek to become is a step in the right direction, yet doubt, fear and uncertainty create a valley that seems too wide to jump over.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me, Romans 7:17.

Nonetheless, experiencing regression sucks, not a fun place to call home.  As I search for the person I use to be, I often wonder if I will ever see glimpses of the man I once was.  As I wait to see how this story unfolds, there is much work to do and restoration to accomplish.  Yet, for now I cling to resolve, resisting the urge to continue in complacency.  Perhaps, the apostle Paul endured a similar battle in Romans 7.  Thanks be to God for a Savior who conquered sin and death so that those wrestling with regression may one day taste victory.

by Jay Mankus

The Devil’s Triangle

Across the surface of the earth, there are small sections which produce anomalies.  For one reason or another, abnormal, odd or strange events seem to happen within defined areas.  One of the most famous occurs over water, others take place in the mountains and some form a triangle between three specific geographical points.  Whether you are referring to the Devil’s Triangle at sea or a 44 mile highway loop in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, some places appear to be cursed, filled with a history of accidents, disaster or tragedy.

And that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will, 2 Timothy 2:26.

Although I don’t want to jump to conclusions, these places produce acts and occurrences that defy science.  While several of these unusual accounts can be explained due to rare barometric conditions, others seem to be linked to the supernatural.  According to the apostle Paul, people will experience traps set by the devil, demonic influences or powers of darkness.  Thus, when you find yourself within the snares of the Devil’s Triangle, you need to know what you’re up against.

In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient, Ephesians 2:2.

As a fallen angel, Satan controls the airspace, sending minions to create havoc throughout the face of the earth.  These invisible attacks plants seeds of doubt, urges hearts to indulge in worldly pleasures and promotes a New Age mindset.  Sometimes this involves sending people into our lives that lead to subtle changes in the form of compromise.  While people may visit places on earth known as the Devil’s Triangle, you don’t have to leave your home to experience a spiritual war upon your soul.  Prepare yourself with prayer!

by Jay Mankus

Reasoning with God

As I read a portion of the Bible known as the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, there is a common characteristic found within many of these individuals.  In times of uncertainty, when life’s circumstances did not make sense, these historical and spiritual figures reasoned with God.   Instead of turning toward doubt, each trusted in God’s ability to resolve their situation with a Hollywood ending.

Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death, Hebrews 11:19.

Take for instance, Abraham who waited most of his life to have a son with his wife Sarah.  Shortly after receiving this promised child, God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.  Within Abraham’s heart, soul and mind, the concept of resurrection was conceived.  Thus, despite his confusion, Abraham took out a knife in faith, hoping and trusting that the Lord would provide a substitute, a replacement sacrifice for his son.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict, Hebrews 11:23.

In modern times, life can be just as complex, not sure how or why God allows acts of terrorism, deadly diseases and failure to continue.  Yet, when trials arrive, Hebrews 11 exists to help people learn from models of faith.  Reasoning with God is a natural response, crying out to Him in prayer for understanding.  Although, answers may not come right away, don’t give up hope until God provides a solution for your latest dilemma.

by Jay Mankus

 

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