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When Hate Triumphs Over Love

Last Saturday night I was driving my daughter home from work. As a father trying to stay in touch with my last teenager living at home, I asked a series of questions. After a few minutes of surface level conversation, I uncovered a hot topic. Apparently, several of her co-workers were ecstatic by the announcement of Joe Biden as the 46th president. Curious, I asked why. Lydia responded, “they all hate Trump.”

If anyone says, I love God, and hates (detests, abominates) his brother [in Christ], he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, Whom he has not seen, 1 John 4:20.

According to a recent report, 93% of the news coverage over the past 4 years about Donald Trump was negative. Meanwhile, only 7% of the coverage regarding Joe Biden during the 2020 Election was negative. Thus, if you received the majority of information from the mainstream media in regards to who to vote for, you likely chose the former vice-president. Instead of loving your candidate, hating Trump appears to have been more of a persuasive factor than loving Biden.

And this command (charge, order, injunction) we have from Him: that he who loves God shall love his brother [believer] also, 1 John 4:21.

When you open the Bible, authors of this timeless book draw a clear distinction between love and hate. The apostle Paul refers to God as love in a letter to the Corinthian Church. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to love as a verb, actively extending arms, hands and words of encouragement. When a society allows hatred to conquer and triumph over love, it’s a sign of the end of civility. Whatever happens in the next month and 4 years, I pray hatred will be cooled by hearts filled with love.

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Encouraged

I tend to be a positive person, trying to stay optimistic about life. However, over the past week, a wave of depression has come crashing upon the shores of my life. Like a rogue wave that comes out of no where, I wasn’t prepared to deal with this emotional undertow. As I attempt to regain my balance so that I’m not swept away by this strong current, I find myself in need of encouragement.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:3-4

I’m definitely not the first to experience such a strange week nor will I be the last to undergo what the Bible calls a trial. In the passage above, a series of bad choices causes King David to be overwhelmed by guilt. The longer David waited to confess his careless errors and mistakes to God, the worse he feels. As each day passed without acknowledging his sin, David’s strength was sapped like humidity from a summer heatwave.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:5-6.

Jesus’ earthly brother reveals that earthly trials take the form of waves of doubt. Once fully developed, these spiritual storms contain a billowing surge that keeps coming. When you add the wind. conditions only get worse. According to James, when you find yourself stuck in one of these systems, call out to God in prayer to receive wisdom to get you through. While each storm varies, James 1:12 provides hope for those who hold on to Jesus until your storm passes.

by Jay Mankus

With United Hearts and One Voice

As the Coronavirus continues to ravage vulnerable individuals and spread across the United States, communities are being forced to come together. Instead of allowing politics, religion and worldviews to divide souls, the instinct to survive is slowly changing hearts and minds. Perhaps, in the face of tragedy as the death toll in the United States surpasses 30,000, this country will become united with one voice: find a cure for COVID-19.

Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5.

I recently listened to a you tube clip of Amy Wolter from an old concert. The lead singer of Fighter shared her inspiration behind the song Radio Man. As a former disc jockey at a local rock station, listeners began to call in during request hours. Initial concerns were superficial like breaking up with a boy or girl friend. Over time, the need for healing intensified. These requested songs served as a form of healing as strangers poured out their concerns, troubles and unfortunate situations.

That together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Romans 15:6.

During the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul felt a need to unite the church at Rome. Perhaps, differences began to develop, causing friction within the body of Christ. Paul wanted mature adults to put aside childish ways by uniting under a common calling. As the Coronavirus transforms life as we know it due to its’ contagious nature, this is as good of a time as ever to come together as cities, states and one nation under God. The only thing missing are willing hearts ready to let go of control and let God in.

by Jay Mankus

When You Don’t Have It

Depending upon the day, energy level, focus, inspiration and motivation, results will vary, often drastically. Some days you wake up feeling great, get into a groove early on and finish with a great sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, these productive days can come and go, disappearing quickly. Then, there are weeks where you just don’t have it. For one reason or another, your normal degree of success drops, far from your normal self.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

If you have ever competed in a competition or sporting event, you understand the concept of days when you don’t have it. A series of factors can cause a skilled individual to look like a beginner from time to time. While I’ve spent most of my life playing golf at a high level, I am currently in one of my worst funks in over a decade. Although I have only played four times this year, three of the four rounds have been dreadful. Despite concentrating and focusing, I feel lost, forgetting to apply the core principles which led me to play professionally more than 2 decades ago.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

This same mental struggle can affect Christians as well. Depending upon your daily Bible Study, prayer life and worship, it doesn’t take much to start slip sliding away from God. If your life is void of accountability or a mentor, this spiritual slippage may continue for months, a year or longer. According to the apostle Paul, hope can be regained by reading the Bible. I’ve had enough spiritual slides over the last 40 years that I know once your spiritual momentum is broken, it takes twice as long to regain. Yet, the good news is that Jesus came to seek to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

by Jay Mankus

Close to Your Heart and Near to Your Lips

Whenever you hear someone talking about a heart or lips, the context often refers to a physical relationship. While ease-dropping, you might discover that a friend is in love. Or an obnoxious and rude customer boasts loudly about hooking up with a woman last night. When love is in the air, even quiet and shy individuals open up to express the good news of a significant other.

But what does it say? The Word (God’s message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach, Romans 10:8.

In a letter to the church of Rome, the apostle Paul uses heart and lips in a spiritual context. Possibly referencing the words of King Solomon in Proverbs 4:23, the heart is the well spring of human bodies. Meanwhile, lips are the gateway to your mouth. When hearts and lips work hand in hand, beautiful expressions such as confession, encouragement and honesty flow.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved Romans 10:9.

Although different personalities exist, baptism is symbolic of a public expression for an inner faith. Remaining silent about a personal relationship with God is not an option. Thus, Paul compels believers to come out of your shell by verbalizing what is in your heart. Faith provides the opportunity for what is close to your heart and near to your lips. May this blog inspire you to find an avenue to express your faith daily.

by Jay Mankus

The Dangers of Discouragement

Discouragement comes from a lack of confidence or enthusiasm. When events, your job or life doesn’t end up how you expected and wanted, this often results in disappointment. If no encouraging news follows, souls become deflated. If this dis-spiritedness continues without any glimpses of hope, discouragement can settle in upon a community, town or nation.

And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom, and the people became impatient (depressed, much discouraged), because [of the trials] of the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water, and we loathe this light (contemptible, unsubstantial) manna. Then the Lord sent fiery (burning) serpents among the people; and they bit the people, and many Israelites died, Numbers 21:4-6.

Israel was promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but were stuck going around in circles, lost in the middle of a desert. This is the context of the passage above as Israel became depressed and discouraged. Like an unhappy employee complaining about their company, Israel began to voice their frustration with God. Moses details how impatience fueled grumbling spirits, verbalizing their displeasure with God. God responds with an infestation of snakes, making their situation worse.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:8-10.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses the analogy of a farmer to address discouragement. When the weather is bad, farmers at are the mercy of mother nature, God. Yet, you reap what you sow. Those who plan ahead, taking the time to secure their fields will be rewarded in the end. Unfortunately, many people give up before the harvest arrives, never seeing the fruit of their labor. Thus, the biblical way to overcome the dangers of discouragement is to fight through these tough emotional times by never giving up.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Hope

Hope is like a double edged sword. On one side, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain outcome or thing to happen. Meanwhile, on the other side reality exists, the state of things as they actually are currently. This opposition denounces an idealistic or notional idea of what hope has to offer.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation, Romans 5:3-4.

In the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption, two prisoners argue about hope while talking over a meal. Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins reveals his perspective of hope, describing this as a place in your mind that no one can take away from you. Red Redding played by Morgan Freeman disagrees, interrupting Robbins to highlight the dangers of hope.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

The apostle Paul writes about the biblical meaning of hope during a first century letter to the church of Rome. Perhaps, even Christians were losing hope and needed a word of encouragement to press on. Paul makes three guarantees about hope. Hope never deludes, disappoints or shames human beings. Why, you may ask? God’s love has been poured out to hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. This is the power of hope.

by Jay Mankus

Letting Things Roll Off Your Back

Mammals such as otters and seals have very greasy fur which serves as protection from becoming water logged. Meanwhile, waterfowl such as ducks possess greasy feathers which enables beads of water to roll off their backs. This is where the saying “let things roll off your back” is derived. This simile is an expression of encouragement urging a friend not to let criticism, disappointing news or hardship bother them.

One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid anymore, but go on speaking and do not be silent; Acts 18:9.

During the apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, a mob of unbelieving Jews began to follow him from city to city. These individuals disrupted his teaching and made threats upon his life. By the time Paul reached Corinth, modern day Greece, stressed consumed his soul. One night the Lord appeared in a vision, urging Paul to let things roll off his back. Continue doing what I called you to do, keep speaking without fear.

For I am with you, and no one will attack you in order to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So he settled there for a year and six months, teaching them the word of God [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ], Acts 18:10-11.

Based upon the promise above, God placed a remnant of believers in Corinth. Some of these individuals such as Gallio were in leadership positions to shield Paul from harm. Subsequently, Paul experienced 18 months of blessings, peace and spiritual revival. Paul sent 4 letters to the church of Corinth, 2 of which are found in the New Testament. When you let things roll off your back like Paul, the possibilities are endless.

by Jay Mankus

When You Are Unable to Make the Best of a Difficult Situation

Whenever people pray for patience, God tends to have a sense of humor placing individuals into extreme circumstances.  These scenarios put patience to the test, seeing whether you will pass or fail.  Well, a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about making the best of difficult situations at work.  Apparently, the Lord has given my faith a pop quiz to see if I am practicing what I have preached about recently.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

The apostle Paul points to endurance as a key element to get you through troubling times in life.  Endurance includes acceptance, bearing with, fortitude, persistence and tenacity to withstand curve balls that interrupt your life.  According to the passage above, Christians undergoing trials should seek guidance from the Bible.  As you receive encouragement from God’s promises, it is possible to make the best of a difficult situation.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

However, there is an invisible force that you must be cautious of to avoid acting out impulsively without any regard for God and his precepts.  When push comes to shove, childish ways inside of me are about to erupt, wanting to throw a tantrum like the days of my youth.  Unless you habitually keep in step with the Holy Spirit, ungodly words will come out of your mouth.  Thus, until I get this area of my life under control, I won’t be able to make the best of a difficult situation.

by Jay Mankus

Leaving God’s Footprint Behind

The Roman lyrical poet Horace first coined the Latin phrase carpe diem.  When translated into English, carpe diem loosely means to “seize the day.”  This may explain why professor John Keating, a poetry teacher played by Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society references this expression.  When applied to a Christian faith, believers should be focused on leaving God’s footprint behind.

For Barnabas was a good man [privately and publicly—his godly character benefited both himself and others] and he was full of the Holy Spirit and full of faith [in Jesus the Messiah, through whom believers have everlasting life]. And a great number of people were brought to the Lord.  And Barnabas left for Tarsus to search for Saul; Acts 11:24-25.

Luke introduces a man named Joseph in Acts 4:36-37 who developed the nick name Barnabas, “son of encouragement” for his generous donations to the church.  When Jesus’ disciples were skeptical of Saul’s conversion to Christ, it was Barnabas who defended his faith, Acts 9:27.  In the passage above, Luke reveals the secret behind Barnabas’ success, full of the Holy Spirit.  At some point, God called Barnabas to disciple Saul, investing one year of his life to nurture his faith.

And when he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For an entire year they met [with others] in the church and instructed large numbers; and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians, Acts 11:26.

By the time these men left, Antioch became a symbol of God’s footprint on earth.  As members of the church emulated the life and teachings of Jesus, community members referred to this group of believers as Christians.  Today, Professor William Rees is the father of carbon footprints, derived from a paper, Environment and Urbanization, written in 1992.  While Christians should be good stewards of the earth God created, the Holy Spirit is searching for individuals who want to leave behind God’s footprint wherever you go and whatever you do.

by Jay Mankus

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