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No Strings Attached

The expression “no strings attached” is directly tied to 18th century fabric merchants. Whenever a defect was discovered during a project, merchants would mark flaws in woven cloth by tying small strings to the bottom of the bolts at the locations where flaws were present. Instead of deceiving someone before a purchase was completed, buyers were made aware of any imperfections by these strings attached.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

Over the past 300 years, this symbolic act of honesty has disappeared. Instead, modern advertisements, commercials and infomercials contain a long list of fine print at the conclusion of their sales pitch. This content is included to cover and protect entrepreneurs from lawsuits and liability. Thus, strings attached have been replaced by label warnings in modern times. Making a decision to determine the genuine merchants from scammers gets harder and more difficult each year.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:17.

If you have ever been burned by a purchase, exposed to carcinogens or deceived by unread fine print, hearts have become skeptical. Past experiences have caused many to wonder, “okay, what’s the catch? What am I not seeing? Where are the strings attached?” This is where the Bible provides a breakthrough, a promise that sounds too good to be true. After embracing the gospel 35 years ago, the only thing that ruins this message are pastors who communicate an inaccurate description of what it takes to live in this world, but not of it. May this blog resonate with your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Forgotten Man of Christmas

If you work for a large company, you will come across various characters, personalities and temperaments.  Meanwhile, if you are a regular visitor of social media sites, you can usually decipher those seeking attention from people who simply enjoy connecting with friends.  While there are numerous methods entrepreneurs can cash in on today, it’s okay to live a quiet life beyond the spot life.  Such is the case of one first century man.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly, Matthew 1:18-19.

As a former junior high teacher, teenagers can be cruel.  Teens going through puberty can be down right nasty.  Imagine if your girl friend shows up to school pregnant and you didn’t have sex with her.  These were the thoughts racing through Joseph’s mind when his fiancée returns home from his aunt’s house several months pregnant.  Betrayed, confused and distraught, Joseph was on his way to break off his engagement quietly to avoid a messy divorce.  When an angel intervened, this forgotten man of Christmas had to wait until Jesus was born to consecrate his marriage.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning [to Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere], Luke 2:41-45.

Joseph is one of those characters who quickly fades from the forefront, written out of a drama, movie or show after completing his mission.  There is only one mention of Joseph in the Bible following the events of Christmas, Jesus’ bar mitzvah, the event to celebrate a Jewish boy becoming a man.  This symbolic act enabled Jesus to become a man in God’s house.  Joseph likely died of natural causes, assumed to be dead and long gone, out of the picture, by the four gospel authors.  Then again, Joseph could have completed God’s will for his life following Jesus’ bar mitzvah.  Either way, Joseph is the forgotten man of Christmas, taking a back seat to Emmanuel, God with us in the form of baby Jesus..

by Jay Mankus

What Makes It Worthy

David Paul Kuhn felt inspired to write a book about a topic many have brushed aside.  As technological rapidly changes, automation, computers and robotics are taking away millions of jobs once held by working men in America.  If modern advances in driverless vehicles continues to progress, another 3 million truck drivers could be in danger of losing their long held careers.  In his 2015 book, What Makes It Worthy, Kuhn details the importance men derive from working.  If men can’t provide for their families, a sense of worth is lost, creating a chain reaction that negativity impacts future generations.  The goal of this book is to illustrate the worthiness of maintaining a job.

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.

The term worthy refers to abilities that merit recognition.  Whether you have a certain job title such as a doctor or demonstrate impressive qualities, others will quickly take notice.  Careers, fields of work or occupations place individuals within a specific social status.  Entry level positions will place you within the lower class.  Promotions into lower management will elevate you into the middle class.  Meanwhile, entrepreneurs, exceptional sales and higher degrees can lift some hard workers into the upper class.  However, on the way to the top, some participate in illegal, shady or ungodly methods.  Thus, pursuing noble causes outside of any career provides its own sense of accomplishment.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

When I first got married, I always felt inferior while talking to other groups of men.  While it didn’t help living in an affluent suburb west of Chicago, I didn’t possess the DNA to become rich and wealthy.  My relationship with Christ didn’t mesh with the ways of the world.  Thus, I became confused, unable to find my place in this world until becoming a high school Bible teacher and golf coach.  Six years have passed since this position was taken away from me, placing me back where I was before.  Nonetheless, if you want to experience a sense of worth, begin with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.  From here, the Holy Spirit will guide you to the place where you need to be, Galatians 5:25.  Until then, keep praying until clarity and self worth is restored.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Viral Anger

As I was waiting to see my eye doctor today, I came across an interesting page in Time Magazine.  The article was entitled Viral Anger, addressing the growing dangers of social media in America.  The author compared this condition to an illness, spreading like a contagious disease which is making those who engage sick.

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way, Proverbs 19:2.

Although I agree with the premise of this piece, there is a fatal flaw not addressed.  Currently, mainstream media bases the majority of cable news programing on political talking points.  These slogans and sound bytes are passed on to elite members of the press and communicated via cable, magazines and news papers.  This is the fuel which ignites daily dumpster fires on Twitter.  Until major networks begins reporting the facts, opinion based journalism will continue to spawn viral anger.

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends, Proverbs 16:28.

Social media has opened a modern day Pandora’s Box, giving any self seeking individual the opportunity to instantly share what’s on their mind.  Without any filters, thoughts freely flow with the click of a button.  There was a time in this country when parents taught their children, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it!”  These days are gone, replaced by people seeking fifteen minutes of fame through blogs, tweets or you tube channels.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly, 2 Timothy 2:16.

The byproduct of social media is like a fulfillment of the passage above.  However, instead of spreading first century heresy, viral anger is poisoning souls like an outbreak of gangrene.  The only practical solution that I see is to replace negative news with a Positive News Network.  If modern cable providers carry 24 hour television channels for any thinkable topic, it’s time for entrepreneurs to create an outlet which tells the whole story of an issue.  Since I don’t see anyone putting social media back into Pandora’s Box, perhaps a source of encouragement like a PNN will be the cure to defeat viral anger.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Path to Excellence

As I examine successful athletes, authors and entrepreneurs, I find a common characteristic which exists.  Beyond a drive, focus and passion, those who rise above their competitors seize the moment daily.  Vision serves as a blue print to carry out and fulfill goals set by each individual.  Although delays and timing may be off, staying the course results in a path toward excellence.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

When my two boys were much younger, each qualified for the Yes Athletics National Cross Country Championships for 3 consecutive years.  As an 8 year old, Daniel was the East Regional Champion.  However, when you compete against the best in the country, breaking the top 100 is an accomplishment.  After talking to other coaches, parents and runners, I realized my kids hadn’t put in the miles or training to have a chance to contend.

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

If you want to be considered elite, dedication, sacrifice and an unswerving concentration is a must.  Despite whatever talent you possess, the hungrier will creep up on anyone who isn’t willing to put in the time to improve.  Everyone will reach their limit at some point, but God will honor those who grind it out daily no matter how they are feeling.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my own aspirations, but I must fight with everything I have to keep my dreams alive by walking on the path to excellence.

by Jay Mankus

 

Throwing in the Towel or Giving A Broken Dream Another Shot?

Every now and then, something on television will speak to me.  Such was the case during Friday Night’s Season finale of Gold Rush Season 5.  During a behind the scenes interview, Todd Hoffman, founder of 316 Mining, decided to quit after an epic failure in 2013.  Seeping further into depression brought on by accumulating debt, his wife reached out to Todd’s father and local church pastor.  Resigned to seek another profession in life, Todd began volunteering to build a new church.  As this project began to take shape,  Jack Hoffman and Pastor Mike challenged Todd, “are you going to throw in the towel or give your dream of mining another shot?”

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.- Romans 5:3-5

Unfortunately, most ambitious entrepreneurs usually give up after a couple of failed attempts.  The thought of another rejection is too much for a fragile heart to handle.  Yet, if great inventors of the past possessed this same mentality, several of the modern luxuries society enjoys today would not exist.  Perseverance is a difficult trait to hang on to when your present situation doesn’t show any signs of progress.  Thus, when the urge to bow out enters your mind, remember the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6, God will finish the work that He began in you.

Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:4-6

As an inspiring writer, I know I have the talent, but I’m not sure if I have the faith to overcome any more disappointment.  With the rough draft of second movie now complete, the editing process makes me feel like Todd Hoffman, not sure if the countless hours I have invested is worth continuing.  Yet, deep down, I hear a voice telling me to weather the storm, fight through temptation and carry this project to the finish line.  Although I’m not sure what the outcome will be, I’d rather give my broken dream another shot rather than wondering what might have been.  Join me in this journey!

by Jay Mankus

 

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then my first full time teaching position after college was a blessing in disguise.  Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest, I spent the Spring Semester of 1993 counseling, teaching and tutoring junior high students who were considered career underachievers.  The learning never stopped, continuing through breakfast, lunch and dinner.  My only true break was for 40 minutes, from 12:20-1:00 pm, Monday thru Friday.  Titled 20/20 Time, students and teachers spent 40 minutes in solitude either on a hillside, in the valley or along the banks of a stream.  The goal of this exercise was to spend 20 minutes reflecting and 20 writing.  To my amazement, I developed a love for journaling; eventually inspiring 12 songs that formed my first album, A Simple Confession.

For those of us who love food, eating is like a race to see who can devour a meal the fastest.  Yet, for businessmen, savvy entrepreneurs and relational individuals, meals are maximized to get work done, explore new opportunities or develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Prior to the rise in youth sports, families spent 30-60 minutes a day at their kitchen table talking .  Now, some households eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, working meals around busy schedules.  Although hunger is a natural part of the body, appetites can vary from delicacies to worldly obsessions.  Realizing this truth, Jesus introduced a new concept for his listeners to digest, “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6.

The Psalms of the Bible illuminate how to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Beginning in Psalm 1:1-3, the author compares this type of individual with an evergreen, a tree that stays green throughout the year.  Known as conifers, the key to this tree is its root system.  When planted near a creek, river or stream, daily nutrients are widely available.  The spiritual dimension to this analogy can be found in Joshua 1:8, where meditating on the Bible day and night results in a similar outcome.  Therefore, if you want to maximize your own meals, start by consuming the Word of God before every breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If this concept takes ahold of your heart, soul and mind, then will resemble the tree in Psalm 1.  This leads me to the chorus from one of the first songs the Holy Spirit inspired me to write, Psalm 1.

“I want to be the tree, down by the river”

“I want to be the tree, down by the bank”

“I want to be the tree, that walks and talks like Jesus”

“Reaching out for nourishment by staying in God’s Word.”

by Jay Mankus

 

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