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Tag Archives: eternity

Don’t Let Shame to Rewrite Your Story

Shame is defined as a painful feeling of distress and humiliation caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.  The Bible illustrates shame immediately following Adam and Eve breaking God’s only rule, “do not eat from the tree of knowledge,” Genesis 2:16-17.  This couple responded to shame by hiding from God, ashamed of what they have just done.

Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked; and they fastened fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:7-8.

The human conscience is like a built in GPS device for morality.  When an act of kindness are performed, helpful hands extend a word of encouragement which results in a sense of warmth to my soul.  Yet, whenever my own mouth spits out poison, guilt strikes me like an invisible punch in the gut.  When bad outweighs the good, shame alters your mood and influences your mind.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work], Hebrews 12:1-2.

One of the ways this is accomplished is through ungodly beliefs instilled within you by family, friends and peers.  Words such as “you’re not good enough and you’ll never amount to anything” serve as wounds to the soul.  If these ungodly beliefs aren’t replaced by godly beliefs from the Bible, shame will rewrite your story.  The consequences of shame could be eternal.  Therefore, if you are tired of hiding from God, reach out to Jesus who disregarded shame by enduring the cross and rising from the dead.

by Jay Mankus

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For Who; For What?

During a 1995 NFL game, former running back Ricky Watters purposively dropped a pass thrown to him.  Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, Watters was a safety valve on this play.  If his quarterback felt pressure from the defense, the play design led Watters to the middle of the field, beyond the pass rush.  However, as the play was enfolding, Watters saw that a defensive player primed to hit him hard.  To avoid this massive collusion, Watters simply dropped the ball.  Following the game, reporters gathered around Watters locker, wanting the know the reason for this incomplete pass.  Frustrated by this unwanted attention, Ricky Watters responded, “For who; for what?”

One of the lawyers [an expert in the Mosaic Law] answered Him, “Teacher, by saying this, You insult us too!” 46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well, because you weigh men down with burdens [man-made rules, unreasonable requirements] which are hard to bear, and you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers [to lighten the load], Luke 11:45-46.

Looking back on this event from 20 years ago, at least Ricky was honest.  If Watters caught this pass, the play would have gained minimal yardage.  Thus, Watters felt like it was unnecessary to sell himself out on this play.  Getting injured on a play that didn’t amount to much didn’t make sense to a professional athlete trying to protect his body and his career.  While “for who; for what” is a selfish statement, do you blame him for confessing what was truly on his heart?  This comment is no different from first century Pharisees, self-righteous religious leaders who served as the media of their day, regularly pointing out the mistakes of others.  To make matters worse, these Jewish leaders added man made rules to God’s laws.  Corrupted by power given to them by their followers, Pharisees were like modern day politicians who set laws for their country, yet were exempt from that which they expect others to obey.

Woe to you lawyers, because you have taken away the key to knowledge (scriptural truth). You yourselves did not enter, and you held back those who were entering [by your flawed interpretation of God’s word and your man-made tradition],” Luke 11:52.

As people read the Bible for the first time, they might not say “for who; for what?”  Yet, people will silently think, “what’s the point?”  Others will ponder, “why should I believe in something written almost two thousand years ago?”  This skepticism is natural in a world always challenging and questioning authority.  Immediately following Peter’s public confession that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Jesus reveals an oxymoron about life.  “If you want to save your life, you will lose it.  However, if you are willing to give up your life, you will save it.”  This head scratching statement from Mark 8:35-37 unveils the purpose for life on earth.  The who is the creator of the heavens and the earth.  The what is dedicating your life by making an eternal difference with the life that God has given you.  When you surrender your aspirations by committing to serving Jesus Christ as Lord, the Holy Spirit enables you to see the big picture, eternity in heaven.  This choice is not forced, but my prayer is that souls are rejuvenated by the message of this blog.

by Jay Mankus

Death Knows Where to Find You

The older you get, the presence of death becomes more of a reality.  In the past year, I have lost a cousin, aunt and father in law.  At the last funeral I attended, I received news that my wife’s aunt Rose was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Last week, Rose went home to be with the Lord.  A homecoming in heaven, but a painful reminder of our temporary status on earth.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

According to Solomon, our bodies are on loan from God.  The Hebrew word for Adam is Adamah, symbolic of God forming Adam’s body out of the earth.  The moment death strikes human beings, souls return back to God.  While your body is left to decay beneath the ground, your spirit awaits judgment before spending eternity in heaven or hell.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

The apostle Paul referred to human bodies as a temple.  When the Holy of holies was torn in two during the earthquake immediately following Jesus’ death on a cross, this event set the stage God’s presence to no longer be limited to a physical building.  Rather, Jesus’ resurrection and the Day of Pentecost opened the door for the Holy Spirit to enter your life.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

In the last chapter of the Bible, John has a vision of Jesus in heaven.  Seeing the toll death takes on friends, family and relatives, Jesus promises to provide an eternally environment where they will be no more tears.  Heaven is the final destination where God will make you whole.  Since death knows where to find you, make sure your plans are secured before your time is up, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Where Envy and Resentment Can Lead You

Envy and Resentment are like a notorious WWE Tag Team Wrestling Champion.  Envy begins each bout, distracting opponents by focusing on what others have instead of how God has blessed you.  The moment you fail prey to this tactic, resentment hits you over the head with a chair.  This is immediately followed by a punch to your gut before ending up in a headlock, struggling to break free.  Anyone who fails to come to their senses will be dragged away like a rag doll.  This is how envy and resentment lead people to some of the most vile and wretched places on earth.

Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had turned Jesus over to him because of envy and resentment, Mark 15:9-10.

During the first century, Jesus was despised by the ruling class.  The thought of a carpenter from Nazareth developing a massive spiritual following offended the chief priests, elders and scribes.  When his disciples failed to adhere to Jewish ceremonial laws, this lack of observance opened the door for envy and resentment to consume these religious leaders.  If Jesus’ popularity continued without some sort of intervention, the power of future Pharisees and Sadducees was in jeopardy of being stripped away.  Thus, envy and resentment fueled this elite group to conspire, plot and pressure authorities to crucify Jesus.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice, Ephesians 4:31.

When the apostle Paul turned his back on Judaism to follow Jesus Christ, he began to experience pushback from envy and resentment.  Human nature feeds off of the acts of the sinful nature, thriving on venting frustrations as well as unleashing your anger on others.  Yet, if this run away train of emotions possesses you, exhibit A features Cain who killed his brother due to jealousy.  Today, America’s ruling establishment is teaming up with the deep state to foil Donald Trump’s presidency.  This resistance has lasted more than a year, crushing souls along the way.  Perhaps its time to take a step back before envy and resentment devours another victim.  May the passages above convict hearts before any further actions are taken.  If not, envy and resentment may lead participants to an undesirable eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Won’t Get There in a Straight Line

As much as families plan for a summer vacation or trips, things rarely go exactly as planned.  If you are driving, accidents, detours or traffic may re-route you in a different direction.  Flying across the country may save time, but unless you are flying direct there is always a chance you might miss your connecting flight.  Meanwhile, some destinations can only be accessed by ferry; missing one boat may throw off your entire schedule.  Thus, it’s important for human beings to learn to become flexible, making the best of an awkward situation.  If not, you may not have the persistence it takes to get you where you want to go in this life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it,” Matthew 7:13.

In 1920, Robert Frost wrote the Road Less Traveled.  This poem seems to transcend time, applicable today just like it was nearly 100 years ago.  This was written shortly after cars were invented, long before the development of America’s Interstate Highways.  Most people were forced to walk wherever they went or take the train if leaving the state.  The 2006 animation film Cars provides a scene with a poignant message.  Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen is talking with Sally, Bonny Hunt.  While driving on a scenic road Sally says “people used to go for a drive to have a good time.  Now, people drive to save time, bypassing scenic destinations.”  When you rush from point A to point B in life, you often don’t enjoy everything in between.

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Matthew 7:14.

Like Frost’s poem, Jesus compares life to two different roads.  The first is similar to a super highway filled with attractive advertisements, adult entertainment and various rest stops along the way.  The second is less flashy, filled with overgrown brush, unpaved and vacant.   One is full of distractions, grabbing the attention of anyone who is ADHD.  The other is less appealing, laid back and quiet.  If you were talking about which destination, hotel or restaurant to choose,  I want the one which is cool, hip and thriving.  Upon further review, Jesus is talking about eternity, not a route to work.  Therefore, I’d rather get to heaven in a round about way than missing the exit completely.  Don’t worry if your life is currently going no where or stuck in neutral.  Rather, hold on to hope because no one get’s to heaven in a straight line.

by Jay Mankus

When People Expect More From God

Human nature has a way of making people feel more important than they actually are.  Whether you are talking about self-confidence, egos or pride, these traits can blind you from reality.  While Facebook uses terms like status as a way to express yourself, Jesus relied on stories to insure that first century citizens did not misconstrue God’s nature.

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius,” Matthew 20:9-10.

In the parable of the Workers in the Field, Jesus reveals a reality about heaven.  Just because you have been a faithful follower for months, years or decades does not mean your reward will be greater than those who came to faith later in life.  Rather, eternal life is what God promises to those who trust in the Lord.  Sure, the Bible does mention crowns bestowed upon those who faithfully serve God while on earth, but this should be like icing on a cake.

When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day,’ Matthew 20:11-12.

Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of equating earthly terms with eternity.  Thus, individuals are unable to comprehend the true nature of God.  Subsequently, people grumble like the passage above, disappointed when their expectations for God are no met.  Several of the thirty plus parables recorded in the Bible were spoken to realign human misconceptions with an accurate perception of heaven.  The next time you expect more from God, take some time to read the parables of Jesus so you won’t set yourself up for disappointment in the future.

by Jay Mankus

When You Lose the Battle with Death

When you are young, birthday, graduation and wedding invitations are commonly received in the mail or online.  A few years later these invites still come, but they are for baby showers, baptisms and high school or college reunions.  Yet, as age catches up with you, these pleasant celebrations are replaced by the grim reality of life, death.  Although you may outlive family, friends and relatives, eventually even you too will lose the battle with death.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

If you take the words of Genesis literally, prior to original sin, God designed mankind to live forever.  However, after sin entered the world, the curse of death was slowly introduced.  Abel was the first human being to die and laid to rest in the ground.  In the passage above, King Solomon eludes to the fate of every human being.  Early in his radio career, Rush Limbaugh used the saying, talent on loan from God.  Despite how infallible you may feel, life is a gift from God that will one day come to an end.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

The context of this blog comes in the midst of tragedy as my wife and children wait helplessly near the bedside of her dying father due to a serious car accident last Thursday night.  Although Jim is still alive as I write, time is not on his side.  Thus, as sorrow and tears fill those who love Jim Wagner, you have to look toward eternity for comfort.  Like the criminal on the cross, it’s never too late to inherit eternal life.  If you are not sure of your own eternal fate, pray the words of 1 John 5:13 so that you can have assurance when you lose your own battle with death.

by Jay Mankus

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