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Far Worse Than I First Thought

There are periods in life which seem innocent at first.  Initial symptoms are brushed aside as merely a byproduct of age.  Yet, if you continue to ignore the obvious, sooner or later conditions will become far worse than you ever imagined.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, Job 31:7.

Fifteen years ago my eyes began to hurt trying to work full time while attempting to complete my masters.  The amount of reading was too much strain on my eyes resulting in arthritis of the eye.  In the years that have followed, some of my goals were never fulfilled due to this condition.  Now I am just thankful for the ability to see.

“If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,” Job 31:16.

What is most troubling to me is my current spiritual condition.  Due to a lack of accountability and a consistent church home, may faith has decayed.  The other night a wave of conviction revealed to me how far I have wandered off course.  The passages above serve as a standard to see if your faith is in action or dead.  Sometimes the truth hurts, far worse than I first thought.  When days of conviction come, may the Lord’s grace and mercy fall on those confess their sins.

by Jay Mankus

 

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A Cure to the Second Glance

Every month I receive a hundred or so comments on posted blogs.  The one which has received the most feed back is the Second Glance.  Inspired by the Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade, this devotion eludes to the temptation to go beyond appreciating beauty toward lust.  While reading the book of Job today, I believe I have stumbled upon a cure to the Second Glance.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman,” Job 31:1.

In the midst of struggling to comprehend God’s hand in the death of his children and a deteriorating body, Job changes his attention toward devotion to his wife.  As part of a wedding vow or personal commitment to his spouse, Job promises to avoid taking a second glance at other women.  Although this may seem old fashion, I’m sure this decision prevented another woman from interfering with his marriage.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted, Job 31:7-8.

Depending upon your personality, spheres of influence and upbringing, everyone has a different way of dealing with situations.  Free spirits are vulnerable to becoming loose canons, expressing whatever comes to their minds.  Meanwhile the disciplined are often rigid, strict and practice teetotalism, zealous in the enforcement of rules.  Most people fall somewhere in between, a hybrid of sorts.  Yet, in the end, it comes down to a will to love.  The passage above details the passion necessary to fight the urge to take another peek.  If you are truly set on overcoming lust, add accountability, Bible Study and a will to love to your daily prayers and routine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Your Soul is Weary

As the newness of 2015 wears off, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it won’t be long until you experience a tired and weary soul.  Whether its the cold and rainy weather on the East Coast or a lack of sunlight to brighten my day, it took less than a week for me to reach this state.  Looking for a boost of energy, the Psalmist provides a message of hope.

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. – Psalm 119:28

The secret to overcoming this condition begins with searching for answers in the right place.  Although advisers, counselors and friends may offer meaningful advice, there is one book that is living and active, Hebrews 4:12.  When opened, the Bible possesses spiritual natural power to replace sorrow with faith, Romans 10:17.  The more individuals begin to listen, mediate and study principles of truth inside, Joshua 1:8, souls become revitalized.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. – Romans 10:17

In his farewell address as Israel’s leader, Moses simplifies the choices you have when you become weary in Deuteronomy 30:15.  You can either spend your time on earth doing things that invigorate your life or focus on the negative, resulting in a slow death to your soul.  Though you may be tempted by bitterness to complain, be wise in your response to suffering, 1 Peter 3:17-18.  May God’s promises in the Bible lift you up whenever you face a tired and weary soul.

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. – Psalm 119:36-37

by Jay Mankus

A Not So Happy Thanksgiving

For most of my days, I’ve lived a sheltered life.  However, my first job after graduating from college brought me to inner city Wilmington, Delaware as a social worker.  My eyes were opened to the homeless, poor and unfortunate.  This experience led me to serve the needy during my first Thanksgiving in Chicago, going to a homeless shelter near Cabrini Green, one of the roughest projects in Chicago.  I didn’t see any television cameras or professional football players handing out free turkeys, what I observed was a not so Happy Thanksgiving.

Everyone should get of their comfort zones once in a while to see what its like on the other side.  I’m not talking about Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places.  Rather, I think its healthy to see how little other people have so that you may begin to appreciate all the things you have accumulated in life.  Fashion, shopping and temporary pleasures blind most individuals to what’s really important: family, faith and fellowship.  Without this type of perspective, a spoiled generation will continue to whine, “what’s in it for me,” while the less fortunate have another not so Happy Thanksgiving.

Clothes, food and a place to call home is foreign to some individuals.  Though many may receive a Turkey to cook, how long will the leftovers last?  Will some have to wait til Christmas before the next act of generosity finds these helpless souls?  Therefore, as you watch the parades, gather for a feast and watch some football for dessert, don’t limit your giving to a couple of times per year.  Rather, take a look around and see who you can help so that a not so Happy Thanksgiving can turn into a very Merry Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

I Can’t Wait Another Day to Act

Whether you’re brushing your teeth, combing your hair or shaving, mirrors reflect the grim reality of physical features.  Every minor imperfection is magnified, leaving a spirit of disappointment hovering over hearts, minds and souls who have let their bodies go.  As I looked at my expanding waist line the other night, one thought reverberated in my head, “I can’t wait another day to act!”

Gone are the days of high metabolisms as bad eating habits show up quickly.  In the meantime, the freshman 15 has led to the married 25, resulting in the lazy 50.  When your eyes are opened to a crisis of weight, you have 3 options: accept it, continue in a state of deny or be motivated to make drastic changes.  As for me, I’m somewhere between accepting and action, praying for the discipline for success.

Luke 14L28 suggests that everyone should consider the cost before making any decision.  Whether you’re contemplating a career change, diet or move, you have to weigh the pros and cons.  Although I haven’t developed a concrete plan, exercise and giving up soda is a good place to start.  Regardless of the obstacle standing in your way, don’t wait another day or else the additional calories may be too much to overcome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Purging of Fools

According to Webster, a fool demonstrates imprudence, silly behavior and unwise acts.  Today, it doesn’t take much effort to recognize foolishness in our culture.  Idiots, imbeciles and morons are making millions as reality TV stars.  Whether its the annoying person on Survivor, the American Idol contestant who can’t sing a lick or drunks on Moonshiners, some where along the way being foolish is now cool, especially if you can amuse others with laughter.

If there was an uncensored version of the Bible, I’m sure Moses muttered numerous things under his breath as he tried to lead a nation of fools into God’s promised land.  As Moses and Joshua listened to God for 40 days, providing guidelines for life, Aaron was holding down the fort as the high priest of Israel until they returned.  Like the blind leading the blind, Aaron panicked, failed to demonstrate leadership and broke the first 2 commandments by creating a golden calf in Exodus 32.  While most pastors stop their sermons here, I’ve never heard anyone speak of the purging of fools.

When the principle enters a classroom unannounced, students usually settle down, putting on their best behavior to avoid getting in trouble.  Unfortunately, when Moses rolled back into camp in Exodus 32:25-28, thousands of Israelites ignored Moses’ entrance, partying like it was 1999.  Like a coach or teacher trying to see who’s paying attention in class, Moses makes a challenge that is answered by the Levites, the priestly tribe, seemingly the only group disturbed by Israel’s reckless behavior.  Subsequently, God purged Israel of 3000 fools, who were not willing to obey or respect God’s commands.

In the New Testament, we find a kinder, gentler God, who offers His grace to those who believe in Jesus, Ephesians 2:4-8.  However, not much has changed since the days of Moses as millions are still living for the day, partying each weekend and are redefining foolishness with acts that  would make Sodom and Gomorrah blush.  As a circus of fools spread throughout America and across the world, may God have mercy, open the eyes of the spiritually blind and transform their lives before foolish acts result in death and destruction.

by Jay Mankus

Spirit Led; Not Technology Driven

If any of you are a parent or grand parent, perhaps you shake your head as I do watching teens stare at their game systems and cell phones instead of engage in an actual conversation.  Beside sending your kids outside to play, I’m afraid this generation is being led by the spirit of technology.  Sure, the technology misfits like me need their oldest to get most gadgets around the house to work, but isn’t there something parents can do to develop healthy communication skills?

Before ascending to heaven, Acts 1:9-11, Jesus promised to send a counselor to guide people through life.  While Pentecostals often make the mistake of limiting the Spirit of God to spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, the apostles provide clues to become driven by the Holy Spirit.  Philip kept his head up after hearing the Holy Spirit’s still small voice in Acts 8:29, eventually leading an Egyptian to faith in Christ.  Meanwhile, Paul sensed in his heart to avoid visiting Asia on a missionary journey as God’s Spirit kept him from entering their cities, Acts 16:7.

One of the greatest clues left behind is found in Galatians 5.  Inside each human being, there is a war between good and evil as the acts of the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21 battle fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  As modern technology drives souls to feed their fleshly desires, an invisible forces seeks to intervene, urging individuals to stay on the course of faith.  The key to overcoming today’s technology driven culture is found in Galatians 5:25.  By tuning into God, with eyes and ears alert and open, the apostle Paul suggests you can keep in step with the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, if you emulate this spiritual practice, you will provide a blue print for loved ones to become Spirit led, not technology driven.

by Jay Mankus

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