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A Critical Time for Grace

One of the earliest references to someone being “canceled” occurred on a VH1 Reality show back in 2014. One of the cast members of Love and Hip Hop: New York kick started what Americans now refer to as Cancel Culture. Cisco Rosado used the expression “you’re cancelled” to his girl friend Diamond Strawberry at the time. In the 7 years that have followed, beliefs, opinions and political ideologies are under attack, outed by social media daily.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

The Cancel Culture has become like a feeding frenzy, looking for a reason to eliminate and silence anyone who is unwilling to conform to a secular worldview. As active members of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter diligently search for offensive posts and words, these miserable individuals will stop at nothing to get their way. These control freaks don’t appear to be letting up as any mistake, slip up or verbal misstep is magnified daily.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

Subsequently, this is a critical time for grace. Rather than continue down this road of condemnation and finger pointing, forgiveness must find to a way to restore sanity. As the Cancel Culture begins to ruin, smear and take down their own, perhaps a spirit of common sense is emerging. Nonetheless, you can’t sustain peace until God’s grace provides second chances to change for the better. May this blog remind the masses of God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

by Jay Mankus

The Dawn of a Social Media Blackout

Beginning in the 1970’s, the Plato System was developed at the University of Illinois.  Plato’s message application forum Talkomatic introduced the first on-line chat room.  The concept of Usenet was conceived in 1979 and established by 1980 as a joint venture between Duke and North Carolina University.  As operating systems such as Mac OS and Windows emerged in the 1980’s, online Bulletin Board Systems and Internet Relay Chats grew in popularity.  This technology conceived social media platforms like My Space and Facebook in the 1990’s.  AOL launched instant messaging inspiring the film You’ve Got Mail in 1998.  Meanwhile, Windows Live Messenger set the stage for blogging, LinkedIn and Twitter.  When you consider modern search engines like Google, social media has become a powerful form of communication.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, 2 Timothy 4:3.

Unfortunately, the last decade has revealed the ugly side of this new domain.  Since the 2016 presidential election, cyber bullying, fake news and verbal assaults are a daily occurrence.  Meanwhile, Christians, conservatives and historians are being silenced by several social media moguls.  Sites are being demonetized, posts have been removed and videos have been banned without any logical explanation.  Every week stories continue to spread about cyber police silencing content that offends atheists, liberals and progressives.  Diamond and Silk recently accused Facebook of blocking 1.3 million followers from receiving their newsletter.  Meanwhile, Twitter has been exposed for using algorithms to prop up liberal viewership while taking away followers from accounts deemed too conservative.  How long will this censorship be allowed to continue as a social media blackout?

And will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable], 2 Timothy 4:4.

As I look to the Bible for answers to my concerns, there are one of two possible explanations.  First, this is merely a sign of end times, that Jesus’ second coming in the form of the rapture is drawing near.  The book of 2 Timothy, chapter 3 provides a detailed list of what to expect prior to Jesus’ return.  The apostle Paul eludes to a time when arrogance, disobedience and narcissism influences the culture.  The more I read 2 Timothy 3, the more plausible this theory become.  Yet, current social media conditions can be directly tied to post-modernism.  This worldview is highlighted by a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies.  When post-modernism is embraced, the concept of moral absolutes disappear.  Thus, as social media sites appoint monitors to examine the content of individual domains, judgments are made based upon worldviews held.  As Theism is being replaced by secular humanism and post-modernism, Christians need to do a better job of explaining their beliefs.  Unless conservatives start engaging other worldviews with biblical principles, this targeted social media blackout will continue until hearts and minds are persuaded by love.

by Jay Mankus

More Than A Fool

Words such as dope, idiot and nincompoop are synonymous with fool.  However, the actual term used by King Solomon in Proverbs relates to modern culture.  The original text contains the word moron which describes someone who is more than a fool.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion, Proverbs 18:2.

If you spend time following social media, twitter is full individuals who express their opinion regardless of how outlandish it might be.  Before the days of blogging, Facebook and tweeting, parents taught children to think before you speak.  Unfortunately, some where along the way this practical life principle has been lost or discarded.

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered, Proverbs 28:26.

Foolishness could be chalked up to immaturity, some sort of phase in life or rebellion.  Everyone can look back on a foolish act from their past to say,”I can’t believe I did that.”  Yet the key to purging foolish behavior from your life begins with your mind.  Stubbornness  stunts one’s ability to change.  Therefore, until you make a conscious effort walk in wisdom individuals will continue to be more than a fool.

by Jay Mankus

Opening Your Eyes to the Suffering of Friends

When I was younger, I was naive.  This immaturity lead me to become blind, oblivious to the needs of my friends.  Carl who eventually became my best friend in high school often punched me in the shoulder, shouting out “punch buggy” yellow or blue.  Behind this aggression was a boy crying out for help as he silently watched cancer take his mother’s life.  I could have been there for him, providing a shoulder to lean on.  Yet, I was consumed by my own life.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him, Job 2:11.

News of the tragedy that struck Job spread to his friends and neighbors.  Since no funerals are referenced, these three men dropped what they were doing to comfort Job.  However, as they approached, the sight of Job’s condition was overwhelming.  This brought out raw emotions, crying with their friend.  Based upon the words used by Job, none of these friends could come to terms with what happened, remaining silent for a week.  Sometimes a hug is more powerful than words.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was, Job 2:12-13.

In this day and age, its easy to connect or reach out to friends using social media.  Since my emergency eye surgery last November, I posted on Facebook a need for prayers a couple of times.  I’ve been amazed and touched by the outpouring of support that I have received.  In the moments immediately following requests for prayers, I have felt the healing power of your prayers.  This experience has inspired me to open my eyes to the suffering of friends.  May this blog inspire you to reach a helping hand like the friends of Job in chapter 2.

by Jay Mankus

I’m All Boycotted Out

I read a Facebook post last week blasting Vice-President Mike Pence’s tie breaking vote to nominate Betsy Devos as the next Secretary of Education.  Moments later a heard a Fox News host discuss a movement to boycott Nordstrom’s after they dropped the Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.  While listening to Talk Radio on my way to lunch, I heard soundbites of Democratic plans to continue to fight, obstruct and take president Donald Trump to court.  After less than a month of America’s 45th president, I’m all boycotted out.

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed, Romans 13:6-7.

I’ve heard several thousand sermons over the years, but one applies to this topic.  Early on in the 1990’s, Kmart did something to outrage Christians.  I don’t recall what it was, yet there were several members of Cornerstone Church pressuring Pastor Paul to get behind a movement to boycott Kmart.  During a private conversation, Paul had a Solomon like moment, making a brilliant point.  “How can I lead this congregation and look a mother in the eyes who just happens to work at Kmart?  It’s not her fault.  Sometimes you have to stay out of the fray and let the situation please itself out.”

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Matthew 22:17-21.

Jesus had a similar discussion when religious leaders accused him of being against taxes.  Using this topic as a teachable moment, Jesus makes an important distinction between God and the government.  This simplistic reply silences Jesus’ political critics.  Perhaps, the leaders of this country need to apply this same principle today.  Sure, disagreements lead to gridlock.  Nonetheless, give to God what is God’s and give to the government what is due.  While boycotts might make some people feel good, the love of Christ calls individuals to turn the other cheek.  May the Holy Spirit soften hardened hearts and restore a sense of unity.

by Jay Mankus

 

It Use To Be Called A Lie

In the past few months, a new term has evolved from social media, fake news.  Whether its Facebook, Twitter or writers failing to confirm the accuracy of a story, false news is posted daily.  Before the truth comes out, many are believing and embracing that which is a lie.

Test all things; hold fast what is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

On November 14th, 2016, Tucker Carlson debuted in the 7PM time slot on the Fox News Network.  For years I tuned out cable news due to hosts allowing guests to say anything without holding them responsible.  To my surprise, Tucker Carlson is making lying political analysts squirm.  Words have consequences and fake news is finally be exposed as a lie.

Abstain from every form of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22.

Since the middle of the first century, not much has changed.  Despite good intentions, exaggerations, fabrications and interesting tales comes out of the lips of sinners.  In view of this reality, its essential to test everything to you hear and read.  If you don’t, you may be the next victim of fake news, which use to be called a lie.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Heart of this Matter

Troubled souls watch in horror following the third act of terrorism in less than two weeks.  After the shock wears off, people are looking for answers, searching for the heart of this matter.  While the facts of the most recent ambush of police officers in Louisiana is unclear, there elements shine some light upon the darkness behind these evil acts.

1. Opinions have been elevated to truth status.

Whether you watch cable news, follow social media or read secular publications, public opinions go viral weekly.  Cable news uses talking points to define the narrative, filtering out the context by over-emphasizing what they want the low information voter to believe.  Facebook, Snap Chat and Twitter elicit emotions, creating an environment for anger, hatred and negativity to have a voice.  Meanwhile, a few elite members of the media daily spoon feed the American public, repeating ideologies, philosophies and worldviews until their opinions become what is good, right and true.

2. Political Correctness has replaced the Bible as genuine absolutes.

During my last year as a high school Bible teacher, our administration felt it was necessary to bring in a professional for an inservice day on sensitivity training.  As the black student population grew, a series of seminars was designed to equip teachers with a better understanding of the African American community.  Unfortunately, most of the time was spent regurgitating liberal beliefs void of any biblical principles.  When public schools kicked the Bible, prayer and God out of education in the 1960’s, the measuring stick for absolutes were eliminated.  More than fifty years later political correctness has now become the gospel of the twenty first century.

3. You can’t force people to act, believe or change.

One of the things I learned during my months in a youth ministry trade school is that you can’t change someone’s attitude.  However, once an individual takes ownership and responsibility for their actions, they can change themselves.  If God doesn’t force people to believe in Him, creating free will, why is the world trying to convince those who differ from their worldview to become open minded?  According to Jesus in John 16, the Holy Spirit is the only source that provides permanent change.  Discipline, good intentions and hard work are productive, but not eternal.  Therefore, if you want to start making this world a better place, begin with the heart of this matter by looking at the man, woman or child in the mirror.

by Jay Mankus

 

Balancing Faith With Reality

My weekly routine includes time with a former co-worker reflecting on our years in Christian education.  While each discussion varies, one topic usually comes to the forefront, what impact did we have on our former students?  Did the lessons taught inspire faith or has the reality of a lost world caused souls to back slide?  Unfortunately, news of partying in college, suicides and students having kids out of wedlock has taken the wind out of our sails.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

Out of sight out of mind is a common occurrence for Christians who leave the friendly confines of biblical education for a secular environment.  Perhaps, the foundations I once thought were firm was merely a mirage.  Then again, maybe I was naive, trying to make everyone feel good about life instead of challenging individuals to take a stand.  Time will sift the wheat from the chaff, yet as a teacher turned writer, I still struggle with balancing faith with reality.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly, Romans 5:6.

Since I joined Facebook 3 years ago, I’ve had former students and youth de-friend me based upon words in this blog.  At times, I may be perceived as over the top, out there or out of touch with reality.  Nonetheless, as I study the book of Acts, I am reminded of the only force on this planet which can still transform souls.  Sure, there are many things in the Bible that don’t make sense, but without the power of the Holy Spirit Peter, James and John would have returned to their fishing boats and the message of Jesus would have disappeared.  Therefore, as I continue to learn how to balance faith with reality, I cling to the promises in the Bible of an abundant life, where victory is not smothered by defeat.

by Jay Mankus

 

Finding and Losing Friends

For any child, the first day of school can be overwhelming.  Thoughts of “will I know anyone, will they like me and will there be someone I can relate to” can haunt the quiet and shy.  Beside hoping to have good teachers, most kids just want to know will I find, keep or lose friends this year?

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Looking back on my own life, I have been blessed on finding friends, yet cursed by losing friends, often through moves.  I found my first friend while playing baseball at age six only to lose him a year later following my dad’s transfer to Delaware.  This pattern seemed to repeat itself, drawing close to several neighbors before another relocation to Cleveland broke my heart once again.  After graduating college, I lived in 6 states and 6 months, finding and losing friends to distance.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel, Proverbs 27:9.

Today, technology allows individuals to rekindle friendships from the past.  Whether its Facebook, Skype or texting, its nice to know that people you’ve lost touch with still care.  However, its not the same as talking on the phone or seeing someone face to face.  Regardless of who you are or what you do, finding and losing friends is a way of life.  Nonetheless, my prayer for those whom I hold dear is that one day we will be reunited forever in heaven, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

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