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Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Understanding Evil

As someone who has grown to love history, you can likely predict what will happen in the future based upon previous events.  Although past civilizations may have possessed good intentions, the temptation for control, fame and power has a way to side track the most disciplined individuals.  Subsequently, enticement opens the door for evil to corrupt formerly innocent souls.  This shocking reality is where understanding evil begins.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time, Genesis 6:5.

In the years leading up to the biblical flood, a spirit of wickedness spread throughout the earth.  While specific acts aren’t mentioned, murder, violence and war are assumed based upon the accounts within Genesis 4.  As human beings gave into every kind of inclinations, cravings, desires and feelings, hearts became set on evil.  Without any voice of truth holding people accountable, humanism was conceived by doing what’s right in your own eyes.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Today, a similar culture exists where absolutes are considered old-fashioned, stale and not worth the hassle to follow.  When rules become lax in any society, integrity, morality and values tend to decline.  If this trend continues for years or decades, you can easily recognize this in day to day interactions.  This environment allows evil to enter souls through compromise.  When confronted by an authority figure, evil is often discarded by justifying and rationalizing behavior.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

When it comes to explaining the New York City terrorist attack with a dump truck, some are inspired by extreme religious beliefs.  Mass shootings like in Las Vegas and the small church outside of San Antonio, Texas typically reveal some sort of troubled past.  Like a fuse waiting to go off, evil takes over at some point, paralyzing the human conscience.  This sets the stage for disaster.  Until conviction, truth and revival return, evil will continue to reign throughout segments of society.  Only when souls ask God to return can evil be defeated.  May the presence of evil today inspire individuals to open their hearts to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Heart That Listens

There is a saying, like father like son.  While children do inherit certain traits from their parents, this doesn’t guarantee success.  According to the prophet Samuel, David possessed a special heart which craved to do the things of God.  Thus, to follow the Lord requires the ability to listen to a heart which is in tune with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

While this sounds good in concept, David was a horrible father, setting a bad example and unable to control his own children according to 2 Samuel.  Perhaps, this might explain the actions of his son Solomon.  Early on, Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord, seeking wisdom rather than fame.  The Hebrew word found in 1 Kings 3:9 refers to a listening heart.  Thus, Solomon was blessed beyond measure, positioned for greatness.

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:9

Unfortunately, seeing isn’t always believing.  Subsequently, even if you know the right thing to do in God’s eye’s doesn’t mean you will follow through to honor God.  Some where along the way, Solomon was sidetracked, succumbing to the peer pressure of ungodly wives.  Essentially, Solomon began to co-worship the Lord along with the gods of the Middle East.  In view of this disappointing witness, may God draw you closer to Him so that you will receive a heart that listens, trusts and obeys.

by Jay Mankus

From Songs of Praise and Promises to Doubt

One of my favorite Vince Lombardi’s quote is”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  However, if Vince’s team, the Green Bay Packers, did not respond to the vision he cast, Super Bowls would have been lost and his fame erased from history.  In a flash, when success is not achieved, songs of praise and promises often turn toward doubt and in football cries for FIRE the coach escalate.

At the pinnacle of the Egyptian Empire, a new king forget what Joseph had done to save their citizens from 7 years of famine, Exodus 1:8-10.  Thus, 400 years of slavery ensued.  Once finally freed, the Jews witnessed of one the greatest miracles ever recorded, Psalm 106:9-11.  A spontaneous celebration of singing praises to God followed, inspiring a new devout belief.  Nonetheless, as time widdled away, promises of faith faded from the memories of those who saw the Red Sea part in two.
Not much has changed since the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  People still experience a roller coaster of emotions, drawing near to God, then falling away.  Perhaps, there is a lesson from the past, one which involves clinging to the promises of God.   Despite what you may endure, fight through or see, God’s faithfulness never ceases, Psalm 106:8.  Since the Lord does not let go, press on to sing songs of praise like the apostle Paul in Acts 16:26, until the power of the Holy Spirit breaks through any walls of doubt that remain.
by Jay Mankus

Leave in Haste… Or You Might Become Deceased

On Monday, August 11th, 2014, America lost one of its icons in Hollywood.  Whether it was playing Mrs. Doubtfire, Mr. Keating in Dead Poets Society or a psychologist in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a star brighter than life.  However, deep inside his soul, riches, fame and fortune couldn’t replace a heart of depression that only Christ can fill.  Subsequently, this talented actor took his own life, unable to leave in the haste sinful thoughts.

Moses makes an interesting observation in Psalm 90:8-9.  Apparently, God uses supernatural measures to bring secret sins into the light.  Whether you’re a leader of a nation like Moses, head of your household or superstar such as Robin Williams, the truth about your bad habits, flaws and weaknesses will rise to the surface.  Don’t wait to be found out, Psalm 90:9.  Rather, leave your sinful desires in haste, James 4:7 or groans of regret will keep you in the dark on the verge of death.

I won’t speculate on why Robin Williams committed suicide, but I do know countless individuals have moments where death is entertained as a viable option.  Unfortunately, sin has a way of corrupting one’s mind, polluting a person’s rationale thinking.  If you stay in this mental state too late, the pawns of the Devil will steal any joy that remains, kill hope and make self-destruction seem like a good idea.  Fight back these urges now, leave in haste or you too might become deceased.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Ride Forth in Victory

Like the classic Queen song, We are the Champions, the thrill of victory is much sweeter than dealing with loss.  During my first season of coaching high school golf, I started 4-0 and finished 0-6.  Eight years later I saw an 8-1 team on the verge of making states, collapse down the stretch, going 1-5-1 missing states by a few percentage points.  While achieving victory on earth varies from person to person, you can ride forth in victory with confidence spiritually, 1 John 5:13.

According to the sons of Korah, 3 things as essential to secure victory, Psalm 45:4.

1. Truth

When Jesus spoke to a group of Jews during his last year on earth, he claimed that holding to his teaching leads to spiritual insight, John 8:31.  Jesus boldly proclaimed, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32.

2. Humility

The wisest man beside Jesus to walk the face of the earth is Solomon based upon rulings like 1 Kings 3:16-28.  After being blessed with fame, riches and power, Solomon learned the dangers of pride, Proverbs 11:2.  His advice to cope with this inclination is to fear the Lord, humbling yourself until honor is bestowed, Proverbs 15:33.

3. Righteousness

One of the most famous church hymns was inspired by Jesus’ sermon on the mount, Seek Ye First.  In the segment of his message on proper and improper motives, Jesus introduces the secret to eliminating worry.  When you come to the point in your life where you seek first God’s kingdom and righteous, the Lord promises to provide for all of your emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

May this teaching give you a blue print to ride forth in victory.  Let us know how your journey toward victory is going.

by Jay Mankus

In Your Own Backyard

The older adults tend to get, the more complex they make life.  In the early years of imaginations, dreaming of becoming a doctor, firefighter and inventor, kids were encouraged to think big.  Sure, any goal requires discipline and hard work, but vision provides a sense of direction for individuals to aim or shoot for in life.  This is where I began my journey toward success.

These images never included my own back yard, community or neighborhood.  This was too narrow and small, lacking a grand design.  Thus, I pursued opportunities across state lines, throughout the nation and for a few weeks, to Canada to attempt to play professional golf.  Through the ups and downs and the peaks and valleys, God has brought me full circle to my own back yard to begin 2014.

In the PAX television series Hope Island, Cameron Daddo played a pastor of a small church, running away from a dark past and a father he could never please.  In the season finale, Cameron’s father, a famous evangelist similar to Billy Graham, invites him to join the ministry team and one day take over the ministry.  Excited by the offer, Daddo is torn between leaving a legacy or serving his congregation in his own backyard.  His answer is found in the attached you tube.

As for me, long gone are the days of becoming famous or attaining national recognition.  Rather, I feel called by the Holy Spirit to be a loving husband, a little league coach in Newark and support my children in their endeavors.  This reality may not come close to the fame encountered during countless goal setting sessions, yet for 2014 its where I need to be.  While students will be touched to feed starving people in 3rd world nations, there are plenty of places to start today to help others in your own backyard.

by Jay Mankus

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