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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

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Living in First Class for a Day

As a son of an immigrant to this country, I understand the concept of hard work.  Although I never saw my dad much as a kid, I knew he was trying to provide a better life for our family.  Subsequently, I didn’t become obsessed with fashion or style in my teenage years.  Rather, I learned to appreciate what I had despite being jealous at times by peers who flashed their wealth.

However, I haven’t been excluded from certain luxuries in life.  Every so often, I have been privileged to be a guest of first class.  When the opportunity presents itself, I’ve been blessed by attending the Stanley Cups Finals, Monday Night Football games and double header of a Cleveland Indians in a Luxury Suite.  While each experience has special memories, nothing compares to this past weekend’s NASCAR Race at the Monster Mile.

My wife’s company was given Infield Passes for Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover Downs.  These tickets included a Meet and Greet with Ryan Newman, tour of the garage area and access to the Quick and Loans Hospitality RV all day long.  With my kids tagging alone, my family was spoiled, living in first class for a day.  This event gives me a new appreciation for NASCAR as well as everything that goes on behind the scenes at a race.  Whenever you have a special invite in the future, seize the moment and thank God for the special chances you get to live in first class for a day.

by Jay Mankus

Living Without God

Upon rolling out of bed, many Americans turn to the weather channel to  help answer the question, “what should I wear today?”  After a relaxing bath or shower, breakfast is on your mind before you hustle out the door.  Perhaps, you’ll have a few minutes to reply to emails, catch up on Facebook or text a friend.  Nonetheless, a morning without God often leads to days, weeks or months alone and on your own.

C.S. Lewis illustrates this truth in Mere Christianity through a chapter entitled “We Have Cause to Be Uneasy.”  Essentially, the longer you go off course, Matthew 7:13-14, without making the Lord a priority, the harder it is to return.  Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Traveled,” symbolizes the fork in the road of life.  While those living without God chose instant gratification, pleasure and sinful delights; those who take the other path are ridiculed, scrutinized and rejected by social media.  Despite the initial pain, a guiding light leads the way, Galatians 5:25, greater than the Force in Star Wars.

Today, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize living without God has become a societal trend.  If you listen to the words of an average conversations, absorb the lyrics of blaring music passing by or see the lack of joy in people’s faces, God is no where to be found.  Its no wonder that desperate souls keep looking for love in all the wrong places, void of progress and peace.  I’m not sure what people are waiting for, yet God has his perfect timing, Ecclesiastes 3.  In these last days, may prodigal sons and daughters come home soon before its too late to return to the living God.

by Jay Mankus

Hyperreality

Candy bars that can dance, roller coasters that make you feel like you can fly and water rides that defy the laws of gravity.  Just another day of living in America’s hyperreality.  A term used by post-modern philosophy, hyperreality hinders one’s ability from distinguishing reality from that which is manufactured.  Behind the surface of fame, glory and riches, lies empty hearts, void of true fulfillment and purpose in life.

Hyperreality has turned Martin Luther King Junior’s I Have a Dream message upside down.  Instead of focusing on the character of someone’s heart, society has turned their attention toward dress, fashion and image.  The Material Girl can say whatever she wants as long as her physical appearance keeps up with the Joneses.  Reality television adds to this delusion as film edits, political motives and the great puppet master pulls the strings to falsify what you see.  Once again, behind the scenes, people aren’t who they appear to be on the big screen.

Peter began to see hyperreality in his day based upon comments made in 1 Peter 2:11-12.  His solution recognizes the obvious, you can’t control the world, but you can control how you respond.  Thus, the more one is able to follow the words of Joshua 1:8 and Colossians 3:1-3, the greater one’s ability is to detect truth from fiction.  Don’t be deceived by hyperreality.  Rather, be transformed by the Word of God, Romans 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

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