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Hooked, Lined and Sinking

Whenever anyone has made up their mind to do something, whether good or bad, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them from acting out what has been conceived within their mind. Jesus’ earthly brother, son of Mary and Joseph, compares this to a hungry fish. While some fish are smarter than others, a particular bait is too enticing to resist. From a spiritual standpoint, this is called hooked, lined, and sinking further and further away from a sound mind.

But before they lay down, the men of the city of Sodom, both young and old, all the men from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know (be intimate with) them, Genesis 19:4-5.

As someone who has lived in the city and country, every area possesses what locals refer to as relatively safe and unsafe places. As a new resident to South Carolina, I may have ventured into danger without knowing about it. Nonetheless I try to stay alert so I don’t wander into trouble. Unfortunately sin clouds the minds of the addicted and those struggling with bad habits. Anyone who falls under the influence of temptation will likely emulate the enticed fish in the passage below.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

While Lot lived in a he city of Sodom, he kept to himself based upon Moses’ description. However as two angels visit Lot, it’s clear that the residents are open about their sexuality. Moses’ words highlight the enticement and lust inside their hearts. When human beings don’t care about changing for the better, it’s like a hooked fish sinking closer and closer toward death. Wake up before it’s too late.

By Jay Mankus

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Only the Beginning

As an aging parent, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to live each new day with the excitement of a child. Before the days of childcare, every summer day for me was an adventure. I spent hundreds of hours exploring the woods that run along Naamans’ Creek. One area is filled with giant boulders, more fitting for a mountain than the start of this small tributary. Some days I went fishing, catching eels and large fish for the dam my father constructed in my backyard. This was only the beginning.

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people and they have [a]all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them, Genesis 11:5-6.

Following the earth’s first and only global flood, this pioneer spirit existed in the days of Nimrod. As Noah’s children went off to the four corners of the world, the earth’s population was rebuilt as new frontiers were discovered. According to Moses, like minded individuals gathered at Babel to construct the largest tower on earth. As the Lord saw the determination in their eyes, this was only the beginning of what mankind could accomplish if united under one common goal.

Let your [a]character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] [b]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor [c]give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [d][I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor [e]let [you] down ([f]relax My hold on you)! [[g]Assuredly not!] So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? – Hebrews 13:5-6

Fearful that the earth would return to the sinful ways in the days of Noah, God sent a Spirit of Confusion upon Babel. This language barrier snapped the momentum the residents of Babel had built. Yet, this all happened for a reason, forcing human beings to spread out to every continent on earth. Acts 1:8 speaks of a spiritual reunion, but only when everyone in Jerusalem, surrounding towns, and every tribe in the world has an opportunity to receive God’s free gift, Romans 6:23. This is only the beginning is a new call today for missionaries trying to fulfill the Great Commission. Seize each day God gives you on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Intoxicated Eyes

I was first introduced to the concept of the second glance by the Casting Crowns song Slow Fade. Eve was the first human being to experience this in Genesis 3:4-6. Jesus’ earthly brother compares this lustful look to a fish sizing up the perfectly set bait in James 1:13-15. However, the disciple whom Jesus loved takes this one step further as eyes become intoxicated by specific temporary pleasures on earth.

Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 17 And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever, 1 John 2:15-17.

If you want a more recent example of intoxicated eyes, check out the attached clip from the Chronicles of Narnia. Unaware of the apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 11:14, the White Witch appears as an angel in disguise to Edmund. Yet, when you have gone an extended period without indulging your fleshly desires, passion takes over as you do the completely opposite of what you know to be right, Romans 7:15.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls then came and spoke to me, saying, Come with me! I will show you the doom (sentence, judgment) of the great harlot (idolatress) who is seated on many waters, [She] with whom the rulers of the earth have joined in prostitution (idolatry) and with the wine of whose immorality (idolatry) the inhabitants of the earth have become intoxicated, Revelation 17:1-2.

The last mention of intoxicated eyes occurs in the Book of Revelation. Building upon the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:18-21, John has a vision of inhabitants of the earth drunk on sexual immorality. John appears to be referring to a demon who he compares to the great harlot. Whatever this being or individual represents, when you let yourself go, drifting away from God, you become vulnerable to intoxicated eyes. May this blog serve as a warning to put to death these desires, Colossians 3:5, before enticement and lust drag you down all over again.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 204: I Believe

Today’s song comes from an alternative rock band from Seattle, Washington. Once a popular group breaks up, you usually have some sort of reunion tour decades later. However, Grammatrain did some of their best work after disbanding in 1998. Eleven years later, Grammatrain released their third album Imperium. Led by singer Pete Stewart, I Believe is one of my favorite songs from this band.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

The attached You Tube video uses images of fishing and a rowboat which makes me think of the time when Jesus approaches his disciples’ boat by walking on the water. Initially, these 12 men thought Jesus was a ghost. Yet, at some point, Peter believed enough to get out of this boat and join Jesus by walking on the water too. However, it’s when you take your eyes off of Jesus when doubt starts to creep in.

by Jay Mankus

Insatiable for Sin

One of the best aspects of the internet is that you don’t have to open up a dictionary every time you come across a word that you’re not familiar with or don’t know. Instead, all you have to do is copy and paste terms like insatiable into your favorite search engine. What I discovered is that insatiable is an appetite or desire that is impossible to satisfy. Peter appears to be referring to an earthly addiction in the passage below. An unquenchable lust that doesn’t stop until you give into what your flesh desires.

They have eyes full of harlotry, insatiable for sin. They beguile and bait and lure away unstable souls. Their hearts are trained in covetousness (lust, greed), [they are] children of a curse [[b]exposed to cursing]! – 2 Peter 2:14

This insatiable thirst appears to be linked to individuals who cherish the world along with the various temporary pleasures that it offers, 1 John 2:15-17. The disciple whom Jesus loved makes a distinction between the lust of the flesh and lust within your eyes. The first aspect of lust craves for sensual gratification like the harlot in the passage above. However, when your eyes become fixated on something that you want, your mind works hand in hand with lust to satisfy insatiable passions.

But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:14-15.

One of Jesus’ earthly brothers details the process that leads up to insatiable actions. James removes God from the equation by using a fishing analogy. The Devil relies on temptation like a fisherman seeking to hook hungry fish. Each day the Devil dangles something in front of you based upon a specific weakness that you possess, 1 Peter 5:8. You may not bite initially, but once the seed for sin has been planted in your mind, enticement, lust, and passions will eventually wear you down. If you’ve come to a point in your life where you’re ready to change, look for the way out of temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

by Jay Mankus

Planting for the Future

A recent Progressive Insurance Ad Campaign uses Dr. Rick to help customers attempt to un-become like their parents. Somewhere in all of our childhoods, parents and or guardians have ingrained within you certain habits. Subsequently, the things your parents did with you like fishing and gardening are passed on to share with your own children. For me, it’s planting my own garden.

He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all, Ecclesiastes 11:4-5.

Since I don’t like as many fruits and vegetables as my parents, I usually limit my garden to basil, peas, peppers, and tomatoes. One year I pre-planted several seeds in a greenhouse kit that I received for Christmas. Unfortunately, one cold spring wind damaged and destroyed everything that I worked on for months. I learned a valuable lesson this night about planting for the future.

In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good, Ecclesiastes 11:6.

Based upon today’s passage, King Solomon understood the highs and lows of gardening. Some years certain plants keep giving over and over again. Yet, when the soil, timing and temperature is off, the time you invested yields absolutely nothing. This spring will be my last garden in Delaware before I move to South Carolina in the summer of 2022. When that day arrives, it will be another learning process as I plant for the future in a warmer climate.

by Jay Mankus

The Catch and Release Approach to Parenting

Catch and release fishing can be traced back to the United Kingdom. As fishermen began to notice that target species were dwindling in heavily fished waters, the government instituted catch and release as a way preserve these fish for future generations. Meanwhile, I recently heard a sermon comparing catch and release to parenting. This analogy was based upon catching your children in acts of disobedience, using discipline to expose this error and release them back into the world.

Thorns and snares are in the way of the obstinate and willful; he who guards himself will be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:5-6.

Sometimes individuals who possess godly wisdom doesn’t translate into becoming a good parent. Such is the case of King Solomon who knew exactly what to do, but struggled when it came to following through. Perhaps, this was a byproduct of Solomon’s weakness for the opposite sex. One wife wasn’t enough for this king. Solomon kept adding women until he accumulated 700 wives and 300 concubines. As his children from each lover continued to pile up, Solomon lost his way as a parent, unable to control all of his children.

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

As my youngest child begins her final year of high school, my wife Leanne and I are close to an empty nest. Over the past 24 years, we’ve each had our fair share of catching and training our two boys and one girl to do what is right in God’s eyes. Through the past two decades, I haven’t always been the greatest role model, especially in my early years as a parent. Yet, I’ve enjoyed this spiritual fishing journey as it draws to an end. As the time ticks away, all you can do is enjoy each day before we release our daughter Lydia into this world.

by Jay Mankus

Seductive Impulses

Seduction is usually associated with persuading someone to have sex. Yet, there are multiple meanings which illustrate what individuals experience as seductive impulses ignite fleshly desires. This persuasion toward disobedience takes away the innocence of children as well as the curious and naive. Just as a cunning serpent planted a lie within Eve’s mind, the longer human beings contemplate bending a rule, seductive impulses intensify, Genesis 3:1-6.

For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses, 2 Timothy 3:5-6.

The context of the passage above is based upon the end of days. Verses 2-4 is a list of actions, behaviors and choices that individuals will pursue prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. In another passage on End Times, Jesus states that the love of many will grow cold, Matthew 24:12. When you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t care anymore, seductive impulses become more attractive as consequences for disobedience are ignored.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

Meanwhile, the earthly brother of Jesus provides one of the best spiritual illustrations on seductive impulses. Temptation is compared to a fishing trip. However, in this analogy Satan is the fisherman and you are the fish. When seductive impulses are dangled in front of you, how will you respond? If Satan knows all of your weaknesses, will you be able to resist lustful passions? Before sin is conceived, look for a way out so that you aren’t the next saint to have a fall from grace, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

by Jay Mankus

Hollow

When my parents moved to Delaware, I developed a sense of adventure by exploring this new state.  A creek in my backyard flowed into a large forest, protecting a tributary that led into the Delaware River.  I spent hours fishing each summer with a net.  After I brought back my catch in a bucket, I attempted to build a dam to preserve my collection.  Unfortunately, after each major storm, the dam overflowed freeing these big and colorful fish.  Nonetheless, when I was younger I woke up with excitement, eager for what would happen each day.

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things, Isaiah 45:7.

As time has passed, dealing with failed dreams and goals have taken a toll on my soul.  After receiving two rejection letters from Hollywood last night, my joy for life has been replaced by anxiety, dread and disappointment.  Instead of seizing future moments of free time that I do have, depression has placed me into a state of misery.  The child like faith that I once possessed is drowning in self pity causing me to develop a half glass empty attitude.  Like a tree that looks healthy on the exterior, somewhere along the way I have become hollow inside.  Perhaps, I have become afflicted by spiritual termites, gnawing on my heart.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed, 1 Peter 2:24.

The book definition for hollow is having a hole or empty space inside.  Synonyms include empty, vacant, void and unfulfilled.  Muhammad Ali once said “age is whatever you think it is; you are as old as you think you are.”  As a professional boxer, Ali demonstrated mind over matter to stay young despite his aging body.  Yet, for many individuals, becoming hollow is now a reality, struggling to become whole again.  As senior citizens retire and enter assisted living communities, they have to maintain an activity or hobby to keep hope alive.  If not, the lonely will spend their remaining years on earth wasting away in a rocking chair, like an empty shell, hollow and unfulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

A Whopper of a Fishing Tale

After my two older sisters graduated from high school, family vacations were centered around common hobbies that I shared with my father.  My father usually took most of the month of August off, allowing time to bond with his family.  When I wasn’t off playing golf, several hours were spent in a boat combing Thompson Lake for an ideal fishing location.  The locals would tell stories of a legendary fish, hiding in the numerous caverns at the bottom of this massive lake.  Yet, except for my dad’s recording setting catch of a northern pike and some memorable battles with large bass, nothing of biblical proportions ever developed.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said, “And we are coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. As morning was breaking, Jesus [came and] stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish [to eat along with your bread]?” They answered, “No,” John 21:3-5.

When I entered college, my father planned a few Spring Break trips to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  A typically week consisted of 3 to 4 rounds of golf with fishing scheduled in the afternoon or early evening.  At dinner the night before of one of our outings, my father overheard someone at the bar talking about blues swimming/running up the coast.  It just so happened that we weren’t scheduled to go golfing so we followed this lead to a fishing pier on the Atlantic Ocean.  The first hour was slow, with one or two bites on the entire pier.  Then, it happened, blue fish after blue fish, like a scene of Jesus feeding the ten thousand, fish kept biting cast after cast.  When our cooler was full, we kept fishing, giving several away to strangers who missed a whooper of a real fishing tale.

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat (starboard) and you will find some.” So they cast [the net], and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish. Then that disciple (John) whom Jesus loved (esteemed) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer tunic (for he was stripped for work) and threw himself into the sea [and swam ashore]. But the other disciples came in the small boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish, John 21:6-8.

In the last chapter of the four gospels, John records an amazing fishing story where Jesus locates a school of 153 fish that were brought ashore.  Peter spent an entire night trusting in his own abilities, coming up empty, embarrassed to tell Jesus that he had struck out.  Instead of giving up, Peter humbled himself by following Jesus’ advice.  Successful fisherman show the resolve and will to never quit.  The thought of coming back empty wasn’t an option so Peter obeyed Jesus’ instructions.  This passage reveals an important message, when you fail, try, try again.  Those who are remain faithful to God’s calling will reap a harvest similar to a whooper of a fishing tale.

by Jay Mankus

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