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I Don’t Believe What You Believe

After writing for a couple of hours, I began channel surfing to pass some time. Thirty seconds later, I stumbled upon the early stages of Footloose. As a former teacher, the idea of a senior boy standing up for his beliefs appeals to me. One of my favorite scenes from this film occurs later on when a rebellious preacher’s daughter has a heart to heart talk with her father. Lori Singer plays Ariel who opens up about a belief system which differs her dad, Reverend Shaw played by John Lithgow.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me, John 14:1.

When Singer shares that “I don’t believe what you believe,” I am reminded of a former student. Jennifer was an atheist forced to attend a Christian school by her parents. What made this situation worse, her parents turned out to be hypocrites, following the motto ” do as I say, not as I do.” Initially, there was tension between Jennifer and I, often leading to heated debates. However, as time passed, I accepted Jennifer for where she was spiritually, sharing the love of Jesus whenever I could.

Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me, John 20:29.

In this day and age, politics and religion are two of the most divisive topics in America. If you don’t hold or share a similar view of the media in these areas, expect criticism. Anyone who dares to think differently, get’s out of line or speaks out will be labeled as controversial, dangerous and unsafe. It’s too bad that most adults can’t come to their senses by being willing to accept what others believe. Perhaps, the words of Jesus above may permeate hearts so that love will lead to accepting what others believe until faith is conceived.

by Jay Mankus

Time Matters

There are moments in life that are overshadowed by accidents, hardship or other unforeseen events. Just when you find yourself on the verge of a breakthrough, something beyond your control breaks your momentum. Unfortunately, most people never regain this mojo, quickly disappearing. As time goes by, priorities often change due to new responsibilities. Thus, as the days of your youth fly by, now in my rear view mirror, time matters.

Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come or the years draw near when you will say [of physical pleasures], I have no enjoyment in them—Before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened [sight is impaired], and the clouds [of depression] return after the rain [of tears]; Ecclesiastes 12:1-2.

The most quoted chapter, Ecclesiastes 3, points to the concept that there is a season and time for every matter and purpose. In the 1984 film Footloose, Kevin Bacon plays a high school senior, Ren who fights city hall to restore dancing so that a class prom can be held. Ren’s girlfriend Ariel played by Lori Singer, gives him a series of Bible verses as the pastor’s daughter. The force that drives Bacon’s character is the belief that “this is our time.”

In the day when the keepers of the house [the hands and the arms] tremble, and the strong men [the feet and the knees] bow themselves, and the grinders [the molar teeth] cease because they are few, and those who look out of the windows [the eyes] are darkened; When the doors [the lips] are shut in the streets and the sound of the grinding [of the teeth] is low, and one rises up at the voice of a bird and the crowing of a cock, and all the daughters of music [the voice and the ear] are brought low; Ecclesiastes 12:3-4.

In the passage above, King Solomon uses a series of symbols to illustrate how time flies by on earth. The days of your youth end in a flash, like a twinkling of your eyes. Perhaps this explains the origin of carpe diem, found in book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes. While this Latin phrase literally means “pluck the day,” Horace’s goal was to seize the moment before time slips away. Since time matters, make sure you seize each day the Lord gives you on earth, making the most of the opportunity to live.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Their Story?

In the 1984 film Footloose, Kevin Bacon plays Ren, a city boy from Chicago who is forced to move to Utah following his mother’s divorce and re-marriage.  Labeled a trouble maker by the church and community leaders, Ren is targeted and kicked off his high school gymnastics team.  After this ordeal, Ren begins to ask questions, trying to find out, “what’s their story?”  Coming home from a date, Ren discovers the death of a pastor’s son inspired law makers to restrict the freedom of teenagers.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven,” Luke 6:37.

From the outside looking in, its hard to get a feel for what’s going on inside the human soul.  Events, family and surroundings influence who people become for the good and bad.  Recently, I heard about a former high school student who denounced their faith.  Some where along the way, academia, revisionist historians and secular humanism have encouraged this young man to abandon his relationship with God.

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:5.

Every day, someone or something is causing associates, co-workers and friends to behave in a certain manner.  Thus, when an individual is depressed, erupts in anger or has an outburst, these variables come to surface in the form of emotions.  Instead of taking things personally, the sooner a friend can discover the story behind one’s action, the quicker the healing process can begin.  Therefore, don’t allow finger pointers to lead you to judge others.  Rather, lean on God’s mercy to comprehend what’s their story.

by Jay Mankus

 

Do I Hold On to the Past or Trust God for the Future?

In the 1984 film Footloose, John Lithgow plays reverend Shaw Moore.  After Moore’s son dies in a car accident coming home from a night of dancing, reverend Shaw responds by banning all music in his small rural Utah town.  Kevin Bacon, plays Ren, a high school senior who goes to a town hall meeting in an attempt to reverse this ban for a Senior Prom.  Following a rejection, Ren’s boss comes up with an alternative which is presented to Shaw Moore.  During his next Sunday message, the reverend is confronted with a dilemma.  Do I hold on to the past of trust God with the future?

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ, Philippians 3:7.

Thirty years later, this question still applies.  Within each individual life, there are defining moments, trials which force people to mature.  How these events are handled, shape the outcome of lives.  Whether its death, illness or injury, bad things will occur sooner or later.  As Rich Mullins once sang prior to a car accident that ended his own life, there is bound to come some trouble to our lives.  When tragedy strikes, will you hold on to the past or trust God for the future?

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

When life takes an unexpected turn, its hard to get over it or fully recovery.  Almost four years after I lost my teaching position, I’m close to picking up all the pieces, but not where I would like to be.  Scars from the past are still present, resulting in soul spirit hurts that are not fully healed.  However, as the apostle Paul once said in a letter to the church at Philippi, you must learn to leave your past by keeping your eyes on the overall goal, heaven.  Therefore, the next time you reach a crossroad in life, let go of the past by trusting God with your future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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