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Mad at God?

During a recent press conference, President Trump gave companies a chance to share what their businesses are doing to help provide much needed medical supplies for COVID-19 patients. One such individual was Mark Lindell, the CEO and founder of the My Pillow Company. After explaining how his company is now making surgical masks with a production goal of 20,000 per day, Lindell went off script briefly. Mark suggested that families should take their extended time at home to read the Bible and draw closer to God.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you, 1 Peter 4:12-14.

These comments infuriated and offended most cable news networks. In the hours that followed, Lindell replaced Trump as public enemy #1. By talking about God, prayer and revival, liberal members of the media erupted. The rest of the evening was spent trashing this devoted man of God. Instead of being roasted and skewered on social media, people began to stand up for Lindell, coming to his aid and support. From what I witnessed, apparently several members of the media are mad at God. Perhaps, some people are blaming God for the Coronavirus. Yet, attacking a man for sharing his beliefs suggests an underlining spiritual issue.

If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name, 1 Peter 4:15-16.

One of Jesus’ disciples foresaw in the first century that future Christians would suffer for sharing their faith in public. Although modern Christians are often surprised by spiritual attacks, Peter says followers of Jesus should anticipate and expect criticism. I’m not sure what sets off highly trained professionals to verbally assault Christians during a monologue, but you shouldn’t take these type of attacks personally. In John 15:18, Jesus reminds readers of the Bible that the world hated him first. Therefore, if you ever find yourself overwhelmed by spiritual persecution, remember Peter’s words above and consider similar attacks a badge of honor.

by Jay Mankus

Another Reason to Give God the Glory

When a college professor repeats an event, fact or theory, this will likely be on the next test.  If a mentor shares the same advice more than once, you might want to listen.  When a pastor recalls an important message preached by Jesus, putting this into practice can be life altering.  Yet, the world is filled with voices telling you to do this or that.  How you respond will influence your fate on earth.

On an appointed day Herod dressed himself in his royal robes, sat on his throne (tribunal, rostrum) and began delivering a speech to the people. 22 The assembled people kept shouting, “It is the voice of a god and not of a man!” – Acts 12:21-22

Jesus’ earthly brother learned a valuable lesson, God’s ways are different from the world, James 4:6.  Humility brings you closer to God rather than taking credit for your own accomplishments.  Jesus warned his followers about pride, quoting the sayings of Solomon, “pride comes before the fall.”  The more you crave and hunger attention, the further you drift away from God.  The attached passage provides individuals with another reason to give God the glory.

And at once an angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not give God the glory [and instead permitted himself to be worshiped], and he was eaten by worms and died [five days later], Acts 12:23.

According to Acts 12, Herod Agrippa I became full of himself.  During a political speech, the crowd was moved.  The more Herod spoke, listeners were in awe, suggesting this king was a god, not a man.  Instead of setting the record straight, Herod reveled in these compliments.  Refusing to embrace humility, an angel of death inflicted Agrippa with a deadly disease as worms ate him from within.  May this warning inspire you to give God the glory.

by Jay Mankus

Strange but True

Talking to yourself may not be natural, but people do think out loud.  When you hear voices or whispers, you may be imagining something that is not there.  However, when God speaks to certain individuals using a still small voice, this may sound strange but it is true.  According to Genesis 2:5-6, God’s initial creation did not include rain as a high water table allowed springs to water the earth.  Thus, when God addressed Noah about building an ark, no one had ever seen rain before.  Building a giant boat is one thing, but doing so without understanding the concept of a flood required a rock solid faith.

God said to Noah, “I intend to make an end of all that lives, for through men the land is filled with violence; and behold, I am about to destroy them together with the land. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, compartments) and coat it inside and out with pitch (bitumen), Genesis 6:13-14.

After the scattering of nations at Babel, God sought out a man named Abram.  The Lord promised Abram a great nation.  However, there was one major problem, Abram’s wife Sarai was barren, nearing the age where having a child is unlikely.  Initially, Abram took matters in his own hands, having Ishmael with a maid servant named Hagar.  As Sarai’s biological clock was nearing an end, the Lord performed a miracle as Isaac was born.  However, Genesis 21 unveils God’s request for Abraham to sacrifice his son.  As this drama unfolds, Abraham reaches a point where the only logical explanation for this offering is that God will resurrection his son.

Now [in Haran] the Lord had said to Abram, “Go away from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; 2  and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you [abundantly], and make your name great (exalted, distinguished); and you shall be a blessing [a source of great good to others]; Genesis 12:1-2.

These are just two examples from history that illustrate God’s ability to communicate with human beings.  Sometimes God uses a burning bush, a dream or sends an angel to supply his next set of directions.  Sometimes these words don’t make sense, but that is where faith comes into play.  Testimonies allow present Christians to tell their story of how God is working in their lives.  While these stories may appear strange as information is revealed, fellow believers will be encouraged by the wonderful ways in which God moves and works.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Time To Get Involved

During the first century, thousands of people followed Jesus.  Like a grass roots movement, many were eager to become a disciple.  Unfortunately, Jesus already chose 12 men to become his disciples and another 72 to serve as a ministry team to prepare towns for upcoming visits.  Thus, when a man healed by Jesus in the passages below wanted to get involved, Jesus sends him to the next logical place, his home town.

Jesus did not let him [come], but [instead] He said to him, “Go home to your family and tell them all the great things that the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you,” Mark 5:19.

In my first decade as a parent, I was too consumed by other interest outside of my home.  During these initial years, I played in a competitive men’s softball league, coached high school golf and spent a majority of my free time grading papers.  One night I was able to watch my son play baseball.  In his first at bat, James hit a homerun.  During his second at bat, he doubled, but was left on base.  His team lost 2-1.  When I saw he was batting 10th, I asked a neighbor who knew James’ coach.  I found out that James was punished for using an expensive bat without asking.  This event inspired me to finally get involved, spending the next 5 years coaching youth baseball.

So he [obeyed and] went away and began to publicly proclaim in Decapolis [the region of the ten Hellenistic cities] all the great things that Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished, Mark 5:20.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that you need to become great in your home before you can have an impact on your community.  As I have heard several pastors proclaim, “happy wife, happy life,” getting involved starts in your home.  When your family begins to notice a transformation within your own life, you can move outside into your community.  This is easier for a demon possessed man who is now is his right mind.  Yet, as the Holy Spirit begins to move within your heart, mind and soul, God can use you if you’re willing to get involved.

by Jay Mankus

God Uses What Little We Have to Demonstrate How Great He Is

Whenever a team receives awards, praise and recognition, there is a temptation for the best athletes/players to take most of the credit.  Yet, God uses a series of events, methods and situations to prevent success from going to your head.  At the height of the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, thousands of people came to faith in Christ.  Instead of saying, “look at how great I am,” Paul became inflicted with a painful physical ailment.  This condition forced Paul to rely on the Lord for strength.  God used what little energy Paul possessed to demonstrate how great the Lord can work in spite of  our weaknesses.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! – 2 Corinthians 12:7

While Jews lived as slaves for nearly 400 years within Egypt, God called one man to confront their leader.  The only problem is that this man, Moses, suffered from a severe speech impediment.  In other words, Moses stuttered regularly, especially when he was nervous.  Despite this disability, God wanted Moses to be the one to lead Israel’s exodus out of Egypt.  Initially, God gave Moses a safety blanket, his brother Aaron to speak for him.  However, at some point the Holy Spirit empowered Moses to have the courage and words to stand up to Pharaoh.  Throughout this ordeal. Moses learned that God can use a faithful stutterer to do things that was once unimaginable for someone with this condition.

Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

As I look back on my own life, I was never a good student until high school.  I endured a learning disability which led to a fifth grade reading level while in tenth grade.  When you add  this to my own speech impediment, regularly stammering words, the odds were against me.  Yet, in my many weaknesses, Christ has become a strong influence in my life.  Although I am no longer a high school teacher, my former fear of speaking in public has vanished.  Sure, I probably could have done more with my life.  Nonetheless, God uses what little you and I have to demonstrate how great God is.

by Jay Mankus

Forcing a Code of Ethics without Faith

There are certain things in life that you should have seen coming if you were paying attention.  Although  I wasn’t alive at the time, the United States Supreme Court’s June 25, 1962 decision in Engel vs. Vitale should have raised a red flag.  According to these judges, praying for character, integrity and morality within students violated the First Amendment by constituting an establishment of religion.  This interpretation set the stage for the Bible, God and the principles America’s founding fathers established to be rejected by public education.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

Fifty five years later, right and wrong has been turned upside down.  At some point in the last twenty five years, absolutes recorded in the Bible have been demonized, referred to as bigoted, homophobic and racist.  While some religious leaders have attempted to win this debate, others have gone down in a blaze of glory, destroyed by hypocrisy and secrets sins that were brought to light.  The byproducts of this losing battle is that marriage is no longer just between a man and woman, gender is something that must be neutral and bathrooms should be open for interpretation.  In other words, if it feel right, just do it.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

For those of you still wondering, what the hell is wrong with this country; the answer is simple.  Higher education, school boards and elite members of the media are forcing a code of ethics upon their citizens.  To a certain extent, the government believes it takes a village to raise a family.  This explains why Michelle Obama wanted to force school lunch programs to push fruits and vegetables.  However, these government officials are now doing the same thing atheists complained about in 1962.  The problem to this current ideology is forcing individuals to do something they don’t want to will not result in permanent change.  Sure, you can attack, bully and pressure people for a while.  Yet, genuine transformation only occurs through conviction, faith and inspiration.  May this blog reverse this current trend so that God’s Word can breathe new life into those who truly want to change by becoming more like Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Earning the Anointing

Sometimes the Bible doesn’t make sense when you read it.  Although, the puzzling questions can often be explained by a better understanding of the context in which a passage takes place.  If you examine famous anointings in the Old Testament, there are one of two scenarios that take place.  Either individuals had to wait an extended period prior to the fulfillment of the anointing or people earned the right to be blessed by God due to years of faithful service.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Prior to his anointing as the next king of Israel, God prepared David while serving as a shepherd in the fields.  Elisha spent a decade as a farmer and servant to Elijah before receiving a double portion of faith.  Meanwhile, Ruth endured the pain and poverty of a widow before being rescued by her kinsman redeemer.  While salvation can not be earned, faithfulness opens the door to receive a special anointing from God.

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.

Anointings can be like following sports.  At the beginning of any season, its hard to tell who will win the championship.  Yet, as time goes by dedication, hard work and perseverance separates contenders from pretenders.  In the same way, God sees the hearts of individuals.  Since appearances can be deceiving, God examines hearts and souls to see who has earned the right to be anointed and or blessed by the Lord.  May your faith be rewarded.

by Jay Mankus

 

By Whose Standards are You Following?

Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.  However, if you enter a conversation which has already started, you might come away with a different perspective than those who were present at the very beginning.  Unless you take time to confirm your inclinations, you may be missing crucial details.  When information is passed off to second and third hand parties, context tends to get lost.  Subsequently, sloppy communication opens the door for alterations, exaggeration and gossip.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Matthew 7:1.

As a former Bible teacher, the verse above is one of the most misinterpreted passages in the Bible.  The media loves to quote this when their worldview is questioned.  The perception is that no one should be able to judge another person.  Yet, if you read ahead, you’ll find the point Jesus is trying to make.  Jesus is referring to hypocrites who judge others while doing the same exact thing.  As individuals remove the plank, the sin from their lives, they earn the right to correct others.  However, until this area is under control, no one is credible.

“God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you,” 1 Corinthians 5:13.

The Bible refers to two standards for life, those inside the church and those outside.  God expects more from those who decide to follow Jesus.  Whenever I hear or see debates on television over Matthew 7:1, no one brings up the words of the apostle Paul.  As I introduced the principle above to my classes, the concept of expelling sinners brought outrage from some students.  The situation within the church of Corinth is at the final stage of the Matthew principle based upon Matthew 18:15-17.  Before you reach this point, the Bible encourages individuals to confront people face to face and with a few close friends if necessary.  If no progress is made and sin is full blown, this is where the church steps in as a last warning so to speak.  Like an alcoholic in denial, sometimes you have to walk away until prodigals see the error of their way.

If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector, Matthew 18:17.

Like a concerned parent, I can’t force my readers to believe what I do.  Rather, I try to point out the convictions on my heart.  In the end, you will live according to a certain set of standards.  These will likely be altered, chanced or modified along the way.  Nonetheless, may you carefully develop what you believe so that when attacked by outsiders, you will be able to defend what you know to be true.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

How Long Must We Wait O Lord?

Waiting for anything isn’t natural.  The idea you have to remain inactive, stationary and pause until expectations are fulfilled can be agonizing.  The longer one waits, the greater doubts grow, wondering if prayers will be answered.

How long must your servant wait?  When will you punish my persecutors? – Psalm 119:84

Several Psalmists describe their anguish waiting to experience God’s promises.  As the wicked prosper without any penalties, cries for justice may go unnoticed for years.  Thus, screams of frustrations point toward heaven hoping for action to occur soon.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 4:1

In this silence, impatience often boils over.  This is when most turn their back on God.   For those clinging on to hope, only time will dictate whether or not faith will be reignited.  How long must we wait O Lord?  Keep praying til your requests become reality, following in the footsteps of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Y2 Decay

It’s hard to believe that its now been 15 years since the Y2K scare.  Due to the coding of DOS based programs, there were growing concerns that software would default from 1999 to 1900 resulting in the loss of sensitive information including bank accounts on January 1, 2000.  Thus, businesses, programmers and IT support spent over a year along with millions of dollars to update technology with modern solutions.  Although there were some minor glitches, the world survived.

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. Proverbs 27:23

While advances in modern living have improved annually, the same can’t be said about the faith of Americans.  Except for a period of time following the aftermath of 9/11/01, church attendance has been on a downward spiral for the last 15 years.  According to a Fuller Institute Study, 2.7 million church members will become inactive sometime throughout this year.  Several of whom will leave their church home feeling hurt, neglected or wounded.

I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. – Ezekiel 22:30

The byproduct of this decay has resulted in a society vulnerable to half-truths and misleading documentaries, void of absolute truth.  Recent attempts by atheists in Hollywood to portray a biblical Noah and Moses failed miserably.  If this trend continues, a nation of faith established by our founding fathers will be forgotten.  May those called by God, like the prophet in Isaiah 6:8, step forward to lead the lost out of darkness into the light.  During times of despair, fight off spiritual decay by placing your feet on the solid rock of Christ, Psalm 40:1-3.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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