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Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

Unwrapping the Theology of Christmas

The word theology simply means the science of God. Understanding theology isn’t always easy, but to grasp the true meaning of Christmas you have to make one presupposition. Since Old Testament prophets write about the coming of a Messiah, human beings need to acknowledge their need for a Savior. The presupposition individuals must make is that you can’t save yourself. Without this realization, Christmas is just another holiday as a Savior is not sought out.

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12

In the passage above, the apostle Paul drives this point home to members of the church at Rome. Referencing an Old Testament prophet, Paul explains that no one is perfect. No matter how highly you may regard yourself, every day, week, month and year people stray from God’s law. Regardless of what disciplines, focus and safeguards are put into place, sooner or later you will break, cut corners or deviate from commands in the Bible.

For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 6:23.

The best way I know to unwrap the theology of Christmas is through an illustration I learned from Evangelism Explosion. The passage above is part of a diagram using the Grand Canyon. Human beings are on one side of the canyon and God is on the other side. However, Jesus is offered as a free gift, dying on a cross to save mankind from sin. Those who accept the gift of eternal life through a personal relationship with God have access to cross this canyon by faith. This invisible bridge is in the shape of a cross. The moment Jesus was born, salvation and eternal life was made possible, 1 John 5:13. May these words sink in as Christmas Day approaches.

by Jay Mankus

No Barriers

I was having one of those humbling/trying weeks where nothing seemed to go right.  As I was about to have a pity party for myself, I stumbled upon an article on the top 25 most adventurous men of the last 25 years.  Number 23 on this list was Erik Weihenmayer for kayaking through the Grand Canyon.  This feat may seem relatively obscure unless of course you consider the fact that Eric is blind.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

This incredible journey is detailed in the book No Barriers.  While I have had my own eye issues over the past 20 years, I am still able to see the beauty of God’s creation.  As someone who has canoed and kayaked down river rapids, past guides trained me to look for the V.  This is the safest place to enter rapids.  However, down one sense, Erik Weihenmayer has to rely solely on his hearing.  This is where ability and faith meet, trusting in God to get you down stream safely.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1.

It’s only fitting that I discovered No Barriers while waiting to see my eye doctor.  Despite my fears of glaucoma, I experienced a divine appointment with the Lord this afternoon.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, this article was like a kick in the butt to persevere.  If Erik Weihenmayer can kayak blind through class four rapids on the Colorado River, then the Lord can still use my decaying body to bear spiritual fruit.  The only barriers that exist are seeds of doubt which cause many individuals to give up before obtaining your dreams in life.

by Jay Mankus

A Skywire Faith

Every once in a while, someone goes to extreme measures to prove themselves.  On Sunday night, June 23rd, 2013, live on the Discovery Channel, Nik Wallenda did just that, becoming the first person ever to walk across the Grand Canyon on a two inch wide high wire.  Without any nets to catch a mistake, Nik battled wind gusts, a 50 pound balancing pole and fears his family would see him fall to his death.  His 1,400 foot long journey took twenty two minutes and fifty four seconds to complete, kneeling at one point, surviving to live another day.

According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.  Before risking his life, Nik had to believe his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would give him the knowledge, strength and wisdom to complete this stunt.  Wired for sound, Nik began to pray on television as high wind gusts blew through and over the canyon.  Following the model set by Jesus in Mark 6:48-51, Nik took authority over the weather, calling on His God to silence any further gusts.

Yesterday, Nik did more than just walk across a portion of the Grand Canyon.  Rather, Nik put his faith and God to the test, risking everything.  If he failed or fell to his death, atheists, agnostics and the un-churched would have scoffed at his god.  Instead, 13 million viewers tuned in, heard his prayers answered and have tweeted their amazement on Twitter.  Though, this is unlikely to be the last time you hear or see Nik Wallenda on television, thank you Nik for demonstrating a skywire faith.  Well done Nick, well done, Matthew 25:23.

by Jay Mankus

A Week In Paradise


In this economy, its hard to imagine anyone having enough time or money to afford a week long trip to the West Coast during the school year.  With a summer vacation road trip traveling across the country to the Grand Canyon and back already etched in my families distant memory, I didn’t think anything could compare.  However, thanks to my extended family, most of our expenses were covered, opening the door for a memorable week in paradise.

This journey began in Ontario, not Canada, at the John Wayne International Airport in California.  After a night in Corona, not the beer, rather staying with a cousin playing pool and embracing palm trees surrounded by mountains, it was off to the Pacific Ocean.  Following my first In and Out Burger, without knowing about the secret menu, my feet first touched the chilly waters at New Port Beach before my daughter found a sand dollar adjacent to the Huntington Beach pier.  An amazing meal at Ruby’s Diner even made the pelican poses for pictures before another scenic drive through the mountains toward Palm Springs.

Even getting lost and paying the same toll twice on 2 different scenic toll roads couldn’t damper my spirits, uplifted by the view of the Pacific in the background and the pictures engraved in my mind of the Coachella Valley from my honeymoon 17 years ago.  A trip to Indian Canyons, the largest oasis in the world, was like going back in time to the days of Adam and Eve walking in the Garden of Eden.  Hiking on these trails and similar vistas on the Lykkan Trail above Palm Springs was like re-enacting Moses’ voyage up Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land before his death.

My first trip to the Salton Sea, playing disc golf in Palm Desert and experiencing Monterey Country Club from the fairway, yes I did hit it straight, was like the icing on top of a birthday cake.  However, like the classic line from Jerry Maguire, my vacation wasn’t complete until family arrived.  As nearly 100 relatives came to La Quinta to honor Uncle Tom’s 80th birthday, the conversations I had, interactions with others and time spent with my own family completed me.  Simply put, this trip was like a tiny glimpse of heaven, a week of paradise in sunny California.

by Jay Mankus

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