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SWAG

Swag is one of those words that has evolved over time.  Initially short for swagger, swag is a personality trait which naturally flows out of confident individuals.  Professional athletes display this by playing to the crowd, swaying and strutting after successful impacts during a competition or game.  Journalists sometimes equate swag with gravitas, inner qualities that attract others to want to be around those who possess this special gift.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Recently, I stumbled upon an acronym for swag, Spiritual Wonders Anointed by God.  Although my employer refers to swag as stuff we all get, I know from experience not everyone receives the same allotment in life.  Rather, some people are more blessed than others, attaining and obtaining much more than the average person.  While a portion of success can be linked to dedication, hard work and perseverance, God’s role in swag can not be denied.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:14.

Spiritual wonders anointed by God can be explained by guardian angels or ministering spirits.  Without divine intervention, there may be some of you who would not be alive today if it wasn’t for this insight and protection.  Meanwhile, swag can be developed from a permanent meaningful lasting relationship with God.  As one begins to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord each week, the Holy Spirit living inside of you can produce swag.  As a new year approaches, may the Lord inspire you to draw near to God so that your faith will flourish in 2018.

by Jay Mankus

When the Future Looks Bleak God Does Intervene

There are many ways to explain favorable outcomes in life.  The confident will pass this off as hard work, preparation and flawless execution.  The humble often give others credit, expressing gratitude and thanksgiving for their success.  Meanwhile, there will be some who face a bleak future, with the odds stacked against them.  For those who stave off death, endure hardship or witness divine intervention, God’s timing is perfect.

That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him, Esther 6:1.

In the Old Testament passage above, Mordecai’s future didn’t look good.  If everything went as planned, Mordecai was scheduled to be hung the next day.  An enemy of Haman, second in command to the king, hatred and jealousy of this outspoken Jew resulted in his sentence to death.  Hours away from this fate, God’s providence kicked into action.  The king couldn’t sleep, his subject selected a book to read, Mordecai was mentioned and it was discovered nothing was done to honor him for exposing a plot to assassinate the king.

It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.  “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.  “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered, Esther 6:2-3.

When the queen, Esther threw a banquet for Haman and the king the next day, Mordecai received the honor that Haman desperately sought.  This twist of fate altered the outcome of Mordecai’s life, changing places with Haman.  Seizing the opportunity, queen Esther revealed Haman’s hidden plot to kill the Jews living in the kingdom.  In twenty four hours, the tables were turned as good triumphed over evil, sending Haman to the gallows set up for Mordecai.  In view of this historic event, don’t forget that when the future looks bleak, God can and will intervene.

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

 

The Absence of Discipline

One of the definitions of discipline eludes to a branch of knowledge.  Similar to higher education, discipline is self-taught or prodded through some sort of accountability relationship.  This concept involves dedication, hard work and strict training.  For those who commit by developing daily routines usually experience blessings, success and wealth.

For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly, Proverbs 5:23.

On the other side of the spectrum, you will find apathy.  Those who indulge in this behavior will go through periods of complacency.  The by-product of this decision causes individuals to lose sight of their goals, living day to day.  Subsequently, vision for the future slowly disappears as depression, laziness and hopelessness take over.  This is what likely inspired Solomon to claim the lack of discipline will lead to death.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

If you have found yourself in a steady decline recently, the apostle Paul provides a message of hope.  The Holy Spirit was sent by God following Jesus’ ascension into heaven to empower those who call on the name of Lord.  Therefore, don’t allow a spirit of pessimism to reign within you.  Rather, claim the promise in the passage above so that you will escape an undisciplined life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Elusive Search for Authority

Cowboys and Indians are symbols of western exploration in America.  In 1997, Paula Cole asks the question in her song, “Where have all the Cowboys gone?”  Although the sing refers to a woman looking for a story book ending, to live happily ever after, cowboys are symbolic of hard work, self-reliance and in a sense, law and order maintained by sheriffs who rode on horse back.  Like the famous quote from Curly in the 1991 film City Slickers, “cowboys are a dying breed.”

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits, Mark 6:7.

The same can be said about authority today.  Between the hip hop and rap culture disrespecting police officers with their lyrics, political correctness redefining ethics and the assault on the authenticity of the Bible, authority is disappearing.  By smearing individuals with integrity as well as failing to hold others accountable to high standards, the ability to confront, rebuke and correct flawed worldviews is diminishing.  All that remains is a blue print laid out by Jesus to his disciples.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give, Matthew 10:8.

Jesus sent out 12 ordinary men with one extraordinary message, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Jesus wasn’t trying to be like an overbearing coach, parent or teacher trying to tell you everything that you are doing wrong.  Rather, Jesus wanted human beings to reflect upon their lives and allow the Holy Spirit to convict souls.  When sins are expressed in a public settings, others feel compelled to come clean.  This atmospheres lays a foundation for revival.  When the words of the Bible are used properly, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, God’s authority can be restored to on earth as it is in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

 

He Ain’t All That

In every success story, there are two primary factors which often impact the final chapter to each Cinderella story.  The first involves an individual with talent, dedicated to mastering his or her trade.  Discipline, hard work and sacrifices can lead to fame and fortune.  While on the rise, friends, family and relatives begin to develop a sense of entitlement, expecting some sort of payment for their involvement in the process.  When this obligation is not met, things can get ugly as those on the outside looking in respond with, “he ain’t all that!”

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. – Mark 6:3

This tragedy of society is nothing new.  Jesus dealt with a similar situation as he went back to his hometown to teach at the synagogue.  Whether it is envy or jealousy, people can be cruel, taking occasional jabs to lessen your accomplishments.  In the case of Jesus, the negativity of the crowds grew, causing his ability to heal to decline.  As the murmurs of “he ain’t all that” intensified, this lack of faith restricted the power of God from being displayed.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” – Mark 6:4

With the invention of social media, ordinary people get their kicks out of trashing celebrities, professional athletes and those in the media.  Perhaps by tearing others down, insecure souls feel a little better about themselves.  Although misery loves company, lives will not change for the better until an environment for healing is formed.  Therefore, the next time you get the urge to say, “he ain’t all that,” follow the principles of James 5:16 so that the resurrection power of Christ can be unleashed.

by Jay Mankus

Rich in Love

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Blessed, fortunate and wealthy are terms associated with being rich.  For some this status is achieved by the luck of the draw, born into it.  Others acquire possessions through years of discipline, hard work and perseverance.  Meanwhile, a few receive this by surprise, like a will as illustrated by Jason, the main character in the Ultimate Gift.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

However, one aspect of wealth that is often overlooked is becoming rich in love.  Unfortunately, several obstacles stand in the way: bitterness, impatience and unforgiveness to name a few.  These spiritual barriers prevent souls from passing on the love of Jesus.  Thus, poverty is not only a financial state, it’s also a condition of a wounded heart, a casualty of a fallen world.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:6

The presence of love can be a difference maker.  If genuine, love can transform the angry, pissed off and unlovable.   Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul known as the love chapter is regularly quoted in weddings.  Attributed as one of three theological virtues, love is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, available to anyone who calls on the name of the Lord.  May the words of today’s blog inspire you to become rich in love.

by Jay Mankus

Ignoring an Obvious Blessing

As the sun rises on another day, alarms sound waking up individuals to begin a new adventure.  Pressed by hustle, bustle, and trying to get ahead in life, leaves many oblivious to a blessing right before their eyes.  The greatest miracle on earth are the children that are procreated and conceived by woman.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. – Psalm 127:3-4

While the passage above is true, love, sex and relationships can’t be forced.  Panicking due to a barren womb, Sarah tried to force the issue by sharing her maidservant with Abraham, her husband.  This selfish act gave birth to Ishmael, the Father of Arab nations.  This momentary lapse of judgment has haunted the nation of Israel ever since creating a clear and present danger for the Jewish faith.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. – Psalm 127:1

According to Solomon, churches and homes can’t be manufactured.  Though each requires discipline, hard work and faith, the future of any heritage is dependent upon the Lord.  Formulas, gadgets and technology may give a perception of success, yet in the end God will either bless or curse man-made efforts.  Therefore, before you start your next adventure, project or task, follow the words of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 so you no longer ignore obvious blessings.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Does My Help Come From?

The term apologetics in the context of theology (the science of God) is derived from expressing what you believe and why.  This process takes time to reflect, meditate and verbalize the rationale behind the beliefs you hold dear.  Thus, one of the areas a person may contemplate over the course of their life is this: where does my help come from?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? – Psalm 121:1

Those who claim to be rugged individuals, consisting of discipline, hard work and persistence, often give the credit of their success to how they were raised, trial and error and earning most of what they have received in life.  Meanwhile, victims are on the opposite side of the spectrum, learning to pass the blame for their failures on everyone or anything possible, creating an excuse for each loss, setback and unreached dream.  As for those somewhere in between, the divine, luck the family you are born into usually help to explain why help arrived or never came to the rescue.

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; Psalm 121:2-3.

Looking back on my own personal experiences, there have been too many occasions in the past to write off as mere coincidences.  During my sophomore year of high school, I first sensed the hand of God leading me.  Although I have endured periods where I felt abandoned by God, help eventually was provided by angels, conversations, letters, unusual encounters and whispers from the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, as for me and my household, our help comes from the Lord!

by Jay Mankus

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