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Tag Archives: hearts

Look to the Book

If you asked a series of highly regarded professions, what’s the most important thing in life, answers would vary.  The 1991 film City Slickers sought to address this question, using a man played by Billy Crystal who is going through a mid-life crisis.  After running with the bulls in Spain, a friend suggests an excursion out west, reliving the cattle drives of old like a cowboy.  On this vacation with the guys, Crystal meets Jack Palance who plays Curly Washburn, their trail guide.  During a two week trip from New Mexico to Colorado, Crystal and Palance develop an unlikely friendship before his sudden death.  Left in the middle of no where without a leader, friends played by Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern step up to lead the herd back to the ranch.  Rejecting an initial offer to finish what they started, Crystal has a change of heart, applying the knowledge Curly bestowed upon him.  When a calf born during their journey is swept away by a raging river, Crystal risks his life to save this animal.  Following a dramatic rescue, Crystal comes to understood what Curly meant by the most important thing in life.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts], Psalm 119:9.

My youngest child Lydia started high school today.  As a parent, I don’t know where the time has gone, flying by without any signs of stopping.  Thus, if I could bestow one simple suggestion to my daughter and others like her, its look to the book daily.  When you read the passage above, the Psalmist claims that the only way keep a young person pure is by mediating on the Bible.  As a former student and teacher, I understand the desire to pursue good grades.  Yet, there is a temptation to do whatever is takes to obtain an A, even if it means saying or writing things contrary to what you believe.  After receiving a poor grade on my first college English paper, I brushed aside my convictions to construct a paper acceptable, entertaining and popular in the world’s eyes.  While I received an A, bringing my overall average up to a B, I betrayed the precepts of the Bible.  I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a fine line between being the best that you can be and staying true to your beliefs.

With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You]; Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].  Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You, Psalm 119:10-11.

The concept of meditating on the word of God may be awkward or overwhelming for a millennial.  However, what the Psalmist eludes to in the passage above is that the Bible serves as a filter for human minds.  As individuals look to this book, the more you become aware of God’s desire and expectations.  As you examine, inquire and study how the Bible applies to life, the Bible serves as a flashlight, shining light into formerly unknown areas.  Unfortunately, when Bibles begins to collect dust, minds can forget the difference between right and wrong.  As gray areas expand, human nature will rationalize acts, behavior or words that stray from God’s commandments.  This is why I pray that all my children develop the habit of looking to the book, the Word of God.  If the Bible can change and transform my life, then these living words, Hebrews 4:12, still possess the power to revive souls today.

by Jay Mankus

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Pray at Lunchtime for the United States

The origin of praying for a meal has ties to the Old Testament and New Testament.  In the days of Israel, cup bearers were similar to modern day secret service agents.  Instead of serving as an armed guard, these men tested the food and wine for poisons.  If no one died, this meal was safe for the king to enjoy.  One of the most famous cup bearers is Nehemiah, who God used as a vessel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  In the first century, the apostles gave thanks for each meal the Lord provided.  While the passage below does not detail the words spoken, praying before eating was a form of thanksgiving.

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, and he broke it and began to eat, Acts 27:35.

Today, Christians continue this practice, folding their hands, closing their eyes and either silently or verbally expressing thanks to God for daily bread.  Just as Moses gave thanks for manna from heaven and quail via God, saying grace is an act of appreciation for the little things in life.  Unfortunately, praying at lunch has made national news recently for the wrong reason.  Brigadier General John Teichert who has a blog encouraging individuals to pray at lunchtime for the United States is being threatened by a lawsuit.  Attorney Michael Weinstein who trolls Christians on military bases recently said, “General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,”

Then all of them were encouraged and their spirits improved, and they also ate some food, Acts 27:36.

Luke provides the benefits of praying before a meal in the passage above.  Based upon the words used by Luke, saying grace can be moving as people pour out their hearts to God.  This specific prayer encouraged everyone in attendance as well as uplifting their spirits.  If public prayer for a meal could have this impact on a group of people, why is this attorney be so upset?  If prayer can inspire souls to act, what’s the big deal?  How is prayer hurting military bases and the men and women who serve this country?  Perhaps, if atheists, critics and skeptics begin to pray, this world would become a better place.  May the readers of this blog keep General Teichert in your prayers so that the power of prayer will continue to thrive in this country and throughout the world.

by Jay Mankus

Sharing That Which You Believe

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment.  This time period spanned from 1685 to 1815.  As Plato once illustrated in a painting known as the School of Athens, philosophers stopped looking up to the heavens for answers to life, to God above.  Rather, scholars began to look within, replacing God with science by relying on minds to direct and guide future beliefs.  Before his death in 1804, Kant once said, “There are many things that I believe that I shall never say. But I shall never say the things that I do not believe.”

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

This quote from Immanuel Kant applies to today’s political climate in America as candidates seek to persuade undecided voters.  Kant realized that sharing everything that he believed openly would hinder his ability to convince skeptics to embrace his philosophical position.  Subsequently, Kant only shared the things he believed, strengthening his message.  Sharing too much information can confuse your listeners.  As long as you focus on your main points, audiences can be persuaded to change their mind.

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.

When making any argument, its important to possess confidence.  The Greek word εμπιστοσύνη refers to individuals who are confident, faithful, reliable and trusting.  Whenever you share what you believe, if you aren’t a credible source, living out your convictions, no one will believe you.  Therefore, its essential to demonstrate faith before you share what you believe.  The more confidence oozes out of your soul, the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12, will pierce and persuade hearts to follow Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Can Only Do So Much

Ten years ago, I volunteered for a week to serve as a camp counselor at an overnight Christian Camp just south of Reading, Pennsylvania.  Due to a weeklong heat wave, a cabin without air conditioning and inner ear infection that lingered the rest of that summer, I never returned for a second year.  Instead, my two sons now serve as camp counselors at Camp Cedarbrook.  During a de-briefing session over lunch, my oldest son James shared his frustrations of boys in his cabin who never listened to him.  Despite repeated attempts, numerous reminders and intervention from veteran counselors, James was unable to change these bad habits.  Unfortunately, you can only do so much in one week of time.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

Unless you are a coach, counselor, parent or teacher, you may not realize that America is on the verge of a parental crisis.  After years of appeasing, bribing and spoiling children, basic character traits, courtesy and morals are missing.  Instead cell phones, electronic devices and video games are killing social skills, creating a further divide between children and parents.  Those individuals who are diligently working to stop this trend have their own obstacles to overcome.  Abandonment, death and divorce has led to single parent homes, struggling to provide and raise kids at the same time.  Giving a word of encouragement to my son, I replied “you can only do so much on your own.”

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is a small quote from King Solomon.  This wise man compares a black smith to being the best person you can be.  When human beings enter into an accountability relationship, affirmations point out the good while flaws are pointed through honest assessments.  As long as both parties seek the best interest of the other, character is strengthened like iron sharpening iron.  For those who feel called into the ministry, you may not be able to win the hearts and souls of those who you love.  God doesn’t call everyone to be successful, but faithful.  Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed by a lack of progress in your life, remember you can only do so much.

by Jay Mankus

Broken Things

Since my wife’s father passed away in October, I have helped clean out two homes.  Most of the furniture was antiques, family heirlooms passed down over a couple of generations.  The only draw back to real wood is the weight, a chore to move up and down stairs.  Perhaps, this may explain why millennials have embraced modern appliances and houseware which is easily disposable.  When some thing breaks, you through it away, unattached to these temporary possessions.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken, Psalm 34:17-20.

Gorilla Glue was first sold to consumers in 1999.  Recent commercials portray this product as a life saver, able to fix, repair and stabilize broken things.  Previous items discarded by society are now given new life through this polyurethane adhesive.  Depending upon the condition of your household goods, you might wait months or year before a new replacement needs to be purchased.  Unfortunately, certain things like broken glass can’t be salvaged, sent to a local dump for its final resting place.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

As I witness the current political climate in America, vicious words are spewed daily without any regard to the pain these insults might inflict.  Instead of reporting the news, cable news desks have turned into gossip sessions at a high school lunch table.  If human beings were made out of glass, the verbal rocks thrown would leave cracks, dents and scars from the impact.  Verbal sticks and stones do hurt, affecting hearts, minds and souls.  Those who endure an unhealthy amount of criticism will eventually suffer a crushed spirit, leading to soul spirit hurts.  Therefore, the next time you have an urge to verbally pile on someone being teased, drop the stone that you are carrying so your actions won’t leave a trail of broken glass.

by Jay Mankus

 

Too Far Gone?

Every night concerned friends, parents and teachers are wondering if the person in their thoughts and prayers is too far gone.  In same cases, broken relationships only make this situation worse.  Typically, the parent-child interaction is tense and brief with flare ups possible at any time.  If this climate persists, doubt persuades parents to believe that they have lost their child, too far gone to salvage.

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, 2 Timothy 4:10.

In a letter to a first century pastor, the apostle Paul shares his concern about a fellow believer who abandoned his faith.  While the details of Demas’ demise is unclear, it appears that this missionary regressed, craving certain aspects of life.  Perhaps, Demas was merely going through a phase, something that he needed to do prior to committing fulltime to the ministry.  The hardest part for any coach, friend, parent or teacher is letting go, giving this individual the room they need to come to their senses.

But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” – Luke 23:40-42

One of the characters in the Bible who could be considered too far gone is a criminal hanging on a cross next to Jesus.  On the verge of death, there was no hope for his future.  Nonetheless, this dire state inspired this man to seek security for the afterlife.  If Jesus can welcome a criminal sentenced to death, then no one should be considered too far gone.  For those currently enduring broken hearts, hang on to hope through prayer, asking God for common sense to break the stubborn hearts of a prodigal spirit.  Until reconciliation arrives, trust God to get you through.

by Jay Mankus

The Coup d’état

The pronouncement of a coup d’état derives from the Spanish expression golpe de estado. Commonly used in Spain and South America, this refers to a formal explanation for the deposing of a regnant government.  Ousting, overthrowing and seizing power is justified with an installation of a new government, considered in the best interest for the future of a country.  Whether this is true or not does not matter as long as any opposition forces are eliminated.

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like [a flash of] lightning, Luke 10:17-18.

Coup d’etat’s are not limited to the political realm.  Rather, one spiritual elite conceived a plan to alter God’s grand design for planet earth.  Instead of allowing mankind to rule, a fallen archangel conspired with his cohorts, a third of heavens angels to regain control.  Thus, this sly creature entered a snake to commence operation sin.  Sure, the thought of a woman talking to a snake doesn’t make much sense, but prior to the confusion of speech within Babel, Genesis 11:1-9, some scholars believe animals were initially able to talk with human beings.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”- Genesis 3:1

The Coup of all coups began with one subtle question, “did God really say?”  After a persuasive conversation, it didn’t take long before minds were teased with the possibility of becoming like God.  This thought was too tempting to let go of, day dreaming of what this might be like.  Without much resistance, Adam and Eve handed over their authority of earth over to Lucifer who remains in power today as ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2.  What a waste, foregoing the future of a perfect life on earth to indulge in an instant of gratification that quickly fades.

13 For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.

Unfortunately, the Coup of all coups continues today in relative obscurity.  The worse part is that Satan has deceived some church leaders to twist and alter truth of the Bible.  This has led certain Christian denominations to not believe in the Devil.  The watering down of God’s Word is enabling individuals to be deceived daily while Satan continues to masquerade as an angel of light.  May this blog awaken hearts and alert minds to this spiritual danger.  May the Holy Spirit give you eyes to see through this darkness so that Satan’s coup d’état doesn’t destroy another life.

by Jay Mankus

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