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Tag Archives: history

I Can’t Help Myself

My father was born in Lithuania.  As immigrants from certain Europeans countries began to migrate to the United States, stereotypes began to develop.  Whether it was the era, how my dad was raised or specific mannerisms, my father tended to be stoic unless he was angry.  Meanwhile, my mom who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania wasn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve.  Like any child, I exhibit a combination of qualities from each of my parents.  Nonetheless, whenever my heart is moved or touched by something special, I can’t help myself, easily brought to tears.

As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; 13 and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:12-14.

During the first century, Jews and Samaritans were enemies as hatred and resentment spilled over from the past.  This tension began when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  The north whose second capital was relocated upon a hillside in Samaria often did what was right in their own eyes.  The southern kingdom remained more true to God as some kings reminded citizens of their spiritual heritage.  The main issues between Jews and Samaritans began during 722 B.C. when Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity.  The byproduct of this siege led to intermarriages between Gentiles and Israelites.  Thus, Samaritans earned the reputation of being only half Jewish, labeled and ridiculed for centuries.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; 16 and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

Recognizing this portion in history, Jesus is shocked by how little appreciation is shown to God by 9 Jewish lepers.  On the other hand, the Samaritan leper is overwhelmed after being healed.  According to a first century doctor, this man couldn’t help himself, praising God over and over again.  Sometimes in life, stereotypes influence how people act, behave and interact with others.  Yet, when you slow down and look around to see the numerous minor miracles in your life, you too can model the thanksgiving demonstrated by this Samaritan leper.  May the example of this first century man inspire you to develop a new outlook on life in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

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Closing Your Mind to God’s Power

As a parent of three children between the age of 13 and 20, words reveal a common mindset that often goes unnoticed.  Perhaps, a decade of teaching high school has heightened my awareness to this growing epidemic.  A lack of confidence, low self-esteem and sheltered from positive influences is to blame for this spiritual condition.  What is this crisis?  Individuals who have closed their minds to believing in God’s power to change any grave or impossible situation.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

This lack of perception was present among first century disciples of Jesus.  Human nature caused these servants of God to confuse being good with salvation.  When a model example of righteousness was turned away by Jesus, doubt began to creep into the disciples minds, wondering if anyone could be saved?  However, in the passage above, Jesus corrects this flawed mindset by highlighting that nothing is impossible with God.  Unfortunately, Satan has convinced many believers today that God doesn’t have the power to alter, improve or transform their current dilemma.

For nothing will be impossible with God,” Luke 1:37.

A first century doctor provides a cure for this lack of faith.  Luke prescribes that when doubt begins to weaken your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, turn your attention toward history.  The past serves as a reminder of God’s previous power in the lives of Elizabeth, Mary and various miracles throughout the Old Testament.  This record proves that nothing is impossible with God.  Therefore, don’t let the father of lies convince you to close your mind to God’s previous miracles.  May the word of God, Romans 10:17, open your minds to the mega possibilities when you let the Holy Spirit into your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Period

In the context of history, a period is a length or portion of time.  Physics refers to the interval of time between successive occurrences of the same state.  Woman experience a flow of blood and other material from the lining of the uterus, lasting for several days each month.  Meanwhile, English uses a period as a punctuation mark to clearly define the end of a sentence.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

Punctuation enables writers to separate sentences and their elements to clarify meaning.  In my early years,  I was an expert at crafting run on sentences, confusing my teachers and lowering my grade.  To make matters worse, I battled periods of stammering and stuttering throughout high school.  One of the only ways I could clearly communicate was with a pen and paper.  Thus, poor grammar hindered my ability to express myself.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

Oddly enough, I have spent the last 25 years in one form of writing or another.  This began as a poetry teacher in West Virginia, offering nightly active learning workshops for students.  From here I dabbled with song writing, climaxing with an album.  After exploring short stories, I ventured into a monthly news letter called Soul Improvements as an editor.  Serving as a staff writer for Travel Golf Media, developing high school Bible Curriculum and now writing movie scripts is all part of the journey I am on.  I’m not sure where this gift will take me, but I will continue to pursue this quest until God punctuates the end of my life with a period.

by Jay Mankus

When I Can’t Find My Way Out

Although you may not know or recognize it, everyone has their own kryptonite.  This weakness makes human beings limited, powerless or at best, vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.  For me, I can be directionally challenged, regularly losing my way.  Stubbornness only worsens my condition, trusting in myself instead of leaning on outside sources like modern technology.  Unfortunately, some people never make the necessary changes, unable to find their way out of addiction, bad habits or poor choices.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

The author of the book of 1 Corinthians uses history as a way of understanding the past.  As the apostle Paul reflects upon the foundation of Israel as a nation, most died before ever seeing God’s promise fulfilled.  Whether ignorance, selfishness or a lack of vision was to blame, the majority did not please God.  Instead of appreciating manna from heaven, greed led souls to demand more.  God was treated like a grocery clerk at a check out line, praying for this or that without any regard for developing an intimate relationship.  Thus, the wilderness serves as a remainder of what not to do.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13.

What I fail to comprehend about the nature of God is that the Lord uses wilderness phases in life to prepare us for what’s next.  If you don’t adapt, learn or mature during these trials, you won’t be ready to succeed in the future.  While guarding angels are working behind the scenes to usher in the good things God has planned for us, Philippians 1:6, I often get in the way.  Impatience wants me to quickly skip ahead to the next journey in life before overcoming present obstacles.  Thus, it’s sad to say that I can’t find my way out, leaving me stuck living in the wilderness of broken dreams.  Perhaps, 1 Corinthians 10:13 contains the key, the missing link to take those living in defeat toward the door of victory.  May you endure this present life long enough so that the way out is revealed to you through whispers of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

 

Understanding Evil

As someone who has grown to love history, you can likely predict what will happen in the future based upon previous events.  Although past civilizations may have possessed good intentions, the temptation for control, fame and power has a way to side track the most disciplined individuals.  Subsequently, enticement opens the door for evil to corrupt formerly innocent souls.  This shocking reality is where understanding evil begins.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time, Genesis 6:5.

In the years leading up to the biblical flood, a spirit of wickedness spread throughout the earth.  While specific acts aren’t mentioned, murder, violence and war are assumed based upon the accounts within Genesis 4.  As human beings gave into every kind of inclinations, cravings, desires and feelings, hearts became set on evil.  Without any voice of truth holding people accountable, humanism was conceived by doing what’s right in your own eyes.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Today, a similar culture exists where absolutes are considered old-fashioned, stale and not worth the hassle to follow.  When rules become lax in any society, integrity, morality and values tend to decline.  If this trend continues for years or decades, you can easily recognize this in day to day interactions.  This environment allows evil to enter souls through compromise.  When confronted by an authority figure, evil is often discarded by justifying and rationalizing behavior.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

When it comes to explaining the New York City terrorist attack with a dump truck, some are inspired by extreme religious beliefs.  Mass shootings like in Las Vegas and the small church outside of San Antonio, Texas typically reveal some sort of troubled past.  Like a fuse waiting to go off, evil takes over at some point, paralyzing the human conscience.  This sets the stage for disaster.  Until conviction, truth and revival return, evil will continue to reign throughout segments of society.  Only when souls ask God to return can evil be defeated.  May the presence of evil today inspire individuals to open their hearts to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Following in the Footsteps of Judas

As one of my college professors once proclaimed, “If you don’t know history, it is bound to repeat itself with the next generation.”  While reading the passage below, I began to wonder, what caused a disciple of Jesus to fall from God’s grace?  How could someone who spent nearly three years with Jesus betray Him in such a manner.  This topic requires further attention so that others do not follow in the footsteps of Judas.

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him, Mark 14:43-45.

According to John 12, Judas Iscariot served as the money changer.  In modern terms, Judas was the treasurer of the 12 disciples.  Whenever individuals donated to Jesus’ ministry, Judas was responsible for collecting and distributing this money to pay for food and travel during this three year span.  While it’s not mentioned, anyone healed by Jesus would have felt compelled to give something exchange for each miracle performed.  Although not everyone possessed money, the wealthy likely contributed a handsome sum.  As gifts and tithes started pouring in, Judas began to help himself like a corrupt politician.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it, John 12:4-6.

Based upon the passage above, careless use of expensive perfume set Judas off.  Enraged by a prostitute wasting this by anointing Jesus, Judas’ bitterness opened the door for the Devil to enter.  During the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Jesus confronts Judas, referring to him as the Devil.  This public rebuke in front of his peers pushed Judas over the edge, making a deal with religious leaders in exchange for money to hand Jesus over to them.  Whenever individuals allow greed, money or selfishness to influence decisions, integrity is lost.  If you want to avoid this slippery slope, take heed of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24.  Failing to do so may lead to following in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot.

by Jay Mankus

The Value of a Statue

Ancient Greece memorialized their heroes by erecting statues of gods and goddesses throughout cities like Athens.  When visitors passed through the streets, these monuments served as a reminder of their importance within the Greek culture.  During a first century mission trip to this region, the apostle Paul took some time to explore before Silas and Timothy arrived.  While waiting for his friends, Paul became overwhelmed by the images he observed.  Despite being offended, Paul desperately sought to engage the citizens of Greece, searching for something, anything they shared in common.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

Although Paul does not give an actual number of statues that he witnessed, it appears to be in the hundreds.  As a former Pharisee, the zealot within him immediately thinks of these statues as idols, breaking the second commandment within the Torah, You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them,” Exodus 20:4.  However, the teaching of Jesus moved Paul to put a positive spin on what he saw, calling a crowd of Greeks religious.  This compliment opens the door to allow Paul to introduce philosophers to the unknown God based upon an altar erected by a former citizen.

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you,” Acts 17:22-23.

Sure, every culture possesses something that is offensive.  Whether this is a document, religious background or statue, history is meant to educate individuals, not divide citizens.  The United States of America was founded on the principle of free speech earning the nickname back in the 1970’s as the great American melting pot.  The first amendment of the Bill of Rights declares Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  This is what makes America great.  However, if the citizens of this country allow government officials to destroy or remove historic statues of the past, there were will nothing to warn us from making the same mistakes.  May the events of Charlottesville in August of 2017 help people see the real value of a statue.

by Jay Mankus

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