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A Substitute for Reality

As a student, whenever a substitute was standing up front or sitting in a chair, it was like a holiday.  Although plans were passed on, most periods turned into a study hall, a break from the normal routine.  Whether this lasts for a day, week or longer, this individual serves as a substitute for reality.

Stressed out by the events of a week, human beings often turn to their televisions to escape.  Whether its a favorite channel, show or sporting event, this time mends the broken and heals wounded souls temporary.  However, if this habit becomes a life style, entertainment can become a substitute for reality.

Perhaps  the breakdown of the American family started with different viewing interests.  Once on, there isn’t a need for communication as the big screen turns into an alternate reality.  If this pattern continues, minds zone out, numb to deadening relationships inside their home.  As soon as the number of televisions increase to multiple rooms, the stage is set for a divided house.  May those on the verge of falling into this trap, awaken before this idol becomes a permanent substitute for reality.

by Jay Mankus


Exchanging Fear With Joy

In Luke 2:8-9, an ordinary group of people have a supernatural encounter with angelic beings.  These blue collar workers. shepherds in a field, were interrupted from their daily responsibility of overseeing their master’s sheep.  As bright lights shined on their face, each was gripped with fear, paralyzing their bodies as each dropped to their knees trying to protect their eyes the glory of the Lord.

Noticing their response, the angel sent by God brings a message of hope to a dark night in verses 10-12.  According to Luke 2:13, a great company of heavenly hosts appear.  The Greek word Luke chooses is stratus, referring to layers and layers of angels in the skies.  This event doesn’t happen at church or in temple, rather God celebrates Jesus’ birth out in the open.  Somewhere in between Luke 2:9 and Luke 2:14, the shepherds exchange their fear with joy as the angel sang praises to God.

Unfortunately, this simple story has been neglected, overlooked due to modern practices of this holiday.  Christmas is not about exchanging gifts, receiving items that you either don’t need or have too much of.  Rather, Christmas is spiritual practice of exchanging your earthly fears with the joy of Jesus entering the world.  Romans 5:6-8 highlights the true meaning of Jesus’ birth, coming to earth and dying as a perfect sacrifice so that the fear of death is eliminated.  May the promise of John 3:16 transform for you the purpose and meaning of Jesus on this Christmas Day.

by Jay Mankus

Regifting Jesus

Over the years, countless songs have expressed the ideal manner in which to regift Jesus to a lost and dying world, Luke 19:10.  Camp fire songs like “Pass It On” convey how a little spark from the love of God can produce a spiritual fire within another human being.  Hymns such as “Be Not Afraid” supplies a message of hope for those who follow Jesus, promising rest for weary souls.  Modern lyrics from hits like “If We Are the Body” by Casting Crowns questions why acts of believers in Christ aren’t consistent with the words of Scripture, Romans 12:4-5.
The concept of regifting refers to giving or handing down something that you don’t need anything or find appealing.  Unfortunately, this mentality influences who we love, for how long and the extent to which faith is displayed.  Consequently, innocent bystanders are confused by inconsistencies within the church and by those who claim to be Christmas worshipers.  Thus, poor examples of regifting Jesus will leave many at home this holiday season.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the quality of regifting Jesus lies within your heart.  Philippians 2:4 suggests that wounded individuals might need to heal before they can begin to successfully impact others for the good.  Whatever your current condition is, may you look to the Lord for strength, Philippians 4:13.  During these weak moments in life, may the power of the Holy Spirit empower you to regift Jesus in a genuine and loving manner.
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