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For Who; For What?

During a 1995 NFL game, former running back Ricky Watters purposively dropped a pass thrown to him.  Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, Watters was a safety valve on this play.  If his quarterback felt pressure from the defense, the play design led Watters to the middle of the field, beyond the pass rush.  However, as the play was enfolding, Watters saw that a defensive player primed to hit him hard.  To avoid this massive collusion, Watters simply dropped the ball.  Following the game, reporters gathered around Watters locker, wanting the know the reason for this incomplete pass.  Frustrated by this unwanted attention, Ricky Watters responded, “For who; for what?”

One of the lawyers [an expert in the Mosaic Law] answered Him, “Teacher, by saying this, You insult us too!” 46 But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well, because you weigh men down with burdens [man-made rules, unreasonable requirements] which are hard to bear, and you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers [to lighten the load], Luke 11:45-46.

Looking back on this event from 20 years ago, at least Ricky was honest.  If Watters caught this pass, the play would have gained minimal yardage.  Thus, Watters felt like it was unnecessary to sell himself out on this play.  Getting injured on a play that didn’t amount to much didn’t make sense to a professional athlete trying to protect his body and his career.  While “for who; for what” is a selfish statement, do you blame him for confessing what was truly on his heart?  This comment is no different from first century Pharisees, self-righteous religious leaders who served as the media of their day, regularly pointing out the mistakes of others.  To make matters worse, these Jewish leaders added man made rules to God’s laws.  Corrupted by power given to them by their followers, Pharisees were like modern day politicians who set laws for their country, yet were exempt from that which they expect others to obey.

Woe to you lawyers, because you have taken away the key to knowledge (scriptural truth). You yourselves did not enter, and you held back those who were entering [by your flawed interpretation of God’s word and your man-made tradition],” Luke 11:52.

As people read the Bible for the first time, they might not say “for who; for what?”  Yet, people will silently think, “what’s the point?”  Others will ponder, “why should I believe in something written almost two thousand years ago?”  This skepticism is natural in a world always challenging and questioning authority.  Immediately following Peter’s public confession that Jesus is the promised Messiah, Jesus reveals an oxymoron about life.  “If you want to save your life, you will lose it.  However, if you are willing to give up your life, you will save it.”  This head scratching statement from Mark 8:35-37 unveils the purpose for life on earth.  The who is the creator of the heavens and the earth.  The what is dedicating your life by making an eternal difference with the life that God has given you.  When you surrender your aspirations by committing to serving Jesus Christ as Lord, the Holy Spirit enables you to see the big picture, eternity in heaven.  This choice is not forced, but my prayer is that souls are rejuvenated by the message of this blog.

by Jay Mankus

Forgiveness Opens the Door for Love

One of the barriers standing between forgiveness is stubborn hearts as certain individuals are unable to forgive or forget a previous transgression.  This unwillingness to let go of the pain inflicted shuts the door on the potential for love.  This reluctance sets the stage for bitterness, like an invisible poison that slowly kills relationships.  Unless there is a willingness to let God in to mend and repair fences, reconciliation is merely a dream.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will], Revelation 3:19.

In the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, John gives an honest assessment of seven churches.  While a few receive compliments, several are exposed for previous actions, beliefs and deeds.  Despite this list of flaws, John uses an analogy of a door to illustrate free will.  God is willing to offer forgiveness, yet souls must demonstrate an enthusiastic spirit of repentance.  Every day God is like an eager visitor, knocking on the door of your heart, but the Lord waits for your invitation.  There is no forced entry.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant to him [the privilege] to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:20-21.

At the end of this passage, God reveals another obstacle in the way of forgiveness.  Overcoming the world involves mindsets, philosophies and traditions that have become embraced by most of society.  This makes following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts that much more difficult.  Peer pressure only complicates any desires to seek God’s ways.  Free will is a daily exercise full of choices with the hope that you stay near enough so that you can hear God’s voice.  For those who fulfill this call, motivation comes as God forgives you.  Thus, as believers pay it forward, forgiveness opens the door for love to flow out of your heart, passed on to others.

by Jay Mankus

 

Nobody is Listening

Every once in a while people are blinded by pride.  This overconfidence within the minds of individuals results in losing touch with reality.  Subsequently, as someone wanders off on a tangent, the audience initially listening quickly tunes out.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; Proverbs 2:2.

There is nothing worse as a teacher than to be so consumed with what you are saying that you fail to recognize no one is listening.  Despite what you thought to be a flawless lesson plan has turned into a snoozer as blank stares and sleeping students force you to figure out what went wrong.  Although it may be humbling, sometimes you have to be open to an honest assessment from students.  While some comments may be inspired from impure motives, you will find blunt answers that reveal why nobody is listening.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,’ Revelation 2:7.

After sharing a parable, Jesus often used the saying, “let him who has ears hear.”  This spoke to the stubbornness within human hearts.  If you think you are right, then you become oblivious to those who possess an opposing point of view.  Many who heard the powerful illustrations of Jesus often left turning a deaf ear, continuing on the current path they were on.  Therefore, if you want to know the truth why nobody is listening, you have to be open to change as the Holy Spirit reveals the next step, Galatians 5:25, to take in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s a Yes or No Question

In an ever expanding politically correct world, expressing your true feelings can be dangerous.  If honest, heart felt opinions are shared which don’t fit into the socially accepted ideology, expect Twitter to light up.  When human beings are verbally assaulted, its natural to become coy, hiding what you really believe.  This sets the stage for responses to be on the fence, often giving maybes to a yes or no questions.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one, Matthew 5:37.

In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus verbalizes his concern over people falling into the temptation to give lukewarm replies.  When asked a question, you shouldn’t confuse or lead people on.  Rather, just come out and keep the vows you make.  Anything that you can’t commit to, just say no.  Any other choice or option is inspired by the Devil.

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that,” James 4:15.

The earthly brother of Jesus adds to this concept.  However, James encourages individuals to take life one day at a time.  Trying to please people can lead to disappointment or cause someone to be over extended.  Therefore, keep your life in the context of the Lord’s will.  Life is too short to promise this or that.  Rather, live each day as if the Lord is returning today.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Facing an Unforgiving Heart

For 364 days a year, hatred often controls the daily news cycle.  This is displayed through crimes against humanity, terrorist attacks and violent protests.  Yet, the calendar suggests that on February 14th love should replace hate.  Even if you have someone special to be your valentine, many individuals are confronted by a person or people with an unforgiving heart.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 16:15.

If you are honest with yourself, everyone has someone who rubs you the wrong way.  This could be a co-worker, neighbor or relative.  Coping with, forgiving and loving this individual requires an extra portion of grace.  Certain actions, gestures and words may lead you to flip out, building a wall of resentment that can result in harboring a spirit of unforgiveness within your heart.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, Colossians 3:13.

The apostle Paul makes a great recommendation for those of you facing an unforgiving heart.  Despite how difficult it may be, the key to spreading love throughout the year involves bearing with one another.  While you may get impatient, let go of any grievance that you have against others.  In doing this, you will love others as Christ loved you.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Loose Lips Sink Relationships

One of Billy Joel’s most profound songs Honesty debuted on the airways in 1979.  Part of the 1978 album 52nd Street, the chorus of this ballad suggests honesty is such a lonely word.  Perhaps, Billy Joel was on to something, prophetic, sharing a glimpse of what the future would hold.  Before gun or fist fights, human beings often talked out their differences, no matter how heated a conversation got.  Unfortunately, in this age of Facebook, texting and Twitter, loose lips expressed on social media can sink relationships.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! – Psalm 141:3

Depending upon your personality, you will either seek confrontation or run away.  Texting has emboldened some former cowards by avoiding face to face encounters.  Yet, what is posted, typed or shared can create a wedge between friends.  Politics, religion and worldviews are factors that tend to divide neighborhoods.  When opinions are openly expressed on these topics, loose lips sink relationships.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

The apostle Paul provides a solution to those who have fractured relationships due to careless words.  Sure, all human beings are imperfect, prone to moments of weakness where the choice of language is inappropriate.  In view of this, the more positive you remain, the less likely you will offend friends and strangers.  Faking this will prove to be a waste of time so its essentially to be genuine and honest.  While no one will ever be 100% encouraging all the time, this is the goal to restore formerly loose lips to repair relationships.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Far From the Truth

Whether you are examining biblical principles, the constitution or terrorism, answers will vary depending upon the world view you can eventually adopt.  When America was founded, Christian theism was the most dominant worldview.  Yet,  post-modernism has now surpassed theism, redefining that which was once true.  What makes post-modernism attractive to millennials is that this worldview believes human beings only have a limited knowledge.  Thus, man cannot know anything absolutely, a view far from the truth Americans once held as a nation.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

As the media now airs, presents and reports current events, every story is filtered through worldviews.  While post-modernism is predominant, journalists may also adhere to Existentialism, Nihilism and Pantheism.  Existentialism believes each individual creates who they are by the choices they make in life.  Nihilism states that laws and values the government tries to indoctrinate or force upon a person can justifiably be resisted which explains the recent violence within protests.  Finally, New Age Pantheism believes that you can become a god by raising your consciousness.  So the next time you hear, see or read about current events, the context of what actually happened may be far from the truth.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth, Psalm 145:18.

One of the reasons why sites like the Drudge Report have become so popular is that the news is presented unfiltered.  Meanwhile, the motto of Fox News, “We Report and You Decide” is also appealing to those who feel like the press isn’t being fully honest and open.  As the Lord continues to change, other new worldviews will arise and take shape.  Thus, unless you stay updated on the latest trends, your understanding of current events will be far from the truth.  Therefore, be diligent in, educated and seek the Lord to obtain understanding.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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