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When Your World Has Been Shaken

Some reporters have compared the Coronavirus to the millennials 9/11. Since my youngest two children were born after September 11th, 2001, I understand this comparison. For me, I remember exactly where I was when I first received news of two airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers. At this time in history, I was an independent contractor and regional staff writer for Travel Golf Media. Both of my positions were impacted as air travel ceased until new safety standards were implemented. Yet, as the Coronavirus continues to reap havoc throughout America, life as we know it has been disturbed and shaken.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? 10 He replied, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away, 1 Kings 19:9-10.

The Old Testament details a story about a prophet whose own world had been shaken. According to the passage above, the Israelites had turned their back on God, turning a deaf ear to Elijah. Beside feeling useless, altars dedicated to the Lord were discarded from mountain tops. In addition, Elijah’s friends were all killed at the hands of Jezebel. Without any signs of improvement, this former spiritual leader had lost the will to live, giving up hope that God could alter his situation. As a way to get Elijah’s attention, a series of natural disasters struck the land. Taking notice, Elijah did not see the Lord as the source behind the tornado, earthquake and fire. Yet, after these storms, Elijah was ready to hear God’s still small voice.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

Well, if you live in a state like Delaware, you are now under a stay at home order. Normal outdoor sports are now out of the equation, on hold until the Coronavirus fades or dies out. Sure, you can go to the grocery store, get gas and take a walk around the block, but that’s it. So… what is one to do with their life when your world has been shaken? Well, after you binge watch your favorite show or series, dusting off the Bible would be a step in the right direction. The great aspect of free will is that God doesn’t force you to anything. The choices that you make throughout life will shape who you become. May this forced time at home due to the Coronavirus draw you near to God as the world around us continues to be shaken.

by Jay Mankus

Show Up, Stand Up and Speak Out

Showing up on time for appointments, meetings and work reflects where your priorities lie. Whenever you find yourself becoming careless, slipping a little or stuck in unhealthy patterns, others begin to lose hope in you. Thus, showing up is only half the battle, the initial stages of earning the trust of others. When showing up becomes a habit, a building block is laid, a foundation for future things to come.

All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any person, be it man or woman, who shall go into the inner court to the king without being called shall be put to death; there is but one law for him, except [him] to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live. But I have not been called to come to the king for these thirty days, Esther 4:11 .

In the first Psalm, the Psalmist suggests blessings arise from avoiding the temptation to touch, taste or indulge in forbidden behavior. When you fail to stand up for what is right, you run the risk of falling prey to subtle forms of compromise, Psalm 1:1. Stepping, standing and sitting is symbolic of daily actions. Depending upon your spiritual state of mind, you may be vulnerable to conform to peer pressure.

On the third day [of the fast] Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the royal or inner court of the king’s palace opposite his [throne room]. The king was sitting on his throne, facing the main entrance of the palace. And when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight, and he held out to [her] the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the tip of the scepter, Esther 5:1-2.

When you wake up to a new day, only God knows if you are going to turn away from your faith. Although you may experience periods of confidence like Peter, it doesn’t take much to go from walking on water to drowning in doubt, Matthew 14:27-31. Thus, if you find yourself being lured into a false sense of security, stay humble and meek. Putting everything together takes time, prayer and resolve to show, up, stand up and speak up,

Then Queen Esther said, If I have found favor in your sight, O king and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, slain, and wiped out of existence! But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I would have held my tongue, for our affliction is not to be compared with the damage this will do to the king, Esther 7:3-4.

The passages in today’s blog reveal the progress Esther made as queen. Despite being ignored by the king for over a month, Esther kept showing up day after day recognizing the time she was living in. Willing to risk death, Esther’s courage grew daily, standing up for the nation of Israel. When the time arrived to finally speak, Esther’s boldness was rewarded. May the testimony of Esther inspire all of us to show up, stand up and speak up for the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

The Cinderella Story of the Bible

Ella sees her world turn upside down when her beloved mother dies, and her pained father remarries another woman. Just when a glimmer of hope arrives, Ella’s cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball. Lady Tremaine was hoping for one of her daughters two daughters, Anastasia and Drizella, to catch the eyes of the prince at this ball. Despite this dire situation, Ella was determined to honor her mother’s dying words,”have courage and be kind.”

Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it, Esther 2:2-4.

Long before Cinderella’s fairy tale was written, a Jewish woman found herself in a similar situation. When King Ahasuerus banished his ungrateful wife, a beauty contest was organized by the king’s servants. Beautiful virgins were invited to come to the capital city of Shushan. According to Bible scholars, somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 women competed in this Miss Persia Pageant. Uncle Mordecai persuaded Esther to participate, recognizing this contest as a divine opportunity.

Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem, Esther 2:7-9.

The odds for Esther to win this beauty contest was far greater than Cinderella. Yet, each woman received divine intervention. Although none of the top contestants are mentioned by name, I’m sure there were characters similar to Anastasia and Drizella. Just as the prophet Samuel passed over David’s 7 older brothers to choose a lowly shepherd as king, Ahasuerus selected Esther to be his next bribe. This true story should give all men and women hope that nothing is impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

by Jay Mankus

Time for Moving On

In my preparation to write this blog, I found with link with 2974 quotes about healing. There is an old saying that “time has a way of healing all wounds.” Unfortunately, not everyone recovers from an accident, addiction, broken relationship or painful experience. According to a recent study, nearly 15 million Americans struggle with various degrees of depression. These individuals aren’t ready to move on.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, Ecclesiastes 3:1-3.

As a judge, King’s Solomon’s rulings on cases are filled with insight, strategic genius and wisdom. The most famous was a dispute between two woman claiming to be the rightful mother of a living child. After a baby dies in the middle of the night, an awake woman takes a nearby infant and replaces him with her dead child. This case is brought before Solomon, making what appears to be a strange ruling to have this baby cut in two. However, this decision is merely a plan to reveal the true mother, 1 Kings 3.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live], Ephesians 2:10.

Even when you experience a positive outcome following a trial, life can be emotionally draining. Instead of going from point A to point B in a straight line and so on, each week is full of dead ends, detours and road blocks. Trying to stay hopeful, optimistic and upbeat while undergoing hardships is difficult. Yet, with God’s all consuming love by your side, God wants you to let go of the past by setting your sights on the future, Ephesians 2:10.

by Jay Mankus

Just as Dysfunctional as the Next Person

The expression “the new normal” spawned a television series in 2012 based upon a gay couple living in Los Angeles. Instead of promoting a traditional family with a husband and wife, Hollywood decided to redefine what a typical family should look like in the 21st century. Whether you agree with this premise or not, the progressive movement has redefined what is common, expected and typical within society today.

Well then, are we [Jews] superior and better off than they? No, not at all. We have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), are under sin [held down by and subject to its power and control, Romans 3:9.

During the first century, the apostle Paul crossed paths with a community of believers who felt superior to other normal, ordinary citizens. This rubbed Paul the wrong way, inspiring a letter to confront this aloof, cocky and holier than thou complex. Within chapter 1 and 2 of Romans, Paul sets the stage to expose this flawed mentality. To drive home this point, Paul quotes an Old Testament prophet who once proclaimed, “there is no one righteous, not even one.”

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12.

Before these Roman Christians could interrupt Paul with the words, “but I’m different,” their argument is blown out of the water. The only thing normal about everyone who walks the face of the earth is that you are just as dysfunctional as your neighbor, Sure, some will be more godly and moral than others, but no one is perfect. Despite this fact, some still try to tear down others to make themselves feel better. In the end, whether you want to admit it or not, you are just as dysfunctional as the next person due to your own sinful nature. May the hope of forgiveness revive your soul by embracing the Messiah, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Looking Up from Hell

At the end of every year, television networks reflect upon what happened, news worthy events of the year which form a best of list. When a year falls at the end of a decade, this only adds to programming as shows analyze current events of the past year and decade. If you did this for President Trump’s comments or tweets, there aren’t enough days in the year to follow the good, the bad and the ugly. One recent comment got my attention.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14 But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

During a Trump Rally in December, the president went off script. After being impeached by the House, President Trump told a story about a phone call from the widow of John Dingell, a former congressman from New York. Following this story, Trump couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke fun of a former adversary, suggesting that John Dingell might be looking up from hell instead of down from heaven. This particular comment created a fire storm in the media, making headlines on every cable channel and newspaper. Yet, few members of the media reported the full context, that one of Dingell’s last text before dying wished that President Trump would to go to hell. This doesn’t make Trump’s comment right, but it reveals the full context.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Most funerals assume that the loved one who died went to heaven. While this is a natural desire, hope and wish, the Bible paints a different picture. Jesus uses the analogy of two paths, a spacious one which many follow and a narrow trail which few find. Thus, if this is true, there are far more souls looking up from hell rather than looking down from heaven. Since you only get one chance, one life on earth, devote 2020 and beyond to following the Way so that your eternal destination will be secured before you die, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Glory, Honor and Peace

Before stepping down as leader of Israel, Moses gives a farewell address in Deuteronomy 30. In the middle of this speech, Moses gives a call to action in verses 15-17. These words reveal Moses’ hope for the nation of Israel, to listen to and obey God’s commands in the Torah. Based upon the passage below, the apostle Paul revisits this topic by detailing the pros and cons of obedience and disobedience.

But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath. [And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile), Romans 2:8-9.

Paul gives three explanations for why individuals end up habitually doing evil. The first two, self-seeking and self-willed, directly impact the third. Whenever anyone is self-absorbed, certain aspects of reality are overlooked. When you add to this equation by justifying and rationalizing wrong actions, the Truth within the Bible is discarded or ignored.

But glory and honor and [heart] peace shall be awarded to everyone who [habitually] does good, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile), Romans 2:10.

Meanwhile, Paul promises three blessings for those who habitually do good: glory, honor and peace. While Romans 7:15-18 reveals that the ability to do good is hindered by our own sinful nature, Galatians 5:25 explains how the Holy Spirit can lead to good habits. Although you may be tempted to take short cuts or cross the boundaries set in the Bible, if you want to experience glory, honor and peace, doing good is the only path that promises these blessings.

by Jay Mankus

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