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When People Die Before They Reach the ER

Unfortunately, tragedy makes the headlines as well as the front pages of news papers every summer in the form of heat stroke related deaths, infants left in vehicles too long or wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time.  Former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards tries to mentor rookies each season by proclaiming, “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”  Despite these warnings, curiosity often cause people to die before they reach the Emergency Room.

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.

Addiction is one of many silent killers that can be curtailed by accountability.  In biblical times, communities, families and the local synagogue served as positive peer pressure, providing boundaries to keep morality in and evil out.  While everything is cyclical, apathy, humanism and vanishing absolutes are re-writing how individuals should live.  This loosening of society has perverted freedom, resulting in chaos on the streets of major cities.  According to Jesus, the seed of murder is conceived when a spirit of anger consumes a human heart.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell, Matthew 5:22.

Despite Eve’s sin, Adam’s lack of leadership and a world falling apart at the seams, no one seems to care.  An avalanche of emotions is stoking a fire of hatred, resentment and revenge.  What ever happened to common sense?  Will anyone ever wake up to smell the coffee of a society slipping away from God?  If these warning signs continue to be ignored, doctors will be helpless to act, like a M.A.S.H. unit who receives their patients too late, dead on arrival.  May the  words of a classic song “Stop Children What’s that Sound ” prompt hearts of actions to reverse the trend of a culture slip sliding away from God.

by Jay Mankus

Ignoring an Obvious Blessing

As the sun rises on another day, alarms sound waking up individuals to begin a new adventure.  Pressed by hustle, bustle, and trying to get ahead in life, leaves many oblivious to a blessing right before their eyes.  The greatest miracle on earth are the children that are procreated and conceived by woman.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. – Psalm 127:3-4

While the passage above is true, love, sex and relationships can’t be forced.  Panicking due to a barren womb, Sarah tried to force the issue by sharing her maidservant with Abraham, her husband.  This selfish act gave birth to Ishmael, the Father of Arab nations.  This momentary lapse of judgment has haunted the nation of Israel ever since creating a clear and present danger for the Jewish faith.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. – Psalm 127:1

According to Solomon, churches and homes can’t be manufactured.  Though each requires discipline, hard work and faith, the future of any heritage is dependent upon the Lord.  Formulas, gadgets and technology may give a perception of success, yet in the end God will either bless or curse man-made efforts.  Therefore, before you start your next adventure, project or task, follow the words of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 so you no longer ignore obvious blessings.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Voice of Experience

Confidence isn’t lacking in society today as narcissists can be found in nearly every work place.  However, a humble voice of experience is missing from many segments, replaced by pride and arrogance.  When absent, people can lose their way, often repeating the same mistakes that have led past empires to disappear.

 Psalm 118

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

The words of Psalm 118:8-10 sound like something King David would have said.  After calling for and taking a census of Israel’s tribes, a spirit of conviction falls upon David.  Failing to listen to his commander Joab, a voice of experience, God punishes Israel’s for David’s sin of pride, 1 Chronicles 21:1-8.  When given three options for his penalty, David opts for the hand of God, 1 Chronicles 21:9-15.

Although Public Service Announcements for the Boys & Girls Clubs are important, its essential for mentors to rise up to begin influencing a generation looking for positive role models.  On the other hand, its also vital for adults to remain teachable so that advice from the Joab’s in your life aren’t ignored.  May you take heed of the Psalmist by learning to take refuge in God rather than trusting the hands of men.

by Jay Mankus

Waking Up in the Wrong World

In the not so distant past, complainers were once ignored.  As time was wasted by being petty, hard working individuals built this country, trying to earn a piece of the pie.  Dreams were acted upon, not just idle talk without action.  Like waking up in a daze, I now find myself stuck in the wrong world, trying to figure out how this happened so fast.

Unfortunately, atheists have led the way, convincing lawyers that being offended by God has to stop.  Thus, the minority is the majority, transforming the spiritual climate of the United States.  When you add in political correctness, education without morality and families without faith, the days of Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver are gone.

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter

While driving back and forth to work, I stumbled across House of Their Dreams by Casting Crowns.  These lyrics talk about people who come to the realization that their career and or life isn’t what they had in mind.  This stunning truth is like a prodigal who comes to their senses, Luke 15:17.  Whether its Christmas or the dawn of a new year, may the state of your soul inspire you to seek something more, John 10:10.  Although we all have to cope with a wrong world, apply the principles of 1 Peter 2:11-12 so that you don’t wake up in the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Thrills That Kill

One of my favorite summer pastimes is visiting amusement parks across the country.  Whether its  Cedar Point, Kings Island or one of the 6 Flags venues, there is nothing like the thrill of riding on a roller coaster.  This rush of adrenaline creates a sensation that makes you feel like you’re flying through the air.  However, for the paranoid, history serves as a notice that some rides can kill.

According to an NBC News report from July of 2014, most amusement accidents occur to children, roughly 4,400 per year or 20 per week during the peak season.  The most recent investigation on amusement park death found 52 individuals died over a 15 year people, with the latest victim a woman from Texas who fell out of a 14 story wooden coaster.  Despite strict safety regulations, there is no guarantee when the next malfunction will end in disaster.

From a spiritual perspective, there is a reason why God includes guidelines for life in the Bible.  If ignored, its easy to wander into trouble, just ask Eve.  Meanwhile, the acts of the sinful nature have been added for New Testament readers, warning people of the dangers of indulging in Turkish delights, Galatians 5:19-21.  Just as Peter explored Narnia, attractive to the promises of the White Witch, most human beings can’t resist the pleasures of earth.  Thus, if you’re not careful, you might develop a taste for thrills that can kill.

by Jay Mankus

Living in a State of Disrepair

After breaking 2 ribs back in February, I wasn’t able to do some of the things around my house that I take pride in, mowing the grass and manicuring my golf green.  Thus, in the spring I handed over these responsibilities over to my 2 sons, assuming we were on the same page.  Unfortunately, as I glanced around my yard this afternoon, one thing is clear, “I’m living in a state of disrepair.”

Although not everyone is prone to become a hoarder, I guess we all have some sort of collection or fetish which blinds us from reality.  For some its clothes, others relish in shoes and for me, I have a weakness for golf clubs.  Somewhere in the past 6 months, I’ve stopped caring about minor details.  Little did I know that these routine chores would snowball out of control, leaving me paralyzed pondering, “where do I start?”

The words of Luke 12:48 have hit home for me today.  According to Jesus, “to whom much is given, much is required.”  When you are a parent, spouse and homeowner, work never stops, at least there is always something that needs to be done to be a good steward of the possessions God has given you.  Yet, if you forget, ignore or neglect this responsibility, you too will know what it feels like to be living in a state of disrepair.  May God awaken you and I from this stupor so that day by day, we will rise to meet future challenges.

by Jay Mankus

A Mid-Faith Crisis

Hollywood’s depiction of a mid-life crisis doesn’t get much better than the 1991 film City Slickers.  Billy Crystal plays a man in his late 30’s who has lost his joy for life.  Depressed, disappointed and struggling to maintain hope for the future, Crystal is sent away by his wife to find himself during a week in Colorado with his buddies.  Disturbing their trail guide, a chain of events culminates in a mid-faith crisis, a watershed moment for Crystal and his 2 friends.

Beyond the big screen, dysfunctional faith forces individuals to confront life’s problems or ignore them, wishing they will disappear.  Enduring a restless night, hours of reflection revealed a troubled heart.  Some where during the last 5 years, I began to neglect most of the relationships in my life.  Subsequently, I find myself in a mid-faith crisis, not sure where to begin.  As my faith has turned lukewarm, Revelation 3:16, not pleasing to the Lord, its time to start over or like the life lesson in City Slickers, do everything better with Christ’s help.

In times of intense difficulty, its easy to throw up your hands, wave the white flag and withdraw into a shell.   Yet, each crisis provides a crossroad where you will wilt under pressure or trust God in the dark.  This critical moment will dictate your proximity to God.  As one who is approaching 30 years of walking with Jesus, I wish I could say faith gets easier the older you become.  Unfortunately, complications in life prove to serve as obstacles, mountains that prevent you from experiencing genuine faith.  Whenever you approach, face or stand in a valley of despair, remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:21-22 to conquer any mid-faith crisis you encounter.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Delaying God’s Promises

As I turned on the television this morning, I felt like God was talking directly to me.  Dr. Tony Evans was reminding his congregation that neutrality does not exist in the spiritual realm.  You’re either drawing closer to God, gathering up treasures for heaven or you’re falling away, disappointed by the lack of promises you’ve received if any.  Instead of blaming God for unfulfilled promises, disobedience, rebellion or unbelief essentially delays one from experiencing these blessings on earth.

According to Matthew 12:30, Jesus can’t be any clearer about his expectations for his followers.  “If you’re not with me, gathering people toward the kingdom of God, you’re against me!”  Though it sounds good today, you can’t pick and choose which commandments you follow and which you ignore and or neglect.  During my month long ordeal with my lung, liver and ribs, I began to slip away from God, frustrated by the hand I have been dealt the last few years.  However, my response has delayed God’s timing, waiting for obedience from me before I was accompanied by blessings, Deuteronomy 28:2.

I guess the easy thing to do is blame God for your lack of progress, success or wealth in life.  Nonetheless, David says it best in Psalm 37:3; “trusting in the Lord and striving for holiness comes first.”  Until this occurs, peace and safe pastures are on hold.  Therefore, don’t delay God’s promises any further by idleness.  Rather, delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.

by Jay Mankus

The Purging of Fools

According to Webster, a fool demonstrates imprudence, silly behavior and unwise acts.  Today, it doesn’t take much effort to recognize foolishness in our culture.  Idiots, imbeciles and morons are making millions as reality TV stars.  Whether its the annoying person on Survivor, the American Idol contestant who can’t sing a lick or drunks on Moonshiners, some where along the way being foolish is now cool, especially if you can amuse others with laughter.

If there was an uncensored version of the Bible, I’m sure Moses muttered numerous things under his breath as he tried to lead a nation of fools into God’s promised land.  As Moses and Joshua listened to God for 40 days, providing guidelines for life, Aaron was holding down the fort as the high priest of Israel until they returned.  Like the blind leading the blind, Aaron panicked, failed to demonstrate leadership and broke the first 2 commandments by creating a golden calf in Exodus 32.  While most pastors stop their sermons here, I’ve never heard anyone speak of the purging of fools.

When the principle enters a classroom unannounced, students usually settle down, putting on their best behavior to avoid getting in trouble.  Unfortunately, when Moses rolled back into camp in Exodus 32:25-28, thousands of Israelites ignored Moses’ entrance, partying like it was 1999.  Like a coach or teacher trying to see who’s paying attention in class, Moses makes a challenge that is answered by the Levites, the priestly tribe, seemingly the only group disturbed by Israel’s reckless behavior.  Subsequently, God purged Israel of 3000 fools, who were not willing to obey or respect God’s commands.

In the New Testament, we find a kinder, gentler God, who offers His grace to those who believe in Jesus, Ephesians 2:4-8.  However, not much has changed since the days of Moses as millions are still living for the day, partying each weekend and are redefining foolishness with acts that  would make Sodom and Gomorrah blush.  As a circus of fools spread throughout America and across the world, may God have mercy, open the eyes of the spiritually blind and transform their lives before foolish acts result in death and destruction.

by Jay Mankus

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