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Stop Messing Around

While in high school, I usually played one of two roles. I was either messing around, acting like a childish immature kid who wanted to take a break from being serious. Or I was the adult in the room later on in school, overwhelmed by my conscience asking my friends, “are you sure we should be doing this?” In the case of Abraham, God placed him into a scenario where he was forced to stop messing around in life.

After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you, Genesis 22:1-2.

When called by God to sacrifice the promised son that Abraham and his elderly wife waited decades to be fulfilled, he leaves before daybreak. Abraham doesn’t consult his wife about this matter as this isn’t a suggestion. After a sleepless night, Abraham mentally prepares himself for the journey that awaits. I can only imagine the thoughts going through Abe’s mind as he set out to sacrifice his beloved son.

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, Genesis 22:3-4.

Looking back on my own life, I spent four years of college straddling the fence with one foot indulging my sinful nature and the other wanting to please God. There was one song that struck a nerve in my heart of my lukewarm spirit, Revelation 3:16. Ray Boltz in Feel the Nails uses the expression “stop playing games” in this chorus. While on a retreat in Friendship, Maryland, this song changed my life and brought me to a place like Abraham to stop messing around by taking my faith in Jesus serious.

by Jay Mankus

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When Christian’s Don’t Know How to Act

Becoming a Christian is like new parents coming home from the hospital with their first child. Adults may take Lamaze classes in preparation, but once there are no doctors around to tell you what to do, you’re on your own. While most churches provide literature for new believers or offer classes to help prepare newbies for a new life in Christ, there are still more questions than answers. Subsequently, countless Christians often don’t know how to act after trusting in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions. One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables. Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand, Romans 14:1-4.

While visiting the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul came into contact with new, immature and weak Christians. The passage above provides advice for coping and dealing with Christians who don’t exactly know how to act yet. As a former high school coach, Paul’s words remind me that not every individual responds well to criticism. Some people need encouragement, others need a pat on the back and the lackadaisical could use a stern talking to promote spiritual growth.

Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. 15 You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 16 But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:14-17.

The earthly brother of Jesus was introduced to the concept of sins of omission. Perhaps, the Pharisees became so concerned about religious practices such as resting on the Sabbath that they failed to see opportunities to help and serve others. When his older brother was crucified on a cross at age 33, James realized that life is too short to not to know how to act. Therefore, if your conscience or the Holy Spirit compels you to act and you do not, you’re just as guilty as a sinner. Therefore, seize each day and learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you begin to learn how to act as a Christian daily.

by Jay Mankus

Taking A Back Seat To Your Children

In my younger days, naive and immature, I cared more about my men’s softball team than my oldest son’s T-Ball game.  Thus, as other men were coaching and influencing my son James, I got lost in trying to relive and hold on to my youth.  Learning the hard way, I realized Father Time couldn’t be beaten before I took a back seat where my children could be in the forefront.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3.

Unfortunately, too many young men never see the light, blinded by selfish ambition.  Fueled by pride, egos cause adults to remain the center of attention, long after their own high school graduation.  While hanging out in bars reminiscing about the Glory Days, far too many children are growing up without a role model to emulate.  Subsequently, teenagers often look toward pop culture to find meaning in life, only to be disappointed in the long run.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

After hearing the phrase “its better to give than receive” countless times throughout life, I finally tasted a piece of this fruit over the weekend.  As a proud parent on Sunday, watching my children all place in the top 3 of their age group, with James earning first, 11th overall, in the 2015 Blue Hen 5K, I realized all those times I went jogging with my kids finally paid off.  Although I was the only one in the family who didn’t medal, it didn’t matter.  I found joy in taking a back seat to my children, observing each one begin to find their niche, place and calling in life.  If you haven’t taken your seat, find one soon.

by Jay Mankus

 

Payne

NBC in affiliation with the Golf Channel debuted their 1 hour special Payne Sunday June 8th, 2014 and reaired this on Monday to commemorate Payne Stewart’s last major golf championship, the 1999 United States Open Championship at Pine Hurst #2.  With Phil Mickelson seeking to win the career grand slam this year at the place where Payne outdeuled him by 1 shot, the timing makes perfect sense.  However, on October 25th, 1999, the world had a different kind of chase, watching cable news networks all day to locate a Leer jet which lost cable pressure shortly after take off, drifting way off course as fighter jets began to follow it.  Winning the P.G.A. Championship on my birthday while in college, I remember this fateful day like it was yesterday as sports lost one of its greatest characters.

Clips  from Payne’s funeral was aired and replayed by the Golf Channel, with many of golf’s greatest players in the attendance, most notably a young Tiger Woods.  Speeches by Paul Azinger and Tracy Stewart his wife, inspired a 2 hour special in 1999, moving most who saw it to tears.  Like a classic movie, I think I watched this original tribute to Payne a half dozen times, eventually leading me to name my second son, Daniel Payne.  In my humble opinion, this second attempt to portray the real Payne Stewart cut and edited out whom became in his final years on earth.

Sure, to captivate an audience, its important to share Payne’s initial years as a brash individual who was immature and at times a jerk.  Clearly explaining Payne’s father influence on his attire, knickers and flare for the game was also beneficial.  Nonetheless, the editors purged Payne’s faith from this film, replacing in with religion.  This sort of revisionist history is disingenuous to those whose closely followed Payne’s transformation from a sinner to a saint.  The NEA may be able to get away with changing history to coincide with its own worldview in modern text books, but the spiritual legacy Payne Stewart has left behind is inspiring me to seek out and attain the abundant life Payne found, John 10:10.  May all who search, find, peace, joy and love before breathing their last breathe, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

To Hell With You

The other night at Bible Study, an impromptu discussion broke out about how hypocritical Christians can be.  In fact, every year people who are seeking God become turned off by churches, pastors and modern day Pharisees who care more about traditions than displaying the love of Jesus.  Instead of continuing their search, hurt people have decided to stay at home, finding other things to do on Sunday.

In business, there was a an old principle called the 3/10.  For every good experience an individual has, they will tell 3 other people.  However, whenever a customer encounters poor service, they reach out to 10 people, sharing their disappointment and frustrations.  Recently, a new ratio has replaced the 3/10 now known as the 11/4 principle, with the negative being the higher number.  Since first impressions often have lasting affects, if you’re not careful, someone might say, ” to hell with you and your religion!”

 

Unfortunately, the reality in life entices most people to get a little too comfortable, caught off guard by unknowing observers.  As a result, Christianity becomes less and less attractive to Americans due to the bad taste of judgmental believers.  In the end, something has to give, either the offended will give God another try or immature followers of Jesus will grow up by starting to resemble the son of God.  Whenever you are on the road of life, Matthew 7:13-14, may God nudge you back in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

Note to Tweeters: Think Before You Tweet

Yesterday, January 28th, 2013, Lesean McCoy, star NFL running back for the Philadelphia Eagles was burned by the world of Twitter.  Initially, claiming someone hacked into his account, (I’ve heard that one before) he publicly apologized for airing his dirty laundry.  In an exchange with his ex-girl friend, Lesean acknowledged that he lost control of his temper and should have been more mature, dealing with this matter face to face like a man during an interview on CSN, the Comcast Sports Network.


Unfortunately, Lesean was not aware of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 21:23. “He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity.”  A womanizer in his own right, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, 1 Kings 11:3, before he settled down.  Solomon recognized that woman often bring out the worst in a man as detailed by his words in Proverbs 21:19.  “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.”  In case you forget, Solomon repeats these warnings throughout Proverbs like the version in Proverbs 21:9.

According to C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, anyone can acquire prudence and temperance, within his chapter on the Cardinal Virtues.  Lewis defines prudence as practical common sense, thinking about what you are about to do or say and the likely outcome of it.  Temperance on the other hand is learning to go or take something to the right distance, but no further.  You don’t have to be religious to apply these basic principles.  Rather, one must have an inner desire to better themselves, to maintain a good reputation and leave a legacy that is honorable.  Therefore, the next time you think about tweeting when you are angry, reflect before making  your words public!  Then, you might make this world a better place.

by Jay Mankus

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