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Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Heartbeat of Heaven

Inside the human body, the sinoatrial node serves as the heart’s pacemaker.  Within the right atrium, electrical activity in the form of impulses initializes a small bundle of specialized cells.  As currents spread throughout the walls of the atria, contractions begin to alternate and relax, allowing blood to naturally flow through the heart.  These intricacies point to a Creator, designing the miracle called life.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 26:36.

The Bible is filled with analogies and imagery relating to the heart.  King Solomon calls the heart the well spring of life.  Yet, the prophet Jeremiah reveals a secret and dark side, like a poison which can contaminate your soul.  However, Jesus leaves no question about the role of the heart on earth.  The Lord gave human beings a heart for one purpose, to love one another.  This is the heart beat of heaven.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, John 15:12-13.

Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus shares some final instructions to his disciples, preparing them for his death and life after his ascension into heaven.  Trying to keep things simply, Jesus suggests love is a barometer of your faith.  Depending upon your level of commitment, lives will either be grazed, touched or impacted by your degree of love.  Regardless of where you are spiritually, its never too late to ask for a heart of love so that the heart beat of heaven can be felt on earth.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Hurry Up!

Somewhere between childhood and becoming a grown adult, I have become extremely impatient.  Whether I am driving a car, eating a meal or socializing, I seem to always be in a rush to get to no where.  Unfortunately, for people like me who suffer with this strong impulse, its hard to relax or enjoy the finer things in life.

When I received my first real full time job offer after graduating from college, I moved to southern Indiana to pursue a calling in youth ministry.  Although 10 years behind the East Coast culturally speaking at the time, the people I met and embraced altered my impatience to a manageable condition.  This social environment, in the heart of Country Music, broke me of my poor relational habits and taught me good ole fashion southern hospitality as I instantly connected to many families in Columbus, Indiana.

However, like a video game, accelerating in speed and difficulty with each new level, I have found myself back in the rat race.  Promoted by the pace of life on the East Coast, this mentality keeps inhabitants from reaching a Mark 1:35 intimacy with God.  Silence is replaced by honking horns, cell phone ring tones and internet alert sounds.  Don’t let a hurry up life style influence your heart any longer.  Rather, find a cave, 1 Samuel 22:1-2, retreat to the mountains, 1 Kings 19:11-13 or find a quiet room, Matthew 6:6 so you can be still before the Lord, Psalm 46:10.  Hurry up now or you’ll never break this rat race mentality!

by Jay Mankus

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