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Famous Rants

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Bombastic, scathing and passionate are words associated with rants.  As a sports fan, three stand out in particular.  After his team turned the ball five teams in defeat, Jim Mora responds to a reporter’s question, “playoffs, you’re talking about playoff; I just hope we win another game.”  Living just outside of Philadelphia, who can ever forget about Allen Iverson’s practice press conference, “we’re talking about practice, not a game.”  Last, but not least is Dennis Green’s tirade after blowing a 14 point lead on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears, “they are who we thought they were, but we let them off the hook.”

They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you, 2 Peter 2:13.

Prior to today, I never thought I would find a rant while reading the Bible, but that all changed after examining 2 Peter 2.  While writing this letter, it appears that something set Peter off.  Whether he was thinking about a specific individual or a collection who share the same mindset, Peter goes off, ripping into those who indulge their sinful nature.  For a moment, I thought I was reading a transcript of a famous press conference.  If only you tube existed back in the first century, this chapter would surely reach over a million hits.

With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! – 2 Peter 2:14

When I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, a slice of the south existed.  What I mean is that every one on our blocked looked after each other.  Subsequently, I didn’t just have my parents; any time I was out of line, a neighbor went off on me, correcting my bad and inappropriate behavior.  Unfortunately, if this occurred today there would be law suits, division and turmoil.  The more I think about this chapter, I believe Peter leaves behind a vital message.  If you want to rant about something, speak out about those things tearing people you love away from God.

by Jay Mankus

Who’s Leading Who?

Over the course of a year, there tends to be a couple of messages, sermons that I can’t avoid.  As conviction lingers, the truth conveyed doesn’t go away.  While laying in bed the other night, one thought kept repeating itself, “who’s leading who?”

When you enter into a new relationship, Romans 10:9-10, priorities should change.  However, if you are use to living a certain way, its hard to adjust or alter your lifestyle.  Although some Christians may talk a good game, yielding control over to Jesus as Lord can be a constant struggle.  Subsequently, some days you do it your way and occasionally you take God’s advice.

The apostle Paul suggests the an internal battle is brewing, Galatians 5:16-18, with sinful desires trying to remain in control.  Meanwhile, these distractions attempt to block your communication with God, Galatians 5:25.  The only way to distinguish God’s still small voice is by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.  The Lord doesn’t force the issue.  Rather, the choice is yours: to live by the Spirit or indulge your fleshly desires.  Who’s leading who?  This answer will be revealed by the fruit that you bear, John 15:7-8.

by Jay Mankus

 

Double Trouble: One Foot in Heaven and the Other in Hell

Anna Chapman, Klaus Fuchs and Frank Abagnale Jr. all have one thing in common, each lived a secret life as a spy for years until eventually having their cover blown.  Even in a normal day to day setting, the desire to be accepted socially does persuade some to become fake, afraid that others will reject who they really are.  Thus, when a student enters college as a freshman, some chose to blend in, living a double life.

I fell into this trap during the years at the University of Delaware.  For a semester, I was one of the most popular freshman on campus, known as one of the 4 horsemen, getting all the invites to parties, hanging out late and playing sports on “the Beach” in place of studying.  When no one was looking, I snuck out of my dorm to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting once a week as a close Christian.  Essentially, I limited my faith to once a week, for an hour, with one foot in heaven and the other in hell.

Unfortunately, this cycle repeated itself during my senior year of college.  Although my faith was not hidden at school, the summer provided a leave of absence from God, indulging in the pleasures on earth.  While not everything I did was evil, I spent too much time dangling on the fence.  I was the epitome of lukewarm, following in the footsteps of the church at Laodicea, Revelation 3:15-16.  This act of double trouble forced me to make a decision, should I stay or should I go?  Though it has not been smooth sailing, I’d rather be on a narrow path than a road that leads to destruction, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Inside the Praise of an Apostle

Praise is not a natural emotion, at least once the sinful nature entered life’s equation.  When one rule was overlooked to indulge curiosity, the world forever changed.  At one point following Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, God’s anger continued for a generation, 40 years to be exact, Psalm 95:10.  Spoiled, spineless and spiritually lukewarm, many Jews forgot how to praise their God.

A few thousand years later, a misguided man was brought to the forefront.  Blinded by the presence of Jesus, a prideful leader was humbled by the Almighty God, Acts 9:1-19.  Although his transformation was immediate, not every cheered, especially the victims of his persecution.  Nonetheless, Saul from Tarsus tarried on with his relationship with God, unlike what most Christians will ever experience.  Pushed to the brink of death several times, a heart of worship grew within the apostle Paul.

Instead of pouting, “why me God,” Acts 16:16-36 takes a look inside a heart of praise.  Punished for doing the right thing, Paul used negative circumstances as a stepping stone to present prisoners with the good news of Jesus Christ.  The rest of this account is a testament to God’s blessings and faithfulness during the storms and trials in life.  If today’s generation of Christians can apply one lesson from the life of Paul, its simple.  Stop pouting and start praising, whether life is good, bad or indifferent, Philippians 4:4-9.

by Jay Mankus

Starving for Conversation

Everyone has their own warts, imperfections that prevent people from achieving peace and prosperity.  For me, my greatest weakness is the inability to slow down to enjoy, indulge or relax by conversing with co-workers, family and neighbors.  Thus, by the end of the day or week, I often find myself starving for conversation.

While a youth pastor in Indiana, I spent 50 hours a week minimum interacting with youth, parents and church staff.  Since my job description involved investing in relationships, I spent countless hours reclining, sharing and walking with a wide range of personalities.  Whether I was tubing in a lake, attending a sporting event or sitting on a dock having an impromptu Bible Study, these were my best years, bringing out my God given talents.

Now twenty years later, its time to reinvent myself as I hunger and thirst for meaningful conversations.  Starting with the beatitudes appears to be a logical starting place, Matthew 5:3-12, encouraging individuals to be listeners first.  From here, the apostle Paul provides good advice in Colossians 4:2-5, adding flavor to the conversations you encounter.  Perhaps, by applying these biblical principles, I will be content, satisfied by future conversations.

What advice do you have for others searching for fulfilling conversations?

by Jay Mankus

Be Careful What You Long For

Based upon recent jaw dropping news from Florida, I guess you can say Van Halen’s 1984 song Hot for Teacher was ahead of its time.  According to a report from Lakeland Police, a 29 year old English teacher has been fired for having sex with 3 boys who were all 17 at the time.  While David Lee Roth initially sang this song as a dream, this fantasy has become reality in too many communities across the country.

The Bible warns readers about the dangers of temptation in James 1:13-15.  When an individual begins to long for something outside of God’s will, your mind loses its ability to think rationally.  Once enticed, humans become like fish unable to turn down Satan’s bait.  Subsequently, lust prompts people to engage in sin like the April 14, 2014 piece in the Lakeland Ledger.

No one is immune to this desire.  If you place yourself into a precarious position, sooner or later you are going to fall, indulging in acts that you log for.  Teenagers who think their faith is strong are often overwhelmed by college, succumbing to alcohol, drugs and rejecting God until its convenient to come back to church.  Perhaps, the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 are a firm warning to anyone on the fence.  Be careful what you long for because bad company corrupts good character, no matter what your intentions may be.

What do you think about the current moral decay across the country?

by Jay Mankus

Quiet Waters

Words like silent, tranquil and undisturbed seem so far away from reality.  While America was sleeping, peace has been replaced by violence, slipped into minds full of mush through video games.  Those who are too busy to care, indulge or play, find their amusement is movies, pop culture and the latest car chase on television.  A life full of distractions, interruptions and noise drowns out the serenity of God’s quiet waters.

This promise of Psalm 23:2 may be a flashback from the image portrayed in Psalm 1:1-3.  Those blessed souls who are able to outran the wicked, flee from the presence of careless sinners and avoid joining a crowd full of mockers find their way through the jungle of life.  Beyond the temptations, lies a bubbling brook, full of love, joy and peace.  This living water offered by Jesus in John 4:10 produces conifers, trees that stay green 365 days a year.  Prosperity is like the morning dew, a subtle reminder of God’s presence in this sacred place.

Once you experience this hidden spring, its hard to find enjoyment in the ways of the world.  Sure, temporary pleasures abound, yet nothing satisfies, quickly losing its allure.  The old Southwest Airlines’ commercials have it partially right.  Yes, you’ve got to get away.  However, where you need to arrive is upon the shores of God’s quiet waters.  Like Kokomo, its a mythical destination that only a few find, Matthew 7:13-14.  May the spirit of God, guide you, step by step, until you reach the healing pool, John 5:1-7.  It doesn’t matter why you came or what state you’re in, as long as you believe entering quiet waters will leave you transformed, once and for all.  Get fulfilled today, Matthew 5:6.

by Jay Mankus

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