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Living as a Fugitive from God

Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones star in the 1993 the Fugitive.  When noted surgeon Richard Kimble is wrongfully accused, tried and convicted for the brutal murder of his wife, a crash enables him to escape to prove his innocence.  Like any modern murder mystery series, sometimes the evidence is overwhelming, making it nearly impossible to convince authorities of the truth.  Thus, most fugitives are forced to runaway until a plan is advised to regain their freedom through the justice system.

But the man who was injuring his neighbor pushed Moses away, saying, ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this remark Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons, Acts 7:28-29.

One of the forefathers of Israel found himself in a similar position.  Raised by the daughter of Pharaoh, Moses could no longer remain silent as his descendants were being treated as slaves of Egypt.  When Moses witnessed a brutal beating, he avenged the oppression of one man by killing an Egyptian.  As soon as news spread of Moses’ act of aggression, he fled to Midian, leaving as a fugitive for forty years.  All we know about these wasted years is that Moses fathered two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was astonished at the sight; but as he went near to look more closely, the voice of the Lord came [to him, saying], Acts 7:30-31.

You don’t have to commit a crime to feel like a fugitive.  Rather, all you need to do is make other things in life a greater priority than God.  If this trend continues, it won’t be long before Sunday is just another day to do what you want instead of pausing to worship the Lord.  God nudged Moses by using an angel to get him back on track, in the direction of where the Lord desires.  Sadly, I find myself in a similar place, living as a fugitive from God.  I thought Easter Sunday would reignite a fire within my soul, but my priorities haven’t changed.  I shouldn’t need an angel to tell me to return to church.  Rather, an infusion from the Word of God, the Bible should provide conviction to bring me back again.

by Jay Mankus

An Excuse to Hide

In most judicial cases, the innocent will be absolved, acquitted and excused from any blame from a previous accusation.  Truth has a way shinning light on the guilty party or parties.  Meanwhile, those who walk with integrity tend to be vindicated.  Unfortunately, everyone has a weakness, a blind spot where logic and reason is not always applied.  Thus, if you find yourself caught with your hand in a proverbial cookie jar, there is a natural inclination to run away and hide.  Perhaps, this is something human beings have inherited from Adam and Eve, a flaw that must be addressed.

Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked; and they fastened fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the]presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:7-8.

Prior to original sin, there was an innocence, a freedom that existed within human beings.  Yet, when you go beyond clearly defined boundaries, the consequences tarnish souls.  After tasting fruit from a forbidden area of the garden, guilt infiltrated human hearts.  This new feeling brought remorse, sorrow and the weight of a heavy heart, ashamed of breaking God’s only rule in the garden.  All of these built up emotions led to a knee jerk reaction, hiding from God, fearful of His response.  Thus, this collection of internal data influenced the earth’s first family to flee, an excuse to hide.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:1-3.

Several centuries later, a prophet receive a calling from God.  Afraid and unwilling to heed this call, Jonah attempts to go in the complete opposite direction of Nineveh.  Depending upon which Bible commentary you prefer, there is a belief that Jonah knew the wicked people of Nineveh would repent.  Feeling as if they were an undeserving nation, Jonah refused to preach a message of forgiveness.  Thus, in his own mind, Jonah felt justified to run away from God.  However, a hurricane, abandoning ship and a journey in the belly of whale transformed Jonah’s heart.  Therefore, the next time you feel compelled to run or hide from God’s calling, repent now or you may end up experiencing a life threatening situation.  May these two encounters serve as teachable moments to alter your course now.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When You Can’t Put It Back in the Box

Pandora’s box is an artifact from Greek mythology.  However, this box was actually a jar that belonged to Pandora.  Upon opening the lid, all the evils of the world escaped.  When she placed the lid back on, the only thing remaining inside of Pandora’s box was hope.  This story illustrates certain things in life like innocence.  When individuals entertain temptation, purity will eventually be lost.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves, Genesis 3:7.

Ancient writings and the Bible share similar stories passed on from one generation to the next.  The story of original sin starring Adam and Eve parallels Pandora’s Box.  Despite given only one rule to obey, the image of the tree of life planted a seed of lust within human hearts.  The more Eve stared at the fruit hanging from the limbs, enticement clouded her judgment.  As soon as she took a bite and gave one to her husband to try as well, Eve quickly realized that you can’t put it back in the box.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:8.

Just as Pandora was filled with remorse for allowing evil to enter the world, guilt caused Adam and Eve to hide from God.  Today, many people do not enter churches due to scars from their past.  Wounds to the soul cause individuals to withdraw, ashamed of who they are or what they have done.  Satan has convinced many broken souls that God can not forgive them for their sins of the past.  This mindset serves as an obstacle to healing.  Although you can’t put evil back into Pandora’s Box, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection occurred to cancel your sins, Colossians 2:13-15.  Despite your current spiritual condition, may the promise of eternal life in 1 John 5:13 give you hope to overcome the spiritual forces of evil in this world.

by Jay Mankus

Traumatized

 

One of the medical websites I researched lists 5 specific categories of trauma.  Complex, Early Childhood, Medical, Refugee and Traumatic Grief.  The actual definition of this term refers to any experience that inflicts deep distress or is emotionally disturbing.  This state is often induced by accidents, injuries or witnessing someone die.  Anyone who endures such an event can be traumatized for hours, days, weeks or months.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you, 1 Peter 5:7.

Anyone alive during the life of Christ may have seen one of the most brutal ways to die.  After receiving up to 39 lashing in the public square, Jesus carried a cross until Simeon took over and then was crucified.  Even those who despised Jesus’ message, must have felt pity or remorse at some point.  Despite his innocence, Herod followed Jewish tradition, setting the criminal Barabbas free as a mob demanded Jesus to die in his place.  If those who have seen this gore in the Passion of the Christ struggle to watch, image the trauma exhibited by those who were disciples and followers of God’s son.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron, Psalm 107:13-16.

One of the difficult signs of trauma is that its often invisible.  Sure, body language, facial expressions and posture reveal someone who is mourning.  Yet, wounds to the soul go unnoticed, lingering for months, years or in worse case scenarios, a lifetime.  In certain cases, guilt causes some to remain traumatized until they forgive themselves.  This situation is played out in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams playing a psychologists tells Matt Damon, an orphan its not your fault.  If you find yourself trying to recover from a traumatic events, may the prayer of the Psalmist above provide the words to receive the healing that you seek and strive to achieve.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Reunion of Sorts

Time has a way of healing wounds from the past.  Although things will never be the same, when you run into an old face, its nice to reminisce.  If you have the opportunity to talk long enough, you may even encounter a reunion of sorts.

Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence, Isaiah 43:26.

Unfortunately, human emotions struggle to overlook transgressions of the past.  Some people may never recover from the heartache they have endured in life.  Thus, forgiveness is sometimes an empty word spoken as bitterness causes individuals to hold grudges.  Subsequently, until reconciliation occurs, a true reunion will have to wait.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19.

While interacting at a graduation party over the weekend, I learned a painful lesson.  Before you can move forward, you have to let go your past.  It may be a tough pill to swallow, but repentance without acts of contrition is meaningless.  Therefore, bury the hatchet now while there is still time so that a full reunion can be completed.

by Jay Mankus

Fantastic Lies

Over Spring Break, I spent a sleepless night catching up on several of ESPN’s 30 for 30 episodes.  The feature which struck a nerve was entitled Fantastic Lies, a documentary on three Duke University men’s lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape.  Unfortunately, in recent years certain issues create a firestorm and in this typically case some are assumed to be guilty before all the facts are presented.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful, Hebrews 10:23.

In this age of political correctness, innocent until proven guilty no longer applies.   The media has a tendency to jump to conclusions, labeling the villian and making it nearly imposible for justice to be achieved.  As the three Duke players and their parents found out, if Americans don’t have the financial means to defend themselves, fantastic lies can place the innocent behind bars.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded, Hebrews 10:35,

From an Easter perspective, those who fear Christianity continue to spread lies about Jesus.  As the sermon that I heard on Sunday proclaimed, if skeptics can prove Jesus never rose from the dead, the Christian faith would be destroyed.  Thus, fantastic lies continue today, hoping that one will cause countless to abandon their faith.  To prevent this trend from being effective, make sure that you open the Bible daily so that the truth within will set you free.

by Jay Mankus

 

Ignorance

Blindness, unawareness and vagueness are what I call kind synonyms for ignorance.  Harsher terms involve crudeness, disregard and incapacity.  Scholars often blame a lack of education, innocence or not being enlightened by social etiquette.  Whenever you go or whatever you do, you are destined to encounter some form of ignorance.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

Before the decline of a biblical family in America, social skills were taught at home.  Character, discipline and hard work were displayed by parents, not just empty words.  If children ever got in trouble in school, parents handled behavior problems at home.  Unfortunately, a spirit of ignorance has enabled a younger generation to find an excuse for their actions or shift the blame, sometimes playing the race card.

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance, Hebrews 9:7.

From a theological perspective, the ignorant can be classified as amoral.  The immoral are those who have been exposed to right and wrong, but chose not to follow what they were taught.  The moral obey the boundaries laid down by their belief system.  Meanwhile, the amoral are those individuals who have never been introduced to specific absolutes.  Thus, ignorance continues to exist today until conviction, usually from reading the Bible, opens our eyes to see the error of our ways.

by Jay Mankus

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