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Sweat and Blood

The medical term for sweat and blood is hematidrosis.  Initial signs of this rare condition often develop from the forehead, underneath nails or begin as a nose bleed.  Meanwhile, the phrase blood, sweat and tears refers to pouring your heart and soul into a business, career or project.  When you invest a large portion of your life or time into something special, its like a woman giving birth, enduring labor pains until you see the end result, a child of God.

Jesus did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption, Hebrews 9:12.

While every venture in life is a noble cause, nothing compares to the sacrifice made by the Son of God.  Following Adam and Eve’s blunder, the serpent, symbolic of Satan, is notified about an individual who will crush his head.  Yet, this wasn’t possible until a series of event had to play out.  An the eve of the completion of God’s plan, overwhelming stress led Jesus’ sweat to become like blood.  Whether this was figuratively or literally occurred, it doesn’t matter.  The point is that an innocent man laid down his life, willing to die, once and for all to atone for the sins of the world.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, John 15:13.

As another Palm Sunday approaches, don’t forget about the sweat of blood endured for you and for me.  While everyone has their own unique struggles to conquer sin in their life, the author of Hebrews has a simple suggestion.  In your battle against sin, you have not shed blood like Jesus.  Therefore, lean on God’s grace, throw off those things holding you back spiritually and thank the Lamb of God for giving everyone a second chance.  May the truth about the resurrection revive and rejuvenate your faith this Easter and continue throughout the year.

by Jay Mankus

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Depending upon who you listen to or believe, many revisionist historians blame Christianity for the demise of great empires of the past.  Quite contrary, often its the lack of morality, either absent from followers of Jesus or invisible from societies which contribute to the fall of once great nations.  You don’t have to go any further than America’s current view of their justice system.  In the eyes of the media, you are now guilty until proven innocent.

Names like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, NFL stars accused of domestic violence, are guinea pigs on this slippery slope.  While the facts may not support their innocence, cable news networks and radio talk shows have already made up their minds.  Who needs a jury anyway?  In the court of public opinion, the decision is clear, guilty as charged!

Psalm 103:6-8 speaks up for any citizen who has been through under the bus.  The Lord hears the cries of the oppressed, bringing justice and working righteousness in the midst of despair.  God’s love is not distant, introduced to Moses and passed on through generations by reminding earth’s residents of His compassion, love and mercy.  Although, the evidence may not look good for anyone accused of a crime, don’t forget that in the America that I remember, you are innocent until proven guilty.

by Jay Mankus


Muzzled by Freedom

Today is suppose to be a national holiday in the United States, a time of reflection, thanksgiving and celebration.  However, as brave young men and women serve this country on foreign soil, the freedom they are fighting for is being muzzled.  As the summer heat begins to rise, certain states restrict the size of your beverage.  Meanwhile, activists, politicians and power hungry officials are trying to tell you what to eat, taxing and punishing the owners of popular restaurants.  If this trend continues, you’ll start being fined or arrested for freedom of speech.  Oh, that’s right; its already happening.

Like a high school administration that has lost control of their students, the innocent are being punished for the foolish sins of others.  Whether you drive a car, own a house or want to start your own business, ridiculous regulations and restrictions are taking the fun out of life.  Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is now treating citizens like little children who can’t stay out of trouble.  Perhaps this fall’s election will lift the malaise from the hearts, souls and minds of beaten down individuals.  If something doesn’t happen soon, the blood, sweat and tears of veterans will be forgotten.

On this Memorial Day, 2014, remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “don’t ask this country what it will do for you; rather, ask yourself what can I do for this country?”  When families, neighbors and young people begin to become doers of the word, Matthew 7:24, the chains of oppression will be unlocked.  Despite our best efforts, their is only One who is in control.  May the God of the dead transform the heart of the living so that freedom is no longer muzzled.

Please share your favorite war movie which inspires you to be proud of red, white and blue.

by Jay Mankus

Wars You Can’t Win

Political battles rage daily in congress, making their case of pulling out, not backing another country or recognizing that some wars you can’t win.  Whether its the war in Afghanistan, Iraq or the next tense situation, common sense screams, “certain places in the world aren’t worth fighting for since there is no clear winner if you engage in war!”  When this or that country has been battling it out for centuries or close to a thousand years, why shed innocent blood?  Hopefully, someone in Washington D.C. will learn this lesson soon.

On American soil, there is a different kind of war brewing, the war of public opinion.  In the 1997 film Wag the Dog, Dustin Hoffman plays a Hollywood producer who deceives the American people of a fictional war in Albania.  Using special effects, talking points and a montage of sound bytes, Hoffman convinces the people of a war that doesn’t exist.  Today, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtubes are the weapons of choice, steering minds in their direction.  In a world of shrinking absolutes, where opinions have become elevated to fact status, this war is like chasing the wind.

The only thing you can control in this life is your own character.  Sure, your enemies will attempt to assassinate your reputation, yet your actions, attitude, behavior, body language and words serve as a means of defense.  As long as you are consistent, you can’t control what others says on blogs, Facebook or Twitter.  Therefore, fighting back or responding to your critics is futile.  By coming down to their level, you are strengthening their argument.  Despite the mud opponents sling your way, display prudence by recognizing they are some wars you just can’t win.

by Jay Mankus

Regifting Jesus

Over the years, countless songs have expressed the ideal manner in which to regift Jesus to a lost and dying world, Luke 19:10.  Camp fire songs like “Pass It On” convey how a little spark from the love of God can produce a spiritual fire within another human being.  Hymns such as “Be Not Afraid” supplies a message of hope for those who follow Jesus, promising rest for weary souls.  Modern lyrics from hits like “If We Are the Body” by Casting Crowns questions why acts of believers in Christ aren’t consistent with the words of Scripture, Romans 12:4-5.
The concept of regifting refers to giving or handing down something that you don’t need anything or find appealing.  Unfortunately, this mentality influences who we love, for how long and the extent to which faith is displayed.  Consequently, innocent bystanders are confused by inconsistencies within the church and by those who claim to be Christmas worshipers.  Thus, poor examples of regifting Jesus will leave many at home this holiday season.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the quality of regifting Jesus lies within your heart.  Philippians 2:4 suggests that wounded individuals might need to heal before they can begin to successfully impact others for the good.  Whatever your current condition is, may you look to the Lord for strength, Philippians 4:13.  During these weak moments in life, may the power of the Holy Spirit empower you to regift Jesus in a genuine and loving manner.

Empty Hands

When disaster, tragedy or the unexplainable strikes an innocent soul, God often get’s the blame.  Accusations, complaining and questioning follow as people search for answers beneath the rumble left behind.  In the background, overhearing these conservations, the Lord is disappointed, by empty hands, always taking yet never giving.

Lost in history are the words at the end of Exodus 23:15, “no one is to appear before me empty handed.”  During the good times in life, God is like a friend we lose touch with, too busy to carve out any time in our daily schedule.  Pride puffs up our minds, thinking we are the reason for success.  Solomon was right in Proverbs 16:18 as pride foreshadows our fall, as individuals come crashing back to earth.

One could make the assumption that part of Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 relates to bringing God our best, not just the leftovers.  Exodus 23:19 illustrates what full hands resemble, offering up your first fruits to God.  Modern examples could be giving Jesus your first moments awake each morning, listening God’s Word first thing or giving your first paycheck of the month to the local church.

The next time you are tempted to grumble against the Lord, ask yourself this question.  Did I give God my full, partial or little attention today?  Depending upon your reply, maybe you need to fill your hands before you lift them up to the Lord in prayer.  When you learn to give, God will pay it forward in His time, Ecclesiastes 3:11.  As for now, gather before a poor witness causes countless to scatter from the faith, Matthew 12:30.

by Jay Mankus

Above the Law

If you look hard enough, stories of entitlement, greed and pride fill the weekly news cycle.  Forgetting history, these individuals act as if they are above the law.  Whether its a politician, professional athlete or another scandal within the Internal Revenue Service, the law will always catch up with those trying to outrun it.

This morning, a New England Patriot’s Tight End was charged with first degree murder of his former friend, Odin Lloyd.  Fame, money and a rebellious spirit has ruined the once promising career of Aaron Hernandez, released by the Patriot’s 2 hours after today’s arrest.  The memories of fallen stars like O.J. Simpson and Rae Carruth did not ring a bell or serve as a wake up call.  Until last week, Hernandez acted and behaved as if he was still above the law.

Fortunately, in America, you are innocent until proven guilty, despite what the local press and media claim.  Regardless of the outcome, maybe these consequences aired throughout cable news networks today will serve as humble pie to those on the verging on following a similar path.  The Bible was meant to be a guide, Psalm 119:105, a blue print, John 10:10, leading people toward a greater life.  However, as in the days of Moses, everyone has a choice, Deuteronomy 30:15.  Each one you make will either lead you closer to life or beyond the law.  Get back on track now, Matthew 7:13-14, while there is still time!

by Jay Mankus

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