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Tag Archives: inspired

The Shadow of Death

Every morning and evening before sunset, shadows reflect the landscape of the earth.  Mountains, rolling hills and trees leave imprints of what is near or around you.  Once darkness exchanges day with night, shadows are limited to moonlight, stars and the northern lights.  However, the shadow of death can apear at a moments notice, signaling that your days on earth are numbered.  24 hours ago there was a murder suicide in my neighborhood, taking the lives of two twenty year olds.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me, Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 23 is a common Bible reading at funerals.  As a shepherd living under the stars, shadows were a normal sight for David.  Yet, the painful reality of death inspired David to coin this chapter.  The only time I have witnessed death was just before my oldest sons birth.  Since my grandfather’s health was failing, family was noticed as everyone gathered around his bed.  Struggling to breathe, my sister Cindy began to read Psalm 23 to ease his pain.  A few minutes later, grandpa Kautz gave up his spirit.

“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.”

One of the forefather’s of Israel, Moses eludes to the shadow of death in his farewell address before Joshua takes over for him as leader.  Moses provides an unique perspective, using choices as an analogy.  According to Moses, the choices you make daily lead to one destination or the other.  Life and death are a series of choices that shape the path you will take in life.  If this is true, choose life so that the shadow of death will be held off until later on in life.

by Jay Mankus

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An Imperfect Process

During a recent writing session, a friend asked me how I have been able to write over 2000 blog posts.  After a pausing a moment, the hardest part is making sure you don’t repeat yourself.  Coming up with new content is an imperfect process, trial and error filled with as many failures as success.  Some of my personal favorites end up bombing with little views with mediocre posts often receiving surprising interest.  Yet, some never make the final cut, deleted, erased or put on hold until the timing is right.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written, John 21:25.

During a seminary class on the New Testament, I discovered the 66 books of the Bible had a similar process.  The Council of Jamnia was held in Yavneh sometime around 90 AD to canonize the 39 books of the modern Old Testament.  Some of Solomon’s Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom were excluded from this list.  Meanwhile, the council of Nicaea met in 325 to complete the same process for first century epistles inspired by Jesus for the New Testament.  Two letters written by the apostle Paul to Corinth were left off, not deemed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Thus, when you read the letters to the Corinthians, you only have half the story.  On one occasion, the apostle Paul received disturbing news about the spiritual regression of new Christians living in Corinth.  Paul was so upset that a spirit of angry filled one of this excluded letters.  Perhaps, after proof reading his words, Paul was consumed with guilt, deciding not to send this it with a messenger.  This story serves as a teachable moment to think before you speak, reflect before you hit send or exercise self-discipline when your frustrated.  While every writer strives for perfection, imperfect people do their best to share what God puts on their hearts.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

When Healing is Complicated

Teetotalism is a term related to the Bible that is rarely spoken today.  This word refers to a strict adherence to the Old Testament.  By the first century, Pharisees and other religious leaders added several human stipulations to existing laws.  One of these limitations prohibited individuals from physical exertion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  Subsequently, any type of exercise could be construed as breaking the law.  This interpretation prompted the zealous to avoid going out of their way to help someone on Saturday, even if it meant healing or saving a life.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, John 5:7-8.

This is the dilemma which confronted Jesus every week, to heal or not to heal.  Despite public pressure to conform to these man made regulations, Jesus fulfilled the will of his heavenly father.  In the passage above, a man had been an invalid for 38 years.  Visiting a healing pool, these waters were believed to have mystical powers.  Those who had been cured, healed or set free from physical infirmities gave credit to angels who came down to stir the waters.  The first person to enter the pool was healed.  Unfortunately, this invalid was never fast enough, sitting and waiting, year after year, watching others become cleansed and made new.  The sight of this pitiful man inspired Jesus to have compassion, reach out and perform a miracle.

And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’ ” John 5:9-10.

In the passage above, you can see how teetotalism blinds someone’s perspective of God.  Instead of rejoicing with this fully healed man, religious leaders were trying to discover who brought the Sabbath rules and why.  This mindset doesn’t make any sense, especially in the sight of an amazing miracle.  Nonetheless, human traditions created by powerful leaders attempted the steal the joy on this special occasion.  Today, similar rules have been established by government officials.  Whether it’s prayer, reading the Bible or sharing your faith, you have to consider the cost.  To heal or not to heal, to help or not to help and to pray or not to pray?  In the end, if your heart is in the right place, you will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

A Good Reason to Turn Around

Whenever you see something in person, you may be inspired to tell a friend about your experience.  If you are an eye witness to a miracle, you will likely to tell anyone who will listen.  In the case of Aeneas, paralyzed from an accident eight years earlier, regaining his ability to walk is a good reason to turn around.

“Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up, Acts 9:34.

Born with a severe speech impediment, I spent the first twenty years of my life wondering if the words I wanted to speak would come out correctly.  Some days I could share what was on my heart, but most days I struggled to spit out words.  There were times I felt like Aeneas, unsure if I ever would be healed.  Thus, after college roommates prayed, laying their hands on me, I had a good reason to turn my life around.

All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord, Acts 9:35.

As news spread about Aeneas’ recovery, residents of Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord.  Unlike individuals who experience temporary healing at modern revival services, its clear that Aeneas walked as if nothing ever happened.  Unfortunately, most people don’t turn to the Lord until tragedy strikes.  When you encounter a hopeless situation, don’t forget to turn to the Lord for help you so that your example will draw others to seek God in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

Banned from the Bible?

The origin of the term history derives from the Greek word ἱστορία.  Translated into English, ἱστορία refers to an inquiry where an individual acquires knowledge through an investigation.  According to the writers of the History Channel’s latest project, Banned from the Bible, content was excluded from the original 66 books known as the Holy Bible.  However, when I read their argument online, I realized this network is trying to reinvent history rather than genuinely research it.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Timothy 3:16.

At the end of the first century AD, Anno Domini, Latin for in the year of our Lord, a controversial mentality began.  A predecessor to humanism, Gnosticism sought to pursue a hidden or secret knowledge which spread to church leaders.  From the third to the fifth century, Gnostic thinking influenced works such as The Life of Adam and Eve, The Book of Enoch, The Book of Jubilees, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary and The Apocalypse of Peter.  In response to this threat, rabbinic Jewish leaders meet at the Council of Jamnia in 93 followed by bishops and Roman Empire Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 to form a consensus on the God inspired books of the Bible.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law, Deuteronomy 29:29.

Like any professional editing process, high standards must be kept and maintained to prevent any heresy from becoming published.  Thus, liberals will cry foul whenever pieces that discredit Jesus aren’t accepted or embraced.  In their minds, if Jesus isn’t God, they can act, do or say whatever they want.  Banned from the Bible?  Yes, not for the reasons mentioned in progressive publications.  Rather, history confirms from the Easter letter of Athanasius in 367 that only 66 books made the final cut, 39 from Old Testament and 27 New Testament books.  These are the facts, not opinion, why the Gnostic letters mentioned above have been omitted from the inherent Word of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Gotta Get It Right

During my last year as a youth pastor, I was responsible for running Confirmation, a year long class for 8th graders who sought to take ownership of their faith.  Before the actual ceremony during church in the Spring, I took my group away on a retreat about 30 minutes west of Columbus, Indiana.  Coming out a year earlier, I showed the movie Groundhog Day to break the ice, easing the tension for those uncomfortable with talking about God.  Essentially, Bill Murray keeps repeating the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still like this movie.  However, there are several life lessons worth noting.  First, too many individuals, me especially, become consumed with what they are doing, where they are going and what they need to accomplish every day.  As a result, blinders prevents you from appreciating, interacting and slowing down long enough to develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Secondly, distracted people often don’t recognize, see or stop to help someone in need with a smile, word of encouragement or passing prayer.  Finally, life is best served by embracing daily distractions that God provides.  These interruptions offer opportunities to minister, nurture and uplift struggling souls.

While listening to the song Get it Right by Silverline, I sensed the urging of the Holy Spirit to write this blog.  Although each day is filled with trials and errors, life is too short to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  If  you are touched by these words, join me in the quest to get it right, John 10:10.  Yet, when you fail, don’t give up, Galatians 6:9-10.  Rather, by leaning on Christ, Philippians 4:13, believe in your heart that over time, you will get it right.

Please comment on my blog how your journey is going.  This post is dedicated to Elizabeth, one of my students who gave her heart to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, at the end of our confirmation retreat.

by Jay Mankus

Behind Closed Doors

Zach got up like any other work day, going through his morning routine.  On his way to his office, he noticed a parade of people lining up down Main Street.  With no holiday on the calender, he stopped to chat with some folks in the crowd, curious about all the commotion.  To his surprise, Jesus was passing by Jericho, receiving rock star treatment, minus the screams from young ladies looking for an autograph.

Vertically challenged, Zach could not see anything, despite jumping up and down with all his might to catch a glimpse of this legendary man.  Caught up in the frenzy, Zach runs ahead of the masses, finds an overhanging tree and starts to climb.  Yes, this wasn’t your typical day, especially when the chief tax collector hangs out over the road to get Jesus’ attention.  What happened next got the grapevine stirred up as gossip rumbles across the town, Luke 19:5-7, “Jesus meeting a sinner in his own house?”

Unfortunately, inquiring minds are left to wonder what occurred behind closed doors as the doctor gives a shorthand version in Luke 19:8-10.  Touched by this offer, Zach doesn’t panic about what his house looked like.  Nor does he spend countless hours making excuses for his past sins.  Rather, Zach appears to be convicted by the wrongs he had committed.  Thus, he makes a pledge to the poor and penance to those he overcharged.  Following this meeting with Jesus, Zacchaeus was spiritually transformed, moved by the promise of salvation, John 3:16 and inspired by faith to act, James 2:26.  May we all be so fortunate to one day experience a face to face meeting with Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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