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Feeling Invisible to the Outside World

Ten years ago, I was forced to reinvent myself after losing my teaching position at Red Lion Christian Academy in the middle of the school year. After a couple of stints on unemployment, I landed back on my feet at Amazon. This June will mark the beginning of my 10th year at this company. Yet, my only option for a promotion was switching to the graveyard shift. While the benefits and pay have been a blessing to my family, it has come at a cost. Working nights for the past 8 years has made me invisible to the outside world.

Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, [i]with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). 13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while [j]effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and [k]delight, Philippians 2:12-13.

There are many things in life that don’t show or reveal dividends right away. While I have always dabbled in creative writing, writing screen plays has coincided with the last decade. Despite countless hours crafting, planning and typing, all I have is 3 completed manuscripts. There is no book deal, notoriety or agents knocking down my door to produce one of my films. My efforts are invisible to Hollywood. Sure, I have ideas for a 10-episode sit-com and a drama based upon a grown-up Joan of Arcadia, but for now I feel invisible to the outside world.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[l]against God] and [m]questioning and doubting [among yourselves], 15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, 16 Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose, Philippians 2:14-16.

The passage above provides advice for anyone who feels invisible. Whenever you set out to cultivate and fulfill a goal, this process can be exhausting. As I listen to weekly screenwriting podcasts to keep my dream alive, the Bible contains instructions for the here and now. Complaining and grumbling about a lack of success doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, the apostle Paul urges believers to rise above your circumstances in life. Hold out hope by presenting yourself like a bright star piercing the darkness of the unknown. Fan into the flame the gifts and talents that God has given you to see what happens. Do your best and let God do the rest until your hard work is rewarded.

by Jay Mankus

The Visible Representation of an Invisible God

Visibility is mentioned 8 times in the Bible. Invisible is mentioned 11 times; 4 of which are written by the apostle Paul. In the passage below, Paul eludes to visible signs that most people take for granted. For example, when I visit the beach I like to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set over the Indian River Bay. Yet, when I am at home, I’m consumed by my work schedule and too tired to care about God’s creation on my days off.

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened, Romans 1:20-21.

Apparently, members of the Church at Rome were going through the motions. A stale faith was preventing these individuals from seeing the invisible attributes and nature of God. Thus, the passage above serves as a wake up call, a spiritual warning to idle Christians. Paul doesn’t hold back his displeasure, exhorting members of this church to stop making excuses. In other words, open your eyes so that the Holy Spirit will help you can see the Lord at work.

[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation, Colossians 1:15.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, Paul unveils that Jesus is the visible representation of an invisible God. Just as one of Jesus’ disciples provides a historical account of His relationship with God, John 1:1-5, Paul builds upon this fact. Putting everything together, Paul describes Jesus as the firstborn of all creation. Just like the man born blind in John 9:6-7 who sees for the very first time, it’s time for Christian’s to slow down, take a look around and see the visible representation of an invisible God.

by Jay Mankus

The Story Behind A Just Cause

To be just refers to being fair and impartial.  The Bible details God’s hatred of those who have been mistreated and oppressed.  The term civil refers to behaving according to what is morally right within a just and democratic society.  The story behind this concept begins as God uses guilt as a just cause to convict sin despite being invisible (before the actual act) to the human eye.

But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion), James 1:14.

While individuals may be able to deceive other human beings for an extended period of time, the truth will come out over eventually.  Whether it’s an addiction, a crime or shocking act, the Bible reveals what happens inside the soul before the act of sin emerges.  Seeds are planted within minds, temptation waters these thoughts until desire, lust and worldly passion drags the next unlikely candidate down a dark path.

Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:15.

Sadly, headlines from the internet, newspaper or tabloids is the end result of the sinful nature getting the best of a weakened and vulnerable person.  After any fall, just as God sends guilt, humbled hearts open the door for forgiveness.  To those who comes to their senses, seeking reconciliation, the Holy Spirit moves toward the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit.  While this is often not seen in this light, God demonstrates a just cause by extending grace and mercy to the contrite.  May these words help you get over failure by embracing God’s forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Hands of God

Stephen King has written a plethora of books, several of which have become classic films.  Taking horror in a new direction, King’s 1994 mini-series entitled the Stand portrays an end of days film in America.  Following a biological outbreak, only 10 percent of the population survive with the righteous calling the heartland home.  Meanwhile, those tempted by evil make their way to Las Vegas.  In the end, the Hand of God comes down to rescue the saints from a nuclear bomb.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, Acts 13:2.”

Throughout history, God’s hands have been invisible, mysteriously protecting faithful Israelites.  Accounts abound within the Old Testament.  Noah and his family escaped the flood.  Abraham and Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah before its demise.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived a fiery furnace and Daniel spent a night in a lion’s den, without harm.  Are these merely coincidences or the hands of God?

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off, Acts 13:3.

According to the New Testament, God’s hands are extended from heaven through his followers.  When the elders laid hands on people, discernment, gifts and wisdom are imparted.  Similar to a prayer circle, believers expect God to do great things.  Without faith, even Jesus could not perform miracles in his home town.  Yet, when a concert of prayer is formed around a person in need, the hands of God are more than a legend; His power become a reality to those who receive this blessing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Getting Close to God’s Heart

To sense the invisible, God created human beings with a conscious, a general awareness to lead you to the right path.  Beyond the ability to feel, hear, see, taste and touch, it takes time to draw near to God.  For some getting close to the Lord’s heart is a lifelong journey, using trial and error to find your way.

And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD, Psalm 148:14.

Along this search, obstacles, road closures and temptation pop up causing some to quit, giving up before acquiring a heart like David.  Finding the time the read the Bible, prayer and meditate on God’s principles is hard to fit into one’s daily schedule.  Thus the thought of getting close to God’s heart becomes a pipe dream for most, content with a mediocre faith.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

According to Jesus, the heart is like a treasure chest, Luke 6:43-45.  What people store up inside come out in the form of actions, behavior and words.  The moment souls are irritated, pushed or prodded, either good or evil will come out.  In view of this reality, its essential to guard your heart, Proverbs 4:23, nourishing it with the promises of God in the Bible.  Then and only then will seekers begin to get close to God’s heart.

by Jay Mankus

The Invisible Bank

From an early age, piggy banks teach children the importance of saving money.  Although a full compartment filled with coins may not add up to much initially, the discipline of being a good steward of your possessions can last a lifetime.  Until this quality is acquired or obtained, checking into the invisible bank is a must.

Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. – Psalm 119:153

The Bible is like an international financial center, full of promise notes, waiting to be cashed in by faith.  Available 24/7, unless you check in regularly, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.  On loan from God, the Word is living and active, rich in nuggets of truth.  Previous readers have compared these principles to be greater than silver and gold, Psalm 12:6.

Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise. – Psalm 119:154

Despite these beliefs, when the storms of life engulf you, this bank becomes invisible.  Skeptics often look in a different direction, trusting in what they can see.  This stance causes minds to become closed, turning God’s truths into fiction.  Subsequently, a generation may never enter the spiritual door of this invisible place.  Therefore, the next time you encounter a bitter soul, you may want to point them in the direction of the invisible bank.

by Jay Mankus

Snapping out of a Self-Induced Trance

The Sermon on the Mount has been a wealth of spiritual insight since it was recorded in the first century.  Following this messakge, Jesus provides common sense for those inspired to practice these words, Matthew 9:12-13.  Anyone who is physically, mentally or spiritual sick should see a doctor for advice, counseling or medicine.  However, God expects the rest to be proactive and self-medicating so that these individuals will be  able to snap out of any self-induced trance.

Galatians 5:16-18 warns its readers against an invisible force able to lull you into a false sense of security.  Brought on by compromise, conceit or rationalizing daily choices, sin can cast a spell over any self-indulging suspect.  Whether its a mentality, new way of thinking or a worldview disguised with modern lingo, even some of Jesus’ own disciples were deceived into believing a lie, Galatians 5:7-9.

As for me, my eye sight has deteriorated over the last month.  Subsequently, reading the Bible or anything for more than a few minutes has been a struggle.  The less I read, the more vulnerable I become to a life without God.  Waking up in the middle of the night on my day off provided a dose of logic to snap me out of this sluggish spiritual condition.  This is why one of Israel’s leaders begged his people to meditate on the Bible day on night, Joshua 1:7-8.  By doing this, you too can snap yourself out of any prolonged trances induced by a sinful nature, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

Sunken Treasure

After viewing ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 presentation Rand University featuring Randy Moss, I was struck by the mentality possessed by citizens of Rand, West Virginia.  According to Sam Singleton Jr, dreams stop after high school for those who call Rand home.  Regardless of how gifted you are, few make it pass the 7 Eleven, the only convenience store in town, known as Rand University.  This is where shining stars become sunken treasures.

Although Randy Moss and Bobbie Howard did overcome the odds to make it to the National Football League, they are the exception to this rule.  Enrollment at Rand University begins with a few 6 packs here or a joint there.  Once blinded by addiction, apathy or both, the students in Rand become stuck, unable to escape the grips of invisible demonic forces.  Subsequently, dreams sink to the bottom of the ocean, where hope is nothing more than fool’s gold.

From a spiritual perspective, there are many towns like Rand, places where aspirations die.  If you pull back the third dimension, you will find generational curses and sins of the father blocking success, Exodus 20:3-5.  Unfortunately. Sam Singleton is merely a casualty of this spiritual war, Ephesians 6:12.  If you want to avoid becoming a sunken treasure of untapped potential, make sure you are prepared, Ephesians 6:13-20, with the armor of God to shield yourself from future attacks.

by Jay Mankus

 

Contagious

Over the last month, scenes from the 1985 film Outbreak have come to life.  Dustin Hoffman,Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo  portray the spread of an Ebola like disease imported to America by an infective monkey.  Panic spreads throughout a town which becomes ground zero when the virus goes air born after a victim starts coughing at the local movie theater.    Isolation is the only hope to contain this deadly disease.

Another invisible wave poises a similar threat if not stopped.  According to 2 Timothy 2:16-17, godless chatter can spread like gangrene.  Unless its momentum is cut off, negativity can multiple like wild fires, overflowing from city to city. Fueled by politicians and talk shows, minds are easily infected, piling on, losing control of their emotions with each demoralizing comment.

In life, there aren’t many safe havens remaining.  On every corner, temptation lurks waiting to wrap its claws around you.  Once contaminated, there is only one doctor who possesses the anti-venom, Luke 19:10, to cure the human heart of its condition, Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Nonetheless, everyone is spreading something, either good or bad.  Therefore, the next time you open your mouth, try to cut corners or lead someone astray, think about James 5:19-20 so that the mark you leave will turn others in the right direction.

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

 

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