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Tag Archives: Jack Nicholson

The Jesus Check List

For the past 25 years, Thanksgiving serves as a dual purpose for my family.  The first is obvious, to reconnect, reflect and share how the past year has gone, either good, bad or indifferent.  The second is a precursor to Christmas, exchanging gift wish lists.  Thanks to Amazon, most of this is done online to avoiding writing down the same list several times on a piece of paper.  Nonetheless, as Christmas Day approaches, there is an internal list with decorations, gift wrapping and preparations that need to completed before you can actually enjoy Jesus’ birthday.

For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations],” Romans 10:10-11.

A 2007 film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman introduced another kind of list.  The Bucket List involves two men who have been each diagnosed with terminal cancer.  After meeting in the hospital for the first time, the billionaire hospital magnate Edward Cole played by Nicholson finances a series of trips before each man dies.  In a race against the clock, these men invest their energy doing the things in life they always wanted to do, but never took the time.  Since the initial release of the Bucket List, several # movements have transformed others on the verge of death to pursue their own check list of dreams and goals to accomplish.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.

My favorite list is one that gets little attention, but results in eternal rewards, the Jesus Check List.  Instead of going through life focusing on the things you want to experience, the Jesus Check List is based upon fulfilling God’s will for your life.  Before you can start this list, you need to join Jesus’ team as described by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:10-11.  The moment you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you gain access to the Holy Spirit.  C.S. Lewis refers to this as theological virtues in Mere Christianity, enabling new converts to obtain charity, faith and hope as you progress down Jesus’ Check List.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. 14 This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us, 1 John 5:13-14.

As individuals begin to daily prayer, read the Bible and begin to worship God throughout the week, not just on Sunday’s, lives can be radically changed if you stick with the Jesus Check List.  The apostle Paul refers to this as a process, offering up your life each day as a living sacrifice to God.  This involves asking God a series of questions in the form of a prayer.  What do you want me to do today?  Where do you need me to go to help others?  Who needs to be encouraged, give me eyes to see?  How can I reach the lost; using the God given talents you have blessed me with?  If you take this blog to heart, you will be well on your way, certain of the eternal rewards awaiting you in heaven with each day you commit to serving Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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Starting to Believe

If you listen, follow or watch cable news on a regular basis, you might begin to believe that the world is falling apart.  A majority of these networks blame Donald Trump for the world’s demise.  Yet, when you spend time outside in the real world, current accusations don’t appear to be as bad as initially reported.  If the media outlet you depend upon isn’t telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, who and what should you believe?

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

In the passage above, a man approaches Jesus like a disgruntled shopper, complaining about the service he received from a couple of the disciples.  Evidently, the disciples were unable to heal this man’s son possessed by an evil spirit.  This boy was often thrown into epileptic seizures, foaming at the mouth and unable to control his own body.  Jesus attributes this failed miracle to a lack of faith.  Desperate to see his son freed from this helpless state, the man pleads with Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe,” Mark 5:36.

In the 1992 film A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson plays Colonel Nathan Jessup who is called to testify in court about one of the marines under his command who was killed.  During a cross examination by Tom Cruise who plays Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee a Navy defense lawyer, a heated argument ensues.  Known as”You Can’t Handle the Truth,” this scene depicts the effort and struggle to unravel truth from fiction.  When forming a belief system, this process is just as difficult, sorting through what your church, education and parents have taught you.  Meanwhile, friends, mentors and professors may be pressuring your to confirm to post-modernism or secularism humanism beliefs.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

When you come to a spiritual crossroads, the best advice is to follow in the footsteps of Berea.  This first century church urged their members to test everything they heard before reaching a conclusion.  Fact checking practices entailed combing through the Bible to determine if ideas, new teaching or theories were consistent with what the apostles taught.  Sometimes information is easy to decipher while other pieces take weeks. months or possibly years to grasp.  During a letter to Thessalonica, Paul reminds the people he visited to abstain from evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Although you will never know all the answers to life’s questions, at some point you have to start believing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Jesus’ Bucket List

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two terminally ill men seeking to fulfill a list of wishes before each pass away in the 2007 film Bucket List.  This movie has spawned a worldwide movement, awakening souls to make the most of their time on earth.  Books, social media and you tube videos have helped spread this grassroots movement to live out your childhood dreams.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning [to [j]Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere]. 46 Three days later they found Him in the [court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions, Luke 2:41-46.

As I read through the New Testament, it appears Jesus had his own bucket list consisting of three goals.  The first occurs immediately following his bar mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony where a twelve year old boy becomes a man.  Similar to Confirmation for Christians, this tradition allowed Jesus to officially join the temple and begin to teach.  Jesus was so excited by this opportunity that he spent three days inside the Nazareth temple listening to and debating adults.  According to Luke, Jesus spoke with authority without having any former education.

When the wine was all gone, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus said to her, “[Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? My time [to act and to be revealed] has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it,” John 2:3-5.

While waiting 12 years to finally teach, Jesus spent the next 18 living in obscurity as a carpenter.  After John the Baptist was imprisoned, this set the stage for next phase of Jesus’ life, to become a fisher of men.  However, Jesus needed to call twelve men to become his disciples, only half way there at the time of the wedding above.  Jesus’ second item on his bucket list was performing miracles, waiting for his ministry team to be complete.  Yet, Jesus promised to obey his parents at the end of Luke 2, choosing to honor his mother’s request anyway.

There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name, John 20:30-31.

This initial miracle pails in comparison to the last item on Jesus’ bucket list.  Jesus refers to preparing a place for his disciples in heaven, John 14:1-4.  However, completing his mission on earth involved suffering and dying.  This final goal took 3 years of planning, a selfless heart and the will to finish what God began.  Thus, while hanging on a cross, Jesus signals the accomplishment of this final item in John 19:30.  When Jesus says, “it is finished,” this means that Jesus completed the will of God on earth.  While checking off items from a bucket list is an honorable pursuit, the greatest thing you can do in life is identifying, obeying and completing God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Vessel of Healing

When the term vessel comes up in a conversation, I immediately visualize a cruise ship, sail boat or the SS Minnow from Gilligan’s Island reruns.  While I have never experienced the amenities of a luxurious cruise, this vessel takes you where you want to go.  Sure, the weather may not always cooperate, but the goal is to arrive at each selected destination.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

When it comes to healing, the Bible refers to vessels as a vehicle for change.  Thus, spiritual vessels must avoid the popular stops and distractions the majority tend to visit.  Jesus uses the analogy of a broad road that attracts a large crowd of people.  However, in the end, this place is empty, void of any permanent satisfaction.

For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, the sea, the stands, and the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, Jeremiah 27:19.

Unfortunately, if you want to be a vessel of healing, you must accept the fact that this will be a lonely journey.  Jeremiah is nicknamed the weeping prophet as many of the messages he received from God to convey to Israel were negative.  The truth hurts as Jack Nicholson famously states as Colonel Jessup, “you can’t handle the truth.”  Vessels of healing must ignore the temptation to be popular by faithfully obeying the Holy Spirit.  In a world desperate for leadership, healing and truth, step out in faith as the Lord is waiting for A Few Good Men, to become vessels of healing.

by Jay Mankus

Cut To The Heart

King Solomon referred to the heart as the well spring of life.  His father David developed a reputation of having a heart for God.  The martyr Stephen wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers calling religious leaders rigid, stubborn and possessing uncircumcised hearts.  Over the course of one’s life, individuals may run from the truth for a while.  Yet, conviction, guilt or a simple word will eventually cut to the heart.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”- Acts 2:37

One of the most famous movie lines in pop culture comes from A Few Good Men.  Jack Nicholson plays Colonel Nathan Jessup called by the defense in a death of a marine under his command.  Tom Cruise is Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee trying to prod the Colonel to admit he ordered a code red while under direct examination.  Fed up by a series of trivial questions, Nicholson pontificates with the classic phrase “you can’t handle the truth!”

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!- Acts 7:51

I think the reason why this scene and line is so often quoted relates to the impact truth has on the human heart.  Despite how hard someone may try to cover up a lie, God gave human beings a conscience to cut to their hearts.  Thus, when you’re misguided or in the wrong, truth has a way of softening up the heart.  Therefore, the next time you are humbled, use this teachable moment to let the Holy Spirit come in to transform your hurting heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

Does Saving Your Life Mean Forfeiting Your Soul?

Rarely do you hear the terms forfeit and save in the same sentence.  Perhaps, you could be referring to a Little League team that may have to forfeit a game, unable to field enough players.  Thus, this forfeit could save a pitcher for an opponent’s next game or start a win streak that saves their season.  However, this isn’t the context of Jesus’ conversation with his twelve disciples in Mark 8.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it, Mark 8:35.

Speaking to future apostles of Acts, Jesus’ words could be limited to anyone seeking to devote their lives to full time ministry.  However, the choice of vocabulary suggests something similar to closing remarks made by Moses during his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30.  Life is like a series of choices, each leading you either in the right or wrong directions.  Therefore, when anyone decides to follow the path of saving your own life, with each step, people are approaching the unfortunate reality of forfeiting their soul.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.

From a personal perspective, obedience either illustrates one’s investment in storing up heavenly treasures on earth or proves their divestment, clinging to the ways of this world.  If your heart is where your treasure is, Matthew 6:21, then how you spend your time reveals who you are living for.   Like the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, people can’t handle the truth.  Since life is a marathon and not a sprint, there is time to change your course.  Whatever you decide, be careful not to save yourself or else you will be in danger of forfeiting your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Do Whatever He Tells You

If you were raised in a military family, questioning a person of authority isn’t an option.  Colonel Jessup played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men illustrates this truth during direct examination by Tom Cruise in a military court, “if marines don’t follow orders in Cuba, people die!”  Once any individual earns the respect of their fellow civilians, peers or platoon, most will do whatever he or she tells you to do.

In the case of Mary, mother of Jesus, she knew her son was special by age 12, Luke 2:51-52.  Eighteen years later, her opinion had not changed, believing her son had divine powers, John 2:3.  Thus, when a friend was about to face public humiliation, running out of wine at a wedding ceremony, Mary relies on Jesus to come to the rescue.  However, there was a problem, Jesus had only called 6 of his 12 disciples, John 1:35-51, with 6 more remaining to complete his ministry team.  Initially, he refuses to act, explaining God’s timing to commence his 3 year ministry had not yet arrived, John 2:4.  Nonetheless, Jesus keeps the vow he made following his bar-mitz-vah to honor his father and mother, Exodus 20:12.

As soon as this conflict was settled, Mary moves into action, ordering the servants at the reception to “do whatever Jesus tells you,” John 2:5.  Led by the Holy Spirit, Matthew 4:1 and angels, Matthew 4:11, Jesus examines the situation, develops a plan and gives orders to the servants, John 2:6-8.  With their jobs and reputations on the line, these workers carefully follow Jesus’ instructions.  Likely scratching their heads, hoping for the best, these servants wait in fearful anticipation of the master’s first impression, John 2:9.  Not sure if they will be embarrassed, curiosity holds their attention until each receives good news, John 2:10.  If this first miracle of Jesus teaches us anything, do whatever He tell you and good things are bound to follow.

If you’ve experienced or seen any modern day miracles, feel free to share in the comment section below.

by Jay Mankus

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