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Why Did This Happen?

Since the Las Vegas mass shooting at the Harvest Country Music Festival on the evening of October 1st, 2017, everyone in the media is asking why did this happen?  As investigators begin combing through physical evidence, this reason for this evil act is still unknown.  While a timeline is being recreated, it’s hard to logically explain how someone could violently gun down so many.  Perhaps, the Bible can shed some light behind the mindset of a murderer.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

The first murder ever recorded occurs due to jealousy as a younger brother’s success becomes a motive for murder.  While Cain struggled to make ends meat as a farmer, God blessed Adam’s shepherding business.  When it came time to bring forth first fruits, similar to a modern day tithe, Abel had plenty to offer.  Meanwhile, Cain’s offering did not receive God’s favor.  As jealousy began to spread within his heart, the Lord confronts Cain in the passage above.

 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

When impure thoughts enter your mind, you have one of two choices.  You can listen to evil or take your thoughts captive by ruling over them.  This ongoing battle doesn’t take breaks so you may resist the first time, but as you grow tried and weary, individuals begin to give into temptation.  The passage above eludes to addiction as bad choices lead to a life style.  Once hooked on something, spirits often overwhelm weak souls.  In the case of Cain, once the idea of getting rid of the competition, his brother, it was only a matter of time.  Perhaps, Stephen Paddock allowed impure spirits to enter his body inspiring the murderous rampage he went on.  Although time will uncover more evidence, this blog gives a brief biblical explanation of why this tragic event happened.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fence Jumping

Before the days of gated communities and security cameras, home owners erected fences to keep people off their property.  Animals lovers added big guard dogs to scare off potential trespassers.  Despite these obvious warnings, if these obstacles meant saving time through a short cut, I was willing to take the risk as a teenager.  Depending upon who was with me at the time, we would approach cautiously and look in every direction to see if it was safe.  When the timing was right, my friends and I jumped the fence, ran and cleared the other side.

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out, John 10:2-3.

The Bible refers to a different kind of fence, a shepherd’s pen.  Early in the morning, first century shepherds led their sheep to a pasture to graze during the day, leading them with his staff.  Before night fall, the shepherd would count each one before placing them back into a pen for the night.  However, his work was not done, often sleeping outside overnight to protect his sheep from potential fence jumpers, wild animals hoping to get a free meal.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it, Matthew 7:14.

Today, fence jumpers still exist.  Some do so to escape a troubled past, hoping to find a new life on the other side.  Some find the grass greener on the opposing side of their fence.  A combination of discontentment and jealousy entice these people to consider exchanging one fence for another.  Meanwhile, others try to find the easiest way possible through life, even if it means cutting some corners here and there.  According to Jesus, only a few enter through the eternal gate that leads to life.  While countless attempt to jump this fence, no one has or will ever be successful.  Therefore, if you want to enter this place you must listen for and to the Shepherd to lead you to the gate of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Blood that Speaks a Better Word

To have blood on your hands often refers to being guilty.  Blood is symbolic of life, necessary to keep a human being alive.  However, sometimes an accident, mistake or minor transgression can end the life of an animal, human being or possession.

For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things, Isaiah 59:3.

Another saying refers to being guilty as sin.  In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah found the nation of Israel in denial.  Instead of coming clean by repenting, justification took over.   When caught red handed, most become defensive regardless of how guilty one may be.

To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel, Hebrews 12:24.

The author of Hebrews uses a unique connotation of blood.  Abel was innocent and pure when jealousy caused his older brother to take his life.  Yet, Jesus, who brought a new covenant introduces this concept.  Instead of going to a great high priest to atone for your sins, Jesus died once and for all sins.  Therefore. his blood speaks a better word, one of forgiveness, redemption and a promise of a new life without guilt or shame.

by Jay Mankus

The Joseph Parallel

The logical individual thinks life should be a series of straight lines from point A to point B and so on.  While everyone may experience progress and natural progressions at times, life is full of detours, road blocks and phases of construction.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a period of transition, remember the Joseph parallel.

And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it, Genesis 37:23-24.

Joseph son of Jacob, had high expectations, receiving dreams and visions of the life God intended.  However, envy, jealousy and pride led Joseph down a path of disappointment.  Despite a series of heartbreaks, Joseph remained optimistic, leading to favor from God and man.  Apparently, Joseph didn’t care how long it took to fulfill God’s will.  Rather, Joseph kept plugging away at life until God opened doors that he was ready to walk through.

And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.  But Jehovah was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison, Genesis 39:20-21.

As I look at my own life, its not that different from Joseph.  However, when I experience trials I spent too much questioning God instead of making the best of each situation.  Subsequently, I have wasted countless days, weeks and years complaining instead of currying God’s favor.  In view of Joseph’s parallel, I need to be transformed, embracing hardships like James 1:2-4.  Although the Lord is waiting to bless his children, too many are having pity parties instead of taking God’s hand in faith.  May the Joseph parallel broaden your perspective and inspire you to keep serving the Lord until you reach your final destination.

by Jay Mankus

The Barbs of Jealousy

One of the most graceful creatures of the sea are rays.  Guiding effortless like an airplane in the sky, sting rays are harmless unless provoked or stepped on.  When threatened, rays use their tail as a defense mechanism.  Tails contain barbs, stingers on the top and venom glands on the bottom.  Its hard to believe the legendary Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin died on September 4th, 2006, falling victim to the barbs of jealousy.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice, James 3:16.

Human beings don’t need a tail to inflict pain.  Rather, the tongue serves as a cruel weapon, spitting out poisonous venom daily.  Similar to rays, most individuals are good and decent.  However, when an only child get’s replaced by a new addition to the family, their monopoly on mom and dad is broken.  Meanwhile, adults who are phased out of a relationship or don’t get the attention they deserve tend to erupt like an immature child.  In an attempt regain center stage, barbs of jealousy take the shape of harsh words.

But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up, Acts 17:13.

Jews of the first century didn’t take too kindly of no longer being the apple of God’s eye.  As soon as Gentiles began to come to faith, some took exception to this.  Thus, jealousy caused Jews to stir up opposition to Paul’s ministry, which extended grace to those outside of God’s chosen people.  This frenzy continues to today in denominations, fighting for a larger audience, more members and a greater offering.  Unfortunately, its time to expose this movement for what it is, barbs of jealousy trying to remain in power.  In view of this invisible force, trust in the Lord so that the barbs of jealousy don’t harm anyone you love.

by Jay Mankus

 

A God Without Discrimination

Whenever two or more individuals attempt to co-exist, there will always be conflict, disagreements and differences in opinions.  Whether you examine relationships like Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel or Samson and Delilah, blame, jealousy and manipulation are bound to occur.  Unfortunately, the fallen nature of mankind usually leads to some sort of discrimination.

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us, Acts 15:8. 

In the history of America, considered one of the greatest countries in modern times, it too possesses sins against humanity.  A Civil War divided slave owners from the north who saw a day when slaves would be free.  For years woman weren’t given the opportunity to vote and youth were discarded like trash prior to child labor laws.  Each century has brought a new dilemma, with discrimination of some sort always at the forefront.

He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith, Acts 15:9.

During the middle of the first century as the church grew in size, cultural tensions arose to the surface.  Jewish Christians expected new converts to follow in the practices of Judaism.  Meanwhile, sects like the Judaizers began to add circumcision as a requirement to salvation.  This religious discrimination brought on a whole new sort of troubles.  Yet, as the apostles came together to discuss this matter, one thing was for certain.  Early Christians followed a God who did not discriminate, reuniting individuals through faith.

by Jay Mankus

Back to the Way Things Were

The Wizard of Oz is an American classic, airing annually on several networks.  While the characters on screen became bigger than life, the symbolism behind this film still exists.  The Wizard of Oz is compared to the United States government, promising the world, but rarely upholding their end of the bargain.  Thus, whether its health care, jobs or social security, many individuals are being let down, disappointed by politician after politician.

But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers, Acts 14:2.

Today, the media is trying to protect the great wizard of Oz, poisoning the minds of Americans who dare to question those in power.  Like the character on film hiding behind the veiled curtain, cameras are trying to convey a different picture than reality.  Assaulting the character of individuals, demonizing their beliefs and portraying an exaggerated point of view is all part of the daily charade known of liberal talking points.  However, America is still waiting for the next Dorothy to expose those hiding behind this facade.

Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them, Acts 14:15.

During the first century, Paul and Barnabas tried to enlighten the Jews about God.  Fearful of these men, religious leaders began to spread lies, hoping to keep members of their synagogues from converting to Christianity.  Unfortunately, these practices still exist as jealousy is causing modern leaders to confuse those on the verge of conversion.  Perhaps, this is why Paul encouraged his followers to test everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 so that minds don’t become poisoned by false and inaccurate teaching.  Now that Christmas is over don’t go back to way things were.  Rather, embrace the promise of Emmanuel, God with us, so that the circumstances of life doesn’t bring you down.

by Jay Mankus

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