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Letters of Love

Prior to 10th grade, I hated the English language. Perhaps, this explains why I took 4 years of French and 2 years of Spanish in high school. As a shy stuttering student who was afraid of embarrassing myself, two English teachers laid a foundation for letters of love to express what I was unable to say out loud. Mrs. Ehrig and Mrs. Harker instilled in me a desire to write.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

This ability didn’t come naturally until I fully grasped key elements of English like grammar and spelling. This progress coincided with the coming out of my shell to let others in. Following high school graduation, I wanted to find a way to maintain these newly formed friendships. This desire gave birth to a passion for writing letters. Each year of college I devoted more and more time for letter writing to share my appreciation to those individuals who blessed and enriched my life.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us, Romans 5:7-8.

While I still enjoy writing, there is another letter of love that surpasses all understanding. The Bible is God’s letter of love revealing His willingness to give up His one and only son to die for our sins. The passages above illustrate Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Colossians 2:13-15, willing to be nailed to a cross to pardon the sins of the past, present and future. May this act of love and the attached song by the Kry remind you of God’s letter of love.

by Jay Mankus

The Time Share Theory

The term timeshare was coined in Great Britain during the 1960’s. This vacation system where a property with a divided form of ownership or use rights became popular after World War II. The downside to modern timeshares is that the exact price varies depending upon the week that you own and maintenance fees often increase every year. In addition, trying to sell your timeshare can be extremely difficult which explains the rise in companies devoted to selling unwanted timeshares.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

The Time Share Theory is based upon the decisions that you make in life. The choices you make daily will reveal your priorities. During a portion of the Sermon on the Mount detailed in Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus uses the analogy, “where your treasure is, your heart will be also,” Matthew 6:19-24. Thus, whether on purpose or subliminally, habits will determine how you spend your time each week.

Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free], Matthew 20:28.

A disciple from the tribe of Levi unveils Jesus’ time share theory. According to Matthew in the passage above, Jesus viewed each day as an opportunity to serve to God. John Marks shares a story how an early morning time praying by Jesus changed and shifted what was previous scheduled, Mark 1:35-39. If your daily goal is to seize the day, how your share your time will determine the outcome. The only question remaining is will you be more like Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas season or more like Jesus?

by Jay Mankus

The Suppression of Truth

In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul writes about a first century plot to suppress the truth about Jesus. Perhaps, this conspiracy began in Matthew 28:12-15 as the soldiers in charge of watching Jesus’ dead body were bribed by religious leaders to denounce the resurrection of Jesus. According to one of Jesus’ own disciples, this scheme was successful, deceiving the public after Jesus ascended into heaven. This fake news story claimed that one of Jesus’ disciples simply stole his body and hid it. The more this rumor was spread throughout the land, many came to believe that Jesus’ resurrection didn’t happen; merely a first century hoax.

For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative, Romans 1:18.

According to the passage above, this suppression of truth was inspired by a spirit of wickedness. As individuals crave, gratify and indulge their sinful nature, the flesh begins to influence minds, set on worldly aspirations. This invisible force compels souls to suppress the truth about God so people can continue to do what in right in their own eyes. This trend continues today as a wave of progressive teaching weekly attacks Christianity and Judaism. The ultimate goal is to make the good news about Jesus Christ inoperative. If the truth about the Bible ever gets out, lies about how people are currently living will be exposed.

For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 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], Romans 1:19-20.

According to the apostle Paul, you don’t need a degree to understand the truth. Rather, God created every human being with a conscience. This unique aspect of earthly bodies serves as a spiritual thermostat. When something doesn’t seem right, consciences are triggered. This internal system elicits conviction, concern or inquiry to seek further insight about what is really going on. As individuals begin to be still before God, the Lord’s attributes, eternal power and invisible qualities become clear. Thus, as societal leaders continues to suppress the truth, activate your conscience so that the truth about Jesus will begin to shine through.

by Jay Mankus

When Evil Overshadows Goodness

Evil is defined as profoundly immoral and wicked. Synonyms include bad, corrupt, depraved, foul, sinful, ungodly and wrong. When America was founded, Christians left Great Britain to start a new country with an emphasis on freedom of religion. Pilgrims and Puritans got on ships to set sail to this new land. To ensure that not just the elite and wealthy received education, schools were founded by churches to teach common people the Bible. Up until the early 1960’s, public schools used intercoms to read the Bible verse of the day into homerooms. This practice was designed to promote goodness over evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

If you study history, civilizations go through cycles that often repeat itself when mistakes of the past aren’t corrected or learned from. According to one Old Testament prophet, Israel had turned away from God. During this period of darkness, some Jews began to confuse evil with good. Unfortunately, this pattern is nothing new. If you use nightly news as an example, how does each broadcast begin? Usually with breaking news of an accident, crash, disaster, tragedy or violence. At some point, this ambulance chasing mentality has placed ratings as a higher priority than truth, justice and the American way. Subsequently, evil overshadows stories of goodness on a nightly basis.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

Jesus addresses this topic during his sermon on the mount. According to the passage above, eyes are the lamp of human bodies. If your eyes use sound judgement, your entire body will be full of light and goodness. However, if anyone falls prey to lust, 1 John 2:15-17, individuals open the door for evil to enter your life. When enticement results in unsound practices, Jesus points out that consciences are darkened. This is how evil overshadows goodness. When evil is allowed to reside within human hearts, justification and rationalization follow. May this blog serve as a warning to regain control of wandering eyes. The sooner confession elicits a contrite heart, goodness can prevail as long as evil is disposed of and purged from your life.

by Jay Mankus

A Biblical Explantion for Why Faith Disappears

According to Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24, a man named Demas appears to have been involved with Paul’s earthly ministry.  Although the exact role served by this man is unclear, Demas devoted a portion of his life to serving God.  Apparently, Demas’ passion for the mission field faded away, replaced by a love for pleasures of this world.  Based upon the passage below, Demas may have been one of Paul’s converts from Thessalonica, returning home to pursue secular aspirations.

Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved [the pleasures of] this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, 2 Timothy 4:9-10.

When I first read this passage, I began to wonder why spiritual faith disappears.  To a certain extent, our culture is partially responsible, giving modern Christians who leave ministry positions permission to finally get paid a decent wage.  My first year as a High School Bible teacher I made a salary of $19,000.  A decade later, my final year of teaching earned me just over $30K, which included two coaching positions.  You can’t put a price on the spiritual benefits of serving God, but when you are living just above the poverty line, it’s no wonder that more and more individuals leave churches to start a professional career.

But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]. 10 For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows, 1 Timothy 6:8-10.

In the passage above, Paul unveils the mindset which sets the stage for faith to disappear.  Perhaps, Paul is referring to Demas or others believers Paul met while on the mission field.  Paul suggests that money can trap those who once trusted in the Lord for daily bread to be led astray by a craving for more.  As people develop a love for money, faith is often left behind.  The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Rome, Romans 8:5-8, eluding to two mindsets, one that focuses on God and the other on worldly desires.  Whenever individuals taste forbidden fruit, reaching beyond the line where the grass appears greener sets the stage for faith to disappear.  Yet, before your mind becomes hostile to God, think twice before you act so you don’t follow in the footsteps of Demas.

by Jay Mankus

According to Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24, Demas assisted the apostle Paul in some capacity during his missionary journeys. While Demas isn’t considered a dear friend like Luke, this man is referred to as a fellow worker in fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:8. Yet, as some point Demas had second thoughts of devoting his life to the ministry.

Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved [the pleasures of] this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very helpful to me for the ministry, 2 Timothy 4:9-11.

Paul shares this disappointing news in a letter to a teenage pastor. Demas wasn’t the first Christian to abandon Paul on the mission field. Luke describes how Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark departed in Acts 15:38. Biblical scholars blame Mark’s decision on an illness or simply becoming homesick. Whenever believers leave the church to pursue secular aspirations, levels of commitment, faith and maturity are exposed.

But godliness actually is a source of great gain when accompanied by contentment [that contentment which comes from a sense of inner confidence based on the sufficiency of God]. For we have brought nothing into the world, so [it is clear that] we cannot take anything out of it, either. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content, 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

The difference between the first century and modern churches is the sense of urgency that existed. Many first century leaders lived their lives as if Jesus was going to return tomorrow. This mentality drove the apostle Paul to seize every opportunity to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, offering the promise of eternal life to all who would listen, 1 John 5:13. While some modern congregations possess a similar mindset, apathy has caused my faith to slowly disappear.

But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]. 10 For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows, 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

After spending fifteen years in churches, ten as a Bible teacher and five serving in local youth groups, I deserted the ministry. Living just above the poverty line for a decade was enough for me to pursue temporary pleasures as the apostle Paul suggests. The only trace of my remaining faith exists in this blog. While I am not proud of the person that I have become by living outside of the church, it is what it is for now. My only prayer is that I strive to become a modern day tentmaker, earning enough money to provide for my family while serving the Lord in some other capacity going forward.

by Jay Mankus

Did I Hear What I Think I Just Heard?

Back in 1995, Tim LaHave and Jerry Jenkins released their first of 15 books in the Left Behind Series.  This subject matter places readers in the last days, what life on earth will be like prior to and after Jesus’ second coming.  While seated on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gives his own disciples a sneak peek into the future as he privately shares signs to look for as the end draws near.  Beginning in 2000, Alan B. McElroy adapted these books into a series of films.  Left Behind the movie portrays the rapture leaving behind a commercial airplane pilot and a GNN reporter played by Kirk Cameron.  These two characters eventually meet, trying to figure out how and why millions of people suddenly vanished into thin air.

Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in My name [misusing it, and appropriating the strength of the name which belongs to Me], saying, ‘I am the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),’ and they will mislead many. You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end [of the age], Matthew 24:4-6.

Whenever a supernatural event takes place, cable news networks bring in a panel of so called experts to logically explain what just happened.  In the first Left Behind film, Buck Williams, a famous GNN anchor is befriended by the UN Secretary General Nicolae Carpathia who is played by Gordon Currie.  This initial encounter leads to an invitation for Williams to cover a private gathering with all ten UN delegates.  During this closed door meeting, Carpathia shoots Jonathan Stonagal and Joshua Todd-Cothran, who tried to bankrupt the United Nations.  After witnessing this murder, Carpathia brainwashes everyone in the room to believe this was a murder suicide except for Buck.  This scene caused Buck to ponder, “did I hear what I think I just heard.”

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,  2 Timothy 3:1-4.

During his missionary journeys, the apostle Paul meets a teenager pastor named Timothy.  When the subject of eschatology comes up, Paul writes a second letter to prepare this teen and his church for end times.  As I have listened to the media coverage following the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I find myself sensing that Christ’s return is closer than ever before.  News coverage in America has become so slanted toward a progressive and secular worldview, that I can’t believe what I am hearing.  Just as Buck Williams was dazed and confused following his UN meeting, you must test everything you hear, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 so that you aren’t deceived by partisan politics.

by Jay Mankus

Greatest Hits

The term “greatest hits” often refers to a best of album from an artist, band or group.  This collection of songs highlights a musicians career, selecting the best, most popular and top singles.  The Eagles’ were one of the first groups to release a greatest hits album in 1976.  Shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway” have a comedy skit where entertainers such as Wayne Brady, Charles Esten and Brad Sherwood make up fictional best of and greatest hit songs.

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.

The Bible contains God’s version of greatest hits.  The four gospels contain 37 miracles performed by Jesus.  These miracles can be described as Jesus’ best of magical moments.  According to John, if all of Jesus’ miracles were written down, these volumes would not fit into the Library of Congress.  Based upon the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus performed miracles every day for three years.  Thus, the 37 selected demonstrate that Jesus is the master of all trades, defying death and science.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written, John 21:25.

Based upon individuals who have had a near death experience, each person will witness a video, a movie reel of your entire life.  This screen plays your greatest hits as well as your most embarrassing moments.  After this review of your life has finished playing, judgement awaits.  According to the apostle Paul, there is no one righteous, not even one, Romans 3:10.  Due to this painful reality, there is only one proper response, Romans 7:24-25, thanks be to God for Christ our deliverer.  While the world seems to focus their attention on greatest hits, God calls lost souls to repentance.  May the Lord change our hearts before Judgement Day arrives.

by Jay Mankus

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