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When You're Unwilling to Change

Julia Roberts starred in the 1991 film Sleeping with the Enemy. However, nearly two thousand years before Nancy Price published her novel, a Jewish carpenter allowed himself to be infiltrated by a spiritual enemy. Jesus saw the potential in Judas Iscariot as a disciple, giving him an opportunity to change. Yet, in the end, this was part of God’s plan as Judas was unwilling to change despite witnessing countless miracles.

Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (the message) of eternal life. 69 And we have learned to believe and trust, and [more] we have come to know [surely] that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And [yet] one of you is a devil (of the evil one and a false accuser), John 6:68-70.

On December 12th, 2019, scientists discovered an unknown virus in Wuhan, China. As news of this spread across the country and throughout the world, the name Coronavirus was given. As the number of confirmed cases in the United States has surpassed 54,000, citizens are forced to make one of two choices. Practice social distancing by changing how you live your daily life or continue ignoring the new CDC guidelines? The first doesn’t guarantee staying healthy, but the latter risks spreading the Coronavirus to those whom you love.

When it was evening, He was reclining at table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, Solemnly I say to you, one of you will betray Me! 22 They were exceedingly pained and distressed and deeply hurt and sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, Surely it cannot be I, Lord, can it? 23 He replied, He who has [just] dipped his hand in the same dish with Me will betray Me! – Matthew 26:20-23

As Jesus’ betrayal grew near, one event sped up this process. When a prostitute wasted an expensive jar of perfume to anoint Jesus’ body, this decision pushed Judas over the edge. In his role as treasurer, Judas saw this act as a waste of money, not an act of worship. When a seed of betrayal was sown in Judas’ heart and mind, the Last Supper sets the stage for Jesus’ final call out. When individuals aren’t unwilling to change, the consequences can be eternal. May the current Coronavirus pandemic persuade stubborn hearts to alter their lives now before it’s too late.

by Jay Mankus

When the Negative is What You Believe

As I prepare to write another movie is 2020, I have been doing some research this month to prepare me. One book has pointed me to a few scenes from the 1990 film Pretty Woman. The goal of these exercises is to receive inspiration, ideas to develop characters and write dialogues that relate to every day people. While Julia Roberts is talking with Richard Gere, the two discuss what brought Vivian to become a prostitute. Despite receiving a few compliments from Edward, Vivian shrugs them off, suggesting that “the negative is what you remember and believe.”

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

During a first century conversation with religious leaders, Jesus introduces a theory to explain the whispers and inner voices that attempt to hold human beings down. As human beings struggle to overcome the demons of their past, the source of the negative in your mind is the Devil, “the father of all lies.” Unfortunately, even those who learn of this truth still tend to develop ungodly beliefs such as “you’ll never amount to anything, you’re not smart enough and even if you try, you’ll end up failing anyway.” A similar conversation occurs in the 1993 film Rudy as young man waits at a bus stop, eager to fulfill his childhood dream. Rudy’s father played by Ned Beatty tries to talk his son, Sean Astin, out of this decision, with the words, “you’re a Ruettiger; we’re not good enough for Notre Dame.”

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

During the parable of the Shepherd, Jesus takes this concept one step further. Not only does the Devil want to keep you down by remembering and believing negative comments, his ultimate goal is to steal, kill and destroy. First, whispers of evil are designed to steal any glimmers of hope that pop into your mind. When this has become successful, stage two seeks to encourage people to gradually give up on pursuing childhood dreams. Finally, spirits of depression, despair and suicide enter to further devour and destroy lives. May this blog expose how negativity influences wounded souls to come to believe the father of all lies.

by Jay Mankus

Is This Really Happening?

In 1997, Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts starred in Conspiracy Theory.  Gibson plays Jerry Fletcher, an outspoken critic of the government who is obsessed by numerous theories that he believes to be true.  Paranoid by the thoughts in his mind, Gibson’s character is portrayed as crazy, a lunatic that needs to be locked up in a mental hospital.  Meanwhile, Roberts plays Alice Sutton, a sympathetic lawyer from the Justice Department who humors Fletcher until some of his theories turn out to be true.

At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another, Matthew 24:10.

Early in the first century, a man from Nazareth developed a large following.  Without any formal education or schooling, this preacher puzzled religious leaders.  Experts of the law, Pharisees and Sadducees were amazed by his authority, communicating the Old Testament like a biblical scholar.  However, when Jesus prophesized about the end of days, public officials began to label Jesus as a lunatic and liar.  Following his death on a cross and resurrection, those who once mocked Jesus began to say, “is this really happening?”

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.

I watched the History Channels version of Revelation: the End of Days the other night.  As a former seminary student, it wasn’t hard to recognize the various theological errors, stretching the truth to appeal to an American audience.  Nonetheless, when you read the Bible, listen to conspiracy theories espoused daily and watch reports of great stress and trouble on cable news, the end of days may be closer than I once thought.  When I reflect upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 and the apostle Paul’s comments about societal trends in 2 Timothy 3, to a certain extent these events have arrived.  According to the Bible, no one will know the time of Jesus’ second coming, but if I were you, I’d make my reservations for heaven immediately, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Somethings Money Can’t Buy

In the 1990 classic Pretty Woman, Richard Gere plays a powerful man who buys failing businesses, sells off their assets and makes money on the demise of others.  Starting off as a heartless human being, a rendezvous with Julia Roberts begins a subtle transformation.  During his next business deal, Gere realizes that money can’t buy happiness or love, something his business partners could not fathom.

Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, Acts 8:9.

During the first century, there was a famous sorcerer named Simon.  Citizens of Samaria were in awe of Simon’s powers.  Yet, when Simon began to witness Philip’s ability to heal and perform miracles, jealousy consumed his soul.  Desperate to obtain more power, Simon thought he could persuade the apostles to purchase the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, this too can’t be bought, only available by God’s grace through faith.

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, Acts 8:18.

While money may curry favor with friends initially, maintaining friendships requires dedication, effort and hard work.  Money is simply a vehicle to access resources most individuals don’t have.  Yet, temporary treasures often fade away leaving a distant memory of the glory days.  In view of this reality, may you spend your remaining days of earth investing in family, faith and relationships that will continue in eternity.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Different Type of Refuge

In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as America’s first National Wildlife Refuge.  More than100 years later, 560 refuges exist nationwide encompassing more than 150 million acres of water and land.  Hollywood embraced this movement with their 1993 film the Pelican Brief starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.  The People for the ethical treatment of animals continue this mission today, putting animals in front of the line, with human beings pushed to the side.

King David introduces a different type of refuge in Psalm 59:16.  Whenever David was having a bad day, he withdrew to a quiet place to seek God’s help through prayer.  Although David may not of seen results after he said Amen, a sense of peace filled his heart.  Despite the chaos surrounding him, the Lord’s presence provided hope to carry on.  Words like Psalm 63:6-8 recount a spiritual refuge, where humans can find rest for their souls.

With America’s economy still sputtering, its hard to forget about rising gas, groceries and living expenses.  While some may be prospering, many are searching for a place of refuge where hope, peace and relaxation are present.  Though manufactured for fish and wildlife, this doesn’t prevent predators from cutting short lives.  Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted by life’s trials, flee to a quiet place like Mark 1:35 to find a different type of refuge.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

We Got Duped

Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson starred in the 1997 film Conspiracy TheoryGibson plays a New York City cab driver named Jerry Fletcher who is not afraid to share his theories based upon The Catcher and the Rye.  Fletcher spends most of his days telling anyone who will listen, including Julia Roberts, played by Alice Sutton, a Department of Justice attorney.  When I first watched this movie, I thought Gibson was crazy.  However, the older I become, the more I am beginning to think, we are getting duped.

For instance, back in the 1970’s, a scientist from Canada claimed he had discovered the cure for cancer.  After contacting the local media, he was scheduled to have a press conference the next day, telling the world of his findings.  That evening, according to reports, he died in a house fire, destroying all of his research, 12 hours before this disease would have been eradicated from mankind.

When I was young, I remember my teachers telling students about America’s ingenuity.  I recall reading and seeing shows on how buildings, canals and roads were completed as corporations and from time to time the government did whatever was necessary to finish their project.  Today, it takes road agencies a year to fix local pot holes or 10 plus years to finish road construction and expansion.  Meanwhile, scientists which once were in the business of developing cures appear to make more money on temporary medicines which usually doesn’t completely heal you.  I hope I am wrong, but recent trends support the notion that Americans are being duped.

Based upon eye witnesses and personal encounters, King Solomon is often credited as one of the wisest people to ever live, second to Jesus, the son of God.  Kings, queens and anyone who could afford the journey, traveled to catch a glimpse of Solomon’s wisdom, 1 Kings 3:16-28.  One of the wisest men I have ever met had a PhD from an Ivy League institution, a guest speaker at the school where I taught at for a decade.  During his lecture and slide show, he exposed the fraud of the missing link, revealed complete skeletal remains of early woman to explain the curse in Genesis 3:16 and evidence to support the biblical belief that snakes once had legs.

One of the points this professor was trying to communicate was if the media could convince society that the earth was created by some other means than creation, mankind could do what they want without any consequences.  In fact, many in the liberal media continue to seek to discredit Jesus, like the Roman soldiers in Matthew 28:11-15, claiming he didn’t rise from the dead.  Rather, they believe his disciples secretly stole Jesus’ body in the middle of the night, burying his remains in an undisclosed location.

Don’t take my words in this blog as gospel.  Instead, test everything I have said and search for other facts on your own, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  If you want the truth, may your own quest be beneficial and fruitful, setting you free, John 8:32.  Education is a life long journey, not just a piece of paper you keep framed on your wall after graduation.  Therefore, if you are diligent in your research to uncover the facts of life, you will avoid being duped by anyone or any conspiracy theory.  Enjoy the journey!

by Jay Mankus

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