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Lent or Bent?

As someone who was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, Lent was one of those seasons in life where I was asked to give up some sort of bad habit for 40 days. As a former athlete, setting goals was a weekly occurrence, driven to reach new heights. However, depending upon what I gave up for Lent, an internal wrestling match began inside of me, Galatians 5:16-18. This spiritual test revealed if my faith way bent or broken.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and [d]pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and [e]seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that [f]comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot, Romans 8:5-7.

In the middle of a letter to the Church in The Rome, the apostle Paul opens up about a similar struggle going on inside of him, Romans 7. While Paul was a former religious zealot who fought against the formation of Jesus’ first century church, knowing right from wrong and doing the right thing is hard. Although Paul had good intentions, he reached a point in his life where temptation was winning.

So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God], Romans 8:8-9.

Subsequently Paul sets out in chapter 8 to highlight why this is going on inside of him. Whenever anyone attempts to change their life for the better, the sinful nature seeks to regain control. This is why changing your eating and exercise habits is so difficult. If this is your current reality this season of Lent, pray that the Holy Spirit enables you bend your faith back into shape.

By Jay Mankus


Hatched, Matched and Dispatched

I heard an interesting sermon last weekend, a quick summary of the three most basic stages in life.  The first compared birth to a chicken hatched from an egg.  This initial period of infancy forces children to be dependent upon your mother and father, guardian or parents.  The early years involve learning how to walk, talk, eat and becoming potty-chained.  From a spiritual point of view, the young emulate their parents, for better or for worse.  Until the age of eight teen, give or take a few years, children remain in the nest at home until each is ready to fly or nudged.

Joseph is a fruitful bough (a main branch of the vine), A fruitful bough by a spring (a well, a fountain); Its branches run over the wall [influencing others], Genesis 49:22.

If anyone is struggling to find a significant other, there are a growing number of dating sites to find an ideal match.  Going back to the earliest days in history, God created men and women to procreate the earth.  Thus, once a certain level of maturity is reached, college students begin to search for a soul mate, seeking to be matched in Holy Matrimony.  However, there is one disclaimer: This stage in life is optional as the apostle Paul urges godly believers to remain single if its God’s will for your life.  Nonetheless, the majority of human beings seek a suitable helper in life.  As Tom Cruise once said in Jerry Maguire, “you complete me,” in reference to his wife.

By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings lying in the deep that couches beneath, blessings of the [nursing] breasts and of the [fertile] womb.  “The blessings of your father are greater than the blessings of my ancestors [Abraham and Isaac] up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; They shall be on the head of Joseph, Even on the crown of the head of him who was the distinguished one and the one who is prince among (separate from) his brothers, Genesis 49:25-26.

While the first two stages in life bring joy, the final one introduces a painful reality, death.  Every year Catholic’s celebrate the first day of Lent by attending Ash Wednesday services.  The purpose of this day is based upon words from the book of Job.  After experiencing a series of trails in his life, Job responds with the words,” ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”  This simply means that God created Adam out of dust and one day every human being will be dispatched, becoming dust overtime as your earthly body decays.  Whether you celebrate a hatching, matching or grieve at a funeral, seize each moment that God gives you on planet earth.

by Jay Mankus

My Two Cents on Lent

Beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing until Easter Sunday, Lent is a season of preparation for Christians.  This forty day period commences with a service remembering God’s words to Adam, ” from dust you were created out of, from dust you will return.”  Like anything in life, it takes time to prepare one’s heart to transition from the natural to the supernatural.  Thus, Lent serves as an annual journey to embrace the memory of a resurrected Messiah.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:19

Unfortunately, this tradition is often limited to six weeks instead of maintaining faith throughout the year.  Sometime after Easter egg hunts end, when chocolates candies disappear and the emotion of this spiritual holiday ceases, people go back to their former ways of life.  Like hibernating animals, faith goes into hiding, sleeping until the winter is replaced by Spring.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” – Job 1:20-21

Now at the half way point of Lent, its not too late to awake from a spiritual slumber.  Though shocked upon receiving the tragic news that his children perished, the Lord gave Job a heavenly perspective.  Instead of blaming God or becoming bitter, Job remembered the gift of life.  Therefore, as the season of Lent continues may the Holy Spirit transform you to become grateful for the hidden miracles in life.

by Jay Mankus

Lying on the Line Until It Disappears

As a former teacher, boundaries are essential to define, maintain and uphold with consistent discipline to ensure a healthy learning environment.  The moment this line is challenged, pushed or questioned, reason must be ready to account for these dissenters.  If seeds of doubt enter this discussion, lying spirits will lie on the line until it disappears.

Outside the classroom, the world has ample examples to illustrate this fact.  Do you remember when Bill Clinton, during his impeachment hearing responded, “it depends on what the meaning of the word is is?”  Unfortunately, this has become a common tactic for politicians to avoid answering the question at hand.  Bobbing and weaving like a champion boxer, truth is disappearing as lying is blocking the line of integrity.

Where did honesty go?  Do we have to put out an APB, all points bulletin, to locate it?  Perhaps, communities need to begin to police each other, like the old days when every child had multiple parents where there’s wasn’t around.  Instead of justifying poor actions, making excuses for bad behavior and playing the victim card, individuals need to start Lent early by giving up lying before the line of right and wrong disappears forever.

by Jay Mankus




Never Satisfied

Back in January, days before my sledding accident, I had planned on giving up watching television during Lent. I was going through one of those phases in life where I sought to make history, not watch it happen. Thus, I pressed on to complete the writing on my second movie script, Behind the Devil’s Door.  Everything was moving forward as schedule until that one fateful day, January 29th.

My initial rib injury prevented me from sleeping more than an hour or so at a time, leaving me exhausted, unable to receive the rest I needed.  Ten days later, the force of a sneeze at work altered the blood flow of my internal bleeding, unknown to me, leading to several weeks of bed rest after a 4 day visit to the hospital.  Distraught, I took the advice of a relative who suggested to relax and enjoy the 2014 Winter Olympics which had just begun.  Beside listening to music, reading and writing, I didn’t have many options stuck in my downstairs recliner to avoid steps.

I don’t care if you have 1000 channels to observe daily, sooner or later you’ll be bored out of your mind, never fully satisfied by the entertainment on the big screen.  As a relatively active person, staying idle at home left me craving something more meaningful in life.  After watching the entire first season of Joan of Arcadia, I became restless longing for traces of God in Hollywood, but I was left disappointed.  To fill this void, I won’t be satisfied until the vision God has given me for my second script is complete, Philippians 1:6.

What vision or dream has God given you? Please leave a comment.

by Jay Mankus

Silence: Ash Wednesday Reflection

On the cutting edge of societal evolution, one thing is rarely heard, the sound of silence.  Even teachers panic when silence fills the classroom, often breaking it with the sound of their own voice.  Meanwhile, cell phones, ipods, blackberries and text messaging are all just one click away, drowning out the sound of silence.  Unfortunately, reflecting on the days events, mediating on God’s Word and listening for the voice of God in prayer seem so distant today.

An example of this can be found in the meaning of names for cities in the Bible.  The city of Rehobeth means place of rest.  However, traveling on Route 1 in Rehobeth, Delaware creates stress, not rest.  There are a few examples in the Bible which can help us slow down, to think and get in touch with God.  David needed to go to a cave in 1 Samuel 22.  Samuel needed the guidance of Eli to discern God’s voice in 1 Samuel 2.  Elijah needed a break from the action of life in 1 Kings 19:12-13.  Lastly, Jesus needed to go into the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11, to prepare for his earthly ministry.

Following the indulgences of Mardi Gras, comes Ash Wednesday, a day to ponder Job’s words, “from dust I entered into the world and to dust I will return.”  Every once in a while, we all need a break.  To retreat from the world every so often to refocus our priorities is refreshing and re-energizes our spiritual lives.  Practicing Psalm 46:10 can and will help put our lives into its proper perspective.  In a distant place, like Mark 1:35-39, we will find the sound of silence.  It is in this place, in the stillness of the moment, where we will meet God!

by Jay Mankus

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