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Why is this Separation Necessary?

During my introduction to a variety of church denominations in high school, I was naïve to the drastic differences that existed.  Since I was taught to focus on religious traditions, I was accepting to other ones that I didn’t know about or understand.  Some of my closest friends were Mormons who didn’t drink or smoke, a positive influence for any parent worried about their children getting involved with the wrong crowd.  When I got to college, there was a greater emphasis on theology, specific beliefs, doctrines and interpretations of the Bible.  This biblical teaching that I absorbed confused me, forcing me to re-examine former beliefs that I held.  I guess you can say I was stuck somewhere between loving others for who they are and confronting ungodly practices that strayed from the Bible.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.   For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,” Matthew 10:34-35. 

Today, Universalism has been embraced to avoid offending other churches, denominations and religions.  The mindset behind this ideology uses love as justification and rationalization, claiming “surely a loving God would not condemn his own created children.  This worldview suggests there are many paths to heaven, even if it means accepting other religions that contradict or stray from biblical accounts.  During a blunt conversation with his disciples, Jesus reveals the division that will occur within families that hold different religious beliefs.  This isn’t a matter of if, but when this spiritual rift will arise.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,” Matthew 25:31-32.

In the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, Jesus unveils a glimpse of what to expect in the future.  At the end of time, God will separate sheep from the goats.  Based upon John 14:6 and Acts 4:12, Jesus is the only path, the sole way to heaven.  Thus, the sheep are symbolic of those who accept Jesus into their hearts, Romans 10:9-10, enduring persecution for the sake of Christ.  Meanwhile, the goats are individuals who try to find another way to heaven, straying from the instructions in the Bible.  Coming to grips with this separation is tough, especially if loved ones are stuck on the other side.  Yet, I’d rather someone tell me the truth now, while I am alive, than after it’s too late.  Hopefully, this explains why this separation is necessary.

by Jay Mankus

 

Stay Close

Watching a rerun of Jaws the week before you go to the beach isn’t the mental image you want racing through your mind as you enter the Atlantic Ocean for the first time this summer.  Nonetheless, I followed two of my children, Daniel and Lydia into the crashing waves.  When the big waves subsided, each of us began wading on our boogies boards, floating peacefully beyond the  break line.  A few minutes later, I felt a leg brush against the bottom of my foot.  As I was about to blame my daughter, I realized she was three yards away, not close enough to reach me.  Seconds later, my son began to freak out as something big swam underneath him.  Turning around in all directions, two dolphins surfaced for air just to our right.  This event served as a simple reminder to stay close when you enter uncharted waters.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, 1 John 2:1.

While on earth, Jesus served as a big brother to little children.  Like a guardian, Jesus realized the need to shield young people from the dangers of this world.  According to Jesus, sin is the greatest threat, corrupting and poisoning the innocence of a child.  To prevent addiction, bad habits or sinful desires from spread, God urged his followers to stay close to God.  The parable of the prodigal son illustrates what happens when individuals rebel or stray away from loving parents.  Sure, there will always be exceptions to this, yet the broad road which leads to destruction is often too enticing for the masses to resist.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” Matthew 7:13-14.

My three children have reached a point in life where I don’t have the influence as I once did.  Friends, peers and society are making suggestions daily trying to win them over.  Hal Lindsey’s book Steeling the Mind of America warned about this danger over twenty years ago.  In recent years, instant gratification is blinding minds from doing the right thing.  Fading absolutes and expanding grey areas are fueling young people to make poor choices.  Since free will is offered to adults and children, parents have to let go at some point.  When you do, take time to pray asking the Holy Spirit to remind your children to stay close to God.

by Jay Mankus

Facing an Unforgiving Heart

For 364 days a year, hatred often controls the daily news cycle.  This is displayed through crimes against humanity, terrorist attacks and violent protests.  Yet, the calendar suggests that on February 14th love should replace hate.  Even if you have someone special to be your valentine, many individuals are confronted by a person or people with an unforgiving heart.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 16:15.

If you are honest with yourself, everyone has someone who rubs you the wrong way.  This could be a co-worker, neighbor or relative.  Coping with, forgiving and loving this individual requires an extra portion of grace.  Certain actions, gestures and words may lead you to flip out, building a wall of resentment that can result in harboring a spirit of unforgiveness within your heart.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, Colossians 3:13.

The apostle Paul makes a great recommendation for those of you facing an unforgiving heart.  Despite how difficult it may be, the key to spreading love throughout the year involves bearing with one another.  While you may get impatient, let go of any grievance that you have against others.  In doing this, you will love others as Christ loved you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Words of Healing

When someone is down in the dumps, its hard to break through the shell holding in their misery.  Good intentions, kind words and loving attempts don’t always work to uplift downcast spirits.  Nonetheless, when all else fails, there is one source that provides words of healing, Psalm 107:20.

Growing up, I often experienced a wide range of emotions.  On the good days, I could lift others up, elevating their moods to my level.  Meanwhile, if depressed, I made sure no one had a smile on their face, bringing whoever I could down into my pit of despair.  Only a couple friends developed a few tricks to snap me out of these gloomy states.

Today, I have learned to become more self-reliant.  Not in my own abilities.  Rather, I trust in the power of God’s Word to infuse my soul with the strength to carry on, Isaiah 40:31.   Therefore, if you’re having a bad day, feeling hopeless or stuck in a rut, open up the Bible today to find words of healing, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

My Hidden Faults

Behind the facade, mirage and show played out in real life, lies imperfections tainted by sin.  In the emergency room on Monday night, I was confronted by images of reality television.  In fact, I haven’t scene this much diversity since I went to traffic court in Ohio following a head on collision in college.  To my surprise, 3 Amish teenagers were arrested for driving their buggy’s while intoxicated after crashing into a neighbors yard.  All you have to do is spend 1 day in the court and emergency rooms to see faults that were once hidden now out in the open for all to see.

I guess you can say I am not the most patient person in the world as demonstrated by my lead foot driving.  However, my patience was put to the test last night as I felt like a cast member on the Jerry Springer show.  I was surrounded by a woman involved in a domestic violence dispute and a boy who crashed his brother’s car driving without a license or insurance.  Between complaining, distress and periodical groans, I felt like saying, “shut up and suck it up!”  Common sense kept me from speaking my mind, but my heart was convicted by my inability to handle this trial with maturity.

Instead of using my accident to be a loving example of Christ, I turned into Oscar the Grouch.  Perhaps, I should have ate a Snickers Bar.  When push comes to shove, character rises to the surface and for me, I still have a long way to go.  This crisis opened a fresh can of worms, exposing my hidden faults of impatience and selfishness.  In the future, I must live out Psalm 19:13, so that I will flee from willful sins that can separate you from God.  May the promise of James 5:16  set me free from my once hidden faults.

by Jay Mankus

An Anniversary Day Prayer

Eight teen years ago today, I took the plunge, walking down the altar to a new life with my wife Leanne.  Three kids, two states and  one adventure after another has etched fond memories of the past two decades together.  With marriages, relationships and vows not lasting as long as they once did, an anniversary day prayer is necessary to keep the flame of love alive.

As Adam learned eons ago, Genesis 2:20-24, finding a suitable helper isn’t easy.  Maybe this is one of the reasons why King Solomon continued to seek wife after wife according to 1 Kings 11:1-3.  Unfortunately, even one of the wisest men to ever walk the face of the earth forgot to consider how being unequally yoked would influence his own relationship with God, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.  All you have to do is read Proverbs 19:13 and 21:9 to understand Solomon’s regrets about rushing into marriage.

With this in mind, I am thankful for waiting, watching and trusting God to provide a godly spouse.  Although each of us have our own imperfections, the Lord has guided our steps together as a couple, Galatians 5:25.  Whatever the future holds, I am grateful to a loving wife, 3 great kids and daily bread.  Prayer is what has held my family together, offering up loved ones to God and asking angels to keep watch when you are not around.  In the end, one of my favorite prayers is for God give me the wisdom of Solomon, the love of Jesus and  the favor of Joseph from Genesis.    May you find the same joy and peace that I have experienced over the last 18 years.

by Jay Mankus

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