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24

To the casual observer, this title suggests I am referring to the television series starring Kiefer Sutherland. While this counter-terrorist drama brought Jack Bauer to life, I mention this because 24 is the only television show that I have followed live since getting married in 1995. In the early years of my marriage, cable wasn’t a priority, just watching the four major networks and whatever else our antenna could pick up. While visiting my father in law in Chicago, 24 watch parties were a common occurrence, fixated for the entire hour once a week.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

However, the real meaning of today’s title is the number of years that I now have been married. For today, November 25th is my 24th wedding anniversary. While eating brunch with my groomsmen, I watched Ohio State, where I did part of my college internship, lose to Michigan in college football. As the 3 pm wedding time drew near, Chicago was seasonably warm, in the fifties. While Leanne did most of the planning, my input was the music, having two friends sing in our wedding and DJ from Indiana where I served as a youth pastor. My favorite part of this day was personally greeting each row, meeting and talking with family and friends. Yet, it’s hard to believe that 24 years have passed in a blinking of an eye.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord, Proverbs 19:14.

Looking forward, next year will mark a quarter of a century and the following year will mean that I have spent half of my life on earth with Leanne. What Moses says in Genesis about marriage is true, two people become one. While selfish desires still exist, part of marriage is coming together as a team to follow God’s will. Three children and one wedding later, there are still many events that await in the future. Yet, I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to meet Leanne Marie Wagner at a youth workers convention 26 years ago. I pray that as our home becomes an empty nest in three years that the Holy Spirit will guide us in the years ahead. As for today, I wish my bride Leanne a happy anniversary.

by Jay Mankus

The Proximity of Your Relationship

Proximity is nearness in space and time. In the context of a relationship, proximity can include accessibility, closeness, presence or vicinity. Depending upon an individual’s personal desire and feelings, proximity will draw near or withdraw and fade away. As love is conceived within human hearts, couples will marry to ensure that proximity is never an issue again.

And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises comes into being) in your hearts. [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving), 2 Peter 1:19-20.

Moses makes an intriguing correlation about proximity in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 28 suggests that your proximity to God will influence how blessed or cursed your life will be on earth. Those who closely listen to God’s voice by carefully obeying God’s commandments will be rewarded with blessings. These blessings are dependent upon one’s ability to heed God’s calling via the Holy Spirit. This fact should make all believers eager to reside in close proximity with God.

For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so—it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21.

Unfortunately, earthly distractions, human impulses and temporary pleasures cause me to weekly leave God’s presence and wander away from the Lord. The further I drift, replacing my time with God for self fulfilling practices, blessings disappear. Instead, trials in the form of curses often block and prevent me from drawing near to God again. Although no one wants to accept that they are living under a curse, disobedience to the biblical commands, decrees and principles will result in unfortunate events. May this blog inspire you to improve your proximity with God by drawing near the Lord to praise and worship the Great I Am daily.

by Jay Mankus

Starting a New Life

Perspective gives parents the right impression of what to expect in the future.  Unfortunately, the early years of any marriage is filled with trial and error.  As I look back on the first few years of raising my oldest son James, I was out of my element.  I don’t do well around crying babies.  After screaming for an hour or so in his crib, Leanne or I would drive around the block a few times until James fell back to sleep.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed or embarrassed, Genesis 2:24-25.

As the years passed, sports filled up much of out time, going to baseball games, cross country races, golf matches and track meets.  Through the years, I learned that James was motivated by awards, food and money.  After achieving an agreed upon goal, the entire family went out to dinner to celebrate this accomplishment.  This tradition continues today, often going to Buffalo Wild Wings and our favorite Chinese restaurant.  However, after tonight, James will start a new life with his wife to be Emma.

Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], 27 so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless. 28 Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, Ephesians 5:25-28.

The covenant of marriage was first introduced to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the church at Ephesus.  Men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  In a letter to Corinth, Paul uses the term charity.  The only way human beings can love one another is through the Holy Spirit.  This spiritual presence is only available to those who enter into a personal relationship with God.  Thus, if any of you are considering starting a new life, don’t forget to invite Jesus along the way.

by Jay Mankus

The Circle of Life

Twenty two years ago, my wife Leanne received confirmation that she was pregnant with our first child.  While I was able to share this good news in person with my mom, my father was away on a business trip.  This good news was replaced by sorrow as my grandmother passed away on this same day.  Following the funeral of my dad’s mother, new parenting classes attempted to prepare us for raising a child.  Twenty one years ago over Memorial Day Weekend, Leanne endured 29 hours of labor to give birth to James.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest, John 12:24.

Fast forwarding 19 years, another tragedy illustrates the circle of life.  Leanne’s father was in a bad car accident, battling to stay a live for a couple of weeks.  Away at college, James wasn’t able to be there as his grandfather passed away.  However, James did call the hospital, breaking the news over the phone of a new girl friend.  Jim’s funeral introduced Emma to our family, fitting in naturally.  One year later, James shared he proposed to Emma, setting the date of his own wedding this Memorial Day Weekend.  As death takes one soul away, the birth of a new relationship sets the stage for the circle of life to be completed.

The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal, John 12:25.

As I experience hosting my first rehearsal dinner tonight, I am passing the torch to my oldest son.  After tonight, James is on his own, starting a new journey with his soul mate Emma.  I’m not sure exactly what to say, but all I know is to pass on words of wisdom from the Bible.  As I think of the perfect thing to say, I am reminded of Jesus’ comments in the passage above.  In the context of marriage, two will become one.  Just as individuals must die to self so that Christ might live, couples must yield to God to take the wheel, direction in life.  As my wife and I complete one task, raising James, we look forward to becoming supportive parents in Emma and James’ future endeavors.

by Jay Mankus

How to Recover From a Demoralized Soul

Every time I hear, read and see a news story about suicide, part of me wonders how bad were things in someone’s life to follow through with killing themselves?  Breaking news of the latest victims to suicide, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade is a daily reminder of a growing number of demoralized souls that exist within society.  According to Matthew 27:3, guilt and remorse convinced Judas Iscariot to take his own life.  With most of the disciples hiding to escape the same fate of Jesus, there was no one to talk Judas out of this ill fated decision.

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4.

Besides suicide, other demoralized souls tend to follow in the footsteps of the woman mentioned in John’s gospel.  When broken hearts, jaded minds and fragile souls stop caring, some go looking for love in all the wrong places.  During a conversation within John 4:15-18, Jesus talks to a woman who had gone through five failed marriages.  To avoid another divorce, she decided to live with her latest boyfriend, afraid of what the future may hold.  Whether you are currently in a relationship or not, the Bible does provide solutions to recover from a demoralized soul.

Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). James 1:12-14.

If you listen to certain television evangelists, their messages paint a rosy colored perspective on life, emphasizing only the positive.  Unfortunately, this is far from reality, something Jesus’ earthly brother addresses in the passages above.  Trials should not only be expected, but embraced by believers.  These unsettling events provide opportunities for growth, to cope, deal with and develop maturity.  Each day offers teachable moments, like a pass fail test to let you know your strengths and weaknesses.  The key is refusing to give up or quit, despite how you may feel.  The ultimate goal is to remain steadfast, leaning on friends, family and faith to get you through trials and tribulations.  As long as you understand what you are up against, joy and peace is attainable via the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  The next time you are demoralized, cry out to Jesus in prayer to find comfort for your soul, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus

Its Always Better When We Work Together

At the moment you enter this world from your mother’s womb, human nature causes a new born to cry out.  Whether this is out of hunger for food, frustration or a sign of a dirty diaper, selfish natures don’t hide very long.  Perhaps this may explain why its hard for married couples to put aside childish ways as they attempt to become one flesh.  Those marriages that fail can blame individuals who continue to work alone, unable to yield to a team concept.  In an ideal setting, its always better when you work together with your soul mate.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh, Genesis 2:24.

There is a scene in the 2017 film the Shack which illustrates this point.  Mackenzie Allen Phillips played by Sam Worthington has a near death experience where he spends a weekend with God and Jesus.  Following the tragedy of his daughter’s death, Mack spirals into a deep depression as well as developing bitterness within his heart toward God.  During a series a conversations, Mack begins to come to grips with his flawed mindset.  Like a disciple trained by Jesus, Mack is a slow learner, struggling to place his faith in God.  After walking on water with Jesus’ help, Mack tries this on his own, sinking to the bottom.  Laughing initially at Mack’s surprise, Jesus turns to him replying, “Its always better when we do it together.”

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; 10 for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

One of the wisest men to walk the face of the earth stresses the importance of a soulmate.  Sure, not everyone is meant to become married, electing to remain single to follow their dreams.  Yet, when couples work together as a team, joy, satisfaction and peace is found.  After watching the Shack I felt compelled to consider how I can become a better teammate with my wife.  When my wife Leanne and I first got married, each of us thought we would spend years serving in youth ministry together.  Nearly 25 years later, its time to figure out how my wife can become a part of my blog Express Yourself 4Him.  Although I’m not sure the role Leanne will eventually play, marriage is always better when you work together.

by Jay Mankus

Watch Out for Parasites

Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea star in the 2008 film Fireproof.  Cameron plays Caleb Holt, the captain of a local fire station who has allowed his job and pornography addiction to ruin his marriage.  After his wife files for divorce, Caleb is sent a diary called the Forty Day Challenge by his father to help save his marriage.  On day 23, the theme is watch out for parasites.  These words convict Caleb of this bad habit, prompting him to destroy his computer with an aluminum baseball hat.  This moving clip should urge individuals to begin to examine their own lives to see if any parasites are currently on the prowl.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism.  These minute creatures feed off of its host, deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.  Similar to a leech which feeds off of human blood, these pests can drain, sap and wear on your soul.  If action is not immediately taken, parasites will destroy, kill or steal any joy that you have for life.  In an analogy about a shepherd watching over his sheep, Jesus refers to a thief who seeks the destruction of others.  This is what parasites do, taking pleasure in feasting on the exploits of others.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If you read passages like Job 1, Satan is a spiritual parasite who relies on demons to do his dirty work.  Spirits of depression, fear and loneliness cause individuals to drift apart from their support systems.  Once isolated, demonic parasites prey on these troubled souls, resulting in tragedies like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  After talking to his lawyer, Nikolas Cruz confessed to acting upon voices within his mind to shoot up his former school.  While the national media’s attention is focused on banning guns and addressing mental illness, no one is talking about the powers of darkness that inspired this senseless act.  May this week’s unfortunate events serve as a warning to watch out for parasites.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

People, Problems and Pain

While every April makes Americans think of 2 certainties in life, death and taxes, there is another that exists.  No matter where you go, what you do or how long you do, there will always be the 3 P’s: people, problems and pain.  People can be the reason or source of your problems and pain.  Some may think if I just eliminate the bad apple or get rid of this negative influence, everything will change for the better.  Unfortunately, there will always be someone else who comes along who possess similar traits.  Thus, to escape problems and pain that are destined to arrive, soulmates play a vital role to survival.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

One of Jesus’ disciples reveals a common held belief during the first century.  Evidently, some individuals were surprised to see turbulent times enter their lives.  This flawed mindset is exposed by Peter, making sure everyone understands what to expect month to month.  Trials aren’t a strange occurrence.  Rather, people, problem and pain are placed into one’s life, serving as a means to refine your faith.  While not everyone will marry, Christian friends are placed on earth to help the suffering endure pain.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us, Romans 8:18.

The apostle Paul brings up a mindset necessary to overcome the turmoil that life brings upon unexpected souls.  The suffering mentioned in the passage above refers to the persecution, trials and harsh treatment from those who opposed the good news about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  While there were days filled with pain, Paul developed a heavenly mindset, understanding that his current battle was temporary.  Thus, if you find yourself in a precarious situation, submit to God by trusting in the Holy Spirit to enable you to overcome the people, problem and pain you face throughout life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Side by Side

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=you+tube+of+side+by+side+scene+in+evan+almighty&qpvt=you+tube+of+side+by+side+scene+in+evan+almighty&view=detail&mid=48CD7DEF805AAABCA2D048CD7DEF805AAABCA2D0&FORM=VRDGAR

When you watch a movie for the first time, there will be things that you miss.  Perhaps, you went to the bathroom, got something to drink or ran out for a refill of popcorn.  Either way, watching a second time will reveal a catchy phrase, funny line or memorable moment that slipped by you the first time.  As I caught a rerun of Evan Almighty over the weekend, I was touched by a conversation between Morgan Freeman and Lauren Graham.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.  And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.  Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, Genesis 7:6-8. 

Freeman who plays God is serving as a waiter at a restaurant where Graham, Evan Baxter’s wife looks depressed.  Leaving her husband behind, she thinks Evan played by Steve Carell is in need of intervention for mental health issues.  In this time of crisis, she abandons her husband afraid of what might happen in the future.  Before severing this relationship completely, God provides a word of advice to persuade Mrs. Baxter to return.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone? – Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

The key to any marriage is standing side by side.  Most wedding vows include “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, til death due us part.”  According to an article from Marriage Today, one out of three marriages in America end in divorce.  Yet, this doesn’t tell the whole story as some states and regions have a much lower rate than the national average.  Although the data is not available, it’s safe to say that those couples who have remained married have stood side by side through thick and thin.  No matter how hard it may be at times, those who endure trials together, stay together.  May thewords, “side by side,” renew and revive the covenant of marriage.

by Jay Mankus

 

Forcing a Code of Ethics without Faith

There are certain things in life that you should have seen coming if you were paying attention.  Although  I wasn’t alive at the time, the United States Supreme Court’s June 25, 1962 decision in Engel vs. Vitale should have raised a red flag.  According to these judges, praying for character, integrity and morality within students violated the First Amendment by constituting an establishment of religion.  This interpretation set the stage for the Bible, God and the principles America’s founding fathers established to be rejected by public education.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

Fifty five years later, right and wrong has been turned upside down.  At some point in the last twenty five years, absolutes recorded in the Bible have been demonized, referred to as bigoted, homophobic and racist.  While some religious leaders have attempted to win this debate, others have gone down in a blaze of glory, destroyed by hypocrisy and secrets sins that were brought to light.  The byproducts of this losing battle is that marriage is no longer just between a man and woman, gender is something that must be neutral and bathrooms should be open for interpretation.  In other words, if it feel right, just do it.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

For those of you still wondering, what the hell is wrong with this country; the answer is simple.  Higher education, school boards and elite members of the media are forcing a code of ethics upon their citizens.  To a certain extent, the government believes it takes a village to raise a family.  This explains why Michelle Obama wanted to force school lunch programs to push fruits and vegetables.  However, these government officials are now doing the same thing atheists complained about in 1962.  The problem to this current ideology is forcing individuals to do something they don’t want to will not result in permanent change.  Sure, you can attack, bully and pressure people for a while.  Yet, genuine transformation only occurs through conviction, faith and inspiration.  May this blog reverse this current trend so that God’s Word can breathe new life into those who truly want to change by becoming more like Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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