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Let Us Not Love in Mere Theory

When I first read the passage below, an image of a famous scene from Good Will Hunting popped into my mind. The context of this scene is that Will played by Matt Damon picks apart Sean’s life played by Robin Williams. Will judges Sean solely based upon a picture that he painted. This brief synopsis of interpretation and theory is like a Christian who merely reads about love in the Bible. You can talk about love in theory, but without applying love, your knowledge is useless.

Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity), 1 John 3:18.

As a disciple of Jesus, John was fortunate to meet thousands of people every week. Apparently, some of these individuals talked about Jesus in theory, but their actions and behavior never changed. The expression “little children” is likely a kind way of telling his readers that they are immature and still have a long way to go. On the other hand, John could be simply using a common expression passed on by Jesus that he adopted following his ascension into heaven.

[Dear] little children, I am to be with you only a little longer. You will look for Me and, as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: you are not able to come where I am going. 34 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. 35 By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves], John 13:33-35.

Today, these two passages serve as a reminder from the first century church. This new command is a continuation of Matthew 22:36-40. In other words, as Christians develop and grow in their love for God, pass on this same intensity of love to your neighbors daily. The sign of any thriving church is the depth of love in the hearts of believers. Don’t just talk about love in theory. Rather, put your faith into action by showing the love of Jesus to everyone on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Closing Your Heart to Compassion

One of my former pastors regularly preached about hurt people, hurting other people. Whenever you are betrayed, deeply hurt, let down and wounded, it takes time to heal. If someone rubs you the wrong way or is unrelentless about pressing you on an issue, you may reach a breaking point before exploding. This may explain why people close their heart to compassion.

But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and[m]fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? – 1 John 3:17

If you watch enough movies or streaming services, you will find a character who is jaded about a past experience. This one event may cause someone to develop barriers that prevents them from ever becoming vulnerable again. This fear of being hurt shows up in Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting. Yet, the Bible is calling readers to open their hearts to compassion.

For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins, [h]leaving them, letting them go, and [i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and [l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:14-15.

Jesus provides a good reason to open your heart to compassion in the passage above. In the middle of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus unveils a condition for forgiveness. Like the Sowing Principle, if you forgive others, God will forgive you. However, if you close your heart to compassion, God will withhold his compassion from you. May these words bring healing and inspire you to open your heart to compassion.

by Jay Mankus

Doing Whatever It Takes

As a parent, I can anticipate failure before a grade is given or the final score is relayed.  The secret to this insight is simple, hard work is often rewarded and laziness is penalized.  For me, the most painful aspect of parenting is seeing the potential your child has yet being unable to convince them to do whatever it takes to ensure success.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

For those of you who coach or teach, this same dilemma exists.  How do you express someone’s gifts or talents without trying to live your life through them?  In the film Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays a psychologist who is introduced to a genius played by Matt Damon with a troubled past.  These secret scars, hidden from plain view prevent Will from doing whatever it took to apply his knowledge in a positive manner.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” John 14:15.

Today, the future is bright, but too many young people don’t have the resolve necessary to see their dreams come true.  Sure, the average teenager wants to have a great life, but this doesn’t happen with a snap of your finger.  Only the disciplined, driven and hungry will begin to see the fruits of their labor.  Thus, a parent can encourage, inspire or motivate their offspring.  In the end, a parent can only pray that their child develops a zeal to follow God’s will on earth.  The key to this fulfillment is doing whatever it takes.

by Jay Mankus


Where Has the Honor Code Gone?

Last weekend I caught a rerun of the 1992 film School Ties.  Starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris O’Donnell, the storyline places a Jewish quarterback recruited to attend a Catholic boarding school for his senior year.  After a jealous benched quarterback played by Matt Damon finds out this secret was hidden from teammates, David Green played by Brendan Fraser is ostracized.  When a student drops his crib, cheat sheet after a mid-term examine, Honor is put to the test.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

The concept of an honor code is introduced and built upon throughout the movie.  However, a history teacher refers to this as a living document, something founded by students and evolves over time.  While not mentioned, this principle is based upon the words from one of Jesus’ earthly brothers.  What the Bible is saying is that sins of action are the same as sins of inaction.  Subsequently, honor codes can not survive unless those who witness wrong doing actually confront anyone guilty of breaking a rule.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul, Psalm 143:8.

Newly acquired worldviews have provided a loop hole for individuals to justify their actions.  This shift has altered the principles many citizens once embraced.  Perhaps, this may explain the current culture of exaggeration, lies and untruths that make up most political campaigns.  The losers are young children who aren’t seeing godly principles modeled out by today’s leaders.  Forced by pressure to succeed, a growing number of people are cutting corners, disregarding honor for end results.  May the power of the Holy Spirit reverse this trend by softening hardened hearts with a contrite spirit and heart for repentance.  Pray for honor to be restored.

by Jay Mankus





One of the medical websites I researched lists 5 specific categories of trauma.  Complex, Early Childhood, Medical, Refugee and Traumatic Grief.  The actual definition of this term refers to any experience that inflicts deep distress or is emotionally disturbing.  This state is often induced by accidents, injuries or witnessing someone die.  Anyone who endures such an event can be traumatized for hours, days, weeks or months.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you, 1 Peter 5:7.

Anyone alive during the life of Christ may have seen one of the most brutal ways to die.  After receiving up to 39 lashing in the public square, Jesus carried a cross until Simeon took over and then was crucified.  Even those who despised Jesus’ message, must have felt pity or remorse at some point.  Despite his innocence, Herod followed Jewish tradition, setting the criminal Barabbas free as a mob demanded Jesus to die in his place.  If those who have seen this gore in the Passion of the Christ struggle to watch, image the trauma exhibited by those who were disciples and followers of God’s son.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron, Psalm 107:13-16.

One of the difficult signs of trauma is that its often invisible.  Sure, body language, facial expressions and posture reveal someone who is mourning.  Yet, wounds to the soul go unnoticed, lingering for months, years or in worse case scenarios, a lifetime.  In certain cases, guilt causes some to remain traumatized until they forgive themselves.  This situation is played out in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams playing a psychologists tells Matt Damon, an orphan its not your fault.  If you find yourself trying to recover from a traumatic events, may the prayer of the Psalmist above provide the words to receive the healing that you seek and strive to achieve.

by Jay Mankus



The hit series Lost ran for 6 seasons on ABC beginning in 2004.  When a plane crashes off a mystical island in the South Pacific, passengers hoping to arrive in Los Angeles are forced to struggle to survive.  While many are eager to find a way off this island, others are grateful to have a new leash on life.  Whenever anyone reaches a cross roads in life, you might wonder, “am I lost or merely in uncharted territories?”

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?” – Luke 15:8

Though most people think getting lost is for those directionally challenged, there are two other possibilities.  In the film Top Gun, after Goose dies, Maverick played by Tom Cruise becomes mentally lost, unable to concentrate while trying to fly his fighter jet.  Meanwhile, if anyone has ever endured a painful childhood, you might suffer from soul spirit hurts like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, trying the understand why he was abused.

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him, Matthew 4:11.

Whether you are physically, mentally or spiritually lost, its essential to receive the support that you need.  After overcoming the Devil’s temptations, angels came to Jesus’ aid.  During a counseling session, Robin Williams playing the role of a psychologist lets Will know, “it’s not your fault.”  Finally, when everyone gave up on Maverick, his Flight Commander Viper provided the boost he needed to tarry on.  In the same way, all believers should extend a helping hand to anyone who looks or seems lost.

by Jay Mankus


God Doesn’t Play that Game

As a high school teacher of 10 years, I was shocked how negatively students viewed a snitch.  Whether you are an informer, tattle tale or tell the truth when asked a question, most class mates will treat you like a Benedict Arnold.  In the March 4th airing of Amish Mafia, the episode entitled De Rott portrayed a similar message, referring to a rat or snitch.  This term is associated with anyone who tells authorities outside of the Amish community about activities by their members.  John was shown privately meeting with a police officer from Lancaster County to save himself from going to jail, sharing information about potential illegal activities.  Hollywood has a history of covering this topic.

Brenden Fraser, Chris O’Donnell, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck starred in the 1992 film School Ties, a drama illustrating the strong ties one makes in a boarding school setting.  Brenden Fraser plays David Greene, a ringer quarterback who is recruited to bring a championship his season year.  As long as no one knew he was a Jew in an all boys Catholic school, he was one of the guys.  When the secret slipped out, his life changed, shunned by those who celebrated with him on the football field.  Considered a traitor, classmates accuse David of cheating on a mid-term exam, despite his own roommate seeing the real cheater.  When school ties form against David, only a miracle will save him from being expelled.

James 4:17 addresses a broad aspect of stitching and telling the truth.  The essential message brought forth in this passage urges followers of Jesus to do the right thing.  Whether its speaking out against an injustice or reaching out to someone in need, if you sit back without acting, you’re just as guilty as someone who blatantly sins.  Despite what our culture may think about snitching or telling the truth, God doesn’t play that game!  The Lord is waiting for people to stand in the gap on His behalf, Ezekiel 22:30.  In the end, strive to please God by putting your faith into action, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2.

Is there ever a time when you should not snitch or tell the truth?  Please share your comment below.

by Jay Mankus


Hunting for God’s Will

In the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays a psychology professor struggling to accept his wife’s death.  When a colleague stumbles across a raw specimen, an orphan played by Matt Damon who is gifted in advanced Mathematics, Williams is called in as a last resort.  Williams reluctantly accepts this challenge, searching for the good within Will, beyond the layers of evil, heart break and frustration stuck inside this young man.

Despite being a juvenile, with a long rap sheet in and out of prison, Will recognizes his God given gift.  Thus, he becomes a janitor at Harvard, cleaning the hallways just outside of an Advanced Mathematics classroom.  Will even goes as far as completing a problem, left by a professor in the hallway, seeing if any one could solve it.  During a lunch with his girl friend played by Minnie Driver, Will comes to a ground breaking conclusion.  Curious about Will’s unusual love for Organic Chemistry, Matt Damon responds to Minnie’s question.  Comparing himself to Beethoven, he confesses, “I don’t know anything about music, but when I see math’s equations, I can just play.”

A few years ago, I assumed that I would remain a Bible teacher until my youngest daughter graduated high school.  Since being laid off, I have been hunting for God’s will the past 2 years.   Currently, I have several hours to think to myself at work, forcing me to reflect upon where I am.  In response to my search, I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit, in a clear and direct reply this week, “you are a writing prophet.”  While I am not exactly sure what this means, I do feel a sense of peace knowing for the past 17 months I have been faithful to God’s calling.  Like Will in Good Will Hunting, I’m not exactly sure how or why I write what I do.  However, when I sit down in front of my computer, the power of the Holy Spirit takes over, leading me toward God’s will.  May this movie and my testimony inspire you to hunt for God’s will in your own life, Romans 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

How about them Apples?

A classic line from the movie Good Will Hunting starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams.  While this title has nothing to do with today’s blog, the scene featuring the words, “how about them apples” refers  to taking chances, risking embarrassment to achieve a desired result or destination.  The story line of this movie is a juvenile, bouncing around several homes as an orphan, eventually realizing an amazing talent as a math genius.  Will, played by Matt Damon, gets a job as a janitor at M.I.T. so he can begin to activate this gift.

One of the college professors at M.I.T. places a problem on a white board outside his classroom, Applied Mathematics.  When Will finishes the problem during one of his shifts, the professor is dumbfounded that no one in his class completed it.  Will’s girlfriend asks him why he loves organic chemistry as they enjoy a meal together.  Not sure how to explain his gift, Will uses an analogy like a great musician, “I’m not sure how, but when it comes to math, I can just play.”

I believe each person is blessed with an unique gift, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.  Some have yet to discover this gift, others are not sure how to apply it and there are those like Will, who are afraid to use their gift initially.  Although math is not my gift, I can relate to Will’s analogy in his explanation of his special gift.  My gift is writing; it flows out of me, from my soul, through my mind and onto a piece of paper or computer screen naturally.  God has unveiled another world through the power of the Holy Spirit which oozes ideas out of me daily.

My dilemma is how can writing provide for the needs of me and my family.  What arena, avenue or resource do I need to unleash this gift?  I have poems, short stories, a musical, games, songs and 2 movies, yet I need the Lord’s help to open one or more of these doors.  So now I need to find that job like Will, which places me into direct access with the right people who can help me realize my full potential.  Go and do likewise!

by Jay Mankus

An Identity Crisis

In the movie The Bourne Identity, Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, a man suffering from amnesia.  After being discovered at sea by a fishing vessel, initially thought to be dead, Jason Bourne awakes without a trace of his identity.  Following a micro chip found in his body, Jason chases a series of clues from his past to unlock his true identity.

Currently, America is suffering from a similar identity crisis.  While clues about our past still remain, revisionist historians are trying to cover up the fact which was once known by all, America was founded on Christian principles.  If you examine an original copy of the Magna Carta you will find quotes from Matthew 28:18-20.  The purpose for founding America was based upon the Bible, to propagate the great commission, spreading the good news about Jesus Christ all across this new land.  If our leaders don’t wake up from their spiritual amnesia, America will soon become the United Socialist States of America.

In the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy Matt Damon is haunted by nightmares from his past as an assassin for the Federal Government.  When a person has an awakening like Jason Bourne or a spiritual awakening like a Christian, the forces of your past will always fight against current convictions.  Until you come to grips with who you really are, its hard to make drastic changes in life.  Meanwhile, unseen spiritual forces will try to steal your joy for living, kill your dreams and destroy any hopes of true change according to John 10:1o.  Jesus’ solution to this identity crisis is found in Matthew 16:25-28.  The rest is up to you, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

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