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Memorializing Christ

The Bible claims that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2,  The author of Hebrews attempts to explain how the Old Testament applies to Jesus who shed his blood as a form of propitiation.  The apostle Paul builds upon this by saying Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross, 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  While Memorial Day weekend comes once a year, we should memorialize Christ’s victory daily as Jesus disarmed the powers and the authorities which stood oppose to human beings, Colossians 2:15.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the original Webster’s Dictionary, the word authority does not exist by itself.  Rather, the term authority is found under the definition for author.  The root of authority comes from the term authorship meaning origination or creation.  After being expelled from heaven, Lucifer tried to obtain the earthly authority given to Adam and Eve by God using deception.  When his plan began to change Eve’s mind, Adam didn’t stop her.  In response to the fall, Jesus was sent as the second Adam, Romans 5:12-21, to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, Hebrews 9:22.

The science of God, theology, can be confusing.  Sometimes it takes time to digest complex passages in the Bible.  Instead of getting bogged down, I try to simplify things so I do not forget what the Lord has done.  According to Romans 3, we all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory.  The wages for this fall is an unfortunate payment, death, Romans 6:23a.  However, the reason why we should memorialize Christ is at the end of Romans 6:23b.  “For the gift of God is eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

by Jay Mankus

When You Come Up One Shot Short

Unlike most sports, golf doesn’t use a running clock with a set number of periods or quarters.  Rather, tournaments consist of a defined number of holes depending upon the degree of competition.  For the past sixteen years I have spent the two days after Memorial Day watching the Delaware High School State Golf Tournament.  My first ten years were spent as a head coach, the last six as a parent and volunteer on the state committee running this event behind the scenes.  Over the past two decades, I’ve seen more heartbreak than jubilation.  One golfer endured 180 shots over 18 holes while a recent senior missed out on qualifying for states by one stroke two years in a row.  In view of this, how do you move on when you come up one shot short?

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, Colossians 1:11-12.

When I experienced disappointment, failure and setbacks as a teenager, one adult suggested that I go back to the drawing board.  The point of this idiom encourages those who fail to go back to the beginning, hoping to figure out what went wrong and why.  During my final spring at Concord High, my last golf season got off to a miserable start.  After two embarrassing losses, I spent an afternoon playing 36 holes in the rain.  Channeling my anger in a positive manner, I refused to repeat the same stupid mistakes for the rest of the season.  This day served as a turning point, when God gave me a resolve to do whatever it took to reach my full potential.  By the end of the season, I was leading the state tournament after day one and despite fading on the back nine during the final round, a top ten finish resulted in all state honors.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

Sometimes, individuals are given back stage access, able to interact with celebrities and stars.  Such was the case for the earthly brother of Jesus who never believed until the resurrection.  The words from the passage above were inspired by the attitude demonstrated by Jesus throughout his life.  Jesus didn’t dwell over bad breaks, criticism or results that didn’t meet his own expectations.  Rather, Jesus remained steadfast despite coming up just short from time to time.  Therefore, when you come up one shot short in life, ask the Holy Spirit for the resolve to press on until dreams, goals or visions are fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

 

So Many Holidays…Few Transformed Hearts

When I was younger, any day out of school was worth celebrating.  The longer the break, the better the holiday placing Christmas and Thanksgiving at the top of my list.  Yet, holidays are meant for reflection, appreciating or thanking those from history who has made a lasting legacy.  If these special days pass without any remembrance, the purpose of holidays are wasted.

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,” Deuteronomy 5:16.

In recent times, entire months are devoted to a cause.  Whether its Black History, Breast Cancer Awareness or the next government sponsored movement, the calendar is running out of days.  Perhaps, this over saturation has calloused hearts and numbed minds.  Subsequently, America is left with so many holidays with few transformed hearts.

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages,” 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

Maybe its time to downsize days off.  As a former teacher, days off are a welcomed site to most adults.  Yet, why do something just for the sake of a day off.  If children are encouraged to plant trees on earth day, why not read the Bible at Christmas.  Why stop there as action, practical application and integration changes lives.  As we approach Memorial Day, may God move you to celebrate the reason for each season.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Out of Touch; Nearly Out of Time

Late Night Shows and comedy segments often do a Man on the Street interview to get a laugh.  If the topic was the meaning of Memorial Day, young kids would likely reply with selfish comments.   “A three day weekend, time off school, the first day of summer”.  Unfortunately, remembering those who have died while serving the United States has become out of state out of mind.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth, 1 John 1:6.

The concept of the soul was inspiration for Hall and Oates 1985 song Out of Touch.  Afraid individuals would lose their soul, John Oates etched this chorus: You’re out of touch I’m out of time But I’m out of my head When you’re not around.  This sense of urgency is missing from a generation spoiled by the freedom in America.  As more and more veterans pass away annually, their time has come to an end.

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did, 1 John 2:6.

Spiritually speaking, the church is out of touch and nearly out of time to sway a country leaning to the left.  As hearts and minds embrace secular humanism, who will stand up, blaze a new trail and ignite souls to pursue Christ.  Perhaps, most are still out of touch, distracted by a world gone wild.  Nearly out of time, who will come forth to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Traffic Jam

In August of 2010, one of the worst traffic jams on earth took place.  According to Forbes Magazine, the Beijing-Tibet Expressway came to a standstill as traffic backed up for 62 miles.  This nightmare scenario lasted 12 days until the gridlock ended.  As summer vacationers crammed onto this highway, too many cars entered without any place to exit, resulting in an epic battle of patience.

Whether its Memorial Day, Labor Day or Thanksgiving Weekend, traffic is one of those things you can’t avoid.  Sure you can plan ahead, using GPS to find alternate routes, but when roads are packed there is usually no where to go.  As a former resident of Chicago, traffic jams are a daily occurrence extending your commute by 1-2 hours regularly.  When I worked at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, I left home 2 hours prior to my shift.  I took a book to read in case I was early, yet nearly every morning I arrived just in a nick of time.

From a spiritual perspective, traffic jams occur for multiple reasons.  Sometimes, individuals need to slow down, take a deep breathe and embrace God’s creation, Psalm 46:10.  On other occasions, God wants to divert people in a different direction, away from harm and temptation, Galatians 5:16-18.  Meanwhile, dead ends and roadblocks serve as supernatural vehicles to bring about God’s will, Proverbs 19:21.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a traffic jam, ask the Lord to provide faith, perseverance and maturity until the roadway is clear, James 1:2-4.

Feel free to share the worst traffic jam you’ve been stuck in.

by Jay Mankus

Muzzled by Freedom

Today is suppose to be a national holiday in the United States, a time of reflection, thanksgiving and celebration.  However, as brave young men and women serve this country on foreign soil, the freedom they are fighting for is being muzzled.  As the summer heat begins to rise, certain states restrict the size of your beverage.  Meanwhile, activists, politicians and power hungry officials are trying to tell you what to eat, taxing and punishing the owners of popular restaurants.  If this trend continues, you’ll start being fined or arrested for freedom of speech.  Oh, that’s right; its already happening.

Like a high school administration that has lost control of their students, the innocent are being punished for the foolish sins of others.  Whether you drive a car, own a house or want to start your own business, ridiculous regulations and restrictions are taking the fun out of life.  Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is now treating citizens like little children who can’t stay out of trouble.  Perhaps this fall’s election will lift the malaise from the hearts, souls and minds of beaten down individuals.  If something doesn’t happen soon, the blood, sweat and tears of veterans will be forgotten.

On this Memorial Day, 2014, remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “don’t ask this country what it will do for you; rather, ask yourself what can I do for this country?”  When families, neighbors and young people begin to become doers of the word, Matthew 7:24, the chains of oppression will be unlocked.  Despite our best efforts, their is only One who is in control.  May the God of the dead transform the heart of the living so that freedom is no longer muzzled.

Please share your favorite war movie which inspires you to be proud of red, white and blue.

by Jay Mankus

A Memorial Day Offering

Like a feud between siblings, the origin of the first Memorial Day celebration is clouded by history, with over 25 American cities taking credit.  The initial holiday was coined Decoration Day, based upon a 1867 hymn Kneel Where Our Loves Are Sleeping.  Inspired by the end of the Civil War, ladies of the South decorated the graves of dead confederate soldiers.  Although president Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966, the debate continues today as several cities had spontaneous celebrations back in the 1860’s.

Acts 10:4 introduces another memorial day, one with a spiritual background.  Legalism within the Jewish faith had exploded by the first century, creating social barriers between Jews, Gentiles and half-Jews due to inter marriage.  Like a leper, outcast by society, Gentiles were not initially accepted by the 12 apostles, who focused on reaching all the Jews within Jerusalem, Acts 1:8.  However, the persecution led by Saul caused early church leaders to shift directions in Acts 8:1-4 toward believers located in Judea and Samaria.  When the time had arrived, the prayers of a Gentile named Cornelius were answered.

An angel of the Lord came to Cornelius in a vision one afternoon, Acts 10:3.  While silent for years, God brings him great news.  Cornelius’ prayers and gifts to the poor have not been overlooked, brought to light in a memorial offering.  The final touch is communicated to Peter in a vision found in Acts 10:9-16.  This occurred so that legalism of Jewish Christians would be broken, lifted to welcome any Gentile into the kingdom of God.  Since Jesus died once and for all for all sin, 1 Peter 3:18, as a memorial offering for mankind, God’s goal was to eliminate cliches, factions and social barriers within the church, Colossians 2:20-23.  In view of this, don’t let holiday shopping, weather or worldly ways keep you from offering up a Memorial Day prayer!

by Jay Mankus

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