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Στόχο: Finding a New Target in 2020

Στόχο is the Greek word for target. When translated into English, this term could apply to aim, destination, goal or landing place. As individuals celebrate New Year’s Eve, minds and thoughts will begin to turn their attention toward a new year. Once all of the celebrations have ended, determined souls will search for a new target in 2020.

And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:3-4.

Unfortunately, sometimes your future may be blurred, clouded or uncertain due to unforeseen events. Accidents, failing health or trials can prove to be too much for one person to bear. Whenever you experience a devastating, horrific or troubling circumstance, follow in the footsteps of Nehemiah. After receiving news of Jerusalem vulnerability, this man fell to his knees, fasting and praying for a plan to rebuild this wall.

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses, Nehemiah 1:6-7.

Before focusing on a solution, Nehemiah acknowledges the sins of Israel which brought this fate upon Jerusalem. Before any new target can be discovered in 2020, everyone needs to get right with God. As prayers are lifted up, hearts unload their pain and minds begin to think clear again, conditions will improve for a new vision to be seen. May the beginning of this year inspire you to pave the way for a new target to be located.

by Jay Mankus

Malicious Accusations

Some of the Psalms in the Bible are like pages out of David’s personal diary. David went from a lonely shepherd boy to a war hero, killing a giant called Goliath. This unlikely rise to greatness incited a spirit of jealousy in those whom David surpassed. Chants by fans of his victorious battles even caused King Saul to become envious of David’s accomplishments. Thus, David quickly gained several enemies who spewed malicious accusations, some warranted and others unwarranted.

Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain and even path because of my enemies [those who lie in wait for me], Psalm 27:10-11.

When these words began to eat away at David’s soul, he cried out to the Lord for help. Based upon the passage above, David’s own parents turned against him for undisclosed reasons. When you examine Samuel’s visit to Jesse in 1 Samuel 16, it appears that David’s oldest brother Eliab was the apple of his parents’ eyes. David was an after thought, not even invited to this special meeting. Yet, at some point, David’s fame and popularity created a rift or David’s parents were embarrassed by some of his ill-advised decisions.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me; they breathe out cruelty and violence. [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! – Psalm 27:12-13

One of the translations of verse 12 uses malicious accusations in place of cruelty and violence. Perhaps, David became cocky, conceited by his success as a soldier. This unhealthy pattern is played out in 2 Samuel 11 as David has an affair with a soldier’s wife. Instead of confessing his sin publicly, David gave orders for Israel’s army to withdraw, allowing Uriah to die behind enemy lines. While David didn’t like the malicious accusations made against him, his actions made the bed he was forced to lie in. While you can’t control what others say about you, a life devoted to character and integrity can persuade former enemies to change their minds about you.

by Jay Mankus

Why Did You Do It?

A strange string of current events in my local newspaper has caused me to wonder, “why did you do it?” One couple turned their hotel room into a drug dealing center. Another adult male thought it was a good idea to fill his home with a number of bombs recently uncovered in connection with a local explosion. As I was writing this blog, I heard the news update that the latest school shooter just shot five classmates and himself on his birthday. If this teenage shooter dies, no one will know for sure, why did you do it?

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, Genesis 3:1-4.

The only logical conclusion that makes sense to me is that all of these individuals were deceived by the Devil in some manner or form. While they didn’t have a face to face conversation like Eve in the Garden of Eden, some type of justification and rationalization process occurred within their minds before acting out. Whispers of evil and possibly a desire for 15 seconds of fame has overruled the human conscience. Thus, free will was exercised to do the opposite of what many were taught.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and 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 seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

The Bible’s rationale to explain sinful acts is the mental war between the human flesh and Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to his own struggle to do that which is right. This battle is detailed in Romans 7, followed by the spiritual connection in Romans 8 as sinful minds are hostile to God. Thus, as souls straddle the fence between right and wrong, the longer you allow enticement to reside in your mind, the easier it become to pull the trigger, indulging in wrongful acts. May this latest incident turn the attention toward mental health and not just guns.

by Jay Mankus

Maintaining Consciousness

Consciousness in its simplest form is awareness of internal or external existence.  Infants, children and adolescents rarely think about consciousness, unaware of the intricacies of the human body.  As time takes it’s toll on the life, maintaining consciousness becomes an unavoidable challenge.  Between the rising concerns surrounding mental health and numerous complications with old age, staying alive can be a weekly grind.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:13.
Unfortunately, nobody knows the exact day or time of their deaths.  Some may receive inclinations, warning signs or visions, but few people live their lives as if today or tomorrow will be their last.  Thus, maintaining consciousness is in God’s hands.  Unless of course a drunk driver exercises their own freewill to use their vehicle as a tool of death.  One day you could feel great and the next you’re stricken with cancer.  Meanwhile, others show no signals of decay until an aneurysm, heart attack or gun shot wound tragically ends a life.
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect, Matthew 24:44.
While coping with this uncertainty, the Lord desires individuals to exercise a spiritual consciousness.  One of Jesus’ former disciples writes about preparing your mind for action.  This can be executed with a sober mind set fully on the grace of God.  Another disciple devotes an entire chapter on Jesus’ teaching of eschatology, what will happen in the last days.  Until these days arrive, maintaining consciousness is the least that you can do, health permitting.  Draw near to God and God will draw near to you.
by Jay Mankus

More than Just a Fright Night

Every October television networks devote their programming to reruns of Halloween and horror themed movies. Meanwhile, local cities, communities and towns use haunted forests, houses and theme parks to prepare individuals for Halloween. The first purpose-built haunted attraction was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House located in Liphook, England. Since this establishment opened in 1915, nearly every region has developed their own Fright Land to scare the hell out of visitors.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Most brains have a memory capacity of about 2.5 petabytes. This is equivalent to 2.6 million gigabytes. To place this fact into its proper perspective, Blu-Ray discs hold roughly 50 gigabytes. This means that the human mind is comparable to a digital television able to store up to 3 million hours of television shows. While this potential is impressive, if minds absorb too many images of horror, pornography or other inappropriate content, this opens the door for unclean spirits to enter your life.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

Human minds don’t need an internet connection to be reminded of the unpleasant experiences of their past. All your mind needs is a flashback, a song or some sort of trigger to unleash these haunting memories. Anyone who has ever been abused, raped or fallen prey to pornography have these nightmares seared into their minds. As individuals use horror flicks to get into the mood to celebrate Halloween, it only takes one unwholesome image to inflict a troubled soul. Therefore, as Halloween approaches, be on guard so that this one night of fright doesn’t turn into a lifetime of reliving nightmares.

by Jay Mankus

From a Great American Melting Pot to Toxicity Boiling Over

School Hose Rock was an educational campaign geared toward children, kids and teenagers watching cartoons every Saturday morning. The Great American Melting Pot commercial was a successful slogan to embrace immigrants who came to America to start a new life in this country. School House Rock ads were a series of educational songs which ran for 12 years from 1973 to 1985.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, Proverbs 1:5.

Unfortunately, the introduction of social media in 1997 has gradually turned a great American melting pot into toxic sites boiling over with hatred. Twitter has the become a cesspool of bitterness with other liberal sites not that far behind, allowing false accusations, lies and slander to continue daily. This atmosphere and climate has created a feeding frenzy for anti-conservative beliefs to spread.

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge, Proverbs 18:15.

Perhaps, the only way to reverse this ominous trend is reminding millennials of the School House Rock campaign. Meanwhile, the public educational system needs to abandon Common Core by returning to an emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic. In addition, institutions of higher education must reverse course from its current protesting and victimology agenda. When classrooms return to places of learning, toxicity can be defeated if hearts and minds are devoted to prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Filling Your Mind with Scripture

Human minds are the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences. Meanwhile, brains are the source for mental capacity, where intelligence lies. Thus, common sense and logic supports a full proof plan to protect your mind. According to one of the wisest kings to walk the face of the earth, Solomon suggests that the heart is just as important.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life, Proverbs 4:23.

During a first century conversation, a doctor pays special attention to Jesus’ words “the mouth speaks out of the overflow of your heart,” Luke 6:45. This physician is fascinated by this parallel, a concept Luke never thought of before. If words are imbedded within your heart, filters must be set up to guard hearts and minds from embracing evil.

For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

Apparently, the apostle Paul developed a plan for filling your mind with the Bible. In the passage above, Paul refers to the spiritual war that plays out daily. While walking in the flesh, Paul calls believers to rely on spiritual weapons. Perhaps referencing the armor of God, taking thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ is crucial to protecting your mind. The easiest way to carry on this practice is by memorizing Bible verses daily.

by Jay Mankus

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