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Recalling Minds to the Way of Life in Christ

I was an average student most of my life, often day dreaming in class about what I wanted to do. For example, I spent most of Geometry designing golf courses which explains why I never understood this concentration of math. Until I realized that my grades in high school would impact which college I could attend, my mind was hard to corral. Since academics wasn’t my forte, most of my energy, focus and time was invested into sports. After becoming a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year, the Holy Spirit helped me become a better student by recalling the promises of the Bible to my mind.

For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches, 1 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes the quest for knowledge gets in the way, hindering one’s ability to grow spiritually. Members of the Corinthian Church were raised in a culture that idolized philosophers. While the apostle Paul’s visit to this region in Greece sowed spiritual seeds, after his departure it appears that many went back to their former way of life. After receiving news of their idleness, back sliding from the apostles’ teaching, Timothy is sent as a means to recharge their spiritual batteries. Paul’s goal is to recall minds to the way of life in Christ.

Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him, John 14:6-8.

Seeing in Believing is the name of a 1934 British film. Seven years later author John Dickson Carr wrote the mystery novel Seeing in Believing. German singer Xavier Naidoo, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Adriana Evans also released songs with the same name. During the first century, seeing is believing was a common phrase for those who witnessed a miracle performed by Jesus. Yet, the disciple known as doubting Thomas still had reservations, regularly questioning Jesus. Since modern Christians have to rely on the words of the Bible, as you read these living pages may your minds be recalled to the way of life in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Am I Too Old for Pleasure?

While age is a number, aging is a state of mind. If you believe in science, reaching a specific age has limitations. For a woman who wants to get married and have children before turning forty, their biological clock is ticking. Although anything is possible with God, the odds go down each year you wait to walk in faith.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; it had ceased to be with Sarah as with [young] women. [She was past the age of childbearing]. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed to herself, saying, After I have become aged shall I have pleasure and delight, my lord (husband), being old also? – Genesis 18:11-12

When Sarah was well beyond the age of bearing children, she gave up hope. Upon overhearing news that Abraham would have a son, Sarah laughed. One translation suggests that Sarah doubted the ability to still have pleasure with her husband. Nonetheless, this promise sets the stage for an epic miracle. The name Isaac is a masculine name from the Hebrew term Yitzchak meaning “he laughs.”

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.

The Psalmist adds another dimension to pleasure. When individuals are shown and revealed the path of life, God’s will, a fullness of joy is unleashed. Jesus eludes to a similar experience during the first century. John 10:10 discloses God’s purpose on earth, to live an abundant life. Thus, as individuals find their place in this world, walking with God brings pleasure, no matter how young or old that you may be.

by Jay Mankus

When You're Unwilling to Change

Julia Roberts starred in the 1991 film Sleeping with the Enemy. However, nearly two thousand years before Nancy Price published her novel, a Jewish carpenter allowed himself to be infiltrated by a spiritual enemy. Jesus saw the potential in Judas Iscariot as a disciple, giving him an opportunity to change. Yet, in the end, this was part of God’s plan as Judas was unwilling to change despite witnessing countless miracles.

Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (the message) of eternal life. 69 And we have learned to believe and trust, and [more] we have come to know [surely] that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And [yet] one of you is a devil (of the evil one and a false accuser), John 6:68-70.

On December 12th, 2019, scientists discovered an unknown virus in Wuhan, China. As news of this spread across the country and throughout the world, the name Coronavirus was given. As the number of confirmed cases in the United States has surpassed 54,000, citizens are forced to make one of two choices. Practice social distancing by changing how you live your daily life or continue ignoring the new CDC guidelines? The first doesn’t guarantee staying healthy, but the latter risks spreading the Coronavirus to those whom you love.

When it was evening, He was reclining at table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, Solemnly I say to you, one of you will betray Me! 22 They were exceedingly pained and distressed and deeply hurt and sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, Surely it cannot be I, Lord, can it? 23 He replied, He who has [just] dipped his hand in the same dish with Me will betray Me! – Matthew 26:20-23

As Jesus’ betrayal grew near, one event sped up this process. When a prostitute wasted an expensive jar of perfume to anoint Jesus’ body, this decision pushed Judas over the edge. In his role as treasurer, Judas saw this act as a waste of money, not an act of worship. When a seed of betrayal was sown in Judas’ heart and mind, the Last Supper sets the stage for Jesus’ final call out. When individuals aren’t unwilling to change, the consequences can be eternal. May the current Coronavirus pandemic persuade stubborn hearts to alter their lives now before it’s too late.

by Jay Mankus

Cancelled by Coronavirus

In a matter of days, college and professional sports seasons, public education classes and my volleyball league have either been cancelled, closed their doors for two to four weeks or suspended their seasons. The culprit, the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19 is to blame for this latest pandemic. While out picking up weekly supplies during my normal time, local shoppers treated Thursday afternoon as if the world was coming to an end. With this in mind, what does the Bible say about viruses?

At midnight the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead, Exodus 12:29-30.

The most famous plague of the Old Testament struck Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Jews. According to Moses, every family was impacted, losing the first born male overnight. Meanwhile, cattle farmers lost first born calves as well. According to Numbers 16:49, 14,700 individuals died in a plague brought on by the disobedience of Korah. Another 24,000 Israelites were wiped out by a similar plague in Numbers 25:9. There are other accounts of angels of death, deadly plagues and a real Devil who daily seeks to steal, kill and destroy the lives of weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.

So I looked, and behold, an ashy pale horse [black and blue as if made so by bruising], and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades (the realm of the dead) followed him closely. And they were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and with wild beasts of the earth, Revelation 6:8.

Whenever individuals experience the unknown, doubt, fear and panic can take hold of troubled hearts. In just one week, life as we know it has been turned upside down. The only recent pandemic that is comparable was the H1N1, back in the Spring of 2009. My oldest son contracted the Swine Flu months later during the Cross Country season. Although James missed nearly 3 weeks of school, he made a complete and full recovery. As human beings, not being in control of your health and well being conceives emotions of hopelessness. Yet, the only thing that you can do right now until COVID-19 goes into remission is pray to the God of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

Fitting a Square Peg into a Round Hole

The expression fitting a square peg into a round hole comes from the Apollo 13 Space Mission. The entire crew would have died from carbon dioxide poisoning if Mission Control didn’t come up with a way to fit the square lithium hydroxide canisters into the round openings of the environmental exhaust system. The movie highlights this race against time when a warning light reveals dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. A brainstorming session begins at Mission Control in Houston using plastic bags, cardboard, tape, and all materials on board of Apollo 13 to solve this dilemma.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6.

From my own personal experience, the older I get the less I see individuals open to thinking outside the box. Instead I hear the same old excuses, “this is the way we have always done it, we must follow the standard operational procedures or that’s just cutting corners.” Until an emergency arises, most people aren’t willing to deviate from the norm. However, there was a first century man who turned the Jewish culture upside down. Instead of focusing on a rigid set of rules, Jesus introduced a new way to live, expressing freedom like no one ever before or since.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

Sometime in the late 20’s AD, worshiping God in the temple at Jerusalem increased in importance. This would be like modern day Muslims traveling to Mecca for Ramadan. Just when this trend reached a buckle list status, Jesus spoke of a day when the temple would be torn in two. This teaching infuriated religious leaders, eventually resulting in Jesus’ death on a cross. Yet, Jesus placed a square peg into a round hole by revealing you don’t need to be in a building to worship God. Jesus took this concept one step further, explaining that human bodies are temples on loan from God, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. May this blog open your mind to see the vast miracles of the past and present as God continues to place square pegs into round holes daily.

by Jay Mankus

Running Away from the Hand of God

After the death of Joseph, who God used to save Egypt from a historic famine, future leaders forgot his impact on their country.  When Pharaoh Rameses II rose to power, the once favored Jews became enslaved for 400 years.  Four centuries leader, God chose a man named Moses to lead Israel to a promised land, free from slavery.  Despite this hardship, the Lord was afraid that Israel might change their mind by returning to Egypt and accept a state of misery.

So it happened, when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearer; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war [that is, that there will be war], and return to Egypt,” Exodus 13:17. 

Upon the banks of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army was on the verge of surrounding Israel when the hand of God intervened.  Like a scene out of a tsunami movie, one million Jews walked to the other side before a wall of water returned to swallow up chariots and soldiers.  For the eyewitnesses, this event should have transformed their faith forever.  Yet, based upon the words of Moses in Exodus, some began to convince others to return to Egypt rather than trust in God to provide manna from heaven.

Further, he shall not acquire many [war] horses for himself, nor make the people return to Egypt in order to acquire horses [to expand his military power], since the Lord said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again, Deuteronomy 17:16.

As crazy as this may seem, modern believers continue to run away from the hand of God.  Despite countless miracles, signs and wonders, the faith of some have become weak.  The Lord doesn’t want his people to go back to being enslaved, yet weak minds can cause faith to crumble.  Jonah ran away from God in the opposite direction rather than following his call to go to Nineveh.  Unfortunately, my own actions reflect a similar pattern, doing what I want to do.  If only I would let go and trust God, I will see the hand of God at work rather than running away due to fear.

by Jay Mankus

A Reason to Reconsider

Imitation is a response by an observer or observers who replicate another’s behavior. This can be viewed as a form a flattery when the originator sees others coping a dance move, expression or unique style. One of the nicknames Jesus received during the first century was the Great Magician. Jealous of Jesus’ great healing powers, religious leaders began to refer to Jesus as an illusionist, performing miracles in the name of Satan, Matthew 12:24. Despite these claims, Jesus’ ministry inspired others to become faith healers without having a personal relationship with God.

Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists also attempted to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I implore you and solemnly command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” – Acts 19:13

During a trip to Ephesus, Luke details a family of brothers who became Jewish exorcists. This isn’t a scene out of the Exorcism of Emily Rose, a 2005 film. Rather, the sons of Sceva traveled to homes filled with desperate individuals hoping to be set free from demonic oppression and possession. Apparently, this was a viable occupation, making enough money and successful enough to rid souls from imps. Yet, when this crew confronted a legion of demons, all 7 got their butts kicked, barely escaping, fleeing in fear.

This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified and exalted. 18 Many of those who had become believers were coming, confessing and disclosing their [former sinful] practices. 19 And many of those who had practiced magical arts collected their books and [throwing book after book on the pile] began burning them in front of everyone. They calculated their value and found it to be 50,000 pieces of silver, Acts 19:17-19.

Like the top grossing horror films of all time, fear gripped everyone who interviewed these brothers or witnessed this assault. According to Luke, the thought of imitating the Christian faith stopped, resulting in a spiritual awakening that spread to practicing witches. Contrite hearts began to purge their lives from anything that attempted to imitate God’s power. Subsequently, magical books worth 50,000 pieces of silver were burned. The fear of God from what happened to the 7 sons of Sceva served as a reason to reconsider previous practices by embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

by Jay Mankus

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