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Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

The Jesus Check List

For the past 25 years, Thanksgiving serves as a dual purpose for my family.  The first is obvious, to reconnect, reflect and share how the past year has gone, either good, bad or indifferent.  The second is a precursor to Christmas, exchanging gift wish lists.  Thanks to Amazon, most of this is done online to avoiding writing down the same list several times on a piece of paper.  Nonetheless, as Christmas Day approaches, there is an internal list with decorations, gift wrapping and preparations that need to completed before you can actually enjoy Jesus’ birthday.

For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations],” Romans 10:10-11.

A 2007 film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman introduced another kind of list.  The Bucket List involves two men who have been each diagnosed with terminal cancer.  After meeting in the hospital for the first time, the billionaire hospital magnate Edward Cole played by Nicholson finances a series of trips before each man dies.  In a race against the clock, these men invest their energy doing the things in life they always wanted to do, but never took the time.  Since the initial release of the Bucket List, several # movements have transformed others on the verge of death to pursue their own check list of dreams and goals to accomplish.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.

My favorite list is one that gets little attention, but results in eternal rewards, the Jesus Check List.  Instead of going through life focusing on the things you want to experience, the Jesus Check List is based upon fulfilling God’s will for your life.  Before you can start this list, you need to join Jesus’ team as described by the apostle Paul in Romans 10:10-11.  The moment you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you gain access to the Holy Spirit.  C.S. Lewis refers to this as theological virtues in Mere Christianity, enabling new converts to obtain charity, faith and hope as you progress down Jesus’ Check List.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. 14 This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us, 1 John 5:13-14.

As individuals begin to daily prayer, read the Bible and begin to worship God throughout the week, not just on Sunday’s, lives can be radically changed if you stick with the Jesus Check List.  The apostle Paul refers to this as a process, offering up your life each day as a living sacrifice to God.  This involves asking God a series of questions in the form of a prayer.  What do you want me to do today?  Where do you need me to go to help others?  Who needs to be encouraged, give me eyes to see?  How can I reach the lost; using the God given talents you have blessed me with?  If you take this blog to heart, you will be well on your way, certain of the eternal rewards awaiting you in heaven with each day you commit to serving Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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Jesus’ Bucket List

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two terminally ill men seeking to fulfill a list of wishes before each pass away in the 2007 film Bucket List.  This movie has spawned a worldwide movement, awakening souls to make the most of their time on earth.  Books, social media and you tube videos have helped spread this grassroots movement to live out your childhood dreams.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning [to [j]Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere]. 46 Three days later they found Him in the [court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions, Luke 2:41-46.

As I read through the New Testament, it appears Jesus had his own bucket list consisting of three goals.  The first occurs immediately following his bar mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony where a twelve year old boy becomes a man.  Similar to Confirmation for Christians, this tradition allowed Jesus to officially join the temple and begin to teach.  Jesus was so excited by this opportunity that he spent three days inside the Nazareth temple listening to and debating adults.  According to Luke, Jesus spoke with authority without having any former education.

When the wine was all gone, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no more wine.” Jesus said to her, “[Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? My time [to act and to be revealed] has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it,” John 2:3-5.

While waiting 12 years to finally teach, Jesus spent the next 18 living in obscurity as a carpenter.  After John the Baptist was imprisoned, this set the stage for next phase of Jesus’ life, to become a fisher of men.  However, Jesus needed to call twelve men to become his disciples, only half way there at the time of the wedding above.  Jesus’ second item on his bucket list was performing miracles, waiting for his ministry team to be complete.  Yet, Jesus promised to obey his parents at the end of Luke 2, choosing to honor his mother’s request anyway.

There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name, John 20:30-31.

This initial miracle pails in comparison to the last item on Jesus’ bucket list.  Jesus refers to preparing a place for his disciples in heaven, John 14:1-4.  However, completing his mission on earth involved suffering and dying.  This final goal took 3 years of planning, a selfless heart and the will to finish what God began.  Thus, while hanging on a cross, Jesus signals the accomplishment of this final item in John 19:30.  When Jesus says, “it is finished,” this means that Jesus completed the will of God on earth.  While checking off items from a bucket list is an honorable pursuit, the greatest thing you can do in life is identifying, obeying and completing God’s will for your life on earth.

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

 

The Consequence of Tasting Forbidden Fruit

As a former teacher, defining class boundaries during the first week of school is helpful to maintain a healthy environment.  This introduction allow students know what’s in play and what’s off limits.  However, once these expectations, guidelines and standards have been laid out, they are meaningless unless rules are enforced.  Earlier on, life on earth was simple.  There was only one restriction, do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  Everything else was accessible and acceptable in God’s sight.  Nonetheless, the little kid in each of us seek to do the very opposite of that which we are told.

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die,’” Genesis 3:2-3.

Although Eve’s age is not mentioned, she is likely a teenager in the passage above.  Drawn toward a gossiping busybody, Eve becomes curious, pondering the point behind this new ideology.  Sure, a snake speaking would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, yet it appears animals and human beings could communicate.  Sounds strange right?  Well, years later Balaam had a conversation with his donkey.  Anyway, Lucifer begins to speak through this serpent with a slight lisp.  Knowing right from wrong, Eve corrects this being.  Instead of moving on, avoiding this shady character, Eve becomes intrigued with this new thought as lust for the fruit hanging from the Tree of Knowledge takes over.  It doesn’t take long for irrational thoughts to take over, excusing this decision to disobey God within her mind.  As sin is tasted for the first time, enlightenment follows.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:4-5.

As a child, I believed this to be a literal event.  Years later, many adults refer to original sin as an allegory or metaphor.  However, the real question is why would God want to protect Adam and Eve from this tree?  What is so dangerous about knowledge?  How could enlightenment corrupt mankind?  I didn’t know the answer to these questions until I watched movies like Lucy, a 2014 film starring Scarlet Johansson and Morgan Freeman.  When you add this content with Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull from 2008, I begin to see God’s fears come true.  When individuals become so consumed with knowledge, the most simplistic things in life become lost.  During the Age of Enlightenment, mankind stopped looking for answers to life from above, toward heaven and began to look from within their own minds.  This is why God restricted Adam and Eve from tasting forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  This is the consequence God feared, a time on earth when the Holy Spirit would be ignored and replaced by minds obsessed with human consciousness.  This explains the words of the apostle Paul within 1 Corinthians 2, when fools know more than the wise due to this search from within.  Look up, not within.

by Jay Mankus

Contagious

Over the last month, scenes from the 1985 film Outbreak have come to life.  Dustin Hoffman,Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo  portray the spread of an Ebola like disease imported to America by an infective monkey.  Panic spreads throughout a town which becomes ground zero when the virus goes air born after a victim starts coughing at the local movie theater.    Isolation is the only hope to contain this deadly disease.

Another invisible wave poises a similar threat if not stopped.  According to 2 Timothy 2:16-17, godless chatter can spread like gangrene.  Unless its momentum is cut off, negativity can multiple like wild fires, overflowing from city to city. Fueled by politicians and talk shows, minds are easily infected, piling on, losing control of their emotions with each demoralizing comment.

In life, there aren’t many safe havens remaining.  On every corner, temptation lurks waiting to wrap its claws around you.  Once contaminated, there is only one doctor who possesses the anti-venom, Luke 19:10, to cure the human heart of its condition, Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Nonetheless, everyone is spreading something, either good or bad.  Therefore, the next time you open your mouth, try to cut corners or lead someone astray, think about James 5:19-20 so that the mark you leave will turn others in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

 

Right In Front of You

Bruce Almighty

In the movie Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a television reporter in Buffalo, New York.  Like many Americans, Bruce begins to blame God for the problems he is experiencing in life.  Thinking he has been dealt a bad hand in life, Bruce believes he can do a better job than God Almighty.  God, played by Morgan Freeman, responds by endowing Bruce with divine powers.  Until you switch places with another person or in this case God, you don’t realize that sometimes the answers to your prayers are right in front of you.

This is a lesson I learned yesterday.  When I use Psalm 5:3 as a model for prayer, I often expect God to answer me in my way or on my terms.  However, prayer is not like going to the check out counter after finding the Christmas presents you want.  Rather, prayer also involves listening, at times meditating on scripture and waiting in expectation of answers.  Yet, human nature has blinded me from the blessings, gifts and rewards God has already bestowed upon my family.  When the veil covering my eyes was released last night, two Christian co-workers were right in front of me, a clear answer to my prayers.

Most people dream of winning the lottery, thinking about all the good they could do with the money.  Thus, one day Bruce Nolan answered the people’s prayers, having millions of Americans win, splitting $3.33.  In response, people were angry with God because their own expectations were not fulfilled.  This leads me back to modern day, in a sputtering economy, with joblessness and not enough money to afford the littlest of gifts.  Free will enables each person to act as they wish like Bruce Nolan in the movie.  However, in this Christmas season please don’t overlook the good tidings, given from above, James 1:17, that are right in front of you!

by Jay Mankus

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