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Cursing with the Cross

While taking a few days off last weekend to visit a couple of Christian colleges with my son Daniel, I had more free time than usual. As a fantasy football commissioner, I scanned the television to check the latest update on NFL scores. At the end of Sunday, I caught a glimpse of a post game interview. This press conference sent a mixed message as this cornerback spoke about praying to God followed by several bleeps, curse words. This all took place as this player proudly wore a large golden cross on a chain.

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:5.

Jesus anticipated situations like this during the first century. Instead of encouraging a Monday morning quarterback mentality, Jesus warns individuals against prematurely judging others. Rather than point out another person’s flaws, Jesus urges believers to get your own life right before judging a specific kind of behavior. When it comes to cursing, unless your own language is currently glorying to God, then you are not eligible to criticize, condemn or rebuke Jalen Ramsey.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

Jesus’ earthly brother makes a similar statement in a letter written to Christians scattered throughout the Middle East. Following Jesus’ resurrection, James came to faith, believing his older brother was indeed the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. One of the themes within this Catholic Letter is that faith is dead without action. Thus, James declares that unless you keep a tight reign on your tongue, don’t consider yourself to be religious. While everyone is hypocritical at some point in time, if your faith is a priority, make sure you walk in step with integrity.

by Jay Mankus

The Silencing of Believers in the Lamb of God

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is considered a lock for the National Football League’s Hall of Fame. Beside being a former MVP and Superbowl Champion, Brees became the all time leader in passing yards last season. While starting the 2019-20 season as the second oldest quarterback behind Tom Brady at the age of 40, most experts expect Brees to continue where he left off last season, leading the Saints to the NFC league championship game. Unfortunately, Brees has taken his first hit of the 2019 NFL season off the field.

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29

If you are an active follower on social media, you likely know about the back lash against Drew Brees this week. The LGBTQ community accused Drew of spewing hatred earlier in the week. A little known online publication from New Orleans wrote a hit piece unfairly smearing Brees’ reputation. This article was picked up and carried by most national publications, most notably the Washington Post. What horrible thing did Drew Brees do? Well, he appeared on Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that promotes biblical values. As a believer in the Lamb of God, Drew encouraged young people to bring their Bible to school on National Bring Your Bible to School Day.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, Acts 4:29.

This is all that Drew Brees did. Well, not exactly, Drew also spoke about sharing the love of God to others by living out his faith for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the hatred that the LGBTQ community is referring to, can’t you see this; it’s so obvious or is it? Laura Ingram’s opening monologue on Friday night via the Fox News Channel was devoted to the intolerance of leftist progressives who are attempting to silence the free speech of conservatives. The Ingram Angle invited a panel of four guests to address the silencing of believers in the Lamb of God. While I am a devoted fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Christian community should come together to support Drew Brees, to have his back. If believers don’t practice Acts 4:29, the silencing of religious free speech will continue until only what is politically correct remains.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus Does Everything Well

When Bo Jackson began to play professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals and football for the Oakland Raiders during his off-season in 1989, Nike took full advantage.  In one of the most successful marketing campaigns in American history, the Bo Knows movement took off spawning a series of advertisements, commercials and clothing lines with this slogan.  Christian T-shirt companies even got in on this fad by creating its own brand of Jesus Knows merchandise.  The idea behind this concept is that Jesus does everything well.

They were thoroughly astounded and completely overwhelmed, saying, “He has done everything well! He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!” – Mark 7:37

After being an eye witness to ones of Jesus’ miracles, the region of Decapolis developed a similar sentiment.  Known as the ten Hellenistic cities, based upon books of wisdom found in Catholic Bibles, Jesus’ presence left these crowds in awe.  According to Mark, the citizens were impressed by every aspect of Jesus’ life.  This includes his interactions with strangers, overall manners, teaching and willingness to help people in need.  Jesus was one of a kind, demonstrating the love of God daily.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:1.

In a letter to the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul urges his readers to emulate Jesus Christ.  Jesus didn’t just preach a sermon, shake hands afterward and go back into his family room to chill out the rest of the day or night.  Rather, Jesus seized each day, making the most of his 33 years on earth.  The best way to honor the person who did everything well is to imitate his daily practices.  First century converts to Christianity living in Antioch took their faith so seriously that residents began to say, “hey, you remind me of Jesus.”  In a dark world looking for truth, may you strive to do everything well like Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Its Not Funny Anymore

I guess you can say I grew up in the Cheech and Chong Era.  Richard “Cheech” Moran and Tommy Chong met in Canada in the late sixties; then became famous for their comedy routines and films.  Movies like Up in Smoke glorified pot smoking, encouraging Americans to laugh and embrace the concept of getting high.  This genre spawned characters like Jeff Spicoli played by Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Doobie Brothers.  I bought into this movement, laughing with everyone else.  However, a recent death has helped me realize that its not funny anymore.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Earlier in the week, I heard the news that Rashaan Salaam had passed away.  Salaam was the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and the number one draft pick of the Chicago Bears.  I moved to Chicago the same year he was drafted.  In 1996, I met Rashaan while I was an Assistant Store manager of the Michael Jordan Golf Shop at the Woodfield Mall.  Unlike most celebrities, Rashaan was humble and quiet, not trying to bring attention to himself.  I saw him a couple of times after that, but never spoke with him.  While nursing a leg injury which kept him out of the 1998 NFL season, Salaam admitted to reporters that he was hooked on marijuana during his rehab.

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:4.

According to reports, Salaam’s death appears to have been ruled a suicide.  Beside the note Rashaan left behind, nobody will ever know for sure why he took his own life.  Perhaps, 6 years of playing professional football took a toll on his body.  Maybe, there was some sort of depression or regret from not living up to the expectations of being a former Heisman Trophy winner.  Whatever the reason, drugs cut this young man’s life short.  Some where along the way, Rashaan believed the lies of Hollywood that smoking pot won’t harm you.  How many more people have to die before America wakes up to see its not funny anymore?

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Fallen Stars

The fifty stars on the American flag represent the 50 states meant to unite this country.  Meanwhile, the red and white stripes, thirteen in all, symbolize the 13 British colonies that declared their independence from Great Britain.  Based upon recent events in North Carolina and Wisconsin, it appears that some states are like fallen stars, a glimpse of what they once were.  So how did America get where it is currently, filled with civil unrest?

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 2 Peter 2:4.

Well, perhaps failing schools, a rejection of moral absolutes and the silence of religious leaders is a good place to start.  On the other hand, Common Core Curriculum, revisionist history adopted by modern SAT’s and the radicalization of college campuses is producing a generation of progressives, abandoning the spiritual principles this country was founded upon.  When you add cell phone cameras, a liberal media and a lack of personal responsibility to this equation, its always someone’s fault, not yours.

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day, Jude 1:6.

Last night, I listened to an interview of 2 NFL players from the Carolina Panthers.  One described the last 24 hours in Charlotte as living in a war zone.  Oddly enough, after former NBA star Michael Jordan gave one million dollars to support Black Lives Matters, protesters involved with this group looted and ransacked his Charlotte Hornets down town store.  I understand the concept of protests, but stealing, shutting down local businesses and verbally assaulting police officers isn’t solving the problem.  Either this event is drawing the world closer to Jesus’ return or God is in the process of removing his blessing from a once great country.  If the latter is true, may God have mercy on us all, especially upon the fallen stars.

by Jay Mankus

Standing, Kneeling or Sitting

If you have ever attended a professional sporting event, before each game begins the MC or Voice of the radio play by play makes an announcement.  The words usually go something like this, “will you now rise, take off your caps and direct your attention to the flag as we honor America with the singing of our National Anthem.”  This tradition would have likely continued.  Yet, following the stance of Colin Kaepernick during 2 NFL preseason games by sitting down, then taking a knee, the National Anthem may become a thing of the past just like saying the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, Psalm 1:1.

On any given Sunday, you will find most players standing, a few on one knee and perhaps a rebel sitting on the team’s bench.  Yet, what does it really mean to stand, kneel or sit.  Whenever someone stands it represents a few things.  Standing symbolizes a willing participant, taking a stance or coming together for a common cause.  To take a knee suggests someone is resting, to gather their strength before moving on.  Meanwhile, kneeling is more of an act of worship, to bow down in humility to honor God.  Finally, sitting has multiple meanings.  Individuals can participant in sit ins, join others in protest or in the biblical context, sitting down refers to completing what you set out to do.

But whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night, Psalm 1:2.

Going forward, I hope that singing the National Anthem doesn’t turn into the ACLU’s attack on the pledge of allegiance.  Nonetheless, how people live, the stances you take and the character displayed will be a greater factor than celebrities on television.  In this day and age, people are starving for leaders, someone you can believe in and follow.  In the absence of leadership, the Colin Kaepernick’s of this world will try to set new trends to follow.  In the end, its up to you, to either stand, kneel or sit as America’s freedom’s are under siege by those who detest the Christian heritage of this country.  What will you do?

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Mistakes Last a Life Time

In the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss entitled Rand University, this feature focuses on how hard it is for minorities to make it in professional sports.  Two high school teammates of Moss, Sam Singleton Jr. and Bobbie Howard refer to a generation curse, causing most talented athletes from Rand, West Virginia to end up drinking in the 7 Eleven parking lot every weekend wondering what might have been.  Whether its drugs, poverty or giving into temptation, sometimes poor choices result in mistakes that last a life time.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire, James 1:14.

While Bobbie Howard received a football scholarship to Notre Dame and later went on to play a few seasons for the Chicago Bears, Bobbie is one of the exceptions to this Rand rule.  Sam Singleton Jr. is more like the norm, unable to ditch his addiction to alcohol and pot.  After being drafted by a Major League Ball club, Sam was on his way to becoming a professional baseball player.  Unfortunately, despite showing great promise, one failed drug test sent him packing, released by an unnamed team.  At the conclusion of this film, Sam breaks down in tears, claiming his life is an example of when a mistake lasts a lifetime.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

What people seek and what individuals often receive are usually 2 different things.  At some point, people can become their own worst enemy.  Like a prodigal in denial, life often takes a downward spiral, reaching a new bottom floor with each passing year.  Most don’t get a second chance like a teenage I knew at my first church as a youth pastor.  The first time he ever drove drunk was his last, dying instantly after colliding with a tree.  If only souls could break out of their spiritual funk before its too late?  Perhaps, the sad story of  Sam Singleton Jr. may serve as a wake up call or reality check before one more mistake lasts a lifetime.

by Jay Mankus

Embracing Things That Will Kill You

Every year a story surfaces about a famous athlete who’s professional career comes to an end or is put into jeopardy due to a poor decision.  Whether its being at the wrong place, usually well past midnight, committing a heinous crime or a self-inflicted addiction to a drug, its hard for outsiders to comprehend how someone set for life financially could throw it away overnight.  Unfortunately, former NFL first round draft pick Johnny Manziel may be the next contestant after a TMZ video aired during the Cleveland Browns bye week.  Following a summer in alcohol rehab, Manziel appeared to be on the road to recovery until footage of Johnny at a wild party.  Thus, even grown men embrace things that will kill their dreams.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

You don’t have to be a star athlete to become ensnared by temptations in life.  Some may struggle to control their eating, unable to put down unhealthy food.  Others tend to pursue questionable companions, often resulting in a corruption of character.  Meanwhile, a lack of discipline can allow the devil to gain a foothold in the lives of misguided individuals, going down a road that most fail to escape.  Subsequently, when day turns to night, embracing things that will kill you become a way of life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it, Matthew 7:13.”

Life is hard enough to endure without any distractions.  However, when you add a co-dependency on a drug, a body starving for nutrition and a peers who encourage you to do whatever you feel like, danger comes a knocking.  If you study the days of Judges in Israel, this is exactly what happened, “doing what’s right in their own eyes.”  When truth becomes skewed, chaos ensues as individuals justify their decision to embrace things that will kill you gradually.  As the line between right and wrong turns to gray, may the Lord help those on the verge of disaster, make a U-Turn toward God before its too late.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Replacement

In life you always have to be prepared for the unexpected.  Death, injury or sickness is a daily occurrence causing companies, organizations or teams to search for a suitable replacement.  The NFL has created practice squads, MLB has its minor leagues and most businesses use interns to ascertain a potential substitute if necessary.  While each system may have its own flaws, management understands this vital role to insure their success in the future.

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, Acts 1:21.

Following the suicide of Judas, feeling guilty after betraying Jesus, the disciples were short one person.  Based upon the leadership structure, continuing without a treasurer would have been futile.  Thus, one of Jesus’ last commands to his disciples was to find a replacement.  Although the method chosen was unusual, the lots that were cast fell upon Matthias.

Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles, acts 1:26.

Sometimes the Bible and God doesn’t make sense.  This is one of those occasions.  Yet, when I thought about this for a moment, casting lots is similar to prayer.  You have a 50/50 chance.  If you want to get technical, 33.3 % as God can either answer your request, deny it or respond with not now.  Therefore, whether you’re looking to replace an athlete, co-worker or spiritual leader, don’t forget to add prayer to your decision making process.  Whatever you decide, may the Lord give you wisdom when the time comes to choose a replacement.

by Jay Mankus

 

When People Die Before They Reach the ER

Unfortunately, tragedy makes the headlines as well as the front pages of news papers every summer in the form of heat stroke related deaths, infants left in vehicles too long or wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time.  Former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards tries to mentor rookies each season by proclaiming, “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”  Despite these warnings, curiosity often cause people to die before they reach the Emergency Room.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Addiction is one of many silent killers that can be curtailed by accountability.  In biblical times, communities, families and the local synagogue served as positive peer pressure, providing boundaries to keep morality in and evil out.  While everything is cyclical, apathy, humanism and vanishing absolutes are re-writing how individuals should live.  This loosening of society has perverted freedom, resulting in chaos on the streets of major cities.  According to Jesus, the seed of murder is conceived when a spirit of anger consumes a human heart.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell, Matthew 5:22.

Despite Eve’s sin, Adam’s lack of leadership and a world falling apart at the seams, no one seems to care.  An avalanche of emotions is stoking a fire of hatred, resentment and revenge.  What ever happened to common sense?  Will anyone ever wake up to smell the coffee of a society slipping away from God?  If these warning signs continue to be ignored, doctors will be helpless to act, like a M.A.S.H. unit who receives their patients too late, dead on arrival.  May the  words of a classic song “Stop Children What’s that Sound ” prompt hearts of actions to reverse the trend of a culture slip sliding away from God.

by Jay Mankus

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