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Tag Archives: paradise

Making Peace with God

Hollywood usually falls short when attempting to accurately illustrate a biblical principle.  Yet, in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the evolution of Gary Sinise’ character helps viewers understand what is means to make peace with God.  Lieutentant Dan is born into a long lineage of military officers.  In his mind, Lieutentant Dan believed he was destined to die on a battlefield in Vietnam along with his battalion.  However, Forrest Gump’s act of bravery forced Lieutentant Dan to live the rest of his life on earth without legs.  As Forrest ran off to pursue other aspirations in life, Lieutentant Dan was bound to a wheel chair.  Bitterness grew within Lieutentant Dan’s heart until Gump became a shrimp boat captain.  Volunteering as Gump’s second mate, Lieutentant Dan wrestles with his purpose on earth.  During a major hurricane, Lieutentant Dan verbalizes his frustrations, welcoming the wrath of nature head on as if to seek a duel with God.  After this storm passes, Lieutentant Dan makes peace with God.

One of the criminals who had been hanged [on a cross beside Him] kept hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us [from death]!” 40 But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?-Luke 23:39-40

A first century doctor, no stranger to death, shares a story about Jesus just before his death on a cross.  For some reason, this encounter is glanced over by the other 3 gospel authors, skipped to cover other healings, miracles and stories.  In the passage below, Luke reveals steps toward making peace with God.  The first involves acknowledging your imperfections or as the apostle Paul once said, “falling short of God’s glory,” Romans 3:23.  Once individuals confess their sins to God, step two is geared toward securing an eternal destiny.  The disciple whom Jesus loved once proclaimed, “you don’t have to hope for an answer; you can know for certain,” 1 John 5:13.  On their death bed, hanging from a cross, one criminal went to hell and other was promised to be with Jesus in paradise, heaven.  This is one of the best biblical examples of making peace with God.

We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 Jesus said to him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” Luke 23:41-43.

Whenever I attend a funeral, enter an emergency room or take off in an airplane, making peace with God is brought to the forefront.  Instead of reading a book or watching a movie, the fragility of life flashes through my mind.  Sadly, most people don’t consider making peace with God until its too late.  As my blood pressure sky rocketed yesterday while sitting in preop, I was powerless, unable to control my breathing.  When my eye surgery was cancelled, too dangerous to perform due to my elevated blood pressure, my perspective on life changed like Lieutentant Dan in Forrest Gump.  Maybe I won’t be the person I hoped for or be able to achieve the dreams that I aspire, but at some point I have to make peace with God.  I guess it’s time to surrender my goals by yielding to God’s ultimate plan for my life on earth.  Although I still don’t know exactly what that is, my recent health scare has provided me the opportunity to make peace with God where I am.

by Jay Mankus

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Not the Thanksgiving I Invisioned

A routine physical earlier this week has turned my life upside down.  Standing on a scale revealed my heaviest weight ever, not a good way to start this check up.  Before my primary care doctor entered the room, I took a brief depression survey, confident in my responses.  However, after my blood pressure was sky high, a series of comments from my doctor sucked the joy out of my soul, wanting to go back to change my previous answers.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:20.

Like a warning from God, I listened to all the possible conditions that might be wrong with me.  This internal alarm resulted in a series of tests on my heart, kidney and thyroid.  The past 48 hours has been like a whirlwind, hooked up to machines, placed on new medicine and forced to endure another series of examinations and tests next week.  This wasn’t the way I expected to spend the week of Thanksgiving.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As I began to embrace self pity, a whisper from God via the Holy Spirit has put my circumstances into it’s proper perspective.  “At least you’re alive.  What about the residents of Paradise, California, losing their city, homes and loved ones?”  While I still don’t know what’s exactly wrong with me beside being overweight, Thanksgiving has a new meaning to me.  Although there will be aches and pains throughout life, staying positive, hopeful and thankful is what get’s you through the tough times.  God uses trials like mine to remind people to place their trust in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

More Than a Spelling Test

As a student, English was always one of my worst subjects.  During my college entrance exam at the University of Delaware, I scored higher on Spanish than I did English.  Beside Language Arts, spelling tests usually gave me trouble, especially on the words with exceptions to the rules.  Thus, I was forced to use dictionaries and a thesaurus to improve my vocabulary.  Despite my efforts to improve, I still have a hard time visualizing terms, relying on spell check when in doubt is a common practice.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken, Matthew 12:36.

During a discussion with religious leaders, Jesus refers to a different kind of spelling test.  At the end of your life, everyone will face a day of judgment.  Those who have experienced near death experiences talk about being in a room with a large video screen.  The movie on this device is your life story, replaying every good and bad deed that you have ever committed on earth.  Depending upon the legacy you left behind, this could be very unnerving and uncomfortable.

For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned, Matthew 12:37.

According to Jesus, this event will be more than a spelling test.  Instead of receiving a percentage grade, heaven is based upon a pass/fail scale.  Like an individual on trial, a judge will made the final decision based upon actions, behavior and words spoken.  This course never ends until your life is over.  Therefore, your preparation must begin now with advice from Romans 10:9-10.  Going on from here, Colossians 2:6-7 is the next level of faith.  While you will endure ups and down, Hebrews 12:1-3 provides one last piece of advice to help you pass this course.  If you feel like you going to flunk, paradise is still possible for sinners who repent.  May this blog serve as a study guide to help you cross the finish line.

by Jay Mankus

A Sinner’s Life

Since paradise was lost in the Garden of Eden, no one can escape the temptation to sin.  While some make better choices than others, a sinner’s life is like attending the school of hard knocks.  Living and learning from past mistakes has a learning curve with many struggling to avoid Satan’s snares.

All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one, Romans 3:12.

If you have the opportunity to travel the country or across the world, you begin to get a sense for what’s out there.  Along the way, you will rub shoulders with various groups of people, witnessing the good, the bad and the ugly.  During his missionary journey’s throughout the Middle East, the apostle Paul makes an interesting observation.  Similar to economic classes, Paul writes about the classification of sinners, separating typical offenders from those addicted.

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them, 1 Timothy 5:24.

If actions speak louder than words, sins communicate the heart and the soul of individuals.  Although some may dabble in sin from time to time, others follow in the footsteps of the prodigal, continuing until they reach rock bottom.  When the sensations of temporary pleasures fade, sinners face an important decision, do I come to my senses or not?  How a sinner’s life ends is in your hands.  Therefore, may you heed the words of 1 John 1:6 so that darkness does not prematurely end your life and the reason why you were created.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Recipe for Disaster

Thomas Gray is the first to pen the phrase ignorance is bliss.  Ignorance refers to disregard, insensitivity or being obtuse.  Meanwhile, bliss is like experiencing euphoria, joy and paradise.  However, when you put the two together, it can be a recipe for disaster.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, 1 Peter 1:14.

In today’s progressive culture, if you’ve not open to non biblical ideas, you are considered ignorant.  Yet, this same movement seeks heaven without following the guidelines left behind by Jesus.  Sure, children make mistakes; its all part of growing up, to live and learn.  However, at some point, you have to mature by taking responsibility for your actions.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Despite being an adult, I suffer from days of ignorance.  These moments are marked by disobedience, not caring about this or that rule.  Unfortunately, these periods open the door for evil, forgetting right from wrong or simply rejecting that which you know to be true.  This recipe for disaster must be avoided at all cost before addiction poisons your soul.   Therefore, before its too late, ask the Lord to draw you back into obedience.

by Jay Mankus

A Bold Request

The recent commercials sponsored by Credit Karma suggest that getting a free credit score empowers individuals with boldness.  Thus, whether you are buying a car or house, you should always ask for more.  Perhaps the meek have a bargaining chip, yet reality is a far cry from Hollywood.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you, ” Matthew 7:7.

Boldness can be manifested within Type A personalities, conceived through desperation or develop overtime through confidence.  In the case of a criminal, hanging on a cross next to Jesus, it didn’t take long to realize He was different.  Whether it was listening to nearby conversations or something inside his heart, a sense of urgency grew.  When the time presented itself, this unworthy soul asked for forgiveness and a place in paradise.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened, Matthew 7:8.

One of the areas where I am not bold enough is when I pray.  During a discussion with followers prior to his death, Jesus unveiled a secret about prayer.  “You don’t have because you haven’t asked!”  This dilemma applies to many who are currently experiencing a life without much joy.  Therefore, if you want to make a bold request, approach God’s throne of grace with an expecting heart, believing that you too will experience paradise.

by Jay Mankus

 

Last Rites

No one except God knows what will be your last day, meal or words.  In the case of Jesus, I guess you can say He was born to die, causing a wide range of emotions.  As the Passion Week approached, interactions with family, friends and disciples would be his last, causing the praises of Hosanna on Palm Sunday to be replaced with “Crucify Him.”

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10

Today, when doctor’s sense the end is near, Catholics call a priest to perform last rites.  Otherwise known as the sacraments of anointing the sick, if death is expected, Penance and Communion is also offered to prepare one’s soul for the afterlife.  Once complete, family members gather around to savor the remaining moments of life together.  The closest thing that I’ve ever experienced was the day my grandfather died, holding his hand one last time before his last breath.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” John 11:25.

While hanging from a cross on Good Friday, there were only two more things left on God’s agenda.  First, Jesus gave hope to one of two criminals hanging from an adjacent cross, offering Him the promise of paradise for his repentant words.  Second, as the oldest son, Jesus wanted to make sure Mary was in good hands, commanding John of Zebedee to watch after his mother.  Though no last rites where necessary for Jesus, a perfect man, Hebrews 4:14-16, Jesus gave up His spirit with one final comment, “it is finished!”

by Jay Mankus

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