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Another Reason to Pray

In this age of chaos, parents have loads to worry about.  However, as priorities distract many from taking time to pray, minds can race out of control.  Thus, when the temptations of life prey upon children, asking God for a hedge of protection is another reason to pray.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, Philippians 4:6.

A few years ago I began to become fed up with the mediocre life I was living.  In response I started to keep a prayer journal writing down my thoughts and concerns.  Although this may not work for everyone, if I don’t write prayers down my mind wanders, having a hard time concentrating.  In this past week, I have begun to see the fruits of answered prayer.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7.

One of the common phrases I jot down daily is hoping my children reach their full potential.  While the context changes weekly, my oldest son’s recent success can only be described as an answer to prayer.  I didn’t ask for a specific outcome, yet God allowed James to become an individual state champion in pole vault as well as helping his team win a state title.  Life goes on from here, but I will use this miracle as another reason to pray.

by Jay Mankus

The Curse of the Worst

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be hoodlums.  Well, that’s not exactly how the song goes, but all parents hope their children choose their friends wisely.  Others pray over their kids, asking the Lord to bless each with godly influences.  Unfortunately, many youth fall prey to the trap, “just because I hang around them doesn’t mean I will act like them.”

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

This concept is nothing new as the Psalmist describes the subtle metamorphosis an individual goes through in Psalm 1:1.

1) Young people choose to walk with a group of people, searching for acceptance in a friend, gang or posse.

2) Over time, youth begin to share similar beliefs, gradually standing for the same issues and things.

3) Finally, before they realize it, evil rubs off as teenagers join in the same behavior of their crew.

Subsequently, the curse of the worst reaches even godly souls, causing attitudes, hearts and words to go down hill.

Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.- Psalm 135:18

Even good intentions can’t escape the spiritual principle known as “you reap what you sow,” Galatians 6:7.  The only way to break the grips of this curse is through a spiritual infusion of the Word, Romans 10:17.  A little dose won’t do.  Rather, wayward souls need to soak their hearts and minds in the Bible, Romans 12:1-2.  Developing this spiritual act of worship will reverse the curse of the worst, setting the lost free from the bondage of sin.  May the prayers of parents revive their children to walk in the ways of the Lord, 1 John 2:6.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

Good Grief Charlie Brown

Beginning in the early1950’s, the Peanuts Comic Strip became a main stay in American newspapers.  As the popularity of Charles Schultz’s creation grew, television brought this animation to life in the 1960’s, known as the golden era of Peanuts.  By the 1980’s, holidays and Charlie Brown specials became an annual tradition  for families.  This is where children first saw Lucy pull back a football that Charlie Brown was about to kick, causing him to fall to the ground in anguish.  Thus, the expression, “Good grief Charlie Brown” was born.

Today, there is a different kind of pain parent’s experience.  Unrelated to sports, this infliction is derived when their own children begin to date individuals who have a questionable reputation.  Despite their initial warning, teenagers have a mind of their own, often neglecting the advice of mom or dad.  Blinded by love, lust or self-fulfillment, most proceed into a relationship, doing whatever it takes to love or be loved.  In many cases, a person blends into this new environment, compromising who they are and want to be.  As a result, I can hear adults mutter, “Good grief, Charlie Brown!”

According to Genesis 26:34-35, Esau’s choice in a wife, Judith the Hittite caused Isaac and Rebekah great distress.  Instead of seeking someone with a similar beliefs, standards,  and values, Esau goes outside of God’s family.  Although her physical appearance is not mentioned, its likely that Esau choose external features over character.  Like distant relatives, Esau’s decision to marry a Hittite leads him away from God’s favor, corrupted by a nation full of idols.  Once stuck in this relationship, the only barometer left was his conscience, “good grief Esau!”  Unfortunately, its too late for those who are gone, dead and buried.  Yet, for those of you still clinging to life, break free of sin’s chains so that you will bring peace and not grief to your family.

by Jay Mankus

Enjoying the Moment

Fifteen years ago this month, I became a first time father.  When you leave the hospital together, there are many firsts: outfit, crib, binky, blanket and so on.  Some where along the way, time seems to speed up, as parents lose track of days, weeks, months and even years trying to keep up with their growing children.  Two children later, I have forgotten to enjoy each and every moment with my wife and kids.

Part of adulthood is taking on more responsibility, working harder than ever to feed ever increasing appetites.  Often, this results in parents missing a game, concert or memorable moment in the lives of your children.  This double edged sword cuts to the heart, leaving a family starving at the dinner table or void of the happiness of time well spent together.  Though opinions vary, the days between birth and graduation are valuable, with opportunities to shape and train your child in the way they should go, Proverbs 22:6.

With this in mind, I am wrestling between 2 destinies, one of wealth and the other, regret.  Now I know what the apostle Paul meant by his words in Philippians 3:20-21.  As a citizen bound for heaven, the rat race of life has carved a hole in my heart, tired of the superficial aspects on life on earth.  Yet, on the flip side, I need to have the mindset of James 4:13-14.  Before the sun sets on this day, evaporating time, I am going to be still, Psalm 46:10, enjoying the moments while I am still a resident on earth.

by Jay Mankus

An Altar of Tears

The Psalmist was one of the first to address God’s view on the broken hearted.  According to Psalm 34:18, God promises to draw near the hurting and save those devastated by life’s trials.  Jesus furthers God’s position within Matthew 11:28-30.  A woman in Mark 14:3-5, takes Jesus’ words literally, bowing down before him, anointing his head.  John’s version includes other details, as this same woman pours the remaining perfume on his feet, using her wash to thoroughly wash Jesus’ feet, John 12:3.  Like a child who cries before being punished by their parents, desperate moments often resemble an altar of tears.

However, the prophet Malachi gives a different perspective of this picture.  From God’s side of the altar, He does see the flood of tears, as people cry out for help, Malachi 2:13.  On the other hand, God also sees disobedience, impure motives and half-hearted offerings.  If the Lord is jealous, Exodus 20:5, anyone or anything which comes between you and God, creates a role reversal.  Our Heavenly Father is the one who longs to spend time with you, knocking on the door or your heart, waiting to have fellowship with you, Revelation 3:20.  Like a shepherd, searching for a lost sheep, God’s heart won’t be satisfied until you are found, Luke 15:6-7.

One of the greatest spectacles on earth occurs when a sinner repents, Luke 15:10.  As a person attempts to make it in life on their own, breaking points vary.  The independent  tend to last the longest, content longer than most.  The insecure often become co-dependent, on someone or something.  However, when you reach that moment in time, where the void in the heart brings you to an altar of tears, Jesus is waiting with out-stretched arms, Matthew 11:28-30.   Freedom is available for you right now, John 8:34-36, accessible by God’s grace, through a prayer and an alter of tears.

by Jay Mankus

If God Used Logic…We’d All Be Dead!

Throughout the course of history, a series of cycles retrieve, add to and reinvent old theories about the Bible.  Gnostics build upon the teachings of Simon Magus in Acts 8:9-19 with modern theories like the Jesus Seminars and Da Vinci Code.  Meanwhile, books like the Secret take biblical principles out of their proper context by blending these truths with metaphysics and self-help methodology.  Despite what so called experts may claim, the Bible continues to be an annual best selling book about the creation of earth, the fall of man and restoration of life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  If you read and study this book you will soon discover, if God used logic, we’d all be dead!

If you were God, how would you respond when your only rule, Genesis 2:16-17,  is quickly broken by your second created being, the first child born on this planet becomes a murderer, Genesis 4, and a few generations later, the only person worth saving is Noah.  Meanwhile, the flood is immediately forgotten by the people of Babel in Genesis 11, your only leader, Abraham, is a habitual liar, Genesis 20:1-2, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were given over to shameful lusts, Romans 1:26-27.  Like a frustrated parent whose children never listen to them, if God used logic, the earth would have been destroyed once and for all in Genesis 19:29.

Fortunately, for all of mankind, God is love, 1 Corinthians 13.  Logically, God should have given up on us years ago, but He loved us so much that God gave us His one and only son, John 3:16-17.  Despite the wages of sin, Jesus paved a new way toward heaven in Romans 6:23.  Jesus left a final reminder of God’s love with his best friend on earth, John.  According to 1 John 3:16-20′ true love today is found today by living out the love of Jesus.  Like the classic country song by Crossway, “Thank God I’m not Jesus!”  Come alive by following the apostle Paul advice in Galatians 2:20.

by Jay Mankus

Cracked Mirrors

Before the popular video game, Halo was actually a Christian Metal band from Alabama, named after the acronym Heavenly Angelic Light Orchestra.  Relatively unknown for a decade touring in the south, Halo received national attention in 1991 with their song entitled My Buddy.  This songs illustrates how a son seeks to emulate their father like a mirror.

My buddy sees believing
my buddy sees before
and my buddy is a mirror
hanging on the wall
my buddy sees beside him
and my buddy hears the talk
and my buddy will see Jesus
lead me as i walk

(2nd stanza)

Unfortunately, what children often hear and see from their parents is life altering.   Abuse, abandonment, affairs and hypocrisy are just a few factors which have left cracked mirrors for children to put back together.  According to The Gospel Coalition, divorce rates among Christian families vary depending upon an individual’s dedication to God.  Among those families most devoted to Christ, divorces rates are roughly 20%.  On the other hand, those who relationships with Jesus waver, divorce rates can approach 60%.  According to a former Liberty University case study, the families that pray together stay together with 1 out every 1,024 praying couples divorcing.

Although this number is encouraging, cracked mirrors are swaying high school students to abandon their faith in college.  Several studies are revealing 60% of evangelical students put their faith on hold while attending college and nearly 50% never return to church following graduation.  When parents, myself included, send a mixed message to our children, living a fully devoted life for Jesus doesn’t appear or seem worth their time or energy.  The apostle Paul provides a solution for these shattered mirrors in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.  Parents must begin to put aside their childish ways and begin to act like mature followers of Christ, Ephesians 5:1-2.  Jesus is the glue which can restore our cracked mirrors.

by Jay Mankus

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