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Modern Idols of Nations

Footbaal, Basketbaal and Basebaal?  Idolatry involves cultism, devotion and zeal for a pastime.  When any hobby get’s out of hand, obsessions can lead to a veneration, turning into a form of worship.  Priorities and time allocation often reveal where a human heart lies.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! – Psalm 135:15-18

This allegiance is nothing new.  Developing a well-rounded personality is beneficial, yet idols influence individuals as nations rise and fall.  Whether religion is a fad, trend or life long pursuit, the powers of darkness will persuade some to delay, postpone or quit their journey called faith.   Thus, peer pressure sways the weak toward to idols of nations.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

According to Jesus, there is a direct correlation between one’s heart and idols.  “Those things you treasure will permeate into your heart, Matthew 6:21.”  Its no wonder that King Solomon urged the Jews to guard their hearts, Proverbs 4:23.  Therefore, to avoid the same fate of fallen saints throughout history, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, follow the words of Deuteronomy 28:1-3.  When quiet times with God become a habit, escaping the idols of nations can be achieved.  May your life be filled with prayer, meditation and worship.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Tough Act to Follow

Depending upon your hobbies, interests or occupation, sooner or later you will meet your match, someone’s whose gifts, knowledge and or skills far surpass that which you possess.  Those who are teachable may welcome this, yet the confident and prideful might grow to resent this individual.  If you were the rising star and someone starts to outshine you, its a tough act to follow.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), Acts 4:36.

Whenever humility causes my bubble to burst, I look to a man from Cyprus who displayed the proper attitude and maturity.  On the surface, Barnabas appears to be someone who didn’t care about his ranking or status in society.  When he recognized the potential in a newly converted Saul, Barnabas was the only apostle to extend a loving hand.  Early on, Barnabas was the guy, mentioned first by Luke until chapter 13.  Whether it was his commitment level, personality or God’s will, Saul who became Paul surpasses Barnabas, playing second fiddle for the remainder of Acts.  Despite a major dispute over a potential missionary partner, Barnabas and Paul remained friends throughout their lives.

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:27.

As talented people enter your life, don’t allow jealousy to ruin these relationships.  Rather, emulate the example of Barnabas by embracing, helping and welcoming others to reach their full potential.  While you may not taste the same success of your colleagues, accept the role God has given you.  Although most want to be like Paul, the center of attention, unless there was a humble Barnabas to come along aside to nurture his new found faith, Paul would have never impacted the world as he did.  Play the role God has intended for you, Romans 12:1-2 and let those destined to be stars shine bright.

by Jay Mankus

I Thought They Had It All Together

Whether its in church, your own community or traveling on vacation, you’re bound to come into contact with an exceptional individual.  On the surface, this person possesses character, personality and wisdom.  Adorned by everyone, they seem too good to be true.

While on a week long mission trip in Jackson, Tennessee, I was introduced to one of the largest youth groups in the country.  Based out of Rochester, Michigan, this church took several buses across the country each summer to serve needy communities.  The president of this youth group appeared like he had it all together.  As I began to develop friendships in the area, only one person saw through his phony witness.  One year after losing touch, I  heard through the grapevine that this saint fell from grace, arrested for running an under age gambling ring.

Call it jaded or desensitized, but I am usually not surprised by people who live double lives.  Whenever you put others up on a pedestal, disappointment is a likely outcome.  Therefore, if you think someone has it all together,don’t worship one of God’s creations.  Rather, say a prayer for these individuals, hope for the best and trust in the Lord for a bright future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Face Time

Mottos like “Go for the Gusto, Just Do It and Seize the Day” have redefined this generation’s thought process.  Instead of an act like you’ve been there and staying humble mindset, people now crave face time, searching for 15 seconds of fame.  The athlete is striving to make Sports Center, the student Jeopardy and those blessed with an amazing personality hope to get their shot on the next hit reality television show.  Just in case, everyone has their cell phone ready, waiting to hear a call or see a text saying, “you’re on television!”

For me, it was just dumb luck, hanging out at a friend’s 21st birthday in a luxury box at Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium watching a double headers between the Indians and Yankees.  In the early 90’s, both teams were awful, scoring a total of 4 runs combined during a doubleheader.  After an amazing meal, I watched the end of the first game.  Bored by a 1-0 game, I began talking to the girl next to me who brought a bottom of bubbles with her.  When I got up to get another drink, I actually knocked her bottle over, spilling most of what was left.

Feeling bad, I grabbed an extra plastic handle, to make as many bubbles as possible before the liquid evaporated.  Five minutes later, right field was filled with a stream of bubbles.  Cameramen, apparently also bored with the game, located the source of these bubbles, shining their cameras on both of us for about 30 seconds or so.  Once I saw the video monitor to my left, I stood up, hamming up this moment in time, raising my hands up as if I had scored a touchdown.  Before cell phones were common, I received several phone calls at home later that night from friends across the country asking, “we you at an Indians game?”  To my surprise, my accident led to 15 seconds of face time as our picture made Fox Sports, Headline Sports and Sports Center.

As a coach and parent, youth clearly imitate their sports heroes.  While some of the plays I have seen at the youth and high school level are impressive, celebrations during a game are unnecessary, distracting from the concept of sportsmanship.  I’m not saying applause is bad, but showing off and taunting is out of control.  When the Tim Duncan’s of the sports world are overshadowed by flashy players who hog face time, young people need to follow the quiet players who lead by example.  Although those who play games with the right attitude may not receive the praise others get, God is watching and will honor those who do the right thing, 1 Corinthians 9:25.

by Jay Mankus

Establishing a Foundation for Victory

You don’t have to be in high school to discern whether or not you belong.  Based upon your personality and the people you encounter, conversations and friendships can quickly turn into tug of wars, seeking control.  My own defense mechanism causes me to begin cautiously, often listening more than talking before opening up.  However, once I feel comfortable in a certain setting or group of individuals, my true identity shines through.

However, there are many things which wage war against your soul in this life, making victory elusive, 1 Peter 2:11.  Depending upon your motivation or degree or perseverance, many give up, throwing in the towel before they taste success.  When you add this factor to the excess baggage people carry from their past, reaching the summit of John 10:10 seems unrealistic.  Spirits of doubt, failure and pessimism imprint a loser mentality upon the souls of many.  Instead of claiming the promise of Philippians 4:13, a lack of faith prohibits these bystanders from obtaining joy.

So how can someone establish a foundation for victory?  What must one do to turn their fortune from failure to celebration?  A Calvinist will say you don’t have a prayer; you’re either chosen or not.  The Arminian will disagree, claiming everyone has a shot.  While God’s grace does play a major role in victory, Ephesians 2:8, there is more as acts of contrition and penitence demonstrate whether or not someone is on the right track, James 2:26.  From my own journey, below are essential ingredients which have put me into position to achieve victory.

1) Like Jesus, you need to find a quiet place, seeking solitude daily to get your heart and mind in the right place, Luke 4:42.

2) You need to find and or develop friendships which elevate your self-esteem and spiritual hunger, Acts 2:42-47.

3) Fill your idle time listening to uplifting music whether through Pandora, Radio Stations or You Tubes that will get you through each day, filling your mind with wholesome lyrics and thoughts, 1 Samuel 16:23.

4) Try to read a chapter of the Bible daily which will enhance your faith while transforming your mind, Romans 10:17.

5) Spend time each day in some form of recreation, whether running, working out and investing in a hobby which makes you happy, providing a sense of accomplishment daily, 1 Timothy 4:8.

6) Once a week, write down, preferably in a journal, goals that you want to fulfill before the day, week or month is over.  This exercise provides needed vision for the future, Hosea 4:6.

7) Devote time once a month either helping, serving and volunteering within your church or community.  It’s better to give than receive.

May these ideas inspire you develop your own daily/weekly disciplines and practices which will lead you toward a foundation for victory.  May God honor the commitments you make to better yourself in 2014!

by Jay Mankus

Praying in Vain

Whether you are old, young or somewhere in between, hopelessness can lead people to question what they are doing?  When things don’t go your way, creating a snowball effect, minds might begin to wonder if God really cares about you and your situation?  If these trials persist, doubt often enters the scene causing individuals to begin to believe, “what’s the point of praying?”  “Why should I continue to pour my heart and soul into prayer, when nothing seems to change.”

This is where you will find David in Psalm 5.  In the midst of his circumstances, this servant of God wanted to make sure he wasn’t praying in vain.  Thus, he reminds God of his attributes, character and personality early in the morning.  Using God as a crutch, David realizes the Lord is his last resort, the only force able to transform his predicament.  Tired of seeing arrogant, deceitful, evil and wicked individuals proper, David pleads with God based upon Moses words in the Old Testament.  Not worthy to be called righteous, David rests in mercy, Psalm 5:7, entering God’s presence with reverence and respect.  Prayers like this one inspired the Lord to call his humble servant a man after God’s heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.

Wherever this blog may find you, confidence lies in results.  As soon as you see direct answers and progress, your attitude will improve.  However, if your words offered up in faith return unanswered, one of 3 things may be true,  First, God may be keeping you from something that might steer you away from Him.  Second, God’s timing is likely not aligned with your prayer, resulting in a “not right now” response, Ecclesiastes 3:11.  Finally, there is a chance that someone, something or an unconfessed sin from the past is blocking God’s reply, Isaiah 1:15-17.  Follow the principles of Isaiah 1:18-19 and you will leave vanity for sanity, experiencing a slice of heaven here on earth, Matthew 6:33-34.

by Jay Mankus

Too Precious to be Flushed Down the Toilet

I guess you can say there is something within me that tries to figure out why people behave in a specific manner.  A shy personality early on in life gave me time to people watch, pondering and narrowing in on traits others often overlook.  Although this thought never crossed my mind, deep down I believed all of God’s creatures are too precious to be flushed down the toilet.

As a teacher, I learned to notice subtle behavior changes in my students.  Death, divorce and unemployment were common denominators.  While no one responds to trials exactly the same way, mood swings typically give away the emotions young people endure.  Distractions, temptations and wanting to grow up too fast can devastate delicate souls.  One untimely comment, put down or word can push a distraught mind over the edge, staring suicide in the face.

Looking back as an adult, warts become more obvious, sticking out like a sore thumb.  Pessimism has contributed to society’s demise, creating a tsunami of anger, hatred and negativity.  This venom is expressed verbally each day through trash talking.  The byproduct of the tongue’s wrath is carnage, lies and tarnished reputations.  One of the few glimmers of hope is songs like Gold by Britt Nicole.  May the lyrics of this song touch your heart and remind you, life is too precious to be flushed down the toilet.

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