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Tag Archives: Philadelphia

More Than a Citizen

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American mystery drama film by Orson Welles.  This tale is based upon an influential and wealthy newspaper tycoon inspired by the life of William Randolph Hearst.  There is another citizen who flew under the radar during his life.  John Wanamaker established one of the first department stores in the United States within his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  However, Wanamaker was more than an American merchant.  His life was devoted to civics, politics and religious virtues.

But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves, Luke 22:26.

If you visit downtown Philadelphia, you will find a statue of John Wanamaker outside of city hall. Wanamaker was a descendant of the Lenape Indians, the native tribe of this region.  Despite serving as U.S. Postmaster General, there is only one word engraved on John Wanamaker’s statue: citizen.  While Wanamaker could have been remembered for his business, generosity and political service, his legacy was that of a citizen. Perhaps, serving as secretary of the Philadelphia YMCA from 1857 to 1861 laid a foundation of faith that fueled Wanamaker throughout his life on earth.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20.

America has radically changed since Wanamaker’s death in December of 1922.  Amazon has replaced his vision for local department stores.  Technology has transformed the way individuals communicate via the internet, phones and social medial.  Despite all of these changes, it’s never too late to become a citizen.  This is more than simply being an inhabitant of a particular town or city.  Rather, the Bible calls individuals to serve others.  Paul takes this one step further possessing dual citizenship, seeking God’s will on earth while eagerly awaiting the afterlife.  While everyone has big dreams and goals in life, devoting yourself to Jesus will inspire you to become a better citizen in your neighborhood.

by Jay Mankus

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More Than a Bell

Nearly twenty years ago I worked directly across the street from the Liberty Bell, driving by it six days a week.  To a certain extent, I took this local landmark for granted, just another piece of scenery on my ninety minute commute home.  Two years after leaving this position, National Treasure debuted in theaters.  Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha play treasurer hunters, Benjamin Gates and Riley Poole, searching for a treasure left behind by several founding fathers who were Free Masons.  In this film, the Liberty Bell holds a clue, the next piece to a puzzle that ultimately leads to a hidden vault underneath a church in New York City.  Yet, this two thousand pound structure made out of copper and tin is much more than just a bell.

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan, Leviticus 25:10.

In 1751, the Pennsylvania assembly ordered a bell for its State House, today’s Independence Hall.  The assembly chose a biblical inscription from the Bible that proclaims “liberty throughout the land,” Leviticus 25:10.  This bell would become an emblem of American independence.  One century later this bell also served as a symbol of the anti-slavery movement during the Civil War.  Initially, the Liberty Bell summoned Philadelphia lawmakers to their assemblies and local citizens to public announcements.  Today, over five million visitors travel to Independence National Historical Park to see this national treasure.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isaiah 61:1.

The context of the phrase “liberty throughout the land” comes from an Old Testament practice known as the Year of Jubilee.  The symbolism of this celebration is based upon freedom, setting anyone living in bondage or enslaved free.  Every fifty years on the Jewish calendar, the Jubilee cancelled any outstanding debts.  Thus, slaves were allowed to return to their homeland without being forced to return.  When you add the year of Jubilee to the end of slavery in America, the Liberty Bell has duel meanings.  If you ever have a chance to visit Independence National Park in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, remember that this monument is much more than a bell.

by Jay Mankus

Listen, Obey and Yield

During the last half century, I have been fortunate enough to attend, listen and participate in numerous inspirational events.  I went to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during a Billy Graham Crusade to hear NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White speak.  Shortly after getting married, I heard former Colorado football coach Bill McCarthy address a crowd of sixty five thousand men during a Promise Keepers event at Soldier Field.  I spent a year under the spiritual leadership of Alistair Begg, the voice of Truth for Life ministries at the Chapel in Solon, Ohio.  Finally, I spent another year soaking in the knowledge of John Ortberg via Community Services at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois.

But even as he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were [greatly] afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, My Chosen One; listen and obey and yield to Him!” – Luke 9:34-35

Many of these speeches invigorated my soul, eager to live out my faith.  Yet, there is one message that stands alone in the Bible.  In the passage above, there were only four people present.  Beside Jesus, James, John and Peter were on a mountain that was engulfed by clouds.  This formation is similar to a heavy fog, limiting your visibility to a couple of feet.  Within this cloud, the voice of God the Father spoke.  To make sure there isn’t any doubt, God identifies Jesus as his own son.  Believing that brevity is clarity, God the Father shares seven words.  The command is simply: listen, obey and yield to Jesus.

When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found there alone. And they kept silent, and told no one at that time any of the things which they had seen [concerning the divine manifestation], Luke 9:36.

Listening means to be attentive, concentrate, hang on and keep your ears open.  Obeying is the act of accepting, bowing, carrying out, deferring to and submitting to that which is being recommended.  Yield refers to bear, contribute, fetch, gather, provide and realize the plan.  In this context, the calling that God has designed for your life.  According to the passage above, theses three disciples were in awe, reflecting upon what had just happened.  None of these men revealed this event until after Jesus rose from the dead.  Although there were only three eye witnesses, God’s message to modern believers hasn’t changed.  Listen, obey and yield to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

All You Zombies

 

My first introduction to the concept of zombies came in the form of Creature Double Feature presentations each Saturday.  This syndicated horror show began airing on the east coast in the 1970’s.  Since I lived just outside of Philadelphia at the time, I was intrigued by the thought of watching movies usually reserved for theaters.  About a decade later, the Hooters, a up and coming band from Philadelphia released All You Zombies, a single from their second album Nervous Night.  Using biblical references from the Old Testament, the lyrics contain a stanza where the band asks God, “where have your children gone,” hiding in the dark.  The context suggests fear, peer pressure and sin cause many human beings to become like zombies, void of the abundant life within John 10:10.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life, Matthew 27:51-52.

Recently, the fascination with zombies has been brought to the forefront through The Walking Dead on AMC.  Premiering in the United States on October 31, 2010, this series uses a post-apocalyptic setting where Rick Grimes plays a sheriff deputy who awakens from coma only to find the world overrun by zombies.  However, you don’t have to resort to Hollywood or science fiction to believe in zombies.  All you have to do is read the accounts within the four gospels of the Bible to find the origin of the term zombies.  Matthew was an eye witness to this strange but true event.  In the minutes following Jesus’ resurrection, the bodies of holy figures mentioned in the body came out from their tombs.  If the holy city refers to Jerusalem, the Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a film that debuted in 1968.  Rather, saints of the past walked through the capital of Israel either in grave clothes or in a resurrected form appearing to many people until Jesus ascended into heaven forty days later.

They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people, Matthew 27:53.

Thirty five years after the Hooters released All You Zombies, the call remains the same.  As a chorus in this song proclaims, “You don’t have to hide anymore!”  Sure, we all have hidden sins, secret scars or parts of your life that you are be ashamed.  Nonetheless, God wants his children to break free of their past by coming toward the light of Christ.  Many people wait as long as possible, hoping someone comes along to stand with them.  Yet, faith requires trust, not walking by sight.  Individuals must place their eyes toward heaven, praying for the Holy Spirit to guide you where to go and what to do.  Perhaps, this is why a disciple introduced the readers of his gospel to the power of numbers, Matthew 18:19-20.  When two or more are gathered, God’s power is unleashed.  May this blog inspire you to come out of your comfort zone to serve God by using all of your talents and gifts.

by Jay Mankus

Confessions from a Complainaholic

I must admit that it doesn’t take much to set me off.  The sad part is that I don’t even need to be around other people to express my frustrations.  Whenever I am driving to work, I become enraged, pointing out every little imperfection made by other drivers.  While sitting in a pew at church last Sunday, I came to a realization.  My name is Jay and I am a complainaholic.

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

Perhaps, I have become a product of the environment in which I live.  Residing within an hour of Philadelphia. aka Negadelphia, I vocalize what I hear, negative comments.  On the eve of Thanksgiving, my human nature is at war with how God wants me to behave.  Thus, I am stuck in the mud, trying alter my current state of disappointment toward a Christ like attitude.  This transformation requires divine intervention.

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

After reading a series a verses in the Bible, I have discovered the power of Thanksgiving.  On my first day back to work, I began to sing songs of praise, repeating the chorus from worship songs earlier in the day.  This simple adjustment enabled me to become more like a servant than a constant complainer.  I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but for now I plan at taking things one day at a time, praying that a spirit of Thanksgiving will replace my complainaholic nature.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

A National Anthem in Crisis

Prior to the events in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11th 2001, the relationship between sporting events and the playing of National Anthems had become a mundane ritual.  If you take away the Olympics, playoffs and the Super Bowl, anthems were rarely ever televised.  Some professional sports even played anthems while players were still in the locker room.  However, post 9/11 the singing of Francis Scott Key’s song united this nation for a minute or so daily.  I was in Philadelphia for the first National Football League Monday Night Football game following this terrorist attack.  When a flag the shape of the United States was displayed across the entire field, the crowd went crazy, setting the stage for an emotional national anthem.  Those professional athletes who have chosen to kneel or sit have forgotten what the national anthem represents.  As more begin similar displays as a protest, the future of America’s national anthem is in jeopardy.

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! – Psalm 105:2

As a former teacher, I understand pressure to remove the national anthem at professional sporting events isn’t the end but the beginning of an attempt to erase any trace of God from American history.  During homeroom or over a loud speaker, public schools read a daily passage or verse from the Bible up to the early 1960’s.  The reading communicated a morale, trait or value teachers hoped to instill within their students.  When a few atheists were offended, a law suit followed that removed the Bible permanently from public education.  When schools obliged others were upset about students and teachers praying for each other.  This too was banned, stripping God’s influence from the classroom.  Looking back at history, schools have never been the same as God has removed his own blessing from those who have not made room for Him.  Then, there was the 10 commandments, “surely we can’t allow human beings to read and see these rigid rules.”  Today, religious leaders are arrested if 10 commandment statues aren’t removed from all court buildings.  Finally, there is the pledge of allegiance which has been made optional for children or simply discarded all together.  If the national anthem is silenced, there’s always something else atheists, leftists and progressives will deem offensive.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted, Isaiah 49:13.

I hope the owners of professional sports teams don’t cave to public pressure like weak minded republicans more interested in gaining approval from the press rather than upholding American values.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp.  When this promise was made, I don’t think Trump realized how deep and dangerous this resistance would be.  While the media continues to label the Trump presidency as the worst ever, the horizon appears to be void of any leaders willing to stand up for the national anthem.  Sure, there may be some closet defenders, afraid to vocalize their opinions.  Yet, America appears to be on the verge of a social war between the past and the present.  As someone who grew up in a military family, respect was impressed upon me.  Unfortunately, some where along the way respect for God and country has slowly faded away.  In view of this decay, may God raise someone up to carry the torch for the National Anthem so that this treasured tradition does not disappear like those now forgotten.  Stand up and sing, thanking God for all the Lord has done for this land called America.

by Jay Mankus

 

Too Many Vehicles to Pull Over

My house lies a quarter of a mile from Interstate 95 in northern Delaware.  Residing in the I-95 corridor, an hour north of Baltimore and hour south of Philadelphia, I regularly travel this busy highway.  In recent trips, its seems like the average speed now exceeds the 65 limit by nearly 20 miles per hour.  Thus, police officers are often faced with the dilemma of too many vehicles to pull over.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days, 2 Timothy 3:1.

Perhaps this aggression is a sign of end times.  The apostle Paul receives a vision, a glimpse of the moral decline within society.  As this culture leaves absolutes for politically correct stances, selfish individuals will continue to commit transgressions against innocent citizens.  Subsequently, road rage is causing impatient drivers to take their frustrations out on anyone who infringes upon their lane or space.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 2 Timothy 3:2.

There was a time when driving was a leisure activity, exploring back roads for fun over the weekend.  Yet, as a growing number of people are in a hurry, friction leads some to explode emotionally.  While there are many prophecies that still need to be fulfilled before the end of days arrives, recent acts of terrorism suggest this isn’t too far off.  Before this occurs, may those struggling to make sense of our fallen world slow down enough so that police won’t be overwhelmed with too many vehicles to pull over.

by Jay Mankus

 

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