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What a Will to Love Can Do for You

Twenty five years ago I was initiated into a large family. At a Thanksgiving Dinner of nearly 100 relatives, I was a target of those who attended. “Wondering who is this guy who is going to marry Leanne,” I was introduced, interviewed, and grilled by complete strangers. After several hours of intense conversations, I passed this final test two days prior to our wedding.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive], Colossians 3:13.

A quarter of a century ago, God was just beginning to reveal a special gift in me. This talent was first unveiled while teaching poetry at a boarding school in West Virginia. Thus, as I was finishing up the final details of our wedding, I wrote a paragraph about what love meant to me. After a couple of edits, this appeared in our wedding bulletin. This statement served as a testimony about the importance of the will to love in marriage.

And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony]. 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always], Colossians 3:14-15.

The best way to define a will is something that you are bound to. In the context of marriage, this is a covenant that you enter in, promising “til death due us part.” Meanwhile, the Greek word for charity is φιλανθρωπία. The apostle Paul writes an entire chapter devoted to love in 1 Corinthians 13, a common Bible reading for weddings. Yet, if you want your marriage to last a lifetime, a will to love is the secret to maintaining my marriage for the past 25 years. Wishing my wife Leanne a Happy Anniversary. I love you!

by Jay Mankus

A Permanent Dwelling Place

The biblical city of Corinth is located in modern day Greece, southwest of Athens. According to Acts 17:16, the apostle Paul is grieved by a city full of idols. Based upon an encounter with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, Paul did find two positive signs. Using an altar dedicated to an unknown god and a poet who writes about being an offspring of God, Paul introduces the God of the Bible to the Greeks. Based upon the passages below, the Corinthians needed to abandon their current idols so that room could be made for a permanent dwelling place for God’s Spirit.

Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? 17 If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

Just as Jewish religious leaders viewed the temple as a physical building to worship God, Greeks possessed a similar mindset. Thus, Paul compares human bodies to a living spiritual temple. This inner sanctuary is where the Holy Spirit was designed to reside within your soul. However, until you recognize this spiritual truth, daily actions, choices and selfish decisions can corrupt, damage or hinder the Spirit’s ability to transform your life. Perhaps, this explains why Paul repeats himself three chapters later, using an analogy of a prostitute to grab a reader’s attention.

Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh. 17 But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. 18 Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:16-19.

Addressing ungodly relationships within the church, Paul adds a new dimension to human bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Most sins that individuals commit are external such as gossip, fits of rage or slander. However, any type of sexual sin in the form of sexual immorality harms your own body. While you may have desires to make a permanent dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, sin will shut the door, locking God out. The only way to repair your relationship with God is to be reunited by purging sexual sins from your life. Until your temple is swept clean from sin, the Spirit will only have a temporary home.

by Jay Mankus

A Man of Few Words

Bitterness, covetous, discontent, envy and resentment are words associated with jealousy.  A day doesn’t pass without me envious of individuals blessed with a great personality.  Some people are never at a loss with words, always knowing what to say and when.  Although I spent a decade teaching high school students, day to day conversions have never come easy for me.  While I may a desire to be the life of the party, I am normally a man of few words.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer, Psalm 19:14.

Perhaps, this loss for words goes back to my childhood, born with a severe speech impediment.  Beside being teased, the act of opening my mouth was an adventure.  I never knew when I was going to stutter, but when I started I couldn’t verbalize a coherent word.  These experiences led me to shy away from talking, afraid of another stuttering spasm that often triggered me to hyperventilate.  This embarrassing past has influenced me to become a man of few words.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Colossians 3:17.

Yet, one man’s weakness has yielded a hidden treasure.  Instead of speaking, the Lord had another plan for my life.  With a few mentors in high school who just happened to be teachers, a seed was planted for the love of communicating.  As the years past, poetry led to short stories and song writing.  From here, doors opened to publish a monthly news letter which led to a staff writer position.  As words continued to flow from within, a man who spoke few words can’t stop thinking of new topics to write about daily.  Thus, as I post my 2700th blog today, I have come to terms with my own limitations.  It’s okay to be a man of few words as long as I Express Myself for God.

by Jay Mankus

Leaving God’s Footprint Behind

The Roman lyrical poet Horace first coined the Latin phrase carpe diem.  When translated into English, carpe diem loosely means to “seize the day.”  This may explain why professor John Keating, a poetry teacher played by Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society references this expression.  When applied to a Christian faith, believers should be focused on leaving God’s footprint behind.

For Barnabas was a good man [privately and publicly—his godly character benefited both himself and others] and he was full of the Holy Spirit and full of faith [in Jesus the Messiah, through whom believers have everlasting life]. And a great number of people were brought to the Lord.  And Barnabas left for Tarsus to search for Saul; Acts 11:24-25.

Luke introduces a man named Joseph in Acts 4:36-37 who developed the nick name Barnabas, “son of encouragement” for his generous donations to the church.  When Jesus’ disciples were skeptical of Saul’s conversion to Christ, it was Barnabas who defended his faith, Acts 9:27.  In the passage above, Luke reveals the secret behind Barnabas’ success, full of the Holy Spirit.  At some point, God called Barnabas to disciple Saul, investing one year of his life to nurture his faith.

And when he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For an entire year they met [with others] in the church and instructed large numbers; and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians, Acts 11:26.

By the time these men left, Antioch became a symbol of God’s footprint on earth.  As members of the church emulated the life and teachings of Jesus, community members referred to this group of believers as Christians.  Today, Professor William Rees is the father of carbon footprints, derived from a paper, Environment and Urbanization, written in 1992.  While Christians should be good stewards of the earth God created, the Holy Spirit is searching for individuals who want to leave behind God’s footprint wherever you go and whatever you do.

by Jay Mankus

Parental Discretion Advised

If you catch the very beginning of a televised movie or arrive early at a local theater, a disclaimer will flash across the screen. This statement is designed to warn viewers of what individuals are about to see. In legal terms, phrases such as “parental discretion is advised” enables those behind the making of a film to avoid liability or being held responsible for its content.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

As the apostle Paul visited the city of Athens, there was no warning. Instead of being prompted by parental discretion advised, Paul was bombarded by pornography. Some of these idols were dedicated to the goddess of love, celebrating, encouraging and promoting sexual immorality in the name of religion. This visual cesspool didn’t stop Paul for searching for positive signs of life. Like a rigid site seeing tour, Paul didn’t stop until discovering an altar and poem that spoke to his heart.

Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

If Jesus and his disciples encountered this adult and mature content, I can imagine one of the disciples pleading with Jesus to call fire down from heaven to destroy Athens. Yet, Paul shows much more grace, engaging philosophers with an inscription and poetry. These two pieces of literature serve as a common ground, opening the door for the apostle Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ with Greeks. Instead of being offended, Christians need to learn to engage other cultures by using apologetics, defending the Christian faith. This means leaving safe spaces to bring life to dark and immoral places, relying on the Holy Spirit as your guide.

by Jay Mankus

From Heaven or Earth?

When my father was forced to transfer to Cleveland, Ohio to keep his job, I was introduced to cocktail parties.  If you want to move from the middle to upper class, I learned that these social events were a necessary evil.  These house parties enabled my parents to make new friends.  This group called New Clevelanders encouraged parents to bring their own college children to these functions as a way to network as families started over in a new town.  I quickly realized that colleges, degrees and majors provided surface level discussions.  If you wanted to fit in, going clubbing, drinking and partying were code names into this elite club.  I went along with the crowd for a while until conviction made it clear that I was living a lie.

Jesus replied, “I will also ask you a question. You tell Me: The baptism of John [the Baptist]—was it from heaven [that is, ordained by God] or from men?” – Luke 20:3-4

During the first century, Jesus began to debate religious scholars.  Raised in elite and wealthy families, these men were schooled by the best and brightest minds.  Meanwhile, Jesus who spent most of his life as a carpenter, void of any formal educational, drew much larger crowds.  Thus, resentment manifested in the hearts of these men, jealous of Jesus’ popularity.  This culminated in the passage above as Jesus uses John the Baptist to illustrate that authority can come from heaven, not just through earthly institutions.  Certain aspects, knowledge and qualities can only be explained as ordained by God despite what earthly wisdom may suggest.

They discussed and debated it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are firmly convinced that John was a prophet,” Luke 20:5-6.

During a breakfast I had with a friend in December, he marveled at my ability to come up with thousands of ideas for my blogs.  From an earthly point of view, my only credentials for writing involve teaching poetry at a boarding school.  This tangible experience ignited a passion for writing.  Nothing in my past pointed to a career in writing.  My English grades, grammar and vocabulary were average at best.  Yet, just as John the Baptist received a special anointing from God, the Lord has given me the gift of writing in the Spirit.  The more in tune with God I become, the deeper my blogs tend to be.  However, on occasion, I become unplugged, relying on earthly knowledge, struggling to come up with material for a week.  These phases are natural, a by product of human nature.  Nonetheless, while earthly credentials do lead to successful writers, I credit my heavenly father for Express Yourself 4Him.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Soup for You

Every so often sitcoms create a character that people connect with or relate.  Whether a friend or foe, hero or villain, this individual is like someone from your own life.  When Seinfeld introduced the Soup Nazi in November of 1995, this anal business owner was rigid, strict and quick to refuse non-conforming customers food.  This setting provided ideal segments for viewers to laugh.

Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

During my final few years of teaching high school, I relied on Summit Ministries to provide cutting edge material for my curriculum.  One of the seminars that I attended involved the concept that art often imitates life.  A 2011 article in Psychology Today eludes to how poetry often reflects cultural, philosophical and societal trends.  Thus, its no wonder that the practices of the Soup Nazi decades ago have resurfaced today.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

In recent weeks, those who support, wear apparel or work for president Trump are being denied service, harassed and heckled whenever they go.  Florida attorney general Pamela Bondi was bullied at a movie theater, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied service at a Virginia restaurant and others have been followed by protesters outside of their homes.  Perhaps, its time to go back in time to the days of Mr. Rogers so that neighborhoods will overcome a soup Nazi mentality with a spirit of hope, faith and love.

by Jay Mankus

Prosthesis

The Greek language has a special way of revealing God’s promises for the future.  The term prosthesis comes from the Greek word prothesis meaning purpose.  In English, a prosthesis is an artificial body part intended to restore lost usefulness.  In life, whether you lose a limb, friend or talent, behind the scenes God is at work to replace that which was lost.

For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

The apostle Paul refers to the Lord as the poiema.  Although the English translation is workmanship, the Greek actually means end product.  While individuals endure, face and suffer many loses in life, this is not the end of the story.  God is not done with you yet, using these setbacks as an opportunity to display His power in times of weakness.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10.

Essentially, God is the author of life, we are the characters used in this play.  The word poet is derived from poiema.  Thus, God is the poet and we are the poems that are being written.  Unfortunately, Satan plays the part of critics, trying to convince individuals that they are worthless, no good and should not waste their time waiting for God to complete his work in you.  Therefore, many go through life, falling apart physically, mentality or spiritually.  In these days of despair, may we lean on the great prosthesis to hold us together until the end.

by Jay Mankus

Discovering Your Future Through Past Failures

Prior to computers and type writers, when individuals felt like they had something important to remember, a diary or journal would be pulled out of a drawer to record these thoughts.  Unfortunately, many of these ideas weren’t discovered until someone dies, found by family members while sorting through personal belongings.  Some of the greatest poets of all time did not become famous until after their death, as their pieces were found, gathered and put together into a collection.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

Today, I keep a journal next to by bed.  In the past, I’ve allowed great ideas to drift away, lost in my mind before I could write them down.  In the morning, my memory vanished, forgetting an analogy, dream or vision.  One of the draw backs to this is when ideas flow, I don’t sleep, diligently creating an outline or taking notes on the direction of my next blog or movie script.  Despite the weariness that follows, my future becomes clearer as I learn from past failures.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:6.

In a recent interview on the Ellen Show, Ronda Rousey told an audience she considered suicide after losing her first ever UFC fight late last year.  I’m sure we have all experienced disappointment at one point in life, some more than others.  Yet, before you can go forward, you have to dwell of the reality of the matter.  Some individuals aren’t good enough, others are better, more determined than you or you just haven’t fine tuned your talents to get noticed.  Once you reach a conclusion, its time to regroup and move on.  Thus, as I attempt to complete my third movie script and submit it to the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships Competition, I’m hopeful that previous failures over the last 5 years will lead to my big break in Hollywood.

by Jay Mankus

 

Discernment, a Weather Forecast or None of the Above

My favorite college professor at the University of Delaware taught Physical Geography.  During my interactions with Dr. Mather, he urged my to pursue a career in Meteorology.  Beside a Major League Baseball hitter, what other occupation allows you to be wrong 80% of the time and still keep your job.  Although his teaching made me eager to learn about weather systems, I felt called to go into youth ministry after graduating from college.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, 1 Corinthians 12:4.

Following a semester of teaching poetry to junior high students at a boarding school in West Virginia, I sensed an ability to discern hidden things.  This gift initially took the shape of writing, ranging from poetry, song writing and short stories.  However, fourteen years ago this week God revealed an a new venue.  One night, I couldn’t sleep, feeling like someone I knew was in trouble.  So I started to pray for everyone I could think of when I heard a knock on our front door.  My next door neighbor went to labor, three months premature.  This time of prayer continued until I got word she and her new daughter were okay.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work, 1 Corinthians 12:5-6.

When I was younger, I tried to be well round.  However, the older I become, it’s obvious that they are certain things I was never created and designed to do.  Thus, I press on, specializing in my areas of expertise.  Whether its discernment, a weather forecast or none of the above, strive to excel in what you do best.  As for me, I continue to write, hoping one day to be a successful author or screen writer.  Until this day arrives or my gifts shift in a new direction, I pray that the Lord honors the service of utilizing my God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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