RSS Feed

Tag Archives: poor

A Begrudging Host

As a son of an immigrant, I learned to be frugal.  My grandmother kept all of her beds and couches in their original plastic to preserve these pieces of furniture as long as possible.  Eating out was not a regular option, only done on special occasions a few times each year.  The notion of wasting money was a foreign concept to me.

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; Proverbs 23:6.

Now as I parent, I have softened some of my childhood beliefs.  Yet, one of my biggest struggles occurs while on vacation.  After working hard to save enough money for Spring Break, a week in Florida can break the bank quickly.  Whether its taking the family to a Phillies game in Clearwater, going out to a nice restaurant or visiting an amusement park, it doesn’t take much to blow a quick $500.  When I do, I become a begrudging host.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

For the needy, poor and unemployed, knowing where the money will come from for your next bill, meal or mortgage is scary.  Any kind of uncertainty can move the unstable into a state of panic.  In view of this, its essential to remember the words of Solomon by placing your trust in a firm foundation.  Though not everyone will be blessed with riches, when you do have the opportunity to give, do so with a cheerful heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

Life Isn’t Meant to be Fair

Common Core Standards are based upon the premise that every child should have a common experience in life.  To distribute the wealth of knowledge across cultural, economic and social lines, education has been dumbed down in an attempt to create equality.  The fatal flaw within this K-12th curriculum is that life isn’t meant to be fair.  Subsequently, one person will be rich, another poor, some will be blessed while others are cursed and the disciplined will achieve great heights as the lazy fall short of the goals they set in life.

So the last will be first, and the first last, Matthew 20:16.

Somewhere along the way, public education has placed a priority on self-esteem instead of fulfilling Darwin’s teaching.  My best recollection of high school was survival of the fittest, a series of tests and trials to reveal the best  One of my greatest teachers, Mrs. Ehrig challenged me, pushing me to a place I never thought I could reach.  She didn’t care about how I felt, just ways to motivate me to unlock my potential.  The myriad of excuses must end, replaced by the core principles which once made America’s schools elite.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Outside of the classroom, churches must communicate a biblical message explaining how and why life isn’t fair.  If sermons portray unrealistic teachings like a prosperity gospel, believers will be set up for disappointment.   Experiences shape beliefs so to prevent individuals from a disenfranchised faith, truth should rise above fiction.  While each person is dealt a different hand in life, you have to play with the cards, talents God gives you.  Although some days you may feel as if the deck is stacked against you, make the most of each day you are given as you endure the good, bad and ugly circumstances within this life.

by Jay Mankus

Worthy of Suffering

During my time at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate enough to meet several missionaries.  Through campus groups like Campus Crusade, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Intervarsity, opportunities arose to interact with individuals from different countries, cultures and dynamic characters.  In biblical terms, several of these people I met are worthy of suffering.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, Acts 5:41.

It’s interesting how people define success in various ways.  The poor may say a good day is having enough money to feed the whole family.  The middle class might suggest its making more than you spend.  Meanwhile, the upper class base success on property, possessions and power.  Yet, for first century Christians, enduring public persecution for their faith was like a badge of courage.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, 1 Peter 1:7.

Beyond any physical or verbal abuse martyrs experienced, a nugget of truth has been passed on from generation to generation.  While you may suffer for your beliefs, trials serve as a vehicle for growth.  Just as a furnace uses fire to remove imperfections from clay, persecution strengthens faith.  Thus, while the world is dumbfounded by those willing to risk death, imprisonment or public beatings, devout Christians continue to embrace suffering for the sake of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Difference in a Gift

In the Ultimate Gift, Drew Fuller plays Jason Stevens, a spoiled brat who has lived a life of luxury.  Despite his grandfather’s efforts to curtail this behavior, Red Stevens leaves his grandson an unusual inheritance, a series of tests.  Following the completion of each task, Jason receives the next challenge.  A different kind of gift, the goal of this exercise is to wean Jason off of his love of money.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God,” Matthew 19:24.

This passage of the Bible suggests its harder for the wealthy to enter heaven than the poor.  Speaking in hyperbole, Jesus references the area outside of city gates where camels would be tied up.  Based upon the context, an encounter with a rich young ruler, the rich tend to find assurance in their accumulated finances.  Thus, trusting in the Lord for salvation becomes more complicated as one amasses great wealth.

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on,” Mark 12:44.

During past experiences on mission trips in college, I was always amazed at the peace dirt poor individuals possess.  Shacks are appreciated like a mansion, thankful for every little possession.  Thus, when a person stricken by poverty offers up a gift, its usually out of the goodness in their hearts.  This offering probably won’t be gold or silver.  Yet, when moved by the Holy Spirit, the poor give, trusting that the Lord will provide their daily bread.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Injustice of Righteousness

Righteousness is a guiding virtue, a moral compass which leads individuals to a higher calling.  Although hiccups and slip ups will occur, God’s grace will wipe away the stains of sin.  Unfortunately, when the day of judgment comes, the Bible suggests there will be more souls in hell than heaven.  Subsequently, those standing outside the pearly gates will likely complain about the injustice of righteousness.

Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them, Mark 4:25.

Life on earth is just as unfair as the afterlife.  According to Jesus, the wealthy will continue to have while what little the poor possesses will be taken away.  This is one of those passages of the Bible which leaves more questions than answers.  The outsiders, anyone who does not believe in Jesus, John 14:6, and progressives won’t be pleased by Jesus’ comment.  The modern day Robinhood’s might consider this teaching to be an injustice of righteousness.

He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything, Mark 4:34.

Being left out of anything isn’t a pleasant feeling.  Whether its high school, work or a social network, everyone has experienced being the odd person out.  Denial, exclusion and rejection are forms of trials meant to toughen you up, James 1:2-4.  Nonetheless, you can’t change the facts inside of God’s Word.  In view of these truths, chose life so when your time is up, there will be no one else to blame, Deuteronomy 30:15-18.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Choking the Word Out of Your Faith

One of the assumptions Christians often make is “once saved, always saved,” suggesting salvation can not be lost once you profess faith in Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  However, Jesus provides three exceptions to this rule, real life scenarios that disrupt one’s initial commitment to God.  After the crowds left his presence, Jesus reveals the meaning of the Parable of the Sower to his disciples, exposing how certain things can choke the Word out of someone’s faith.

But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful, Mark 4:19.

1. The Worries of this life: Beyond food, clothing and shelter, the human mind can race while trying to sleep.  Financial concerns often lead to stress, sucking the joy of one’s life.  Subsequently, the poor begin to think, “if I only had money, then I will truly be happy.”

2. The Deceitfulness of Wealth: You don’t have to venture far into statistics to see how greed can ruin the lives of individuals.  In a Case Study based upon winner’s of the lottery, only a small percentage found true contentment.  Several families were torn apart by selfish expectations, others went bankrupt by burning through their lump sum jackpot and some ended up in prison, corrupted by the love of money.

3. The Desire for Other Things: You don’t have to be rich to lose your way in life.  However, wealth tends to open up doors, leading to opportunities never dreamed of before.  Thus, the need for God and a Savior wane.  In the end, Bibles collect dust, sitting in a drawer for most of one’s life.  If you’re not careful, this gradual process can invade your soul, choking the Word out of your faith.

by Jay Mankus

Rich in Love

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Blessed, fortunate and wealthy are terms associated with being rich.  For some this status is achieved by the luck of the draw, born into it.  Others acquire possessions through years of discipline, hard work and perseverance.  Meanwhile, a few receive this by surprise, like a will as illustrated by Jason, the main character in the Ultimate Gift.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

However, one aspect of wealth that is often overlooked is becoming rich in love.  Unfortunately, several obstacles stand in the way: bitterness, impatience and unforgiveness to name a few.  These spiritual barriers prevent souls from passing on the love of Jesus.  Thus, poverty is not only a financial state, it’s also a condition of a wounded heart, a casualty of a fallen world.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:6

The presence of love can be a difference maker.  If genuine, love can transform the angry, pissed off and unlovable.   Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul known as the love chapter is regularly quoted in weddings.  Attributed as one of three theological virtues, love is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, available to anyone who calls on the name of the Lord.  May the words of today’s blog inspire you to become rich in love.

by Jay Mankus

Clinging to an Invisible God

Last week, a high school teacher in Florida gave an assignment to students, attempting to sway their worldview.  Using the newly developed Common Core curriculum, students had to explain why conservatives would believe giving to the poor is a waste of time.  This ploy to indoctrinate the minds of the next generation, outraged one parent who stood her ground.  However, as liberal ideology continues to highjack public education, parents who hold fast to Judeo-Christian values must cling to an invisible God.

I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven, Psalm 123:1.

Sometimes, the practice of prayer can become mundane, stale for those who run out of words to say.  However, David reminds those who cling to an invisible God that prayer is a serious matter.  When you cry out to the heavens, you aren’t just talking to yourself.  Rather, you are entering the presence of a divine being, waiting for those whose hearts are right and appeal is filled with specific details.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures, James 4:3.

In recent world history, church leaders in Scotland developed the concept called a “Concert of Prayer” in 1744.  Presbyterian Pastor John Erskine, a Scot, published a Memorial, pleading with other denominations to join him in a prayer for revival.  When this plea reached Jonathon Edwards in New England, he responded with a book entitled A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of All God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies concerning the Last Time.  While modern English teachers would consider this a run on sentence, this piece laid the foundation for America’s first revival.  Instead of watching a nation stray from God, stand up like this courageous mother in Florida by clinging to an invisible God with a heart expecting miracles to revive a dead and dying land.

by Jay Mankus

An Extreme Spiritual Make-over

 And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7

If I had to give an honest assessment, I too would have responded like the Inn Keepers in Bethlehem.  Similar to a vacation destination during Spring Break Week, the Roman Census quickly filled up all available accommodations.  Thus, the poor, unprepared and those stuck in traffic scrambled around like a male shopping for presents on Christmas Eve.  Only 1 person, a good Samaritan type, made room for Mary and Joseph.

In this day and age, distractions abound, pulling individuals in all sorts of directions.  Subsequently, scheduling time for God is usually the first to get cut or limited to a brief glance of a verse or two and a lame prayer.  Despite the lulls that may occur in a car, at home or during work, exhaustion keeps many from developing and or maintaining a healthy relationship with Jesus.  As I evaluate my 2014 calendar, I’m afraid I fit into Jesus’ harsh criticism of those follow the Lord with their lips, but not with their actions.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! – Matthew 7:21-23

If you too find yourself in this predicament, perhaps its time for an extreme spiritual make-over.  Philippians 2:12 suggests to begin working out your salvation with fear and trembling.  Solomon agrees, as fearing God in the beginning of knowledge, Proverbs 1:7.  When you allow the Holy Spirit to “Pump You Up,” missed opportunities of the past can lead to pivot points along your faith journey, Colossians 4:5.  In the end, make room for Jesus, whatever the cost, Matthew 16:24-27 so that one day you will hear from the King himself, “well done my good and faithful servant!”- Matthew 25:23

by Jay Mankus

 

A Not So Happy Thanksgiving

For most of my days, I’ve lived a sheltered life.  However, my first job after graduating from college brought me to inner city Wilmington, Delaware as a social worker.  My eyes were opened to the homeless, poor and unfortunate.  This experience led me to serve the needy during my first Thanksgiving in Chicago, going to a homeless shelter near Cabrini Green, one of the roughest projects in Chicago.  I didn’t see any television cameras or professional football players handing out free turkeys, what I observed was a not so Happy Thanksgiving.

Everyone should get of their comfort zones once in a while to see what its like on the other side.  I’m not talking about Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places.  Rather, I think its healthy to see how little other people have so that you may begin to appreciate all the things you have accumulated in life.  Fashion, shopping and temporary pleasures blind most individuals to what’s really important: family, faith and fellowship.  Without this type of perspective, a spoiled generation will continue to whine, “what’s in it for me,” while the less fortunate have another not so Happy Thanksgiving.

Clothes, food and a place to call home is foreign to some individuals.  Though many may receive a Turkey to cook, how long will the leftovers last?  Will some have to wait til Christmas before the next act of generosity finds these helpless souls?  Therefore, as you watch the parades, gather for a feast and watch some football for dessert, don’t limit your giving to a couple of times per year.  Rather, take a look around and see who you can help so that a not so Happy Thanksgiving can turn into a very Merry Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: