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Tag Archives: rainbows

Retaining the Knowledge of God

Retention is the ability to recall, remember and retain information.  Unfortunately, busyness, distractions and hectic schedules tend to weaken one’s ability to pay attention.  Subsequently, whenever I meet someone new, names are often forgotten immediately causing me to ponder, “what’s your name again?”  If I can’t remember the name of someone I just met in person, how is it possible to retain the knowledge about an invisible God?

For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them, Romans 1:18-19.

The apostle Paul makes two interesting observations in a letter to the church at Rome.  First, the earth, the moon and stars are signs of a higher power, a grand design.  When you add other things such as rainbows, sunsets and tides, no one can say I didn’t know or see God.  Witnessing wonders should gravitate individuals toward the Bible, a history book of life on earth.  Yet, unless you open God’s Word up for yourself, retaining knowledge of God will fade away.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.  24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], 25 because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen, Romans 1:22-25.

Second, Paul reveals the consequence of failing to retain the knowledge of God.  The further you fall away from God, the closer you become to exchanging the glory of God for worldly idols.  Those who ignore, neglect or reject God’s advice about life often abandon faith due to the degrading power of sin.  When sin becomes full blown, James 1:13-15, truth is exchanged for a lie.  May these words from Paul instill a sense of urgency to retain the knowledge of God before you are too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

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The Mystery of the Kingdom of God

Whose Line is it Anyway began as a radio program in Great Britain before moving to television in 1988.  This improvisational comedy show uses 4 celebrities who participate in a series of skit like activities.  The only catch is that these individuals must make up things as they go, without any planning, off to the top of their heads.  From 1998 to 2007, Drew Carey served as the host with Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles as the regular contestants, alternating a few others as the fourth.  One of the games played is Questions Only, where interactions between 2 people must begin with a question.  If not, contestants get buzzed by the host, switching with the person on their side of the stage.  The concept of questions only is nothing new as Jesus used this conversational style to reveal the mystery of the kingdom of God during the first century.

As soon as He was alone, those who were around Him, together with the twelve [disciples], began asking Him about [the interpretation of] the parables, Mark 4:10.

The first 4 books of the New Testament include 46 parables used by Jesus.  These simple stories were used to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth.  Similar to modern analogies, stories tend to hold the attention of an audience.  Jesus used common occupations such as farming or fishing to speak to the massive crowds which followed him.  In a sense, Jesus was a motivational speaker, using faith as the vehicle to overcome the obstacles confronting people.  The context of the passage above follows the Parable of the Sower.  This story involves seeds planted in four different types of soils.  Each environment upon which these seeds fell greatly influenced the overall growth.  Perhaps confused by these details, the disciples requested a private meeting with Jesus, hoping to clarify the correct interpretation of this parable.  This is where Jesus began to unveil the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

He said to them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you [who have teachable hearts], but those who are outside [the unbelievers, the spiritually blind] get everything in parables, Mark 4:11.

The apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-20 claims that all human beings come into contact with the invisible qualities of God.  Signs of creation like rainbows, sunsets and the birth of a newborn child are clearly seen so that no one is without excuse.  This sets the stage for the Parable of the Sower.  The kingdom of God is presented to everyone at some point in their lives.  Unfortunately, the timing is not always good.  Thus, some people receive this news when their heart is hardened, landing on compacted ground.  This seed is stolen by the evil one.  Others are introduced to Jesus during rocky times, when people are unstable, not on firm footing.  Thus, without any room for roots to develop, storms, turbulent times and unforeseen events uproot any type of faith that had been planted.  Meanwhile, many people seek God when stress, trials or worries become too much of burden.  However, if these conditions persist, joy for life is lost, choked by spiritual briar patches and sticker bushes that continue to wound your soul.  The only way to recover from bad environments is by plowing the soil around you to allow living water to nurture the seed sown into your heart.  If necessary, add bags of dirt, remove any rocks that stunt growth and don’t forget to weed wack.  May you reach the point of Matthew 9:12, mature enough to feed yourself spiritually with a combination of Bible Study, prayer and worship.  Come to your senses quickly and emulate the persistent widow so that the kingdom of heaven will be your home, John 14:2.

by Jay Mankus

 

Inside This Hurricane

In August of 1991, Hurricane Bob slammed the East Coast for 3 days bringing more than a foot of rainfall to several seaboard cities.  Inland at the time of landfall, I was hiking along the Appalachian Trail with a close friend and mentor.  While the mountains served as some protection, Ken and I were side swiped, cutting our trip short by a day.  Upon returning to Delaware, we became like storm chasers following the aftermath.  When we approached the city of Wilmington, low lying areas were indistinguishable, unaware of where the Christiana Marsh began or ended, filled with floating vehicles and trains.

Like the James Taylor classic, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain,” nothing could prepare me for the devastation I witnessed.  Bridges swept away, pavement sunk into creeks and debris scattered in and along every waterway.  Though I had endured an earthquake and waterspout earlier in my life, I had a front row seat, inside the ropes of this hurricane.  While the 2013 Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th, spiritual hurricanes can form at a moment’s notice.

In the early stages of storms, people are often uprooted from their comfort zones, blown into awkward situations.  With a rising storm surge and no end in sight, panic can set in.  When the eye passes overhead, false hope causes people to let their guards down.  As this facade fades into the heart of the storm, the bottom right quadrant unloads its fiery on innocent bystanders.  This final punch can knock someone out, surprised by power of a mere trial.

When my own hurricane subsides, I will be much wiser, able to see the signs of approaching storms in the future.  Yet, for now I am holding on for dear life, waiting for the winds of change to die down.  Like Job in the Old Testament, I am at a loss for words, experiencing a battle of the will.  As soon as I see a rainbow, there will rejoicing.  However, inside this hurricane, I have been blown to my knees, looking up and clinging to God’s promise in Psalm 4:1.

by Jay Mankus

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