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Oh What a Feeling

Beginning in Junior High, music became an integral part of my life. I was there when MTV debuted in August of 1981, going over a friends house every day after school to watch Behind the Music. This was well before Reality Television caused music to become an afterthought on MTV. One of the songs ingrained in my mind is What a Feeling by Irene Cara. Cara’s song went on to become the theme song for the film Flashdance in 1983. When high school began for me, music filled me with an adrenaline rush each time I pressed the play button on my Walkman.

He then goes on to say, And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin, Hebrews 10:17-18.

The Bible talks about a different kind of feeling. This particular one is based upon the overwhelming sense of being forgiven. The author of Hebrews provides a reason to celebrate. Jesus was the missing link, the perfect lamb of God who serves as an eternal Great High Priest. While guilt and shame will still continue to haunt souls, there is absolute remission of past and present sins. Yet, Hebrews 10:26-27 does offer a cause for concern. Apparently, some first century Christians were taking God’s grace and mercy for granted. So don’t let the exhilarating feeling of forgiveness spoil your faith with an on again, off again mentality.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us, Psalm 103:11-12.

The Old Testament provides an analogy that reminds me of Irene Cara’s song. When the degree of God’s forgiveness is compared to infinity, this news makes me want to leap into the air and proclaim, “oh what a feeling!” From a human perspective, this concept is hard to comprehend. Yet, if God forgives and forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west, this fact should result in a greater appreciation. Whatever genre of music that you prefer, the next time that you feel overwhelmed by addiction or bad habits, turn up the volume so that you can celebrate God’s grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

Forged by Fire

In an age of reality television, few careers, fields and occupations are left out of Hollywood.  This inclusive environment has given bladesmiths a voice in the show Forged in Fire.  Beginning in 2015, the History Channel has featured competitions to see who is the best according to panel of three judges.  Four seasons later, it appears that this series hosted by Wil Willis has found it’s niche, likely to continue a fifth season in 2018.

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” Luke 3:16.

During the first century, Jesus eludes to a different kind of fire.  Instead of a typical black smith forging metal with fire, Jesus introduces a spiritual fire.  Referred to as the Holy Spirit, a local doctor is intrigued by Jesus’ use of vocabulary in the passage above.  This symbolism suggests God will anoint those who are baptized with an invisible force.  This power will replace the natural with a capacity to do supernatural things.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

One of Jesus’ disciples expands upon Jesus’ words.  According to Peter, trials in life are used by God as opportunities for growth.  Like pottery being placed into a kiln, faith is refined by extreme conditions.  As the heat intensifies, imperfections are slowly glazed over as souls are forged by fire.  While Jesus is no longer present, the Holy Spirit was sent following his ascension into heaven to continue this process today.  Although it’s never pleasant to endure difficult and hard times in this life, this process is necessary so that faith may be refined, forged by an invisible fire.

by Jay Mankus

The Allure of Money

If you are a fan of reality television, then you likely understand the allure of money.  Shows like Insane Pools, Tanked and Treehouse Masters help Americans visualize what a couple of hundred of thousand dollars can buy you.  Thus, if you’re not careful, the eternal can be replaced by temporary treasures, distracting individuals for a life time.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

Money in itself is okay, used to provide the needs of life.  The love of money is what is harmful.  This love refers to a lust, craving and coveting what you neighbors have instead of being thankful for what God has given you.  This obsession often leads to deception as individuals are lured away from the faith.  For many, they don’t recovery, dragged behind the devil’s door.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.

The author of Hebrews provides the solution to the allure of money.  The key is maintaining a level head by staying content with the hand God has dealt you.  This is accomplished through a spirit of thankfulness.  When you possess this quality, individuals recognize God is the source behind your wealth.  Therefore, don’t be tempted by what you don’t have.  Rather, embrace the little things in life so that the allure of life won’t hold you down.

by Jay Mankus

 

Whatever Happened to Being Normal?

From time to time, part of my job requires me to test videos to determine if there is a defect within a device, episode or scene.  Over the course of a year, I come across a wide variety of genres from action, comedy, drama and horror.  While I should have observed this sooner, extremes are taking over, especially on reality television.  This makes me wonder, whatever happened to being normal?

My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! – Psalm 31:15

If you believe Hollywood, bad boys are attracting all the pretty girls, you can have your own movie and series if you’re a jackass and the more outlandish you are, sooner or later the cameras will find you.  Maybe I’m just too old fashioned, but some where along the way entertainment in America has gone off the deep end, forgetting the normal majority who make up most of this country.  While it may be boring, not news worthy and uninteresting, the average man, woman and child fly under the radar, giving their all daily.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

One of the most underrated messages comes from the 1999 movie October Sky, based on the life of Homer Hickam.  While his dad is portrayed as a jerk at times in the film, deep down Homer’s real hero is his father.  Although the term normal refers to someone who is average, regular and traditional, these individuals are the backbone of America.  Sure, it would be great to strike it rich, win the lottery or become an instant celebrity.  Yet, normal human beings are dependable, someone you can trust in time of need.  Therefore, don’t get carried away by what you see on television.  Rather, be grateful for those who are normal.

by Jay Mankus

Where Liberty and Church Street Meet

Shipping Wars, a reality television show on A&E debuted on January 10th, 2012.  Simulating the competitive nature of this trade, I spent 2 years of my life pursuing this career back in 2000 and 2001.  In order to make money, you have to be willing to spend it up front.  In fact, I once made $2000 in 24 hours, driving an overnight delivery from Wilmington, Delaware to Chicago.  Unfortunately, this never happened again as like most Americans, I struggled to make a living.  Nonetheless, as I drove a weekly route up to East Rutherford, New Jersey, the World Trade Center was always there to greet me in the sky as I drew near.  This beacon of light stood where Liberty and Church Street met.

As the summer of 2001 faded into fall, I made an emergency trip to New York City, passing the twin towers for the last time.  After 9/11, lights lite up where this grand building once resided, but approaching New York was never the same.  When the United States was attacked on our own soil, the pursuit of life and liberty took on an entirely new meaning.  In the aftermath of this terrorist attack, churches experienced an initial awakening, packed for prayer vigils and services.  More than 10 years later, church attendance is declining and liberty is under a different kind of battle, invisible to the human eye.

On the Atlantic Coast of America, most downtown areas are filled with centers for worship.  The further west you travel across the fruited plains, the less this scene is repeated.  As progress occurs in society, traditions tend to fall by the wayside, surpassed by modern thinking.  While atheists are still trying to have the steel cross found in the Twin Towers remains removed from the 9/11 memorial, this relic is a symbol for a lost and dying world, John 3:16-17.  As the Freedom Tower replaces the World Trade Center at Liberty and Church Street, may this day in history never be forgotten, especially on this Independence Day, July 4th.

by Jay Mankus

On the Other Side of the Street

One of the cliches I heard way too often growing up was, “if the shoe fits wear it.”  I’m still not exactly sure where this phrase originated or what it’s intended purpose served, yet I have learned to distinguish my strengths from my weaknesses over time.  When it comes to death, dying, injuries and wheelchairs, I’m at a loss, leaving me uncomfortable and unqualified to handle these environments.

Perhaps, this may explain why God forced me to visit the other side of the street last week.  When you reach a certain age, suffer a debilitating  injury or endure an accident, these individuals all share something in common, they are helpless.  As you enter this arena, self sufficiency is no longer an option with souls needing another person to help them up, take their hand and nurture them back to health.  Normally a quick healer, this is mostly foreign to me except for a few broken bones here and a surgery there.

In biblical times, there were no nursing homes or retirement centers to spend your final years on earth.  Your destiny was determined by your family, their generosity and wealth necessary to provide affordable care.  As the modern family dissolves into some type of dysfunctional reality television show, its no wonder that the amount of beggars and homeless continue to increase, showing up at most busy intersections where I live.  Abandoned by their families, friends and employers, these desperate people are like prodigal sons and daughters waiting for their father to welcome them back home.  Until this day, those living on the other side of the street which need prayers, support and a helping hand to get them back on the road to recovery.

by Jay Mankus

My Hidden Faults

Behind the facade, mirage and show played out in real life, lies imperfections tainted by sin.  In the emergency room on Monday night, I was confronted by images of reality television.  In fact, I haven’t scene this much diversity since I went to traffic court in Ohio following a head on collision in college.  To my surprise, 3 Amish teenagers were arrested for driving their buggy’s while intoxicated after crashing into a neighbors yard.  All you have to do is spend 1 day in the court and emergency rooms to see faults that were once hidden now out in the open for all to see.

I guess you can say I am not the most patient person in the world as demonstrated by my lead foot driving.  However, my patience was put to the test last night as I felt like a cast member on the Jerry Springer show.  I was surrounded by a woman involved in a domestic violence dispute and a boy who crashed his brother’s car driving without a license or insurance.  Between complaining, distress and periodical groans, I felt like saying, “shut up and suck it up!”  Common sense kept me from speaking my mind, but my heart was convicted by my inability to handle this trial with maturity.

Instead of using my accident to be a loving example of Christ, I turned into Oscar the Grouch.  Perhaps, I should have ate a Snickers Bar.  When push comes to shove, character rises to the surface and for me, I still have a long way to go.  This crisis opened a fresh can of worms, exposing my hidden faults of impatience and selfishness.  In the future, I must live out Psalm 19:13, so that I will flee from willful sins that can separate you from God.  May the promise of James 5:16  set me free from my once hidden faults.

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

Who… Me?

Whether you believe in one or not, God has created a melting pot of individuals who are just as different on the inside as the color of their skin.  Personalities range from those who enjoy going to the mall to people watch, others prefer to listen, asking questions instead of talking too much and the strong willed seek to express their opinions and point of view.  Meanwhile, the active can’t get enough time with their friends, the sloths are always looking for an excuse to rest and modern technology has made the masses co dependent on their computer, phone or television.  When confronted or asked to changes their ways of in 2014, many will respond, “Who, me?”

The memories of Adam and Eve has been passed down from generation to generation, entering our D.N.A. in the form of the sinful nature, Romans 3:9-12.  Thus, whenever you make a mistake or screw up, you have a blue print to follow, Genesis 3:12-13.  “The devil made me do it!”  “It’s her fault your honor, not mine!”  “If God didn’t introduce me to this person, I would have never done that!”  There are somethings in life you don’t have to learn, it just comes naturally like blaming others, failing to take responsibility for your actions and justifying what you did to escape punishment or minimize the consequences.  As a result, Reality Television is filled with examples of adults acting like little children who got their hand caught in the cookie jar, “Who me?”

For any avid sports fans, especially during this Bowl Season, NFL playoffs or March Madness, this same mindset is played out daily in front of a national audience.  When committing a penalty in football, a foul in basketball or taking a dive to draw attention to the referee is hockey and soccer, pouting faces say a thousand words.  While watching the replay on the jumbotron, I’m surprised more athletes don’t go into acting, pleading their innocence.  However, replays never lie and the guilty will be penalized or fined for their illegal play.  Maybe one of the games this weekend will include a player who actually puts up his hand, signaling, “my bad, I didn’t it!”  Despite this optimism, there will be crying, complaining and disbelief today, as the next guilty player will express body language which suggests, “Who me?”

by Jay Mankus

State of Hysteria

For the drama kings and queens, worry warts and pessimists, hysteria is a relatively normal state.  This condition of emotional distress often leads to melt downs or what I call tizzy’s, an adult version of a tantrum.  Blowing things out of proportion makes for great reality television, at least from a ratings perspective.  However, have you ever thought about what force or inspiration is ultimately behind hysteria?

According to Exodus 23:27-28, the God of Israel sends a spirit of hysteria into the land of Canaan.  The purpose of this terror is to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of their land.  Like a stirred up hornet’s nest, God uses supernatural powers to accomplish His will.  Without the numbers, strength or weapons, Jehovah Jireh delivers a promised land an ordinary group of people, unable to take the credit for this miraculous event.

If this happened in the Old Testament, I wonder if God has the desire to allow a similar state in the world today.  Although, modern outbreaks of hysteria are likely from another force, demons using angelic powers.   Some nations experience countless years of civil unrest.  Meanwhile, others countries promote a generation of starving children.  Somewhere in the middle, hysteria roams from city to city, resulting in hate crimes, violence and suicide.

God provides weapons against such spirits in Ephesians 6:10-20.  With all but one defensive, the Word of God is double edged, able to go from defense to offense in one motion.  May these tools help you build an invisible force field of faith around you, saving yourself from caving into the hysteria in this world.  Keep the helmet of salvation tightly secured to guard your mind from suffering from spiritual amnesia, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.  Finally, apply 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 daily as you take each thought captive, making each obedient to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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