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Seize, Hold Fast to and Retain Hope

Famous poet Robert Frost published the poem Carpe Diem in 1938. Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism taken from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes. When translated into English, Carpe Diem refers to “seize the day”. To seize involves to make the most of this present time and give little thought to the future. This is the sense of urgency the author of Hebrews is attempting to communicate.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [c]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word, Hebrews 10:23.

Holding fast means to tightly secure something that is deemed important and valuable. This process focuses on continuing to believe in and adhere to an idea or principle. In the passage above, hope is the glue meant to cement the faith of modern day Christians. Like a cherished teddy bear that a small child clings to each night in bed, hope is what you wrap your arms around in times of need.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. For by [faith—[b]trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report, Hebrews 11:1-2.

In football games, defensive players attempt to force, intercept, punch and remove the ball from the individual who has it. To retain possession, running backs, receivers and quarterbacks do everything in their power to avoid turning the football over. This is the message Hebrews is trying to convey by seizing, holding fast to and retaining hope. As life continues to fly by, may faith and hope be secured despite what the forces of this world may do to try to change your mind, Ephesians 6:12.

by Jay Mankus

Where You Once Walked

The longest book in the Bible begins it’s first chapter by comparing life to talking a walk. Depending upon the choices that you make, you will follow one of two paths, Matthew 7:13-14. The broad road is a popular destination, the easiest and most convenient choice with the vast majority of the crowd going in this direction. Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken coincides with the narrow path, regularly passed over in this life.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night, Psalm 1:1-2.

As a Christian, your walk is an outline for your testimony. The apostle Paul provides a blueprint to follow in Galatians 1:10-24. Spiritual walks are comprised of 3 phases in your life: how you lived prior to being introduced to Jesus, how you entered into a personal relationship with Jesus and how your life has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Where you once walked gives others hope that they too have time to change for the better.

It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices]. But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, Colossians 3:6-9.

The passage above serves as a warning to those individuals considering the idea of reverting back to their old ways. While no one is perfect, Romans 3:9-12, Christians are called to a higher standard, Matthew 5:46-48. Where you once walked is a reflection of your old self, Colossians 3:1-4. Instead of dabbling in the past, Galatians 5:25, Paul exhorts Christians to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. May this blog inspire you to walk with God despite the temptation to go back where you once walked..

by Jay Mankus

You Won’t Get There in a Straight Line

As much as families plan for a summer vacation or trips, things rarely go exactly as planned.  If you are driving, accidents, detours or traffic may re-route you in a different direction.  Flying across the country may save time, but unless you are flying direct there is always a chance you might miss your connecting flight.  Meanwhile, some destinations can only be accessed by ferry; missing one boat may throw off your entire schedule.  Thus, it’s important for human beings to learn to become flexible, making the best of an awkward situation.  If not, you may not have the persistence it takes to get you where you want to go in this life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it,” Matthew 7:13.

In 1920, Robert Frost wrote the Road Less Traveled.  This poem seems to transcend time, applicable today just like it was nearly 100 years ago.  This was written shortly after cars were invented, long before the development of America’s Interstate Highways.  Most people were forced to walk wherever they went or take the train if leaving the state.  The 2006 animation film Cars provides a scene with a poignant message.  Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen is talking with Sally, Bonny Hunt.  While driving on a scenic road Sally says “people used to go for a drive to have a good time.  Now, people drive to save time, bypassing scenic destinations.”  When you rush from point A to point B in life, you often don’t enjoy everything in between.

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Matthew 7:14.

Like Frost’s poem, Jesus compares life to two different roads.  The first is similar to a super highway filled with attractive advertisements, adult entertainment and various rest stops along the way.  The second is less flashy, filled with overgrown brush, unpaved and vacant.   One is full of distractions, grabbing the attention of anyone who is ADHD.  The other is less appealing, laid back and quiet.  If you were talking about which destination, hotel or restaurant to choose,  I want the one which is cool, hip and thriving.  Upon further review, Jesus is talking about eternity, not a route to work.  Therefore, I’d rather get to heaven in a round about way than missing the exit completely.  Don’t worry if your life is currently going no where or stuck in neutral.  Rather, hold on to hope because no one get’s to heaven in a straight line.

by Jay Mankus

Living Without God

Upon rolling out of bed, many Americans turn to the weather channel to  help answer the question, “what should I wear today?”  After a relaxing bath or shower, breakfast is on your mind before you hustle out the door.  Perhaps, you’ll have a few minutes to reply to emails, catch up on Facebook or text a friend.  Nonetheless, a morning without God often leads to days, weeks or months alone and on your own.

C.S. Lewis illustrates this truth in Mere Christianity through a chapter entitled “We Have Cause to Be Uneasy.”  Essentially, the longer you go off course, Matthew 7:13-14, without making the Lord a priority, the harder it is to return.  Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Traveled,” symbolizes the fork in the road of life.  While those living without God chose instant gratification, pleasure and sinful delights; those who take the other path are ridiculed, scrutinized and rejected by social media.  Despite the initial pain, a guiding light leads the way, Galatians 5:25, greater than the Force in Star Wars.

Today, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize living without God has become a societal trend.  If you listen to the words of an average conversations, absorb the lyrics of blaring music passing by or see the lack of joy in people’s faces, God is no where to be found.  Its no wonder that desperate souls keep looking for love in all the wrong places, void of progress and peace.  I’m not sure what people are waiting for, yet God has his perfect timing, Ecclesiastes 3.  In these last days, may prodigal sons and daughters come home soon before its too late to return to the living God.

by Jay Mankus

Clearing the Path

Robert Frost once wrote a poem about choosing the road less traveled.  Jesus spoke about a broad road and a narrow path at the conclusion of his sermon on the mount, Matthew 7.  Meanwhile, Moses referred to life as 2 choices, during his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30.  Since January uprooted trees, debris and downed power lines are blocking my future. Clearing this path hasn’t been as easy as I first expected.

Though my situation looks dire, many others have suffered equally, yet some has lost almost everything.  Job lost his wealth, possessions, buildings and his children.  To make matters worse, 3 close friends assumed God was punishing him for a sin he committed, but wasn’t honest enough to admit.  When obstacles block your path to the future, Hebrews 12:1, speculation is not the answer to your dilemma.  In Job’s case, his solution was just a prayer away.  Once Job acted upon his conviction, forgiving his friends, Job 42:10, God replaced his loss with a double blessing.

As I begin to throw off those things hindering my progress, Galatians 5:7, I need to return to the narrow path before overgrown branches, sticker bushes and weeds hide its entrance.  Once I find this path, the adventure is not over.  I need to apply Hebrews 12:12 by making a level path for my feet and follow the light when it get’s dark, Psalm 119:105.  When storms reemerge, I must fix my eyes on Jesus, trusting Him to remove any immovable objects so that my progress will no longer be halted.  There is no turning back when the Lord clears your path, Luke 9:63.

by Jay Mankus

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