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Ridiculing Responses From God

The dictionary refers to cynicism as an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest.  Synonyms include doubt, suspension and skeptical.  As postmodern and secular humanism replace a biblical worldview, it’s not uncommon to hear individuals ridicule responses from God.  Following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life Worship Center, a few members of the media scoffed at offers of thoughts and prayers for those affected.  Instead these individuals demanded calls for repealing the second amendment by demonizing guns.

Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires, 2 Peter 3:3.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, the world will see a rise in scoffing.  A growing number of people will liter their speech with deriding comments, mockery and a sneering tone.  The days of Leave It to Beaver and Little House on the Prairie are long gone.  In it’s place Modern Family, Seinfeld and the Simpsons has transformed millennials.  As a generation grows up without attending church, experiencing youth groups and or missing a spiritual mentor along the way, it’s no wonder that scoffers will increase as the second coming of Jesus approaches.

One of the criminals who had been hanged [on a cross beside Him] kept hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us [from death]!”– Luke 23:39

As a trio of people were in the process of being crucified, one desperate soul fought to the very end.  In the heat of the moment, this criminal became frustrated by Jesus’ lack of action.  Essentially, he was saying, “we don’t have much time left; if you’re truly the Son of God, save yourself; then save us.”  Unaware of God’s grand design, this man died without knowing a Savior.  Perhaps, the bitterness, ridicule and venom that comes out of someone’s mouth is a byproduct of spiritual frustration.  Thus, the next time you are a victim of ridicule, dig a little deeper into the life of this perpetrator to see if the hope of a Savior may transform their life.

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

Focusing on the Darkness Within

According to a 2015 article in Time Magazine, the top ten television shows of all time include Friends, Breaking Bad, the X-Files, Game of Thrones, Seinfeld, the Sopranos, Saturday Night Live, I Love Lucy, Mad Men and the Simpsons.  While five of these programs were comedies, the others contain adult content, graphic images and violence.  Based upon the series chosen on this list, American audiences are searching for something to laugh at and tune into nteresting dramas.  In order to grab someone’s attention, producers focus on the darkness within souls to spice up weekly episodes.

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. 23 But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

When tragedy strikes in the form of mass shootings, blame immediately goes to guns and gun owners.  After the facts reveal the true motives of any massacre, some of these events may be blamed on terrorism, others on bullying and some remain unexplained.  Whatever the inspiration may have been, rarely do experts, media panels or psychologists point the finger in the direction of Hollywood.  From time to time, mature video games that desensitize the frailty of life receive a portion of the blame.  Yet, unless a shooter survives their day of reckoning, no one will ever know for certain why school shootings happen.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:5-7.

The word light appears 272 times in the Bible.  Meanwhile, darkness is mentioned 162 times.  Two of Jesus’ disciples highlight the positive aspects and negative concerns of these terms.  According to Matthew, darkness is like a poison that corrupts hearts internally before external actions magnify evil from within.  John takes a different approach, comparing light to a truth detector.  Anyone who pretends to be a Christian while maintaining a relationship with darkness is a fool.  The ultimate goal is to expose any darkness within you by daily reading and studying the Bible.  Although Christians can’t control what Hollywood or others do, the decisions that you make will determine your destiny.  May the light of Christ guide you through the darkness.

by Jay Mankus

The Seinfeld Effect

In the final episode of Seinfeld, Jerry, Elaine and George witness a car jacking.  Instead of helping, the three of them begin to crack jokes as Kramer takes out his camcorder to film this crime.  After the victim gives his report of what happened to a police officer, the entire Seinfeld crew gets arrested, tried and sentenced to jail for a year for failing to act as a good Samaritan.

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side, Luke 10:31.

Unfortunately, this comedy has filtered into our culture, influencing how a younger generation acts, behaves and treats one another.  This Seinfeld Effect played a part in the recent killing of Amy Inita Joyner-Francis, a 16 year old student at Howard Vocational High School in Delaware.  When a fight broke out in a girl’s bathroom, instead of intervening, other girls took out their phones to take pictures and videos.  Before a good Samaritan arrived, it was too late for Amy.

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:32-33.

During my last few years as a teacher, Summit Ministries was on the cutting edge of societal evolution, providing great resources to address growing needs.  At one of the last conferences I attended, the key note speaker spoke about how art imitates life.  Yet, over time life imitates art.  In the case of today’s culture, the Seinfeld Effect has swayed youth into passive, self-centered individuals.  Subsequently, many are amusing themselves to death, numbing souls from becoming the children God wants us to be.  May God awaken those distracted by an immoral world.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Pets for You

During the 7th season of Seinfeld, episode 116 introduced the “Soup Nazi” to pop culture.  Larry Thomas played this vibrant character, excessively strict and unwilling to bow down to the requests of patrons like Jerry, Elaine and George.  Subsequently, when the Soup Nazi felt disrespected, he coined the phrase, “no soup for you,” becoming an instant sensation and regular guest on Seinfeld.

While reading Exodus 11:27, I was surprised to see cats and dogs are deemed unclean by God.  Any creature with paws and walk on all fours are off limits.   Any Jew who touched a cat or dog would become unclean til evening, forced to wash their clothes as well.  Essentially, God was telling the Israelites, “no pets for you!”

Today, OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, takes the words of the Bible to the extreme.  According to Jesus, what you touch doesn’t make you clean or unclean.  Purity or the lack there of comes from within, Luke 6:43-45.  Therefore, your heart determines your actions, behavior and words.  In view of this truth, Jesus urged his followers to set their hearts on things above, Matthew 6:19-21.  The apostle Paul takes this one step further in Colossians 3:1-4, encouraging individuals to set your hearts on eternal things.  Whether you like pets or not, the Bible doesn’t restrict animals today; God introduced free will to enable you to make your own choices.

by Jay Mankus

 

Christless

Seinfeld was one of the first sitcoms to mock Christmas, establishing Festivus for the rest of us.  Meanwhile, Jewish holidays weren’t exempt as Saturday Night Live, known as SNL, created their own version of Hanukkah sung by Adam Sandler.  At one point in American culture, certain topics were taboo, to avoid offensive language.  However, a growing trend has erased the line eliminating boundaries, opening up every religion to verbal attacks except for Islam.

When you subtract the presents, songs and exchange of gifts, what else remains?  Sure, there are decorations, lights and manger scenes, but is Jesus still Lord of this holiday?  Or has the good news of a Messiah been X-out by cards too cheap to print the reason for masses across the country and throughout the world?  As I look around the roads, shopping malls and desolate streets, cheers of good news is a rare sound.  Rather, complaining, gripes and moodiness fill the air, opening the door for another Christ-less season.

If political correctness continues to be a guiding light for Americans, I’m afraid the days of Christmas may soon be over.  In a recent interview, Christian singer Chris Tomlin vowed he’d go to jail if celebrating Christmas ever became illegal.  For those who think, “that would never happen here,” don’t be so sure.  For whenever a nation curses Israel or harms their ability to remain free, God promises to curse those countries that don’t stand with God’s chosen people.  In the Silent Nights that remain, may the Holy Spirit touch your heart, persuading you to invite Jesus back into your home, neighborhood and perhaps local schools.  If not, Christmas will be another day for the homeless and orphans, waiting for a brighter day.

by Jay Mankus

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