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When Darkness Blinds Your Eyes

Twenty-five years ago, I moved back to the East Coast to attend seminary. While pursuing my masters, I two worked jobs and took classes at night. While this schedule was grueling at times, I felt called to complete this higher education. After completing one third of my classes, I contracted a severe case of iritis. Following a trip to an emergency room, I was hurled into darkness with my future vision in doubt.

But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [[i]in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes, 1 John 2:11.

One of Jesus’ disciples is referring to a spiritual form of blindness. John isn’t taking about planks in your eyes that impairs your vision, Matthew 7:1-5. Rather, addictions, bad habits, and sinful tendencies allow darkness to enter your life. This spiritual darkness often prevents you from seeing clearly, unable to confront a sinful lifestyle that is so obvious to everyone who cares about you.

To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me, Acts 26:18.

According to Luke who just happens to be a doctor, Satan has the power to blind Christians. When your life is filled with darkness, your objectivity and perception to change is clouded. One of the ways to restore your spiritual vision is through confession and contrition. Another way to restore your sight is by reading and studying the Bible. As you uncover truth, the truth will set you free from sin, John 8:32.

by Jay Mankus

When the Love of Money Goes Too Far

As a former seminary student and Bible teacher, I cringe every time ill-informed politicians take the Bible out of context. Rather than correct these errors, journalists and television commentator’s often gloss over these ungodly beliefs to avoid confrontation or criticism. Perhaps this explains why some people believe that you can’t be a Christian and wealthy at the same time. However, the root of all evil is when the love of money goes too far.

For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many [e]acute [mental] pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to money in Matthew 6:19-24 and Matthew 6:32-34. The first passage alludes to treasures that your heart can’t stop thinking about. When trust in God is replaced by money, souls become consumed by anxiety and worry. As long as individuals supplement money in exchange for faith in God, panic attacks will wear down troubled and weary souls. This unhealthy craving for money continues today as a sign that the love of money has gone too far.

Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself], 1 John 2:15-16.

One of Jesus’ disciples combines acts of the sinful nature with a love for earthly treasures. The answer to reversing sensual gratifications, greedy longings and the pride of self-reliance is found in Galatians 5:16-25. This internal wrestling match goes on daily between the flesh and God’s Spirit. Yet, according to Jesus the only way to break away is through turning your attention towards seeking first God’s righteousness. Until your spiritual priorities change, you’re at risk at letting the love of money go too far.

by Jay Mankus

A Season of Suffering

Most people think of a season in terms of winter, spring, summer, and fall. During this 4 month time period, there are often fluctuations in the temperature. Each season provides a distinct and unique trait such as snow, blooming flowers, warm weather and falling leaves. Yet, the seasons mentioned in the Bible do not how a defined time table. One may last a month while others could go on for years.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away, Ecclesiastes 3:1-6.

During the exodus out of Egypt, a trip that should have taken 3-4 months ended up becoming a 40 year journey through the wilderness. Just like the Israelites who didn’t obey God’s commands and Moses’ instructions, modern day human beings rarely travel from point A to point B in a straight line. Rather, unforeseen traffic causes human beings to get impatient, changing course to try to find a shortcut.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Yet, sometimes you can follow God faithfully and end up getting lost along the way. My wife and I moved to Delaware in 1997 so that I could attend Seminary, earn my masters and become a college professor or pastor. A rare eye disease ended this quest shortly after I started, leading me on my own 25 year journey in the wilderness of Delaware. Therefore, whatever season you may have to endure in 2022, hold on to faith until the Lord clears the way for your future.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of God’s Will

Mystery refers to something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Whether you’re watching a well done movie, trying to solve a complicated problem or exploring a foreign topic, you may find yourself baffled. Depending upon how hungry you are to resolve these question marks, riddles take time to unravel. Like trying to complete a complex thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, you need to complete the outside edge before your picture comes into focus.

Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, 10 [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth, Ephesians 1:9-10.

One of the greatest enigmas in life is narrowing in on God’s will for your own life. Sometimes you may whittle it to one of two career paths before the Lord throws you a curve. Throughout college I thought I would either become a golf course architect or become a youth pastor. While completing a duel internship in Ohio, I followed a calling to go into youth ministry. Yet, just 2 years later, I burned myself out, got married and ended up working as an assistant golf professional. During my first Player’s Ability Test, the big step to become a teaching golf profession, God intervened on numerous occasions, a clear sign that this wasn’t meant to be. When you 3 and 4 putt the easiest hole on the course when 5 putts would have been enough, I changed directions,

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

Nearly 25 years later, I still haven’t solved the mystery of God’s will for my life. While I do believe God wanted me to move back to the East Coast to attend seminary, a rare eye disease prevented me finishing a master’s in theology. Although the apostle Paul suggests keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25, I tend to get lost, drifting off on a my own every year. I did spend 10 years of my life perfectly aligned with God’s will as a high school Bible teacher and golf coach. Meanwhile, I believe starting this blog 9 years ago also fits into God’s plan. Nonetheless, I have no idea on what my next step is except for following Paul’s advice listed above so that the mystery of God’s will for my life is unveiled.

by Jay Mankus

Five Decades of Life

From Hurricane Camille to the Coronavirus, my life has now spanned more than a half century. While I was being born in New Jersey, one of the most violent tropical storms to hit the Gulf Coast formed as a tropical depression. While I don’t remember much of the early years, a little over half of my first ten years were spent in Oxford, New Jersey before my father was transferred to Wilmington, Delaware. Back in the 1970’s, Delaware was like living in the south, overflowing with hospitality, love and openness. As a boy with a severe speech impediment, this was the fresh start that I needed.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” John 635.

During the 1980’s, it was the best and worse of times. Living as a loner most of junior high, I didn’t value life until I was introduced to cross country at Concord High. Between my neighborhood, school, and running friends, I began to come out of my shell, ready to face my fear of expressing myself. Thanks to my swimming coach and Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s leader Ken Horne, I invited God to become part of my life. Although I didn’t really know what I was doing at times, retreats, summer camps and youth group propelled me into the 1990’s.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

My third decade on earth was my most adventurous, taking a semester off from college to travel the country. Initially, I felt called to become a social worker with the Methodist Action Plan. Since I didn’t make much money, I got a part time job as a youth director in Rising Sun, Maryland. As time passed quickly, I realized that I didn’t really know what to do which led me to the Twin Cities in Minnesota to attend a youth ministry trade school. Looking back, 1993 was probably the best year of my life which culminated in meeting my wife Leanne at a National Youth Ministry Convention.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.

As I enjoyed my early years as a newlywed, it was clear that my calling to be a professional golfer faded quickly. When the haze dissipated, another calling to attend seminary moved Leanne and I back to the east coast. Shortly afterward, the first of our 3 children was born. A rare eye disease cut this plan, causing a few years of transition before landing on my feet as a High School Bible Teacher and Golf Coach. When all the stars aligned, I found myself doing what I loved for a decade. Yet, like anything in life, all good things come to an end, leaving Red Lion at the beginning of 2012.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, Jeremiah 29:11.

This past decade has been the most difficult, being unemployed and unsure of my place in the world. Perhaps, the most challenging aspect of the last 10 years is not quite knowing where I belong. Out of this uncertainty, Express Yourself 4 Him was conceived. During the storms and trials of 2010’s, my good friend Spencer Saints introduced me to screen writing. Beside my current job at Amazon, I don’t how much to display as accomplishments. Nonetheless, I keep writing. Hoping, praying and pouring out my heart and soul into ideas for future Christian movies and television series. Maybe in the 2020’s I will finally see the fruits of my labor. Yet, for now, I am thankful to be alive for 51 years.

by Jay Mankus

The Vow of Corban

Reading the Bible can be eye opening, especially when you stumble upon formerly private conversations revealed by Jesus’ disciples.  Every once in a while, I come across a passage that befuddles me, having to rely on commentaries to figure out what I just read.  In my two years of seminary, there is a term that I never learned or came across.  The word Corban means offering to God a sacrifice in order to fulfill a vow.  The passage below provides an example of the vow of Corban in the Bible.

If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth, Numbers 30:2.

One day Pharisees and religious leaders began to observe Jesus, looking for something to correct, point out or scrutinize.  These teachers of the law noticed that some of Jesus’ disciples weren’t following ceremonial laws prior to eating.  While under attack, Jesus brings up the concept of the vow of Corban.  Jesus then ties this vow to a commandment, honoring your father and mother.  Sometimes earthly vows contradict the wishes of your parents, the point Jesus makes in the passage below.

But you [Pharisees and scribes] say, ‘If a man tells his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you is Corban, (that is to say, already a gift to God),”’ 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother [since helping them would violate his vow of Corban]; 13 so you nullify the [authority of the] word of God [acting as if it did not apply] because of your tradition which you have handed down [through the elders]. And you do many things such as that,” Mark 7:11-13.

Perhaps, Jesus was eluding to Jephthah’s tragic vow made in Numbers 11:29-40.  Following a victorious battle, the 9th Judge of Israel was in a great mood.  Returning home from a great distance, Jephthah became hungry while traveling through a forest.  This appetite led to a foolish oath, vowing to sacrifice the first creature that greets him.  Unfortunately, hours passed without seeing anything before his own daughter ran out to hug him.  Jephthah kept his word, sacrificing his daughter, dying as a virgin.  To avoid anyone following in the footsteps of Jephthah, its better to honor your parents rather than focus on making Corban vows.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did Ethos Go?

While I never finished completing seminary due to my iritis, the classes I completed have provided a plethora of knowledge.  One of my favorite terms is the Greek word ethos.  Philosophers like Aristotle used ethos in the context of a person’s character.  Yet, ethos means so much more, its the expression of love, allowing others to see that you genuinely care about their lives.  Those individuals who demonstrate ethos on a daily basis earn the right to be heard.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, Matthew 9:12.

Unfortunately, as I interact with people, listen to what others believe and watch how different worldviews treat one another, the concept of ethos is vanishing.  Narcissism, pride and stubborn hearts are leaving a trail of hate, attacking anyone who opposing their beliefs.  C.S. Lewis eludes to this oblivious trait as diabolical pride in Mere Christianity.  If this flaw continues, the concept of ethos may disappear.

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” Matthew 9:13.

There are certain areas, subjects or topics where people claim to be experts, knowing much more than most others.  Yet, it would help if individuals would learn to become humble and more teachable.  While you may think you know more than a boss, manager or teacher, showing respect breeds ethos.  If the phrase sharing is caring is employed, a generation will begin to witness the powerful effects of ethos on society.

by Jay Mankus

Time Flies When You Do What You Were Created to Do

It’s hard to believe that this blog began 5 years ago today.  When I started, I didn’t know how long this new project would last.  As a former high school teacher, I initially wanted to keep my writing skills fresh in case another opportunity presented itself.  Yet, it was the theologian Augustine who inspired me to continue this journey.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

The historian Jerome credits Augustine as the one who established anew the ancient faith.  Following his conversion to Christianity in 386, Augustine began to journal his thoughts.  While sitting on his back porch, Augustine began to relate the flowers he noticed to the Garden of Eden.  The more he learned, read and studied, the deeper Augustine’s thoughts became.  After reading the Confessions of Augustine, this book inspired me to detail my own thoughts within Express Yourself 4Him to record my own spiritual journey.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

Although I am not certain, I don’t think that any of the great theologians of the past thought they would so influential in the future.  My belief is that many of these writers just wanted to sort out who God was and what they really believed.  If you have ever attended seminary, some of these scholars wrote thousands of pages over the course of their lives.  Yet, time flies when you do what you were created to do.  Unless God tells me otherwise, I hope to continue to share with you the insights the Holy Spirit lays on my heart, mind and soul in this blog.

by Jay Mankus

 

Full Disclosure

As I celebrate my 900th post, its time for full disclosure.  When I began this blog back in February of 2012, I wasn’t sure how long I would continue to write.  Previous projects like Soul Improvements, a monthly news letter geared toward ministering to youth pastors, lasted only 3 years, put on hold as I began seminary.  Depending upon how long my next movie script takes to complete, only the Lord knows how long Express Yourself 4 Him will last.  For now I am relying on the Holy Spirit to guide my steps, Galatians 5:25, as I reflect on life and how it relates to God’s Word.

From a personal point of view, I wish I had the energy and more time to interact with my readers.  Especially since I recall the days of writing close to 500 letters per year, spending a majority of my down time with pen and paper.  Although stamps disappeared quickly, social interaction was high on my priority list.  Time, mental fatigue and work has taken its toll on my body.  Perhaps if eating habits improved, my energy level would rise, yet as my wife says often, “you’re not as young as you use to be.”  I pray that as 1000 posts approach, God will revitalize my soul to touch lives with my blog.

Living for Jesus in this age has become a challenge.  Between compromise, the decay of society and sin that is now socially acceptable, right and wrong has been turned upside down.    Subsequently, speaking the truth in love is seen as being narrow minded.  If the church allows the Bible to be replaced as America’s measuring stick, I’m afraid God’s favor will also be removed.  According to Moses in Leviticus 20:22, when God’s decrees and laws are rejected, the land will vomit you out.  In view of this, pray for revival before its too late to turn back from the point of no return.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Falling

Tom Petty’s 1989 song Free Fallin’ refers to a boy who broke up with a decent girl, breaking her heart.  As a result, a sense of guilt leads Petty toward a downward spiral, free falling into a state of depression.   On the surface, many are great at hiding their pain, trying to stay cool or avoid unwanted attention.  Yet, deep inside the average soul, hurt is accumulating day by day, searching for someone or something to elevate this weight.

In Acts 11:1-3, a similar burden was lifted from the church, opening the heavens for a spiritual free fall.  Up until this point, Jewish law prohibited anyone in this faith to associate with Gentiles, especially partaking in unclean food according to Leviticus 11.  However, angelic intervention, 2 visions and a message from God redefined a Jews perspective of impurity, Acts 11:8-10.  Everything changed in Acts 11:15 as the Holy Spirit, fell upon the Gentiles in Caesarea.

According to the apostle Paul, God allows this to happen periodically, as He determines, 1 Corinthians 12:11.  This spiritual free fall is for the common good of the church, 1 Corinthians 12:6, occurring throughout the book of Acts 2:4, 4:31, 10:44-46 and so on.  Unfortunately, seminary’s, the school which trains future pastor’s, disagree with the book of Acts, claiming this was a momentary, supernatural out pouring of the Spirit, no longer active, ceasing to exist.  This notion has caused many in the church to free fall, questioning the existence of God.

While I don’t have the answer or power to end this thousand year old debate, I do want to prevent future believers from free falling from the faith.  If God can part a sea in the Old Testament and cause a dead man to rise from the grave after 3 days in the New Testament, why can’t the Holy Spirit free fall today to commence another spiritual awakening?  Although, prayers shouldn’t treat God like someone going to a check out counter, Matthew 21:21-22 promises great things to those who believe.  If you follow in the footsteps of George Whitfield, you might just experience another spiritual free fall.

by Jay Mankus

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