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All You Zombies

 

My first introduction to the concept of zombies came in the form of Creature Double Feature presentations each Saturday.  This syndicated horror show began airing on the east coast in the 1970’s.  Since I lived just outside of Philadelphia at the time, I was intrigued by the thought of watching movies usually reserved for theaters.  About a decade later, the Hooters, a up and coming band from Philadelphia released All You Zombies, a single from their second album Nervous Night.  Using biblical references from the Old Testament, the lyrics contain a stanza where the band asks God, “where have your children gone,” hiding in the dark.  The context suggests fear, peer pressure and sin cause many human beings to become like zombies, void of the abundant life within John 10:10.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life, Matthew 27:51-52.

Recently, the fascination with zombies has been brought to the forefront through The Walking Dead on AMC.  Premiering in the United States on October 31, 2010, this series uses a post-apocalyptic setting where Rick Grimes plays a sheriff deputy who awakens from coma only to find the world overrun by zombies.  However, you don’t have to resort to Hollywood or science fiction to believe in zombies.  All you have to do is read the accounts within the four gospels of the Bible to find the origin of the term zombies.  Matthew was an eye witness to this strange but true event.  In the minutes following Jesus’ resurrection, the bodies of holy figures mentioned in the body came out from their tombs.  If the holy city refers to Jerusalem, the Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a film that debuted in 1968.  Rather, saints of the past walked through the capital of Israel either in grave clothes or in a resurrected form appearing to many people until Jesus ascended into heaven forty days later.

They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people, Matthew 27:53.

Thirty five years after the Hooters released All You Zombies, the call remains the same.  As a chorus in this song proclaims, “You don’t have to hide anymore!”  Sure, we all have hidden sins, secret scars or parts of your life that you are be ashamed.  Nonetheless, God wants his children to break free of their past by coming toward the light of Christ.  Many people wait as long as possible, hoping someone comes along to stand with them.  Yet, faith requires trust, not walking by sight.  Individuals must place their eyes toward heaven, praying for the Holy Spirit to guide you where to go and what to do.  Perhaps, this is why a disciple introduced the readers of his gospel to the power of numbers, Matthew 18:19-20.  When two or more are gathered, God’s power is unleashed.  May this blog inspire you to come out of your comfort zone to serve God by using all of your talents and gifts.

by Jay Mankus

When Life is Cruel and Unfair

The title of Clint Eastwood’s classic western film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly provides a much more accurate assessment of life than I initially thought.  In this context, the good symbolizes blessings, fruits of hard work, rewards, success and victories in life.  Meanwhile, the bad includes accidents, disappointment, failure, injuries, setbacks and unforeseen events.  Ugly represents examples of when life is cruel and unfair, taking the forms of curses, demonic influences and generational sins.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

On my first day back to work following bereavement for my father in law’s funeral, I received more bad news.  One of my co-workers Dominic, suffered a brain aneurism on one of his day’s off.  Dominic is one of those people you enjoy interacting with, engaging, friendly, kind and at times longwinded.  Nonetheless, Dominic had just received a promotion, relocating to a new building in Maryland.  His future looked bright until a severe brain aneurism has left Dominic on the verge of death.  For a young man with a girl friend and the rest of his life in front of him, this fate doesn’t seem fair.

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:  Deuteronomy 28:15.

The only way to explain this tragedy and similar heart breaking stories can be found in the ten commandments, specifically Exodus 20:5.  Moses reflects upon this biblical truth within an entire chapter in Deuteronomy.  Moses spends the first 14 verses of chapter 28 highlighting signs of God’s blessings.  The remaining 54 verses uncover hints of curses and or consequences of generational sins.  Due to the extent of details shared within this chapter of the Bible, it’s safe to say more curses exist than blessings.  Subsequently, people shouldn’t be surprised by examples of when life is cruel and unfair.  In view of this harsh reality, it’s essential to live each day on earth like it’s your last, assuring and preparing yourself for life beyond this world, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Let the Weeding Begin

 

Unless you love a freshly manicured yard or need the money, not many people get excited about doing yard work.  Beside heat and humidity, keeping up with rampant weeds that overtake a garden can be demoralizing.  You may spend an entire weekend pulling up every invasive plant only to see others re-emerge in it’s place a few days later.  While using weed killer products like Roundup is an option, most of the modern products are so watered down that there isn’t enough chemicals inside to permanent remove these nuisances of the neighborhood.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, Matthew 13:41.

Jesus introduces an new concept of weeding during a private meeting with his disciples.  Unable to figure out the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus begins to reveal the symbolism of this story.  According to the passage above, at the end of this age Jesus will command the angels to weed out all negative influences on earth.  These forces are demonic, evil and unruly spirits who have led astray willing participants.  Unfortunately, this process won’t begin until Jesus’ second coming, leaving vessels of the Devil that create chaos.  This dark power eventually filled Stephen Paddock, taking the lives of 58 innocent victims.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

While individuals wait for the weeding to begin, many people like me have a lot to clean up.  Time, weariness and unkempt souls have led everyone to do something dishonorable.  Although these actions vary in degree, hearts should develop a sense of urgency to get right with God.  Instead of judging others, perhaps a little soul searching may reveal areas of decay in desperate need of healing.  Therefore, as evil continues to flourish, it’s time to commence your own spiritual weeding so that through the Holy Spirit you will become an honorable vessel ready to serve your Creator.  Let the weeding begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s Better to Have a Mary Christmas

The Bible introduces the world to an average family coping with a typical sibling rivalry.  However, in this case, both sisters are adults, revealing two distinct personality traits.  While its unclear who is the oldest, it appears Martha plays the role as the responsible one, working diligently to clean the house, cook and prepare for holiday guests.  Like any individual, this work can be exhausting, creating tension with those who don’t help or share in this burden.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, Luke 10:38-39.

Meanwhile, Mary is drawn in a different direction, like a social butterfly longing to interact with visitors.  Jealous of her sisters conversation with Jesus, resentment brews within Martha’s heart.  Sensing this bitterness, Jesus serves as a moderator to address this family crisis.  According to a doctor who either knew the family or felt this story was worth passing on, Jesus reveals what is better, seizing the time you have with close friends and family.

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:40-42.

Unfortunately, a similar scene is played out in American homes every Christmas.  The perfectionists work diligently to make the decorations, meals and the tree just right.  On the surface everything is peaceful until someone doesn’t pull their own weight.  When this moment arrives at your home, its better to emulate the character of Mary so that you will experience a very Merry Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did I Go Wrong?

Life tends to be a series of choices which lead you to the place where you end up.  Sure, accidents, illness and tragedy may be the exception to this rule, but it doesn’t take much to take the wrong path.  Compromise starts off subtle, lulling souls to sleep spiritually.  Before you know you have a problem, its often too late as people are left to ponder, “where did I go wrong?”

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot, Romans 8:7.

Some might argue that its impossible to know if you are exactly where God wants you to be.  Meanwhile, others claim the conscience was designed into every human being to regulate your soul.  Yet, if your mind isn’t right, thoughts can become hostile to God.  Whenever anyone drifts off course from the path God desires you to take, Satan can use your own mind against you to justify false actions and behaviors.  Thus, determining where you went astray can be more difficult than it seems.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua 24:15.

As Joshua leads a new generation into God’s promised land, it was fitting to urge Israel to consider who they are willing to serve.  The blessings are out there, fruits for those who remain on the straight and narrow.  Yet, the sooner you recognize where you went wrong, the quicker you will find reconciliation.  Therefore, I’m calling all prodigals to come to their senses to find forgiveness, hope and the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

Life Without Sight?

When I first moved to Delaware, I worked 2 jobs and went back to school to try to finish my Masters in Theology.  After 2 successful years, I began to develop some eye issues.  Unfortunately, the strain on my eyes was too much as I was diagnosed with iritis 15 years ago.  While dropping out of school helped, its been a decade of ups and downs, unsure if my medication would improve my condition.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:4.

In the past 6 months, one of my eyes has been unresponsive for some reason.  Thus, I’m facing a dangerous scenario of either surgery or possible losing my sight in this eye.  For someone planning on writing a movie script per year in retirement, this is a major problem.  Thus, one has to wonder why this trial has knocked on my door.  This is where faith, science and the human body collide.

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven, James 5:15.

Despite the odds confronting me, I am still holding out hope for a miracle.  As I wait a month for my next check up, all I can do is be a good patient by following my doctor’s instructions.  Meanwhile, I will lift my situation up to the great healer in the sky.  The anticipation and waiting will be tough, yet I serve a living God who has a record of restoring sight to the blind.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Man of Broken Promises

Sometimes you have to listen closely to what you say.  If you don’t, you could end up blowing smoke, carelessly throwing out words void of meaning.  As I reflected upon recent conversations with my children on my days off, its sad to say that I’ve become a man of broken promises.

A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool, Ecclesiastes 5:3.

Just because someone is intelligent, does not make them immune from making foolish decisions.  The context of the passage above likely refers to Solomon’s struggles to please his wife.  Like any good husband, there is a desire satisfy the needs of those whom you love.  Unfortunately, Solomon acquired 700 wives and 300 concubines as king of Israel, making it extremely difficult for him to be a man of his word.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow, Ecclesiastes 5:4.

As I try to pick up the pieces of my tattered reputation, the words of Ecclesiastes serve as a good place to start.  Whether you are talking to friends, family or neighbors, don’t promise anything you can’t keep.  If anything, limit your commitments and over deliver.  For if you don’t heed this message, you may wake up one morning like me and realize that you’ve become a man of broken promises.

by Jay Mankus

 

Who am I and Where did I Come From?

I was watching a documentary on meanings to life recently.  One of the interviewers suggested two likely possibilities.  “Either life occurred due to an accident or some sort of a Creator.”  The Big Bang Theory is on one side of this argument as the ideal conditions were present to occur.  Meanwhile, the opposing view suggests God spoke and bang life was conceived.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life, John 3:16.

Regardless of what you believe, there is another question to consider.  What should individuals do with your time each is given on earth?  Eat, drink and be merry or consider the eternal consequences and rewards for every action?  While the first choice seems obvious, the latter considers a life devoted to serving a higher power.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him, John 3:17.

From some reason, when I was twelve, I began to reflect upon the meaning to life before I fell asleep each night.  As I pondered this question for over a month, life doesn’t make sense to me to be born out of thin air, live for a while and then die.  Something inside my soul felt like there had to be more, a place after earth.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to this eternal promise in 1 John 5:13.  During this period of enlightenment I realized that I am a child of God, created to serve and worship the Lord; trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide me throughout this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Did My Fervor Go?

As a child, there was nothing like the anticipation of opening presents under a Christmas tree.  I must confess that sometimes I snuck down stairs in the middle of the night just to see what was in my stocking.  On a couple of occasions I dozed off under our tree, before going back up to my bed so I wouldn’t be seen.  Unfortunately, somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, I lost my fervor for life.

Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John, Acts 18:25.

One of the more interesting characters of the Bible is a man named Apollos who first met Paul during a trip to Ephesus.  Although this man from Alexandria was an outsider, his passion for God made up for his limited knowledge.  To a certain extent, I see a lot of Apollos in me during my early years in youth ministry.  I didn’t possess the theological background that most youth pastors acquire, yet my determination and fervor was strong.  Yet, when I left the ministry for good 5 years ago, my fire has dimmed.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

Previous mentors would suggest that I haven’t re-fueled, not spending enough time in Bible study, prayer or worship.  Other friends might lean to a lack of commitment, fellowship and service to a local church.  While this advice may be true, the most logical reason for losing my fervor is a lack of joy.  When you’re a perfectionist, its hard to enjoy the little things in life.  Thus, as I continue to search for answers, I cling to a life verse from high school.  Whatever I do in the future, I must devote my heart to serving the Lord.  If you find yourself in a similar state this year, may the Lord show you the way to rekindle your fervor for life.

by Jay Mankus

What is God Cooking Now?

Anyone who desires or longs to be a cook may choose a career in culinary arts.  This school involves teaching students government standards, preparation procedures and provide wisdom about what it takes to be successful.  However, novice chefs tend to learn from trial and error.  Meanwhile, others learn the hard way that they don’t belong in the kitchen.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

Beyond menus and specials, God has His own way of cooking.  The Bible refers to methods like smelting, pottery and purification.  Trials in life are like sitting in a crock pot, slowing blending a myriad of ingredients into a tasty meal.  Likewise, God takes the gifts and talents individuals possess, using disappointment, heartache and setbacks to mold people into vessels, instruments ready to serve the kingdom of God.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13.

However, like secret recipes of famous restaurant chains, God’s seasoning is unknown.  There are instructions inside the Bible, but the time and temperature is still a mystery.  Faith is the missing link, the glue that holds the church together until the final dish is unveiled.  In the mean time, may the Lord give you guidance, patience and understanding as you eagerly wait for God to finish what’s brewing inside of you.

by Jay Mankus

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