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A Life Perspective of Matthew 6:33

Looking back at the core principles my parents taught me, I learned 3 things lived out by my father: discipline, hard work and honoring the Sabbath.  As a son of an immigrant, my dad persevered as he learned English, eventually becoming a Ivy League student before entering the military.  His service to this country in the Army reinforced these attributes while his Roman Catholic background instilled in him a wholehearted effort to attend church wherever he was and whatever else he was doing.

Although the jealous may give circumstance or luck the credit, its clear that his successful career in sales, nice house at the beach and extended health is directly related to Matthew 6:33.  When an individual begins to seek God first by worshiping the Lord Sunday, starting each day in prayer or studying the Bible, these acts get God’s attention.  If these selfless acts continue with the right motives, the promise of daily bread and other blessings follow.  Sure, maybe my dad didn’t earn as much as he desired or reached the position of his dreams, but I see the fruits of his labor today.

While far from being perfect, I am trying to pass the baton to my own children so that they too may live a life of discipline, hard work and keeping God’s day holy.  Though the hypocrite in me may steer my kids off course from time to time, I can’t help but cling to Jesus promise within Matthew 6:33.  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteous and all these things (life, food, drink, clothes and health) will be given to you as well.”  Before 2014 speeds up too fast that you can’t catch up, take some time to slow down, Psalm 46:10, so that the hope of Matthew 6:33 may find you and your family.

by Jay Mankus

A Midnight Stroll

One of my most memorable New Year’s Eve celebrations occurred in 1992.  In the middle of a mild Winter, temperatures in Delaware soared above 70 by midday.  Instead of your typical indoor festivities, I spent most of the day and evening outside.  Spending my last New Year’s in Newark before moving to the mid-west with friends from Chrysalis and college, I had ample time to say goodbye.  After watching the ball drop, commencing 1993, a half dozen people or so took a midnight stroll.

The temperature was 62 degrees at 12:15 am, perfect to walk, star gaze and reminisce about the special times I encountered while growing up in Delaware.  I don’t recall how many miles this stroll involved, but nearly 3 hours later the temperature dropped to 26 degrees as an arctic cold front blew through, causing the pace to pick up during the last mile just to stay warm.  This was one of those nights where time seemed to stand still allowing me to soak in the memories.  Despite the sadness, I knew God was leading me to a better place, preparing me through a trade school in Minnesota to become a polished leader.

Looking back, its hard to believe 21 years have passed.  Now as a parent, strolls become like wind sprints, stopping and starting, trying to keep up with busy schedules of 3 children.  Midnight strolls would be nice if I didn’t go to sleep shortly after eating dinner on some work days.  Thus, I do my best to be balanced, while trying to survive the difficulties of life.  On this special night, may God help you to slow down enough to practice Psalm 46:10.  The more you practice this biblical principle, the Holy Spirit can provide joy and peace for you in 2014.  Have a memorable, but safe New Year’s Eve!

by Jay Mankus

Situational Ethics

When you stop for a moment and take a look at what’s really going on in the world around us, its head scratching.  Students killing or sleeping with teachers?  The glorification of abortion, giving woman who are pregnant the legal right to destroy human life?    Lying as a religious practice to deceive curious minds about to realize the truth?  Copy cat school shootings, seeking 15 minutes of fame?  Nudity on public television and in prime time?

The only logical explanation for these bizarre acts is a growing phenomena, known as situational ethics.  Instead of maintaining a set of moral absolutes, where there is a clear distinction between right and wrong, situations are now giving individuals other rational choices.  Thus, in the heat of the moment or deep within the context of your trial, good excuses for sin can be made.  Dictionary’s refer to situational ethics as a system that evaluates acts in the context of their circumstances rather than by a set of moral standards.

This concept is nothing new as Jesus indirectly mentions it during a famous sermon found in Matthew 5:21-26.  Referencing the 6th commandment, the Lord chooses the word murder, not kill.  Thus, in war, killing is acceptable since the situation dictates a kill or be killed mentality.  When war breaks out between nations, right and wrong is turned upside down.  How then can someone know what is right or what can individuals rely on for a moral compass?

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis devotes an entire chapter entitled Some Objections.  Lewis talks about the Law of Human Nature which states “human beings have a curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain manner guided by their conscience, but despite these inclinations to do the right thing, they do not follow this law, breaking it through deviating behavior.  Beside war, the herd instinct, self-preservation  and motherly love steers people to take drastic measures based upon the extant of the storm or situation.

Today, these factors have blinded innocent hearts, naive minds and desperate souls from looking beyond the here and now.  With tomorrow hard to reach for many, ethics don’t seem that important as surviving today is the goal.  In John 18:33-38, a governor called Pilate called for a private meeting with Jesus.  In his heart, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent.  In fact, his own wife had a dream telling her to warn her husband about Jesus.  Although the clear response was in view, the situation urged Pilate’s own sinful nature to do the wrong thing.

Life is like years of trial and error.  I’ve spent 44 years getting it wrong day after day.  Yeah, the easy thing to do is blame the situation or the hand you’ve been dealt by God.  However, the temple within you expects more, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.  May the God above your situation take you to a better place this Christmas season.  Reach out to the One who can so you the way, John 14:6.

by Jay Mankus

Remembering Your First Fruits

As Christmas Day approaches, thinking about God; make that slowing down to consider the Lord is a difficult task.  Pondering what presents you are going to buy, how much each will cost and when you will make take to find them all can be exhausting.  Thus, tithing back to God or offering your talents to the church often get’s lost in the holiday rush.

While reading the Bible recently, traces of giving back to God are interspersed within the Pentateuch, another name for the first 5 books of the Old Testament.  In the back of my mind, I want to give 10 % or the first portion of my paycheck back to God, yet a lack of a faith is preventing me from experiencing supernatural blessings.  If only I would trust God to provide daily bread, then the storehouses of heaven might open.

Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul wrote, “the things I don’t want to do I do, but those I hate I do, ” Romans 7:15.  This invisible force field prevents genuine believers from a spiritual breakthrough.  Alone, on my own strength, I am hopeless, destined for failure, Romans 3:23.  However, by grace, through faith, stands a God of second, third and fourth chances, Ephesians 2:8-10.  May this promise catapult you to new heights as you remember to give God what is rightfully His, your first fruits, Romans 7:4.

by Jay Mankus

Expiration Date

Beginning in the summer of 2005, I was under the gun, forced to complete the requirements for my teaching certification if I wanted to keep my job at a local high school.  Once I had finished the initial steps, jumping through all of the hoops, I was expected to reapply every 2 years.  The only hurdle I had to endure was a graduate level Methods course during the odd numbered years.  Thus, I took 3 classes over 6 summers, where I needed to incorporate the principles of each subject into my current curriculum.  Prior to submitting my final paper, I had to give an honest assessment of my strengths and weaknesses.  This report served as a guide, fine tuning my classroom management skills as well as providing cutting edge ideas to assess students.

 

The occupation of teaching is unlike any job I have had before.  There is an emotional connection with students, especially those whom you see traces of yourself in them.  When you leave the property, you are still working, talking to parents at sporting events, calling back others about concerns or responding to emails about a question on an upcoming assignment.  Instead of clocking in and out, teaching is non-stop for 9 months.  However, in the summer your work is never done as classes change, curriculum needs to be updated and material is constantly in a state of flux.  Despite being one of the most rewarding positions I have ever held, its by far the most draining, a perfect cure for those struggling to fall asleep.

 

Nonetheless, on October 31st, 2013, Halloween Night, my teaching certification will finally expire.  Part of me hoped something would come up, opening a new door so I didn’t throw away 10 years of experience.  However, the realist in me saw the writing on my financial wall, unable to support a family on a Private School’s teaching salary.  If life is a set of stages, at the end of this month I will exit stage left like Bugs Bunny in an episode years ago, using my abilities in a new arena at Amazon.  As for now, all I can do is apply the principles of Romans 12:1-2, expecting God’s will for my life to come into clear focus.  Before time runs out on your current position or status, make sure you take a deep breath, reflecting upon the words of Philippians 3:8-9.

by Jay Mankus

10 Reasons Why Writers Should Continue to Blog

To celebrate Express Yourself 4Him’s one year anniversary, I have created my first top ten list.  Similar to a David Letterman countdown from 10-1, I will examine what expires me each morning to get up and write.  May this list inspire a new generation of bloggers.

10) Blogging provides writers with a historical time line of their life.  You can go back to any day in a previous year to review what you were thinking, what happened in the world on that day and what you learned about life.

9) Blogging connects your opinion with other like minded people.  Often, people share similar beliefs, but they don’t have the time to voice their opinions.  Thus, blogging affirms that other people share similar convictions with you.

8) Blogging gives you an opportunity to share what’s on your heart.  The fast pace of life on the East Coast makes it tough to slow down.  Blogging provides an avenue to share what your heart is touched by and relax daily for a little while.

7) Blogging creates networking opportunities through E-Traffic.  As individuals comment on pieces you write, I have been able to visit their blogs, join their sites and begin corresponding with people who share common values.  In particular, I have been blessed by TR&B SHOCKLEY’S, It’s a God Thing, Mere Inkling, Morning Story & Dilbert and Candy Coated Reality in 2012.  Thanks for writing!

6) Blogging helps individuals verbalize their worldview through words.  In a world filled with chaos, its vital for people to discern what’s really going on, articulate their beliefs and help others understand the American culture.

5) Blogging offers an arena for instant feedback.  After a slow start, I have received nearly 250 approved comments this past year, one in German that I had my wife translate.  Besides hearing from complete strangers, Word Press keeps track of your most popular blogs along with each individual message.

4) Blogging instills a discipline for writing.  If you are able to do what you love without pay, then this is a sign that writing may be something you want to pursue.  However, even during cases of writer’s block, blogging forces you to piece together a blog worthy of reading.

3) Blogging presents you with a stage to get noticed.  Since I began last February, I have had 2 people from Hollywood comment on my blog.  While it’s a long shot, I am holding out hope for my screen writing of Express Yourself.

2) Blogging serves as a vehicle for healing.  If I didn’t lose my teaching position of 10 years last January, I would probably not have a Facebook account or Word Press blog.  However, as I have endured the anguish, disappointment and frustration of unemployment, God has used writing as a vessel for healing.

1) Blogging satisfies and soothes your soul.  The sense of accomplishment I receive from writing blogs is amazing.  Even when I don’t gain any attention from what I believe to be a great blog, I feel as if by addressing specific topics I am fulfilling God’s will for my life on that particular day.

Thanks for all of you who supported Express Yourself 4Him in 2012!

by Jay Mankus

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