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As Times Change… Don’t Get Left Behind

My first stereo was a record player with an eight track built in below.  I typed my high school research paper on a type writer.  The most advanced computer classes available for me in college was CAD and Word Perfect 2.1.  I didn’t join social media until 2012 and my children mock me each time I pull out my ancient cell phone.  As times have changed, I’m afraid that I have been left behind, now struggling to catch up.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12.

In the Old Testament, the average life expectancy was much lower than today.  While royalty and the wealthy possessed the resources to extend life, dying in your twenties and thirties wasn’t uncommon.  Thus, the Psalmist urged individuals to seize the day, making the most of the years God provides.  Subsequently, the Bible details genealogies that include teenage marriages and pregnancies.  Young women gave birth to most of their children before the age of thirty.  As times changed, ancient believers sought a heart of wisdom to prevent being left behind.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

As I approach my 49th birthday next week, I have spent the last week reflecting on what I have done, where I have been and what I would like to do in the future.  Yet, as I hold on to the things I have treasured from my past, time has passed me by.  Resistant to change, I haven’t made the effort to keep up with technological advances.  This oversight on my part has caused me to be left behind.  As I open my mind to this painful reality, I pray that God gives me the energy and perseverance to make up for lost time.  May the Lord direct your steps so that you obtain a heart of wisdom in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Enduring a Spiritual Identity Crisis

If you enjoy or follow sports, success is defined by winning and losing.  Despite how many victories a team earns over the course of a season, if a championship is not won, fans lose hope.  In the meantime, coaches, players and stars who endure humiliating loses in the playoffs are labeled as chokers, overrated and trashed throughout social media.  Those who seek to self identify themselves using these standards will experience disappointment, failure and shame unless titles are won.  Thus, its not uncommon for people to go through some sort of identity crisis.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Non-athletes tend to use a different set of standards.  Depending upon your career choice, degrees earned and annual salary, value is placed upon your life.  Intelligence, social status and wisdom add or subtract to how the world views your importance.  Anyone called into the ministry, social work or has a low paying jobs are looked down upon by the upper class.  If you let this bother you, then you may be tempted to adopt worldly standards.  The longer you allow yourself to be defined by rich or poor, wins or losses and success or failure, the more likely you will go through a spiritual identity crisis.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening], 1 Corinthians 13:5-7.

When I moved to Chicago after getting married, living among millionaire neighbors, I tried to fit in initially.  Unfortunately, the best job I could find was making thirty thousand dollars a year, chump change to everyone around me.  Attending Willow Creek Community Church on Wednesday nights helped alter my perspective.  As I began to hear, read and meditate upon God’s standards in the Bible, my soul was comforted by the fact God keeps no records of wrong.  Therefore, if you ever feel like your life doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards, use biblical principals to overcome any spiritual identity crisis that you may endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

Flying Under the Radar

Flying under the radar originated in the 1950’s.  Prior to modern electronic devices, this term derived from military aircraft flying beneath radio detection to avoid being monitored by the enemy.  Staying and remaining undetected as long as possible can make the difference between victory and defeat.  The urban dictionary has modified this meaning to refer to remaining quiet, not stand out and avoid drawing attention to yourself.

For indeed you already do practice it toward all the believers throughout Macedonia [by actively displaying your love and concern for them]. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, that you excel [in this matter] more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 1 Thessalonians 4:10-11.

The practice of flying under the radar has diminished over the last two decades due to the growth of social media.  Social media is essentially computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via the world wide internet.  Instead of keeping a low profile, new social media outlets urge participants to seek attention through new profiles, posts and updates.  Blogs, pod casts and you tube channels are tools used to gain fame, followers and perhaps fortunes.

So that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting], 1 Thessalonians 4:12.

While the world constantly changes, influenced by societal trends, the Bible has remained the same.  The apostle Paul clarifies the spiritual definition of flying under the radar in the passage above.  First and foremost, let your actions do your talking through a life dedicated to integrity, love and service.  Secondly, mind your own business by focusing on what you can control, leading and nurturing your family.  Finally, devote yourself to Christ like behavior, good character and a witness that wins the respect of outsiders.  May this blog and passage inspire you to pursue a quiet life living under the radar.

by Jay Mankus

Is God Really on Your Side?

Two weeks ago a speech during a protest in Southern California set social media on fire.  United States representative Maxine Waters turned her small podium into a pulpit stirring members of the audience.  When I heard the initial audio of this message, Waters sounded like a preacher speaking to the choir as the crowds chimed back in agreement.  Beside encouraging supporters to harass members of president Trump’s political team, there was one other statement that got my attention.  Representative Waters believed she was doing God’s work with the Lord on her side.  This comment led me to ponder, how do you know if God is truly on your side?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

After his conversion from Judaism to faith in Christ, first century believers initially thought Saul from Tarsus was merely pretending as a plot to destroy the apostles and disciples of Jesus.  This surprising development perplexed his fellow Jews, especially after overseeing the death of Stephen in Acts 7 and further persecution by ravaging church members in Acts 8.  I guess you can say Saul who became the apostle Paul played both sides of the fence until the Holy Spirit transformed his ways.  According to Acts 9:23-25, the Jewiish leaders quickly turned on Saul, plotting to kill Saul.  After escaping death, Paul’s missionary trips throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe clearly demonstrated that God was on Paul’s side.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6.

In the days of the Old Testament, God’s favor was recognized through a series of blessings, Deuteronomy 29:1-14.  While some may rationalize a few good breaks as lucky, those who live in accordance with God’s commands receive special anointings.  Eye witnesses of these individuals referred to their encounters as if God was walking by their side.  Meanwhile, the New Testament uses a different standard.  God will bring to completion the gifts, resources and talents of those who remain faithful and true to God’s calling.  Spiritual harvests are a sign that God is with specific people.  While time will tell if God is on Maxine Waters’ side, don’t leave this up to chance. Rather, set out to be a good and faithful servant to that which God has given you.  If you do, you will receive eternal crowns in heaven while letting your actions do the taking for you.

by Jay Mankus

A Solution to Avoid Becoming Side Tracked

While there have been many discerning scholars, famous philosophers and biblical prophets throughout history, I don’t think anyone could image how social media is influencing modern times.  Whether its a pod cast, Instagram post, tweet or You Tube video going viral, every day is like a circus, filled with individuals seeking attention, fame and fortune.  Becoming side tracked from what you need to get accomplished daily if you have a cellular device in your hand or pockets makes staying focused even harder.  Just as curiosity led to Eve’s down fall in the Garden of Eden, Americans are amusing themselves toward a slow spiritual death through a state of constant distractions.

No soldier in active service gets entangled in the [ordinary business] affairs of civilian life; [he avoids them] so that he may please the one who enlisted him to serve, 2 Timothy 2:4.

The apostle Paul writes about daily distractions during the first century.  The mentality necessary to avoid getting emotional caught up in the affairs of society requires military readiness taught in the armed forces.  An active soldiers’ main concern is carrying out and fulfilling their commanding officers’ instructions.  From a spiritual perspective, Paul is encouraging believers to focus on serving God.  Romans 12:1 is symbolic of beginning and completing boot camp, pushing your body to its limits.  As you dedicate your life to God, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal the Lord’s will for life which is phase two.  The more focused your are on serving Jesus, the less concerned you will be with daily events beyond your control.

And if anyone competes as an athlete [in competitive games], he is not crowned [with the wreath of victory] unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer [who labors to produce crops] ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Think over the things I am saying [grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you insight and understanding in everything, 2 Timothy 2:5-7.

The apostle Paul finishes his illustration with an athlete and farmer.  While different, the more each puts into their trade, the skies the limit.  Sports is based upon determining who is the best through a series of competitions during a defined season.  Meanwhile, farmers must work if they want food.  If each treats their land like a prized possession, the outcome will likely be positive.  If you reap what you sow is an accurate principle, then every individual has a choice, to seize each moment or waste your life away.  Sure, deciphering what God’s will can take a life time, but if you develop the resolve to press on, the promise of 2 Timothy 2:7 can be a reality.  As I struggle and wrestle with overcoming the bad news reported each day, join me in a venture to avoid becoming side tracked anymore.

by Jay Mankus

Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt

A friend who is a local pastor in Newark has a mantra that he repeats once a month, “hurt people hurt other people.”  Those who receive verbal attacks in the form of negative comments, put downs and sarcasm tend to build up resentment in their hearts.  At some point this frustration will boil over resulting in an emotional explosion.  This climate stunts one’s ability to love others on a constant basis.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, Isaiah 61:1.

Hurt people often wear emotions on their sleeves, sending out negative electricity when rubbed the wrong way.  Sadly, there are demented individuals who get their kicks by picking on someone until they explode.  This trend is made worse by social media sites which allow violent videos that gain attention or go viral.  In my mind, there isn’t anything funny about hurt people hurting others.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, John 14:27.

Jesus has provided a solution to hurt people in the passage above.  To overcome hate, Jesus extended peace to first century citizens.  Since talk is cheap, Jesus lived out love, reaching out to children, the helpless, poor and sick.  Even when the disciples wanted to call it a day or night, Jesus offered his time to strangers every day.  Despite being falsely accused, sentenced to death and dying on a cross, Jesus loved like He was never hurt.  In view of this, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with strength so that love will not die.

by Jay Mankus

 

Somebody’s Watching You

Hollywood was been warning individuals for years through movies that somebody is watching you.  In 1995 Sandra Bullock starred in The Net, illustrating computer security concerns of the world wide net in this cyber murder mystery.  Three years later Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight took this concept further in Enemy of the State highlighting how satellites and technological advances can be used to spy on American citizens.  Twenty years later, Google, Facebook and tracking devices have made this fear a reality, using cell phones and tablets to actually track where you are and what you’re saying if certain features aren’t turned off.  While the popularity of social media continues to climb, many have become distracted, unaware that somebody is watching you.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good, Proverbs 15:3.

From a spiritual sense, the somebody who is watching your every move is the Creator of the heavens and earth.  The biblical term for this supernatural ability is omnipresence.  According to various authors who have written books describing judgment day, this data is collected over the course of each life.  After you die, every deed is made into a movie reel as your entire life flashes before your eyes.  Following this presentation, God separates the sheep, followers of Jesus from goats, those who rejected God by their actions, behavior and deeds.  If this process does occur, this serves as a warning for the world to shape up by giving your life to Jesus before your hourglass of time runs out on earth.

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord, Jeremiah 23:24.

After wandering away from the Lord during my first semester of college, I came to my senses feeling empty by what the world had to offer.  Through Christian groups on the University of Delaware campus, I went through what I call my spiritual rehab.  On one occasion I was introduced to the word integrity.  A friend illustrated this in terms of doing what’s right when nobody is looking.  This image should be the mindset for all modern day Christians.  For some reason, human nature makes people believe darkness or secrecy can hide sins from God.  However, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah exposes this false notion.  In view of this truth, may the Holy Spirit fill you with integrity so that as God watches your deeds will be pleasing in His sight.

by Jay Mankus

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