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Marching Band on the Run?

There aren’t that many positive news stories that come out of high schools today.  Encouraging news is suppressed, replaced by the outlandish to grab the attention of busy people going through life.  While young sports enthusiast often travel weekends to compete in athletic competitions, music lovers do the same if they are part of a marching band.  The leader of each band is known as a drum major, usually held by a senior.  These events are held on Friday and Saturday nights and occasionally on Saturday afternoon after football season.  Judging has evolved over time as music and presentation is now open to a creative frenzy with props, running and unusual formations.  This lowering the bar from merely sound quality has caused some choreographers to go off the deep end.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Philippians 4:8.

According to several news reports, a Mississippi High School Band Director took his band’s halftime show to a new low.  Last Saturday in Forest Hill, Mississippi high school band members were given several props.  These plastic rifles were used to promote social justice with students holding four boys dressed up as police officers hostage at gun point.  This might have been funny if part of some sort of Saturday Night Live skit, but after two Mississippi police officers were recently shot and killed, this display was unacceptable.  Forest Hill was playing Brookhaven, the hometown of these dead officers.  Immediately following this halftime show, social media was set ablaze, reacting to this insensitive dramatization.  As of earlier today, the band director was suspended without pay until the school investigates this matter leaving band members in limbo.

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left, Ecclesiastes 10:2.

Does anyone think this punishment fits the crime?  Were school officials too harsh or not strict enough?  If you remember a couple months ago, a high school football coach was fired after kneeling and praying with his team after a game.  This act was deemed unforgivable, something that required an immediate dismissal.  Perhaps, if this man just waited until the National Anthem and then kneeled, that would have been okay, right?  However, the moment you add prayer to kneeling, that’s it.  According to public officials, this is the line that you can’t cross.  The double standards and hypocrisy that exists today in public education is undeniable.  If you take the right stance, liberal or progressive, you might have to go away for a while, but you can keep your job.  Anyone who supports the Bible, prayer or Trump, you will be shamed like a band on the run.  What do you think about this most recent event?

by Jay Mankus

 

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You Might Want to Reconsider That Thought

The National Inquirer was established in 1926.  This supermarket tabloid is designed to be an impulse purchase as you wait in line at grocery stores across the country.  This magazine will pay sources for tips, a practice generally disapproved of by the mainstream press.   Subsequently, many of the stories inside are fantasies, gossip and rumors that are unsubstantiated.  For this reason, the National Inquirer has developed a reputation as a joke, something to read for a good laugh and not taken as a serious source for journalism.  Nonetheless, times are changing and what used to be considered crazy is now being verbalized daily by paid protestors.

He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went into a Samaritan village to make arrangements for Him; 53 but the people would not welcome Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem, Luke 9:52-53.

Due to human nature, anyone can make bizarre, outlandish and stupid comments.  During the first century, the disciples made a statement that was front cover material, a story that might peak the interest of the National Inquirer if it existed at that time.  The headlines reading something like “Sodom and Gomorrah 2,” as disciples try to convince Jesus to call down fire from heaven.  However, this slip of the tongue is immediately addressed by Jesus.  In the passage below, Jesus is unsettled by this thought, correcting this error by explaining the proper mindset to possess in the future.

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and destroy them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them [and He said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they journeyed on to another village, Luke 9:54-56.

Due to the invention of social media, comments, tweets and words are getting individuals into trouble every day.  Employers are now screening the internet, examining previous posts by prospective candidates.  Many qualified people are being denied the job of their dreams due to careless statements from their past.  While you may feel compelled to express your point of view from time to time, you might want to reconsider before you press send.  If not you will find yourself in a similar situation to the disciples, embarrassed and rebuked publicly.

by Jay Mankus

 

Kicking and Screaming

After one year of attending Channin Elementary School, within walking distance of my house, desegregation bused me into the city of Wilmington, Delaware.  For the next three years, Harlan Elementary became my new school home.  This drastic change was eye opening.  Whenever a student broke a rule, became disobedient or get caught doing something illegal, rarely did I hear, “my bad, I did it, I’m guilty.”  Instead, students were often dragged to the office, kicking and screaming, escorted by one or more administrators.

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another, Galatians 5:13.

Today, whenever someone feels like they have been treated unjustly, social media has become a popular site to air your grievances.  While there are many options to choose, Facebook and Twitter are filled with rants daily.  Instead of thinking before individuals press send, emotions stir the pot, building up until one final act boils over to form a vicious tweet.  Once posted, souls attempt to bite and devour one another, plummeting the gutter to an all time low.  While the prudent thing to do is walk away, the sinful nature can’t resist to pile on by fighting back.

But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.

The context of the two passages above are sandwiched by a verse referring to the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated.  Jesus uses this principle at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, adding a condition to forgiveness.  According to Matthew 6:14-15, your forgiveness is dependent upon how you treat and forgive others who trespass against you.  Jesus is clear, “if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.”  Near the end of this gospel, Matthew 25:30, Jesus reveals what will happen on judgement day to those who harbor bitterness. failing to forgive.  Not only will these unfortunate souls be dragged away, kicking and screaming, eternity will be spent weeping, wishing they would have chosen love over hatred.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

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

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