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How Close Is the End?

The introduction to each episode of the Days of Our Lives shows an hour glass flipped over.  The narrator of this soap opera follows with the words, “like sand through an hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”  The assumption made here is that life on earth is limited.  Eventually your time will expire, resulting in death.  The only question is how close is the end?  This fateful anticipation inspires cast members to live for the moment, without any care for tomorrow.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear], 2 Timothy 3:1.

The apostle Paul sheds light on the question above in a letter to a teenager.  Apparently, this first century pastor experienced a series of hardship.  Troubled by what he saw, his mentor Paul reached out to Timothy in the form of a two letters.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul unveils a list of events that will occur prior to the second coming of Jesus.  These acts, behaviors and outcomes highlight the fact that many will fall away from God in the last days.

For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them, 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

After hearing about what happened to students at Covington Catholic High School last weekend, it appears the checklist above is nearly complete.  Students wearing Make American Great Again hats were unknowingly targeted by a group of protesters.  This set up switched the facts of what happened, edited video to a couple of minutes to define a specific narrative and posted these on social media.  Once a couple of posts went viral, these teenage victims became the instigators.  Like chum in the water, cable news anchors, journalists and twitter followers created a feeding frenzy.  If this dishonest hit piece isn’t a clear sign that the end is near, it’s a foreshadowing of future persecution that Christians and conservatives will face.

by Jay Mankus

 

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The Door to Life

The word entrance is an opening that allows access to a place.  The most common entrance is a door, but others include corridors, gates and passages.  Prior to modern technology such as cell phones, email or social media, you went to someone’s house if you wanted to get their attention.  The Bible uses a similar concept, but before you find the correct door, you must listen first.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me, Revelation 3:20.

The Bible makes a clear distinction between listening and acting upon advice from the Holy Spirit.  Anyone can notice, observe or understand the way to heaven, yet unless you exercise faith by opening the door to life, this knowledge is useless.  If you take the passage above literally, God speaks to individuals throughout life.  This could be through miracles, signs or wonders.  Nonetheless, God doesn’t do everything for you as only you can open this door.

Whoever you are who seeks to honor these doors, you should seek not to admire the gold or the expense, but the craftmanship of the work instead.  The noble work is bright, but because it is nobly bright, let it brighten minds so that they may travel through the true lights to the True Light. where Christ is the True Door, Abbot Suger – 1140.

Abbot Suger was a French abbot, statesman, and historian during the late 11th century.  Suger was one of the earliest patrons of Gothic architecture.  If you enter any historic church, you will likely find magnificent stain glass windows inside or behind the altar inspired by this time period.  At some point in his life, Suger listened to God’s voice and opened the door to life.  In the quote above, Suger suggests that there are counterfeits, masquerading as the way to heaven.  Yet, by the end of his life, Suger came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the true door to life.

by Jay Mankus

The Forgotten Man of Christmas

If you work for a large company, you will come across various characters, personalities and temperaments.  Meanwhile, if you are a regular visitor of social media sites, you can usually decipher those seeking attention from people who simply enjoy connecting with friends.  While there are numerous methods entrepreneurs can cash in on today, it’s okay to live a quiet life beyond the spot life.  Such is the case of one first century man.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly, Matthew 1:18-19.

As a former junior high teacher, teenagers can be cruel.  Teens going through puberty can be down right nasty.  Imagine if your girl friend shows up to school pregnant and you didn’t have sex with her.  These were the thoughts racing through Joseph’s mind when his fiancée returns home from his aunt’s house several months pregnant.  Betrayed, confused and distraught, Joseph was on his way to break off his engagement quietly to avoid a messy divorce.  When an angel intervened, this forgotten man of Christmas had to wait until Jesus was born to consecrate his marriage.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning [to Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere], Luke 2:41-45.

Joseph is one of those characters who quickly fades from the forefront, written out of a drama, movie or show after completing his mission.  There is only one mention of Joseph in the Bible following the events of Christmas, Jesus’ bar mitzvah, the event to celebrate a Jewish boy becoming a man.  This symbolic act enabled Jesus to become a man in God’s house.  Joseph likely died of natural causes, assumed to be dead and long gone, out of the picture, by the four gospel authors.  Then again, Joseph could have completed God’s will for his life following Jesus’ bar mitzvah.  Either way, Joseph is the forgotten man of Christmas, taking a back seat to Emmanuel, God with us in the form of baby Jesus..

by Jay Mankus

The Center of Controversy

The term controversy refers to a prolonged disagreement often resulting in heated public debates.  These discussions are marked by emotional expressions of opposing views.  Altercations take place daily on cable news, college campuses and social media as world views clash.  This war of words involves an exchange between two or more parties, wrangling to expose the flaws of their opponent.  When someone becomes offended by another belief, comment or post, these words quickly become the center of controversy.

But avoid foolish and ill-informed and stupid controversies and genealogies and dissensions and quarrels about the Law, for they are unprofitable and useless, Titus 3:9.

Based upon my observations over the past decade, it appears that three main groups determine, define and dictate what is considered controversy and what is not.  Academia, entertainment and the media combine forces to police speech in America.  A growing number of universities once focused on higher education, now seek to create safe spaces for their student body.  Meanwhile, Hollywood stars are using their platform to become social activists, speaking out against points of view they deem controversial.  To avoid being hypocritical, disclaimers are presented before any movie or show, pre-warning audiences about their content.  Finally, the media controls news stories to denounce, excite or outrage audiences, hoping to persuade viewers to embrace their side of an argument.

After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers], Titus 3:10-11.

During one of his many messages, the reverend Billy Graham once said, “the Bible will always be the center of controversy.”  Whoever opens up this book will be challenged to alter their life style.  Thus, when an outsider hears commands, decrees and precepts from the Bible, many will be offended.  Often responding back with words like “I can’t believe you said that.”  The shrewd will reply, “I didn’t, I just quoted God.”  Meanwhile, other religions continue to object to Jesus’ own words, “there is only one way to heaven,” John 14:6.  Perhaps its time to follow in the footsteps of Hollywood by placing a disclaimer inside each cover of the Bible.  Warning this book will radically transform your life if you have ears to hear and eyes to see.  No matter what Christians do, atheists, liberals and progressives will continue to refer to the Bible as controversial.  Nonetheless, as long as modern believers strive to be salt and light to the world, quiet godly character will be more persuasive than getting caught up in a long winded controversial dispute.

by Jay Mankus

Expecting God to Come Through One More Time

As a former high school teacher, I understand how and why students struggle to remember important information.  Depending upon the day or time, I could tell who was paying attention from those zoned out.  Entertainment, social media and video games has influenced this generation, resulting in a shortened attention span.  Unless students find a topic interesting, hearts, minds and souls drift off into space.  If attending school becomes a drag, getting teenagers interested in spiritual matters can be just as challenging.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor (respect) except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household,” Mark 6:4.

To a certain extent, the people living in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth became spoiled.  After his first miracle at a wedding in Cana, there was a growing sentiment that if Jesus just performed one more miracle, then people would believe.  This show me mentality is the opposite of genuine faith.  Perhaps, some individuals were jealous, not present for Jesus turning water into wine.  Thus, expecting God to come through one more time doesn’t seem unreasonable.

And He could not do a miracle there at all [because of their unbelief] except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. He wondered at their unbelief.  And He was going around in the villages teaching, Mark 6:5-6.

Nonetheless, a spiritual haze fell upon the citizens of Nazareth.  When you add this to the reputation of this town, even one of Jesus’ own disciples questioned if anything good could come out of this place, John 1:46-47.  Crime and poverty demoralized many who lived there, setting the stage for a show me, don’t tell me mindset.  Thus, Nazareth became like kryptonite to Jesus, unable to perform miracles when returning home.  John Mark states that Jesus was surprised by this inexplicable unbelief.  This spiritual state prevented individuals from expecting God to come through one more time.  Maybe this same condition is influencing Americans today?

by Jay Mankus

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

 

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

 

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