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Tag Archives: South Carolina

Force or Faith?

My son Daniel and I spent the last 4 days visiting a couple of Christian colleges before his cross country season begins. The goal of this trip was to ascertain what atmosphere, climate and setting Daniel would feel most comfortable attending. To avoid embarrassing any of these schools, one institution is in South Carolina and the other in Tennessee. After taking the official tour, meeting with advisors and visiting with coaches, it was easy to compare and contrast the pros and cons.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

When you spend over 1,800 miles in a car together, there is plenty of time to evaluate what you like and dislike. One university was more restrictive, forcing students to follow a rigid set of rules. The other school of higher education encourages students toward taking the narrow road, Matthew 7:13-14. Instead of being forced to do this or that, free will in cooperation with discernment is applied to guide individuals to follow God’s will.

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way], Proverbs 3:6.

While each school has some attractive assets and benefits, most people prefer being given a chance to be trusted. Although this philosophy of education opens the door for embarrassment, failure and potential expulsion, forcing teenagers to do something tends to result in rebellion. Since young people are unique, certain schools aren’t for everyone. Thus, as teenagers become adults, you have to decide do I need to be forced to obey or find an environment where faith is a personal choice?

by Jay Mankus

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Who Should I Believe?

Technology may enhance some aspects of life while destroying others.  Prior to personal computers, the media held the news in its own hands.  Today, blogs, cell phone cameras/videos and you tubes allow the public make the news or go back in time to see if what is being presented is accurate.  Thus, this cultural shift is making the nightly news and print journalism obsolete.  However, you still have to decide, “who should I believe?”

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me,” John 14:1.

A good friend recently visited the church in Charleston, South Carolina where nine Christians were shot to death during a Bible Study.  This up close and personal view gave a different perspective than media’s typical spin cycle.  The congregation was welcoming, full of love and yet still hurting, struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones.  This unique access confirms that I am more likely to believe a friend than a stranger on television.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

Nonetheless, often you don’t have an option, relying on second and third hand information.  During the Dark Ages, Christians didn’t own a Bible of their own, forced to trust the interpretation of a local priest.  Today, doubting souls can open this book for themselves, investigating matters on their own.  While commentaries, religious leaders and scholars provide their own beliefs, eventually everyone will have to make up their own minds.  May the Holy Spirit guide you as you make this important decision about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

by Jay Mankus

The HEART of the Matter

Recently, the media has been quick to jump to conclusions, especially when current events align with liberal talking points.  The recent feeding frenzy began following a church shooting during a Bible Study at a Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Sadly, nine dead African Americans are being used as a political pawn to accomplish a specific agenda, ban the Confederate Flag.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Luke 6:45.

Since June 17, the night of these murders, anyone who displays, owns or doesn’t condemn this flag has been labeled an accessory to this hate crime.  Afraid of negative press, P.G.A. star Bubba Watson decided to paint over the flag on his General Lee, Nascar offered fans attending the July 4th weekend race at Daytona American flags in exchange for Confederate ones and several in the south have removed this symbol from state buildings and court houses.  While this act of terror on Christians is an awful tragedy, the human heart is the main culprit not a flag.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

During debates with religious leaders and discussions with his own twelve disciples, Jesus proclaimed that what comes out of a man or woman makes them unclean.  Hearts set on evil are like ticking time bombs ready to explode.  Whether killers display a Confederate flag or swastika, acts are conceived by angry hearts according to Jesus, Matthew 5:21-22.  There will always be opinions which have some valid points.  However, owning the Confederate flag doesn’t make you anti-Christian or anti-black.  Rather, those who are raised and taught to embrace bigotry are planting seeds of evil for future actions.  May those filled with hatred receive a spiritual heart transplant to insure future attacks will cease.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

That’s Nice… But I’ve Heard That Before

As I was cleaning today, I uncovered an old Concord High Yearbook sitting on the floor.  Last fall, my best friend from high school, Carl, came to Delaware to visit his parents for a week.  Catching up and reminiscing about our last high school reunion, I fetched my senior yearbook to put a face with all the names which came up.  I’m not sure what it is, but the older I get, the more I repeat myself, sharing the same story annually with my wife and kids.  As gracious as possible, I hear that apt reply, “That’s nice, but I’ve heard that before.”

From a writer’s perspective, there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9.  When you’ve spent 3 years as an editor of a monthly newsletter and 2 more as the main contributor of this blog, some days you struggle to compose a paragraph let alone an entire piece.  However, as I opened my yearbook, I had forgotten who I was, what I had accomplished and how  a simple smile made an impact on my peers.  The perfectionist in me never allowed me to accept and embrace compliments.  Thus, these words were discarded, replaced by my lack of eloquence, stuttering and other deficiency’s.

This pessimism began to change for me in college during a Group service project on St. John’s Island in South Carolina.  To my surprise, everyone in attendance received their own mailbox, near the center of our living quarters at a local high school.  However, this mail was called Care Cards, a chance for others to write notes of encouragement and thanks to those who made a positive influence at some point during the day and week.  The catch was you couldn’t open your mail bag until you got on your bus before leaving.  I was so touched by this concept I incorporated it into my own mission trips when I became a youth pastor following college.  Like my yearbook, every few years I will stumble across old mail bags, bringing tears to my eyes and joy to my soul as I savor these fond memories.

From a biblical perspective, Israel’s memory was so poor, God called Moses to devote an entire book called Deuteronomy, the second law, reminding the Jews of everything they had forgotten.  Although retention varies among children and adults today, modern pastors recycle famous words of Jesus, the apostle Paul, and Peter to refresh the memories of lost souls.  While some in church may whisper, “That’s nice, but I’ve heard that before,” someone in attendance may be hearing this truth for the first time.  Therefore, be patient if someone tends to be redundant, for someone likely needs a reminder of promises within the Bible like John 3:16.

by Jay Mankus

From A Distance

Julie Gold wrote the song From A Distance after receiving the piano she played as a kid for a 30th Birthday gift.  When the movers informed her not to play it for 24 hours due to the cold conditions during the shipping process, this anticipation inspired the lyrics to the 1990 hit sung by Bette Midler.  From a Distance holds a certain sentimental value in my heart as it was the “theme song” to the first week long mission trip I ever attended.  During a hot summer week on St. John’s Island, South Carolina, I served on the worship team as the male vocalist, singing the chorus of From A Distance to close out each evening.  Although Julie Gold intended to construct a song about the way things seem and the way things actually are, she touches on an important biblical teaching.

Known as the Matthew 18 principle, Jesus introduces readers to how to properly handle any sort of grievance you may have against another person within Matthew 18:15-18.  When an agreement is made between 2 parties, God is watching, serving as a witness from a distance according to Matthew 18:19-20.  In other words, if a handshake is made to settle a previous conflict, God serves as an invisible notary to bind 2 individuals to resolve their matter once and for all.  Unfortunately, modern worship leaders are changing the context of this passage, adding worship into this equation, twisting scripture to make it say what they belief.  When you reflect upon Julie Gold’s lyrics in From A Distance, one is steered back in the right direction, freed from heresy that exists in modern day churches.

The words of the final stanza are posted below.

From a distance
You look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance
I just cannot comprehend
What all this fightings for
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And its the hope of hopes
Its the love of loves
Its the heart of every man

Beneath the surface, friendships are tested daily by envy, selfishness and regretful words spoken in the heat of the moment.  As long there is a willingness to comply with the regulations and standards mentioned with Matthew 18, peace is attainable.  However, the minute someone holds a grudge, refuses to let go of the pain deep inside their soul and give the devil a foot hold by going to sleep angry, hope disappears.  In view of this, remember that God is watching, from a distance, urging the world to forgive others as Christ Jesus forgave you, Colossians 3:12-15.

by Jay Mankus

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