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Tag Archives: stereotypes

I Can’t Help Myself

My father was born in Lithuania.  As immigrants from certain Europeans countries began to migrate to the United States, stereotypes began to develop.  Whether it was the era, how my dad was raised or specific mannerisms, my father tended to be stoic unless he was angry.  Meanwhile, my mom who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania wasn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve.  Like any child, I exhibit a combination of qualities from each of my parents.  Nonetheless, whenever my heart is moved or touched by something special, I can’t help myself, easily brought to tears.

As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; 13 and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:12-14.

During the first century, Jews and Samaritans were enemies as hatred and resentment spilled over from the past.  This tension began when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  The north whose second capital was relocated upon a hillside in Samaria often did what was right in their own eyes.  The southern kingdom remained more true to God as some kings reminded citizens of their spiritual heritage.  The main issues between Jews and Samaritans began during 722 B.C. when Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity.  The byproduct of this siege led to intermarriages between Gentiles and Israelites.  Thus, Samaritans earned the reputation of being only half Jewish, labeled and ridiculed for centuries.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; 16 and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

Recognizing this portion in history, Jesus is shocked by how little appreciation is shown to God by 9 Jewish lepers.  On the other hand, the Samaritan leper is overwhelmed after being healed.  According to a first century doctor, this man couldn’t help himself, praising God over and over again.  Sometimes in life, stereotypes influence how people act, behave and interact with others.  Yet, when you slow down and look around to see the numerous minor miracles in your life, you too can model the thanksgiving demonstrated by this Samaritan leper.  May the example of this first century man inspire you to develop a new outlook on life in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

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When Jesus Gives People a Reason to Leave

No matter when you were born, there will always be a culture, group or segment of society that is not welcome.  This perception begins through stereotypes, prejudging an entire race or nation based upon previous actions, beliefs and practices.  Such is the case of Canaan and Israel.  While Noah’s grandson gave birth to descendants who embraced evil, idolatry and wicked ways, God called Israel to be set apart from the rest of the world.  This tension continued during the first century when a needy woman approaches Jesus.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Matthew 15:23-24.

Based upon the passage above, a Canaanite woman appeared to have heard about Jesus’ healing powers.  Desperate to find help for her demon possessed daughter, this woman makes a scene in public, hoping to get Jesus’ attention.  Approaching on her knees, Jesus offers two interesting responses to this Canaanite woman’s request.  If you just read Jesus’ reply, he is blunt, initially disregarding her plea.  If you read between the lines, Jesus is giving her a reason to leave, to walk away without receiving an answer to her prayer.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table,” Matthew 15:26-27.

The underlining theme of this passage is perseverance.  This woman refused to take no for an answer, doing everything in her power to convince Jesus to extend his power beyond the Jews.  She could have walked away disappointed upon hearing that Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel.  Hanging on despite the initial response, Jesus’ second comment in the passage above would have sent most people away in tears.  Nonetheless, this woman showed resolve, coming back with a witty response to win Jesus over.  In the end, you have two choices in life: accept reality by walking away disappointed or persist until God answers your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Reason with Liars

 

In ancient Greece, it was common for philosophers to go to the marketplace to introduce new ideas.  This is where the teachings of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates were first embraced and passed down from one generation to the next, impacting and influencing Western culture since its inception.  While reason can be perverted by using a false narrative to justify wrong actions, reason must contain a cognitive understanding where individuals form judgments based upon a process of logic.

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips, Proverbs 14:7.

According to King Solomon, renown for his wise rulings, there are certain people who possess a mind of their own.  Thus, whether you are arguing, debating or trying to introduce a more efficient way of doing things, trying to convince a fool is a waste of time.  You will have a better chance of molding and shaping a child than change the mind of a stubborn adult.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a discussion on morals going no where, remember this: you can’t reason with liars.

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

The apostle Paul provides a blueprint for engaging a non-Christian culture.  Calling people liars won’t win over an audience or keep minds open to what you have to say.  Rather, the best place to start is searching for traces within society that point to an unknown God.  Paul uses an inscription on an idol and later quotes a Greek poet.  These 2 pieces of information break down previous stereotypes held without knowing Paul and provided an open door where he was later asked to return to share more about this invisible God.  Whether you’re talking to a fool, liar or stiff necked individual, bridge these gaps by speaking the truth in love.

by Jay Mankus

Make My Heart Like Yours

Music can be similar to relationships.  The more open minded you are, the likelihood of you accepting and embracing someone or something increases.  Unfortunately, stereotypes about an artist, genre or musician cause individuals to give up on a certain sound after a few seconds of listening.  Subsequently, the careers of millions fail, far short of where they hoped, rejected before having a real shot to succeed.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Such is the case of Linda Elias, wife of Rick whose own career far surpassed hers.  Rick spent a decade as a member of Rich Mullins Ragamuffin band and his music was featured in the 1996 Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do.  As for Linda, following in the Belinda Carlisle genre, I thought her 1991 album The Meaning of Life would jump start her career.  However, in Christian music industry, unless you’re Amy Grant, you’re not going to get the attention you deserve.  As a result, you can’t find any of Linda’s songs on Pandora or You Tube.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Nonetheless, during my recent fast I have started listening to one hour of inspirational music a day.  While soaking in the lyrics to Make My Heart Like Yours, I was moved, touched by God.  This song is more like a prayer, wishing that one day our hearts will become more like Christ.  In this song, Linda confesses her failures and shortcomings.  Leaning on God’s grace, she yearns to be transformed.  As I am daily reminded of my own sins, I am eager, waiting for God to make my heart like his son’s, Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Linda’s album the Meaning of Life is available at Amazon.com for those willing to give a promising artist a chance.

 

No Longer Impure

One of the by products of forgiving but not forgetting leaves behind a wake of tarnished reputations.  For those doing the judging, a divide is created separating the right from the wrong.  This mindset develops false assumptions, resulting in a belief that you and your ways are far superior than others.

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean,” Acts 10:14.

Prior to his encounter with Cornelius, Peter believed that Gentiles were impure, based upon their consumption of unclean animals detailed within Leviticus.  While praying on a roof, Peter fell into a trace like state.  During this time, a vision from God was revealed to Peter to put an end his stereotypes of all Gentiles.  Through a series of events, Peter came to the conclusion that what you eat no longer makes you impure.

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,” Acts 10:15.

Today, there are too many individuals who have become conceded, filled with a “I’m better than you attitude.”  Subsequently, spirits of arrogance motivate those who are in positions of power or wealth.  Thus, its essential for the aloof to have a Peter like experience.  Although this won’t happen all at once, may the Lord help those blinded by pride to become enlightened by the the reality Gentiles are no longer impure.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Noise Inside of Heaven

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Christmas Classics won’t be far behind, airing in the next month.  One of my favorites, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” tries to explain how angels can influence human beings.  Henry Travers, plays Clarence, an angel longing to earn his wings by helping George, played by Jimmy Stewart, see how great his life is despite the financial woes of the Great Depression.  This film portrays the noise inside of heaven, ringing bells, as angels complete their assignment thereby earning their wings.

According to the Bible, heaven is compared to a party, similar to a wedding reception, Matthew 22:1-14.  From an eyewitness, the son of God, rejoicing occurs every time a sinner repents, Luke 15:7.  While there are certain stereotypes linked to born again Christians, this doesn’t mean that a church service can’t turn into a football frenzy audience.  In additional, beyond the emotions of any celebration, there will be no tears in heaven, Revelation 21:4, wiped away by Jesus

On earth, the sound of gun shots, screams and violence make heaven seem like an eternity away.  Instead of letting a doom and gloom mentality cause you to give up hope, take advantage of the coming Christmas Spirit.  May believers bring Joy to the World as the sweet sound of worship music revive souls, bringing the noise inside of heaven down to earth.

by Jay Mankus

Learning to Celebrate the Present

 The spirit of envy has a way of convincing individuals that their life doesn’t measure up to others.  When compared to this co-worker, that neighbor and everyone’s favorite relative, your life disappoints, leaving depression which hovers over the human soul.  Instead of finding contentment in the life you are living, jealousy urges people to turn their eyes toward the other side of the fence where the grass always seems greener.

 

Yesterday, I attended a wedding of a friend I had done some work for in the past year.  Since I had to work my current job leading up to the afternoon ceremony, I didn’t have any expectations.  Rather, I came with an open mind, free from any preconceived judgments or stereotypes.  I was there to simply support my friend and wife to be.  As a result, my heart was fertile, ready to receive the message of the pastor.

Before the exchange of vows,  a 5 minute sermonette explained why this couple stood at the altar.  Entitled A Witness to Christian Marriage, these words were profound, convicting me of the life I had been living.  Over the last 3 years, I have glorified my past, bypassed the present and hoped for a brighter future.  In the malaise of my unemployment, I neglected to celebrate the present.  Thanks to this amazing invocation, God has inspired me to be thankful for my past, embrace the future and learn to celebrate the here and now of life!

by Jay Mankus

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