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The Stubborn Things in Life

In the past, stubbornness was associated with a mule.  This saying referred to the determination not to change one’s attitude or position.  The mule is the offspring of a donkey and horse, often relegated as a beast of burden.  Perhaps, as this animal grinds its way through life, forced to do grueling work, stubbornness is merely a byproduct of its trade.  Mules aren’t the only things on earth that succumb to stubbornness.

“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or of his mother, and when they reprimand and discipline him, he will not listen to them,” Deuteronomy 21:18.

During his political career, John Adams faced opponents who were unwilling to change their positions.  These interactions led the second president of the United States of America to once say “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”  Unfortunately, if you repeat a lie over and over again, those who don’t do their research are vulnerable to being deceived.

They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard,’ Deuteronomy 21:20.

Moses compares stubbornness to alcoholism in the passage above.  Anyone who drinks too much will come under the influence of foreign spirits.  Meanwhile, those who are strong willed struggle to accept ideas, beliefs and notions unfamiliar to their life.  Evidence, facts and truth are meant to set people free from stubbornness.  Yet, human minds are just as obdurate as a mule.  Therefore, if you want to break away from the stubborn things in life, set your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.  This process won’t happen over night, but with time God can transform your life if you are willing.

by Jay Mankus

When I Can’t Find My Way Out

Although you may not know or recognize it, everyone has their own kryptonite.  This weakness makes human beings limited, powerless or at best, vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.  For me, I can be directionally challenged, regularly losing my way.  Stubbornness only worsens my condition, trusting in myself instead of leaning on outside sources like modern technology.  Unfortunately, some people never make the necessary changes, unable to find their way out of addiction, bad habits or poor choices.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

The author of the book of 1 Corinthians uses history as a way of understanding the past.  As the apostle Paul reflects upon the foundation of Israel as a nation, most died before ever seeing God’s promise fulfilled.  Whether ignorance, selfishness or a lack of vision was to blame, the majority did not please God.  Instead of appreciating manna from heaven, greed led souls to demand more.  God was treated like a grocery clerk at a check out line, praying for this or that without any regard for developing an intimate relationship.  Thus, the wilderness serves as a remainder of what not to do.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13.

What I fail to comprehend about the nature of God is that the Lord uses wilderness phases in life to prepare us for what’s next.  If you don’t adapt, learn or mature during these trials, you won’t be ready to succeed in the future.  While guarding angels are working behind the scenes to usher in the good things God has planned for us, Philippians 1:6, I often get in the way.  Impatience wants me to quickly skip ahead to the next journey in life before overcoming present obstacles.  Thus, it’s sad to say that I can’t find my way out, leaving me stuck living in the wilderness of broken dreams.  Perhaps, 1 Corinthians 10:13 contains the key, the missing link to take those living in defeat toward the door of victory.  May you endure this present life long enough so that the way out is revealed to you through whispers of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

 

Nobody is Listening

Every once in a while people are blinded by pride.  This overconfidence within the minds of individuals results in losing touch with reality.  Subsequently, as someone wanders off on a tangent, the audience initially listening quickly tunes out.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; Proverbs 2:2.

There is nothing worse as a teacher than to be so consumed with what you are saying that you fail to recognize no one is listening.  Despite what you thought to be a flawless lesson plan has turned into a snoozer as blank stares and sleeping students force you to figure out what went wrong.  Although it may be humbling, sometimes you have to be open to an honest assessment from students.  While some comments may be inspired from impure motives, you will find blunt answers that reveal why nobody is listening.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,’ Revelation 2:7.

After sharing a parable, Jesus often used the saying, “let him who has ears hear.”  This spoke to the stubbornness within human hearts.  If you think you are right, then you become oblivious to those who possess an opposing point of view.  Many who heard the powerful illustrations of Jesus often left turning a deaf ear, continuing on the current path they were on.  Therefore, if you want to know the truth why nobody is listening, you have to be open to change as the Holy Spirit reveals the next step, Galatians 5:25, to take in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Limits

If you goggle or yahoo “no limits” you will find a roller coaster simulator, a French Television series, images of road signs, a fund raiser for deaf children, an engineering web site and several you tubes.  Meanwhile, if you search for the definition of “no limits” you will find a form of poker where bets are as high as a player’s chips allow and a song by a Dutch music group.  However, what I was trying to find were terms to describe an unlimited supply or the ability to go wherever you want.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.

No limits didn’t work out so well for Adam and Eve.  Their only boundary was a tree in the center of their property.  Something about curiosity, the unknown or total control causes many human beings to investigate restricted areas.  Similar to actors in horror movies who always choose the wrong path leading right into harm’s way, God has good reasons for the limits mentioned in the Bible.  Nonetheless, free will enables the masses to search the various paths in life.

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire,          Jude 1:7.

History should serve as a warning bell, a sign that if you follow that wrong road you will endure the same fate.  Unfortunately, arrogance, pride and stubbornness cause many to believe, “that will never happen to me.”  Although some organizations like Mother’s Against Drunk Driving have been successful, selfish souls continue to press the limits, often resulting in tragedy.  The next tell you have the urge to wander beyond the limits of the Bible, may common sense protect you from a road without any limits.

by Jay Mankus

 

Who’s the Bigot Now?

Bigotry is often cyclical, with ebbs and flows as nations rise and fall.  Depending upon one’s exposure, upbringing or stubbornness, prejudices are hard to break, especially if the world around you is rapidly changing.  In the 20th century, Archie Bunker was a symbol of America’s bigotry.  Despite the comical elements of this hit television series, the content was a sad reality of a segregated society unable to embrace the Great Melting pot of immigrants.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 7:12.

Near the end of the 1970’s in several mid-Atlantic states, desegregation tried to changed this dilemma.  As for me, I became the minority overnight, bused to inner city Wilmington for three years of Elementary school.  In hindsight, the shoe was on the other foot, as I was exposed to the daily hatred African Americans faced in a country dominated by white people.  Similar to the scene in Remember the Titans, Coach Boone played by Denzel Washington tells his assistant Coach Yoast, “welcome to my world,” following by a drive by shooting at his home that endangered his daughter.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Galatians 5:14.

Today, ambulance chasers, media sound byte paparazzi and those searching to smear a rising political star will occasionally use bigotry, intolerance and race baiting to accomplish their goal, to destroy their enemies.  When you add the advent of modern technology, it doesn’t take long for an embarrassing moment, foolish act or slip of the tongue to go viral.  Instead of following the Golden Rule, doing unto others as you want others to do unto you, some will do whatever it takes to get ahead.  Therefore, rather than improving race relations the selfish are using this sensitive issue to divide souls.  Although pockets of racism still exist, some aren’t improving this situation by bringing up old wounds of the past.  Actions, time and truth will reveal who the bigots are now.

by Jay Mankus

 

Clinging to the Security Blankets of Your Past

Charles Schultz conjured up in his mind a fictional character with real life tendencies in his classic comic strip Peanuts.  Linus was a boy who never wanted to leave his favorite blanket, finding comfort from this childhood possession.  Today, infants have similar habits, becoming attached to binkies, serving as a calming device to produce sleep.  Despite purging closets each spring, most adults aren’t willing to let go of sentimental items, keeping a few like a security blanket from your past.

Peter was a professional fisherman whose new acquaintance introduced himself as a carpenter.  Luke 5:1-11 recounts this first meeting as Peter listens to Jesus speak after a long night of work.   Despite his initial hesitation, Peter is willing to trust someone from another occupation, based upon a gut feeling within his heart, Luke 5:6.  Subsequently, Peter reached a point of conviction, guilty of holding on to traditions instead of faith.  By the end of this passage, each member of his crew was touched by God, leaving everything they knew behind, letting go of their security blankets.

I’m not sure if its my ego, pride or stubbornness, but I find it hard to completely change the routines I have set in life.  Sure, every New Year’s provides a tempest, the perfect conditions to rededicate one’s life.  Nonetheless, the fear of uncertainty prevents permanent transformation from occurring.  Thus, when the going get’s tough, people fall back on what they know instead of following the advice of strangers.  This reality of life fulfills the words of Proverbs 27:19, “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”  May the example of these fishermen inspire others to forgo the security blankets of their past with a faith for the future.

by Jay Mankus

Entering the Great Unknown

When the truth of God’s Word or a blunt reply from an honest friend, cuts to the heart, I find it difficult to initially accept their message.  A primal spirit joined by stubbornness make it hard for me to embrace the error of my way.  As a result, I am entering the great unknown in obscurity, far removed from friendships of the past.

The transition from adolescence into adulthood can be hindered or eased depending upon your status.  Dinner parties, gatherings and social events give individuals an opportunity to boast of their recent accomplishments or hide behind the great unknown.  Doctors, engineers and managers tend to flaunt their confidence unwittingly.  Meanwhile, the silence of the other guests speak volumes, embarrassed by their resumes, salaries or a combination of both.  Thus, these humble souls are eager to venture into the great unknown, hoping the future is better than their past and present circumstances.

While online fortune tellers claim they can reveal your future for a mere $20 bill, only God the Father knows what the great unknown holds.  Fortune cookies may give you a laugh or a series of so called lucky numbers, yet inside these treats are hollow, empty of any significant substance.  Therefore, as you start tomorrow, walking through an open door or driving toward a clear passage, take Jesus with you on this journey, serving as your mediator, 1 Timothy 2:5, as you enter into the great unknown!

by Jay Mankus

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