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Tag Archives: sunset

The Shadow of Death

Every morning and evening before sunset, shadows reflect the landscape of the earth.  Mountains, rolling hills and trees leave imprints of what is near or around you.  Once darkness exchanges day with night, shadows are limited to moonlight, stars and the northern lights.  However, the shadow of death can apear at a moments notice, signaling that your days on earth are numbered.  24 hours ago there was a murder suicide in my neighborhood, taking the lives of two twenty year olds.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me, Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 23 is a common Bible reading at funerals.  As a shepherd living under the stars, shadows were a normal sight for David.  Yet, the painful reality of death inspired David to coin this chapter.  The only time I have witnessed death was just before my oldest sons birth.  Since my grandfather’s health was failing, family was noticed as everyone gathered around his bed.  Struggling to breathe, my sister Cindy began to read Psalm 23 to ease his pain.  A few minutes later, grandpa Kautz gave up his spirit.

“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.”

One of the forefather’s of Israel, Moses eludes to the shadow of death in his farewell address before Joshua takes over for him as leader.  Moses provides an unique perspective, using choices as an analogy.  According to Moses, the choices you make daily lead to one destination or the other.  Life and death are a series of choices that shape the path you will take in life.  If this is true, choose life so that the shadow of death will be held off until later on in life.

by Jay Mankus

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Hoping to See Another Sun Set

The image at the top of Express Yourself for Him was taken during a family vacation back in 2012.  The sun was setting upon Seal Beach, just south of Los Angeles when I began taking pictures with my ipad.  This is one of the few times in my life I actually slowed down to enjoy God’s creation in its infinite beauty as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises, Ecclesiastes 1:5.

Five years later, doctors are wondering if my right eye will overcome glaucoma to see another sun set.  Tomorrow’s surgery is science’s logical answers to my disease.  Yet, in the heavenly realm, there are angels agreeing with prayers lifted by the saints.  Perhaps a combination of the two may be what I need for a miracle to arrive.

God set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved, Psalm 104:5.

Either way, the future is a mystery, waiting to be unpeeled one day at a time.  I wish I could say that I am confident of my eye condition, but I can only take things one day at a time.  Therefore, I will press on with the Lord’s help savoring each sunset I get to see.

by Jay Mankus

And Then… It Was Night

There is something unusual that occurs as the sun goes down.  Perhaps people think that no one will see their actions, hidden by the dark.  This mentality is nothing new as even first century Christians fell prey to this flawed mindset, Romans 13:11-13.

When the night arrived, Judas Iscariot left the Last Supper.  Caught off guard by Jesus’ accusation of betrayal, a thought conceived in his mind was acted upon.  Unseen by everyone except God, Judas was exposed by his disingenuous kiss on Jesus’ check.

Whether you’re battling demons of addiction, bad habits or poor choices, don’t let the temptations of night knock your off track.  Although this is easier said then done, the environment you choose will be influenced by how well you listen and learn, Matthew 13:1-9.  Follow in the steps of Romans 13:14 so that when the night arrives, your soul will be prepared to ward off evil spirits of your past.

by Jay Mankus

Sunup to Sundown

Beginning December 1st, I will only witness the sun on Sunday’s over the next 3 weeks leading up to Christmas.  As the peak shopping season has commenced, I am planning to spend 18 of the next 21 days at work, from sunup to sundown.  Since my shift starts at 7am and goes until 5:30 pm, the sun doesn’t rise before I arrive and has set well before my ride home.  While there are plenty of lights inside, for now making enough money to survive is of vital importance.

At least for one month, I can relate to the schedule Moses kept during Israel’s 40 year trek in the wilderness, prior to experiencing the promised land, Exodus 18:13-14.  That is until Jethro, a concerned father in law, intervened, providing Moses with a plan to elevate his stress level.  Although I will miss several opportunities for fun in the sun, the bigger picture is etched in my mind.  Despite the exhaustion and pain my body will endure, a large paycheck will make Christmas that much more merrier, knowing I will have the funds to pay off most of our bills.

As a child, I went to sleep every night listening to Here Comes the Sun by the Beattles off their Abbey Road album.  Before the days of itunes, mp3 players, CD’s and cassettes, all I had was a hand me down record player with an 8 track deck.  It wasn’t much, but I treasured this possession, taking good care of it for nearly 20 years until I could afford to buy a new stereo.  Thus, I had a tradition, when the sun set and my lights went out, I maneuvered the needle just in the right place, listened to the dust, occasionally making a skipping sound and feel asleep dreaming of another day of the sun rising over the ocean.  In this Christmas season, may the sun shine bright on your life and family.

by Jay Mankus

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