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God Doesn’t Move… But Many Run Away

The phrase “like father like son” first appeared in 1616, written within a book called Bibliotheca Scholastica Instructissima.  This piece included proverbs collected by an Englishman named Thomas Draxe.  Apparently, this idiom existed in the English language prior to this date, verbally communicated in similar manners or ways.  The point expressed by this saying implies that sons tend to emulate their fathers in action. behavior and word.  The eyes of a young child are watching, copying what they see.

Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked; and they fastened fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:7-8.

The Bible has another way of explaining like father like son.  The theological term used in the Old Testament is generational sins: weaknesses or tendencies that are handed down to individuals through the generations from parents or members of a family. These sins can involve behavioral patterns and ways of thinking that keep us trapped in the past.  When Adam and Eve broke the only rule in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:16-17, God didn’t move, but this couple ran, hiding in shame.

Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers upon the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers],” Exodus 34:6-7.

When the news that Aaron, his brother, helped the people of Israel create a golden calf, righteous anger led Moses to break the 10 commandments.  After coming back down the mountain, Moses introduces generation sins with the phrase iniquities of the father.  Any violation of God’s moral law is considered an iniquity.  Thus, each time a father strays from the Word of God, setting a bad example for his children, these sinful tendencies are passed down three to four generations.  Isaac learned how to lie from his father Abraham, Jacob’s family was notorious for disguising the truth and Solomon developed an unwholesome obsession with women after his birth from an adulterous affair.

‘Because the Lord was not able to bring these people into the land which He promised to give them, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ 17 But now, please, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving wickedness and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting (avenging) the wickedness and guilt of the fathers on the children, to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers],’ Numbers 14:16-18.

Everyone has some sort of tendency to collect or pick what they see on a daily basis.  This subconscious practice shapes who you and I become.  Some may do this to fit in, others to obtain a hobby with a few to merely pass time.  Nonetheless, the scene in the Garden of Eden is replayed daily when conviction leads to guilt and shame.  Instead of drawing near to God, many run away ashamed, embarrassed and haunted by past mistakes.  When any hopes for perfection are shattered, may the grace of God lead you to stick around.  Wait for God’s forgiveness and mercy to be poured out through confession like a cold glass of water on a hot and humid day.

by Jay Mankus

A National Anthem in Crisis

Prior to the events in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11th 2001, the relationship between sporting events and the playing of National Anthems had become a mundane ritual.  If you take away the Olympics, playoffs and the Super Bowl, anthems were rarely ever televised.  Some professional sports even played anthems while players were still in the locker room.  However, post 9/11 the singing of Francis Scott Key’s song united this nation for a minute or so daily.  I was in Philadelphia for the first National Football League Monday Night Football game following this terrorist attack.  When a flag the shape of the United States was displayed across the entire field, the crowd went crazy, setting the stage for an emotional national anthem.  Those professional athletes who have chosen to kneel or sit have forgotten what the national anthem represents.  As more begin similar displays as a protest, the future of America’s national anthem is in jeopardy.

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! – Psalm 105:2

As a former teacher, I understand pressure to remove the national anthem at professional sporting events isn’t the end but the beginning of an attempt to erase any trace of God from American history.  During homeroom or over a loud speaker, public schools read a daily passage or verse from the Bible up to the early 1960’s.  The reading communicated a morale, trait or value teachers hoped to instill within their students.  When a few atheists were offended, a law suit followed that removed the Bible permanently from public education.  When schools obliged others were upset about students and teachers praying for each other.  This too was banned, stripping God’s influence from the classroom.  Looking back at history, schools have never been the same as God has removed his own blessing from those who have not made room for Him.  Then, there was the 10 commandments, “surely we can’t allow human beings to read and see these rigid rules.”  Today, religious leaders are arrested if 10 commandment statues aren’t removed from all court buildings.  Finally, there is the pledge of allegiance which has been made optional for children or simply discarded all together.  If the national anthem is silenced, there’s always something else atheists, leftists and progressives will deem offensive.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted, Isaiah 49:13.

I hope the owners of professional sports teams don’t cave to public pressure like weak minded republicans more interested in gaining approval from the press rather than upholding American values.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp.  When this promise was made, I don’t think Trump realized how deep and dangerous this resistance would be.  While the media continues to label the Trump presidency as the worst ever, the horizon appears to be void of any leaders willing to stand up for the national anthem.  Sure, there may be some closet defenders, afraid to vocalize their opinions.  Yet, America appears to be on the verge of a social war between the past and the present.  As someone who grew up in a military family, respect was impressed upon me.  Unfortunately, some where along the way respect for God and country has slowly faded away.  In view of this decay, may God raise someone up to carry the torch for the National Anthem so that this treasured tradition does not disappear like those now forgotten.  Stand up and sing, thanking God for all the Lord has done for this land called America.

by Jay Mankus


Will You Pass the Love Test

For those of you who enjoy taking cup cake classes in school, searching for an easy A, the Bible contains some difficult challenges.  Depending upon how self critical you are, the words of scripture expose darkness with light.  Subsequently, no matter how good of a person you may be, its surprising how many people fail the Bible’s love test.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen, 1 John 4:20.

The one whom Jesus loved opens up this short quiz.  When all other disciples abandoned Jesus following his arrest, John stood by his side at the cross where he died.  What John heard on this day sent shock waves to what he believed about love.  Despite being beaten, mocked and tortured, Jesus cried out, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  This statement inspired question number one.

1. Is there anyone you despise, hate or treat with contempt?

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The second participant chimes as from an unique perspective.  Serving as a tax collector, Levi also known as Matthew worked in one of the most corrupt occupations of his day.  During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he mentions prostitutes on the same level with tax collectors.  Thus, its highly possible that Matthew made many enemies, cheating and stealing money from hard working citizens.  With this in mind, forgiveness is something that Matthew sought, touched by Jesus’ words above.

2. Have you forgiven everyone who has hurt you or is there a grudge you are currently holding on to?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:30-31.

Finally, John Mark is an individual who initially left the mission field, letting down the apostle Paul.  Yet, over time Mark matured, eventually winning back the respect he lost with Paul.  This transformation was made possible with the words shared by Jesus above.  The context of this question involved a trap with Pharisees attempting to trick Jesus into de-emphasizing one of the 10 commandments.  Yet, his words essentially summarize the first four with one comment and the final six with his second statement setting up the final question.

3. Where is your love for God currently and are you following the golden rule in your interactions with others?

If you failed this test like me, may God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy lift you up and fill you with a heart willing to bear with, embrace and love one another.

by Jay Mankus


What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus


The Pain of Unjust Suffering

Every day is like the luck of the draw.  Sometimes you experience undeserved blessings.  Other mornings you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, confronted with the pain of unjust suffering.  According to Peter, a disciple of Jesus who faced his own trials and tribulations, as you undergo these periods in life, be conscious of God.

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God, 1 Peter 2:19.

Unfortunately, those who become a target of the enemy like Job, sometimes moments of crisis can be overwhelming.  If you have ever read John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, its almost hard to believe someone could endure such pain.  In the face of death, these saints considered sacrificing their lives rather than compromising their faith.  Truly, these individuals were conscious of God.

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, Hebrews 11:37.

Modern Christians in America are facing a new challenge, the loss of religious freedoms.  Whether its prayer in school, the 10 commandments displayed in public places or quoting politically incorrect verses from the Bible, any of these infractions will leave you in hot water, under scrutiny from the mainstream media.  Nonetheless, if you are acting out of conviction, in the name of Jesus, you may be on the verge of experiencing the pain of unjust suffering.

by Jay Mankus

Is the Cross an Idol?

For the first half of my life, I always attended denominations where the cross was the center piece of the worship center and service.  As a catholic through my teenage years, the stations of the cross served as magnificent stain glass windows, stretching from one side of the building to the other.  These images were a weekly reminder of the Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection.  As I began to ponder the meaning of the cross, Michael W. Smith came out with the popular hit, Cross of Gold, adding another perspective to my thought process.

However, when I reached my twenties, I began to visit several congregations who took Exodus 20:4 literally.  The second of the 10 commandments, the Lord makes a distinction between the first, having no other god and second command, creating or establishing objects of worship that replace God.  In place of a cross, musicians, the pulpit and speakers communicating the Word of God were the focal point of worship.  Making a transition to a church which did not have a cross hanging on the back wall behind the altar was definitely an adjustment.

Since my wife and I spent the first 18 months of our marriage living a few miles from Willow Creek, located in South Barrington, Illinois, I embraced this journey to discover if the cross is an idol.  Experiencing Community, a mid week service for believers, I was blessed to gather with thousands of other Christians.  The service was like a mini-concert with 30 minutes of singing, an infomercial transition to the pastor’s message, usually by John Ortberg with Bill Hybels filling in to cast a vision for the future of the church.  This experience taught me you don’t have to wear to cross share your faith.  While the cross may be a reminder, the condition of your heart is what God is truly concerned with, Luke 6:45.

In my thirties, I faced another theological dilemma as a High School Bible teacher and coach.  Does a Christian school have to possess a cross within their logo?  As a former golf professional with 3 years of experience in apparel, I worked with a seamstress to create a logo for our new golf uniforms.  The final proof was a red paw print of a lion.  Whenever I traveled, the logo was a conversational piece, often confused with several colleges providing an opportunity to correct their assumption and share about my school.  Since the cross offends people or makes others feel uncomfortable, I felt excluding the cross was the right decision until a new athletic director placed a cross inside the paw on all team uniforms.

In closing, I think the cross can be an idol, especially for those who attempt to profit off of it.  However, for me, the cross is similar to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  I believe the cross is a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice, sin offering and victory over death, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.  Like the lyrics within Michael W. Smith’s song, “the cross means a whole lot more to me.”  May you test everything I have said, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 and make your on conclusion based upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:12, figuring things out on your own.  Enjoy the journey!

by Jay Mankus

When Israel Was Amoral

The term amoral refers to someone who has never been taught right from wrong.  Based upon how people are raised, will determine their degree of innocence.  Strict parents attempt to clearly distinguish moral from immoral behavior, with some becoming too legalistic.  Meanwhile, a growing trend has parents treating their children like friends, overlooking discipline, trying to be liked instead of providing a moral compass for life.  As a former teacher, the moment you assume all your students know the basics, you’re thrown for a loop, scratching your head at all the diverse standards people use.

In the days of Exodus 18, Israel was amoral, not able to ascertain right from wrong on their own.  Before receiving the 10 commandments in Exodus 20, God only provided laws regarding to Himself, Exodus 15:26.  Therefore, when it came to being civil to one another, opinions and values varied.  As a result, Moses was the Supreme Court, the only judge in Israel working from sunrise and sunset 6 days a week, Exodus 18:13-18.  As a shrew man of wisdom, Jethro knew that Moses would not be able to keep up this pace, on the fast track to burn out.  Before he crashed and burned, Jethro gave Moses a vision for the first court system, elevating his own burdens by training others to oversee easy disputes, Exodus 18:19-22.

Based upon the location of this passage in relation to the 10 commandments, one might suggest God’s introduction of the last 6 commandments is directly related to Israel’s amoral state in chapter 18.  Unfortunately, as states in America continue to ban court houses from publicly displaying the 10 commandments, citizens of this country appear to be just as confused as the Israelites many years ago.  If schools and work places had Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37-40 in plain view for everyone to see, maybe just maybe, amoral people would learn and be persuaded to treat others as they want to be treated.  May God use these passages in the Bible to transform Americans from amoral citizens into law abiding and loving individuals.

by Jay Mankus

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