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Listening to a Child’s Perspective

After three years of home schooling, my daughter Lydia has been reintegrated back into public education as a freshman at St. George’s High School.  Once meek and timid, my daughter has flourished socially, enjoying daily interactions with students her own age.  While it doesn’t always happen, I try to have one meaningful conversation with Lydia per month, hoping to get an update on her overall experience.  This past weekend I found myself enthralled with our discussion, yet convicted by my daughter’s perspective.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

While driving back from the beach, Lydia wanted to know what my wife and I believed about dating, music and tattoos.  Lydia shared what she believed, then listened to her mom and dad talk.  At times she laughed, surprised how certain views have changed since her parents were teenagers.  At one point, Lydia cut me off, suggesting I was brash, opinionated and negative.  Normally, I would attempt to defend and justify myself, but conviction led me to listen to a child’s perspective.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

These comments from my daughter served as a mirror, giving me a chance to see who I really am at this point in life.  The truth hurts, but you must come to terms with where you are before you make a full recovery.  To a certain extent, I am bitter and frustrated by where I am, like being in limbo.  Meanwhile, I have become more vocal in my feelings, brash, critical and trashing those I disagree with.  After listening to my daughter’s perspective, its time for me to confess my shortcomings, seek God’s counsel and pray that the Holy Spirit begins to transform my imperfections.  May this blog encourage you to listen to those who care about you.

by Jay Mankus

A Different Kind of Miracle

The saying God works in mysterious ways is not an actual Bible verse.  Nor does this phrase possess an original author.  Rather, most historians attribute this expression to 9 specific passages of the Bible which imply a similar notion.  After suffering a freak accident last Friday afternoon, I feel compelled to share the details of a different kind of miracle.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God, Romans 8:26-27.

Every summer I long for going to the beach, often boogie boarding and body surfing for several hours at a time.  While I am not as young as I use to be, I often dive in trying to stay side by side my three teenagers.  Last Friday, the beach was closed for several hours due to sharks in the water.  When it re-opened late in the afternoon, I had one eye on the waves and the other on what lurks beneath, preparing my mind for a Jaws like attack on my children.

By referring to this, when you read it you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,  which in other generations was not disclosed to mankind, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit; Ephesians 3:4-5.

As time passed, the waves intensified, consistently 5 feet tall with an occasional 8 footer.  Since the shark scare caused most swimmers to leave, this was ideal conditions for boogie boarding.  Initially, I rode a couple of waves right into shore before getting roughed up by a strong undertow.  On my last ride of the day, I didn’t have enough momentum as the wave broke.  Panicking, I made a quick turn to abort, but this didn’t happen in time as I was flipped and thrown down 8 feet to the ocean floor face first.

The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:26-27.

When I reached the surface, I felt like I broke my jaw, lost my front teeth and began bleeding.  A nearby lifeguard jumped off his stand, running into the water to see if I was okay.  Shook up, I limped to my car, with bumps, bruises and scraps.  A few days later, I spoke with a co-worker who is a former resident nurse.  Based upon our conversation, if my fall was slightly to the left or right, I could have easily broken my neck or even be paralyzed today.  Thus, in hindsight, this embarrassing experience of the agony of defeat is actually a different kind of miracle.

by Jay Mankus

 

Making Sense of the Unexpected

Two weeks ago, there was a tropical depression forming in the Gulf of Mexico.  Most meteorologists believed this system would eventually make landfall some where along the Mexican coast as a minor rain event.  In the matter of 48 hours, Hurricane Harvey intensified into a giant, pounding southeast Texas with over 50 inches of rain over the last week.  After viewing all of this devastation, media pundits are trying to make sense of this unexpected event.

And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them, Mark 13:7-9.

Some of these panelists have suggested this is a sign of the apocalypse, the beginning of the last days or the wrath of God.  Curious about previous Hurricanes and Typhoons, I did some research to see if this has ever happened before.  While listening to a historian,  I discovered that a similar storm stalled over Cuba more than 60 years ago that brought over 100 inches of rainfall.  Due to the lack of technology at the time, there isn’t the video like that aired nightly of the greater Houston area.  Like the 2000 filmed based upon a true story, when the conditions are ideal a Perfect Storm can and will form.

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things, Isaiah 45:7.

Whether you have the ability to choose where you live or not, there is no perfect place on earth to reside.  Every location has its appeal and negative aspects.  The beach is great but potential storms lurk out in the sea.  Mountains are beautiful until blizzards and white out conditions arrive.  The west coast is scenic until earthquakes abruptly interrupt your plans.  Meanwhile, the Midwest is a wonderful place to live until tornado season arrives.  In the end, you have to make the best of where you live, appreciating the good and enduring the bad.  As for Texas and Louisiana, these people need your prayers as recovery will take months and possibly years.  In the meantime, God is in control as this tragedy has brought communities together to help one another survive.  This is my take on making sense of the unexpected event known as Hurricane Harvey.

by Jay Mankus

Double Trouble: One Foot in Heaven and the Other in Hell

Anna Chapman, Klaus Fuchs and Frank Abagnale Jr. all have one thing in common, each lived a secret life as a spy for years until eventually having their cover blown.  Even in a normal day to day setting, the desire to be accepted socially does persuade some to become fake, afraid that others will reject who they really are.  Thus, when a student enters college as a freshman, some chose to blend in, living a double life.

I fell into this trap during the years at the University of Delaware.  For a semester, I was one of the most popular freshman on campus, known as one of the 4 horsemen, getting all the invites to parties, hanging out late and playing sports on “the Beach” in place of studying.  When no one was looking, I snuck out of my dorm to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting once a week as a close Christian.  Essentially, I limited my faith to once a week, for an hour, with one foot in heaven and the other in hell.

Unfortunately, this cycle repeated itself during my senior year of college.  Although my faith was not hidden at school, the summer provided a leave of absence from God, indulging in the pleasures on earth.  While not everything I did was evil, I spent too much time dangling on the fence.  I was the epitome of lukewarm, following in the footsteps of the church at Laodicea, Revelation 3:15-16.  This act of double trouble forced me to make a decision, should I stay or should I go?  Though it has not been smooth sailing, I’d rather be on a narrow path than a road that leads to destruction, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Heavenly Dwelling

Come as you are to the Most High Place

Where an invisible shield will provide a refuge

Safety and security serve as a blanket of protection

With angels waiting in the wings, ready to act on a moment’s notice.

Like a force field, harm and predators bounce out without leaving a mark

The life guard on duty relies on love as a weapon of defense

Whenever a swimmer cries out for help, afraid of incoming breakers

The giver of life will come to your aid in a twinkling of an eye.

Delivering you from the waves of circumstances, situations and trials

As long as you remain in the presence of the Lord Most High

Long life, salvation and satisfaction will accompany you the rest of your days

Why wait any longer, since an open pew is awaiting for your arrival!

by Jay Mankus

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