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The Unfolding of God’s Word

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. – Psalm 119:130

I must confess that there are times when I open the Bible that I feel lost, unable to get the point the author is expressing.  On other occasions, my minds whispers words of doubt, “you could never be like that!”  However, its days when the Holy Spirit unwraps for me nuggets of truth that my eyes are opened, creating a desire to want more.

I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes. – Psalm 119:125

As discerning thoughts penetrate my heart, the unfolding of the Bible begins.  This process is described within Hebrews 4:12, initialized by living words.  Similar to a transformation of a caterpillar within a chrysalis, these spiritual words breathe new life into individuals, bringing souls to new heights like a butterfly.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.   Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account, Hebrews 4:12-13.

Although humans can not literally fly, the precepts inside of God’s Word provides light in times of darkness, Psalm 119:105.  As spiritual disciplines form, the Bible unveils the correct path to choose, shining light on the obstacles in front of you, Psalm 18:36.  Thus, the next time you open the Bible, pray that the unfolding of God’s Word will revitalize your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Not Just A Seasonal Thing

After the post-Christmas sales end, stores will be transformed over night trading in candy canes for Valentine’s Day chocolate.  Once presents under the tree are unwrapped tomorrow, birthday wishes will begin to enter the minds of children as well as those young at heart.  Unfortunately, if you allow consumerism to flood your thoughts, spiritual holidays will become a seasonal thing.

You don’t have to study statistics to recognize annual church attendance spikes each Christmas and Easter.  Somewhere in between, the message falls upon deaf ears, as the curious turn their attention to the next vacation or time off.  Subsequently, individuals have gotten good at placing God in a box a few times years, taking Him out of the attic bi-annually.

For me and those of faith, Christmas is not just a seasonal event.  In my moment of need, I exchanged a self-centered life style for a Purpose Driven Life, Psalm 118:5-7.  While my ways are far from perfect, a new peace surpasses my formal understanding, Philippians 4:7, broadening my perspective.  Thus, each day I revisit the manger, cross and resurrection to renew the seed of faith sown in my heart, Romans 10:9-10.  May the miracle of Christmas bring you to a similar place this season and throughout the year.

by Jay Mankus

To Please or Not to Please: That is the Question

As I was driving home from work the other day, one thought popped into my head, “who am I trying to please?”  My laid back nature usually leads me toward keeping the peace, not wanting to rock the boat.  However, when aspects of my faith are attacked, why do I keep quiet, holding back how I really feel?

Perhaps, my lack of an answer is a symptom of a lukewarm spirit, Revelation 3:16.  A reflection of someone who has lost their passion, taking the Bible and church for granted.  Despite my current pathetic state, I still need to respond to one of life’s question: to please or not to please?

The apostle Paul had a similar issue with Jewish Christians in Galatia.  Regardless of how hard each tried, letting go of what each was taught growing up was difficult.  Thus, Paul brought this concern up in Galatians 1:10.  While pleasing mankind is easy; who are you living for?  If Jesus is your Lord, Romans 10:9-10, why aren’t your actions reflecting this decision?

Maybe its just me, but I can’t continue to remain silent as the world around me is failing to pieces, bound for hell.  If you agree with this statement, join me in the spirit of Matthew 18:19-20.  With the power of numbers on our side, may the power of the Holy Spirit lift you and I up to please the Lord, Romans 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

If These Walls Could Speak?

Building walls of protection is nothing new.  The Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China and Western Wall in Israel were established as defense mechanisms.  These structures served as a hiding place as well as a refuge, either to keep enemies out or prevent other civilians from corrupting the ideology shared by those who call this places home.

Beyond the vision of a human eye, another wall exists.  This one surrounds the heart, protecting individuals from becoming vulnerable, hurt or both.  The greater the pain from the past, the larger the barrier erected.  Like a facade, unveiling what lies behind this inclosure isn’t easy.  Layer by layer must be removed carefully or else souls will clam up, refusing to convey genuine concerns, emotions or thoughts.

According to a famous prophet, the heart is a mysterious organ, Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Regardless of how cautious someone is, when the heart speaks don’t be surprised by what you hear.  Deceitfulness has taken hearts captive, a condition that is beyond cure.  Therefore, if famous historic walls could speak, sin might be the topic of conversation.  In view of this grave condition, set your heart on things above, Colossians 3:1-3, so that hell will wear off as heaven takes center stage.

by Jay Mankus

Where Do Certain Thoughts Come From?

At age 10, I began to experience a reoccurring nightmare.  Maybe I watched one too many scary movies, but each night I was awaken in the same manner.  Whether I was restless or enjoying a peaceful sleep, an image appeared out of no where.  First, I felt the sensation of slipping off a cliff.  Once I reached a free fall mode, I was at ease until the ground came into view.  Just before striking the canyon floor, my body shook, waking me up.  This went on for nearly 2 years.  Why, I’m not sure.  Perhaps, God allowed these thoughts to enter my mind to lead me toward the meaning of life.

A couple of years ago, I was driving my family home after vacationing in Chicago for a week.  It was getting late, the sun had set and everyone in the car was asleep.  I was traveling on the Ohio Turnpike, heading east toward the Maumee River.  As I was approaching the river valley, a whisper entered my mind, “drive off the bridge.”  Shocked initially, it didn’t take long to determine the origin of this thought.  Similar to the Dana Carvey’s Church Lady skit on Saturday Night Live, “could it be Satan?”

Over the course of a lifetime, the mind will become weary, bombarded with a plethora thoughts.  If individuals are careless, lazy or tempted, souls are vulnerable.  When you try to fight a spiritual battle with mental discipline, sooner or later you will lose.  Therefore, its essential to practice 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, by taking your thoughts captive.  Whether thoughts are from God, Satan or your own sinful desires, how you respond to them will dictate the path that you choose.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

God Wants Your Sex

What?  Am I in the right place?  Are you sure you’re not referring to the George Michael song?  During a private conversation between Moses and God, Exodus 31:18, this concept was first introduced to the Israelites.

To prevent the excuse, “well, no one ever told me,” the Lord lays out His position about sex in plain view for all to see, Leviticus 18.   The first sex education message may be graphic in nature, yet God’s boundaries are clearly defined.  Every possible scenario, no matter have perverted, establishes a line in the sand to discourage unlawful sexual acts.   If Adam couldn’t keep the only law in the garden, Genesis 2:17, what’s going to keep mankind from pushing the sexual envelope.

To combat this temptation, God introduces the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21.  It’s not a coincidence that sex is linked to the first and last desire.  Sexual immorality is like an open door that many walk through, attracted by temporary pleasures and illicit scenery.  When lust becomes full blown, individuals are persuaded to partake in orgies, losing control of their sexuality.

According to the apostle Paul, the church in Corinth struggled to control their bodies.  Subsequently, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 is written to help those who have strayed off course.  Beyond these addictive habits, soul ties merge you with a sexual partner.  These bonds often confuse souls, destroying relationships and preventing true intimacy from forming.  In view of this, God wants your sex so that your temple, physical body, will be offered as a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1-2.  Please share your feelings, opinions and thoughts on this controversial topic.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Dreams Fade Away

Children tend to grow up with wild imaginations, dreaming of becoming a doctor, professional athlete or a wealthy entrepreneur.  However, as time ticks away, ambition is often replaced by more realistic goals.  Sure, dreams still exist in your mind, but negativity, pessimism and tough luck cause dreams to fade away from your memory.

A few years ago, I was passionate about completing my first novel.  Before I typed a word, vivid ideas rushed into my head, inspiring my will to complete this May 15th, a deadline for a major contest in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, a long cold spring, filled with racing to see all 3 of my children play sports has drained my desire to do anything.   With May in the rear view mirror, a spark for finishing this book needs to be rekindled before my thoughts vanish.

Sometimes, the Bible seems too good to be true, as readers silently murmur, “yeah right?”  Nonetheless, a weeping prophet writes of a special day in Jeremiah 29:11.  When the day of doubt sets, there is hope of prosperity.  If you’ve lost the will to carry on, don’t quit yet.  Cling to the promise of Galatians 6:9-10 so that like Walt Disney once said, “one day your dreams will come true!”

by Jay Mankus

Around the Next Corner

I’ve never been known as a quitter, but the mystery of the future is hard to endure when life isn’t playing out as you expected.  Influenced by instant success early on, I assumed there wouldn’t be surprises around the next corner, causing you to want to turn around or head off in a different direction.  Saturday was one of those days, as impatience brought me to a ledge of despair.  Just as I was about to give up, a glimmer of hope appeared in the distance.

Galatians 6:9-10 contains a similar message to those who begin to think, “what’s the point; why should I waste my time doing good when nothing seems to change?”  This mindset is like the parable of weeds, Matthew 13:24-30, sowed by the devil, trying to convince souls their short term effort isn’t worth the long term gains.  This explains why so many so called Christians fall away from God during their college years, illustrated by the 2014 movie God is Not Dead, with one foot in the world and the other trying to remember what the Bible says.  Perhaps, Jesus’ younger brother was right, writing, “nobody knows what’s around the next corner in life,” James 4:14.

As for me, I was frustrated by a lack of progress at work.  Like Charles Dutton, the janitor at Irish Stadium in the movie Rudy, I allowed bitterness get the best of me.  These negative thoughts prevented me from seeing around the next corner, a compliment and reward for my hard work.  Thus, what started off as a bad day in my view, changed in an instance.  Therefore, don’t let your mind blind you from the gifts from above waiting for you in the future, James 1:17-18.  I look forward to hearing what the Lord is doing in the lives of his children around the next corner.

by Jay Mankus

Three Times O Lord

In baseball, 3 strikes end an at bat, as long as the catcher does not drop the third strike.  Three outs end each half-inning with a mercy rule added to little league games to teams trailing by 10 runs or more after the fourth inning.  While basketball allows 4 and 5 fouls in college and the pros respectively before a disqualification occurs, soccer has just 2 cards, a yellow and red card with the ejected player’s team forced to play the remainder of the game one man down.  In life, sometimes God needs to intervene, like a boxer’s trainer who throws a towel into the ring, officially ending the fight.

According to 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, the apostle Paul was pleading with the Lord on 3 different occasions to stop the pain inflicted by a messenger of Satan.  This thorn in the flesh suggests some kind of physical ailment, yet byproducts like anguish, depression and mental fatigue were likely also present.  Paul’s occupation as a tent maker could have led to arthritis, carpel tunnel like symptoms or various aches and pains.  Based upon the details of chapter 12, Paul appears to have begged God for a period of time before receiving a message from Jesus.

Maybe I am alone, but I have come to a point where I can’t handle any more bad news.  Like a roll of bounty paper towels, humility has absorbed the mess I am now living in, tapped beyond its cleaning power.  Thus, I have reach my pain threshold, unable to endure any more disappointment.  As I wrestle with the Lord in my thoughts and prayers, I am spent, emotionally drained by a burden of failure.  Therefore, my only hope lies in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, waiting on the grace of God.  Though I don’t quite fully understand verse 9, my strength is sapped like a power tool lacking juice.  May the Holy Spirit provide the boost for me and anyone else coping with similar circumstances.  Three times O Lord, come to my rescue and to those also experiencing torment from messengers of Satan.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Evil, Not Insanity

Since the terrorist attacks on marathon runners and spectators on April 15th in Boston, media outlets are trying to come to grips with this unfathomable act against humanity.  In my car, talk radio is a buzz, verbalizing opinion after opinion.  Water cooler chats about local sports have been replaced by a more serious topic.  Meanwhile, cable news networks are scanning every nook and cranny of this unfortunate event, searching for credible experts to speak on this matter.

From my perspective, most commentators are missing the mark.  You can’t punish the law abiding citizens for a few people who have lost touch with reality.  Sure, Americans have to be vigilant, proactive about suspicious people in public places.  However, you can’t legislate against insanity and if you do, lawyers will just find another way to excuse their client from taking responsibility.  The world’s problem is not insane terrorists, its evil within the hearts and minds of individuals.

While many things in Hollywood films are fake, the presence of evil in society is a Clear and Present Danger.  Stephen King’s 1994 mini-series entitled The Stand illustrates how evil can change the attitude, behavior and life style of average citizens.  Meanwhile, Andrew Neiderman’s film The Devil’s Advocate uses a combination of embellishment and reality to portray spiritual forces of evil.  Although many have been duped by lies, countless Americans refuse to accept the truth about evil in this world.

The apostle Paul refers to Satan as the ruler of the air in Ephesians 2:2.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to the devil as a roaring lion, seeking to pounce on and devour unprepared bystanders, 1 Peter 5:8.  Jesus claimed the devil could enter your thoughts, Matthew 16:23 and hearts like Judas Iscariot as detailed in the 4 gospel accounts.  If 3 godly men, pillars of the church testified to this fact, why can’t modern Americans accept evil as the cause of terrorism?  May the words of Romans 10:17 open minds to embrace the shocking reality, “its evil, not insanity!”

by Jay Mankus

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