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Tag Archives: tragedy

When You Lose the Battle with Death

When you are young, birthday, graduation and wedding invitations are commonly received in the mail or online.  A few years later these invites still come, but they are for baby showers, baptisms and high school or college reunions.  Yet, as age catches up with you, these pleasant celebrations are replaced by the grim reality of life, death.  Although you may outlive family, friends and relatives, eventually even you too will lose the battle with death.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

If you take the words of Genesis literally, prior to original sin, God designed mankind to live forever.  However, after sin entered the world, the curse of death was slowly introduced.  Abel was the first human being to die and laid to rest in the ground.  In the passage above, King Solomon eludes to the fate of every human being.  Early in his radio career, Rush Limbaugh used the saying, talent on loan from God.  Despite how infallible you may feel, life is a gift from God that will one day come to an end.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

The context of this blog comes in the midst of tragedy as my wife and children wait helplessly near the bedside of her dying father due to a serious car accident last Thursday night.  Although Jim is still alive as I write, time is not on his side.  Thus, as sorrow and tears fill those who love Jim Wagner, you have to look toward eternity for comfort.  Like the criminal on the cross, it’s never too late to inherit eternal life.  If you are not sure of your own eternal fate, pray the words of 1 John 5:13 so that you can have assurance when you lose your own battle with death.

by Jay Mankus

The Fatherless

You can find out a lot about someone based upon their action, behavior and content of spoken/written words.  While James is often considered the earthly brother of Jesus, few people realize he spent many years without a father.  Beginning in the second chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus’ father Joseph is not mentioned.  While there are many theories to explain Joseph’s absence, most scholars believe Joseph died several years before Jesus began his earthly ministry.  Thus, its assumed by the author John, Joseph is dead leaving James fatherless.

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless, James 1:26.

Anyone who is blessed with having godly influences along the way in life tends to possess key insight.  Like the brothers of Joseph in the Old Testament who thought he was crazy, James had similar thoughts about Jesus.  Based upon the words chosen above, James doubted his brother prior to his resurrection.  Although he doesn’t specify, James likely joked about, made fun of or used sarcasm upon hearing Jesus’ boisterous claims.  Conviction inspired James to state religion is worthless without keeping a tight reign on your tongue.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world, James 1:27.

Beside helping the poor, James gives believers 2 areas where people should express their faith.  Likely thinking about his mother Mary, supporting widows is a worthy cause.  Meanwhile, orphans abandoned by their families or left homeless due to tragedy is just as needy.  Perhaps, James experienced times in life when he needed a father, but Joseph was long gone.  Though you may not know an orphan, that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone younger to mentor.  Desperate souls are longing for a friend to guide them through life.  Yet, without the helping hands of Christ’s servants in action, the lonely will remain feeling fatherless.

by Jay Mankus

 

The HEART of the Matter

Recently, the media has been quick to jump to conclusions, especially when current events align with liberal talking points.  The recent feeding frenzy began following a church shooting during a Bible Study at a Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Sadly, nine dead African Americans are being used as a political pawn to accomplish a specific agenda, ban the Confederate Flag.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Luke 6:45.

Since June 17, the night of these murders, anyone who displays, owns or doesn’t condemn this flag has been labeled an accessory to this hate crime.  Afraid of negative press, P.G.A. star Bubba Watson decided to paint over the flag on his General Lee, Nascar offered fans attending the July 4th weekend race at Daytona American flags in exchange for Confederate ones and several in the south have removed this symbol from state buildings and court houses.  While this act of terror on Christians is an awful tragedy, the human heart is the main culprit not a flag.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

During debates with religious leaders and discussions with his own twelve disciples, Jesus proclaimed that what comes out of a man or woman makes them unclean.  Hearts set on evil are like ticking time bombs ready to explode.  Whether killers display a Confederate flag or swastika, acts are conceived by angry hearts according to Jesus, Matthew 5:21-22.  There will always be opinions which have some valid points.  However, owning the Confederate flag doesn’t make you anti-Christian or anti-black.  Rather, those who are raised and taught to embrace bigotry are planting seeds of evil for future actions.  May those filled with hatred receive a spiritual heart transplant to insure future attacks will cease.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When People Die Before They Reach the ER

Unfortunately, tragedy makes the headlines as well as the front pages of news papers every summer in the form of heat stroke related deaths, infants left in vehicles too long or wandering into the wrong place at the wrong time.  Former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards tries to mentor rookies each season by proclaiming, “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”  Despite these warnings, curiosity often cause people to die before they reach the Emergency Room.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Addiction is one of many silent killers that can be curtailed by accountability.  In biblical times, communities, families and the local synagogue served as positive peer pressure, providing boundaries to keep morality in and evil out.  While everything is cyclical, apathy, humanism and vanishing absolutes are re-writing how individuals should live.  This loosening of society has perverted freedom, resulting in chaos on the streets of major cities.  According to Jesus, the seed of murder is conceived when a spirit of anger consumes a human heart.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell, Matthew 5:22.

Despite Eve’s sin, Adam’s lack of leadership and a world falling apart at the seams, no one seems to care.  An avalanche of emotions is stoking a fire of hatred, resentment and revenge.  What ever happened to common sense?  Will anyone ever wake up to smell the coffee of a society slipping away from God?  If these warning signs continue to be ignored, doctors will be helpless to act, like a M.A.S.H. unit who receives their patients too late, dead on arrival.  May the  words of a classic song “Stop Children What’s that Sound ” prompt hearts of actions to reverse the trend of a culture slip sliding away from God.

by Jay Mankus

He Ain’t All That

In every success story, there are two primary factors which often impact the final chapter to each Cinderella story.  The first involves an individual with talent, dedicated to mastering his or her trade.  Discipline, hard work and sacrifices can lead to fame and fortune.  While on the rise, friends, family and relatives begin to develop a sense of entitlement, expecting some sort of payment for their involvement in the process.  When this obligation is not met, things can get ugly as those on the outside looking in respond with, “he ain’t all that!”

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. – Mark 6:3

This tragedy of society is nothing new.  Jesus dealt with a similar situation as he went back to his hometown to teach at the synagogue.  Whether it is envy or jealousy, people can be cruel, taking occasional jabs to lessen your accomplishments.  In the case of Jesus, the negativity of the crowds grew, causing his ability to heal to decline.  As the murmurs of “he ain’t all that” intensified, this lack of faith restricted the power of God from being displayed.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” – Mark 6:4

With the invention of social media, ordinary people get their kicks out of trashing celebrities, professional athletes and those in the media.  Perhaps by tearing others down, insecure souls feel a little better about themselves.  Although misery loves company, lives will not change for the better until an environment for healing is formed.  Therefore, the next time you get the urge to say, “he ain’t all that,” follow the principles of James 5:16 so that the resurrection power of Christ can be unleashed.

by Jay Mankus

A Living Hell

While the Old Testament law promotes an eye for an eye and life for a life.  God does support a scenario of life in prison without parole.  Following the murder of his brother, the Lord refused to allow anyone to kill Cain, essentially allowing him to suffer a lifetime of regret, a living hell on earth.

But the LORD said to him, “Not so, anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. – Genesis 4:15

You don’t have to commit murder to experience a living hell.  Those who have suffered a car accident may have to live with the regret of having a friend die while they were driving.  Soldiers often endure post traumatic stress syndrome following a horrific life event in the line of battle.  Meanwhile, parents who lose a child to drowning, SIDS or fatal illness may never recover from this painful tragedy.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. – Hebrews 11:4

The voice of Abel cries out today to anyone who has dealt with a living hell on earth.  Although the Bible is unclear about what Abel said, whispers of grace, hope and mercy extend to souls torn in two.  Despite these wounds, life moves on with or without you.  Therefore, as you search for a source of healing, may the promise of Psalm 34:18 mend the broken hearted and lift up those crushed by a living hell.

by Jay Mankus

When God Turns Out the Lights

Always is one of those words that is regularly spoken, yet rarely applied.  Similarly, patience is a trait people know they need, but refuse to pray for it.  Consistent, unfailing and unconditional are terms that characterize God’s love.  However, when God turns out the lights during a trial, many respond with complaining, doubt and frustration.

On the other hand, the last thing individuals who experience death, gloom or tragedy need to hear is their loss is all part of God’s will.  While answers might be provided over the course of time, broken and wounded hearts need time to sort through the pain inside.  Yet, when God does turn out the lights, always is a good place to start.

According to the author of Psalm 105, when you don’t have the energy to press on with life, look toward the Lord for strength, verse 4.  However, this isn’t something you can do occasionally.  Rather, the Psalmist urges his audience to always seek God’s face.  If you want answers, sometimes or most of the time doesn’t cut it.  Therefore, the next time God turns out the lights, illuminate this darkness with faith ignited by God’s Word, Psalm 119:105.

by Jay Mankus

 

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

A few years ago, an atheist neighbor cried out to Jesus late in the evening.  When his dog got loose once again, she ran in front of  a car traveling down the street.  With little time to react, this accident could not be avoided.  As his dog struggled to survive, his prayer was fervent, “O Jesus, don’t let my dog die!”  On his way to a local vet, this prayer was repeated several times, speeding off in his SUV.  Unfortunately, sometimes our prayers don’t get answered or the outcome we desire is not fulfilled, ending in another pet tragedy.

Following the terrorists attack on the United States during September 11th, 2001, millions of Americans dropped to their knees to pray.  In this moment of despair, people turned to houses of prayer seeking comfort.  When the South Tower of the World Trade Center came crumbling to the ground at 9:58 am, several thousand were thought to be dead.  Although nearly 3000 did pass away in 3 different states, desperation led countless individuals to re-evaluate their lives.  As a result, families were conceived, relationships renewed and faith born again.

Thirteen years later, the worse is yet to come.  If the book of Revelation is correct, there will be 7 seven years of tribulation, unlike anything the world has seen before.  Once the prophecies within the Bible have been fulfilled, Jesus will return.  Though no one knows the exact day or time, signs have been left as clues to the future in Matthew 24.  I won’t speculate like many false prophets of the past, yet God will continue to use desperate times to achieve His will.  If you reach a point of desolation, may the promise of Psalm 102:17 lead God to hear and answer your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

 

Rocky Road

On the way to see the wizard, Dorothy, Toto and the cast of misfits she picked up on the way to Oz didn’t always have a smooth journey.  The scarecrow, tinman and lion all had major flaws, but the company they provided on the yellow brick road was worth the risk.  Alone, Dorothy would have not been able to overcome the rocky road that the wicked witch brought forth.  Together, working as a team this motley crew, defeated the enemy, setting the witches servants free.

In life, I wish you could travel from point A to point B without any obstacles.  However, each day has its own set of detours, pot holes and road blocks.  One day you have a teaching job, the next day you don’t.  Others have seen marriage vanish before their eyes.  Meanwhile,  accidents, tragedy and illness ends the life of some way too soon.  Essentially, life is a rocky road with twists and turns that no one other than God can foresee.

Subsequently, the Bible warns its readers of the nightmares that greet individuals, James 1:2-4.  Although some suffer more than others, trials come in various shape and sizes.  Perhaps, as unfortunate events enter one’s life, faith and trust increases, forcing believers to climb, crawl or walk along a narrowing path, Matthew 7:14.  Looking back over the past 5 years, I thank God for the rocky road that I’ve endured.  As a disciple once said, “sometimes you have to go through fire to be refined for future endeavors,” 1 Peter 1:6-7.  May the rocky roads that you’ve encountered prepare you for future blessings in God’s time, Ecclesiastes 3:11

by Jay Mankus

Dying of Thirst

When a body does not possess as much water and fluids as it should, dehydration sets in.  Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe, life threatening if not replenished with liquids.  According to Men’s Health, there are 6 stages of dehydration, traced by the color of one’s urine.  When exercising in the summer sun, dehydration can lead to symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  In a worst  case scenario, death can occur like the tragedy of Korey Stringer, a former Minnesota Viking who passed away on August 1st, 2001 following an NFL training camp practice.

There are others who are dying of spiritual thirst, unable to find the living water Jesus promises in John 4.  I spent the first 15 years in isolation, using my stuttering as an excuse to avoid intimate relationships.  Whenever you can’t communicate, express your feelings or make an emotional connection with someone, a part of you begins to die inside.  Spiritual dehydration commences once an individual is cut off from meaningful conversation which enriches one’s life.  If this separation continues, souls become cold and numb, on the verge of dying of thirst.

This is where we find a Samaritan woman, who had become a social outcast even among her own people.  After 4 broken relationships, the word on the street wasn’t kind.  Terms such as adulterer, prostitute or whore were likely whispered behind her back.  John 4:7-26 records an interesting conversation between 2 polar opposites between a prophet and someone searching for meaning in life.  Hot and thirsty, Jesus breaks the ice, then changes the topic of conversation from the weather to eternity.  Before the day was over, this lost soul is introduced to living water which quenched her thirst.  May this story quench your spiritual thirst and give you assurance for eternity.

by Jay Mankus

 

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