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Tag Archives: United States

The Nazarite Vow of Abstention

According to current law, the legal minimum drinking age is 21 years old in the United States. Prior to 1986, some states allowed college students to drink legally upon reaching their 18th birthday. However, there are 4 exemptions enabling some to bend the rules. Twenty nine states allow children with a parent’s permission to drink alcohol on private property. Six states don’t require a parent’s consent as long as you are on private property. Ten states serve minors at restaurants with a parent’s consent and certain churches use real alcohol as part of their communion services.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

If you want to know the truth, if you live in the United States and really want to drink alcohol prior to your 21st birthday, determined teenagers will find a way. However, before anyone reads this and suggests, “if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?” Well, before you allow this thought to persuade your mind, I want to share a dark period in my own life. During a friend’s wedding in college, I decided to drink. Little did I know that hours later I would be hugging a toilet suffering from alcohol poisoning. If it wasn’t for a member of the wedding party, I probably would have died. Since this event I decided to take the Nazirite vow of abstention.

Paul stayed for a while longer, and then told the brothers and sisters goodbye and sailed for Syria; and he was accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchrea [the southeastern port of Corinth] he had his hair cut, because he was keeping a [Nazirite] vow [of abstention], Acts 18:18.

After doing a little research, Numbers 6:1-21, individuals can make an oath for a certain period of time or can choose to make a vow for life to abstain from alcohol. Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul made the Nazirite vow of abstention during his second missionary journey. To avoid confusing or causing others to stumble, Paul lived above reproach. While I served as a youth pastor, I too took a similar vow to avoid sending a mixed message. Abstaining from alcohol isn’t for everyone, but when you are fixated on reaching a certain audience, taking the Nazirite vow for a set period of time will enhance your message.

by Jay Mankus

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I Can’t Help Myself

My father was born in Lithuania.  As immigrants from certain Europeans countries began to migrate to the United States, stereotypes began to develop.  Whether it was the era, how my dad was raised or specific mannerisms, my father tended to be stoic unless he was angry.  Meanwhile, my mom who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania wasn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve.  Like any child, I exhibit a combination of qualities from each of my parents.  Nonetheless, whenever my heart is moved or touched by something special, I can’t help myself, easily brought to tears.

As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; 13 and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:12-14.

During the first century, Jews and Samaritans were enemies as hatred and resentment spilled over from the past.  This tension began when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  The north whose second capital was relocated upon a hillside in Samaria often did what was right in their own eyes.  The southern kingdom remained more true to God as some kings reminded citizens of their spiritual heritage.  The main issues between Jews and Samaritans began during 722 B.C. when Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity.  The byproduct of this siege led to intermarriages between Gentiles and Israelites.  Thus, Samaritans earned the reputation of being only half Jewish, labeled and ridiculed for centuries.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; 16 and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

Recognizing this portion in history, Jesus is shocked by how little appreciation is shown to God by 9 Jewish lepers.  On the other hand, the Samaritan leper is overwhelmed after being healed.  According to a first century doctor, this man couldn’t help himself, praising God over and over again.  Sometimes in life, stereotypes influence how people act, behave and interact with others.  Yet, when you slow down and look around to see the numerous minor miracles in your life, you too can model the thanksgiving demonstrated by this Samaritan leper.  May the example of this first century man inspire you to develop a new outlook on life in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

A Constitutional Crisis

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

The words above were crafted by the founding fathers of the United States of America.  Unfortunately, as times have changed worldviews have challenged citizens to reconsider their beliefs.  Subsequently, a constitutional crisis has arisen.  Do you hold to the originalists of the the past or view the constitution as a living document, open to interpretation?

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come, John 16:13.

This current dilemma is creating a divide, splitting people into one of two categories.  Individuals either seek to uphold the law and do what’s right in their own mind.  This progressive mindset is causing some representatives within cities, counties and states to embrace illegal aliens, trying to establish sanctuary areas.  Although the motives may be pure, these leaders are actually aiding and abetting some criminals in the name of social justice.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit, Judges 17:6.

Any time laws and regulations are seen as optional, chaos often ensues.  This sort of arbitrary enforcement can lead to confusion, favoritism and loopholes.  In some cases, police officers are viewed as the enemy, an obstruction to freedom.  If this social climate spreads, hope for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness fades.  As America struggles to get back on track, may God help us all before a constitution crisis destroys the future of this land of opportunity.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fostering Love

The concept of foster care in the United States was inspired by Charles Loring Brace.  In the middle of the 19th century, Brace’s heart was torn by the thousands of homeless children living in the slums of New York City.  Brace believed that these children would do much better if placed into a farm setting with Christian families living in the country.  Thus, the Orphan Train movement was born, transporting more than 100,00 children from 1853-1890.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends, Proverbs 17:9.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon encouraged the Israelites to foster love.  Anyone can point out someone’s flaws.  Yet, when attacked human beings tend to go on the defensive. Whether words spoken are in the form of exaggerations, in gest or gossip, any brash decision usually divides and separates relationships.  Therefore, when push comes to shove, its better to foster love by overlooking any offense against you.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

The apostle Paul addresses a similar issue during the first century.  Unfortunately, love was becoming just another word, void of meaning.  In their prime, DC Talk sang above Love is a Verb.  Love is meant to be exercised through selfless acts.  Sure, family may verbalize their love but without any sincere demonstration these terms of endearment are empty.  In view of the negativity fueled by a press upset after their candidate didn’t become president elect, turn the other cheek by fostering love.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Faith in Foreclosure

When a home owner fails to pay the debt accrued and owed, the mortgage lender can choose to foreclose on a property to regain their money.   According to a 2015 study, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware have the highest foreclosure rates in the United States.  The highest rate affected the residents of New Jersey where one in every 559 housing units filed for foreclosure after payments were not made.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, Hebrews 10:26.

From a spiritual perspective, Jesus paid the debt for sin accrued over the course of one’s life.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy, for the wages of sin is death, in Romans 6:23.  Yet, the good news lies in the final line, the gift of God is eternal life.  However, when you do mess up, God expects acts of contrition to follow.  Thus, if you treat promises in the Bible as a get out of jail free card, you are in danger of experiencing a faith in foreclosure.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

In an earlier chapter, the author of Hebrews provides a glimpse of a faith in foreclosure.  Whether its an addiction, careless acts or poor choices, some are lured into a false sense of security.  Before being introduced to the Bible’s teachings, individuals can claim to be amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  However, once you have seen the light; enlightened from years walking in darkness, you no longer have an excuse.  Thus, anyone who reaches a faith in foreclosure, must fully repent, turning 90 degrees away from sin, back to God or face the consequences mentioned above.  Turn back to Jesus today while time is on your side.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Liberty and Church Street Meet

Shipping Wars, a reality television show on A&E debuted on January 10th, 2012.  Simulating the competitive nature of this trade, I spent 2 years of my life pursuing this career back in 2000 and 2001.  In order to make money, you have to be willing to spend it up front.  In fact, I once made $2000 in 24 hours, driving an overnight delivery from Wilmington, Delaware to Chicago.  Unfortunately, this never happened again as like most Americans, I struggled to make a living.  Nonetheless, as I drove a weekly route up to East Rutherford, New Jersey, the World Trade Center was always there to greet me in the sky as I drew near.  This beacon of light stood where Liberty and Church Street met.

As the summer of 2001 faded into fall, I made an emergency trip to New York City, passing the twin towers for the last time.  After 9/11, lights lite up where this grand building once resided, but approaching New York was never the same.  When the United States was attacked on our own soil, the pursuit of life and liberty took on an entirely new meaning.  In the aftermath of this terrorist attack, churches experienced an initial awakening, packed for prayer vigils and services.  More than 10 years later, church attendance is declining and liberty is under a different kind of battle, invisible to the human eye.

On the Atlantic Coast of America, most downtown areas are filled with centers for worship.  The further west you travel across the fruited plains, the less this scene is repeated.  As progress occurs in society, traditions tend to fall by the wayside, surpassed by modern thinking.  While atheists are still trying to have the steel cross found in the Twin Towers remains removed from the 9/11 memorial, this relic is a symbol for a lost and dying world, John 3:16-17.  As the Freedom Tower replaces the World Trade Center at Liberty and Church Street, may this day in history never be forgotten, especially on this Independence Day, July 4th.

by Jay Mankus

Bitter Troubles

In 2010, more than 5 million car accidents took place in the United States.  Subsequently, 32,885 motorists lost their lives with an additional 2.2 million suffered injuries.  Whether these crashes were induced by alcohol, bad weather or cell phone related, bitter troubles visited individuals without warning.

Meanwhile, teenagers are facing an internal battle with depression.  According to Psychology Today, a teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes.  Among 15-24 year olds, suicide in the 3rd leading cause of death for young people.  Their absence leaves a different kind of bitter trouble for parents, replaying history in their minds to see if they could have done anything differently to save their child’s life.

According to Psalm 71:20, people aren’t immune to bitter troubles.  Like Jesus’ brother once said, everyone should expect trials to come, James 1:2-4.  However, when these unfortunate events do arrive, God does offer a promise.  Therefore, the next time you experience one of those Murphy Law type of days, ask God to restore you from your bitter trouble.

by Jay Mankus

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