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Astroturf

Prior to 2009, astroturf was merely an all purpose athletic surface, created for professional sports franchises in cities with baseball and football teams in 1965.  However, as soon as the Tea Party spread to the local level, poising a threat to democrats, liberals and republicans in power, this term was given a new meaning.  Fueled by political talking points, this phrase was repeated countless times by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed, attempting to de-emphasize the genuine nature of this grassroots movement.

Fast foward 6 years and the shoe now is on the other foot.  The recent protests across this country following the verdict in the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury of officer Darren Wilson are being organized by Occupy Wall Street.  Although the media is portraying these marches in metropolitan cities as a natural out crying of support, Moveon.org is active behind the scenes pulling the strings.  If the mainstream media possessed a conservative agenda, perhaps astroturf would make a comeback.  Yet, for now, viewers of the news must be careful of symbolism over substance.

If you are searching for leadership, results over time will reveal truth from fiction.  While force is the choice for many protestors, history conveys a different message.  Transformation is possible, but not with violence.  Rather, trend setters like Jesus, Martin Luther King and Ghandi displayed love to touch a generation.  Therefore, don’t let what others say influence the crowds you join.  When you see the genuine thing in person, you can distinguish astroturf from men of action.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Other Side of the Story

Whether you are a friend, stranger or casual observer, the truth will always be slanted in one direction.  Subsequently, stories will often exaggerate, highlight or mislead the public to what is actually happening behind the scenes.  Such is the case of the recent protests, riots and violence following the Grand Jury verdict of officer Darren Wilson.

The media is portraying a natural outcry of support.  Civil Rights leaders are calling Michael Brown a victim of police brutality.  Although anyone involved is emotionally charged up, the other side of the story is missing, swept under the rug by the main stream media.  According to a report yesterday, the participants of Occupy Wall Street, paid protestors, have re-emerged to incite violence across the United States.  This drama is a real life Wag the Dog scenario.

Unfortunately, the truth is relative for these ambulance chasers trying to push forward their political agenda.  It doesn’t matter that accurate eyewitnesses have collaborated officer Wilson’s story and surveillance cameras prove Michael Brown held up a convenience store.  This evidence doesn’t fit the script the media wants to portray, thus the message several cable news networks are communicating is far from the truth.

In the end, justice will provail and lies will be exposed, but how much damage has to be done to business owners and residents of Ferguson, Missouri before real leaders emerge.  Like my parents always said, “actions speak louder than words!”  Who will speak out for liberty and justice for all?  While I am just another blogger in a massive internet world, I felt compelled to share the other side of this story.

by Jay Mankus

That Will Solve The Problem…Not

A PSA is short for Public Service Announcement.  Whether organizations are motivated by personal convictions, political correctness or remorse, PSA’s have become a common vehicle to communicate messages.  In view of players involved in domestic violence cases, the National Football League has created a recent commercial using stars to stop this assault on women.

Unfortunately, PSA’s often assume 2 things.  First, listening to this ad will result in stopping this behavior.  Second, if you follow the advice provided, together you can eliminate it from society.  This mindset is flawed, not taking the sinful nature into consideration.  Thus, sarcasm leads me to think to myself, “that will solve the problem, not!”

From my experience as a parent, teacher and worker, no one wants to be told what to do.  Sure, as a leader, you have to set the expectations you want others to adhere to.  Nonetheless, hearts have to change before the culture becomes transformed from violence to good Samaritans.  Unless individuals become born again, John 3:3-5, the world will remain hampered by the stains of sin.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Noise Inside of Heaven

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Christmas Classics won’t be far behind, airing in the next month.  One of my favorites, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” tries to explain how angels can influence human beings.  Henry Travers, plays Clarence, an angel longing to earn his wings by helping George, played by Jimmy Stewart, see how great his life is despite the financial woes of the Great Depression.  This film portrays the noise inside of heaven, ringing bells, as angels complete their assignment thereby earning their wings.

According to the Bible, heaven is compared to a party, similar to a wedding reception, Matthew 22:1-14.  From an eyewitness, the son of God, rejoicing occurs every time a sinner repents, Luke 15:7.  While there are certain stereotypes linked to born again Christians, this doesn’t mean that a church service can’t turn into a football frenzy audience.  In additional, beyond the emotions of any celebration, there will be no tears in heaven, Revelation 21:4, wiped away by Jesus

On earth, the sound of gun shots, screams and violence make heaven seem like an eternity away.  Instead of letting a doom and gloom mentality cause you to give up hope, take advantage of the coming Christmas Spirit.  May believers bring Joy to the World as the sweet sound of worship music revive souls, bringing the noise inside of heaven down to earth.

by Jay Mankus

Dark Places

If you think long enough, childhood memories from a scary place will trigger fear.  Whether you grew up in the country, city or suburbs, every neighborhood had at least one area, house or place where a presence of darkness was felt.  For me and my friends, it was a forest where strange things regularly occurred.

My first encounter there involved snakes, like the movie Snakes on Planes.  Located a couple of hundred yards from my house, a dense forest possessed a short cut to my favorite arcade.  When the path wasn’t trimmed back, you had to walk in Namaans Creek to avoid sticker bushes.  On this particular day, a snake swam between my legs, another fell out of a tree right above my head and a third I nearly stepped on, slithering right in front of me.  Whether I entered a haunted forest or not, this was the first of several experiences which brought chills and goosebumps.

According to Asaph, dark places do exist, Psalm 74:20.  These signs are obvious with violence being the major factor.  You don’t have to live in the projects to witness such a place.  Somewhere along the way, the devil, demons and dark powers have established a foothold in these arenas of life, Ephesians 4:27.  If and when you stumble across such a place, remember to arm yourself with the right weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Until then, take the apostle Paul’s advice in Ephesians 6:10-12, putting on the armor of God as a canvas of protection from dark places.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not a Coincidence

Depending upon who you listen to, trust or watch, everyone seems to have an opinion today.  Whether its regarding current events, life’s problems or politics, worldviews influence what you ultimately believe.  This process forms a foundation, a conscience that inspires individuals to fight for, speak out against and encourage others to become like minded.  However, when you embrace biblical principles, the true blessings you will find is not a coincidence.

According to God, there is a connection between honoring your parents and living a long life, Exodus 20:12.  Essentially, if you vow to cherish, respect and maintain a good name for your parents, life expectancy should increase.  While there are exceptions, people whose life is stolen by a drunk driver, disease or unexpected accident, God does fulfill this promise for the rest.  If you’re not happy with the current state of your soul, begin to put Jesus’ words into practice, Matthew 7:24-27, so that your house will be prepared to endure future storms.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you take a long look at the breakdown of families, violence within inner cities and the growth of gangs, inspired by gangsta wanna be’s, life is snuffed out way too soon.  Street corners, schools and playgrounds are no longer safe places.  Perhaps this trend could be turned around if only individuals would begin to honor their father and mother.  Sure, there are other factors which have contributed to this cultural decay, yet it’s not a coincidence when life is protected, saved or extended by those who commit to loving their neighbor as themselves.

by Jay Mankus

The Side Effects of Rushing Through Life

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker starred in Rush Hour in 1998 spawning 3 sequels in the past 15 years.  Although some will debate exactly when or what movie started the age of cramming films with non-stop action filled with death and violence, one thing is clear, this rush is here to stay.  As attention spans continue to diminish, this 24 style serves as a drug, a rush of adrenaline to captive minds.

If you live in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic part of the United States, this mentality has transformed how people act, behave and treat one another.  Unfortunately, you won’t find much southern hospitality here as a spirit of rushing hinders the ability to be kind, nice or pleasant.  Though not everyone fits into this category, the side effects of rushing through life are evident.  Honking horns, obscene sign language and yelling flood the streets of this corridor.

From a personal perspective, this pace of life influences the quality of your relationships.  Either you or the person you are trying to engage is distracted by a wave of rush, in a hurry to get to no where.  Sad, but true, I’m the one who is usually persuaded to cut conversations short.  If you face a similar struggle, remember the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, leaning on this promise to snap you out of this bad habit.

Please share any other side effects that you see of rushing through life.

by Jay Mankus

The Mindset of a Killer

In light of yesterday’s indictment of Aaron Hernandez for a 2012 double murder in South Boston, family, friends and sports fans are left with troubling questions.  Yes, I know in America, you’re considered innocent until proven guilty, but how can a former rising star of the New England Patriots fall so far and fast?  If guilt is by association, what led Aaron to entertain such bad company?  What triggers someone to snap, inspiring the act to take another person’s life?  The answer lies in the mindset of a killer.

According to Psalm 64, there is an enemy who uses thoughts of conspiracy and evil to steer individuals off course.  The tongue serves like an invisible sword full of poison, aimed at bystanders that rub you the wrong way.  Anger, rage and hatred engage violence, tempting frustrated souls to leave prudence and temperance in their rear view mirrors.  Subsequently, a gang or mob mentality develops, persuading rushed vengeful acts.  At this point, the sinful nature grabs control of minds, Galatians 5:16-21, leading the lost down the highway to hell, Matthew 7:13-14.

In 1972, the United Negro College Fund created the slogan, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Whether you’re in high school contemplating college, a laid off employee forced to start a new career or a troubled soul bombarded by temptation, the mind plays a vital role in life’s final outcome.  If unwholesome thoughts begin to creep into your brain, take the apostle Paul’s advice in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  The sooner you take your thoughts captive, the less likely you’ll be heading toward a mindset of a killer.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Sounds of Violence

Yesterday, I was taking a walk on a cart path just north of down town Wilmington.  With a fence separating this golf course from nearby neighborhoods, I began to hear some commotion a few blocks away.  Voices gradually increased in volume, leading to a fervent disagreement between 2 individuals.  Others joined in yelling back and forth.  Memories of school yard fights flashed before my mind.  However, on this day, no fists, knives or guns were raised, just the sound of violence.

A few years ago in Newark, while having practice with my sons baseball team, I wasn’t as fortunate.  When a suspicious car rolled slowly through an adjacent street, several rounds of bullets were fired.  Before I knew it, I experienced my first drive by shooting, pulling the team quickly off the field into the building behind home plate.  The gunman proceeded to cross a creek behind the left field foul line, run across a field and hid near the University of Delaware until a police helicopter found him about a half hour later.  This time the sound of violence was too close for comfort.

The apostle Paul warned first century Christian’s that this day would come, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  His words were prophetic as children are regularly disobedient to adults and their parents.  Junior high and senior high teachers are now front row witnesses since the sound of violence has entered the classroom, especially in public education.  The consequence of this reality is persecution, with Christ absorbing this anger and hatred on the cross, Isaiah 53:3-11.  May the hope of this fulfilled prophecy help you overcome the sound of violence.

Please comment on how God has helped you rise above the violence in our world.

by Jay Mankus

 

Despite How You Really Feel…

In an age of lawlessness, feelings can conceive acts of violence.  Whether its road rage, disputes between neighbors or workplace tensions, feelings provide individuals with an excuse for their behavior.  Perhaps, this may explain Jesus’ harsh words in Matthew 5:21-26, comparing hatred with murder.  Thus, if you sense anger beginning to consume your soul, think twice before giving into these desires.

King David provides a guideline for anyone who reaches a tipping point, as their feelings boil over.  Psalm 35:13-14 displays the right way to respond to mistreatment from others.  Despite how you really feel, there is a proper way to react to those in need, whether you like them or not.  Essentially, David is illustrating a blue print of loving your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 22:39.

A generation ago, most American parents held a common value, relayed to their children weekly, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it!”  Adults in the neighborhood weren’t afraid to discipline other kids on the block, correcting anyone who crossed the line of morality.  Today, lawsuits, moral decay and a rejection of God has led many to follow their feelings.  Yet, if you want to do what is right, remember the words of Micah 6:8, “act justly, love mercy and humbly walk with God.”

by Jay Mankus

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