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A Toast to Friends in Life

The concept of a Wedding Toast can be traced back to ancient societies. Beside wishing the best for a new couple, a toast was symbolic for passing the torch like a prayer to receive God’s blessings in the future. Last weekend, my oldest son participated in a White Coat Ceremony as he pursues his doctorate in Physical Therapy. To celebrate this occasion, I made a toast at dinner to the future Dr. Mankus.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

On the way home from Lynchburg, Virginia, I just happened to be listening to an old Geoff Moore and the Distance album which was in my car CD player. As the song Best Friends God’s Love and Great Times started playing, I was inspired to give another toast. This time to all of my friends of the past and present who have helped shape the person that I have become.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do, John 15:13-14.

The final speaker at James’ ceremony spoke about the importance of family. While you may not be brothers or sisters by birth, God has brought people into my life over the years who served like a close family. From a few key friends growing up in New Jersey, my Tonbridge Drive crew in Delaware, the Cross Country Team, FCA Huddle and youth group, here’s a toast of thanks for touching my life in many ways. As for the present, I have my wife Leanne, Spencer Saints and the Smiths to toast; this Bud’s for you!

by Jay Mankus

Placing Your Trust in the Divine

Following my first observation as a teacher, I was told that I didn’t have enough posters in my room. I thought this was a strange critic, but I took this to heart. While on vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, I visited one of the numerous outlets at this tourist destination. I don’t remember how many Bible posters I bought that day, but one of those was Proverbs 3:5-6.

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help, Psalm 146:3.

When I attended a youth ministry trade school, this verse was one of 26 that I memorized over the course of 7 weeks. The final week of my training was spent at a Wilderness Camp with 24 hours spent in silence. The purpose of this time was to reflect on my past, enjoy the moment and dream about the future. What I learned was to place my trust in the divine.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Unfortunately, human nature has a way of convincing individuals to trust in yourself. Perhaps this is the reason why King Solomon shares the message above to one of his sons. Despite his vast wealth and wisdom, Solomon realized that it was the Lord who was the source behind his blessed life. I pray that this blog will convince someone today to place their sole trust in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

An Unlikely War Hero

The 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge was based upon a World War II American Army Medic named Desmond Doss. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Desmond was a hillbilly from Lynchburg, Virginia. While donating blood at a nearby hospital, Desmond met a cute nurse who became the love of his life. Despite his desire to get married, as lines at local recruiting centers continued to form, Desmond followed his calling to enlist.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

While Desmond thought he was signing up to become an Army medic, he was placed in an infantry with the expectation of becoming a soldier. As a devout Seventh Day Adventist, who was raised to keep the Sabbath and keep his vow to never kill, Desmond found himself in the middle of a moral dilemma. When Desmond verbalized his convictions to his commanding officer, this didn’t go over to well with the rest of his squadron.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:13.

Until the Battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss was considered the weak link. However, as his fellow soldiers fell to the ground, wounded one after the other, Desmond’s instincts kicked in. Before this battle was over, Desmond became a real life Forrest Gump, retrieving and saving the lives of 75 injured soldiers. Desmond’s act of bravery was rewarded by becoming the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. May Desmond’s story inspire you to hold fast to your convictions so that you’ll be prepared to follow God’s calling.

by Jay Mankus

Whose Life is Worth Saving?

If you live along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, your life is interrupted for eight months every year.  Any condo, house or trailer within walking distance of a beach lives under a strict ordinance.  Florida’s state Game and Wild Life Department restricts outdoor landscaping lights of any kind.  If you are wondering why, this law has been enacted to save the lives of future sea turtles.  During the hatching process, lights draw the attention of newly born turtles.  To ensure baby sea turtles make it back to the ocean, local authorities constantly warn residence about outdoor lighting.  While hatchings usually don’t occur until May, the state of Florida has taken extreme measures for eight months to save the lives of baby sea turtles.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” Jeremiah 1:5.

Meanwhile, the states of New York and Virginia have made national headlines for a different reason this week.  A 2019 New York abortion bill has extended a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy from the third trimester all the way leading up to giving birth.  A similar abortion bill in Virginia was tabled after losing five to three during a committee meeting vote.  The Virginia legislation is said to be more humane, allowing woman to give birth, resuscitate the child if necessary, keep this newborn warm before ending it’s life.  Each of these bills give doctor’s, medical staff and women giving birth the authority to abort whenever deemed necessary.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them, Psalm 139:13-16.

These contrasting stories lead me to one question, whose life is worth saving?  Do Americans care more about pets and turtles than newborn babies?  Furthermore, how did this country reach this point?  How can we devalue the miracle of giving birth while giving more rights to animals without a soul?  Maybe it’s too late for this discussion, but I care too much about this country to see it wander into an immoral abyss.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but prayer is definitely one of the solutions.  May the Lord have mercy on the United States as future voters contemplate which leaders will have the boldness, courage and fortitude to steer this nation back where God desires.

by Jay Mankus

Evicted

After retiring from his Lutheran church, a pastor and his wife felt called to begin a ministry for seniors, for people their own age.  The most logical place to start was a local retirement home.  Ken and Liv Hauge reside at the Evergreens, a senior living community in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  A suburb of Washington D.C., this area has strict regulations, something the Hauge’s found out when they wanted to start a Bible Study.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion, Proverbs 28:1.

According to the civic association, the Hauge’s were required to call their meeting a book club.  Initially, they agreed even though this event was in fact a Bible Study.  To avoid this rigid restriction, this couple decided to move the group to their own apartment.  When word got out that the Hauge’s were hosting a Bible Study, they received a letter from their residential complex stating “stop holding Bible studies or face eviction.”  Why you may ask?  The apartment complex defines a Bible Study as a business which is illegal in a private residential unit.

Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance, Acts 28:31.

The Hauge’s have turned to a lawyer to fight this legal battle.  I haven’t heard an update on this battle for religious freedom, but this case is an eye opening for the kind of persecution active Christians may face in the future.  The apostles endured similar threats during the first century.  Paul was arrested, beaten and nearly killed a couple times during his ministry trips throughout the Mediterranean.  Despite these trying times, Luke implores believers in Jesus to boldly proclaim the kingdom of God whatever the cost, even if it means eviction.

by Jay Mankus

One Down,Two to Go

My oldest son James will be leaving on Saturday to begin his junior year of college.  Yet, as I began to think about his departure, this will likely be his last summer in our home.  Required to do an internship before his senior year, James will likely spend his final summer in Lynchburg, Virginia.  When you consider a seriously relationship with his girl friend Emma, marriage is not out of the realm of possibility.  Thus, as a parent, I guess its one down and two to go.

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

If anyone could provide insight on the do’s and don’ts on parenting, its Solomon.  A husband of 700 wives and an additional 300 concubines, this former king of Israel was a father to over one thousand children.  Reflecting upon his role as a dad, Solomon uses Proverbs as a guide to help raise godly children.  This Old Testament book urges children to listen to their parents.  The key principle to pass on to daughters and sons is the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

The apostle Paul adds further advice to fathers hoping to raise godly children in the New Testament.  During his visit with members of the church at Ephesus, Paul noticed that some dads were being too tough on their kids.  This observation inspired Paul to encourage parents to avoid exasperating youth.  Instead, Paul reminds future parents to display (TLC) tender, love and care while exercising discipline.  Whether you are a former, current or want to be a parent, apply the principles of the Bible so that children will not depart from God’s will for their life.

by Jay Mankus

Excuse Me

A generation ago, respect was demanded, encouraged and reinforced by most suburban neighborhoods.  Whenever someone burped, farted or responded in a rude manner in public, this act was addressed immediately.  Local communities looked out for the best interest of adolescents as adults weren’t afraid to correct inappropriate behavior.  This era reflected a time when the majority ruled.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

Following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, there is a growing movement in America to remove any monument or statue linked to slavery.  During an interview with the media last week, President Donald Trump addressed this issue.  Using George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as examples, Trump replied “where are you going to stop?”  If this trend is allowed to continue, the offended will expand their sights to erase remaining traces of Christianity within America.  Today, the minority find ways to rule.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! – 1 Corinthians 10:12.

If this removal of American history doesn’t disturb you, let me remind you of Kryziukalnas, Lithuania.  When the former Soviet Union invaded the Baltic States in June of 1940, Soviet officials removed all resembles of faith.  This meant removing all religious symbols.  When the iron curtain fell in the 1980’s, crosses that were found were placed on a hill in northern Lithuania.  This site ensures that future generations won’t forget what happened in the past.  Today, this area is known as the hill of crosses, a symbol of religious freedom.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

In recent days, traces of America’s Civil War are being destroyed.  Fueled by a media frenzy, any monument or statue that suggests racism is under consideration for removal.  However, if local, state and government officials allow this excuse me mentally to reign, any landmark could be in jeopardy.  Do Americans really want to follow in the footsteps of communism?  Who will learn from history if it’s completely obliterated?  May the city of crosses serve as a living example to learn from past mistakes.  Instead of saying excuse me, use any offensive historic symbol as teachable moments to educate those who were not alive.

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Worship

Following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, I’ve been consumed with depression.  Anyone trying to keep up with this story has been bombarded with a media frenzy.  Cable news stopped normal programming to air hourly updates, carry eyewitness reports and talk to panelists about their professional opinions.  The more I listened and watched, the worse I felt.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth, John 4:24.

After experiencing a few days of media silence this week, attempting to remove the negativity from my life, a thought came to my mind.  The Bible suggests that human beings were created to worship God.  When individuals drift off course away from this divine purpose, meaning and purpose for life fades.  Thus, those who reach this point like me need an infusion of worship to revive your soul.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship, Romans 12:1.

Yesterday, I replaced the radio with Christian music from my car stereo.  As soon as a few inspirational songs came on, my mood was transformed.  Instead of arguing with talk radio callers and the host, my mind was swayed by the lyrics I began singing along to.  This spiritual infusion gave me the boost I needed to make it through the day.  However, this shouldn’t be a once in a while practice.  Rather, if you want experience a permanent infusion of worship, set aside time daily for worship by offering your body up as a living sacrifice.

by Jay Mankus

Soul Control

In view of the live shooting deaths of a reporter and cameraman at the CBS affiliate WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia, gun control proponents have arrived on the scene, taking advantage of this tragedy.   Following the PC Playbook, members of the media are blaming the gun, not the individual.  Depending upon which article you read or interview you see, its almost if guns are demon possessed, taking control of the soul.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1.

One of Jesus’ disciples provides an intriguing insight about the spirit world.  Though its unclear where or how this information was obtained, John gives unguided souls something to think about.  Whether its a thought that pops into your head, a gut feeling in your heart or a whisper, don’t assume the Holy Spirit is talking to you.  Rather, test everything to discern if these voices are from God, the world or the Devil, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

In a world filled with guns and violence, its essential to control your own life.  Choices, decisions and investments open the door to good and bad.  Unfortunately, the more careless one becomes, evil is lurking right around the corner, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.  Therefore, to avoid future pitfalls in life, control your soul by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

A Class to Remember

Over the weekend I made my first venture down to Lynchburg, Virginia to see my niece graduate from Liberty University.   As I listened to Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker address the commencement crowd, I pondered about the hundreds of students I taught in high school over a decade.  After a couple of minutes I was drawn to a class to remember.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”- Acts 17:5

Every so often a teacher encounters a classroom full of angels.  While each may be rough around the edges, inside hearts of gold set the tone for a special connection.  Back in 2005-2006, I had the pleasure to create my first Bible elective: Biblical Leadership.  Little did I know back then that those 13 individuals would make such an impact for God’s kingdom.

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. – Romans 4:20-21

One of these students, Joseph Feeley went home to be with the Lord after a courageous battle with cancer.  Prior to this diagnosis, I was introduced to this warrior for Christ.  Joseph inspired his classmates to transform the spiritual climate at Red Lion Christian Academy.  Daily discussions turned into slices of heaven on earth as each student spurred one another on to leave a legacy of faith.  Although only 12 remain living today, I will always treasure the year I spent with this class to remember.

by Jay Mankus

 

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