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Tag Archives: wisdom

As Times Change… Don’t Get Left Behind

My first stereo was a record player with an eight track built in below.  I typed my high school research paper on a type writer.  The most advanced computer classes available for me in college was CAD and Word Perfect 2.1.  I didn’t join social media until 2012 and my children mock me each time I pull out my ancient cell phone.  As times have changed, I’m afraid that I have been left behind, now struggling to catch up.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12.

In the Old Testament, the average life expectancy was much lower than today.  While royalty and the wealthy possessed the resources to extend life, dying in your twenties and thirties wasn’t uncommon.  Thus, the Psalmist urged individuals to seize the day, making the most of the years God provides.  Subsequently, the Bible details genealogies that include teenage marriages and pregnancies.  Young women gave birth to most of their children before the age of thirty.  As times changed, ancient believers sought a heart of wisdom to prevent being left behind.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

As I approach my 49th birthday next week, I have spent the last week reflecting on what I have done, where I have been and what I would like to do in the future.  Yet, as I hold on to the things I have treasured from my past, time has passed me by.  Resistant to change, I haven’t made the effort to keep up with technological advances.  This oversight on my part has caused me to be left behind.  As I open my mind to this painful reality, I pray that God gives me the energy and perseverance to make up for lost time.  May the Lord direct your steps so that you obtain a heart of wisdom in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

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What are You Still Lacking?

If you asked a recent high school graduate the same question after completing a four year degree in college, perspectives would likely change.  Human nature tends to make young people think they are infallible.  When you add knowledge, wisdom and a wealth of information to this equation, some will likely think they know it all, now smarter than their parents.  This is the state we find the rich young ruler in the passage below, only lacking one thing in life.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

Searching for eternal security, this man sought out Jesus, hoping to discover the secret to possessing eternal life.  Immediately, Jesus catches this ruler off guard by demonstrating humility, giving God the credit for his goodness.  From here Jesus turns his attention to God’s standards in the Torah, the first five books in the Old Testament.  Obtaining knowledge of the Bible is one thing, but applying these principles separate average believers from genuine people of faith.  Perhaps, this rich young ruler thought he could enter heaven by being a good person.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Honor your father and your mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these things from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:20-22.

There are two invisible forces which drag and nudge souls in different directions.  The Holy Spirit convicts hearts and minds, revealing imperfections and shortcomings.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature is more accommodating, making those who stray from God think more highly about themselves than they should.  While the Spirit led the apostle Paul to claim he was the greatest sinner of all in 1 Timothy 1:15, my flesh made me feel better the further I slipped away from God in college.  This spiritual dilemma exists today, compared to a spiritual war in Galatians 5:16-18.  Thus, if you really want to know what are you still lacking, draw close to God and He will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Message from Molly

Today if anyone wants to research a foreign topic, people often rely on Google, Wikipedia or reach out to Alexia or Siri for information.  In one click of a mouse, everything you want to know instantly pops up on a mobile device or tablet.  However, before computers, libraries provided a vast collection of historical records waiting for those hungry for knowledge.  The Farmer’s Almanac gives insight into previous trends, allowing land owners to ascertain which is the best crop to plant.  Indians relied on wisdom passed down from previous chiefs to survive harsh winters and flourish during the harvest season.  Seeking advice is a good practice before making important decisions for your future.  Yet, sometimes even the least unlikely sources divulge powerful life lessons that should be heard and incorporated into your life.

Now these things [the warnings and admonitions] took place as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

Prior to this week, I never knew who the Poker Queen was or anything about the woman who earned this nickname.  Nonetheless, the 2014 memoirs and 2017 film Molly’s Game introduces the world to Molly Bloom.  When Molly’s ski accidently fell off during her final run of the woman’s moguls, any hopes of qualifying for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah disappeared.  Prior to entering law school, Molly moved to Los Angeles, California to start the next phase of her life.  A job as a personal assistant introduced Molly to a weekly poker game between celebrities and Hollywood stars.  The professional athlete within Molly drove her to quickly become an expert of the game of poker.  This passion opened the door for a thriving business, networking with the rich and famous to run high stake poker games.  This uncontrollable rush took its toll, sending Molly into a ethical and moral tailspin.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold, Proverbs 22:1.

To avoid a spoiler alert, I will focus on the honorable message Molly sends at the conclusion of the film Molly’s Game.  After tabloids leaked a list of former players from a deposition, sworn evidence given by Molly, her reputation was tarnished.  Despite growing financial issues, Molly refused to hand over her laptop and phone to the prosecution.  These devices contained damaging details which would have ruined families and relationships across the country.  Molly was holding the winning lottery ticket in her hand, offered millions of dollars to hand over this dirt.  Nonetheless, Molly has decided to protect her former players rather than betray them for money.  Why you may ask?  In a few closing remarks, Molly replied, “the only thing I have left is my reputation.”  While her book and film may suggest its already questionable, Molly has chosen to defend her name rather than cash in the poker chips that she is holding.  May this message from Molly Bloom inspire you to devote your life toward developing a godly reputation.

Jby Jay Mankus

Enduring a Spiritual Identity Crisis

If you enjoy or follow sports, success is defined by winning and losing.  Despite how many victories a team earns over the course of a season, if a championship is not won, fans lose hope.  In the meantime, coaches, players and stars who endure humiliating loses in the playoffs are labeled as chokers, overrated and trashed throughout social media.  Those who seek to self identify themselves using these standards will experience disappointment, failure and shame unless titles are won.  Thus, its not uncommon for people to go through some sort of identity crisis.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Non-athletes tend to use a different set of standards.  Depending upon your career choice, degrees earned and annual salary, value is placed upon your life.  Intelligence, social status and wisdom add or subtract to how the world views your importance.  Anyone called into the ministry, social work or has a low paying jobs are looked down upon by the upper class.  If you let this bother you, then you may be tempted to adopt worldly standards.  The longer you allow yourself to be defined by rich or poor, wins or losses and success or failure, the more likely you will go through a spiritual identity crisis.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening], 1 Corinthians 13:5-7.

When I moved to Chicago after getting married, living among millionaire neighbors, I tried to fit in initially.  Unfortunately, the best job I could find was making thirty thousand dollars a year, chump change to everyone around me.  Attending Willow Creek Community Church on Wednesday nights helped alter my perspective.  As I began to hear, read and meditate upon God’s standards in the Bible, my soul was comforted by the fact God keeps no records of wrong.  Therefore, if you ever feel like your life doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards, use biblical principals to overcome any spiritual identity crisis that you may endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

When All You Know Begins to Fall Apart

After graduating from high school and college, some may use this newly acquired knowledge to look down upon less educated individuals.  Meanwhile, others will immediately apply this wisdom, believing every word graduate assistants and professors divulge.  Unfortunately, many learn the hard way when trusted theories begin to fall apart under the reality called life.  Thus, when all you know begins to fall apart, developing a back up plan is a crucial step toward recovery.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

The Bible is full of advice for anyone who undergoes trying times.  One of Jesus’ disciples offers some tough love in the passage above.  You shouldn’t be surprised by accidents, circumstances or events that occur.  These happenings are merely used by God to challenge, refine and test your faith.  Jesus’ earthly brother encouraged first century Christians to embrace trials, James 1:3-6, considering these as teachable moments to grow and mature as a person.  However, putting this into practice is much easier said than done.

“So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish (stupid) man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great and complete was its fall,” Matthew 7:24-27.

Sometimes people will have their foundation rocked by natural disasters.  Others are forced to cope with disease, illness or viruses that have no known cure, hoping and waiting for a miracle.  These events will either break or make you.  How you respond will dictate your future path.  Thus, when everything you know begins to fall apart, lean on a cornerstone who is reliable, Ephesians 2:20.  If you do, you will find a solid rock to stand upon when everything else get’s washed away.

by Jay Mankus

Guns, Violence and the Solution

According to a recent study, there are an estimated 270 million guns in America.  The Geneva based Small Arms Survey also found that the United States is the best armed civilization in the world.  In an article written by Tom Kertscher last week, Kertscher suggests that there are more guns than people in America.  Using statistics provided by the Washington Post and Vox, there are 310 million guns with a little more than 300 million citizens.  When there is a discrepancy of 40 million, its hard to know who to believe.  Regardless of the actual numbers, are guns to blame for recent school shootings, is mental illness a contributing factor or are demons convincing the unstable to act upon thoughts in their minds?

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

According to a Forbes article from 2012, consumers in the United States spent 13.6 billion dollars on video games.  As a parent with three teenagers, the most popular ones are what I call shoot em up, killing games.  When I taught high school, one student confessed to his obsession with video games, playing up to 16 hours a day each weekend.  While studies have shown that these virtual simulations have prepared new members of the military for combat, students who chose to attend college often become desensitized to violence.  When you play a video game, if you die, all you need to do is hit the reset button.  In real life, once an individual allows evil to influence their actions, you can’t bring people back to life.  Although I hear cries from the media, parents and victims to ban guns, no one has said a word about the role of violent video games.  Despite this silence, what’s really important is developing and implementing a solution.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him, James 1:5.

First Blood debuted in 1982 starring Sylvester Stallone who plays a drifter, a Vietnam Veteran trying to fit back into society.  Despite serving in the Special Forces, John Rambo was unwelcomed by the country he served.  After listening, reading and watching panel discussions about what to do to ensure the safety of public schools in America, one recommendation was to reach out to ex-military.  Instead of wasting away like the John Rambo’s in this country, perhaps its time to put to work former marksmen who honorably served America.  Although each state or school may opt for other alternatives, beefed up security at college and professional sporting events has stopped recent threats.  After recent reports that the security guard on duty at the Parkland, Florida school shooting remained outside, afraid to face the shooter, the Rambo’s of today wouldn’t have that problem.  May God give the leaders of America wisdom so that politics will be replaced with bi-partisan solutions.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Enemy of Our Souls

How you ever noticed the large-scale systematic plan that is occurring worldwide?  This clever marketing scheme distracts individuals from the real problem, the enemy of our souls.  The 2017 version of the film It has recently become the top grossing horror film of all time, amassing over 300 million in sales.  I’m amazed how people can take a diversion to a theater to experience their monthly fright night, yet fail to recognize the personal demons that terrorize individuals daily.  This invisible war is crushing, destroying and wounding human souls who don’t know what to do or how to fight back.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, Ephesians 6:10-11.

Roman soldier’s were equipped with spikes on the bottom of their sandals.  Similar to techniques used during the Revolutionary War, battalions were taught to hold the line of defense so that the enemy could not come up from behind for a sneak attack.  Prior to any battle, Roman soldiers began to dig in like a baseball player entering the batter’s box.  This practice enabled warriors to secure their footing, entrenched and ready to fight.  Unfortunately, most people are caught off guard, flat footed, unable to stand up against the schemes of the Devil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Ephesians 6:12-13.

As a former teacher, I made plenty of mistakes.  Some from a lack of experience, maturity or wisdom.  As I reflect upon this decade of my life, one common error that haunts me is overlooking specific details.  In the passage above, verse 12 gets most of the attention, unveiling the spiritual realm that exists in another dimension.  Yet, the end of verse 13 is the key, the solution to the enemy of our soul, making sure that you have done everything to stand.  Do you start end day with Bible Study, take time to pray, make the effort to fellowship with believers, seek out godly council and worship the Lord in song?  Depending upon your exposure to Christianity, this check list may be shorter or longer.  Nonetheless, if you truly want to live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, you have to prepare like a soldier gearing up for battle.  May this blog arm you with necessary resources to protect your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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