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Author Archives: expressyourself4him

Why Did You Do It?

A strange string of current events in my local newspaper has caused me to wonder, “why did you do it?” One couple turned their hotel room into a drug dealing center. Another adult male thought it was a good idea to fill his home with a number of bombs recently uncovered in connection with a local explosion. As I was writing this blog, I heard the news update that the latest school shooter just shot five classmates and himself on his birthday. If this teenage shooter dies, no one will know for sure, why did you do it?

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, Genesis 3:1-4.

The only logical conclusion that makes sense to me is that all of these individuals were deceived by the Devil in some manner or form. While they didn’t have a face to face conversation like Eve in the Garden of Eden, some type of justification and rationalization process occurred within their minds before acting out. Whispers of evil and possibly a desire for 15 seconds of fame has overruled the human conscience. Thus, free will was exercised to do the opposite of what many were taught.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

The Bible’s rationale to explain sinful acts is the mental war between the human flesh and Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to his own struggle to do that which is right. This battle is detailed in Romans 7, followed by the spiritual connection in Romans 8 as sinful minds are hostile to God. Thus, as souls straddle the fence between right and wrong, the longer you allow enticement to reside in your mind, the easier it become to pull the trigger, indulging in wrongful acts. May this latest incident turn the attention toward mental health and not just guns.

by Jay Mankus

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Acts 29

The title of today’s blog is a trick question. While I was a young Christian in college listening to a motivational speaker, he asked the audience to open their Bibles and turn to Acts 29. Most of the room was flipping through the beginning of the New Testament, unable to find this page or chapter. This search continued for several minutes until one bold individual spoke out, “there is no chapter 29, Acts only has 28 chapters.”

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

This pop quiz left many in the room embarrassed. As the speaker began his lesson, this opening question served two purposes. First, this man urged believers to become better students of God’s Word. Second, to view life in terms of an unfinished chapter of the Bible where God uses modern Christians to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:8. This 60 minute speech made a long lasting impact on my life, instilling a desire to ascertain God’s will for my own life, Romans 12:1-2.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:2.

To prepare for today’s blog, I did a search for Acts 29 for fun to see what I would find. To my surprise, Acts 29 is a diverse, global family of church planters who seek to carry on the work of the apostle Paul. This ministry is characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation as churches are planted throughout the world. One of my searches located beliefs and theories that Acts 29 is simply missing. Since Acts 28 does not reveal the outcome of Paul’s trial in Rome, common sense suggests there must be another chapter. Whatever the reason for this abrupt ending, may this blog inspire you to seize each day with a renewed desire to fulfill the great commission.

by Jay Mankus

Prediction, Premonition or Prophecy?

Everyone knows at least one Debbie downer, an individual who conspires and dwells on negative things that will likely occur in the future. These predictions are often influenced by gossip, hearsay and perceptions based upon previous events. When this speculation actually happens, who or what should receive credit for making an accurate prediction. Is this merely a guilt feeling, an unexplained sense in the form of a premonition or merely a self-fulfilled prophecy?

But as [the season was well advanced, for] much time had been lost and navigation was already dangerous, for the time for the Fast [the Day of Atonement, about the beginning of October] had already gone by, Paul warned and advised them, Saying, Sirs, I perceive [after careful observation] that this voyage will be attended with disaster and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but of our lives also, Acts 27:9-10.

While traveling to Rome, Paul and Luke sail into the middle of a northeaster, similar to a strong typhon. Based upon his numerous missionary journeys, traveling by boat in the Mediterranean Sea, Paul became interested in weather forecasting. Based upon the waves, wind and typically weather patterns, Paul perceives this storm brewing in the distance. In the passage above, two factors contribute to Paul’s prediction, the time for fasting and after careful observation. Paul’s experience sailing and faith steered this man of God to make an accurate prediction.

And when neither sun nor stars were visible for many days and no small tempest kept raging about us, all hope of our being saved was finally abandoned. Then as they had eaten nothing for a long time, Paul came forward into their midst and said, Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have put to sea from Crete and brought on this disaster and harm and misery and loss. But [even] now I beg you to be in good spirits and take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you but only of the ship. For this [very] night there stood by my side an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I serve and worship, Acts 27:20-23.

The further Luke details this real life drama, the clearer it becomes that Paul possessed a special connection with God. After Paul expresses an “I told you so” moment, a new revelation provides hope for those fearful of dying. This second predication isn’t a premonition or prophecy. Rather, Paul reveals the source of his news, an angel of God. In a normal setting, there would be skepticism. However, when your boat is about to sink and panic sets in, this angel is an answer to prayer. Whether you are talking about making a prediction, sharing a premonition or having a prophetic thought, the most important thing is giving God the glory.

by Jay Mankus

Determined to Change the Status Quo

Status quo is a Latin phrase which refers to the existing state of affairs in regard to social or political issues. From a modern perspective, this is similar to the expression”don’t rock the boat” by maintaining the existing social structure and values. During a scene from National Treasure, Benjamin Gates’ father warns his son that unless the status quo changes, their lives will be in danger. Whenever I am pressured to conform to one ideology, mindset or worldview, my creative nature craves to go against the flow, finding a better way by thinking outside the box.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it, Matthew 7:13.

Jesus addresses the status quo during a first century sermon. Jesus uses the analogy of two roads: a super highway and a trail through the woods. The status quo is compared to a broad road, where the popular crowd resides followed by the masses and wanna be accepted. Meanwhile, the less attractive path is narrow, only accessible for one person at a time. Jesus details the eternal destination that awaits based upon the decisions each person makes on earth. Perhaps, Jesus is using fear instill a desire to change the status quo.

But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:14.

Thirty five years ago, I was a teenager who recently accepted Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. This decision didn’t sit too well with many of my non-believing friends. As I became an active member of my high school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I found comfort and support on the narrow path. Sure, being considered cool and popular by my peers would have been nice, but I was determined to change the status quo. A similar decision today could be compared with committing social suicide. Yet, in the end you have to decide who do you want to please; others or God. As for me and my house, I remain determined to change the status quo.

by Jay Mankus

Keep Up Your Courage

The English word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, which means hinge. Thus, cardinal virtues are four moral principles which all other virtues are connected. While courage was not selected as a cardinal virtue, prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude share similar traits. The ability to do something that frightens you by exhibiting strength in the face of adversity will test your soul.

So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me; Acts 27:25.

The context of the passage above occurs on ship being battered by the first century’s version of the Perfect Storm. Stuck in the middle of a typhoon for 14 days, the urge to abandon ship increases daily. While everyone else is freaking out, the apostle Paul addresses the crew. Displaying leadership during a time of crisis, Paul verbalizes his complete confidence and faith that God will spare everyone’s life.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Paul’s comforting message is consistent with the words of Israel’s forefathers. In the passage above, Moses uses a farewell address to remind the Jews that the Lord is with you. This was followed by his predecessor who urges God’s people to be strong and courageous, Joshua 1:9. You shouldn’t have to endure a disaster to be courageous. Rather, God uses extreme situations to provide opportunities for courage to prevail.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Best for You and Me

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to look at a glass half empty. This tendency to be negative often results in beating myself up inside. While I can forgive others for committing transgressions against me, forgiving myself is another story. This process may take days, weeks or months to get over a stupid blunder, error or mistake. Whenever anyone is too hard on themselves, Satan uses this vulnerability to steal your joy for life.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

While using an analogy of a shepherd tending his sheep, Jesus illuminates the dangers that sheep face while on earth. According to John 10:6, the crowd was initially confused so Jesus spoke in clearer terms. This is the context of the passage above as Jesus reveals how Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Although this spiritual truth may elicit fear upon receiving this news, you have to know what your enemy will attempt to do to avoid becoming the next victim.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need, Ephesians 4:28.

One of the songs from their 2009 album Breaking the Silence, The Letter Black sings about what’s best for you and me. The lyrics of Best of Me focuses on an individual who is haunted by their past. The author suggests that the only thing keeping us alive breathing is the knowledge of God’s existence. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus provides meaning and purpose for life as new converts seek to ascertain God’s will. As minds are renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, what’s best for you and me is using your own God given gifts and talents to serve the Lord on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming a Dying Faith

Paul Simon’s 1977 song “Slip Slidin’ Away” addresses the depressing topic of death. One of the final stanza’s of this song accurately describes the journey people take through life. God only knows, God makes his plan
the informations unavailable to the mortal man. We work our jobs collect our pay, believe were gliding down the highway, when in fact were slip sliding away.
Maybe I’m alone, but I endure annual cycles where I feel like I’m dying inside as my faith flickers on life support.

So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead), James 2:17.

One of Jesus’ siblings provides insight into symptoms of a dying faith. An active faith is highlighted by acts of obedience and deeds inspired by the Holy Spirit. Just as the physically fit are disciplined, exercise regularly and work out each week, the out of shape do the exact opposite. James describes a dying faith as destitute, inoperative and spiritually dead, void of any signs of life. If you can relate that any of these troubling traits, it’s time to develop a plan to overcome a dying faith.

Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac? You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works, James 2:21-22.

Jesus’ brother points to Abraham who did not have access to the New Testament, but demonstrated faith by his willingness to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Abraham had his own flaws, with a record of lying instead of trusting the Lord in Genesis. Whenever individuals go through trying times, God uses hardships, trials and tribulations to spark faith. Moses and Sarah waited for years to have a child and now God was going to take Isaac’s life? The moment anyone takes a step beyond what logic tells you, faith is ignited as daily acts compliment what you believe.

by Jay Mankus

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