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Starting to Believe

If you listen, follow or watch cable news on a regular basis, you might begin to believe that the world is falling apart.  A majority of these networks blame Donald Trump for the world’s demise.  Yet, when you spend time outside in the real world, current accusations don’t appear to be as bad as initially reported.  If the media outlet you depend upon isn’t telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, who and what should you believe?

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

In the passage above, a man approaches Jesus like a disgruntled shopper, complaining about the service he received from a couple of the disciples.  Evidently, the disciples were unable to heal this man’s son possessed by an evil spirit.  This boy was often thrown into epileptic seizures, foaming at the mouth and unable to control his own body.  Jesus attributes this failed miracle to a lack of faith.  Desperate to see his son freed from this helpless state, the man pleads with Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe,” Mark 5:36.

In the 1992 film A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson plays Colonel Nathan Jessup who is called to testify in court about one of the marines under his command who was killed.  During a cross examination by Tom Cruise who plays Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee a Navy defense lawyer, a heated argument ensues.  Known as”You Can’t Handle the Truth,” this scene depicts the effort and struggle to unravel truth from fiction.  When forming a belief system, this process is just as difficult, sorting through what your church, education and parents have taught you.  Meanwhile, friends, mentors and professors may be pressuring your to confirm to post-modernism or secularism humanism beliefs.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

When you come to a spiritual crossroads, the best advice is to follow in the footsteps of Berea.  This first century church urged their members to test everything they heard before reaching a conclusion.  Fact checking practices entailed combing through the Bible to determine if ideas, new teaching or theories were consistent with what the apostles taught.  Sometimes information is easy to decipher while other pieces take weeks. months or possibly years to grasp.  During a letter to Thessalonica, Paul reminds the people he visited to abstain from evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Although you will never know all the answers to life’s questions, at some point you have to start believing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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The Coup d’état

The pronouncement of a coup d’état derives from the Spanish expression golpe de estado. Commonly used in Spain and South America, this refers to a formal explanation for the deposing of a regnant government.  Ousting, overthrowing and seizing power is justified with an installation of a new government, considered in the best interest for the future of a country.  Whether this is true or not does not matter as long as any opposition forces are eliminated.

17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like [a flash of] lightning, Luke 10:17-18.

Coup d’etat’s are not limited to the political realm.  Rather, one spiritual elite conceived a plan to alter God’s grand design for planet earth.  Instead of allowing mankind to rule, a fallen archangel conspired with his cohorts, a third of heavens angels to regain control.  Thus, this sly creature entered a snake to commence operation sin.  Sure, the thought of a woman talking to a snake doesn’t make much sense, but prior to the confusion of speech within Babel, Genesis 11:1-9, some scholars believe animals were initially able to talk with human beings.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”- Genesis 3:1

The Coup of all coups began with one subtle question, “did God really say?”  After a persuasive conversation, it didn’t take long before minds were teased with the possibility of becoming like God.  This thought was too tempting to let go of, day dreaming of what this might be like.  Without much resistance, Adam and Eve handed over their authority of earth over to Lucifer who remains in power today as ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2.  What a waste, foregoing the future of a perfect life on earth to indulge in an instant of gratification that quickly fades.

13 For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.

Unfortunately, the Coup of all coups continues today in relative obscurity.  The worse part is that Satan has deceived some church leaders to twist and alter truth of the Bible.  This has led certain Christian denominations to not believe in the Devil.  The watering down of God’s Word is enabling individuals to be deceived daily while Satan continues to masquerade as an angel of light.  May this blog awaken hearts and alert minds to this spiritual danger.  May the Holy Spirit give you eyes to see through this darkness so that Satan’s coup d’état doesn’t destroy another life.

by Jay Mankus

Looking Through a Key Hole

My dad’s mother, an immigrant to this country, spent most of her time in the United States living in Binghamton, New York.  Beside working as a nurse at a local hospital, my grandmother rented out the second floor of their house which consisted of three separate apartments.  After her three sons graduated from college, Joanna continued to work at this hospital but left these spare rooms vacant.  During my childhood, these upper rooms provided an excellent place for hide and go seek.  Due to squeaky wooden floors, you were forced to tip toe, spying through open keyholes in antique doors.  From this vantage point, you could check to see who was coming or wait until someone revealed their hiding place.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

Prior to high tech security systems with hidden cameras, most modern front doors contained a peek hole to look through before opening the door.  This safety feature protected children from unwanted strangers like the classic scenes from Home Alone and Uncle Buck.  However, these peek holes were not always used for wholesome reasons.  Over the years, some have fallen prey to voyeurism, using binoculars, open key holes and peek holes to feed fleshly desires.  Those who give into these ungodly desires open the door for pornography that leads to reprobate minds.  While each individual is vulnerable to different types of temptation, Jesus urged his own disciples to watch and pray so that the Holy Spirit will override earthly desires.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7.

Jesus’ earthly brother chimes in with his own advice.  In the first chapter to first century believers, James 1:13-15 claims that temptation is not God’s fault.  Rather, the process of giving into sin is a series of compromises, often subtle that lead careless souls on the verge of going beyond boundaries defined by the Bible.  Thus, James commands his readers to resist the Devil by submitting yourself to God.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul adds another piece of this spiritual puzzle, 1 Corinthians 10:13, when tempted look for the way out of your predicament.  If there is one song that demonstrates the danger that lurks on the other side of a keyhole it’s the children’s classic O Be Careful Little Eyes.  May this blog inspire you to avoid taking a second glance so that the urge to sin is quickly broken by eyes fixated on the cross of Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

Try, Try Again

Since the election of Donald Trump in November of 2016, a resistance movement conceived within the United States.  Those who have joined this political wave are refusing to accept the outcome of this election.  Instead activists are urging supporters to battle, defy, fight and oppose the policies of president Trump.  After nearly two years, members of the House, Senate and mainstream media are putting on a full court press to override the will of the people.  Despite numerous failures to achieve their goal to impeach Donald Trump, the leaders of this movement continue to try and try again.

“And I will put enmity (open hostility) Between you and the woman, And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed; He shall [fatally] bruise your head, And you shall [only] bruise His heel,” Genesis 3:15.

There is another adversary who has a long history of perseverance.  When the archangel Lucifer exercised free will to seek praise for his own beauty as the angel of song, Ezekiel 28:12-15, he was kicked out of heaven.  Apparently, one third of all angels from heaven backed Lucifer, expelled from heaven along with their leader.  Hungry for power, Lucifer successfully deceived the first human family on earth as Adam and Eve’s blunder netted Satan authority over plant earth.  Although limited based upon encounters with God in Job 1-2, Satan continues his reign today as ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2.  In an eternal game of chess, God quickly regained control by sending a second Adam to restore that which was lost, Luke 19:10.  When news of this plan reached Satan, demons were assigned to cut off this seed.  Planting evil thoughts within the mind of King Herod, Matthew 2:13-23, all male infants two years and younger were slaughtered to abort God’s plan for redemption.  Yet, an angel of the Lord awoke Joseph just in time, escaping to Egypt for a few years until King Herod’s death.  According to the book of Revelation, all of Satan’s efforts are all for not for in the end God is victorious.

Yet death ruled [over mankind] from Adam to Moses [the Lawgiver], even over those who had not sinned as Adam did. Adam is a type of Him (Christ) who was to come [but in reverse—Adam brought destruction, Christ brought salvation], Romans 5:14.

If your life is like mine, every day can be a grind; leaving me exhausted.  Having the desire and energy to try, try again doesn’t come naturally for me.  Thus, in my weakness, I am compelled to cry out to Jesus like 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, praying that the power of the Holy Spirit will make me strong.  One of the hardest aspects of life is dealing with failure, especially for perfectionists.  Coping with and getting over the thought of embarrassment and losing is a tough pill to swallow.  For some, they have a hard time forgiving themselves, especially if you blow it big time.  Thus, most people need a friend, mentor or motivation to live and learn from past mistakes.  Recently, I came across the song Overcomer by Mandisa.  The point of the chorus within the lyrics is to get back on your feet after falling.  If you ask God to give you the resolve and will to press on, then you too can try, try again until success is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

Reaching a State of Expectation

From time to time, I make the mistake of trying to make changes to my life without asking or seeking God’s help.  While determination, discipline and focus can be effective tools to alter bad habits, spiritual ruts and unhealthy patterns, human effort will only take you so far.  I guess this is human nature’s way of learning the hard way.  Whenever I reach a point of frustration, unsatisfied with the current state of my faith, responding to a convicted heart is the best place to start.

Even now the axe [of God’s judgment] is swinging toward the root of the trees; so every tree that does not produce good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire,” Luke 3:9.

In the first century, God sent a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of His son Jesus.  Known as John the Baptist, this prophet used the Old Testament practice of purging to pierce the hearts of his audience.  As individuals began to reflect upon their vast imperfections, many came forward to be baptized by John.  Uncertain of what to do next, soldiers and tax collectors consulted John on the proper acts of penitence to pursue.  This advice provided vision for these newly baptized souls, reaching a state of expectation, looking for opportunities to serve God each and every day..

The crowds asked him, “Then what are we to do?” 11 And John replied, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do the same.” 12 Even some tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked, “Teacher, what are we to do?” 13 And he told them, “Collect no more than the fixed amount you have been ordered to [collect].” 14 Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us, what are we to do?” And he replied to them, “Do not extort money from anyone or harass or blackmail anyone, and be satisfied with your wages,” Luke 3:10-14.

Belief without trust, faith without action and hypocritical words are some of the reasons Christian churches aren’t flourishing like the first century.  One of the main culprits for this spiritual stagnancy are believers void of any fruit, Galatians 5:22-23.  If Christians are suppose to be the light of the world but lack integrity no one will take them serious.  Meanwhile, if the church is suppose to be the salt of the earth but lose their saltiness, there is no flavor left to incite any kind of spiritual hunger.  Therefore, if you want to reverse this trend, let the words of John the Baptist inspire you to reach a state of expectation influenced by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

When X-Rated Thoughts Become a Lifestyle

A recent study discovered that the porn industry made over 13 billion dollars worldwide last year.  This is more profit than the National Football League, the premiere professional sports industry in the United States.  Then again, this might explain why advertisers create promiscuous commercials year after year to target a younger audience.  Based upon the statistics of pornographic viewership, at some point in the process of temptation X-rated thoughts are becoming a lifestyle.

Then it happened in the spring, at the time when the kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all [the fighting men of] Israel, and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 11:1.

Like any bad habit or an addictive behavior, there is usually a pattern that leads up to engaging in the actual act of sin.  Step one begins when individuals have idle time.  In the passage above, David didn’t go to work.  Each spring when the snow melted and roads were passable, kings went out to work to defend their borders or expand their territory using force.  For some reason, David lost interest, searching for something else to do in life.

One evening David got up from his couch and was walking on the [flat] roof of the king’s palace, and from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very beautiful in appearance, 2 Samuel 11:2.

Step 2 often goes hand in hand as boredom is a byproduct of idleness.  Free time can cause human minds to wander.  In the passage above, David was star gazing when an open window revealed a beautiful naked woman.  Instead of going back to the stars, David was fixated on each physical feature of her body.  After an initial subtle glance, lust conceived within David’s heart, opening the door for step 3, enticement.

David sent word and inquired about the woman. Someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” – 2 Samuel 11:3.

Enticement feeds on human nature using appeal, bewitchment and charm.  As if minds are trying to use logic to justify the thought of any wrong doing, enticement weakens souls.  While some may turn back after being enticed, day dreaming, fantasizing and ungodly passions take most people beyond the point of no return.  The only thing left is engaging in the actual act of sin.  Unfortunately, this is where common sense is abandoned as David disregarded the fact that this naked woman was married.  Enticement drags curious souls into a web of darkness that few escape or recover from.

 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

The passage above details how and why an X-rated mind can become a lifestyle.  The author of this book is credible, the earthly brother of Jesus who likely had a few minutes with him before his ascension into heaven.  James warns believers against blaming God for the choices they have made in life.  Those who give into temptation have placed themselves into environments that usually result in sin.  Therefore. if your minds is leading you where you don’t want to go, take the advice of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 so that X-rated minds can be cleansed and made whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Recounting the Stages of Your Journey

Back in 2007, I took my family on a month long vacation to see the Grand Canyon.  This trip took several years of planning and saving, but it was worth every penny spent.  From Skyline Caverns, Shenandoah National Park, the Great Smokey Mountains and the Ozarks, this was merely an appetizer before for the main course.  Along way, dining in restaurants across the south western part of the United States was fascinating and surreal.  This journey opened my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation within each of the 20 plus states I visited.  Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in New Mexico, the Indian Rock Cave and Trail near Fairfield Bay Arkansas, the Painted Desert in Arizona and Wind Caves National Park in South Dakota are must see destinations if you travel via car or RV.  My one bit of advice is that you can’t see everything so pick a couple of places and savor each day you have while site seeing.

Moses recorded their points of departure, as the Lord commanded, stage by stage; and these are their journeys according to their points of departure, Numbers 33:2.

In the passage above, Moses recounts the journey Israel made from the Exodus out of Egypt to the Jordan River, waiting to enter God’s promised land.  Earlier in this Old Testament book, Moses records the numbers of people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who make this trek.  Without modern equipment like moving vans and paved roads, the staging of half a million people was no easy task.  Yet, with the Lord’s help along with the elders, Israel was on the verge of seeing one of God’s promises fulfilled.  To a certain extent, recounting your previous steps helps you in the future if you face a similar project or task.  Failing to develop this sort of practice may result in repeating the same mistakes of your past.

You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I surpassed many of my contemporaries among my countrymen in [my advanced study of the laws of] Judaism, as I was extremely loyal to the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul recounts the stages of his spiritual journey.  Paul refers to three aspects of his life: before Christ, his conversion experience and how the Holy Spirit has changed his life since beginning a relationship with God.  While this may be obvious to you, Paul realizes that everyone’s journey is different.  Sometimes you succeed and other tests you fail miserably.  Yet, its important to be real, reflecting upon the good and bad.  If the journeys of Christians are perfect, the average person will feel unworthy, unattracted to faith in Christ.  However, when believers publicly confess and share their shortcomings, James 5:16, healing can begin.  While most people want to put on a good front, the world is hungry for honesty.  Therefore, don’t miss out on the teachable moments the Lord gives you each day to recount the stages of your spiritual journey by sharing your testimony.

by Jay Mankus

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