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Category Archives: Truth

Oh What a Feeling

Beginning in Junior High, music became an integral part of my life. I was there when MTV debuted in August of 1981, going over a friends house every day after school to watch Behind the Music. This was well before Reality Television caused music to become an afterthought on MTV. One of the songs ingrained in my mind is What a Feeling by Irene Cara. Cara’s song went on to become the theme song for the film Flashdance in 1983. When high school began for me, music filled me with an adrenaline rush each time I pressed the play button on my Walkman.

He then goes on to say, And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin, Hebrews 10:17-18.

The Bible talks about a different kind of feeling. This particular one is based upon the overwhelming sense of being forgiven. The author of Hebrews provides a reason to celebrate. Jesus was the missing link, the perfect lamb of God who serves as an eternal Great High Priest. While guilt and shame will still continue to haunt souls, there is absolute remission of past and present sins. Yet, Hebrews 10:26-27 does offer a cause for concern. Apparently, some first century Christians were taking God’s grace and mercy for granted. So don’t let the exhilarating feeling of forgiveness spoil your faith with an on again, off again mentality.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us, Psalm 103:11-12.

The Old Testament provides an analogy that reminds me of Irene Cara’s song. When the degree of God’s forgiveness is compared to infinity, this news makes me want to leap into the air and proclaim, “oh what a feeling!” From a human perspective, this concept is hard to comprehend. Yet, if God forgives and forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west, this fact should result in a greater appreciation. Whatever genre of music that you prefer, the next time that you feel overwhelmed by addiction or bad habits, turn up the volume so that you can celebrate God’s grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

When You’re Painting Light Illuminates Imperfections

I spent last week trying to renovate a new house in South Carolina. The longer I participate in this process, the more helpless I feel as building and construction is not one of my gifts. Rather than get in the way, I turned to painting and sanding. After putting on a coat of primer, I thought we were ready to paint the ceiling. However, when I inspected each section a little close with light, I was disappointed by all the areas that I missed. When you’re painting, light illuminates imperfections.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves, 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.

Light appears 272 times in the King James Bible. Light is used as spiritual imagery to illuminate everything that is good and true. Meanwhile, darkness is the opposite of God. Human nature tends to lower one’s standards, using justification and realization to participate in deeds of darkness. Until I started to read and study the Bible, I didn’t know right from wrong accept from what my parents taught me. Yet, like the apostle Paul’s confession in 1 Timothy 1:15, the closer you draw near to God, the more your sins are brought to the surface.

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or [c]the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life, Ephesians 5:8-9.

In the passages above, the apostle Paul calls Christians to leave the darkness of their past by entering the light of the Lord. Yet, change requires a catalyst, something to trigger a dead spirit so it can be brought back to life. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, it was a Jewish man longing to eat the sloop given to pigs that altered his perspective. Any time human beings hit rock bottom, common sense is illuminated. Despite how frustrating it is to recognize any imperfection in your life, the light of God’s Word helps believers see what issues they need to addressed before maturity can be achieved, James 1:2-4.

by Jay Mankus

Redefining Greatness in the Eyes of Heaven

The saying “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” is attributed to Margaret Hungerford. Using the pen name “the Duchess,” Margaret wrote this expression in one of her Irish proverbs. During his lifetime, King Solomon created over 1000 songs and 3000 proverbs. The purpose of these old wise sayings was to develop a spiritual mindset. Without some sort of transformation, human beings aren’t able to comprehend what’s great in God’s eyes.

But this is not to be so with you; on the contrary, let him who is the greatest among you become like the youngest, and him who is the chief and leader like one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves. 28 And you are those who have remained [throughout] and persevered with Me in My trials; Luke 22:26-28.

Using a sports analogy, talk shows weekly debate who is the G.O,A.T? Whether it’s a cable or radio program, there is something about ascertaining the greatest of all time. Various opinions collide just like the disciples who wanted to prove to Jesus that they were better than everyone else in the room. This sets the stage for Jesus to quickly shift gears from an earthly perspective toward heaven. While God has great things prepared in advance for every believer, Philippians 1:6, the ultimate goal is serving others.

But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, 44 And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for ([y]instead of) many, Mark 10:43-45.

One thing that makes leaders stand out are those individuals who just don’t say the right thing, but back up their words with action. As Jesus was about to lay down his life on a cross, He likely saw his life flash before his eyes. Similar to flashbacks in a movie, Jesus is reclining at a table with his friends for the last time as a human being. Adrenaline and emotions were likely flowing as they departed this upper room singing hymns. Following Jesus’ resurrection, the first breakfast in John 21:8-11 gave Jesus the opportunity to fully redefine greatness in the eyes of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

As for Us It’s Different

One of the most famous speeches in the New Testament is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Using this mountain as a natural pulpit, Jesus begins his message with a set of attitudes to emulate. Just before making a transition to prayer and giving, Jesus uses logic to explain why Christians are called to a higher standard. To stand out like a lighted city on a hill, you need to go above and beyond what an average citizen would do. In other words, it’s different for us.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 [aj]To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

After playing four sports in high school, I decided to take a step back and just do intramurals in college. Little did I know that I would become the Intramural Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. One of my responsibilities was attending weekly coaches and referee meetings. During one of our basketball games, a teammate threw a punch and was kicked out of the game. Following his ejection, I had to explain to Chris the importance of “turning the other cheek.” While this discussion took an expected turn as Chris thought Jesus would have punched this guy too, my main point to him was as for us it’s different.

For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that? – Matthew 5:43-47

Jesus makes this clear in the passage above. Christians aren’t called to blend into their surroundings like a chameleon, Rather, anyone who enters into a personal relationship with Jesus is expected to gradually become more like Christ. This transformation won’t happen immediately. However, as new believers begin to study the Bible and ask other Christian’s questions, change will occur. Subsequently, as maturity takes place over time, James 1:2-4, Christians will come to realize as for us it’s different.

by Jay Mankus

Before My Sufferings Begin

Famous writers use foreshadowing as a way to misdirect readers, confuse anyone who has prematurely judged a character or as a way to leave behind a series of clues. In Hansel and Gretel, the Grimm Brothers use a trail of bread crumbs. However, throughout the four Gospels, Jesus drops subtle hints. Unfortunately, the disciples developed an ungodly belief, thinking that Jesus would become the earthly King of the Jews. Subsequently, no one knew what Jesus meant by “before I suffer.”

And they went and found it [just] as He had said to them; and they made ready the Passover [supper]. 14 And when the hour came, [Jesus] reclined at table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; Luke 22:13-15.

Human nature has a tendency to compare your own life to someone else. Hollywood has a series of scenes where two characters compare their scars starting with subtle ones before escalating to the most severe. Yet, suffering is often in the eye of the beholder. If you’ve lived a sheltered life without many trials or tribulations, it’s hard to comprehend the life of an orphan. In the case of Jesus, he waited 33 years before laying down his life. Yet, his disciples didn’t understand what was about to happen.

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 2 Corinthians 12:6-7.

At the conclusion of a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul pours out his heart about his own suffering. Whether this suffering was physical, spiritual or a combination of the two, Paul reached a point in his life where he began to accept this condition. As religious leaders attempted to kill and stone Paul on numerous occasions, he began to see a silver lining. Whether you’re in the beginning, middle or end of suffering, this experience has been allowed to occur so that in your weakness, placing your entire trust in Jesus will make you stronger than ever before.

by Jay Mankus

A Perfect Fellowship Between God and the Worshiper

Depending upon the quality of relationships that you’ve had on earth, there are some people that you click with instantly. Typically this connection stems from sharing common hobbies, interests or life experiences. Sometimes you may become so comfortable around these new friends that you’ll reveal secrets that you’ve never told anyone before. If this kinship lasts for an extended period of time, you’ll enter into a special kind of fellowship.

Now if perfection (a perfect fellowship between God and the worshiper) had been attainable by the Levitical priesthood—for under it the people were given the Law—why was it further necessary that there should arise another and different kind of Priest, one after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one appointed after the order and rank of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is of necessity an alteration of the law [concerning the priesthood] as well, Hebrews 7:11-12.

The author of Hebrews refers to a spiritual fellowship. Not just any kind, but a perfection connection between God and the worshiper. However, to explain this concept, the Old Testament is referenced to provide the history of Levitical priests. Rather than go into specific details, the author points to a former King of Salem. This mysterious figure served as a High Priest whom Abraham tithed 1/10 of his spoils as a token of appreciation for Melchizedek.

What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may [d]realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a [e]distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah).And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be full [and [f]your joy may be complete], 1 John 1:3-4.

One of Jesus’ disciples illustrates what a perfect fellowship resembles in the passage above. John is likely referring to the special bond formed between first century Christians. Rather than go to a priest at the nearest temple every time you sinned, we now have a mediator in Jesus who will go directly to God on our behalf, 1 Timothy 2:5. This sets the stage for a perfect fellowship between God and the worshiper. Therefore, the next time you participate in a worship service, clear your conscience so that you might experience a perfect fellowship with God.

by Jay Mankus

When a Communion Ceremony Turned into a Pissing Match

The content of your conversation reflects the type of person that you are. Everyone has a hot button, a topic that you can talk about for hours at a time. Depending upon who you are talking with, you may be tempted to one up whoever is speaking. Following the conclusion of their story, you may brag, embellish or exaggerate to impress everyone in the room. This is exactly what happened when Jesus’ disciples turned the first communion ceremony into a pissing match of who’s the best.

Then He took a loaf [of bread], and when He had given thanks, He broke [it] and gave it to them saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. 20 And in like manner, He took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament or covenant [ratified] in My blood, which is shed (poured out) for you. 21 But, behold, the hand of him who [a]is now engaged in betraying Me is with Me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined and appointed, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed and delivered up! 23 And they began to inquire among themselves which of them it was who was about to do this, Luke 22:19-23.

Insecurities tend to cause human beings to want to be liked by their peers. Subsequently, you may lie or pretend to be what is popular, trendy or socially acceptable. This masquerade continues until you’re fully comfortable with the person that you’ve become or you no longer care about what other people think. In the case of the twelve disciples, each one was trying to impress Jesus, hoping to become his favorite. This insecurity spawned a look how much better I am than you debate.

But Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles [c]are deified by them and exercise lordship [[d]ruling as emperor-gods] over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors and well-doers. 26 But this is not to be so with you; on the contrary, let him who is the greatest among you become like the youngest, and him who is the chief and leader like one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves, Luke 22:25-27.

This earthly mindset is exposed in the passage above. Heaven isn’t concerned about who the best is at this or that. Rather, heaven rejoices at the sight of Christians humbling themselves so that they develop a heart to serve others. Jesus didn’t just talk a good game; He was willing to lay down his life for sinners, Romans 5:8. Therefore, the next time someone tries to get you to participate in a I’m a better Christian than you debate, steer this conversation toward becoming the greatest servant of all.

by Jay Mankus

Separating Religion from Christianity

My grandmother Joana often greeted me with a particular phrase. After hugging and kissing me on the cheek, she would look me in the eye and joyfully exclaim, “you’re such a good little religious boy.” At the time, I never really knew how to respond to this comment. Yet, I didn’t want to let her down so I tried to stay out of trouble as much as possible. Religion is what others want from you like first century Pharisees who stressed following God’s law.

Then some of the Pharisees said, This Man [Jesus] is not from God, because He does not observe the Sabbath. But others said, How can a man who is a sinner (a bad man) do such signs and miracles? So there was a difference of opinion among them. 17 Accordingly they said to the blind man again, What do you say about Him, seeing that He opened your eyes? And he said, He is [He must be] a prophet! – John 9:16-17

The Mishnah and Gemara are two components of the Talmud. The Mishnah and Gemara are man made expectations written by Jewish religious leaders focused on religiously following God’s commands, decrees and precepts. The main problem with these two books is that they stress religious exercises rather than entering into and developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity on the other hand is finding out what God can do for you via faith in Christ.

And He said to them, Is it lawful and right on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to take it? But they kept silence. And He glanced around at them with vexation and anger, grieved at the hardening of their hearts, and said to the man, Hold out your hand. He held it out, and his hand was [completely] restored. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately held a consultation with the Herodians against Him, how they might [devise some means to] put Him to death, Mark 3:4-6.

One of the best examples in the Bible that separates religion from Christianity is in the passage above. While the Pharisees are focused on keeping the Sabbath, Jesus is searching for a way to share God’s love and power on this sacred day. As these teachers of the law are focused on a zealous observance, Jesus wants to heal a man with a shriveled hand. Following a frustrating conversation with these religious hypocrites, Jesus performs a miracle. While Jesus honors his heavenly Father on the Sabbath, Pharisees are distracted by religion and end up spending more than a year trying to find a way to kill Jesus. This distinction is clear and a good reason to focus on a relationship with Jesus rather than merely a religious exercise.

by Jay Mankus

The Unchangeableness of God’s Purpose and Plan

Most Hollywood films begin with a main character who is introduced in their ordinary world. This comfortable place quickly illustrates who the protagonist is, a specific desire in life and each is given a flaw that prevents this individual from reaching their full potential. Like a story from the Bible, screenplays have a call to action that will take the hero on a 90 minute journey. During this adventure, the main character is forced to rethink some of their beliefs and values. By the end, most characters will change.

Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath, Hebrews 6:17.

According to one New Testament author, God never changes. Later on in this book, a comment is made about God’s one and only son. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. This convincing statement is made beyond a doubt. This conviction is based upon God’s promise of a spiritual inheritance in the Old Testament. Although the forefathers of Israel never received this promise prior to their deaths, this oath is fulfilled in the afterlife, 1 John 5:13.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because [b]you have me in your heart and I hold you in my heart as partakers and sharers, one and all with me, of grace (God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing). [This is true] both when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the defense and confirmation of the good news (the Gospel), Philippians 1:6-7.

Anyone who has ever sought out God’s will for their own life, Romans 12:1-2, this never occurs in a straight line from point A to point B. Rather, freewill causes all human beings to deviate, going off course for an extended period of time. While your detour may not last 40 years like the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt, you will continue on the wrong path until common sense returns. Nonetheless, God has prepared in advance for you good works to do on earth. This is what the Bible means by the unchangeableness of God’s purpose and plan. May you put aside idleness so that you will fan into flame your God given gifts.

by Jay Mankus

When Christian’s Don’t Know How to Act

Becoming a Christian is like new parents coming home from the hospital with their first child. Adults may take Lamaze classes in preparation, but once there are no doctors around to tell you what to do, you’re on your own. While most churches provide literature for new believers or offer classes to help prepare newbies for a new life in Christ, there are still more questions than answers. Subsequently, countless Christians often don’t know how to act after trusting in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions. One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables. Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand, Romans 14:1-4.

While visiting the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul came into contact with new, immature and weak Christians. The passage above provides advice for coping and dealing with Christians who don’t exactly know how to act yet. As a former high school coach, Paul’s words remind me that not every individual responds well to criticism. Some people need encouragement, others need a pat on the back and the lackadaisical could use a stern talking to promote spiritual growth.

Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. 15 You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 16 But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:14-17.

The earthly brother of Jesus was introduced to the concept of sins of omission. Perhaps, the Pharisees became so concerned about religious practices such as resting on the Sabbath that they failed to see opportunities to help and serve others. When his older brother was crucified on a cross at age 33, James realized that life is too short to not to know how to act. Therefore, if your conscience or the Holy Spirit compels you to act and you do not, you’re just as guilty as a sinner. Therefore, seize each day and learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you begin to learn how to act as a Christian daily.

by Jay Mankus

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