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Category Archives: Truth

Fitness for the Soul

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, there were 41,370 fitness centers in the United States. Depending upon where you live, most of these local gyms are in walking distance or less than 10 miles from where your reside. Whether you prefer exercise bicycles, treadmills or lifting weights, if you want to get in shape prices often range from $10-20 per month. If you need a friend to hold you accountable, most facilities often a special rate for guests. If you can’t afford this, there are always local parks with fitness trails with detailed instructions to follow for you to remain fit.

For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

In his first letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul wanted Timothy to not get caught up in physical fitness. While exercise is needed to stay in shape, fitness for your soul is much more important in the long run. Paul ends his first letter to Timothy with an illustration of what spiritual fitness resembles, 1 Timothy 6:11. The pursuit of happiness is an honorable quest, but fitness for the soul begins by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Along the way, fight the good fight as you strive to emulate Jesus.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

The author of Hebrews adds a different dimension to fitness for the soul in the passage above. As you work out physically and spiritually, remember the advice passed on to you by former coaches, mentors and teachers. If parts of your life begin to spin out of control, unload everything that is tripping you up or weighing you down. As you do this, keep your eyes focused on the cross since when runners get tired, the first thing that occurs is that heads slouch, forcing eyes to stare at the ground. If you keep your eyes fixed on the finish line, God will give you the vision to maintain fitness for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Discipline of Believers

As a former teacher at a Christian school, every human being needs discipline. Upon my first day in a classroom, I made the assumption that these kids were all raised in Christian home. When I observed unruly behavior day after day, I was forced to alter my classroom management style. As a rookie in the area of discipline, I struggled to maintain control and order in my first semester. This painful experience led me to understand the need for disciplining believers.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

The author of Hebrews addresses individuals who constantly cheapened God’s grace. There was an ungodly belief that spread throughout the first century that the more you sinned, the more God would pour out his grace upon you. This topic is first brought up in Hebrews 6:4-6, warning careless believers of the dangerous path they are going down. Four chapters later, the passage above serves as a grave warning for anyone heading toward the gates of hell. Perhaps this in the Bible’s version of scaring sinners straight back to the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? – Hebrews 12:5-7

Following the chapter known as the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, the author returns to the reason why discipline is necessary. As you go through life, compared to a marathon, certain aspects will where you down over time. Subsequently, when you find yourself falling away from God, correction and discipline is a form of love. As I once taught to my junior high students, biblical boundaries are designed to keep you close to God while keeping dangers and evil out. While no one like to be disciplined in public, this is a necessary for believers to get back on the narrow road which leads to heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

In the summer of 1994, the world was introduced to Forrest Gump. This unlikely hero played by Tom Hanks follows the advice and wisdom of his mother throughout this film. Expressions known as Gump-isms simplify life similar to the parables of Jesus. While sitting on a bench waiting for his bus to arrive, Forrest says “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Or while addressing his drill sergeant, Gump replies “stupid is as stupid does sir.”

He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others, Proverbs 10:17.

While Forrest is credited for coining this phrase, a biblical author hints about this in the book of Proverbs. Stupid is used 36 times in the Bible. Several of these are written by King Solomon who is trying the pass on his wisdom to his children. In the passage above, Solomon compares stupidity with stubbornness. If someone is trying to help you by revealing an error, flaw or imperfection, it’s in your best interest to listen and adjust what you’re doing wrong.

Whoever loves instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating, Proverbs 12:1.

Unfortunately, if the timing of a correction, rebuke or reproof catches you off guard, a defensive spirit may cause you to disregard this information. Using the modern saying “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcome” is the epitome of stupid. Unless individuals develop a teachable spirit, stupidity becomes a self fulfilled prophecy by not learning from past mistakes. May this blog help you to break free from a stubborn spirit.

by Jay Mankus

When Will You Find Peace?

On June 7, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army the South Vietnamese town of Trang Bang. One of the tactics used by the North Vietnamese Army was to hide among the villagers because it helped avoid airstrikes and artillery. While there were videos of the beginning of the Vietnam War, one picture shocked the U.S. public about the terror of the Vietnam war. This photo was of a 9 year old girl who soon became known as the “Napalm Girl”.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

This one gut-wrenching photograph illustrated the complete opposite of peace. Nearly a half century later, war has taken on new forms. Following protests and rioting in 2020 across the United States, some neighborhoods have become a war zone with violence breaking out nearly every weekend. As concerned citizens come to grips this wave of unrest, many troubled souls are wondering, “when will I find peace?”

Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace (the peace of His kingdom) at all times and in all ways [under all circumstances and conditions, whatever comes]. The Lord [be] with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

The apostle Paul provides advice for anyone searching for peace in the passages above. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by anxiety and worry, Paul suggests that prayer should be used as a hedge of protection. Whatever you are facing or about to go through, lift up these concerns to God. Meanwhile, give thanks for all circumstances, good, bad or indifferent so that peace of God will begin to provide tranquility and assurance to your soul. As you practice Paul’s advice, may you find the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

That’s What Prayer is For

My father immigrated to the United States from Lithuania as a child. While growing up, my father demonstrated a stoic personality that was typical from this region of Europe. Over the last 20 years, I’ve noticed the softening of my dad’s heart. This past weekend was a glimpse of this appreciation for life during a comment he made prior to saying grace. As my children and daughter in law spent July 4th weekend at his home, he was thankful for what my family has become.

Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. 24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it], Mark 11:23-24.

This wasn’t always the case as all families experience rough patches throughout the course of life. While listening to a sermon a decade ago, I was overwhelmed by a spirit of conviction. I went a year without a strong prayer life, aimlessly treating prayer like a shopping list. Following a Saturday afternoon Bible Study, I made a vow to consistently lift up my children and family in prayer. What my father observed was simply 10 years of answered prayers.

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop, Mark 11:25.

One of the apostle Paul’s missionary helpers recalls a conversation that Jesus had with his disciples. The context of this discussion was about the potential of prayer when attached with belief. Prayer is designed to remove the barriers, obstacles and mountains that stand in your way. However, there are times when prayer must be delayed until you take care of personal matters. Once reconciliation occurs or restoration is underway, prayer can continue as you exercise your faith.

by Jay Mankus

Somewhere between Too Evangelical and Not Calvin Enough

When you don’t get that job you feel you were born to do, this news can be disheartening. Meanwhile, if you have ever been fired from a job, it takes time to recover from the permanence of this decision. Whenever you find yourself unemployed, starting over is a humiliating process. While it’s good to redefine who you are and what you want to do in the future, waiting for a door to open, the right job to come along and hope to be restored can be exhausting.

But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:15-16.

My first interview for a full time job after attending a youth ministry trade school was suppose to be a slam dunk. At least that’s what I thought since I was good friends with the older brother who was interviewing me. The position was the Youth Pastor at a Lutheran Church in Rapid City, South Dakota. My future office was on top of the Black Hills, overlooking Rapid City. During a series of meetings, I thought I knocked it out of the park until I was told I was too evangelical for their congregation.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Twenty years later, I found myself teaching high school Bible and coaching golf for an Evangelical Free Church in Delaware. This was a dream job that combined my passion for sports and teaching. However, as the church and school went through a scandal, attendance declined. This led to another church buying this property and school in the middle of the first semester. After being reassured that no one would lose their jobs, I was fired on New Years Day, 2012 because I wasn’t Calvin enough. Nearly 10 years later, I still find myself somewhere between too evangelical and not Calvin enough.

by Jay Mankus

Where Presence and Practice Intersect

As a former athlete in multiple sports, practicing in the off-season is key to reaching your full potential. Before the days of travel teams and countless weekend competitions, sports junkies like me would hone their skills in local neighborhoods. Spontaneous pick up games would occur every summer day playing 500, steal the bases, interception, and whiffle ball. On rainy days, boards games, cards, and video games passed the time until the weather cooperated. The more I competed and practiced, the presence of improvement began to shine through.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul encourages members to practice their faith. While God does show up unannounced from time to time in the form of angels, answered prayers and signs, this doesn’t happen by chance. Peace doesn’t occur simultaneously as soon as you verbalize this word. Rather, peace arrives at the intersection of practice and presence. This develops as faith is exercised through reflection, prayer and thanksgiving. Practicing what you believe gives individuals the opportunity to fail and learn what you need to work on spiritually.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

According to the apostle Paul, focusing on the positive is a key step toward progressing. As your mind begins to dwell and focus on true and wholesome aspects of life, attitudes and behaviors tend to change for the better. However, Paul doesn’t want Christians to stop here. In addition, keep moving forward by practicing what you have learned from the Bible. The closer you draw near to the Lord, the greater your chances will be to experience the presence of God. Therefore, carry on by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit so that God’s presence appears when faith is practiced.

by Jay Mankus

Students Expelled for the Sins of their Mothers

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6262630807001#sp=show-clips

Columbus Academy of Central Ohio is one of the premiere private high schools in the nation. With an annual tuition of over $30K a year, you would think common sense and academic excellence would reign in their hallways. However, based upon the recent expulsion of three students due to the concerns of their mothers, one has to wonder what is happening inside the classrooms of America’s preparatory academies.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Curious minds want to know, what exactly did these two mothers do? How bad could their behavior have been to have their children kicked out of school. These two mothers founded the Pro-Columbus Christian Academy Coalition. Instead of gossiping or slandering their school, these two women wanted to be advocates for change in a positive way. The goal of this coalition was to stop the bigotry and return this school back to academic excellence.

And as for you, brethren, do not become weary or lose heart in doing right [but continue in well-doing without weakening], 2 Thessalonians 3:13.

When these two parents didn’t shut up and go away, a female headmaster in cooperation with a male school board president expelled these 3 girls for the sins of their mothers. In a feature by Tucker Carlson of Fox News, the full context of this story has come to light. From a biblical point of view, the apostle Paul regularly told first century Christians to not become weary in doing what is right. Even if this means having your children expelled, these two women did what was right in God’s eyes. Perhaps, their example will inspire others to do the same.

by Jay Mankus

Reproofs and Consequences

The term “Reprove” comes from Elizabethan English. The biblical definition of reproof has a variety of meanings depending upon the context. A reproof could refer to convince, disprove, rebuke or reject. In many cases, reproofs occur when a spiritual leader catches a believer doing or saying something that is out of character. While most churches have become too lenient on Christians living outside of church, a reproof is designed to correct wrong behavior.

To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a loose woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in your heart, neither let her capture you with her eyelids. 26 For on account of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread, and the adulteress stalks and snares [as with a hook] the precious life [of a man], Proverbs 6:24-26.

While God promises to forgive those who repent, the consequences for any sin remains. In the passage above, King Solomon uses the example of a lonely man who seeks to fulfill his sexual desires with a one night stand. However, whenever two individuals participate in a sexual encounter, soul ties are developed and last long after this one excursion. Like any type of addiction or bad habit, inner cravings continue to grow via temptation until you are lured into another comprising position, James 1:13-15.

Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, doing evil in His sight? You have slain Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife. You have murdered him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because [you have not only despised My command, but] you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your [a]own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun, [Fulfilled in II Sam. 16:21, 22.] 2 Samuel 12:9-12.

No one is exempt from the consequences of sin, even if you are a man or woman after God’s own heart. In the passage above, the prophet Samuel shares the penalty for David’s act of adultery and murder. Unfortunately, David got a taste of the expression “what comes around goes around.” Reaping the seeds of sin, David’s family and life became a living nightmare. May the consequences of sin strike a nerve in your heart so that you’ll learn quickly from the next reproof that you receive.

by Jay Mankus

Mind Your Own Business

In my younger years as a student, if I was caught eavesdropping or asked too many questions, an insider would reply “mind your own business.” This idiom means to refrain from meddling, by keeping to your own affairs. Apparently, this expression was first used in the first century by the apostle Paul. Perhaps Paul was referencing part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:1-5. Instead of judging others, Paul wants believers to get your own affairs in order first.

To make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you,12 So that you may bear yourselves becomingly and be correct and honorable and command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-supporting] and having need of nothing, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

In a letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul builds upon this concept. No one likes a control freak who points their finger to cast blame upon anyone who makes a mistake. If I could paraphrase the words above into modern lingo, “don’t tell people how to live, show them by your own example.” Christians who focus on studying the Bible, praying and applying biblical truth set the tone and become the light of the world, Matthew 5:14-16.

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others, Philippians 2:3-4.

Instead of using similar terminology like take the plank out of your own eye first, Paul focuses on priorities. If your own life is falling apart, you won’t be much help to anyone in need. While Paul doesn’t say be selfish in the passage above, he suggests that you need to take care of your own interests first. Once you get your own house in order by removing any signs of hypocrisy, you can begin to look out for the interests of others.

by Jay Mankus

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