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Recalling Minds to the Way of Life in Christ

I was an average student most of my life, often day dreaming in class about what I wanted to do. For example, I spent most of Geometry designing golf courses which explains why I never understood this concentration of math. Until I realized that my grades in high school would impact which college I could attend, my mind was hard to corral. Since academics wasn’t my forte, most of my energy, focus and time was invested into sports. After becoming a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year, the Holy Spirit helped me become a better student by recalling the promises of the Bible to my mind.

For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches, 1 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes the quest for knowledge gets in the way, hindering one’s ability to grow spiritually. Members of the Corinthian Church were raised in a culture that idolized philosophers. While the apostle Paul’s visit to this region in Greece sowed spiritual seeds, after his departure it appears that many went back to their former way of life. After receiving news of their idleness, back sliding from the apostles’ teaching, Timothy is sent as a means to recharge their spiritual batteries. Paul’s goal is to recall minds to the way of life in Christ.

Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him, John 14:6-8.

Seeing in Believing is the name of a 1934 British film. Seven years later author John Dickson Carr wrote the mystery novel Seeing in Believing. German singer Xavier Naidoo, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Adriana Evans also released songs with the same name. During the first century, seeing is believing was a common phrase for those who witnessed a miracle performed by Jesus. Yet, the disciple known as doubting Thomas still had reservations, regularly questioning Jesus. Since modern Christians have to rely on the words of the Bible, as you read these living pages may your minds be recalled to the way of life in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Fear Verses Faith

As the Coronavirus began to quickly spread throughout the United States in March, most states enacted 14 day stay at home orders. The goal of this quarantine was initially designed to flatten the curve, lower the spike in cases of COVID-19. Since the end of March, this quarantine was extended into April and now into May, with schools cancelled for the rest of the Spring. With each extension, the goal posts have been moved, suggesting America shouldn’t re-open until a cure is discovered. Following Dr. Fauci’s Senate hearing last week, the stock market plummeted as his comments created a wave of fear and panic throughout this nation.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

Last week, Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports posted a video on Twitter of his opinion on the quarantine. This rant went viral on social media as millions of people felt and sensed his frustration. Although Portnoy didn’t use the words fear verses faith, he wants the ability to choose for himself. Instead of being held hostage, living in a police state, Dave wants to take a chance to live, even if it means catching COVID-19. As families continue to be out of work, considered non-essential, alcoholism, domestic violence and suicide is on the rise. Like anything in life, choices have consequences. However, if fear of catching this disease paralyzes one’s ability live, faith must come alive to counterbalance these concerns.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If you watch the news on any given night, most broadcasts promote fear, detailing the number of new cases of the Coronavirus and the updated death toll. If you are searching for hope, cable news is the last place to look. The context of the passage above is geared toward a teenage pastor named Timothy, likely in over his head. Instead of allowing fear to reign, Paul encourages Timothy to remember God’s promises. Thus, the next time you sense fear is consuming your soul, cry out to the Lord in prayer so that God’s Spirit of power, love and self-control will set you free from fear.

by Jay Mankus

Choose Your Attitude… Change Your Life

Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life is a popular name for a self help book. Similar to the popular title, You are What You Think, which I read as a college student. Author Robert Jeffries took his 1992 book and turned this into a 2020 sermon series for his First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Since most states have banned churches from meeting together for worship, Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life is now available to watch. The Pathway to Victory airs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network on Sunday morning 10:00 EST.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], Philippians 2:14.

The book definition of attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior. Attitudes often serve as a frame of mind, school of thought and vantage point about how you see life. Depending upon which individuals you surround yourself with, perspectives will form and shape various beliefs. If the Bible is excluded from your point of reference, attitudes can turn sour quickly, void of God’s promises.

That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Philippians 2:15.

The church of Philippi is sometimes referred to Paul’s favorite church, blessed and grateful for their spiritual growth and progress. Yet, Paul still saw flaws and weaknesses within these individuals. Based upon the passages above, attitude, complaining and grumbling appears to have been a common problem. This forces Paul to remind his readers of the ideal, standing out like shining stars, full of the light of Christ. While there is a temptation to blend into your surroundings, God calls Christians to a higher standard. If you change your attitude to that of Christ, a changed life is possible to achieve via the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Most Holy Emotions

The term emotions appears 6 times in the Bible with 3 different translations. Genesis 45:1 uses the expression Qara’ to describe Joseph’s emotional outburst after being reunited with his brothers. This comes from the Hebrew word Qal: to utter a loud sound in the form of calling out or crying. Meanwhile, Job 15:12 refers to his heart being overwhelmed by emotions. Lamentations 1:20 uses the expression “my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me.” The final mention occurs in a letter to the church of Corinth where Paul refers to the most holy of emotions.

For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. 3 And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you, 1 Corinthians 2:2-3.

The context of this passage is based upon Paul’s motives for visiting Corinth. Trying to say, “I didn’t come like I was checking off a spiritual to do list. Rather, I resolved to share the gospel, the message of a living Messiah who was crucified, but rose from the grave.” Apparently, this initial visit didn’t start off too well, leaving Paul filled with dread, fear and stress. Perhaps, the most holy emotions flow out of overcoming obstacles, conceived when a lost soul comes to faith in Christ. Just as angels rejoice in heaven, Luke 15:7, when a sinner repents, holy emotions may explain celebrations of faith.

And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], 1 Corinthians 2:4.

As I reflect upon my 35 years as a Christian, the joy of answered prayers has stirred my soul on numerous occasions. The most memorable moments in my life have occurred after hearing that friends had come to faith in Christ. While in college I remember two phone calls where I jumped up and threw my hands into the air like an end zone celebration. Perhaps, this is the type of holy emotion Paul is writing about. However, holy emotions can include death like Jesus weeping for Lazarus. Whatever emotions that you endure, be sure you give thanks in all circumstances, Philippians 4:4-8.

by Jay Mankus

The Presence of Jesus in the Old Testament

Foreshadowing is an indication of what is to come. When plan A failed, allowing Adam and Eve to have free reign of the Garden and Eden except for the Tree of Knowledge, God uses imagery to introduce plan B. The apostle Paul explains the science of God in Romans 5:12-21. What Adam failed to do, being obedient to God, Jesus is sent several thousand years later to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel, Genesis 3:15.

In the second book of the Bible, the Lord raises up a man named Moses to be the voice of God for Israel. The only problem was Moses suffered from a severe speech impediment, Exodus 4:10. Despite getting frustrated with Moses’ lack of faith, God sends Aaron to speak on his behalf until Moses finds the courage to confront Pharaoh. The only way to survive an angel of death was to sacrifice a perfect lamb, without blemishes. Then sprinkle it’s blood above and upon your door posts. This lamb is symbolic of Jesus.

And you shall eat it thus: [as fully prepared for a journey] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment [proving their helplessness]. I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be for a token or sign to you upon [the doorposts of] the houses where you are, [that] when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt, Exodus 12:11-13.

Seven hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, a seer named Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ birth, life and death. Isaiah 53:1-10 compares Jesus to a shepherd laying his life down for his sheep. The disciple who Jesus loved echoes this in John 10:1-11. While the Old Testament does show the wrath of God poured out upon the disobedient, the presence of Jesus sets the stage for God’s unconditional love in the New Testament. May this blog remind you of the numerous promises of God that have been fulfilled and those yet still to come.

by Jay Mankus

The Dangers of Moral Narcissism

There are vast degrees of self-righteousness that exist in today’s culture. However, a term that dates back to 1979 is replacing self-righteous; what Christopher Lasch refers to as moral narcissism. This moral superiority is conceived from a sense that one’s beliefs, ideals, and affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Moral narcissists can range from obnoxious religious leaders, perfectionists seeking piety to sanctimonious members of the media. If you are not part of an important, powerful or significant group, expect to be looked down upon from one of these individuals who practice symbolism over substance.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: 10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector, Luke 18:9-10.

During a first century conversation, Jesus uses prayer as way to highlight the difference between the humble and self-righteous. In this illustration, Jesus compares a Pharisee to a tax collector. To set the scene, Pharisees were considered devout religious leaders, respected by the Jewish community. Meanwhile, tax collectors were often corrupt, tied with prostitutes at the bottom of the least desired occupations of their day. This background reflects how each approaches the Lord in prayer. As long as moral narcissists express how much they care publicly, following through with their convictions isn’t as important.

The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. 13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! – Luke 18:11-13.

Becoming self-righteous blinds individuals from their own spiritual condition. When you think too highly of yourself, subtle sins are ignored and overlooked. Instead of looking inward, moral narcissists compare themselves to lesser human beings as a means to feel better about their life. This mindset is a breeding ground for lukewarm spirits. Anyone who continues down this path are in spiritual danger, drifting closer to hell. The only way to snap out of this state is by acknowledging sin. May this parable serve as a warning to those hindered by a big ego, hypocrisy or smugness.

by Jay Mankus

When You are Going Through a Phase in Life

As children begin to experience and go through puberty, this period initializes a series of phases in life. Depending upon maturity, support systems, and upbringing, most teenagers don’t respond well to change. Each phase could last as short as a week, extend for months or stretch beyond a year. As a former teacher, I recognize the obvious signs and signals. Yet, some are like poker players who hide their cards well.

But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior to man [as man] appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:4-5.

If I had to point to my own life, the junior high years were the hardest for me. At five feet tall and ninety pounds for 2 years, I was an easy target for bullies. One of the only positives for me was my speed, able to outrun most of my attackers like Forrest Gump. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Jenny who attended the same school. My neighbor Jeanette went to a private school so I was forced to fend for myself like the social misfits in the classic film Outsiders.

Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. [And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope, Titus 3:6-7.

I thought joining the Boy Scouts might help me overcome the fitting in phase. Looking back, I found just as many bullies there as in school. What I really needed was a personal relationship with Jesus, but this didn’t happen until 10th grade. As I put God on hold for a few more years, a couple of friends were sent to help me while God was waiting. Thus, as some of you may be struggling with a new phase in life, don’t forget to call on the name of the Lord to get you through the challenges that you’re currently facing.

by Jay Mankus

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