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Tag Archives: A Few Good Men

What Voices are You Listening To?

Movies are littered with famous lines from Hollywood actors and actresses. Amber Tamblyn played Joan Girardi in Joan of Arcadia, a teenage girl who suddenly has a special connection with God. To disguise this ability, creator Barbara Hall had Joan come down with Lyme Disease to rationalize the voices in her head. Subsequently, as season one ends, doctors chalk up Joan’s hallucinations as side affects of Lyme Disease.

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, Genesis 3:1-3.

In season two, one of her brothers Kevin, played by Jason Ritter recalls Joan’ imaginary friend as a child. Forgetting this period of her life, as Joan puts two and two together, she realizes this still small voice was God the whole time. Unfortunately, talking to an invisible entity often results in being labeled as crazy by your peers. In A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise wanted to know the truth as do I so ask yourself, “what voices are you listening to?”

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.

In the Garden of Eden, a snake begins to talk to Eve. Since Eve isn’t surprised by this talking snake, perhaps all animals could speak prior to the confusion at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Regardless of how, the passages above are similar to thoughts rushing through your head daily. As Christians learn to take their thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, you can start to figure out what voices you should listen to and those you need to rebuke and flee from.

by Jay Mankus

When Christian’s Don’t Like What God Has to Say

American author Eleanor H. Porter wrote the novel Pollyanna in 1913. Actress Hayley Mills brought this character to life in the 1960 film entitled Pollyanna. Despite the hardship of being a missionary’s daughter all her life, Pollyanna refused to be negative. Pollyanna is symbolic of an excessively cheerful and optimistic individual who sees life with their glass half full. While no one likes to receive criticism, imperfect human beings will make mistakes. Whether through conviction from your conscience, guilt that consumes your soul while reading the Bible or a rebuke from a church leader, there will be times when you won’t like what God has to say about your current spiritual condition.

[But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah’s impatience, saying] If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan? For even your brethren and the house of your father—even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, even they are [like a pack of hounds] in full cry after you. Believe them not, though they speak fair words and promise good things to you, Jeremiah 12:5-6.

An Old Testament prophet reveals an unpleasant experience in the passage above. If you have ever watched a Few Good Men starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, these words from God remind me of the court scene where Lieutenant Kaffee cross examines Colonel Jessup. Just as the Colonel didn’t believe the Lieutenant could handle the truth, stubborn Christians have a hard time accepting the Lord’s rebuke. Instead of being open to criticism and teachable to alter their current path, many choose to turn a deaf ear, refusing to change course.

You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood. 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 12:4-7

The author of Hebrews unveils the purpose for spiritual discipline. Although you may not want to hear this, discipline is a sign of God’s love. The Lord isn’t like a human coach who would rather be loved than offend his players. Rather, God uses tough love to correct anyone who strays off course. If you truly want to reach your full potential, you need to surround yourself with others who are more advanced and skilled to reveal what you are lacking. While this may be painful and uncomfortable, if you want to grow, you must be willing to be pruned, John 15:1-7. The next time you don’t like what God has to say, submit and swallow your pride so that you’ll come out of this stronger than ever before.

by Jay Mankus

Demons Can’t Handle the Truth

There are certain expressions, quotes and sayings that have become synonymous with Hollywood films.  Whether its “show me the money” in Jerry Maguire, “how about them apples” via Good Will Hunting or “you can’t handle the truth” from A Few Good Men, these scenes seem to transcend time.  While these classic lines are proclaimed by fictional characters, one of these phrases is a touchy subject for demons.

You believe that God is one; you do well [to believe that]. The demons also believe [that], and shudder and bristle [in awe-filled terror—they have seen His wrath]! – James 2:19

On the surface, demons are spiritual entities associated with the devil and evil.  According to the Bible, one third of the angels in heaven exercised their freewill, backing Lucifer’s plot to exalt himself.  This coup against God the Father was immediately exposed, resulting in their expulsion from heaven.  Upon falling to earth, these fallen angels have aligned themselves with the devil, aka Satan, formerly the archangel Lucifer.  This former angel of song uses a plethora of sneaky methods to hide that which is true.  Corruption, deceit and lies are sown to delay the inevitable, the wrath of God.

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, “Legion”; because many demons had entered him. 31 They continually begged Him not to command them to go into the abyss, Luke 8:30-31.

While Jesus’ earthly brother explains why demons believe and fear God, a first century doctor goes into further details on this subject.  The Bible refers to the abyss as the regions of hell, a bottomless pit, a place of eternal suffering without ceasing.  This fact serves as a clear and present danger for fallen angels.  Demons can’t handle the truth because hell is their eternal destiny.  From their perspective, the more souls they can drag down with them, the better.  In view of this spiritual reality, test everything you hear with the Bible so that half truths will be exposed and the truth will set you free.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

 

A Heart Check-Up

While the heart is invisible to the average person, emotions can be felt by everyone.  Unless you are undergoing surgery, it’s hard to get a read on someone else’ heart.  Body language can provide some insight into how individuals are doing.  Meanwhile, behavior may indicate good or bad moods.  Just to be safe it’s important to get an annual heart check-up so you know for sure that you are okay.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Matthew 12:34.

During a heated debate with Pharisees, Jesus replies to a rumor started by religious leaders.  Possibly afraid that Jesus was winning over devoted Jews to a new religious movement, gossip began to flow naturally out of their mouths.  Thus, Jesus confronts this inappropriate behavior.  Using biblical principles, Jesus exposes the spiritual condition of these jealous hearts.  Like a scene from A Few Good Men, it appears these religious leaders couldn’t handle the truth.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him, Matthew 12:35.

Today, the amoral, moral and immoral can’t afford to take things for granted.  If the words of the Old Testament prophets are true, no one is perfect.  Thus, everyone has a little bit of darkness within their hearts, Matthew 6:19-24.  Therefore, before you allow your heart to become consumed by evil, taking time for a daily spiritual heart check-up is essential.  May this practice help you shun evil so that goodness will flow naturally out of your heart.

by Jay Mankus

A Vessel of Healing

When the term vessel comes up in a conversation, I immediately visualize a cruise ship, sail boat or the SS Minnow from Gilligan’s Island reruns.  While I have never experienced the amenities of a luxurious cruise, this vessel takes you where you want to go.  Sure, the weather may not always cooperate, but the goal is to arrive at each selected destination.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

When it comes to healing, the Bible refers to vessels as a vehicle for change.  Thus, spiritual vessels must avoid the popular stops and distractions the majority tend to visit.  Jesus uses the analogy of a broad road that attracts a large crowd of people.  However, in the end, this place is empty, void of any permanent satisfaction.

For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, the sea, the stands, and the rest of the vessels that are left in this city, Jeremiah 27:19.

Unfortunately, if you want to be a vessel of healing, you must accept the fact that this will be a lonely journey.  Jeremiah is nicknamed the weeping prophet as many of the messages he received from God to convey to Israel were negative.  The truth hurts as Jack Nicholson famously states as Colonel Jessup, “you can’t handle the truth.”  Vessels of healing must ignore the temptation to be popular by faithfully obeying the Holy Spirit.  In a world desperate for leadership, healing and truth, step out in faith as the Lord is waiting for A Few Good Men, to become vessels of healing.

by Jay Mankus

Unpleasant, Painful but Productive

In this age of social media, discipline often takes the forms of rants on twitter.  When shared among millions of followers, these words can be unpleasant, a strike to your heart.  Yet, if you acknowledge your own imperfections, any form of criticism can make you a better person if you are open to change.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Hebrews 12:5.

Like the famous court scene in A Few Good Men, sometimes people can’t handle the truth of an honest assessment.  Thus, many turn a deaf ear, unable to accept the painful reality that they are wrong.  This lack of openness often leads to stubborn hearts as well as a lack of progress in life.

Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son,” Hebrews 12:6.

According to the author of Hebrews, individuals need to change their perspective on discipline.  If careless acts result in embarrassment, face the music instead of running and hiding.  By embracing hardship as growing pains, character can blossom if you are open to self-improvement.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? – Hebrews 12:7

Discipline is one of those things which can be difficult to experience.  Yet, in the midst of adversity, God has a reason, to shape his children just as a potter molds their clay.  Therefore, the next time you are called out, it might be unpleasant or painful, but in the end I pray that you find it productive.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fulfilling My Duty

In the film 1992 drama A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise uses a unique defense to acquit his clients, two marines charged with murder.  Cruise convinces the jury members that these men were given an order, to perform a code red on a sub-standard private.  The defense claimed that Harold Dawson and Louden Downey are on trial for doing their job.  Beyond the realm of Hollywood, what does it mean to fulfill your duty today?

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day,” Acts 23:1.

Depending upon your calling, fulfilling your duty first begins as an individual.  What gifts or resources do you possess?  In the parable of the talents, the master goes away for an undisclosed amount of time, trusting his servants to be good stewards of what each was given.  Thus, God expects people to maximum their time and talent, seizing each day as a new opportunity to serve the Lord.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:23

In addition, you have to consider your role.  Are you a parent, spouse or teacher?  How are you influencing those around you?  Are you drawing people closer to God or do your actions serve as a stumbling block, causing children to question a life of faith.  If you’re like me, it becomes painfully obvious on a weekly daily that I have a long way to go.  Though I have days of being good and faithful, these are overshadowed by periods of disobedience, laziness and neglect.  Therefore, before Jesus returns make sure you get your house in order by fulfilling your duty to the Creator and Giver of Life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Amusing Myself to Death

The definition of entertainment refers to providing and or receiving amusement or enjoyment.  Early cultures built theaters, often used to host plays to provide comic relief from the troubles in life.  In recent years, sports allows individuals to release their stress for a couple of hours each weekend.  However, if you get too comfortable or close to the finer things in life, you may be in danger of amusing yourself to death.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

After a long week of work, I tend to find myself on a recliner soaking in something on television.  While I do spent time outside playing golf, at my current age, I prefer to be entertained.  Perhaps this explains why I have a hard time turning the channel when movies like A Few Good Men, Bourne Identity or Shawshank Redemption come on.  Its strange how reruns can attract someone’s attention, wasting valuable time that could be spent fulfilling your dreams.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there, Acts 17:17.

One of the best resources for escaping the grips of amusement is Summit Ministries.  During my decade of teaching, Dr. Jeff Myers and John Stonestreet were at the forefront of preparing students for college.  One of their common messages is that life imitates art.   The best way to address this is by engaging today’s culture through apologetics.  Just as the apostle Paul persuaded the people of Athens, this world needs a leader to snap people out of their spiritual slumber.  May the Lord awaken couch potatoes with the saving grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Cut To The Heart

King Solomon referred to the heart as the well spring of life.  His father David developed a reputation of having a heart for God.  The martyr Stephen wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers calling religious leaders rigid, stubborn and possessing uncircumcised hearts.  Over the course of one’s life, individuals may run from the truth for a while.  Yet, conviction, guilt or a simple word will eventually cut to the heart.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”- Acts 2:37

One of the most famous movie lines in pop culture comes from A Few Good Men.  Jack Nicholson plays Colonel Nathan Jessup called by the defense in a death of a marine under his command.  Tom Cruise is Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee trying to prod the Colonel to admit he ordered a code red while under direct examination.  Fed up by a series of trivial questions, Nicholson pontificates with the classic phrase “you can’t handle the truth!”

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!- Acts 7:51

I think the reason why this scene and line is so often quoted relates to the impact truth has on the human heart.  Despite how hard someone may try to cover up a lie, God gave human beings a conscience to cut to their hearts.  Thus, when you’re misguided or in the wrong, truth has a way of softening up the heart.  Therefore, the next time you are humbled, use this teachable moment to let the Holy Spirit come in to transform your hurting heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

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