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Tag Archives: accountability

Two Elements of Transformation

Before a dramatic and thorough change occurs within the life of a human being, there is usually a series of events that serve as a catalyst. Some people have to hit rock bottom before coming to their senses. Others go through some sort of near death experience before their soul is awakened. As for me, I suffered a nervous breakdown in high school before God set the stage for my heart to finally be open to receiving the good news about Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ], Matthew 16:17-18.

After Jesus suffered, died on a cross, rose again and ascended into heaven, Jesus sent an invisible counselor to carry on the ministry he began on earth. The venue in which this movement continues in is the church. While not every congregation has a physical building, the church is the cornerstone for faith. After following the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 10:9-10, the church is the vehicle through which spiritual transformation occurs. Accountability, confession, fellowship, prayer and worship are methods through which each believer undergoes the sanctification process.

Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). 51 Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], 1 Corinthians 15:50-51.

The final element of transformation is the cross. A common analogy refers to crossing out the I in self to become a member of God’s team. This commitment involves denying your own aspirations, dreams and goals on earth. According to Jesus, the only way to find life is by giving it up, losing it to follow the cross of Christ. This decision is often met with rejection from friends, family and neighbors. Nonetheless, if you truly want to fulfill God’s will by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, you heart will begin to cry out in prayer, “not mine, but your will be done.”

by Jay Mankus

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Estranged

When love is absent, conditions can deteriorate.  If this negative climate persists, relationships can be torn apart.  By products of this atmosphere result in arguments, fights and misery.  Without reconciliation, family, friends and relatives can become estranged.  This tension creates a dysfunctional mood at an family gathering or reunion.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12.

The Bible refers to estranged in context of a relationship with God.  Any type of sin separates individuals from God.  In the Old Testament, Israel was given the Torah as a set of standards for life.  Breaking, cutting corners or slightly deviating from these laws is described as a willful act of disobedience.  Deuteronomy 28 contains a list of blessings for those who obey God, ending with a much longer list of consequences called curses.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near, Hebrews 10:24-25.

A first century Jewish convert to Christianity wrote the book of Hebrews.  In the passage above, advice is provided to restore estranged relationships.  Accountability serves as a tool to sharpen one another spiritually.  While this takes place in the form as a Bible Study, prayer or sharing group, these fellowships promote healing and forgiveness.  If you find yourself in a relationship drifting away or falling apart, take steps now so that these precious bonds are not severed permanently.

by Jay Mankus

Trying to Heal a Defiled Heart

If you maintain a burdensome schedule each week, finding time to take an honest assessment of your life isn’t easy to do.  Most busy people press on. ignoring any signs, symptoms or traces of trouble.  When a state of emergency was issued for Delaware during the fourth snow storm in March, I was forced to slow down, unable to go to work.  After reading the passage below, an overwhelming sense of guilt struck my soul, exposing a defiled heart.

After He called the people to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen [carefully] to Me, all of you, [hear] and understand [what I am saying]: there is nothing outside a man [such as food] which by going into him can defile him [morally or spiritually]; but the things which come out of [the heart of] a man are what defile and dishonor him. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him he}” Mark 7:15-16.

As a former high school teacher, I gave my students some sort of assessment every 3 weeks.  Homework, papers, quizzes and exams were given during each unit to reveal the degree of comprehension.  Unfortunately, after graduating from high school or college, adults rarely think about assessing their faith like educators.  This lack of reflection often hides glaring issues.  As for me, a lack of candor has brought to light a defiled heart.

For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit. For figs are not picked from thorn bushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a briar bush. 45 The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart, Luke 6:43-45.

According to Jesus, your choice of language provides immediate feedback to what’s in your heart.  If you find yourself using coarse joking, put downs or sarcasm, this serves as a warning of a heart in grave condition.  In order to take a positive step forward, confession is the best place to start, James 5:16.  If your language does not improve, finding an accountability partner can help turn your life around.  While transformation takes time, meditating on Bible verses, prayer and fasting are all honorable steps toward healing a defiled heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

Helping the Oppressed

According to a 2011 study, nine millions Americans struggle with sexual addiction.  Some of the affected are former victims of abuse, rape or were exposed to pornography early in life.  Depending upon the degree or severity of these addictions, it’s clear that someone needs to be the hands and feet of Jesus to help the oppressed.

Flee from sexual immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body, 1 Corinthians 6:18.

While all addictions should be taken seriously, sexually immorality is different, causing individuals to sin against their own body.  Like any temptation in life, the more you indulge by giving in, the harder it becomes to stop.  Thus, anyone who loses control by engaging in sexual addiction becomes held hostage by lust, unable to resist time after time.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

The context of the passage above uses a fishing illustration.  A good fisherman knows where the fish are and how to lure their out of hiding.  In the same way, Satan knows your weakness and how to entice you to take the bait until you are hooked on sin.  In view of this reality, three things must change to help the oppressed.  First, any addict must purge themselves from the environment that leads to sin.  Second, you must admit and confess publicly that you have a problem.  Finally, you need to find an accountability partner to insure that a relapse does not occur.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.

After graduating college, I met a friend in Ohio who was seduced by his baby sister when he was twelve.  Following a young adult Bible Study one night, we began to open up to each other about our current spiritual struggles.  In the next few weeks, deep conversations continued without any spiritual healing.  Frustrated by a lack of progress, the two of us agreed to enter into an accountability relationship, meeting weekly at a restaurant.  This wasn’t easy as topics like masturbation, pornography and sexual immorality were brought up.  However, if you want to be completely healed from any type of addiction, tough love is essential.  Therefore, if you want to help someone you know who is oppressed, make an effort to connect weekly so that the path toward healing may begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Up, Look Within and Look Around

The current culture that exists encourages individuals to point their finger at everyone but themselves.  This mentality enables blame to become attached to innocent people.  Cable news, social media and talk radio often defends the guilty while accusing those who share an alternative worldview.  Instead of continuing down this road, perhaps its time to look up by using prayer to ask God why?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, Matthew 6:33.

If you don’t receive a definitive answer, maybe its time to look within.  When things don’t go your way, you may be the person responsible.  This is where accountability comes into play.  If you surround yourself with yes people, you might not ever hear the honest truth.  After any fall in life, God uses humility to teach sinners to learn from mistakes from the past.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened, Matthew 7:8.

One thing God is teaching me is to avoid becoming self absorbed.  I tend to get so focused on what I am doing that I ignore the needs of others.  To correct this bad habit, change begins by looking up for divine intervention.  When insight arrives, personal reflection may be required to alter your direction in life if necessary.  Finally, as individuals begin to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, its much easier to look around to see where God want you to be.

by Jay Mankus

Far Worse Than I First Thought

There are periods in life which seem innocent at first.  Initial symptoms are brushed aside as merely a byproduct of age.  Yet, if you continue to ignore the obvious, sooner or later conditions will become far worse than you ever imagined.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, Job 31:7.

Fifteen years ago my eyes began to hurt trying to work full time while attempting to complete my masters.  The amount of reading was too much strain on my eyes resulting in arthritis of the eye.  In the years that have followed, some of my goals were never fulfilled due to this condition.  Now I am just thankful for the ability to see.

“If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,” Job 31:16.

What is most troubling to me is my current spiritual condition.  Due to a lack of accountability and a consistent church home, may faith has decayed.  The other night a wave of conviction revealed to me how far I have wandered off course.  The passages above serve as a standard to see if your faith is in action or dead.  Sometimes the truth hurts, far worse than I first thought.  When days of conviction come, may the Lord’s grace and mercy fall on those confess their sins.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Cure to the Second Glance

Every month I receive a hundred or so comments on posted blogs.  The one which has received the most feed back is the Second Glance.  Inspired by the Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade, this devotion eludes to the temptation to go beyond appreciating beauty toward lust.  While reading the book of Job today, I believe I have stumbled upon a cure to the Second Glance.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman,” Job 31:1.

In the midst of struggling to comprehend God’s hand in the death of his children and a deteriorating body, Job changes his attention toward devotion to his wife.  As part of a wedding vow or personal commitment to his spouse, Job promises to avoid taking a second glance at other women.  Although this may seem old fashion, I’m sure this decision prevented another woman from interfering with his marriage.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted, Job 31:7-8.

Depending upon your personality, spheres of influence and upbringing, everyone has a different way of dealing with situations.  Free spirits are vulnerable to becoming loose canons, expressing whatever comes to their minds.  Meanwhile the disciplined are often rigid, strict and practice teetotalism, zealous in the enforcement of rules.  Most people fall somewhere in between, a hybrid of sorts.  Yet, in the end, it comes down to a will to love.  The passage above details the passion necessary to fight the urge to take another peek.  If you are truly set on overcoming lust, add accountability, Bible Study and a will to love to your daily prayers and routine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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