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Missing Christ

Until high school, I was a struggling student, caring more about fitting in than getting good grades. This immaturity caused me to surround myself with individuals with questionable character. By the time I reached junior high school, I was somewhere between amoral and naïve, going through the motions. This spiritual condition led me to miss Christ’s role in Christmas as presents distracted me from the true meaning of Christmas.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us, Romans 5:7-8.

Perhaps, I was hindered by Catholicism, going from point A to point B. After celebrating my first communion, my parents enrolled me in CCD, the Catholic version of Sunday School. Unfortunately, adult Sunday School classes were fun, CCD was more like going to school, but more boring. Instead of simplifying this process, the pursuits of sacraments, theology and traditions staggered my faith.

For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [[g]endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness], 2 Corinthians 5:21.

The most important aspect of CCD is preparing 8th graders for Confirmation. While I still didn’t grasp Jesus’ role in the mass of Christ, I was exposed to God’s free gift of salvation, Romans 6:23. Looking back, going through the Confirmation process laid a foundation for my current faith. As you unwrap your gifts this Christmas, don’t miss the spiritual truth of a Savior born to save mankind from sinful desires that wage war against human souls.

by Jay Mankus

The Difference Between a Mistake and Sin

Blunders, errors or slip ups are words associated with making a mistake.  These missteps can be blamed on miscalculated, misguided or wrong actions.  A common explanation for this occurrence is being amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  Finding fault or judgment is often excused until the rules are made known to everyone.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [ignoring God’s law by action or neglect or by tolerating wrongdoing—being unrestrained by His commands and His will], 1 John 3:4.

Meanwhile, the biblical term sin refers to an act of disobedience, rebellion or transgression.  The basis for law in the Bible is the ten commandments.  The first four detail how God expects individuals to respond, treat and worship the Lord.  The final six set the ground rules for civil law.  In the New Testament, Jesus summarizes these commandments into two brief guidelines.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others],’ Matthew 22:36-39.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, a mistake becomes a sin when lawlessness is involved.  The Bible serves as a moral code for life, a line in the sand to demarcate how far you can go.  Boundaries are meant to keep you safe, far from sin.  However, ignoring, neglecting or not enforcing biblical principles opens the door for sin to become a lifestyle.  Therefore, the next time temptation dances, rolls or strolls into your life, don’t be mistaken about sin’s clear and present danger.

by Jay Mankus

 

Jumping Offsides

During each NFL offseason, owners meet to discuss necessary changes to improve the integrity and overall quality of each game.  According to the 2017 rulebook, Section 20 covers jumping offsides.  A player is considered Offside when any part of his body or his person is in the Neutral Zone, or is beyond the line of scrimmage.  When a member of the offense commits this foul, a whistle is blown to immediately stop the play to access a five yard penalty.  Yet, when a member of the defense commits this infraction, the offense has a free play.  If time allows, the quarterback will attempt a deep thrown down the field to use this rule in their favor.  One untimely mistake like jumping offside can be the difference between winning and losing.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; 17 but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly [die [because of your disobedience],” Genesis 2:16-17.

From a spiritual sense, Adam and Eve were the first to jump offsides.  While God clearly defined the boundaries one chapter earlier, curiosity took them right to the edge, taking a peek at the other side of the fence.  There wasn’t a need for instant replay as both participants ran off the field, hiding in the bushes.  This act is referred to as original sin, a selfish act that ruined God’s intended design for life on earth.  Sometimes a poor decision that you make negatively impacts your family or future generations.  Hopefully, this fateful event in history will serve as a teachable moment to avoid going beyond the boundaries God defines in the Bible.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin, James 4:17.

Every person falls into one of three categories: amoral, moral or immoral.  Amoral refers to individuals do not have a clear understanding of right and wrong, living a carefree life without a defined set of standards.  Moral includes individuals who are concerned with godly principles.  While those who fall into this category may not always do the right thing, a defined belief system provides a foundation for integrity to exist.  Immoral are those who for one reason or another refuse to conform to or accept standards of morality.  Regardless of where you may fall in this spectrum, the brother of Jesus leaves a powerful truth about life.  Beside jumping offsides beyond biblical guidelines, anyone who knows what is right and fails to act, sins of inaction are considered the same offense as sins of action.  May this blog help you think twice the next time you have the urge to jump offsides.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

When Something’s Gotta Give

Depending upon where you reside, you might come in contact with individuals who exhibit alarming qualities.  Some people go through life pretending to possess certain beliefs, principles and virtues.  Unfortunately, these qualities are rarely demonstrated, cheap words void of action, behavior or any semblance of consistency.  To successfully confront these type of people, you have to speak in hypothetical terms.  Like a client during a session with a psychologist claiming they have a friend who has an issue, when in reality they are the person in the story.  Thus, you have to carefully approach certain situations in question with kid gloves.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”  Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:5-7.

This is the strategy the prophet Nathan takes in the passage above.  Nathan knew King David, a former shepherd, would respond to injustice committed against one of his previous occupations.  This story spoke to David, enraged by what the awful outcome.  Like a fisherman using the perfect bait for a specific fish, David bought the hypothetical analogy hook, line and sinker.  The illustration uncovered David’s act adultery with Bathsheba, the killing of her husband and eventual marriage.  When truth reveals the darkness of sin, something’s gotta give.

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

As more and more people grow up without attending church, this upcoming generation uses the amoral excuse, not knowing right from wrong.  The Bible uses darkness or night as imagery to explain illustrate those who attempt to avoid following or live by rules in this life.  However, you can only be amoral for so long, Romans 1:2o.  According to the apostle Paul, there are countless invisible qualities that daily reflect the presence of God.  These signs like a sunrise, sunset or rainbow shine light into the darkness of this world.  Sooner or later, God will send someone into your life to challenge, convict or inspire you to come clean by confessing previous transgressions.  The next time light magnifies a blatant flaw in your life, something’s gotta give.  When it does, choose repentance over rebellion.

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

Blind and Toothless

Jewish law detailed in the Old Testament is clear and concise.  “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth annd life for a life” doesn’t leave any grey area.  Yet, when asked about his opinion on biblical law Gandhi provided a classic quote.  “If this law was applied literally everyone would be blind and toothless.”

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, John 1:17.

Today, lawyers have crafted escape clauses and discovered loopholes to help clients avoid punishment.  When you combine this with activist judges who view the United States Constitution as a living documents, law now evolves as society changes.  This lack of consistency often results in chaos within classrooms, communities and work places.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet,” Romans 7:7.

Whenever someone is caught breaking a rule, knee jerk reactions tend to reply with something like “I didn’t know.”  The purpose of rules is to prevent individuals from using the amoral card, not informed on right from wrong.  Yet, laws without grace breeds teetotalism, the point Gandhi eludes to above.  Therefore, two things are necessary to avoid a blind and toothless society.  First, slow down long enough to read, reflect and meditate on the Bible.  Then, when you go beyond the boundaries God has set, confess, repent and turn to God in prayer for forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

Take It or Leave It

In recent years, those who live according to a secular worldview are claiming the Bible no longer applies to modern life.  Meanwhile, any law, principle or rule within the written Word of God is labeled as bigoted, discriminating and sexists.  Yet, if these skeptics actually took the time to read the Bible, individuals would begin to see the lofty expectations that exist.  Free will does not force anyone to adhere to these standards.  Rather, its up to you, take it or leave it.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:46-48.

The legal world uses an interesting term, plausible deniability.  This means that an individual can be excused from guilt, like a disclaimer or waiver.  The Bible uses a similar word to plausible deniability, amoral.  Moral refers to knowing what is right and doing it.  Immoral is the opposite, knowing what is right, but failing to obey.  Amoral comes into play when someone is held to a standard that they were never taught.  Subsequently, if you have never attended church, heard the gospel or read the Bible, you are only held accountable for that which you have been introduced.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

The purpose of this blog is to simplify the message of the Bible, take it or leave it.  The consequence of sin results in a guilty verdict from the jury.  The punishment for this crime is death, eternal separation from God.  However, the judge steps in to offer a special plea deal.  Actually, God is willing to pardon all offenders with one simple gift.  Jesus paid your bail in full, but the choice is yours, take it or leave it.  You can receive this as your own, taking ownership of faith.  You can reject it and so by live according to the world’s standards.  Or you can wait for a while, but either way, the clock is ticking.

by Jay Mankus

A Faith in Foreclosure

When a home owner fails to pay the debt accrued and owed, the mortgage lender can choose to foreclose on a property to regain their money.   According to a 2015 study, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware have the highest foreclosure rates in the United States.  The highest rate affected the residents of New Jersey where one in every 559 housing units filed for foreclosure after payments were not made.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, Hebrews 10:26.

From a spiritual perspective, Jesus paid the debt for sin accrued over the course of one’s life.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy, for the wages of sin is death, in Romans 6:23.  Yet, the good news lies in the final line, the gift of God is eternal life.  However, when you do mess up, God expects acts of contrition to follow.  Thus, if you treat promises in the Bible as a get out of jail free card, you are in danger of experiencing a faith in foreclosure.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

In an earlier chapter, the author of Hebrews provides a glimpse of a faith in foreclosure.  Whether its an addiction, careless acts or poor choices, some are lured into a false sense of security.  Before being introduced to the Bible’s teachings, individuals can claim to be amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  However, once you have seen the light; enlightened from years walking in darkness, you no longer have an excuse.  Thus, anyone who reaches a faith in foreclosure, must fully repent, turning 90 degrees away from sin, back to God or face the consequences mentioned above.  Turn back to Jesus today while time is on your side.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignorance

Blindness, unawareness and vagueness are what I call kind synonyms for ignorance.  Harsher terms involve crudeness, disregard and incapacity.  Scholars often blame a lack of education, innocence or not being enlightened by social etiquette.  Whenever you go or whatever you do, you are destined to encounter some form of ignorance.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

Before the decline of a biblical family in America, social skills were taught at home.  Character, discipline and hard work were displayed by parents, not just empty words.  If children ever got in trouble in school, parents handled behavior problems at home.  Unfortunately, a spirit of ignorance has enabled a younger generation to find an excuse for their actions or shift the blame, sometimes playing the race card.

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance, Hebrews 9:7.

From a theological perspective, the ignorant can be classified as amoral.  The immoral are those who have been exposed to right and wrong, but chose not to follow what they were taught.  The moral obey the boundaries laid down by their belief system.  Meanwhile, the amoral are those individuals who have never been introduced to specific absolutes.  Thus, ignorance continues to exist today until conviction, usually from reading the Bible, opens our eyes to see the error of our ways.

by Jay Mankus

No Intentional Passes

As baseball fans await Sunday, March 30th, Opening Night for MLB as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will meet in Sydney Australia, its time to freshen up on the lingo used in America’s pastime.  Whenever a clutch or power hitter faces a pitcher with runners in scoring position on either second or third base, its not uncommon to intentionally or unintentionally walk this player to face a less dangerous batter.  Great pitchers will try to fool these individuals with throws that look like a good pitch before falling out of the strike zone.  Although they may give up a walk, broadcasters will use the phrase, unintentional / intentional pass.

In life, this term has become too familiar, excusing individuals for their actions, behavior and comments.  Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:12, people have become experts in playing the blame game, passing the buck to someone else more fitting.  To escape punishment, rationalization has become a way of life to avoid consequences, shifting all the responsibility like a dishonest politician.  If this trend continues, no one will accept blame or take the fall, dodging the truth with distortion and lies.

According to Moses in Leviticus 4:22 and 4:27, unintentional sin is a common occurrence.  If someone has not heard, does not know or hasn’t been properly informed about God’s command, this individual is deemed amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  However, once this information has been clarified, no intentional passes should be granted.  Guilty parties should follow the principle set forth by Jesus’ own brother, James 5:16.  Since Jesus has become today’s great high priest, no shedding of blood is necessary anymore, Hebrews 4:15-17.  Thus, when you are convicted of a trespass against one of the Bible’s laws, approach the throne of grace with confidence God will pass over your sin, leading you around the bases of life.

Do you have a story of starting over that you’d like to share with my readers?

by Jay Mankus

 
    
 

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