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Tag Archives: beliefs

Afraid of the Truth

Recent studies have shown how algorithms used by social media sights favor a secular worldview.  After a whistle blower from Google was fired for expressing his concerns, cable news interviews of this former engineer have exposed how these algorithms block conservative content.  When you add the recent videos released by Project Veritas, it’s clear that progressives are afraid of the truth, unwilling to participate in a fair or friendly debate.

Now after Paul and Silas had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul entered the synagogue, as was his custom, and for three Sabbaths he engaged in discussion and friendly debate with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:1-2.

During the first century, debates regularly took place in the center of town at marketplaces.  Philosophers took turns sharing their beliefs with those that followed either adding, defending or weighing the pros and cons.  The apostle Paul used this open minded climate to his favor, visiting a synagogue in Thessalonica on the Sabbath, examining the Old Testament.  Luke describes these discussions as friendly debates as each shared their biblical knowledge of the Torah.

But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ] had also been preached by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds, Acts 17:13.

After Paul and Silas were successful in convincing several Jews into converting to Christianity, civility departed.  Afraid that others might leave their synagogue, leaders gathered up some lowlifes and thugs to threaten Paul.  After fleeing Thessalonica, the bullying didn’t stop as news of a revival in Berea inspired synagogue leaders to round up another motley crew.  Apparently, being afraid of the truth is nothing new as when individuals begin to embrace biblical teachings, peer pressure is applied to change hearts and minds to revert back to what is considered socially acceptable.  Don’t be afraid of the truth; face it with an open heart.

by Jay Mankus

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Seeing Criticism for What it Is

The book definition for criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based upon a perceived fault or mistake.  The key word here is perceived as modern criticism is usually based upon ideology.  Subsequently, if your beliefs, convictions or worldview varies from the socially acceptable norm, condemnation, denunciation and nitpicking will arrive fast and furious.  When the media chimes in, criticism often snowballs like an avalanche.

They preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, then they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples; encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, saying, “It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:21-22.

Shortly after being stoned by his spiritual opponents, on the verge of death, the apostle Paul gets back on his feet to share a lesson learned from this near death experience.  As he walked back to the same town where leaders wanted to kill him, Paul realized that anyone who wants to preach the good news about Jesus Christ must embrace hardship and tribulations.  Essentially, Paul is saying “don’t take religious criticism personally as they hated Jesus first,”

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus builds upon Paul’s words in Lystra.  Trials build character resulting in spiritual maturity.  While criticism can and will be deserved from time to time, Christians must see criticism for what it is, a refining process that leads to genuine faith.  The more faith is tested, endurance and inner peace will shine through.  No one likes to be criticized, but when you see it through the lens of the Bible, spiritual growth is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of the Holy Spirit

As of 1980, British statistical researcher David B Barrett identified 20,800 Christian denominations in the world.  From a historical perspective, there were two large branches of Christianity.  The Catholic Church in the west and the Orthodox Church in the east.  Following the Protestant Reformation in 1517, a third major group emerged.  Beside Martin Luther’s influence, Christian denominations vary depending upon which beliefs, creeds, doctrines and teachings are emphasized.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that [the people of] Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 They came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for He had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus [as His possession], Acts 8:14-16.

One of the greatest disagreements among Christian churches is their understanding of the Holy Spirit.  The theology of baptism highlights this difference as a believer’s baptism, christenings, and infant baptisms mean different things to different denominations.  Some conservative and rigid churches believe if you are not baptized in a certain way or manner, you’re not really saved.  Meanwhile, some apostolic faiths claim if you do not speak in tongues, you aren’t saved either.  These debates magnify the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

Then Peter and John laid their hands on them [one by one], and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this authority and power too, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your money be destroyed along with you, because you thought you could buy the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart (motive, purpose) is not right before God, Acts 8:17-21.

Beginning in the book of Acts, a conversation to Christianity was immediately followed by baptism.  Luke, the author of Acts, reports that initial converts were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as soon as each baptism ceremony was completed.  This trend continued until Philip brought the gospel to Samaria.  When news spread to John and Peter that the Holy Spirit did not fill new believers, the laying on of hands and prayer was necessary to draw out God’s spirit.  This same dilemma continues today as visible signs of the Holy Spirit are rare.  Thus, some may question “am I really saved or what’s blocking the Holy Spirit?”  If I had the answer to this question, it wouldn’t be a mystery.  All believers can do today is trust God to shed the light of truth on the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Out of Faith… Out of Mind

The phrase out of sight out of mind appears to have originated during the 13th century. The first literary appearance of this idiom can be traced to Woorkes in 1562.  Out of sight out of mind refers to the reduced importance and emergence of something that is not within eyesight. When something is not immediately visible, actions, beliefs and choices fluctuate.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1.

This saying also applies to faith.  For example, when children are taught to say grace before eating a meal, prayer becomes an active part of someone’s life.  However, whenever individuals slowly drift apart from God, forgetting prayer will occur.  As an adult, I find myself constantly stuck in some sort of spiritual rut.  Since praying doesn’t come naturally to me, losing touch with faith causes my mind to forget to pray, especially saying grace before I eat a meal.  Subsequently, out of faith becomes out of mind.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

According to the author of Hebrews, faith requires belief.  Genuine faith includes a belief in an invisible God who rewards those who earnest seek his will.  The apostle Paul highlights this process in Romans 12:1-2.  Faith is meant to be active, devoting one’s life as a living sacrifice.  However, when faith slips, minds tend to wander, drifting apart from God’s will,  Therefore, if you want to remain spiritually sharp, treasure and store up God’s Word within your heart, Psalm 119:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

When Religion is Too Much Work

Within any religion, there is a set of beliefs, doctrines and rules that appeal to certain individuals.  You have to weigh the good with the bad as no perfect church exists.  Thus, denominations offer a wide range of options for families to select from before joining a church.  However, if your connection with God is based upon a religion rather than a relationship, some have come to the conclusion that religion is too much work.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

As someone who was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church,  I understand the amount of energy a religion based faith requires.  I memorized the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, partook in my first communion, spent six years taking religion classes in CCD and completed my confirmation by taking ownership of my faith.  Fortunately, I was introduced to a Methodist youth group during my sophomore year in high school.  While the church services were similar in some ways, there was a climate of genuine love that was passed on to everyone, even strangers like me.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ, Galatians 1:10.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes about his struggle between letting go of his zeal for Judaism and his new relationship with Christ.  When you follow a rigid set of rules, there is a tendency to seek the approval of others.  Yet, when anyone makes a decision to devote their life to Jesus, the religious may resent you.  Meanwhile, others reject you from deviating from the defined path within your church doctrine.  If you want to be free from this rigid course, a line from the Shack provides the answer.  During a conversation the main character Mack is talking with Jesus about stereotypes.  Jesus replies, “religion is too much work.  God doesn’t want slaves; He wants you to be part of his family.”

by Jay Mankus

Proud or Ashamed?

Before adulthood tends to complicate life, children can wear their emotions on their sleeves.  Young people celebrate achievements with exuberance and gleeful satisfaction.  Unfortunately, at some point while growing up, minds become convinced that certain activities, beliefs and faiths are inappropriate.  Thus, peer pressure may cause something you were once proud of to be replaced with shame.

For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul and eternal life [in God’s kingdom]? – Mark 8:36-37.

Prior to the mass shooting that took the lives of 17 victims, students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida weren’t experts on gun control.  Yet, in the days that have followed this tragic event, teenagers have been regularly used on cable news networks to ban, limit or repeal the second amendment.  Instead of correcting the flaws in their school safety policy or address the failure of school security guards to react, guns continue to be demonized along with those who own or use a gun.

For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels,” Mark 8:38.

This persecution of gun owners relates to Jesus’ words above.  How you respond to the Bible, faith and Jesus in public will influence how God treats you.  Those who disown their faith amidst criticism, pressure to conform or progressive views will be shunned by God.  Thus, you can’t be halfway, its either all or nothing.  Will you be ashamed due to what others think or will a zeal for the Lord reveal pride for God?  May the passage above serve as inspiration to strengthen your faith so that your choice is clear.

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

 

 

 

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