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Tag Archives: Cardinal Virtues

The Desires of the Spirit

From my own personal experiences, many of the so called “spirit filled” churches that I have attended over emphasize certain spiritual gifts. Instead of teaching the desires of God’s Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues overshadow what God desires. Thus, I find myself as an adult who lacks the knowledge and spiritual insight to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

When the concept of the Holy Spirit was first introduced to his disciples, Jesus refers to this Holy Ghost as a Counselor. Synonyms for counselor include advisor, confidant, guide and mentor. If this was Jesus’ ultimate goal, then I have been misinformed about the role of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, I need to simplify my understanding to an invisible counselor who yearns for me to become aware of the desires of God’s Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

The apostle Paul has provided a list below to visualize what God prefers. These fruits of the Spirit are desired actions, behaviors and character traits that Christians should seek to obtain. Mere Christianity written by C.S. Lewis contains two types of virtues, with the second only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal virtues such as prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice are qualities that anyone can possess. Yet, the theological virtues of charity, hope and faith are limited to Christians.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

According to Paul, sinful appetites, desires and passions keep many individuals from every fulfilling the desires of the Spirit. Until your human flesh is crucified, dying to self, the ability to produce spiritual fruit is hindered. This may explain why many regions of the world are filled with darkness, void of any spiritual life. If you want to add flavor to the lives of those who you come in contact with daily, follow Paul’s advice by pursuing the desires of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Keep Up Your Courage

The English word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, which means hinge. Thus, cardinal virtues are four moral principles which all other virtues are connected. While courage was not selected as a cardinal virtue, prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude share similar traits. The ability to do something that frightens you by exhibiting strength in the face of adversity will test your soul.

So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me; Acts 27:25.

The context of the passage above occurs on ship being battered by the first century’s version of the Perfect Storm. Stuck in the middle of a typhoon for 14 days, the urge to abandon ship increases daily. While everyone else is freaking out, the apostle Paul addresses the crew. Displaying leadership during a time of crisis, Paul verbalizes his complete confidence and faith that God will spare everyone’s life.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Paul’s comforting message is consistent with the words of Israel’s forefathers. In the passage above, Moses uses a farewell address to remind the Jews that the Lord is with you. This was followed by his predecessor who urges God’s people to be strong and courageous, Joshua 1:9. You shouldn’t have to endure a disaster to be courageous. Rather, God uses extreme situations to provide opportunities for courage to prevail.

by Jay Mankus

World Mental Health Day

This year’s day to recognize global mental health is Thursday October 10th. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. More than 150 countries take part is this day to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. Leaders in Australia feel so strongly about this issue that an entire week is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Unfortunately, most of the curriculum, education and programs will steer clear of biblical principles. Yet, this provides me an open door to examine what the Bible has to say about mental health. The apostle Paul claims the biggest obstacle to achieving a mind at peace is fleshly desires which crave instant gratification. This internal force must be brought under control and tamed by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [the message, the basis] of faith which we preach— because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation, Romans 10:8-10.

According to C.S. Lewis, the Holy Spirit is only accessible to those who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Mere Christianity details Cardinal and Theological Virtues. Cardinal virtues include prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. These traits are available to everyone who strides to obtain mental health. Yet, access to the Theological virtues of charity, hope and faith is limited to active believers in Jesus. Therefore, if you want to truly celebrate mental health, embrace Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Golden Rule

Traces of a golden rule can be found in the early 17th century. The first usage of this term in the context of the Bible appears to occur in 1604.
Anglican preachers and theologians from Great Britain are credited for coining this expression. Charles Gibbon and Thomas Jackson are the first to paraphrase the words of Jesus with a succinct command: treat others the way you would want them to treat you.

Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength,’ Mark 12:28-30.

After listening to a sermon last weekend on this topic, there is a flaw to the golden rule. It’s impossible to love others unless you first possess the love of God within your heart. C.S. Lewis refers to this concept as Theological Virtues in his book Mere Christianity. Anyone has access to Cardinal Virtues like prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. However, theological virtues such as hope, faith and charity are only accessible via the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the only way to successfully live out the golden rule involves entering a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 5:1-5.

This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Mark 12:31-33.

The apostle Paul provides a few verses that support this theory. Philippians 2:4 encourages individuals to look to the interests of others. However, unless you take care of your own needs first, you won’t be able to help and love others if your own spiritual house isn’t in order. Meanwhile, Paul also explains how to go beyond the golden rule in Romans 15:2. Pleasing your neighbor is expected through random acts of kindness. However, if you want to go the extra mile, build up your neighbor spiritually. Therefore, if you want to go beyond the golden rule, make it your ambition to plant spiritual seeds daily.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Cool When the Heat is On

Before any volcanic eruption occurs, there are subtle signs.  Tremors, increased steam and ground swells are some of the warning signals scientists have uncovered to prepare nearby residents.  As for human beings, increased tension, a red complexion and short temper are precursors to someone blowing their top.

Regardless of how disciplined someone may be, its hard to stay cool when the heat is on.  In the days of my youth, there were numerous occasions when I lost my composure.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about Cardinal Virtues.  One of these 4 is known as temperance, going the right distance and no further.  While this trait is available to everyone, you can’t stay cool when the heat is on all by yourself.

According to 2 Timothy 1:7, the Holy Spirit is the piece of the puzzle  individuals are missing.  When push comes to shove in the form of temptation, a spirit of anger lurks in the air.  Don’t fool yourself with over confidence or you too may fall, 1 Corinthians 10:12.  Place your trust in the words of Proverbs 3:5-6; then you too can stay cool when the heat is on.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Note to Tweeters: Think Before You Tweet

Yesterday, January 28th, 2013, Lesean McCoy, star NFL running back for the Philadelphia Eagles was burned by the world of Twitter.  Initially, claiming someone hacked into his account, (I’ve heard that one before) he publicly apologized for airing his dirty laundry.  In an exchange with his ex-girl friend, Lesean acknowledged that he lost control of his temper and should have been more mature, dealing with this matter face to face like a man during an interview on CSN, the Comcast Sports Network.


Unfortunately, Lesean was not aware of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 21:23. “He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity.”  A womanizer in his own right, King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, 1 Kings 11:3, before he settled down.  Solomon recognized that woman often bring out the worst in a man as detailed by his words in Proverbs 21:19.  “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.”  In case you forget, Solomon repeats these warnings throughout Proverbs like the version in Proverbs 21:9.

According to C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, anyone can acquire prudence and temperance, within his chapter on the Cardinal Virtues.  Lewis defines prudence as practical common sense, thinking about what you are about to do or say and the likely outcome of it.  Temperance on the other hand is learning to go or take something to the right distance, but no further.  You don’t have to be religious to apply these basic principles.  Rather, one must have an inner desire to better themselves, to maintain a good reputation and leave a legacy that is honorable.  Therefore, the next time you think about tweeting when you are angry, reflect before making  your words public!  Then, you might make this world a better place.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery of Fear

As a child, nightmares blanketed my thoughts as I tried to outrun Bigfoot throughout my neighborhood, escape the Boogie Man who was underneath my bed or reenact a scene from a Creature Double Feature that I had watched earlier in the day.  While awake, I became afraid of heights after visiting the Empire State Building and snakes during a few close calls where snakes slithered between my legs while cutting the grass in my backyard.  Adolescence brought with it a fear of rejection, especially by girls that added to my already fragile psyche.  Never did I once challenge fear; instead I ran away like a little girl, awestruck by this mystery.

Catholic hymns like Be Not Afraid conveyed a little hope to my soul, exposing this unnatural emotion.  In addition, hearing priests read from Proverbs and Psalms from the Bible produced a sense of peace to ease any remaining anxieties of fear.  Yet, in high school I wasn’t mature enough to ask intelligent theological questions.  On the other hand, the busyness of college prevented me from contemplating the unsolved mystery of fear.  The timing was not right for me to tackle this subject, put on hold for another time down the road toward Elm Street.

Like a scene from Back to the Future, God revealed the answer I was searching for as I opened up Proverbs 1.  According to Solomon, unlocking wisdom in life starts with a reverent fear of God.  The spirit of fear on earth uses apprehension, panic and trepidation to form a constant state of worry.  Biblical fear is the key for attaining the cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude, Proverbs 1:1-7.  These qualities are available to anyone according to C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.  However, this is only half the mystery.

The missing link and final piece of the puzzle is found in 1 John 4:18.  According to John, the disciple whom Jesus loved as a son, proclaims “perfect love drives out fear.”  The only obstacle to obtaining perfect love is sin.  C.S. Lewis states in his chapter entitled Theological Virtues, access is limited to just Christians.  This love comes from the power of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 2 Peter 1:3-4.  Therefore, if anyone seeks charity, hope and faith, you must come to Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5.  The apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-7 gives a glimpse of what one can expect when the Holy Spirit helps you conquer the mystery of fear.  “Be Not Afraid!”

by Jay Mankus

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