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The Picture of Perfection

As a young aspiring athlete, my picture of perfection was the best player in every sport. Wayne Gretsky in hockey, Dr. J in basketball, Steve Carlton in baseball and Reggie White in football. Before the existence of social media, news was strictly based upon a player’s performance. Today, there is no picture of perfection as critics on the right and left pick apart rising stars like vultures during a feeding frenzy.

You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete [ak]maturity of godliness in mind and character, [al]having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:48.

The Sermon on the Mount points to perfection, but in the sense of striving towards it. The apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament prophet in Romans 3:9-12 to burst the bubble on human perfection. In case you haven’t heard, this is impossible as all men and women has fallen short of God’s glory despite how hard each has tried, Romans 3:23. Despite this painful reality, Hebrews 4:15-16 refers to Jesus as a great high priest who was a model of perfection, dying on our behalf.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [d]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live], Ephesians 2:10.

If life is meant to be a series of trial and error, sooner or later you’ll start to take steps toward perfection. The apostle Paul compares God to a spiritual potter, constantly molding and fashioning us into His image, Romans 9:20-21. Meanwhile, Paul compares God to a carpenter in the passage above. Depending upon your gifts and talents, the Holy Spirit seeks to guide you toward the good works God has planned for you in the future, Philippians 1:6. As you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, may your life resemble the fruits if God’s Spirit like a picture of spiritual perfection.

by Jay Mankus

Verses in the Bible that Should Silence the Woke Movement

The Woke movement thrives on adhominem attacks, revised history, anecdotes in place of statistical analysis and the refusal to engage in good faith debate. The phrase “woke” and “stay woke” first appeared in the 1940’s. African Americans used this expression in the context of issues of social justice. The modern woke movement began a decade ago when statements on social media appeared to be racially insensitive or a form of prejudice and discrimination.

[My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it]. 12 One only is the Lawgiver and Judge Who is able to save and to destroy [the One Who has the absolute power of life and death]. [But you] who are you that [you presume to] pass judgment on your neighbor? – James 4:11-12

Yet, like King Solomon’s quote thousands of years ago, “there is nothing new under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 1:9. In the middle of the first century, a woke movement began in the Church at Rome. Based upon the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1:18-Romans 2:5, religious leaders began to point out everyone’s sins except for their own. Chapter 2 of Romans serves as a remainder to Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount about judging others.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. Why do you [a]stare from without at the [b]very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam [c]of timber that is in your own eye? – Matthew 7:1-3

Speaking like a first century carpenter, Jesus uses the term plankeye in the passage above. This refers to timber sawed into rough planks, partly prepared as a floor covering. Everyone possesses some pet peeves, minor annoyances that an individual finds particularly irritating, to a greater degree than would be expected based upon the experience of others. Seeing pet peeves on social media has spawned the modern Woke Movement. Yet, unless you are a perfect human being which doesn’t exist, you should be silent and begin to love and pray for your enemies, Matthew 5:43-44.

by Jay Mankus

A Real Life Superhero

Whether you are referring to one of Marvel Comics fictional characters, watching a Super Friends episode or analyzing films like Unbreakable, superheros often have 3 things in common.  First, each possess some sort of super human power which defies the laws of physics and gravity.  Second,  individuals keep a low profile, developing an alias to keep their true identity a secret.  Finally, most have an arch enemy who seeks to ascertain a weakness, trying to uncover their krytonite.

While reading the gospel of Mark, I stumbled upon an interesting thought, Jesus was a real life superhero.  Like Superman, Jesus came from another world, Colossians 1:15-17.  Before the day came to reveal his special powers, Jesus lived in obscurity as a carpenter in the lowly town of Nazareth.  Jesus flew under the radar for thirty years until John the Baptist was imprisoned, then killed.  However, before his three years of public service began, a real Devil threatened to destroy Jesus’ ministry before it began.

Following the calling of his first four disciples, Mark 1:16-20, Jesus introduced himself to the Jewish community.  Meanwhile, a demonic spirit tried to spoil his coming out party, Mark 1:23-26.  Foiling his enemies first plot, the legend of Jesus began to spread.  Similar to modern superheros, Jesus remained humble.  Rather than proclaiming, “look what I’ve done,” Jesus gave his heavenly Father the credit.  Nearly 2,000 years following his resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit has been left behind so that those who believe, Romans 10:9-10, may experience an extraordinary life, John 10:10.

by Jay Mankus

 

Clinging to the Security Blankets of Your Past

Charles Schultz conjured up in his mind a fictional character with real life tendencies in his classic comic strip Peanuts.  Linus was a boy who never wanted to leave his favorite blanket, finding comfort from this childhood possession.  Today, infants have similar habits, becoming attached to binkies, serving as a calming device to produce sleep.  Despite purging closets each spring, most adults aren’t willing to let go of sentimental items, keeping a few like a security blanket from your past.

Peter was a professional fisherman whose new acquaintance introduced himself as a carpenter.  Luke 5:1-11 recounts this first meeting as Peter listens to Jesus speak after a long night of work.   Despite his initial hesitation, Peter is willing to trust someone from another occupation, based upon a gut feeling within his heart, Luke 5:6.  Subsequently, Peter reached a point of conviction, guilty of holding on to traditions instead of faith.  By the end of this passage, each member of his crew was touched by God, leaving everything they knew behind, letting go of their security blankets.

I’m not sure if its my ego, pride or stubbornness, but I find it hard to completely change the routines I have set in life.  Sure, every New Year’s provides a tempest, the perfect conditions to rededicate one’s life.  Nonetheless, the fear of uncertainty prevents permanent transformation from occurring.  Thus, when the going get’s tough, people fall back on what they know instead of following the advice of strangers.  This reality of life fulfills the words of Proverbs 27:19, “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”  May the example of these fishermen inspire others to forgo the security blankets of their past with a faith for the future.

by Jay Mankus

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