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Tag Archives: Casting Crowns

Flirting with Temptation

Flirting is an experiment with or to show a superficial interest in an idea, activity, or movement without committing oneself to it seriously. This behavior is often blamed on immaturity where an individual behaves as though attracted to or trying to attract someone for amusement. The act of flirting begins with a little dabble, but can result in philandering, teasing or toying with temptation.

Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a [a]portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet, Acts 5:1-2.

Peter blames Satan for filling a couples heart with the idea to flirt with temptation. Based upon the context of Acts 4:36-37, Ananias and Sapphira tried to emulate the practices of a man named Joseph. In an attempt to be praised by members of their congregation, they withheld a portion of the proceeds. Perhaps, they weren’t wealthy enough, but wanted to be recognized for their generosity. Whatever their motives, flirting with temptation cost Ananias and Sapphira their lives.

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and [secretly] keep back for yourself some of the proceeds [from the sale] of the land? As long as it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own [to do with as you pleased]? And after it was sold, was the money not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this act [of hypocrisy and deceit] in your heart? You have not [simply] lied to people, but to God,” Acts 5:3-4.

In their 2007 song Slow Fade, Casting Crowns illustrates what happens to anyone who flirts with temptation. The first stanza of the lyrics include the line “It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings.” James 1:13-15 eludes to a second glance which results in enticement, lust and sinful desires. I guess you can say the second glance plants the seed in your mind to flirt with temptation. According to Jesus’ brother, flirting with temptation results in spiritual death. May this song and passage of the Bible serve as a warning to steer clear of this desire.

by Jay Mankus

The Slow Decay of a Cold Heart

From a secular point of view, cold hearts are not ignored.  A classic written by Foreigner speaks to this topic in the song Cold as Ice.  The soundtrack for Cold as Ice inspired a skit on the March 25, 1978 broadcast of Saturday Night Live.  While mild by today’s standards, this illustration demonstrates how cold hearts negatively influence attitudes, behavior and words.

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them,’ Matthew 13:14-15.

The Christian group Casting Crowns attempts to explain why hearts grow cold in their song Does Anybody Hear.  According to the lyrics, “But the canyons ever widening in the depths of her cold heart” suggest this is a spiritual dilemma.  Instead of addressing, correcting and dealing with wounded hearts, human nature causes individuals to set out on another misadventure to cover up their pain.  Instead of turning to Jesus to fill this void, temporary substitutes are found.

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.

The question few people ever ask is what‘s wrong with me?  How can I stop the slow death of a cold heart?  The apostle Paul suggests cold hearts are a byproduct of being alienated from God.  This may explain King David’s prayer in Psalm 51, “create in me a clean (pure) heart.”  The longer people ignore situations, hearts will continue to grow cold; hardening, without care.  Yet, the moment you confess, beg and plead with God for forgiveness and mercy, change is possible.  May this blog revive your soul, turning a cold heart into a heart of gold.

by Jay Mankus

Stained Glass Masquerade

Every day someone walks around with an obvious imperfection or stain.  Maybe a piece of hair is going rogue, a grease stain goes unnoticed or something is stuck on a part of your body.  Depending upon your co-workers, family or neighbors, this may be brought to your attention.  Others might laugh as you pass by until a mirror uncovers this blemish.  Either way many live in what Casting Crowns calls a Stained Glass Masquerade.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, 1 John 2:1.

As a child, I can remember how cruel kids got at times especially if you were the target.  When on the other side, it might have felt good for a while to pile on.  Yet, if facial expressions changed, I began to have pity.  As an adult, teasing is more sophisticated in some ways but just as harsh if not more.  Unfortunately, most people don’t look in the mirror long enough to see that no one is perfect, blinded by a stained glass window.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2.

Despite what I have said up to this point, these 2 verses of the Bible provide hope for anyone stuck living in a Stained Glass Masquerade.  Jesus didn’t just come to remove the stain of good people, Christ suffered, died and rose again for everyone.  Therefore, don’t allow yourself get caught up trying to play the judge and jury in this life.  Rather, acknowledge your shortcomings and trust Jesus to remove the stain of sin in your life.  This choice leads to freedom, escaping from an endless masquerade.

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

 

 

Losing the Battle of Forgiveness

Salah, kapar and nasa are the three most common Hebrew words which express the English expression to forgive.  In the New Testament, aphiemi describes the act of forgiving, to separate blame from the guilty party inspired by sin.  Biblical forgiveness is achieved when an individual acquits, exonerates or pardons someone from an act which cause harm to one or more parties.  Unfortunately, for most churches, forgiving without truly forgetting results in a losing spiritual battle.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, Colossians 3:13.

This reality hit home as a drove to the first church I served in as a youth pastor.  Every Sunday I passed by a former congregation, a beautiful brick building which had become a liquor store.  Ironic that a building once known as the Lord’s house was now a center for wines and spirits in my community.  Perhaps, a spirit of bitterness, jealousy or resentment is at fault.  A couple may not like the music, others profess their disdain for the preaching and some complain about the lame programing that exists.  Before long, seeds of discord, dissension and factions cause membership to dwindle.  In the end, churches die as the lukewarm hop over to another destination, going along for the ride until their own passion fades away.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, 2 Timothy 4:7.

As a former elder of a now disbanded church, I hate to see the finality of it all.  Shattered dreams, broken homes and fragile souls try to move on, placing their pain on hold until the healing begins.  While fighting for a lost cause may seem futile, churches can be turned around when forgiveness arrives on the scene.  If only egos could be put on the sidelines, then the love of Jesus can permeate into the lives of churches.  Casting Crowns was right, “If we are the body, what aren’t our hands reaching out in love?”  May this blog create a spark, ignite forgiveness and rejuvenate churches on the verge of division or splitting.  Fight the good fight of faith!

by Jay Mankus

Waking Up in the Wrong World

In the not so distant past, complainers were once ignored.  As time was wasted by being petty, hard working individuals built this country, trying to earn a piece of the pie.  Dreams were acted upon, not just idle talk without action.  Like waking up in a daze, I now find myself stuck in the wrong world, trying to figure out how this happened so fast.

Unfortunately, atheists have led the way, convincing lawyers that being offended by God has to stop.  Thus, the minority is the majority, transforming the spiritual climate of the United States.  When you add in political correctness, education without morality and families without faith, the days of Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver are gone.

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. – 1 Peter

While driving back and forth to work, I stumbled across House of Their Dreams by Casting Crowns.  These lyrics talk about people who come to the realization that their career and or life isn’t what they had in mind.  This stunning truth is like a prodigal who comes to their senses, Luke 15:17.  Whether its Christmas or the dawn of a new year, may the state of your soul inspire you to seek something more, John 10:10.  Although we all have to cope with a wrong world, apply the principles of 1 Peter 2:11-12 so that you don’t wake up in the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

Regifting Jesus

Over the years, countless songs have expressed the ideal manner in which to regift Jesus to a lost and dying world, Luke 19:10.  Camp fire songs like “Pass It On” convey how a little spark from the love of God can produce a spiritual fire within another human being.  Hymns such as “Be Not Afraid” supplies a message of hope for those who follow Jesus, promising rest for weary souls.  Modern lyrics from hits like “If We Are the Body” by Casting Crowns questions why acts of believers in Christ aren’t consistent with the words of Scripture, Romans 12:4-5.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJL7Eis0Rb0
The concept of regifting refers to giving or handing down something that you don’t need anything or find appealing.  Unfortunately, this mentality influences who we love, for how long and the extent to which faith is displayed.  Consequently, innocent bystanders are confused by inconsistencies within the church and by those who claim to be Christmas worshipers.  Thus, poor examples of regifting Jesus will leave many at home this holiday season.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeTpISSA5x8
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the quality of regifting Jesus lies within your heart.  Philippians 2:4 suggests that wounded individuals might need to heal before they can begin to successfully impact others for the good.  Whatever your current condition is, may you look to the Lord for strength, Philippians 4:13.  During these weak moments in life, may the power of the Holy Spirit empower you to regift Jesus in a genuine and loving manner.
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