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Tag Archives: Catholic

Lowering the Bar or Extending God’s Grace?

As a former Catholic, you can tell a lot about the direction of a church based it’s leadership.  Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is now calling for priests to forgive any woman who has terminated a pregnancy.  During a recent interview on cable news, a member of a local archdiocese summarized this theological change.  In the past, female Catholics who had an abortion were excommunicated from the church, viewing this act of killing an innocent life.  Today, Pope Francis wants to focus on love and forgiveness by extending grace to those who have fallen short of God’s glory.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

When I heard excerpts of this interview, I wasn’t sure what to think.  However, now that I have had time to digest this new stance, there are two possible explanations.  First, the church is lowering the bar by altering the expectations of what it means to be a modern day Christian.  Just as public education has changed the standards for a passing grade, clergy is now more accepting.  As godliness diminishes within society it’s hard to find willing servants of Jesus.  Thus, many churches are being forced to overlook past transgressions to fill half empty buildings and worship services.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace, Romans 11:6.

The other logical explanation is a shift from an Old Testament view of God’s wrath and judgment toward a New Testament approach based upon the love of Jesus.  This theological position points to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  God is already working in the lives of the righteous according to Matthew 9:9-13.  It’s the rebellious, lost and those wandering in the dark who need help.  Instead of emphasizing church growth, pastors have become more evangelistic to reach out to a generation of people who have not grown up in the church.  Depending upon your theological beliefs, you may lean toward one of these two positions.  Nonetheless, the church is suppose to be the hands and feet of Christ, like a beacon of light piercing into the darkness of a spiritually dead and dying world.

by Jay Mankus

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Another Axis of Evil

On January 29th, 2002, President George W. Bush introduced the phrase “axis of evil.”  The first State of the Union speech following the events of September 11th, 2001, was used to pinpoint the common enemies of the United States.  In an attempt to rally Americans to support the War on Terror, the president elaborated on his theory.  The imminent threat of this axis focused on Iran, Iraq and North Korea.  Bush’s secondary concern involved the countries of Cuba, Libya and Syria.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1.

Over the weekend, another axis of evil emerged on social media.  In a rush to judge a group of male Catholic high school students wearing Make America Great Again caps, a series of posts on Twitter went viral,  According to eyewitnesses, several people taking videos on their phones said, “we got what we need.”  Instead of doing their do diligence, cable news anchors, journalists and social media members piled on by accusing these teenagers of hatred, racism and violence.

But test everything; hold fast what is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

In the days that have followed, full videos have come out showing the context of what actually happened.  Students were waiting for their bus after attending the Right for Life March, a pro-life event.  When a group of protesters saw some students wearing MAGA hats, these men began to bully. criticize and verbally assault these teenagers.  At this point Nathan Phillips, a Native American got between the black Hebrews Israelites and Covington Catholic members.  As this native American beat his drum, the students got permission from a chaperone to chant one of their school songs to drown out the insults.  When the press interviewed Phillips afterwards, he gave false and misleading statements blaming this confrontation on these white boys that the media ran with this side of the story, igniting a tsunami of hatred.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

When students returned to Kentucky, school had to be cancelled on Tuesday due to death threats.  Parents of these students might lose their jobs due to outrage and protests from leftist groups.  Why is that media mistakes only happen to conservatives and Christians?  I guess the initial story fit the narrative what the media believes about Trump supporters.  Instead of taking incorrect and misleading posts down, few apologies and retractions have been made by members of the mainstream media.  Meanwhile, terrorist threats have been made at this Catholic institution including fears of a potential school shooting.  What happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?  Why are members of Hollywood doxing students for supporting president Trump?  If people don’t study the facts before posting news stories, then “fake news” will become another axis of evil.

by Jay Mankus

Where Has the Honor Code Gone?

Last weekend I caught a rerun of the 1992 film School Ties.  Starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris O’Donnell, the storyline places a Jewish quarterback recruited to attend a Catholic boarding school for his senior year.  After a jealous benched quarterback played by Matt Damon finds out this secret was hidden from teammates, David Green played by Brendan Fraser is ostracized.  When a student drops his crib, cheat sheet after a mid-term examine, Honor is put to the test.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

The concept of an honor code is introduced and built upon throughout the movie.  However, a history teacher refers to this as a living document, something founded by students and evolves over time.  While not mentioned, this principle is based upon the words from one of Jesus’ earthly brothers.  What the Bible is saying is that sins of action are the same as sins of inaction.  Subsequently, honor codes can not survive unless those who witness wrong doing actually confront anyone guilty of breaking a rule.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul, Psalm 143:8.

Newly acquired worldviews have provided a loop hole for individuals to justify their actions.  This shift has altered the principles many citizens once embraced.  Perhaps, this may explain the current culture of exaggeration, lies and untruths that make up most political campaigns.  The losers are young children who aren’t seeing godly principles modeled out by today’s leaders.  Forced by pressure to succeed, a growing number of people are cutting corners, disregarding honor for end results.  May the power of the Holy Spirit reverse this trend by softening hardened hearts with a contrite spirit and heart for repentance.  Pray for honor to be restored.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus

 

Grace With Obedience

The apostle Paul introduced the doctrine “by grace through faith” in Ephesians 2:8-10.  The context of Paul’s message refers back to his words to the church in Rome.  In human terms, it’s impossible for man to keep the Jewish law, Romans 3:9-12, as sin past down through the curse on placed upon Adam in Genesis 3 prevents anyone for deserving or earning eternal life on their own merits, Romans 6:23.  Only when an individual places their trust in an unseen Messiah, is heaven a reality, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

On the other side of the spectrum, we find James, the earthly brother of Jesus.  Based upon his actions mentioned in the 4 gospels and his only book, one of the catholic letters, readers will hear what they think is a contrary teaching.  Possibly reflecting of his own lack of faith, not believing his brother was the son of God, the Lord’s brother places an emphasis on actions inspired by faith, James 2:14-26.  Prior to Jesus’ resurrection, James was void of any belief.  However, James points out that true faith, breeds action.  Each go hand in hand, as once an individual claims to have faith but does not convey or display it, they are merely living a lie as James himself did until his big brother rose from the grave.

Finally, Moses relays words directly from God in Exodus 23:24-26 to the Israelites on their way to receive the promised land.  God’s initial expectations are to follow the first few commandments, mainly to avoid creating or worshiping other gods or things on earth.  In return for obedience, God will bless food, water and the health of his people.  One might suggest this is the origin and inspiration behind saying grace before you eat today, seeking blessing from the Lord of all.  Beyond this, the Lord promises to protect babies in their mother’s womb and supply long life as long as faith and obedience are woven together.  Regardless of where your allegiance lies, may the Holy Spirit guide you with a spirit of obedience accompanied by grace.

by Jay Mankus

Resisting the Holy Spirit

As far as I can remember, I grew up in a strict Roman Catholic Church: taking my first communion there, going to C.C.D. and finally completing the confirmation process.  In my early years, nuns would strike you with a yard stick if you couldn’t quote the Our Father or Hail Mary when put on the spot.  When I got older, it bothered me  that the priest had the final  say, only his interpretation of scripture was valid.  Thus, in high school, I began a quest to find out more about the Bible, looking beyond just the Catholic faith for answers.

This journey has lead me to passages like Acts 7:51.  Whether you are a Catholic, Protestant , Jew or some other religion, sometimes its hard to break the traditions that have been engraved within your mind.  When your priest, pastor or rabbi says something, most assume, this must be true.  However, religious practices often enable leaders to usurp power over their flock, holding them captive to traditions.  Similar patterns exist today, as seminary teaches future shepherds to follow theological practices, often overlooking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.  The apostle Paul furthers this concept in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, day by day, not just when we feel like or want to follow.  I am afraid that many Christians are so busy following orders and pursuing practices, they have been oblivious to the fact they are actually resisting the Holy Spirit.  Wherever you are in life, make room for the Counselor, John 14:16-17.  Resist the urge to follow human traditions, test everything you hear with the Bible and when God’s whisper appears, follow!

by Jay Mankus

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