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A Secret Truth

Mysteries tend to involve something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Most children begin their lives stress free, trusting in their parents to provide for their needs. Depending upon their degree of maturity, parents tend to shield their young ones from the dangers of this world. Yet, according to the apostle Paul, human beings can not become partakers of eternal salvation based upon their own merit.

But I tell you this, brethren, flesh and blood cannot [become partakers of eternal salvation and] inherit or share in the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (that which is decaying) inherit or share in the imperishable (the immortal), 1 Corinthians 15:50.

Following this warning to members at the Church of Corinth, Paul transitions toward a special mystery. Apparently, this secret truth was decreed by the counsel of God. This event is linked to the crucifixion of Jesus, allowed to continue despite Jesus’ innocence for a hidden purpose. This secret truth in unveiled at the end of chapter 15 of Paul’s letter. The sting of death was removed through resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

Take notice! I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God). We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed), 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Jesus spoke of this mystery during a late night conversation with a Pharisee, John 3:1-5. The concept of being born again didn’t make sense to Nicodemus despite his vast religious knowledge. After making a sarcastic comment, Nicodemus shuts up, intrigued by the words of John 3:16-17. Based upon the actions and words within John 7:50-52 and John 19:38-42, Nicodemus put his faith and trust in Jesus. To those of you who are still left in the dark, Romans 10:8-11 unlocks this secret truth.

by Jay Mankus

So That’s Where It Comes From

Adults have different styles of communication, producing a wide range of reactions, even within their own children.  The authoritarian will claim, “this is the way its always been so there is no highway option.”  Meanwhile the laissez faire, who are often soft spoken will allow flexibility, offering little resistance to correction.  This broad spectrum of coaching, parenting  and or teaching leaves a gap, with many blanks to fill in between to properly convey crucial information.

As I child, I remember hearing daily pleas such as “wash your hands, brush your teeth and think before you speak.”  Maybe I was naive, but I never questioned or wondered why these things were so important.  I simply assumed by father knew best so I tried my best to follow directions.  While reading the Old Testament last week, I stumbled upon the source of my dad’s first command, Leviticus 15:11.

Before the invention of microscopes, God understood how germs spread.  Thus, to combat this concern, the Lord told Moses to tell the Israelites to wash their hands after going to the bathroom or before eating.  Although Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has influenced many to go to extremes, washing your hands is a simple way to remain healthy.  As Paul Harvey says in his famous radio deliveries, “Now you know, the rest of the story!”

What commands do you recall from your childhood?

by Jay Mankus

 

Potty Mouth

If you are honest with yourself, we have all had a regretful moment in reflecting, “I can’t believe I just said that!”  At times in life, often unexpected, the strangest things come out of our mouths.  This is likely the context of Psalm 59:12, when mere words become like venom, filling ears with poison and contaminating the souls of children.

There was a time, not so long ago when communities helped police themselves.  Adult figures served as guardians, instilling character within neighborhoods.  If a child ever publicly cursed, displayed disrespect or harmed another kid, parents would immediate intervene, forcing this individual to apologize and vow never to do this act again.

Today, the fear of confrontation, law suits and a gradual decay within society has led to an epidemic of sins of the mouth.  Whether you are at your local mall, walking through a park or catching a quote family show on television, put downs, 4 letter words and F-bombs have become common place.  Garbage in, garbage out has impacted children under the age of 10, spewing out what they hear, without any regard to listening ears.

The Bible’s diagnosis of this problem places the blame on the human heart, Jeremiah 17:9.  According to Jesus, the heart serves as a storage center, absorbing up good and bad things, Luke 6:45.  Vocabulary is simply a byproduct of what your heart has accumulated.  Therefore, if you want to stop these sins before they roll off your tongue, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life, Proverbs 4:23.  Replace these sins of the mouth with the peace of Christ, Colossians 3:15-17.

by Jay Mankus

Caught in the Middle

Children can become casualties of war, caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce.  As a teacher, I’ve seen this far too often, with kids used as pawns to make the other spouse jealous.  Maybe this explains Jesus’ tone within Matthew 18:1-9, a warning to all adults to insure their actions do not lead a little one astray.

As a friend, its not uncommon to be caught in the middle of infighting.  Gossip, slander and half truths are the usual suspects, aimed at swaying you to their side of the argument.  Unfortunately, playing favorites is easy to fall prey to, something the pagans of Jesus’ day indulged, Matthew 5:46-47.  Yet, God expects Christians to possess higher standards, Matthew 5:48, striving for perfection in Christ, Philippians 4:13.

Casting Crowns addresses this issue in their song Somewhere in the Middle.  From their The Altar and the Door album, Casting Crowns sings about the ongoing tug of war that exists within each soul.  The disciple Peter and the author of Hebrews highlight this dilemma of being in the world, 1 Peter 2:11-12, yet called to look beyond this present world, Hebrews 12:1-2.  Thus, as you find yourself caught in the middle of right and wrong, remember the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12:1-2 so that you will conform to God’s ways!

by Jay Mankus

If God Used Logic…We’d All Be Dead!

Throughout the course of history, a series of cycles retrieve, add to and reinvent old theories about the Bible.  Gnostics build upon the teachings of Simon Magus in Acts 8:9-19 with modern theories like the Jesus Seminars and Da Vinci Code.  Meanwhile, books like the Secret take biblical principles out of their proper context by blending these truths with metaphysics and self-help methodology.  Despite what so called experts may claim, the Bible continues to be an annual best selling book about the creation of earth, the fall of man and restoration of life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  If you read and study this book you will soon discover, if God used logic, we’d all be dead!

If you were God, how would you respond when your only rule, Genesis 2:16-17,  is quickly broken by your second created being, the first child born on this planet becomes a murderer, Genesis 4, and a few generations later, the only person worth saving is Noah.  Meanwhile, the flood is immediately forgotten by the people of Babel in Genesis 11, your only leader, Abraham, is a habitual liar, Genesis 20:1-2, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were given over to shameful lusts, Romans 1:26-27.  Like a frustrated parent whose children never listen to them, if God used logic, the earth would have been destroyed once and for all in Genesis 19:29.

Fortunately, for all of mankind, God is love, 1 Corinthians 13.  Logically, God should have given up on us years ago, but He loved us so much that God gave us His one and only son, John 3:16-17.  Despite the wages of sin, Jesus paved a new way toward heaven in Romans 6:23.  Jesus left a final reminder of God’s love with his best friend on earth, John.  According to 1 John 3:16-20′ true love today is found today by living out the love of Jesus.  Like the classic country song by Crossway, “Thank God I’m not Jesus!”  Come alive by following the apostle Paul advice in Galatians 2:20.

by Jay Mankus

Cracked Mirrors

Before the popular video game, Halo was actually a Christian Metal band from Alabama, named after the acronym Heavenly Angelic Light Orchestra.  Relatively unknown for a decade touring in the south, Halo received national attention in 1991 with their song entitled My Buddy.  This songs illustrates how a son seeks to emulate their father like a mirror.

My buddy sees believing
my buddy sees before
and my buddy is a mirror
hanging on the wall
my buddy sees beside him
and my buddy hears the talk
and my buddy will see Jesus
lead me as i walk

(2nd stanza)

Unfortunately, what children often hear and see from their parents is life altering.   Abuse, abandonment, affairs and hypocrisy are just a few factors which have left cracked mirrors for children to put back together.  According to The Gospel Coalition, divorce rates among Christian families vary depending upon an individual’s dedication to God.  Among those families most devoted to Christ, divorces rates are roughly 20%.  On the other hand, those who relationships with Jesus waver, divorce rates can approach 60%.  According to a former Liberty University case study, the families that pray together stay together with 1 out every 1,024 praying couples divorcing.

Although this number is encouraging, cracked mirrors are swaying high school students to abandon their faith in college.  Several studies are revealing 60% of evangelical students put their faith on hold while attending college and nearly 50% never return to church following graduation.  When parents, myself included, send a mixed message to our children, living a fully devoted life for Jesus doesn’t appear or seem worth their time or energy.  The apostle Paul provides a solution for these shattered mirrors in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.  Parents must begin to put aside their childish ways and begin to act like mature followers of Christ, Ephesians 5:1-2.  Jesus is the glue which can restore our cracked mirrors.

by Jay Mankus

Loose Lips Sink Ships

In the 1900’s, American families for the most part shared a common parenting trait.  Either mom, dad or both parents reminded children weekly of the motto, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t open your mouth.”  While variations of this expression existed, the heart of the matter involves the biblical principle inside of Ephesians 4:29.  Just of loose lips sink ships, unwholesome words directed at another individual grieves the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 4:30.

As a parent of 3 children, each 3 years apart, siblings rivalries are alive in my household whether I like it or not.  Sarcasm, teasing and untimely words are a daily threat to tear down self esteem, self confidence and a spiritual connection with God.  Therefore, it is essential for parents to remind their children of passages like Proverbs 14:3.  When a child or student can associate or tie their words directly to a specific punishment, wisdom might be found before its too late or before their own ship sinks.

Jesus’ own brother James, highlights the power of words in his letter to Christian’s scattered throughout the world following Nero’s persecution in the 60’s AD.  James 3:3-6 magnifies the force of a word, comparing the tongue with fire.  Like Smokey the Bear in his public service announcements airing as commercials, “only you can prevent verbal forest fires!”  As Facebook, Twitter and other outlets of social media continue to explode, make sure you practice self-discipline before you press send.  If not, you could be the next Manti Te’O.  Therefore, tighten the reigns of your own tongue before loose lips result in another titanic disaster.

by Jay Mankus

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