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Keep Praying for Complete Honesty in all Things

One of Aesop’s Fables written in 550 Before Christ tells the story of Mercury and the Woodcutter. When the woodcutter tells the truth about not losing a golden axe, he is rewarded by Mercury. This fable is the origin of honesty is the best policy. While honesty is mentioned 52 times in the Bible, human nature has a way of tempting people to exaggerate the truth.

Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good (clear) conscience, that we want to walk uprightly and live a noble life, acting honorably and in complete honesty in all things. 19 And I beg of you [to pray for us] the more earnestly, in order that I may be restored to you the sooner, Hebrews 13:18-19.

The author of Hebrews ends his letter with a series of calls to action. One of the best things you can do is pray for a clear conscience. When a conscience is troubled, you will be convicted to confess what you have done wrong. The earthly brother of Jesus provides similar advice in James 5:16. According to James, verbally confessing your sins will lead to healing and restoration.

The wise in heart will accept and obey commandments, but the foolish of lips will fall headlong. He who walks uprightly walks securely, but he who takes a crooked way shall be found out and punished, Proverbs 10:8-9.

King Solomon provides his own wisdom on this topic. Honest people have hearts that accept and obey God’s commandments. Yet, fools don’t take this seriously and end up doing whatever they want. When people do what’s right in their own eyes, the truth becomes clouded as justifications are made to excuse their behavior. In the end, praying for complete honesty in all things is the best way to break bad habits so that you can start to walk in an upright manner in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

Let Us Come Forward in Truth

In the days of Little House on the Prairie and Let it to Beaver, television attempted to present a moral or truth to viewers in each episode. While not every message was based on the Bible, America was a much more conservative culture. With each passing generation, executives and writers began to push the envelope further and further. Modern streaming services and series are a byproduct of this moral decay.

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by [b]that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

Whenever anyone makes an error, mistake or outright sins, the Bible encourages individuals who have messed up to come forward in truth. Unfortunately, telling the truth is discouraged in many cultures; seen as a form of betrayal like a nark or snitch. Yet, in the passage above, faith involves laying everything on the line. Regardless of how you may feel, honesty remains the best policy.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:16.

My favorite class while attending Seminary was Revival and Revivalism. One of our textbooks studied the Great Awakenings. The second great awakening began when a young man felt compared to come up on stage and began to publicly confess his sins. When someone comes forward in truth, a spirit of confession can transform an entire congregation. Therefore, the next time you blow it big time, don’t be afraid to pour out your heart so that healing and restoration can begin.

by Jay Mankus

The Guarantee of a Better Agreement

An agreement refers to harmony in accordance with an opinion or feeling. This occurs when two parties reach a position where a joint settlement is finalized. Prior to any agreement being made, there are often sacrifices made on either side. Unfortunately, human nature causes many individuals to fall short of the oath, promise or vow made. Whenever your heart is broken in this life, entering into any future agreement may be difficult, struggling with the concept of trusting someone.

In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant]. 23 [Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 But He holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever, Hebrews 7:22-24.

The author of one New Testament book refers to an eternal guarantee. Instead of relying on an Old Testament priest, the Bible introduces a stronger agreement. Rather than heading off to the temple to confess your sins so that a priest can offer a sacrifice up to God on your behalf, Jesus had a better plan. Fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 3:15, Jesus became a perfect lamb to die once and for all sins past, present and future. Rising from the dead following his crucifixion assured the guarantee of a better agreement.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed, Romans 10:9-11.

Typically, agreements are finalized with a hand shake, kiss or a financial commitment. Yet, the apostle Paul explains in the passage above how to enter into this spiritual agreement. This begins with the acknowledgement of your inability to religiously follow the Ten Commandments. Upon this confession, you are verbalizing your need for a personal Lord and Savior. Finally, as an act to seal and secure this guarantee, you must place your entire confidence and trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6. This is the guarantee of a better agreement.

by Jay Mankus

A Swing and a Miss

Mark Reynolds struck out 223 times during the 2009 Major League Baseball Season. This record in futility was nearly broken by Adam Dunn, Chris Davis, and Yoan Moncada in the last decade. Perhaps, some of these players requested to be benched late in the season to avoid replacing Reynolds for the most strike outs by a hitter in a season. Over the course of a season, batters can strike out on a caught fouled tip, go down looking or with a swing and a miss.

But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness. 17 And their teaching [will devour; it] will eat its way like cancer or spread like gangrene. So it is with Hymenaeus and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:16-17.

In a letter to a teenage pastor, the apostle Paul uses an analogy that is similar to a swing and a miss. Since baseball wasn’t invented until 1839 by Abner Doubleday, Paul uses an archery expression. According to a Creation Today article, the term sin in the Bible comes from archery. To miss the mark in Greek literally means to sin. Therefore, whenever you fail to do what God wants you to, this miss has eternal consequences.

Who have missed the mark and swerved from the truth by arguing that the resurrection has already taken place. They are undermining the faith of some, 2 Timothy 2:18.

When Christian leaders missed the mark in the first century, Paul wasn’t afraid to call these individuals out. Hymenaeus and Philetus were called out by name for undermining the faith of others. What were these two men guilty of? They did not keep to the Scriptures of truth, but deviated from them by using justification to rationalize their behavior. Since everyone misses the mark and swings and misses, Romans 3:9-12, confess your sins as soon as possible so that healing and reconciliation can begin.

by Jay Mankus

A Stranger in the House of God

Unless individuals were attending a local synagogue in the first century, church goers met inside a home or outside at a local park. While thousands of people regularly gathered to hear Jesus speak and teach, worshiping God with strangers can be awkward. If the person standing next to you is extremely jubilant or you’ve never heard the song that everyone else is singing, you may feel a little out of place.

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to dine with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the town who was an especially wicked sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume), Luke 7:36-37.

This is how one woman felt while Jesus dined with a group of Pharisees. As these men were reclining at a dining room table following their meal, an adulterous woman approached Jesus. It’s unclear if this woman came to confess the sins of her past, but she was suddenly overwhelmed by emotions. Perhaps, the Spirit of God prompted her to wash Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume that she was able to purchase due to her unwholesome occupation.

And standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume). 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw it, he said to himself, If this Man were a prophet, He would surely know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him—for she is a notorious sinner (a social outcast, devoted to sin), Luke 7:38-39.

Despite being a stranger in a house of God, all this woman wanted was to be with Jesus. It didn’t matter what all these men thought or that she was throwing away this valuable ointment. Whether you’re on vacation or simply visiting a new church, when you come to worship God it’s all about Jesus. The next time you feel like a stranger in the house of God, remember the act of this woman so that you will develop the right mindset to worship God.

by Jay Mankus

Why Telling the Truth is the Best Option

According to a 2013 Survey, lawyers are the most hated profession in the United States.  Cable and Television networks have embraced lawyers, filling prime time slots with court room dramas for the past quarter century.  The most prominent lawyers have become experts in covering their tracks.  This idiom refers to individuals who destroy, hide or suppress damaging evidence about their client or clients from being revealed.  However, when lies are used to cover your tracks, it’s better to tell the truth rather than live in fear of being exposed as a liar.

But this I confess to you, however, that in accordance with the Way [of the Lord], which they call a [heretical, division-producing] sect, I worship (serve) the God of our fathers, still persuaded of the truth of and believing in and placing full confidence in everything laid down in the Law [of Moses] or written in the prophets; Acts 24:14.

In his opening remarks to Governor Felix, accused by Jewish leaders of being an agitator, pest and heretic, the apostle Paul is honest about his faith.  Instead of hiding this information, Paul confesses his devotion to the Way, modern day Christianity.  Paul’s defense states that his service for God is being confused with a divisive sect.  Moreover, when the truth comes out, Paul is confident that his actions will be in line with the law of Moses.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:16.

While writing a letter to first century believers in the Way of Christ, the earthly brother of Jesus compares confession with healing.  The first step toward healing is publicly confessing your sins.  James suggests that confession is a heart felt act.  This acknowledgement helps restore a spiritual tone of mind, awakened and snapped out of spiritual slumbers induced by the sinful nature.  When earnest prayers are added to a contrite heart, a tremendous power is unleashed via the Holy Spirit.  If you are tired from trying to cover your tracks, make telling the truth the best option.

by Jay Mankus

Listening to a Child’s Perspective

After three years of home schooling, my daughter Lydia has been reintegrated back into public education as a freshman at St. George’s High School.  Once meek and timid, my daughter has flourished socially, enjoying daily interactions with students her own age.  While it doesn’t always happen, I try to have one meaningful conversation with Lydia per month, hoping to get an update on her overall experience.  This past weekend I found myself enthralled with our discussion, yet convicted by my daughter’s perspective.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

While driving back from the beach, Lydia wanted to know what my wife and I believed about dating, music and tattoos.  Lydia shared what she believed, then listened to her mom and dad talk.  At times she laughed, surprised how certain views have changed since her parents were teenagers.  At one point, Lydia cut me off, suggesting I was brash, opinionated and negative.  Normally, I would attempt to defend and justify myself, but conviction led me to listen to a child’s perspective.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

These comments from my daughter served as a mirror, giving me a chance to see who I really am at this point in life.  The truth hurts, but you must come to terms with where you are before you make a full recovery.  To a certain extent, I am bitter and frustrated by where I am, like being in limbo.  Meanwhile, I have become more vocal in my feelings, brash, critical and trashing those I disagree with.  After listening to my daughter’s perspective, its time for me to confess my shortcomings, seek God’s counsel and pray that the Holy Spirit begins to transform my imperfections.  May this blog encourage you to listen to those who care about you.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Run From Your Past

As an adult, you can learn from previous mistakes.  Depending upon the degree of your past transgressions, the healing process varies.  Those who succumb to addiction at some point in life will have a much tougher road to recovery than individuals who just flirted with temptation.  In the end, you can run, but you can’t hide from your past.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

The disciple whom Jesus loved makes an interesting observation in the verse above.  Your degree of faith is based upon your level of sincerity.  Those who open up about dark periods of their past are considered genuine.  Yet, many remain silent, afraid that previous lapses in judgments will cause others to abandon current relationships.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

Since recent allegations made by women against Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore, the media is assuming that these accusations are true.  I don’t know Judge Moore nor can I speak on his behalf.  Nonetheless, I know that everyone has secret scars.  These imperfections are symbolic of periods in life that you are ashamed of, hoping no one finds out.  Yet, James the earthly brother of Jesus urges individuals to come forward by acknowledging any unconfessed sin.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy, Proverbs 28:13.

Whether you are talking about a public figure, Hollywood star or yourself, the Bible applies to everyone.  According to Solomon, one of the wisest individuals to walk the face of the earth, mercy is dependent upon confession.  Jesus reinforces this concept at the end of the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:14-15.  Therefore, if you want to escape the demons of your past, confess any deeds of darkness so that grace, healing and mercy will be found.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Becoming Vulnerable Again

Ten years ago I was at a good place in my life.  At this time, I felt like I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.  I was in the prime of my teaching career, mentoring students on and off the golf course as a coach and serving on the board of my church as an elder.  Then, a series of trials left deep wounds to my soul.  When the dust settled, I lost my job, several friendships and the desire to become vulnerable.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

Whenever I endure hardship, it becomes difficult for me to allow strangers back into my life.  Whether this is a defense mechanism, fear of being disappointed again or signs of depression, I tend to withdraw.  Part of me is jaded, hesitant to invest time and energy without knowing what the future holds.  Yet after years of being in some sort of spiritual fog, a moving worship experience a few Sunday’s ago has led me to realize it’s time to open up.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

During one of these songs, I had a vision of clay being molded and fashioned by a potter.  This imagery was a subtle reminder of God’s nature as a heavenly Potter.  All of my heartache over the last decade is symbolic of the imperfections within clay.  If I can only trust God while I go through the furnace called life, I will become whole.  May the message that I am learning inspire others to become vulnerable to others again.

by Jay Mankus

Blind and Toothless

Jewish law detailed in the Old Testament is clear and concise.  “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth annd life for a life” doesn’t leave any grey area.  Yet, when asked about his opinion on biblical law Gandhi provided a classic quote.  “If this law was applied literally everyone would be blind and toothless.”

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, John 1:17.

Today, lawyers have crafted escape clauses and discovered loopholes to help clients avoid punishment.  When you combine this with activist judges who view the United States Constitution as a living documents, law now evolves as society changes.  This lack of consistency often results in chaos within classrooms, communities and work places.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet,” Romans 7:7.

Whenever someone is caught breaking a rule, knee jerk reactions tend to reply with something like “I didn’t know.”  The purpose of rules is to prevent individuals from using the amoral card, not informed on right from wrong.  Yet, laws without grace breeds teetotalism, the point Gandhi eludes to above.  Therefore, two things are necessary to avoid a blind and toothless society.  First, slow down long enough to read, reflect and meditate on the Bible.  Then, when you go beyond the boundaries God has set, confess, repent and turn to God in prayer for forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

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