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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

Mirror Mirror on the Wall Whose The Worst One of Them All

At some point in life, the older generation loses touch with societal trends.  I guess I have reached this stage in life, unable to keep up.  As Gen Xer’s like me give way to Millennials, one thing puzzles me.  Why is it that anyone who does not hold a secular worldview is demonized?  In fact, if you watch the news, late night comedy or political shows, these same individuals are made out to be the worst people on the face of the earth.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

From a spiritual perspective, conviction serves as a thermostat of the soul.  When the presence of a sin is made aware to individuals, there are three basic replies.  Confess and admit the error of your way, blame someone else or ignore it completely.  One of the catches to admission is that public scrutiny often follows can ruin your reputation.  Meanwhile, if you deny, deny, deny, your character and integrity will eventually be tarnished.

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.

In Biblical times, prostitutes and tax collectors were thought to be the scum of the earth.  Today, some might suggest lawyers and politicians are high on the list of the least respected people.  Yet, it doesn’t matter what other people say about you or believe.  There is only one judge, Christ the Lord.  Therefore, as soon as a sense of guilt churns in your heart. come to Jesus to confess you sins.  When you do, God is faithful in forgiving and forgetting, always full of grace despite how often or great your sin.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Disappointments in Life

If birds of a feather flock together, then misery does love company.  Playing the victim card allows individuals to dwell upon their disappointments in life.  Like the shark encounters scene in Jaws, people often engage in stories to one up the other.  The ultimate goal is to seek pity from others, to buy your sob story.

And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless, Job 22:9.

When you read the account of Job’s trials within the first two chapters of his book, its hard to find someone who has endured such heartache.  After three friends come to support Job, each begin to wonder why would God allow all these horrible things happen to such a great guy.  The more each reflected upon Job’s disappointments in life, their reasoning changes.   Supportive friends, soon became critics, urging Job to confess a hidden sin at the core of his hardships.  Surely, this must be the reason for disappointment.

That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, Job 22:10.

The one mistake Job does make is blaming God for all his troubles.  I guess Job fell into the trap most do, believing life is suppose to be full of blessings once you commit your life to God.  Unfortunately, the contrary is true as difficult times serve as a refining process.  Tests create an environment to promote growth, maturity and perseverance.  Therefore, the next time disappointment comes your way, consider it a pure joy, James 1:2-4.  Developing this mindset will prevent you from blaming God as well as make you a complete person.

by Jay Mankus

Faking Holiness

If your life was placed on a chart or graph, there would be peaks and valleys with plateaus somewhere in between.  High points mark periods of success and victories within life.  The low areas represent failures where doubt and disappointment often attack your soul.  Unfortunately, human nature causes many to assign blame for their valleys rather than finding fault from within.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Since salaries and wages are normally based upon the services or work provided, its easy to say, “look what I did.”  Yet, the apostle Paul reminds individuals that salvation is not based upon human efforts.  Rather, God’s grace opens the door to eternity, providing access to the undeserving like me.  Sure, I can put on a good face, pretending to be a godly Christian.  Nonetheless, I find myself going through the motions way too often, lukewarm and faking holiness.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

During my recent Daniel Fast, conviction of this fact has consumed me.  Despite my flaws, I am thankful for the passage above.  Jesus died for imperfect people like me, a demonstration of God’s agape love.  May those of you who reach a similar low point embrace biblical promises by accepting God’s free gift by faith.  Don’t pretend to have things all together.  Rather, confess your sins and pray for healing so that reconciliation will begin.

by Jay Mankus

Envy

When an American talks about the first family, they are usually referring the president and their family.  However, the Bible also has a first family.  Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel.  Everything was perfect until Adam and Eve broke God’s only rule.  Following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a curse was unleashed.  Subsequently, the human flesh was inflected with envy.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

When life as a farmer hit a snag, Cain struggled to provide for his family.  This lack of production influenced Cain to cut back on his first fruit offering.  In the meantime, his kid brother Abel decided to become a shepherd.  Based upon the early portion of chapter 4, Abel gave the first portion of his profits to the Lord.  This offering pleased God, but conceived envy within the heart of Cain.  This is the beginning of how envy rots the bones.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones, Proverbs 14:30.

Envy is like a double edged sword.  On one side envy is self-seeking, wishing you possessed what others have.  All the while, this same sinful nature is causing individuals to disconnect from God.  Unless this desire is cut off, envy will continue to cut to heart, poison souls and rot human bones.  For those of you caught up by this spiritual disease, start by implementing the words of Colossians 3:4-7.  From here, confess, pray and enter into accountability relationships to rid yourself of any ill-effects of this addictive nature.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Confession, Faith and Healing

When you are young, health is something that can be taken for granted.  This blessing is often forgotten until storms, trials or unexpected events arrive.  Thus, when my eye doctor recently told me I was losing vision in my right eye, I wasn’t sure what to think.  After a week of contemplation, prayer and reflection, my future lies in confession, faith and healing.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The first 4 books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels detail close to 40 specific miracles performed by Jesus.  Although the audience and context of each author differs, there is a similar theme found before Jesus’ healing is complete.  Several cases involve an affliction, condition or disease that is related to some type of curse which requires confession.  Other individuals came to a point in life they began to accept their physical state, giving up hope of ever finding a cure.  These people were questioned by Jesus, seeing if desire and faith within would be reborn.

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” –  John 5:5-6

When you find yourself in need of healing, there are 2 questions you must dwell upon.  First, have you sinned against God, someone else or your own body?  Second, is there any area of your life where you’ve resigned, lost hope or believe you won’t succeed.  Depending upon the conviction you receive from the Holy Spirit, you may need to publicly confess your transgressions, ask God for the faith of Elisha or do both.  In the end, you will find that after confession and faith, healing will follow.  It might not always be the outcome you desire but as Job once said, ” the Lord gives and the Lord takes away,”

by Jay Mankus

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