RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Confession

The Breath of Life

Breathing is one of those basic elements in life that most people take for granted. When I was six, I had the wind knocked out of me while playing football. My initially reaction was pain until my inability to breathe led to panic. My sister Cindy grabbed my arm and pushed me over onto my stomach. Forty years later following this experience, a sledding accident placed me into a more dire situation. Two cracked ribs and a collapsed lung made it nearly impossible for me to breathe.

And to all the animals on the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that creeps on the ground—to everything in which there is the breath of life—I have given every green plant for food. And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good (suitable, pleasant) and He approved it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day, Genesis 1:30-31.

According to oral tradition passed down to Moses, God gave the breath of life into every living creature on earth. Unfortunately, the teaching of Charles Darwin on evolution is still influencing minds today. While the second and third law of thermodynamics proves that you can’t create something out of nothing, the idea of a Big Bang still exists. As an elder from one of my former churches once told me, God spoke and BANG the universe was created via the breath of life.

Then shall the dust [out of which God made man’s body] return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God Who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

King Solomon was considered one of the wisest people to walk the face of the earth. In the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon refers to the creation story. Reflecting upon what happens at the end of human life, Solomon points to the cycle of life, ending up just like Adam prior to God breathing life into him. Job uses a similar confession in Job 42:5-6, which is the inspiration for modern day Ash Wednesday services. May today’s blog help you to appreciate and be thankful for the breath of life.

by Jay Mankus

Transforming Your Mind Through Song

Why did Jesus sing a hymn prior to leaving the Last Supper? What song did the disciples join Jesus in singing? Was anyone humming this tune on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane? When I first read the apostle Paul’s call to sing hymns and spiritual songs, I wasn’t sure why or where to do this? Yet, over the past month I’ve found myself re-singing a couple of the songs I listened to prior to going to work. Little by little, my attitude and mind has been transformed through Christian music.

 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]. 16 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:15-16.

To provide the proper context, I was forced to leave my position at Amazon in Delaware when my wife’s mom was living in hospice care in South Carolina. When I wasn’t able to find a full-time position before our move this past summer, I took a hardship transfer but was forced to start all over like I had never worked for Amazon. Like the Israelites wandering around in the wilderness following the Exodus out of Egypt, there were numerous days of bickering and complaining. This was my state of mind in July.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

Every day was like David’s confession in Psalm 51:1-4, struggling to get up to head off to work. This poor mindset took a toll on my body and soul. Beginning in August, like taking a pill to numb my pain, I started to sing Christian songs in my head that I listened to on my way to work. Rather than participate in a daily pity party, “oh woe is me,” I began singing these songs in my head. The more I hummed and sang, the better I felt. While my work situation hasn’t changed, my mind has been transformed via song.

by Jay Mankus

Neglect What is Natural

The apostle Paul devotes two chapters of his letter to the Church at Rome to what is natural. Romans 7 provides a personal confession by Paul of what he knows is right but getting his body to do this is a completely different story, Romans 7:15-18. The next chapter reveals the internal struggle between your fleshly desires and God’s Spirit, Romans 8:5-8. When your mind wanders, you’ll end up doing what’s natural.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [[p]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. 25 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting], Matthew 16:24-25.

Frank Peretti introduced me to the spiritual realm through his series of books on what life would be like if we could see the ongoing battle between angels in demons. Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness opened my mind to this tug of war between the natural and supernatural, Galatians 5:16-18. The apostle Paul likely provided Peretti the inspiration for his books in Ephesians 6:10-20. When prayers cease, the Devil takes the upper hand.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed [q]life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] [r]life [in the kingdom of God]? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done, Matthew 16:26-27.

Based upon the passage above, Jesus expects his followers to neglect the natural, any fleshly desires. Jesus set the example in Philippians 2:5-9, laying down his life to take away the sins of the world. Turning the other cheek when someone hits or hurts you isn’t natural. Nor is forgiving someone who transgresses against you over and over again, Matthew 6:13-15. Nonetheless, until you are born again spiritually, John 3:3-5, neglecting what is natural will be a losing proposition. Success is the process of arriving to faith.

by Jay Mankus

Undoing the Works of the Devil

One of my inspirations to become a youth pastor and high school Bible teacher was to help teenagers avoid the same mistakes that I made when I was their age. Perhaps, this desire was a form of penance to undo the works of the Devil from my younger years. I spent a majority of my adolescence indulging my sinful nature to bring me pleasure. Meanwhile, to those little children who were watching, I set a poor example on numerous occasions.

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.

One of the comments Jesus made about adults who corrupt innocent children was to tie a millstone around their neck and throw them into the sea to drown. The imagery of this story in the Bible put the fear of God into me. This combined with a reoccurring nightmare about dying as a child set the stage for God to begin to move me away devilish acts. Like most teenagers, I was a slow learner who couldn’t quite put all the sinful habits of my past behind me.

[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done], 1 John 3:8.

When you do give into that demon on your shoulder whispering evil thoughts into your mind, confession is your best option, James 5:16. This doesn’t mean when a similar urge returns that you’re safe. Rather, one of Jesus’ former disciples compares the Devil to a predator seeking to prey on isolated and weakened Christians, 1 Peter 5:8. If and when addiction or bad habits get the best of you, this is when you need to wrestle with your flesh to break free, Galatians 5:16-18. If you want to undo the works of the devil in your life, your have to put to death that sinful mindset by taking your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Blots and Blemishes

In this age of wokeness, every word you say is policed by social media. Various sites have now hired truth detectors to determine right from wrong, fact from fiction, and the truth from lies. While talking about sinful behaviors, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to blots and blemishes. Like a bad grease stain on a brand-new shirt, this careless error in judgment can ruin an article of clothing. Yet, the Bible is more concerned about what’s going on deep inside of you before it’s too late to change.

Being destined to receive [punishment as] the reward of [their] unrighteousness [suffering wrong as the hire for their wrongdoing]. They count it a delight to revel in the daytime [living luxuriously and delicately]. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their [a]deceptions and carousing together [even] as they feast with you, 2 Peter 2:14.

The context of the passage above is to prepare Christians for Jesus’ second coming detailed in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. Several first century writers use fear to address personal blots and blemishes. The apostle Paul and Peter both use similar methods to warn Christians of falling back into the sinful ways of their past prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you can develop the mindset that Jesus is coming back today, you’ll be less likely give into temptation that lie in wait for you daily.

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

One of the biggest issues of overcoming the blots and blemishes of your past is learning to forgive yourself. Meanwhile, ungodly beliefs that you have picked up over the course of your life will make you feel less worthy of God’s mercy. When you add these factors to prodigals who have lost the ability to think rationally, common sense is asleep until you hit rock bottom. When Jesus’ earthly brother refused to believe his own sibling was the Messiah, he believes it’s never too late for confession so that God’s sanctifying grace will take care of your future blots and blemishes, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

The Second Glance, Sex, and Murder

One of my most viewed blogs over the past decade is The Second Glance. Yet, this is only the beginning of the demise of King David. According to 2 Samuel 11, David’s second glance at a naked women led to sexual relations with a married woman. When Israel’s king wasn’t able to cover up Bathsheba’s pregnancy as he initially planned, David gave orders to for Uriah to go off on a suicide mission resulting in his death.

In the spring, when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites [country] and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold, 2 Samuel 11:1-2.

When I was a member of the Spiritual Life Committee at Red Lion Christian Academy, I took a group of senior high students to an annual retreat. During one of these conferences, the keynote messages was based upon the consequences of sin. Using Romans 7 as a reference, the speaker claimed that sin will cost you more than you ever expected, sin will captivate your attention longer than you planned, and sin will make you stay beyond the time you intended. This is exactly what happened to King David.

David sent and inquired about the woman. One said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers and took her. And she came in to him, and he lay with her—for she was purified from her uncleanness. Then she returned to her house, 2 Samuel 11:3-4.

Christian artist Kenny Marks sings about a similar fall from grace in his 1986 hit The Party’s Over. Kenny writes about a rendezvous that two students have at a high school party. Like the start of any romance, infatuation leads to lust, lust triggers passion, and uninhibited passion leads a young woman to give her virginity away. Like David and Bathsheba, this one stand conceived a child placed into a no-win situation.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and withdraw from him, that he may be struck down and die, 2 Samuel 11:14-15.

Sin turns a curious child into a rebellious prodigal. If you don’t have anyone to hold you accountable for your actions, you’ll end up like a wayward son or daughter on the highway to hell, Matthew 7:13-14. When sin becomes full blown, James 1:15, Christians end up like the apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-16, under the influence of sinful addictions. Before this gets out of hand like David’s situation, confess your sins and turn back to Jesus today, James 5:16. Go now and leave your life of sin before it ruins your life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Volume 7: Prayer

The Christian Group In Reach released Waterline in 1992. This initial album was a smash hit as some Christian journalists suggested that In Reach would become the Christian band of the 1990’s. Unfortunately, this never happened as In Reach fell into obscurity, following in the footsteps of many one hit wonders of the past. Like the 1996 film That Thing You Do, In Reach faded into the setting sun.

Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth! You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, the islands and coastal regions and the inhabitants of them [sing a song such as has never been heard in the heathen world]! – Isaiah 42:10

By the time their second album was released, In Reach became Brett Williams & In Reach. Based upon the title, it appears pride got in the way of this group’s success. Power and Promise may not have received the fanfare of their first project but, this album has one of my favorite songs. Prayer is what it sounds like as the lyrics share a powerful confession that you can use as your own personal prayer.

by Jay Mankus

No Signs of Life

Today’s title is found in the lyrics of a band based in Columbus, Ohio. Send the Beggar’s second album Closer to Complete features a song entitled The Knot. The message is based upon a Christian who blends into their surroundings, afraid to make a public confession of a faith in Jesus. The lyrics include an autopsy performed by an angel, carefully examining this person’s heart. Inside the name Jesus Christ is pulled out, causing confusion which prompts a question: “why was this never shown?”

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions, Romans 6:11-12.

One of the things I struggled with as a new Christian was mixing feelings with faith. My life was like an emotional roller coaster lifting everyone up around me while on my highs. This was quickly replaced by depression as I sucked the joy out of every room that I entered. To be honest, there have been periods where I exhibited no signs of life as a Christian. Like James 1:13-15, my faith was dead inside.

Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and [a]faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and [b]faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy], Romans 6:13-14.

Apparently, first century Christians in Rome also experienced spiritual dry spells. Depending upon how you lived in the past, breaking any addiction or bad habit can take years. Similar to an internal tug of war, Galatians 5:16-18, ridding your life of sinful desires isn’t easy. King David describes this conviction and pain in Psalm 55:1-4. Whenever you find yourself spiritually dead or dying, on the verge of walking away from your faith, pour out your heart to God in prayer. May confession bring you back to life spiritually in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

When You’re Painting Light Illuminates Imperfections

I spent last week trying to renovate a new house in South Carolina. The longer I participate in this process, the more helpless I feel as building and construction is not one of my gifts. Rather than get in the way, I turned to painting and sanding. After putting on a coat of primer, I thought we were ready to paint the ceiling. However, when I inspected each section a little close with light, I was disappointed by all the areas that I missed. When you’re painting, light illuminates imperfections.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves, 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.

Light appears 272 times in the King James Bible. Light is used as spiritual imagery to illuminate everything that is good and true. Meanwhile, darkness is the opposite of God. Human nature tends to lower one’s standards, using justification and realization to participate in deeds of darkness. Until I started to read and study the Bible, I didn’t know right from wrong accept from what my parents taught me. Yet, like the apostle Paul’s confession in 1 Timothy 1:15, the closer you draw near to God, the more your sins are brought to the surface.

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or [c]the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life, Ephesians 5:8-9.

In the passages above, the apostle Paul calls Christians to leave the darkness of their past by entering the light of the Lord. Yet, change requires a catalyst, something to trigger a dead spirit so it can be brought back to life. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, it was a Jewish man longing to eat the sloop given to pigs that altered his perspective. Any time human beings hit rock bottom, common sense is illuminated. Despite how frustrating it is to recognize any imperfection in your life, the light of God’s Word helps believers see what issues they need to addressed before maturity can be achieved, James 1:2-4.

by Jay Mankus

The Purpose of the Law

One of my first impressions of God as a child was a disciplinarian. If I made a mistake, did something bad or really screwed up, God would punish me like disobedient Israelites in the Old Testament. Perhaps, the Roman Catholic priests that I grew accustom of listening to each Sunday at mass ingrained this concept into my head. Everything seemed so absolute with right and wrong clearly defined in the Bible. Yet, from a logical perspective, I didn’t know the purpose of God’s laws.

What then do we conclude? Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not! Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin or have known its meaning. [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet and have an evil desire [for one thing and another]. But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing], Romans 7:7-8.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to clearing up this matter for anyone who still may be confused or uncertain. According to the passage above, the purpose of the law is to recognize sin. When anyone goes outside the defined boundaries set in the Bible, you are proceeding into troubled waters. You may not feel any different at first. In fact, you may be amoral, not knowing right from wrong. Yet, the more you read the Bible, these words are like a lamp for our feet to guide your steps, Psalm 119:105.

For sin, seizing the opportunity and getting a hold on me [by taking its incentive] from the commandment, beguiled and entrapped and cheated me, and using it [as a weapon], killed me. 12 The Law therefore is holy, and [each] commandment is holy and just and good. 13 Did that which is good then prove fatal [bringing death] to me? Certainly not! It was sin, working death in me by using this good thing [as a weapon], in order that through the commandment sin might be shown up clearly to be sin, that the extreme malignity and immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear, Romans 7:11-13.

However, the Sermon on the Mount may reveal another purpose of the law. Jesus urges listeners of this famous speech to strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48. Unfortunately, anyone who seeks perfection will be consumed by disappointment and failure. This is what the apostle Paul realized as a former Pharisee. Despite possessing a zeal that surpassed most religious leaders of his day, Paul’s sinful tendencies was laid bare by God’s law. The true purpose of the law is to help human beings see their sinful nature so that confession compels trespassers to cry out to the Savior of the world, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: