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A Critical Time for Grace

One of the earliest references to someone being “canceled” occurred on a VH1 Reality show back in 2014. One of the cast members of Love and Hip Hop: New York kick started what Americans now refer to as Cancel Culture. Cisco Rosado used the expression “you’re cancelled” to his girl friend Diamond Strawberry at the time. In the 7 years that have followed, beliefs, opinions and political ideologies are under attack, outed by social media daily.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

The Cancel Culture has become like a feeding frenzy, looking for a reason to eliminate and silence anyone who is unwilling to conform to a secular worldview. As active members of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter diligently search for offensive posts and words, these miserable individuals will stop at nothing to get their way. These control freaks don’t appear to be letting up as any mistake, slip up or verbal misstep is magnified daily.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

Subsequently, this is a critical time for grace. Rather than continue down this road of condemnation and finger pointing, forgiveness must find to a way to restore sanity. As the Cancel Culture begins to ruin, smear and take down their own, perhaps a spirit of common sense is emerging. Nonetheless, you can’t sustain peace until God’s grace provides second chances to change for the better. May this blog remind the masses of God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

by Jay Mankus

A Powerful Pull

Control freaks are people who feel an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any given situation. To those of you who possess this natural inclination, it’s a powerful pull. According to the Gospel of Matthew and Mark, Peter and his brother Andrew were the first two disciples chosen by Jesus. If this is true, why would Jesus pick a control freak to become the Rock of the first century church? – Matthew 16:18

Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! 23 But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men, Matthew 16:22-23.

The passage above and below reveals the character arc of Peter. After being praised by Jesus a few verses earlier, Peter refuses to accept the will of God. This flawed mindset is exposed as being a hindrance to God. Without saying the words, Jesus rebukes Peter for being a control freak. If this powerful pull is not addressed immediately, Peter will become a stumbling block to God instead of a rock of faith.

Then Peter began to speak and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good and delightful that we are here; if You approve, I will put up three booths here—one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah. While he was still speaking, behold, a shining cloud [composed of light] overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is My Son, My Beloved, with Whom I am [and have always been] delighted. Listen to Him! – Matthew 17:4-5

Unfortunately, Peter was resistant to change. Being part of Jesus’ inner circle only fueled Peter’s ego. Peter wasn’t afraid to verbalize what others were thinking, asking if Jesus wanted shrines built for the special moment above. Peter believed that Jesus would rise to power as King of the Jews. As a control freak, Peter was drawn to this first century rock star who had an alternate plan. Thus, Peter was unable to let go of this controlling pull.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11 Therefore, Jesus said to Peter, Put the sword [back] into the sheath! The cup which My Father has given Me, shall I not drink it? 12 So the troops and their captain and the guards (attendants) of the Jews seized Jesus and bound Him, John 18:10-12.

The final passage above confirms that Peter was unable to let go of his desire to be in control. Willing to defend Jesus so that he could be an earthly king, you can see the disappointment in Peter’s eyes after told by Jesus to stand down. Perhaps, Peter’s public denial of Jesus hours later is due in some part of his unwillingness to accept God’s will. The powerful pull of control freaks still exists today, Galatians 5:16-18. Unless you yield to God’s Spirit, this internal tug of war will continue to grow into a powerful pull.

by Jay Mankus

Establishing a Foundation for Victory

You don’t have to be in high school to discern whether or not you belong.  Based upon your personality and the people you encounter, conversations and friendships can quickly turn into tug of wars, seeking control.  My own defense mechanism causes me to begin cautiously, often listening more than talking before opening up.  However, once I feel comfortable in a certain setting or group of individuals, my true identity shines through.

However, there are many things which wage war against your soul in this life, making victory elusive, 1 Peter 2:11.  Depending upon your motivation or degree or perseverance, many give up, throwing in the towel before they taste success.  When you add this factor to the excess baggage people carry from their past, reaching the summit of John 10:10 seems unrealistic.  Spirits of doubt, failure and pessimism imprint a loser mentality upon the souls of many.  Instead of claiming the promise of Philippians 4:13, a lack of faith prohibits these bystanders from obtaining joy.

So how can someone establish a foundation for victory?  What must one do to turn their fortune from failure to celebration?  A Calvinist will say you don’t have a prayer; you’re either chosen or not.  The Arminian will disagree, claiming everyone has a shot.  While God’s grace does play a major role in victory, Ephesians 2:8, there is more as acts of contrition and penitence demonstrate whether or not someone is on the right track, James 2:26.  From my own journey, below are essential ingredients which have put me into position to achieve victory.

1) Like Jesus, you need to find a quiet place, seeking solitude daily to get your heart and mind in the right place, Luke 4:42.

2) You need to find and or develop friendships which elevate your self-esteem and spiritual hunger, Acts 2:42-47.

3) Fill your idle time listening to uplifting music whether through Pandora, Radio Stations or You Tubes that will get you through each day, filling your mind with wholesome lyrics and thoughts, 1 Samuel 16:23.

4) Try to read a chapter of the Bible daily which will enhance your faith while transforming your mind, Romans 10:17.

5) Spend time each day in some form of recreation, whether running, working out and investing in a hobby which makes you happy, providing a sense of accomplishment daily, 1 Timothy 4:8.

6) Once a week, write down, preferably in a journal, goals that you want to fulfill before the day, week or month is over.  This exercise provides needed vision for the future, Hosea 4:6.

7) Devote time once a month either helping, serving and volunteering within your church or community.  It’s better to give than receive.

May these ideas inspire you develop your own daily/weekly disciplines and practices which will lead you toward a foundation for victory.  May God honor the commitments you make to better yourself in 2014!

by Jay Mankus

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