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Tag Archives: convictions

Seeing Criticism for What it Is

The book definition for criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based upon a perceived fault or mistake.  The key word here is perceived as modern criticism is usually based upon ideology.  Subsequently, if your beliefs, convictions or worldview varies from the socially acceptable norm, condemnation, denunciation and nitpicking will arrive fast and furious.  When the media chimes in, criticism often snowballs like an avalanche.

They preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, then they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples; encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, saying, “It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:21-22.

Shortly after being stoned by his spiritual opponents, on the verge of death, the apostle Paul gets back on his feet to share a lesson learned from this near death experience.  As he walked back to the same town where leaders wanted to kill him, Paul realized that anyone who wants to preach the good news about Jesus Christ must embrace hardship and tribulations.  Essentially, Paul is saying “don’t take religious criticism personally as they hated Jesus first,”

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus builds upon Paul’s words in Lystra.  Trials build character resulting in spiritual maturity.  While criticism can and will be deserved from time to time, Christians must see criticism for what it is, a refining process that leads to genuine faith.  The more faith is tested, endurance and inner peace will shine through.  No one likes to be criticized, but when you see it through the lens of the Bible, spiritual growth is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

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Staying in Tune

There was a time in my life when I possessed musical talents.  For three years I played the alto saxophone, improving each year.  When I visited my grandmother for the holidays, I quickly picked up the piano, able to play Christmas carols.  Unfortunately, some where along the way, my interests waned, forgetting the notes, rhythm and ability to play an instrument.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen, Amos 5:23.

C.S. Lewis adds a piano analogy within Mere Christianity.  In one of his introductory chapters, Lewis takes three key components: tune, notes and music sheet.  For performers to correctly play an instrument, it must be tuned properly to produce a quality sound.   Next, individuals must have the knowledge to play the appropriate key or note.  Finally, unless you understand how to read a music sheet, a song doesn’t flow or make sense.

And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him, 1 Samuel 16:23.

Beyond music, these elements are essential if you want to stay in tune with God.  The conscience in connection with the Holy Spirit enables individuals to discern God’s still small voice.  Convictions, gut feelings and minds swayed by prayer serve as notes, clues as to where to go and what to do.  Finally, as people begin to read and study the Bible, principles for life are revealed like notes on a music sheet.  While C.S Lewis’ words are more than a half of a century old, these timeless truths provide a guide to stay in tune with God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Turning Yourself In

As fading PGA stars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson pass the torch to Rory Mcilroy and Jordan Spieth, several player careers often go unnoticed.  While human interest stories like Erik Compton, a heart transplant recipient received attention after his second place finish at the 2014 U.S, Open, television coverage typically ignores mediocre players.  Nonetheless, golf is a gentleman’s game, with participants responsible for reporting rules infractions.  Thus, even when the cameras aren’t present, a spirit of integrity prompts many professionals to turn themselves in so to speak.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight, Proverbs 12:22.

This is where three time winner Scott Stallings takes honesty to a whole new level.  Following a bout with chronic fatigue, sleeping up to 16 hours a day, a doctor reminded a prescription to address this condition.  Unfortunately for Stallings, this drug was on the P.G.A. tour’s banned substance list.  After doing some research, Scott recently realized his lapse in judgment.  Therefore, Stallings acted upon his convictions, notifying the commissioner of his mistake.  The penalty for turning himself in, Stallings received a three month suspension effective immediately.

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices, Colossians 3:9.

In this moral climate, a sense of entitlement exists as if to say, “its only wrong if you get caught.”  However, for Stallings, at least he will be able to sleep at night, knowing the right thing was done.  The only comparison I think of is reactions following the Passion of the Christ.  In the days preceding the release of the Passion of the Christ, 2004, convicted hearts began to publicly confess sins of the past.  In fact, a few criminals turned themselves in to the authorities.  Perhaps, the honesty of Scott Stallings will inspire others to come forward and make this country a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Forced to Conform or Else

There was a time in my youth when news anchors were believable, reliable and trusted by those who tuned in to watch.  Sometime over the past twenty five years, news have become altered by hidden agendas seeking to convince the masses of a specific ideology.  Today, every daily event is examined, filtered and portrayed in such a manner as to control the headlines.  Unfortunately, media outlets are forcing viewers to believe their worldview or face the wrath of negative press.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Like a bully, opposing individuals and groups are targeted.  Sometimes to prove a point, expose a religious belief or brought on by a poorly timed comment.  In Oregon, Sweet Cakes by Melissa was forced to close after refusing to prepare a wedding cake for a gay couple about to get married.  Since closing, the state has decided to fine the owner 125,000K, setting an example for anyone else who dares to discriminate against homosexual couples.  In other words, if you want to run a business in America, you better keep your religious convictions to yourself or face the consequences.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

The event from March of 2015 in Indiana seems more like a set-up unless having pizza at wedding receptions is now the new in food.  Anyway, Memories Pizzeria was also forced to close following their denial of another gay couple.  Perhaps each of these businesses could have come to a happy medium or maybe they did but it was not reported.  Yet, in their hearts, mind and soul, neither could betray their religious beliefs detailed in Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13.  Unfortunately, their freedom of religion and speech was not honored since it is now politically incorrect.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

There are two ways to view this ongoing persecution of Christians.  First, God has given every individual free will.  The Lord doesn’t force anyone to believe in the Bible.  Rather, the Word has been written so that those who hear or read may come to faith in Christ.  The second perspective relates to the days of Daniel when a decree made it illegal to pray in public.  Despite the threat of being thrown into a den of lions, Daniel chose to obey God rather than adhere to man’s law.  This is where faith is put to the test, separating the genuine from who are blown and tossed by changing tides.  As the world continues to change, may every person of faith be prepared to overcome the challenges and trials of the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

10 Reasons Why Writers Should Continue to Blog

To celebrate Express Yourself 4Him’s one year anniversary, I have created my first top ten list.  Similar to a David Letterman countdown from 10-1, I will examine what expires me each morning to get up and write.  May this list inspire a new generation of bloggers.

10) Blogging provides writers with a historical time line of their life.  You can go back to any day in a previous year to review what you were thinking, what happened in the world on that day and what you learned about life.

9) Blogging connects your opinion with other like minded people.  Often, people share similar beliefs, but they don’t have the time to voice their opinions.  Thus, blogging affirms that other people share similar convictions with you.

8) Blogging gives you an opportunity to share what’s on your heart.  The fast pace of life on the East Coast makes it tough to slow down.  Blogging provides an avenue to share what your heart is touched by and relax daily for a little while.

7) Blogging creates networking opportunities through E-Traffic.  As individuals comment on pieces you write, I have been able to visit their blogs, join their sites and begin corresponding with people who share common values.  In particular, I have been blessed by TR&B SHOCKLEY’S, It’s a God Thing, Mere Inkling, Morning Story & Dilbert and Candy Coated Reality in 2012.  Thanks for writing!

6) Blogging helps individuals verbalize their worldview through words.  In a world filled with chaos, its vital for people to discern what’s really going on, articulate their beliefs and help others understand the American culture.

5) Blogging offers an arena for instant feedback.  After a slow start, I have received nearly 250 approved comments this past year, one in German that I had my wife translate.  Besides hearing from complete strangers, Word Press keeps track of your most popular blogs along with each individual message.

4) Blogging instills a discipline for writing.  If you are able to do what you love without pay, then this is a sign that writing may be something you want to pursue.  However, even during cases of writer’s block, blogging forces you to piece together a blog worthy of reading.

3) Blogging presents you with a stage to get noticed.  Since I began last February, I have had 2 people from Hollywood comment on my blog.  While it’s a long shot, I am holding out hope for my screen writing of Express Yourself.

2) Blogging serves as a vehicle for healing.  If I didn’t lose my teaching position of 10 years last January, I would probably not have a Facebook account or Word Press blog.  However, as I have endured the anguish, disappointment and frustration of unemployment, God has used writing as a vessel for healing.

1) Blogging satisfies and soothes your soul.  The sense of accomplishment I receive from writing blogs is amazing.  Even when I don’t gain any attention from what I believe to be a great blog, I feel as if by addressing specific topics I am fulfilling God’s will for my life on that particular day.

Thanks for all of you who supported Express Yourself 4Him in 2012!

by Jay Mankus

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