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Unbridled Sensuality

A bridle is used by trainers to bring a horse under control. Wild horses tend to respond with anger and resentment, especially by throwing up their heads and drawing in their chin. If this is how a young colt reacts to being reigned in, imagine what a rebellious individual will do when caught in the act of sin. As people cross the line between right and wrong, gray areas are formed, leading some toward unbridled sensuality.

Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature], Ephesians 4:18.

As cultures become more and more progressive, what was once forbidden is now socially acceptable. Instead of encouraging and teaching abstinence in public school, commercials for new drugs are aired weekly to protect the sexually active. Rather than playing it safe, a growing number choose to keep feeding their sexual hunger, opening the door to contract various sexual diseases. Justification comes from the mindset, “if everyone else is doing it, why should I stop?” This is unbridled sensuality in action.

In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand], Ephesians 4:19.

According to the apostle Paul, sexual sins are different from all other sins, 1 Corinthians 6:12-19. While all sins have consequences, sexual sins result in soul spirit hurts as you become one with another human being. Sexual appetites tend to result in addiction, bad habits and or unhealthy cravings for sex. Before unbridled sensuality consumes any soul, reign in your flesh. This internal battle is on full display in Galatians 5:16-18, providing what you need to overcome these urges before you can regain control of your body.

by Jay Mankus

Starting Over in 2021

ξεκινώντας από την αρχή is the Greek word for starting over. Meanwhile, the Latin expression for starting over is iterum incipi. When translated literally into English this refers to again, a second time. As 2020 is thankfully ushered out for good, it’s time to hit the reset button. While no one knows for sure how long the Coronavirus will stick around, starting over with a blank canvas gives me hope of a brighter future.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome, Jeremiah 29:11.

Despite earning a nickname as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah 9:1 and Jeremiah 13:17, there is a glimpse of positive news. In the passage above, the Lord finally gives Jeremiah a message of hope. These future plans includes blessings, dreams and a final outcome worth waiting for. Therefore, if you still haven’t gotten over the worst pandemic in the last century, the Bible provides some encouraging news.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired, Isaiah 40:30-31.

Another Old Testament prophet provides an analogy that most adults can relate to. Between the spread of Covid-19, forced closures of businesses and the stress of trying to stay alive, 2020 has worn out countless souls. Thus, as many have lost their energy and joy for life, it’s time to place your faith in God’s hands again. Just as eaglets trusted their parents renew their strength, it’s time to place your faith in God to start over in 2021.

by Jay Mankus

Have You Been Knocked Down??? Perhaps it’s Time to Get Up

Living in South Jersey at the time, I remember my parents taking me to see Rocky I shortly after it debuted in theaters in November of 1976. Despite seeing this film 49 years ago, I still recall how engaged the audience was with Rocky’s character played by Sylvester Stallone. Beside the raucous cheering, total strangers bonded as the fight scene continued until the 15th and final round. Men and women began to cry out, “get up Rocky; get up!” Have you been knocked down in 2020? If so, perhaps it’s time to get up.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

While the Coronavirus has resulted in a living nightmare for countless Americans, the worst year for me was 2012. Before I could enjoying celebrating the start of a new year, I received a phone call on New Year’s Day informing me that my teaching position of 10 years would be terminated at the end of the month. This call was like a punch to the gut, knocking the wind out of my sails. Beside flying to California for Leanne’s uncle’s 80th birthday party, the next 18 months was filled with disappointment, heartbreak and unemployment.

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds, Hebrews 12:2-3.

At the time, I never thought this trial would end until I landed on my feet at Amazon. If 2020 has left you in the dark, clueless to where to go or what to do, you’re not alone. According to the author of Hebrews, Christians who have passed away are up in heaven cheering you on. Life is compared to a marathon like spectators at the Olympics encouraging tired runners to keep on going until the race is finished. Whatever your current circumstances maybe, don’t let pain keep you down. Rather, get up while there is still time to finish what God has prepared for you to do, Philippians 1:6.

by Jay Mankus

A Season of Boldness

Boldness is often associated with audacity, bravery, courage, and dauntlessness. This intrepid spirit shows no signs of fear, willing to face whatever barrier, challenge or obstacle that is in their way. While teenagers who possess this trait may be labeled as a rebel for not conforming to the rigid standards in public schools, boldness is appreciated by other adults who are afraid of getting into trouble. In a sense, the bold speak what the meek are scared to verbalize.

The wicked flee when no man pursues them, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous are bold as a lion. When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but when the ruler is a man of discernment, understanding, and knowledge, its stability will long continue, Proverbs 28:1-2.

King Solomon uses an interesting analogy in the passage above. The bold are compared to a courageous lion who stands up for what is right. As cities and states prepare for a second lock down, some citizens have had enough of cowering in fear. With their businesses and life long dreams on the verge of collapsing, a spirit of boldness is empowering individuals to take a stand. Despite threats of fines and or jail, these people can no longer compromise what they believe to be right and true.

And now, Lord, observe their threats and grant to Your bond servants [full freedom] to declare Your message fearlessly, Acts 4:29.

During the first century, Jesus’ disciples were under attack, prohibited to publicly teach about their resurrected leader. John and Peter were arrested by religious leaders for preaching the resurrection of Christ. The next day Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit as he defended their position in front of magistrates, elders and scribes who assembled in Jerusalem. Upon their release, Peter was energized by the stand they took, encouraging more believers to embrace a season of boldness.

by Jay Mankus

Is Anything Too Hard for God?

Chaos occurs when panic fuels complete disorder and a state of confusion. With each breaking news story about the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID 19, cities, states and countries continue to make adjustments. As more and more leaders order businesses to close, cancel previously scheduled events and order curfews for infected areas, the Stock Market continues to fall. As bad news snowballs into an avalanche of worry, some may wonder if this pandemic is too hard for God to handle?

Yet, O Lord God, You said to me, Buy the field with money and get witnesses, even though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans. 26 Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, saying, 27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me? – Jeremiah 32:25-27

In the 18th year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, a similar panic began to set in. However, individuals weren’t selling stocks. Instead, home owners began to abandon their property, fleeing to escape the charging Chaldean army. Just as the Israelites bought into this fear, an Old Testament prophet shares an encouraging message. Despite the encroaching troops, God urges people to buy and not sell. If anyone doubted this request, Jeremiah uses an open ended question to infer that no situation is too hard for God.

And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband? 35 Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God, Luke 1:34-35.

On the verge of the first century, a Jewish virgin was pledged to be married, betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph. When visited by an angel, Mary was perplexed, pondering how she could become pregnant without partaking in sexual intercourse. As this angel began to share the details mentioned above, Mary was in awe. This initial conversation along with encounters with Elizabeth led Mary to come to the conclusion: “nothing is impossible with God.” May this blog remind you that not even the Coronavirus is too hard for God to handle.

by Jay Mankus

When Stress Drags You To Your Knees

When it comes to stress, I am usually immune to worry.  After being broke a few times in life, God has always provided in my time of need.  Food, shelter and work have come to me in a variety of ways.  However, 2019 has been one of the more trying years of my life occupationally speaking.  Budget cuts, changing roles and the unknown has consumed me with stress, dragging me to my knees.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad, Proverbs 12:25.

King Solomon writes a letter to impart wisdom to his children.  As a man who married 700 woman and fathered children with an addition 300 concubines, Solomon understood the stress that parents face.  The more you focus on your numerous responsibilities, anxiety can weigh on your heart.  One of the ways Solomon urges people to overcome stress is by focusing on the positive, savoring encouraging words.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved, Psalm 55:22.

When this advice doesn’t work, the Psalmist provides a more practical resolution.  This reflective poem written by David urges stress filled individuals to cast burdens upon the Lord.  During his earthly ministry, Jesus turned to a crowd, calling the stressed out to come to me and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28-30.  Therefore, whenever you can’t control,  endure or handle the stress of a current situation, fall to your knees and lighten your burdens through prayer.

by Jay Mankus

The Degrading Power of Sin

The Bible is littered with depressing, shocking and troubling accounts of people who have fallen from grace.  Jealousy led Cain to kill his brother Abel after God was not pleased with his offering.  Abraham lied to a king, claiming that his wife was his sister, afraid that he might get killed.  Love caused Samson to marry and sleep with an enemy of Israel.  Lust drove David to commit adultery and murder to be with the woman of his dreams.  These are just a few examples of the degrading power of sin.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], Romans 1:24.

Those who fall prey and become ensnared by sin do so due to a spiritual problem.  The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Corinth encouraging members to take their thoughts captive.  When minds begin to wonder, temporary pleasures supersede desires to retain the knowledge of God.  While not everyone gives into temptation, sin has a seductive power like an addiction that won’t leave you alone.

For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not. 19 For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me, Romans 7:18-20.

Within a chapter to Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul confesses sins power over his own life.  Paul details failures, struggles and the crippling power of sin reigning within his life.  Like a caged wild animal, the sinful nature within human beings is too strong to control on your own.  When sin leads souls on the door steps of temptation, only one name can help you escape from behind the devil’s door.  Call out to Jesus and you will be saved, Romans 10:9-11, on the path toward restoration.

by Jay Mankus

Parental Discretion Advised

If you catch the very beginning of a televised movie or arrive early at a local theater, a disclaimer will flash across the screen. This statement is designed to warn viewers of what individuals are about to see. In legal terms, phrases such as “parental discretion is advised” enables those behind the making of a film to avoid liability or being held responsible for its content.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

As the apostle Paul visited the city of Athens, there was no warning. Instead of being prompted by parental discretion advised, Paul was bombarded by pornography. Some of these idols were dedicated to the goddess of love, celebrating, encouraging and promoting sexual immorality in the name of religion. This visual cesspool didn’t stop Paul for searching for positive signs of life. Like a rigid site seeing tour, Paul didn’t stop until discovering an altar and poem that spoke to his heart.

Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

If Jesus and his disciples encountered this adult and mature content, I can imagine one of the disciples pleading with Jesus to call fire down from heaven to destroy Athens. Yet, Paul shows much more grace, engaging philosophers with an inscription and poetry. These two pieces of literature serve as a common ground, opening the door for the apostle Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ with Greeks. Instead of being offended, Christians need to learn to engage other cultures by using apologetics, defending the Christian faith. This means leaving safe spaces to bring life to dark and immoral places, relying on the Holy Spirit as your guide.

by Jay Mankus

Pray at Lunchtime for the United States

The origin of praying for a meal has ties to the Old Testament and New Testament.  In the days of Israel, cup bearers were similar to modern day secret service agents.  Instead of serving as an armed guard, these men tested the food and wine for poisons.  If no one died, this meal was safe for the king to enjoy.  One of the most famous cup bearers is Nehemiah, who God used as a vessel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  In the first century, the apostles gave thanks for each meal the Lord provided.  While the passage below does not detail the words spoken, praying before eating was a form of thanksgiving.

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, and he broke it and began to eat, Acts 27:35.

Today, Christians continue this practice, folding their hands, closing their eyes and either silently or verbally expressing thanks to God for daily bread.  Just as Moses gave thanks for manna from heaven and quail via God, saying grace is an act of appreciation for the little things in life.  Unfortunately, praying at lunch has made national news recently for the wrong reason.  Brigadier General John Teichert who has a blog encouraging individuals to pray at lunchtime for the United States is being threatened by a lawsuit.  Attorney Michael Weinstein who trolls Christians on military bases recently said, “General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,”

Then all of them were encouraged and their spirits improved, and they also ate some food, Acts 27:36.

Luke provides the benefits of praying before a meal in the passage above.  Based upon the words used by Luke, saying grace can be moving as people pour out their hearts to God.  This specific prayer encouraged everyone in attendance as well as uplifting their spirits.  If public prayer for a meal could have this impact on a group of people, why is this attorney be so upset?  If prayer can inspire souls to act, what’s the big deal?  How is prayer hurting military bases and the men and women who serve this country?  Perhaps, if atheists, critics and skeptics begin to pray, this world would become a better place.  May the readers of this blog keep General Teichert in your prayers so that the power of prayer will continue to thrive in this country and throughout the world.

by Jay Mankus

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