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Tag Archives: faith

Falling Farther Away

The Freefall is an amusement ride developed by Giovanola. Two generations of this ride were designed and marketed throughout the world by the Swiss company Intamin.  The first series of Freefall rides can be identified by the angled supports at the base of the lift tower.  The second generation were identical, but the tower’s base structure on these variants did not taper outward.  The Freefall ride went out of style near the end of the 1999’s, replaced by new technology such as the Gyro Drop and compressed air tower rides.  What I learned last week is that you don’t have to go to an amusement park to experience falling.

For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

The author of Hebrews suggests that when individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, the Holy Spirit elevates and lifts up your faith.  Spiritual enlightenment gives people access to a heavenly gift, tasting the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  However, if you look back down at your former life, tempted to return, you can expect a great fall.  Modern terminology refers to this as back sliding away from God to indulge in temporary pleasures of the world.  To those who change their course, the passage above compares this behavior to crucifying Jesus on the cross over and over again.  At some point, you have to snap out of this spiritual free fall before its to late.

For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], 27 but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and the fury of a fire and burning wrath which will consume the adversaries [those who put themselves in opposition to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

Five chapters later, the author of Hebrews unveils the fate of those falling farther away from God.  The imagery above suggests that some people will just barely get into heaven, by the skin of their pants.  Just prior to any spiritual freefall is marked by idleness, a lack of concentration, direction and guidance.  A disciple of Jesus refers to this as lukewarm, losing your love and passion for Jesus.  If believers do not feed and meditate upon the Word of God, it won’t be long before hearts, minds and souls begin to look back, over the edge toward the world.  Jesus compares this behavior to a farmer who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back, Luke 9:62.  If you want to save yourself from anguish, pain and suffering, fix your eyes on Jesus to avoid future free falls, Hebrews 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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Inactive, Missing Something or Unplugged?

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you, John 14:6.

When I read the New Testament, I see a Holy Spirit that is far greater than modern times. The seminary I attended nearly two decades ago used the rationale of a special anointing limited to first century Christians. According to Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost enabled apostles and disciples of Jesus to speak in foreign tongues, restoring communication barriers created during the building of the Tower of Babel. When these apostles and disciples passed away, this special anointing of the Holy Spirit disappeared.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come, John 16:13.

The one problem with this theory is that Jesus never mentions 2 different outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to a counselor, guide and helper. While certain denominations get caught up in debating the validity of speaking in tongues, perhaps the lack of a powerful Spirit lies within. Maybe a lack of spiritual fruit is a symptom of a far greater problem. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit’s full potential has been minimized due to one of three scenarios. Either I am idle, inactive in my faith, missing something like a post baptism transformation or I am unplugged, relying on my human nature instead?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law, Galatians 5:22-23.

The apostle Paul confronts this issue in a letter to the church at Galatia. According to Paul, there are two invisible forces at work: the Holy Spirit and Sinful Nature. During a letter to the church at Rome, Paul suggests that your mindset will dictate which force you will follow. Until modern believers dedicate themselves to practicing first century spiritual disciplines, the Holy Spirit will remain a unrecognized force. If only I could tap into this power, my camouflaged faith will be unveiled. May this blog inspire other believers to develop a spiritual hunger for God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Why Are You So Amazed?

Astonish, bewilder, flabbergast and stupefy are words synonymous with amaze. Throughout the course of history, there has been numerous jaw dropping events that have left eyewitnesses dumbfounded. Some may likely ponder “did that just happen or am I dreaming?” When human minds can’t explain, fathom or understand an occurrence like the parting of the Red Sea, amazement is a common response.

“With the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, the flowing waters stood up like a mound; the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea, Exodus 15:8.”

After healing a man crippled from birth, Peter doesn’t know why people are so surprised. Two months earlier, a man was nailed to a cross, rose from the dead, spent 40 days with his followers and ascended into heaven. This is the context of Peter’s comment below. Perhaps, Peter was remembering accounts of the Exodus out of Egypt, referring to those who saw Moses part the Red Sea in two. The moment Jesus conquered death, this opened the door for anything else to be possible.

And Peter, seeing this, said to the people, “You men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? – Acts 3:12

The phrase seeing is believing is an idiom that was first recorded in 1639. Eyewitnesses to events that defy science trigger an inner desire to believe in a higher power. The lame man healed in Acts 3 occurs during the hour of prayer, between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. When participants of this prayer service began to see the fruit of crying out to God, expectations increased. The point that Peter is making about amazement is that when you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, God has the power to move mountains. For those individuals on fire for God, faith provides the hope to tarry on in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Disguises and Masks

In my early years, I was gullible, often accepting and believing what others told me. This weakness made me an easy prey for practical jokes. After being misled by a group of older boy scouts, my eyes were open to what my peers were capable of. Whenever you get tricked the first time, skepticism will prompt individuals to uncover disguises or masks to avoid getting duped again.

But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning], 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

Based upon descriptions of Lucifer in the Bible, this fallen angel serves as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2. Apparently, one of his disguises comes in the form as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14. Several New Testament writers elude to spirits that masquerade as apostles. Yet, Paul and John urged believers to test everything so that no one is deceived by demonic influences.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world. By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source]; 1 John 4:1-2.

There is a healthy balance one must develop between trust and truth. Christians need to be educated by the potential camouflage, shrouds and veils that hide potential harm. Thus, testing spirits based upon scripture will uncover imposters, unmasking evil motives. Meanwhile, relying on the Bible as a source for checks and balances will enable souls to recognize God’s Spirit. While the pulpit may not preach that much about the spiritual realm, Ephesians 6:12, modern Christians must be diligent to avoid disguises and masks the Devil continues to hide behind.

by Jay Mankus

Average Isn’t Good Enough

In the context of golf, average is like the par for each hole listed on a course’s scorecard. Amateurs golfers strive for par, hoping to take advantage of the easier holes. Meanwhile, the more difficult holes will challenge players, often satisfied with a bogey, one over par. This isn’t the case for professionals who will usually miss 36 hole cuts if they don’t shoot several strokes under par. Average golf professionals don’t last long on the PGA Tour, demoted to a lesser tour or forced to pursue another career.

Concerning this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull and sluggish in [your spiritual] hearing and disinclined to listen, Hebrews 5:11.

The Bible doesn’t paint a positive picture of average Christians. The author of Hebrews refers to an individual who is dull, ignorant and stubborn. Instead of reaching new heights, an unwillingness to listen has resulted in an average life. The difference between an amateur and a professional is the amateur dabbles, unsure of themselves. The professional is committed, determined and focused, possessing a faith in their God given talent. Most amateurs are content with their current status, falling back on another trade as their main career.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers [because of the time you have had to learn these truths], you actually need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of God’s word [from the beginning], Hebrews 5:12.

According to the Bible, God expects Christians to move beyond elementary principles. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of growing up, from a child into a man, 1 Corinthians 13:11. At some point, the Lord wants all believers to put aside childish ways. Modern churches use the confirmation process as a vehicle for growth, enabling teenage boys and girls to take ownership of their faith. As adults, God expects more, to move beyond an amateur mindset toward the devotion of a disciple. May this blog inspire souls to draw closer to Jesus, eager to serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

When Wolves Attempt To Imitate Sheep

At the end of Acts chapter 4, Luke tells a story about a generous man in a local church. A man named Joseph who earned the reputation as an encourager felt compelled to sell a field that belonged to him. After receiving the payment in full, Joseph whose name is eventually changed to Barnabas places this money at the feet of the apostles. News of this generosity spread throughout the Christianity community.

Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and [secretly] keep back for yourself some of the proceeds [from the sale] of the land? – Acts 5:1-3

Based upon the passages above and below, two wolves attempted to infiltrate the local church. Ananias and Sapphira appear to be regular attenders who wanted to be recognized like Barnabas. Instead of doing something for the right reason, hidden motives are exposed by lying to leaders of the church. Each are given the chance to come clean, to admit their scheme to receive public praise and recognition. Yet, these wolves didn’t possess a personal relationship with Jesus. Thus, this couple was playing the game called church, merely going through the motions.

Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me whether you sold your land for so much?” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, “How could you two have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also,” Acts 5:7-9.

Whether you are talking about a church, family or neighborhood, there is always one person who plays the role of chief gossiper. This individual knows all the details, dirt and latest rumor going around. While not everything may be true, this person revels in being in the know. Unfortunately, God sees right through counterfeit, fake and phony faith. Some put on a good act, fool lots of people and pretend to be part of God’s family. Yet, in the end, unless you possess a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, a wolf in sheep’s clothing will always be exposed.

by Jay Mankus

The Defaming of Faith

Defame refers to cast asperations on, malign or slander the reputation of someone. In this age of social media, it only takes one post, tweet or video to ruin years of faith, respect and trust. As individuals battle for control, power and supremacy, distortions, embellishment and lies will be made to elevate one’s status while tearing down others.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you, 1 Peter 4:12.

From a spiritual perspective, there is a rise in naturalistic scholars, revisionist historians and secularism within America. When history does not enhance a particular worldview, events, facts and founding fathers are being defamed to delegitimize past accomplishments. Meanwhile, K-12 education is omitting significant influences such as the Magna Carta, the Pilgrim’s religion and role the ten commandments has played in establishing our justice system.

But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy. 14 If you are insulted and reviled for [bearing] the name of Christ, you are blessed [happy, with life-joy and comfort in God’s salvation regardless of your circumstances], because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on you [and indwelling you—He whom they curse, you glorify], 1 Peter 4:13-14.

Whether you want to call this watering down or defaming, America has a rich Christian Heritage. Yet, due to political correctness traces of Christianity has vanished from public education. Meanwhile, other believers are afraid that if they speak up at work, their jobs or potential advancements will be terminated. However, Peter states that you shouldn’t be surprised by the defaming of faith. First century Christians embraced this as a badge of honor, a sign that their faith was alive and well. While nobody wants to endure hardship, trials in life are meant to strengthen and refine your faith.

by Jay Mankus

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