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Tag Archives: free will

My Ultimate Appeal

The 2006 film Amazing Grace details the life of William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the Atlantic slave trade.  Despite battling health issues, Wilberforce persisted through initial failed attempts to persuade fellow politicians.  Before his death in 1833, Wilberforce was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

“The Bible is my ultimate appeal… slavery is contrary to the example and precepts of our body and merciful Redeemer, and of his apostles… Slavery then is a national sin,” Angelina Grimke.

Fourteen years before the Civil War began, a woman from the south felt compelled to make an appeal to Christian women who also lived in the south.  Using the Bible as her main point of reference, Angelina Grimke wrote letters to persuade other believers.  One of these letters is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.  Excerpts from the quote above can be found within a display on the Bible’s impact on ending slavery.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1.

The apostle Paul makes a similar appeal during the first century.  However, the context of the passage above refers to spiritual slavery.  Some churches, denominations and leaders used fear, legalism and peer pressure to make followers conform to their demands.  A group known as the Judaizers began to infiltrate the church at Galatia.  This sect held on to Jewish rituals, adding circumcision to salvation by forcing members to comply.  This practice goes against free will as God doesn’t force individuals to do anything.  Rather, God gives people the choice to accept or reject Jesus.  Any teaching that strays from this is a form of slavery according to Paul.  Just as Angelina Grimke makes her ultimate appeal, God longs for souls who hunger and thirst for the Bible to avoid falling prey to ungodly beliefs.

by Jay Mankus

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The Fundamental Basis for Law

Prominent founding fathers argued that the United States Constitution should not be ratified as it failed to protect the basic principles of human liberty.  This led James Madison to propose amendments to the constitution.  These amendments known as the Bill of Rights were inspired by George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declarations of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works during the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights and the Magna Carta, 1215.  Ironically, the Magna Carta would inspire American colonists a few hundred years later to declare independence from Great Britain.  Roughly one-third of the provisions in the United States’ Bill of Rights draw from the Magna Carta, particularly from its 39th clause.

“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings that we get from Exodus and St, Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul, ” President Harry S. Truman, 1950.

The 33rd president of the United States goes one step further, claiming that the foundation upon which the United States has based its laws comes directly out of the Bible.  As a World War I veteran and the Vice President to FDR, Truman who took office following Roosevelt’s death.  Under Truman’s leadership, World War II ended following the use of two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Less than a month after dropping these bombs, Japan surrendered.  Sometimes you have to use drastic measures to end worldly conflicts.  While Truman is still criticized today for this controversial decision, few will remember this president for his quote listed above.  Although modern historians glance over, ignore and suppress biblical influences on the founding of America, the Bill of Rights borrows from civil law within the ten commandments.

“Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you.13 “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).14 “You shall not commit adultery.15 “You shall not steal [secretly, openly, fraudulently, or through carelessness].16 “You shall not testify falsely [that is, lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against your neighbor (any person).17 “You shall not covet [that is, selfishly desire and attempt to acquire] your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” Exodus 20:12-17.

The ten commandments contain two separate categories, loving God and loving your neighbor, Matthew 22:36-39.  The first four provide instructions on how individuals can honor and please the Lord.  The final six focus on civil laws or as Jesus details in Matthew 22, loving your neighbor as yourself.  This is the foundation of the Golden Rule, “treating other people as you want to be treated.”  In this day and age, educators, lawyers and politicians often try to make the simple complex.  Yet, Jesus simplifies the fundamental basis for law so that even a young child can understand.  Every day God offers free will, giving people the option to love or hate, forgive or hold grudges, overlook offenses or magnify sin.  The choice is yours, but I pray that the Holy Spirit inspires you during this Christmas season to develop an overwhelming desire to love God and those you come in contact with daily.

by Jay Mankus

Forgiveness Opens the Door for Love

One of the barriers standing between forgiveness is stubborn hearts as certain individuals are unable to forgive or forget a previous transgression.  This unwillingness to let go of the pain inflicted shuts the door on the potential for love.  This reluctance sets the stage for bitterness, like an invisible poison that slowly kills relationships.  Unless there is a willingness to let God in to mend and repair fences, reconciliation is merely a dream.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will], Revelation 3:19.

In the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, John gives an honest assessment of seven churches.  While a few receive compliments, several are exposed for previous actions, beliefs and deeds.  Despite this list of flaws, John uses an analogy of a door to illustrate free will.  God is willing to offer forgiveness, yet souls must demonstrate an enthusiastic spirit of repentance.  Every day God is like an eager visitor, knocking on the door of your heart, but the Lord waits for your invitation.  There is no forced entry.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant to him [the privilege] to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:20-21.

At the end of this passage, God reveals another obstacle in the way of forgiveness.  Overcoming the world involves mindsets, philosophies and traditions that have become embraced by most of society.  This makes following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts that much more difficult.  Peer pressure only complicates any desires to seek God’s ways.  Free will is a daily exercise full of choices with the hope that you stay near enough so that you can hear God’s voice.  For those who fulfill this call, motivation comes as God forgives you.  Thus, as believers pay it forward, forgiveness opens the door for love to flow out of your heart, passed on to others.

by Jay Mankus

 

Putting on Price Tag on a Life

On the day before Palm Sunday, survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took center stage at protests across the country.  Fighting for stricter gun laws in America, students sitting on a stage in Washington D.C. placed visible price tags on their clothing.  According to reporters, these prices were suppose to symbolize the campaign contributions senator Marco Rubio has received from the National Riffle Association.  Suggesting this representative from Florida cares more about guns than children, this political stunt put a price tag on a life.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, Matthew 16:25.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1.21 million lives were ended prematurely in 2008.  The culprit of this suppressed killer were abortions performed in the United States.  Typically, two to four percent of these unwanted pregnancies are due to rape and incest.  Based upon a 2016 article written by Robert Johnston, 30 % of abortions occur due to socio-economic conditions.  The number one reason why abortions took place two years ago was for a quick fix, birth control.  This is the unseen price placed on unwanted babies in the United States.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

One of the great things about living in America is free speech, having the freedom to protest.  This same thing applies to the spiritual realm, able to exercise free will.  During my wife Leanne’s third pregnancy, she had numerous complications.  After a false alarm visit to the emergency room, one doctor suggested that terminating my daughter’s life prematurely was the best option.  Without any hesitation, Leanne and I understood the gift of life is priceless.  Thirteen years later, my daughter Lydia is healthy, blessed and will play her first high school golf match on Tuesday.  May this blog remind you that you can’t put a price tag on life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Pot Dilemma

Since the discovery, exploration and colonization of America, tobacco has been a part this culture.  From the Indians, on to the Pilgrims and to the Amish of today, growing tobacco is an annual tradition.  This crop was part of a thriving industry until medical research revealed a connection to cancer in the 1960’s.  Advertisements, commercials and movie stars portrayed smoking cigarettes as cool.  Despite warning labels placed on packaging, tobacco companies continued to profit.  High schools offered smoking courts to students who sought a daily nicotine high.  Yet, in the last twenty years, the demonization of tobacco has taken extreme measures to reduce the smoking population.  Sin taxes, the banning of smoking establishments in major cities and public service announcements hope to snuff off this harmful hobby.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If leaders in the Progressive Party get their way, the government will soon control what you eat or drink.  This implementation began with the national school lunch plan, forcing students to eat healthy.  The only problem is you can’t force someone to do something they are not ready to do.  Sure, you can try through coercion like putting outrageous taxes on soda or sugar products.  This may deter individuals but at some point Americas will realize what is happening.  What’s next coffee or a modern tea party response?  When you don’t allow free will to play itself out, freedoms will be taken away one at a time.  Local and state governments are now applying high school tactics at a national level where one person’s trespass bans an act for everyone else.  Yet, why would a growing number of states now be open to legalizing marijuana?

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires, Romans 13:13-14.

Initially, states introduced legislation for medical pot use only for killing pain.  Today, 17 states has developed or passed similar laws.  A few states out west have expanded earlier bills by allowing pot shops.  Recently, Denver has reported a large homeless population possibly due to drug addiction.  Meanwhile, state officials blame this on a lack of affordable housing.  My one question for the pot dilemma is if it took a couple of centuries to realize smoking cigarettes was bad for your health, how long will it take to scrutinize pot smoking?  I lost a good friend from high school to cancer due to smoking pot.  Another friend from college was unable to have kids, killing his sperm count from excessive pot smoking with this issue eventually ending his marriage.  I’m sure my readers have there own nightmares. While tobacco companies were demonized for corporate profits, state governments are set up to make millions in tax dollars.  Will there be a sense of urgency to uncover the dangers of smoking pot or will states hide behind this new slush fund?  This is the pot dilemma.

by Jay Mankus

Stay Close

Watching a rerun of Jaws the week before you go to the beach isn’t the mental image you want racing through your mind as you enter the Atlantic Ocean for the first time this summer.  Nonetheless, I followed two of my children, Daniel and Lydia into the crashing waves.  When the big waves subsided, each of us began wading on our boogies boards, floating peacefully beyond the  break line.  A few minutes later, I felt a leg brush against the bottom of my foot.  As I was about to blame my daughter, I realized she was three yards away, not close enough to reach me.  Seconds later, my son began to freak out as something big swam underneath him.  Turning around in all directions, two dolphins surfaced for air just to our right.  This event served as a simple reminder to stay close when you enter uncharted waters.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, 1 John 2:1.

While on earth, Jesus served as a big brother to little children.  Like a guardian, Jesus realized the need to shield young people from the dangers of this world.  According to Jesus, sin is the greatest threat, corrupting and poisoning the innocence of a child.  To prevent addiction, bad habits or sinful desires from spread, God urged his followers to stay close to God.  The parable of the prodigal son illustrates what happens when individuals rebel or stray away from loving parents.  Sure, there will always be exceptions to this, yet the broad road which leads to destruction is often too enticing for the masses to resist.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” Matthew 7:13-14.

My three children have reached a point in life where I don’t have the influence as I once did.  Friends, peers and society are making suggestions daily trying to win them over.  Hal Lindsey’s book Steeling the Mind of America warned about this danger over twenty years ago.  In recent years, instant gratification is blinding minds from doing the right thing.  Fading absolutes and expanding grey areas are fueling young people to make poor choices.  Since free will is offered to adults and children, parents have to let go at some point.  When you do, take time to pray asking the Holy Spirit to remind your children to stay close to God.

by Jay Mankus

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

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