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It Takes Two to Tango

The tango dance originated in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. Dances from the candombe ceremonies hasve influenced this popular style of ballroom dancing. As a teenager, whenever I got in trouble at school, one of my teachers used the expression “it takes two to tango.” While I knew nothing of the song written by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning and sung by Pearl Bailey, she was referring to my partner in crime.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but [the] woman who was deceived and deluded and fell into transgression, 1 Timothy 2:14.

Apparently, the apostle Paul used a similar expression while writing a first century letter to a teenage pastor. In the passage above, Eve is blamed for original sin. According to Paul, Eve was deceived and deluded prior to taking a bite of this forbidden fruit. Adam is portrayed as an innocent bystander, persuaded by his wife to join her. Instead of reminding his wife of God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, Adam goes with the flow by taking a bite too.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 18 Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men, Romans 5:17-18.

In another letter to the Church at Rome, Adam doesn’t escape justice. As the spiritual leader of his house, Adam failed. Despite having nearly unlimited freedom in this beautiful land, Adam was willing to God. Subsequently, Adam’s mental lapse ruined God’s initial plan to live forever. As soon as Lucifer gained authority over the earth, Ephesus 2:2, God’s master plan is laid out in Genesis 3:15. This prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus as sin often takes two people to tango.

by Jay Mankus

The Hidden Principle of Rebellion

Rebellion refers to an open resistance to an established government or ruler. In the earliest days on earth, God kept in simple by giving Adam and Eve freedom from every area of the Garden of Eden accept for one. The only boundary to steer clear from was to abstain from eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis 2:16-17. Moses doesn’t mention any craving, desire or enticement until a crafty serpent began to open Eve’s mind to rebellion.

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity, Genesis 3:1-5.

At the beginning of this encounter, Eve does the right thing by repeating God’s warning to avoid fruit from this tree. As Satan continued his subtle persuasion, Eve’s mind was open to bending this rule. According to Moses, Adam was right there with her, listening to Satan’s justification and rationalization to rebel against God. Instead of interrupting this conversation and tell Satan to get lost, Adam’s idleness opened the door for rebellion to enter the earth.

For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until [c]he who restrains is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one (the antichrist) will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8.

The apostle Paul unveils Satan’s plan of introducing the hidden principle of rebellion to mankind. While this lawlessness has been restrained for now by the power of the Holy Spirit, there will come a day when this is unleashed. Immediately following the second coming of Jesus, the anti-Christ will reign the earth for 7 years until the battle of Armageddon. Yet, for now human beings must use prayer as a hedge of protection so that rebellion doesn’t poison your soul and ruin your life.

by Jay Mankus

Remember, Remove and Refocus

Remember not the sins (the lapses and frailties) of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your mercy and steadfast love remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord, Psalm 25:7.

Darryl Worley released the song Have You Forgotten in 2003. In the years following September 11th, 2001, politics began to influence television. The more liberal and progressive that the United States has become, images of attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon are considered unfit for the eyes of viewers. Unfortunately, with each passing decade, public education is rewriting history so that America’s Christian heritage and founding has been erased from college and high school textbooks.

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 human beings can’t change the current path of the world, you can remove obstacles from your own life so that you can make a difference. The author of Hebrews uses the analogy of running a marathon. The longer this race goes on, the more hot, tired and weak you become. In the same way, invisible sins can weigh down souls so that individuals become entangled in a web of lies and lust. Until you begin to unload these internal or external weights holding you back, you won’t be able to experience spiritual freedom.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to those believers who need to refocus. After remembering that God has removed your sins as far as the east is from the west, Psalm 103:11-12, discard bad habits so that your mind can start focusing on Jesus again. Like a person preparing for a fast due to an upcoming procedure, spiritual focus starts by purging any reminders from your past life before knowing Jesus. When your mind is transformed by God’s Word, Romans 12:1-2, setting your heart and mind on things above becomes achievable. Remember, remove and refocus this fourth of July weekend.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Liberation

Liberation is the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression. This release results in deliverance, relief and salvation. According to the Bible, no human being can liberate themselves spiritually. Despite whatever good intentions that you may have, everyone possesses a fatal flaw. Whether this takes the form of an addiction, bad habit, or a weakness, human nature will feed these cravings, desires, and longings throughout the course of your life.

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12

This painful reality creates a felt need within human hearts for a Savior. Unfortunately, many attempt to fill this void with alternatives and substitutes. Whether you follow the path of a prodigal in Luke 15 or chase after the meaning in life, there is a book that holds all the answers, John 3:16-17. Nonetheless, if you force people instead of letting individuals search on their own, faith can’t be assigned and is something that must be personally embraced, Romans 6:23.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

While studying the origins of past Great Awakenings in seminary, spiritual liberation begins with a spirit of confession. However, this requires someone to become vulnerable, pouring out their heart and soul to a congregation or gathered audience. This isn’t an act or something that can be faked. Rather, when secret sins are laid bare for all to hear and see, others feel compelled to reveal their own dirty laundry. Therefore, if you want to experience spiritual liberation, get your life right with God by confessing your wrongful acts in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Where is the Spirit of the Lord?

Prior to the New Testament, the Spirit of the Lord is described as a presence that takes over your body. Similar to a momentum swing during a sporting event, an inner confidence spreads as teammates begin to believe that victory is on the way, 1 Samuel 16:13-14. However, the Spirit of the Lord also has the ability to depart as well, like it did for King Saul. If God’s Spirit can come and go, learning to keep in step with the Holy Spirit is essential, Galatians 5:25.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom), 2 Corinthians 3:17.

Yet, the apostle Paul adds another element to the Spirit of the Lord in the passage above. Similar to his words on the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, Paul explains what the Holy Spirit can do for you. First and foremost, the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom to those formally held hostage by addictions and cravings of their flesh. When the Spirit of the Lord is present, liberty is made possible through repentance.

And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

The Bible serves as a spiritual mirror for all human beings. If you are not reading and studying the Bible on a daily basis, God’s reflection slowly disappears. Thus, the Bible serves as a wardrobe, the entrance to the Holy Spirit like C.S. Lewis’ the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The more you open this living book, the greater your chances increase for accessing the Spirit of the Lord, Romans 10:17. As you draw near to God, the Spirit of the Lord will come close to you, James 4:7-8.

by Jay Mankus

When Right is Wrong, Wrong is Right and Everything Else Turns to Gray

Since public Bible readings and prayer was banned from public education during the 1960’s, it was only a matter of time before right and wrong would come under attack. Beginning in 1980, a group of Kentucky parents targeted the Ten Commandments.  These parents argued that the posting of copies of the Ten Commandments in each public school classroom violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In the ensuing case Stone vs. Graham, the court ruled 5-2 in the parents’ favor declaring, “the Ten Commandments had no secular legislative purpose” and were “plainly religious in nature.”

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

This is a far cry from what America’s founding fathers believed. While serving as the second president of the United States, John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (October 11, 1798). The freedom that our founding fathers aspired to achieve was a freedom in the context of moral standards based upon biblical principles. Yet, after all aspects of God was neutered from public education, atheists began to attack public displays of faith. Whether it’s nativity scenes, statues of the Ten Commandments or monuments in the shape of crosses, reminders of right and wrong have vanished from public squares throughout America.

So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:17.

Gray areas refer to ill-defined situations, fields not readily conforming to a category or to an existing set of rules. One of the purposes of the Bible is to define boundaries designed to keep God near while shielding yourself from evil. Unfortunately, as right and wrong is no longer clearly defined for young people, absolutes have turned into expanding gray areas. Meanwhile, opinions expressed on talk shows are being elevated to the status of facts. Despite this growing trend, Jesus’ earthly brother clarifies the status of right and wrong. While the amoral do exist, if you know what’s right and don’t do it, sins of omission are equivalent to sins of action. Therefore, if you’re not sure which way to turn, open the Bible and find out for yourself, Romans 10:17.

by Jay Mankus

The Tears of Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. The metal framework of this landmark was built by Gustave Eiffel. This gift from France was dedicated on October 28, 1886. Three years later, Eiffel completed his own masterpiece in Paris, France. Unfortunately, the first symbol of the Statue of Liberty has been forgotten. Initially, the purpose of this erection of Lady Liberty served as a seal of the friendship between France and the United States. At her feet is a broken chain of slavery designed as a symbol of freedom. Meanwhile, The inscription on the tablet she is holding contains JULY IV MDCCLXXVI, the day of the Declaration of Independence for the United States.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

Between 1886 and 1924, nearly 14 million immigrants entered the United States through the New York Bay on their way to Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was a reassuring sign that achieving the American dream was now a possibility for new arrivals. Ellis Island became the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for 62 years from 1892 until 1954. To those entering this body of water at night, the uplifted torch of Lady Liberty was a welcoming sign and was meant to enlighten those who passed by. As the 250th anniversary draws near, revisionist historians are quickly disposing of America’s rich history. A day doesn’t go by without news of another statue removed or threatened from a downtown area. If this trend continues, there will be nothing left to remind citizens of America’s past mistakes and victories.

For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. 14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself, Galatians 5:13-14.

While the tears of Lady Liberty continue to fall as America goes through an identity crisis, the Bible provides hope for the hopeless. In a letter to the church at Galatia, the apostle Paul reminds individuals of this region that Jesus came to liberate sinners. Instead of being held captive by addiction, God wants everyone to experience spiritual freedom. Yet, bad habits have a way of ensnaring souls, similar to a yoke of slavery. Whenever you allow your sinful nature to get out of hand, reigning in your flesh can take months or years to regain control. Thus, if you are looking for a glimmer of hope, love is the answer. Paul references the golden rule, “loving your neighbor as yourself.” This reminder can be traced back to the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus reveals love is conditional. If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you, Matthew 6:14-15. May your own acts of love inspired by the Holy Spirit turn Lady Liberty’s frown into a smile.

by Jay Mankus

Erasing the Memory of Nancy Green

The latest victims to fall prey to the Cancel Culture Movement is Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth and Uncle Ben. It was only a matter of time for these politically incorrect brand news to be removed and replaced by a more appropriate progressive image. This soul-searching comes in the wake of the Pepsi Company’s announcement on Wednesday to rename it’s Aunt Jemima Syrup Brand. This decision ends a 130 relationship with Quaker Oats which began in 1889 with a black woman named Aunt Jemima who was originally dressed as a minstrel character.

Who by [the help of] faith subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions, Hebrews 11:33.

While Quaker Oats is attempting to be socially responsible, there are actually erasing the memory of Nancy Green. Aunt Jemima was a real person based upon a woman born in Kentucky on November 17, 1834. Although born a slave, Nancy Green would eventually become a maid for a prominent family in the state of Illinois. Known for her special gifts as a cook and story teller, Nancy went on to become went on to become the first black corporate model in the United States. Aunt Jemima was Nancy Green. This opportunity opened the door for Nancy Green to earn her freedom, devoting the rest of her life to the church and fighting poverty.

Extinguished the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings of the sword, out of frailty and weakness won strength and became stalwart, even mighty and resistless in battle, routing alien hosts, Hebrews 11:34.

Now that Aunt Jemima’s face and name will be eliminated, the memories of Nancy Green will likely fade as time goes by. Just like the removal of historical statues in cities in across the United States, the roles of these influential leaders will disappear from history books. To avoid a similar fate, the Bible contains a Hall of Faith. The author of Hebrews devotes an entire chapter to men and women to ensure their acts of faith were not forgotten. Hebrews 11 serves as a history lesson of individuals in the Old Testament. Just like the legacy of faith left behind by Nancy Green, the Hall of Faith reminds readers of necessary attributes that you should strive to emulate.

by Jay Mankus

Oops I Have Done It Again

In the earliest days on earth, God provided Adam and Eve with a vast amount of freedom. The passage below states Adam’s daily responsibility in the Garden of Eden. There wasn’t a long list of to do’s and dont’s. Rather, God limits the rules to one: do not eat from the tree of knowledge. With the boundary line between right and wrong clearly set, only one tree and it’s fruit was off limits. This couple didn’t have to guess what the right thing to do was nor could they claim to be amoral, not knowing right from wrong.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, Genesis 2:15-17.

When Eve flirted with Lucifer, a serpent in disguise, a seed of doubt was conceived within her mind. The longer this conversation continued, enticement and lust for this forbidden fruit grew. Despite standing right there next to his wife, Adam was complicit, serving as a curious bystander. This joint act of disobedient forced God to introduce a new set of laws via the Torah to combat original sin. While God was willing to forgive this transgression, punishment is handed out for each guilty party in Genesis 3.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]?-Job 1:6-8

While Genesis is the first book of the Bible, Job is the oldest book. Comments made in chapters 40-41, suggest that Job was living in a land of dinosaurs. If this is true, that would mean Job lived prior to the flood detailed in Genesis 6:17. Job doesn’t refer to Satan as a snake. Rather, Lucifer is a fallen angel who has retained his supernatural powers. Like a spiritual lion seeking to pounce on weak minded individuals, this fact is not to be taken likely. If you disregard or ignore this information, you may find yourself ensnared by sin, stuck in pitiful addicted state. Instead of saying “oops I have done it again,” make sure repentance results in acts of contrition. May this blog inspire you to focus on spiritual transformation.

by Jay Mankus

Perhaps It’s Time to Sober Up?

I have what medical professionals refer to as an addictive personality. An addictive personality is a hypothesized set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to developing addictions. I can’t just have one drink; everything I do is to the extreme. Whether it’s playing golf every day in high school, running 6 miles for fun in college or playing sand volleyball up to 8 hours a day each summer that I lived in Ohio, my motto for life is all or nothing. This aspect of my DNA puts me at risk of becoming an alcoholic.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a riotous brawler; and whoever errs or reels because of it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

When it comes to alcohol, I was a quick learner. Sure, there was a temptation in college to act cool by drinking. Yet. after one semester of partying, I grew out of this stage by sobering up. While I still went clubbing along the Flats in Cleveland, Ohio each summer, I usually went as the designated driver. From time to time, I let my guard down by drinking to excess. Following a severe hangover that last 2 days and an alcohol poisoning scare at a wedding reception, my drinking days ended.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world, 1 Peter 5:8-9.

The Bible uses sober in a different context. While sober can refer to the practice of abstinence, one of Jesus’ disciples writes about becoming alert, clear-headed and spiritually awake. In this context, alcohol isn’t the enemy. Rather, the Devil possesses angelic powers, roaming the earth like a predator eager to pounce on the unprepared. Although quitting drinking can be extremely difficult, demonic influences and oppression seek to keep the powerless addicted. In view of this, it’s to sober up by joining Jesus, teaming up through a personal relationship so that freedom and victory is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

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