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Just Make Up Your Mind

Analysis paralysis occurs when an individual overthinks all of the possible alternatives. This mind numbing process often prevents you from making an important decision. I tend to narrow my choices down to two or three things before deciding. When you’re buying a car or purchasing a home, the price or location will influence your finally decision. However, at some point you have to make up your mind and commit to a decision.

[These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth. Now just as [a]Jannes and Jambres were hostile to and resisted Moses, so these men also are hostile to and oppose the Truth. They have depraved and distorted minds, and are reprobate and counterfeit and to be rejected as far as the faith is concerned, 2 Timothy 3:7-8.

Apparently, paralysis from over analysis isn’t new. In a first century letter, the apostle Paul addresses a group of women who were consumed by inquiring about and gathering information. All of this content clouded their minds as they were unable to make a decision about God’s Word. This refusal is compared to the actions of Jannes and Jambres who became hostile toward and resisted the teaching of Moses.

But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. 15 But the spiritual man tries all things [he [g]examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him], 1 Corinthians 2:14-15.

During a visit to Greece, Paul was frustrated by the philosophers who were full of knowledge, but lacked common sense. In the passage above, Paul reveals how the nonspiritual struggle to accept God’s existence. In the book Restoring the Foundations, this concept is referred to as ungodly beliefs. These beliefs are picked up via friends, parents and others throughout life. Until individuals gain access to the Holy Spirit by entering into a relationship with God, Romans 5:3-5, human beings will continue to struggle to make up their minds.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Grave

Kerameikos is the name of the the first organized cemetery in the world. The Kerameikos is located in Athens, Greece which dates back to 1200 Before Christ. Visitors will find this cemetery north of the Acropolis. Kerameikos contains two sections divided by the Wall of Themistocles. This final resting place for the dead reminds the living where they will one day end up.

Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave], 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

The Bible addresses life beyond the grave. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to two different destinations, Matthew 7:13-14. One road leads to destruction while a less traveled path ends near the gates of heaven. If you haven’t made up your mind, the choice is yours, Deuteronomy 30:15-17. God isn’t forcing you to comply, offering free will as a way to exercise your mind, Revelation 3:20.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

The apostle Paul puts another spin on life beyond the grave. Paul illustrates what Jesus’ return will look like, Without any sign of formal warning, Jesus will descend from heaven with a loud cry, followed by an angelic shout before the blast from the trumpet of God sounds the alarm. Anyone who put their faith in Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, before dying will rise from cemetery’s around the world first. Once this has been completed, living Christians will vanish from the earth in twinkling of an eye. In order to celebrate life beyond the grave, make sure you choose Jesus, Acts 4:12.

by Jay Mankus

The Uninformed

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, known as the Day of Infamy, “Man on the Street Interviews” were conducted in rural and urbans areas to obtain the pulse of the American people. The Latin phrase Vox populi literally means voice of the people. This concept has been embraced by comedians, journalism and late night talk shows. Videos from these interactions are often edited to reveal the clueless, unusual and least informed individuals.

When they heard this, they were filled with rage, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Then the city was filled with confusion; and people rushed together [as a group] into the amphitheater, dragging along with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions, Acts 19:28-29.

When first century Greeks began to abandon idolatry in exchange for Christianity, local craftsmen began to lose business as customers purged their lives from reminders of their past. In the passage above, Luke describes what appears to be a labor union. The leader of this group starts a chant which begins to be repeated by nearby citizens. After a short period of time, Ephesus was stirred into a frenzy. A mob mentality took over as the curious joined in just to be part of the crowd.

Now some shouted one thing and some another, for the gathering was in confusion and most of the people did not know why they had come together, Acts 19:32.

Apparently, Luke conducted his own man on the street interview. Likely using a short two or three question survey, Luke discovered most of the people in attendance did not know what was going on. Not much has changed over the last 2000 years as a large portion of Americans accept the beliefs, ideas and worldviews expressed by their talk show host of choice. Daily programs like the View often elevate opinions to fact status. Instead of wanting to be educated and informed, a lack of time has increased the number of the uninformed, not testing what they hear with God’s Word, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.

by Jay Mankus

Haven’t You Heard…It is Written

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward.  In ancient Greece, philosophers went to the market place to exchange new ideas.  According to Acts 17:18, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage the apostle Paul.  Trying to be relevant, Paul references an idol in Athens, quotes a famous poet and makes a reference to being an offspring of God.  When you don’t have much in common, its essential to find a starting place that will open the hearts and minds of a foreign audience to your point of view.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:3-4.

Meanwhile, Jesus used a different strategy, especially when confronted by first century religious leaders.  In the passage above, a fallen angel, Lucifer, aka Satan tempts Jesus during his forty day fast in preparation of his earthly ministry.  Instead of using a rhetorical question on this occasion, Jesus simply says, “it is written.”  As a former archangel who knew God’s Word, Jesus corrects the deceivers request by referencing the Old Testament.  This didn’t discourage Satan, as he quotes the Bible, daring Jesus to use God’s supernatural powers for selfish reasons.  To finish this spiritual debate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct what Satan took out of context.

So then, if David calls Him (the Son, the Messiah) ‘Lord,’ how is He David’s son?” 46 No one was able to say a word to Him in answer, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him again, Matthew 22:45-46.

At the beginning of Matthew 22, Jesus endures an onslaught from Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders.  Like a fierce game of pin the tail on the donkey, each expert of the law tried to trick Jesus into making a mistake by de-emphasizing one of the ten commandments.  Beside using expressions like haven’t you read, Jesus answers each question with another question.  One by one, each religious leader left defeated, no match for the Son of God.  While no one possesses the wisdom of Jesus, if you find yourself losing a debate, reference the Bible by saying, “Haven’t you heard?” Then quote a passage of the Bible that relates to your discussion, “it is written.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Resisting Evil Desires From Within

Meteorologists use barometers to measure atmospheric pressure.  Since pressure can be used to predict short term changes in the weather, barometers reveal a glimpse of future events.  While weather forecasts remain inconsistent despite high tech equipment, those with the gift of discernment tend to have a higher success rate.  If this is true, perhaps there is a barometer of the soul.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

During an extended stay in Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, the apostle Paul makes an astute observation.  When defeat, failure and trials occur, many people focus on external factors as the cause.  Paul disagrees claiming there are invisible forces to blame, dark, demonic and supernatural forces attempting to steal your joy in life.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul, 1 Peter 2:11.

Peter provides another perspective, likely reflecting upon his public betrayal of Jesus in the verse above.  Certain desires can be overwhelming, wearing you down over time.  Before you know it, temptation lures individuals to act in direct contrast with their morals causing a war against your soul.  Warning others not to fall into this trap, a barometer of the soul is essential to escape evil desires from within.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

The mind is like a human computer, created long before Serry and Elexia.  Prior to killing his brother, God was able to read Cain’s thoughts.  Troubled by what he is thinking, the Lord lays out Cain’s dilemma, sin is crouching at your door.  Likewise, today individuals must rule over evil thoughts with biblical truths, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Success is achieved through taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ.  Any other means will ultimately lead to indulgence.  In view of this, meditate on God’s Word daily to purge yourself from evil desires from within.

by Jay Mankus

 

Listening to the Judge

When Greece was as its mecca, bemas were used, a raised area for a public official who either made speeches from a stepped position or served as a judge for legal cases.  The city of Corinth was the host of the Corinthian Games, an early version of the Olympics.  During track competitions, a bema seat was used to insure no one broke the rules.  The apostle Paul, an avid spectator devotes a portion of one letter to listening to the judge.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

In modern track and field events, judges hold two flags, one that is white and another that is red.  In a relay, white represents a clean hand off.  Meanwhile, if a red flag is raised, a foul has been committed.  Although red means automatic disqualification in races; field events give competitors three chances before being eliminated.  Thus, whether you like the rules or not, if you want to be  successful you must listen to the rules.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:25.

One of God’s greatest qualities is that He doesn’t keep any record of wrongs.  However, just imagine for a moment if a judge was assigned to you daily, holding up a red flag for everyone to see each time you messed up.  This would be extremely embarrassing and make people uncomfortable, especially on a bad day.  Thank God this isn’t the way life has been designed.  Rather, the Lord created free will so that you have every opportunity to listen or to ignore the judge.  Until you cross the finish line, choose wisely by listening to the Judge.

by Jay Mankus

The Nuances of Nihilism

Historians credit the Age of Enlightenment, a period of the 17th and 18th centuries, for introducing nihilism to America.  Nihilism is a total rejection of social morals, believing that nothing in society is worthwhile.  Slipped under the covers through comedy acts, cartoons and sitcoms, naive minds have been convinced by nihilistic propaganda that objective truth no longer exists.  Thus, the nuances of nihilism is near completion, successfully shaping the worldviews of one generation to believe established authority is corrupt and must be destroyed to rebuild a just nation.

On the other hand, I believe nihilism was conceived during the Renaissance, spanning from the 14th-17th centuries.  Christian educators claim the painting entitled The School of Athens by Raphael Sanzio between 1509-1510 served as a theological turning point.  This piece contains 2 of Greece’s greatest philosophers, Aristotle and Socrates.  Christian’s interpret this painting as a transition from the belief truth comes from God above toward a realization truth comes from within.  John Calvin’s theology was inspired by the Holy Spirit to combat this age filled with humanism, naturalism and rationalism.

With an end goal of eliminating God’s existence, atheists and agnostics continue following in the footsteps of Friedrich Nietzsche who boldly proclaimed, “God is dead!”  As the boob tube, social media and college elite drive home their message daily, most Christians are sleep walking through life, disengaged from this spiritual war.  Yet, there are a few still up to this cultural challenge.  Music groups like The Newsboys are carrying the torch against nihilism with their God’s Not Dead tour in 2011-2012.  However, its going to take a radical effort, covered in prayer and led by vision, to take back the lost ground from the nuances nihilism has established.

by Jay Mankus

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