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Overcoming Spiritual Mood Swings

Mood swings are an abrupt and apparently unaccountable change in an individual’s mood. From time to time, there are logical and rationale reasons to explain these emotional swings. Women may blame that time of the month while men might point to a personal matter. Nonetheless, Christians are called to higher standards in Matthew 5:43-48. According to one of Jesus’ disciples, trusting in the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4 helps overcome spiritual mood swings.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger appeases contention. 19 The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns [it pricks, lacerates, and entangles him], but the way of the righteous is plain and raised like a highway, Proverbs 15:17-19.

King Solomon points to a trait passed on to him by his father David, 1 Samuel 16:7. While the world often uses physical appearances and traits as a means to determine greatness, God looks at the heart. Unfortunately, even men and women with a heart for God have inner demons. Some fall prey to anger which can trigger a mood swing with just one word. As someone who had my own anger management issues in the past, learning to control emotional outbursts is no easy matter.

Because of the hope [of experiencing what is] laid up ([d]reserved and waiting) for you in heaven. Of this [hope] you heard in the past in the message of the truth of the Gospel, Which has come to you. Indeed, in the whole world [that Gospel] is bearing fruit and still is growing [e][by its own inherent power], even as it has done among yourselves ever since the day you first heard and came to know and understand the grace of God in truth. [You came to know the grace or undeserved favor of God in reality, deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it,] Colossians 1:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, grasping God’s grace is the best place to start. Emotional mood swings are usually followed by conviction, guilt, shame or a combination of these three. Once the fireworks of your mood swing have come to an end, there is a brief moment where grace can come to the rescue. If you haven’t reached rock bottom like the prodigal son, common sense may not be regained for days, weeks, months or years. Yet, when the Father’s love shines through, controlling spiritual mood swings is possible.

by Jay Mankus

Humble Beginnings

King Solomon was the first to state what many people tend to think following an epic collapse or fall from grace in Proverbs 16:18. Pride does call before the fall and results in a reboot or as the Bible suggests a humble beginning. No one likes to start over. Whether this refers to a job, life or video game, being forced to turn the clocks back and start from scratch can be deflating. Yet, humility puts life into its proper perspective.

Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God], 10 And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away, James 1:9-10.

One Old Testament prophet writes about the nature of death in Isaiah 40:8. Each spring flowers bloom, grass grows and trees become covered by leaves. Unfortunately, by the end of fall, lawns become dormant, leaves fall to the earth and flowers disappear for the year until this cycle repeats itself annually. If you own a house or maintain a property, keeping up weekly maintenance can lead to humble beginnings.

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me, Romans 7:15-17.

Yet, beneath the surface of every human being, there lies an internal battle that never ends. The apostle Paul writes about this wrestling match in the passage above. Whenever you discover that you’ve become a hypocrite, doing the exact opposite that you want, conviction, guilt and humility will follow. In this age of mental health awareness, your own sinful nature is often the source of your problems. Therefore, the next time you mess up, use this humble beginning as a teachable moment to rise from the ashes of despair.

by Jay Mankus

When You Let Someone Down

As a child, whenever my mom yelled my full name, I immediately knew that I did something wrong. When expressions like “what were you thinking” or “I’m so ashamed of you” followed, this was a clear indicator that I let someone down. Whenever people that you care about or love are disappointed by your actions, human consciences produce spirits of conviction and guilt. Seeing the grief that you cause others to feel is not a welcomed sight.

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul addresses individuals who have not lived up to biblical standards. The ideal goal is to become an imitator of God. This is accomplished by emulating the love and life of Jesus. As individuals become willing to offer their lives as a living sacrifice, the Holy Spirit can replace sinful tendencies. Yet, as the Psalmist reminded the apostle Paul, “there is no one righteous; not even one,” Romans 3:9-12.

But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people). Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God], Ephesians 5:3-4.

Subsequently, every day human beings continue to do the opposite of their initial intentions, Romans 7:15-16. You may be able to tame these sinful cravings temporarily through discipline, but when you let your guard down you will disappoint someone. Beside confession and acts of contrition, James 5:16, reconciliation takes time. Although you can’t go through life trying to please other people, you can develop a will to devote yourself to God.

by Jay Mankus

When Christian’s Don’t Like What God Has to Say

American author Eleanor H. Porter wrote the novel Pollyanna in 1913. Actress Hayley Mills brought this character to life in the 1960 film entitled Pollyanna. Despite the hardship of being a missionary’s daughter all her life, Pollyanna refused to be negative. Pollyanna is symbolic of an excessively cheerful and optimistic individual who sees life with their glass half full. While no one likes to receive criticism, imperfect human beings will make mistakes. Whether through conviction from your conscience, guilt that consumes your soul while reading the Bible or a rebuke from a church leader, there will be times when you won’t like what God has to say about your current spiritual condition.

[But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah’s impatience, saying] If you have raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? And if [you take to flight] in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do [when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions] in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan? For even your brethren and the house of your father—even they have dealt treacherously with you; yes, even they are [like a pack of hounds] in full cry after you. Believe them not, though they speak fair words and promise good things to you, Jeremiah 12:5-6.

An Old Testament prophet reveals an unpleasant experience in the passage above. If you have ever watched a Few Good Men starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, these words from God remind me of the court scene where Lieutenant Kaffee cross examines Colonel Jessup. Just as the Colonel didn’t believe the Lieutenant could handle the truth, stubborn Christians have a hard time accepting the Lord’s rebuke. Instead of being open to criticism and teachable to alter their current path, many choose to turn a deaf ear, refusing to change course.

You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood. And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? – Hebrews 12:4-7

The author of Hebrews unveils the purpose for spiritual discipline. Although you may not want to hear this, discipline is a sign of God’s love. The Lord isn’t like a human coach who would rather be loved than offend his players. Rather, God uses tough love to correct anyone who strays off course. If you truly want to reach your full potential, you need to surround yourself with others who are more advanced and skilled to reveal what you are lacking. While this may be painful and uncomfortable, if you want to grow, you must be willing to be pruned, John 15:1-7. The next time you don’t like what God has to say, submit and swallow your pride so that you’ll come out of this stronger than ever before.

by Jay Mankus

Surviving Your Next Guilt Trip

Guilt is like an invisible lie detector test.  When human beings deny, exaggerate or lie, souls are awakened by pulses inside their body.  This reaction is triggered by consciences, an inner feeling or voice of truth.  The apostle Paul refers to this concept as the invisible qualities of God so that no one is without excuse, Romans 1:18-20.  The dilemma is not if your next guilt trip will arrive, but how will your respond when conviction starts gnawing upon your heart.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.

One of the objectives of the modern progressive movement is to de-emphasize absolutes by elevating personal opinions.  As lies are portrayed as truth by members of the media, gray areas expand resulting in a combination of confusion and rationalization.  If the Bible becomes discredited from endless attacks by atheist groups, future generations will look to other sources for moral guidance.  Perhaps, leaders want to return to the days of Old Testament Judges, where people began to do what was right in their own eyes.

If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose], 1 John 1:8-9.

The spiritual dynamic of guilt seeks to bring about humility.  Depression is a natural emotion created by God to make it painfully obvious that individuals can not follow the ten commandments on their own.  Thus, when guilt trips persuade hearts and minds to admit the error of their way, confession opens the door for hope, Romans 5:2-4.  Responding correctly to guilt, unlike Cain who killed his brother, enables contrite spirits to receive forgiveness, grace and mercy.  May the words of 1 John give you a blueprint for surviving your next guilt trip.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Your Personality

Charisma, magnetism and presence separates one person from the next.  These qualities are built into human beings like DNA.  Some individuals are born with charm, gravitas and hutzpa, naturally flowing out of their souls.  Other people like me rely on confidence to display their personality.  Unfortunately, when things don’t go your way, depression can cause you to forget or lose sight of who you are and the person God wants you to be.

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught, Proverbs 3:26.

In their song, Back to the Start, Esterlyn writes about this topic.  While I am not sure if losing your personality is possible, you can lose your way.  When and if this occurs, the author of this song encourages anyone struggling to go back to the start.  Conviction, guilt and remorse has a way of eating at souls.  This nagging feeling can suck the life out of those who dwell on the negative.  Thus, before things get any worse, go back to the foot of the cross, where grace, mercy and forgiveness can be found.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:5.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is easier said than done.  Those who give into the desire to strive for perfection usually end up disappointed.  Meanwhile, the temptation to be in control entices individuals to place their sole trust in themselves.  This ill-fated decision blinds minds from God’s willingness to provide daily bread for those who believe.  If today’s blog finds you losing touch with your personality, go back to the start so that your confidence will be placed in the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Haunted by What Could Have Been

When the outcome what you were expecting does not become reality, hearts and minds tend to explore why.  There may be an obvious explanation like a more deserving person who received that which you desired.  However, there will be many outcomes that leave you scratching your head, dumbfounded by fate.  The persistent will not give up, working harder each day to alter their current course.  Others may press on a little longer just in case God changes his mind like Abraham’s prayer below.  Unfortunately, the deflated, tired and weak give up hope, haunted by what could have been.

Abraham approached [the Lord] and said, “Will You really sweep away the righteous (those who do right) with the wicked (those who do evil)? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous [people] within the city; will You really sweep it away and not spare it for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing—to strike the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right [by executing just and righteous judgment]?” 26 So the Lord said, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty righteous [people], then I will spare the entire place for their sake,” Genesis 18:23-26.

Judas Iscariot was a fortunate individual, chosen by the son of God to be one of 12 disciples.  Based upon a few details in each of the four gospels, this Judas was the treasurer of Jesus’ earthly ministry for 3 years.  Some translations refers to Judas overseeing the money bag, containing the collection of tithes by individuals blessed, healed and saved by Jesus.  According to the passage below, when a woman wasted an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus, this set Judas off.  Perhaps, this was the last straw, convincing Judas to betray Jesus.  As religious leaders celebrated Jesus’ capture, Judas withdrew to the desert to hang himself.  Guilt, remorse and shame influenced Judas to commit suicide, missing out on starting the first century church.

Then Mary took a pound of very expensive perfume of pure nard, and she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, the one who was going to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and [the money] given to the poor?” Now he said this, not because he cared about the poor [for he had never cared about them], but because he was a thief; and since he had the money box [serving as treasurer for the twelve disciples], he used to pilfer what was put into it, John 12:3-6.

Last week a New Jersey woman went to complain at school after her daughter was cut from the cheerleading squad.  Instead of using this rejection as inspiration to work harder to make it next year, this defiant mother convinced the board of education to force the team to accept everyone who tries out.  What would have happened if Michael Jordan’s dad or mom forced his high school coach to not cut him?  America may not have been able to watch one of the greatest NBA players of all time.  Thus, instead of being haunted by what could have been.  Dig down deep into your soul, ask the Lord for resolve and give everything that you have so that God’s destiny for you will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

Raising the Value of the People in Your Life

The competitor in me has a tendency to encourage a spirit of perfectionism to reign within me.  The byproduct of this bad habit results in negativity.  Critical words fly out of my mouth without thinking of the impact they have on others.  Unfortunately, my remarks often devalue individuals, negatively influencing people I care about.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving, Ephesians 5:4.

Thus, when I heard a sermon last Sunday about raising the value of the people in your life, conviction rained upon me.  Like a random shower in the middle of a sunny day, guilt, remorse and sorrow dripped upon my soul.  Similar to the apostle Paul in Romans 7, I find myself  doing that which that I hate.  This message was a subtle reminder that I am going down the wrong path in life, in desperate need of taking an about face.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen, Ephesians 4:29.

The Bible encourages individuals to use affirmations to raise the value of the people in your life.  Instead of dwelling on the negative, turn your attention toward which that will build up family, friends and neighbors.  As hard as it may be, don’t allow yourself be consumed with a desire to be in control.  Rather, let go and let God begin to transform you so that kinds words may begin to raise the value of the people in your life.

by Jay Mankus

Coming Together

History tends to move in cycles, rising and falling as leadership, ideology and worldviews change.  There are moments in time for conquest, peace and war.  Each major event leaves its imprints on civilizations, cultures and society.  At some point, regardless of what you feel, it’s important to come together.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The author of Hebrews encourages individuals to do the same thing with God.  This process begins with a sincere heart.  Like the guilt, remorse and sorrow Adam and Eve endured following trespassing against God’s lone rule in the Garden of Eden, modern citizens experience a similar feeling.  This conviction serves as a sign to get your life right with God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful, Hebrews 10:23.

The final step to coming together involves hope.  One of the ploys the Devil uses is making people feel like God hasn’t forgiven them after publicly confessing sin.  Thus, many place their trust in feelings, not faith.  Thus, clinging to an unswerving hope is what will get you through periods of darkness.  Finally, life isn’t complete unless you begin to spur on others toward love and good deeds.  This mindset sets the stage for truly coming together.

by Jay Mankus

Take It or Leave It

In recent years, those who live according to a secular worldview are claiming the Bible no longer applies to modern life.  Meanwhile, any law, principle or rule within the written Word of God is labeled as bigoted, discriminating and sexists.  Yet, if these skeptics actually took the time to read the Bible, individuals would begin to see the lofty expectations that exist.  Free will does not force anyone to adhere to these standards.  Rather, its up to you, take it or leave it.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:46-48.

The legal world uses an interesting term, plausible deniability.  This means that an individual can be excused from guilt, like a disclaimer or waiver.  The Bible uses a similar word to plausible deniability, amoral.  Moral refers to knowing what is right and doing it.  Immoral is the opposite, knowing what is right, but failing to obey.  Amoral comes into play when someone is held to a standard that they were never taught.  Subsequently, if you have never attended church, heard the gospel or read the Bible, you are only held accountable for that which you have been introduced.

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

The purpose of this blog is to simplify the message of the Bible, take it or leave it.  The consequence of sin results in a guilty verdict from the jury.  The punishment for this crime is death, eternal separation from God.  However, the judge steps in to offer a special plea deal.  Actually, God is willing to pardon all offenders with one simple gift.  Jesus paid your bail in full, but the choice is yours, take it or leave it.  You can receive this as your own, taking ownership of faith.  You can reject it and so by live according to the world’s standards.  Or you can wait for a while, but either way, the clock is ticking.

by Jay Mankus

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