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Blood that Speaks a Better Word

To have blood on your hands often refers to being guilty.  Blood is symbolic of life, necessary to keep a human being alive.  However, sometimes an accident, mistake or minor transgression can end the life of an animal, human being or possession.

For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things, Isaiah 59:3.

Another saying refers to being guilty as sin.  In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah found the nation of Israel in denial.  Instead of coming clean by repenting, justification took over.   When caught red handed, most become defensive regardless of how guilty one may be.

To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel, Hebrews 12:24.

The author of Hebrews uses a unique connotation of blood.  Abel was innocent and pure when jealousy caused his older brother to take his life.  Yet, Jesus, who brought a new covenant introduces this concept.  Instead of going to a great high priest to atone for your sins, Jesus died once and for all sins.  Therefore. his blood speaks a better word, one of forgiveness, redemption and a promise of a new life without guilt or shame.

by Jay Mankus

The Way Verses Today

I tend to be directionally challenged.  However, I’m also careful not to trust the opinion of another man at a gas station who seems uncertain.  While GPS is a nice modern device to rely on, when it starts to recalculate, the question is which way should I go?

And asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem, Acts 9:2.

Philosophically speaking, should you follow your heart, mind or the newest teaching?  Worldviews like Humanism, New Age and Post-Modernism have convinced many former believers to leave the Way for religions of today.  Concerned leaders of the church are wondering, what can be done to reverse this trend?

No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people, Acts 5:13.

One of the reasons for this mass exodus is a lack of genuine Christians within America.  I know I’m just as guilty as the next person, leaving a trail of hypocrisy behind.  As people are rubbed the wrong way, parents are staying home on Sunday.  Subsequently, a generation of children are growing up without a faith experience.  Thus, the Way of the Bible is fighting a losing battle.  May the Holy Spirit spark young people today to leave an imprint of love on a culture desperately waiting for the Real Thing.

by Jay Mankus

Read the Fine Print

Its amazing how dishonest commercials have become in this age of disclaimers.  By the time you try to listen to and or read the warning at the bottom of your television screen, another ad appears.  In a rush to strike it big, reward stock owners or pay for future projects, imperfections abound when you read the fine print.

Meanwhile, walking billboards are just as guilty.  Whenever you hear words like “I’ve never done that, my pastor’s never sinned or you struggle with that,” wait a couple days or weeks and sin will flow like rain.  Christians that sound too good to be true aren’t doing anyone any good.  Rather, the closer you are to God, the more humble you become.  Yet, the opposite is true as the further you stray from the Lord, the better you feel initially until pride sets people up for a fall.

If you want to read the fine print, just open up one of the 4 gospels in the Bible.  Although Jesus spoke in parables to drive home a point, he doesn’t beat around the bush.  Jesus set high expectations for his disciples, causing many to walk away, unable to meet his standards, Luke 9:57-63.  Despite our own inabilities to achieve holiness, John 3:16-17 provides a highlighted reminder of God’s eternal plan.  Don’t let bad examples keep you from the truth.  Rather, read the fine print for yourself to reserve a room in eternity, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Depending upon who you listen to or believe, many revisionist historians blame Christianity for the demise of great empires of the past.  Quite contrary, often its the lack of morality, either absent from followers of Jesus or invisible from societies which contribute to the fall of once great nations.  You don’t have to go any further than America’s current view of their justice system.  In the eyes of the media, you are now guilty until proven innocent.

Names like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, NFL stars accused of domestic violence, are guinea pigs on this slippery slope.  While the facts may not support their innocence, cable news networks and radio talk shows have already made up their minds.  Who needs a jury anyway?  In the court of public opinion, the decision is clear, guilty as charged!

Psalm 103:6-8 speaks up for any citizen who has been through under the bus.  The Lord hears the cries of the oppressed, bringing justice and working righteousness in the midst of despair.  God’s love is not distant, introduced to Moses and passed on through generations by reminding earth’s residents of His compassion, love and mercy.  Although, the evidence may not look good for anyone accused of a crime, don’t forget that in the America that I remember, you are innocent until proven guilty.

by Jay Mankus

 

Inches From Adultery

In a chapter entitled, Anatomy of Adultery, Dr. James Dobson addresses a shocking trend in America.  Although men were more guilty of committing adultery in previous decades, today married women 29 years of age and younger have turned the tables on their spouses, indulging in significantly more affairs than men.  Another study from Dr. Kelly Bonewell reveals 4 out of 10 Americans believe adultery is morally acceptable.  If this is true, many adults are inches away from adultery.

The topic of adultery is nothing new.  During his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus threw a curve ball to those in attendance.  Formerly regarded as something only a married man or woman could commit, Jesus introduces a spiritual element to adultery in Matthew 5:27-30.  This perspective has no limitations, including all ages, who are also vulnerable to temptation.  Adultery isn’t just a sin, its a byproduct of lust.  Therefore, if flirting gives birth to lust, James 1:13-15, even Christians can draw close, inches away from adultery.

The first time I read Jesus’ comments in Matthew 5:29-30, I thought He was being unreasonable.  However, once I did a little research, I discovered Jesus was referencing the Old Testament principle of purging.  When someone removes the atmosphere, environment and traces of lust, thoughts of adultery will fade from their minds.  However, if you put yourself into a compromising position one too many times, the line will be crossed so that inches become reality.  May the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 serve as a warning before its too late to alter history.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Grind of Life

Inside a coffee grinder, beans are crushed, pounded and smashed into submission until the process is complete.  Sometimes circumstances in life performs a similar act on individuals, grinding and pressing people until their energy is sapped.  Drained, exhausted and spent, my joy for living has been misplaced by a sea of despair.

Perhaps anguish is the guilty party, sucking souls of contentment, fun and thanksgiving.  Despite being known as a man after God’s own heart, 1 Samuel 16:7, David wasn’t exempt from this emotional state.  Psalm 31:10 expresses the toll the grind of life takes on the human body.

Lately, my faith has been void of joy, left behind during my healthier days when work was something I took for granted.  If you take James 2:26 literally, you can’t have one without the other.  Thus, joy is a byproduct of faith, a fruit inspired by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  Like the Samaritan woman, I need to go to the well of living water, John 4:10, so that the grind of life doesn’t crumble my faith.  If you’re thirsty for something more in life, absorb the words of Jesus in John 4:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Clinging to the Security Blankets of Your Past

Charles Schultz conjured up in his mind a fictional character with real life tendencies in his classic comic strip Peanuts.  Linus was a boy who never wanted to leave his favorite blanket, finding comfort from this childhood possession.  Today, infants have similar habits, becoming attached to binkies, serving as a calming device to produce sleep.  Despite purging closets each spring, most adults aren’t willing to let go of sentimental items, keeping a few like a security blanket from your past.

Peter was a professional fisherman whose new acquaintance introduced himself as a carpenter.  Luke 5:1-11 recounts this first meeting as Peter listens to Jesus speak after a long night of work.   Despite his initial hesitation, Peter is willing to trust someone from another occupation, based upon a gut feeling within his heart, Luke 5:6.  Subsequently, Peter reached a point of conviction, guilty of holding on to traditions instead of faith.  By the end of this passage, each member of his crew was touched by God, leaving everything they knew behind, letting go of their security blankets.

I’m not sure if its my ego, pride or stubbornness, but I find it hard to completely change the routines I have set in life.  Sure, every New Year’s provides a tempest, the perfect conditions to rededicate one’s life.  Nonetheless, the fear of uncertainty prevents permanent transformation from occurring.  Thus, when the going get’s tough, people fall back on what they know instead of following the advice of strangers.  This reality of life fulfills the words of Proverbs 27:19, “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”  May the example of these fishermen inspire others to forgo the security blankets of their past with a faith for the future.

by Jay Mankus

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