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Tag Archives: heart

Parental Discretion Advised

If you catch the very beginning of a televised movie or arrive early at a local theater, a disclaimer will flash across the screen. This statement is designed to warn viewers of what individuals are about to see. In legal terms, phrases such as “parental discretion is advised” enables those behind the making of a film to avoid liability or being held responsible for its content.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

As the apostle Paul visited the city of Athens, there was no warning. Instead of being prompted by parental discretion advised, Paul was bombarded by pornography. Some of these idols were dedicated to the goddess of love, celebrating, encouraging and promoting sexual immorality in the name of religion. This visual cesspool didn’t stop Paul for searching for positive signs of life. Like a rigid site seeing tour, Paul didn’t stop until discovering an altar and poem that spoke to his heart.

Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

If Jesus and his disciples encountered this adult and mature content, I can imagine one of the disciples pleading with Jesus to call fire down from heaven to destroy Athens. Yet, Paul shows much more grace, engaging philosophers with an inscription and poetry. These two pieces of literature serve as a common ground, opening the door for the apostle Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ with Greeks. Instead of being offended, Christians need to learn to engage other cultures by using apologetics, defending the Christian faith. This means leaving safe spaces to bring life to dark and immoral places, relying on the Holy Spirit as your guide.

by Jay Mankus

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Conversations That Make Your Heart Burn For More

As someone who endured a severe speech impediment during my childhood, I never imagined entering into conversations where I was able to share everything on my heart and in my mind. Prior to high school, I lived my life as a loner. Besides playing sports, I kept to myself. Except for a few friends in my neighborhood, nobody really knew me. While my heart burned for meaningful conversations, stuttering prevented me from experiencing what others took for granted.

And it happened that as He reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were [suddenly] opened [by God] and they [clearly] recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight, Luke 24:30-31.

Beside first century historians, the only other way to get to know Jesus of Nazareth is through reading the Bible. In the passage above, Jesus appears to be the life of a party, eager to recline, relax and engage other people. Jesus had a special gift of probing into the lives of others by asking open ended questions, forcing participants to go beyond surface level content. Instead of judging people prematurely, Jesus shows compassion, love and understanding to those eager to learn. While individuals may struggle to remember the last time they had a meaningful conversation, every encounter with Jesus made hearts burn for more.

They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32

One of the reasons why I became a youth pastor after college rather pursue a career as a golf course architect was centered around conversations. During a duel internship, God filled me with a desire to win souls to Christ. Talking about golf courses during the day was fun, but connecting with young people who wanted to draw near to Christ at night was more invigorating. Thus, I declined an opportunity to move to Boston, Massachusetts to work on a future project. Instead, I accepted a position as a Work Camp Coordinator in Inner City Wilmington. While this decision didn’t make sense to my parents, I was like a young disciple with a heart burning to know more about Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Stop Blocking Miracles

As a novice student, when high school teachers and college professors started to repeat something, my classmates began to write this information down in their notebooks. Others instructors would be more obvious, coughing in jest or implying, “hum… this sounds like a good test question.” However, when the son of God, Jesus, repeats the same message three chapters later, you might want to take this to heart. In the verses below, Jesus takes two different scenarios that illustrate how and why individuals can block miracles from occurring.

“Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them,” Matthew 18:19-20.

This first passage is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. A month doesn’t go by without someone in church, a person praying or a pastor on television who names and claims this promise. However, Jesus places two escape clauses in verse 19. The first refers to harmony within the body of Christ. God wants members of a congregation to be on the same page, united in the decisions that are made. The second clause mentions the will of God. Prayers that exclude, ignore or go outside the will of God will be rejected. Thus, whenever discord or selfishness exists, potential miracles will be blocked and nullified.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

The second disclaimer is based upon faith. Despite witnessing miracle after miracle, the disciples struggled to place their complete confidence and trust in Jesus. When a fig tree isn’t bearing fruit in season, Jesus curses it, withering this tree immediately. Using this as a teachable moment, Jesus refers to a mountain blocking your view from God’s full potential. Thus, the key element is a persistent faith that believes you will receive what you ask for in prayer. When this is missing, a lack of faith blocks potential miracles from occurring. Therefore, if you want to determine what’s keeping you from ascending to your full potential, you may be out of alignment with God’s will. Or traces of doubt are holding back future miracles. May this blog help you gain understanding into what God truly desires.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Golden Rule

Traces of a golden rule can be found in the early 17th century. The first usage of this term in the context of the Bible appears to occur in 1604.
Anglican preachers and theologians from Great Britain are credited for coining this expression. Charles Gibbon and Thomas Jackson are the first to paraphrase the words of Jesus with a succinct command: treat others the way you would want them to treat you.

Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength,’ Mark 12:28-30.

After listening to a sermon last weekend on this topic, there is a flaw to the golden rule. It’s impossible to love others unless you first possess the love of God within your heart. C.S. Lewis refers to this concept as Theological Virtues in his book Mere Christianity. Anyone has access to Cardinal Virtues like prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. However, theological virtues such as hope, faith and charity are only accessible via the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the only way to successfully live out the golden rule involves entering a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 5:1-5.

This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Mark 12:31-33.

The apostle Paul provides a few verses that support this theory. Philippians 2:4 encourages individuals to look to the interests of others. However, unless you take care of your own needs first, you won’t be able to help and love others if your own spiritual house isn’t in order. Meanwhile, Paul also explains how to go beyond the golden rule in Romans 15:2. Pleasing your neighbor is expected through random acts of kindness. However, if you want to go the extra mile, build up your neighbor spiritually. Therefore, if you want to go beyond the golden rule, make it your ambition to plant spiritual seeds daily.

by Jay Mankus

Come On Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6x23vYN33s

Every culture has its own unique expressions. Depending upon known awareness, discernment and knowledge, you may be privy to hidden information or oblivious. Thus, you may notice a snide comment or have it go right over your head. In a first century letter written to Christians scattered throughout the Middle East, the earthly brother of Jesus attempts to wake up his audience with the phrase “come now.” This would be equivalent to the modern saying come on man. James is urging his readers to stop doing stupid things as if to suggest, “you know better than that.”

Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” 14 [Yet you do not know [the least thing] [about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air], James 4:13-14.

The context of this passage in James 4 has ties to modern inspirational speakers. A modern paraphrase version of this text might say something like “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Apparently, people of faith began to become cavalier, not caring enough about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This mindset lead to a belief that God would take care of these individuals no matter what they did or said. This portion of James’ letter serves as a rebuke, urging Christians to live for today, here and now as tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:15-17.

Whenever I go a day or two without reading the Bible, strange thoughts begin to enter my mind. Instead of taking my thoughts captive, my mind begins to wander, enticed by the ways of the world. Perhaps, James was aware that people he once respected began to backslide, returning to their former lifestyle prior to becoming a Christian. Thus, James feels the need to write “come on man, what are you doing?” To a certain extent, we all have our senior moments, forgetting the obvious. Yet, if you know what is right and don’t do it, you are just as guilty by committing a sin of omission. May this blog help you realign your life with God’s will by taking life one day at a time.

by Jay Mankus

Iniquities That Drown Out My Prayers

“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer, pleading for My help], I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you offer many prayers,
I will not be listening. Your hands are full of blood! “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Get your evil deeds out of My sight. Stop doing evil, Isaiah 1:15-16.

How many times a day are you forced to listen to boring conversations? Co-workers may have to endure colleagues who love to talk and never shut up. Meanwhile, students have to sit through hour long lectures, often pretending to be entertained just to get a good grade. While some people crave intimate dialogue, others simply embrace the sound of silence.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, Nor His ear so impaired that it cannot hear. But your wickedness has separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear, Isaiah 59:1-2.

From God’s perspective, billions of prayers are lifted up to heaven daily. Trying to sort through all of these requires an act of God as it is. Nonetheless, how many of these prayers are genuine, impure or selfish? Isaiah comments on disingenuous prayers. According to this Old Testament prophet, prayers aren’t designed as an escape plan or get well wish. Rather, God has specific expectations that requires a contrite heart.

“For the eyes of the Lord are [looking favorably] upon the righteous (the upright), And His ears are attentive to their prayer (eager to answer), But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil,” 1 Peter 3:12.

Thus, if your prayer life is like mine, you will experience days, weeks and months of prayers that go unanswered. According to the Bible, iniquities drown out your prayers. An iniquity is considered grossly unfair behavior, deemed criminal, foul or immoral. Essentially what God is trying to say to anyone before they pray, “get your act together, clean up your life up and stop doing evil things.” Unless acts of contrition supersede your prayers, the presence of iniquities will continue to drown out your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

Grace Holds Me Now

The byproduct of original sin, Adam and Eve’s decision to eat forbidden fruit, led to separation from God. When the only rule, do not eat of the tree of knowledge, in the Garden of Eden was broken, earth’s first family was banished, expelled from this tropical paradise. Subsequently, a works oriented system using a series of sacrifices was set up to atone for current and past sins. The Old Testament book of Leviticus introduces these offerings with detailed instructions on when and how this should be done.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man [who places his faith in wealth and status] to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were completely astonished and bewildered, saying, “Then who can be saved [from the wrath of God]?” – Matthew 19:24-25

During the first century, a rich young ruler lived his life in according to the 10 commandments, Exodus 20:1-17. Despite his zealous application of these principles, something in this man’s heart didn’t seem right. Thus, this ruler seeks out godly counsel from Jesus, hoping to find comfort that he was on the right track. After a series of questions, Jesus asks this wealthy man to go and sell all of his possessions, then give the proceeds to the poor. While the rich young ruler lived a moral life, at some point he began to trust his own wealth instead of God. This request was just too hard to do, walking away from Jesus in tears.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

Jesus hints at the concept of grace in the passage above. Grace refers to God’s riches at Christ’s expense. This unmerited favor of God toward man is made possible through Jesus’ life as the perfect lamb of God. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made what was formerly impossible possible. Thus, individuals no longer need to live by the standards of the Old Testament. Rather, anyone who publicly believes in their heart and professes with their mouth that Jesus is Lord will be saved, Romans 10:9-10. Therefore, you don’t have to walk away disappointed like the rich young ruler. Faith in Jesus provides assurance that grace holds you now.

by Jay Mankus

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