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Tag Archives: hearts

Bowing Down to Spiritual Bullies

Joel Kaplan has been a lifelong friend of Brett Kavanaugh.  This relationship compelled Kaplan to attend Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing as a sign of support.  This is what friends do, to be there in times of need for those they care about.  The only problem for Kaplan is that he is the Vice President of Facebook.  As employees of Facebook saw Joel on television sitting behind Kavanaugh, staff became outraged, demanding an explanation.  When Kaplan returned to work, he was pressured, bullied into apologizing for being a friend of Kavanaugh.

Then the Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped and served the Baals, Judges 2:11.

Whenever there is an absence of spiritual leadership, individuals begin to follow human nature.  After the death of Joshua, who was used to lead Israel into God’s promised land, there was a spiritual void.  When no one volunteered to stand up to show others the way, Jews began to do what was right in their own eyes.  Throughout the course of history, this cycle repeats itself until convicted hearts repent, confessing the error of their ways by turning back to follow God.  Based upon recent current events, progressive leaders are stepping up to redefine right from wrong.

And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods from the gods of the peoples who were around them, and they bowed down to them, and offended and provoked the Lord to anger. 13 So they abandoned the Lord and served Baal [the pagan god of the Canaanites] and the Ashtaroth, Judges 2:12-13.

Apparently, there is some new Bible, source of truth, that I am not aware of.  This new standard evidently claims that president Trump is evil and anyone who follows or supports him is a bad person.  These beliefs are being enforced by protestors, hoping to scare others from publicly supporting likeminded candidates, leaders and politicians.  While president Trump has his flaws, allowing loose lips and undisciplined tweets to express unnecessary comments, no one should bow down to bullies.  As worldly influences continues to challenge what you think and believe, may the power of the Holy Spirit give you the courage to stand up and reinforce the values you hold dear.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Obedience to God Brings Opposition

Depending upon the church you attend or attended, pastors focus on different aspects of Christianity.  Some emphasize altar calls, asking convicted hearts to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus.  Others challenge believers to live out their faith seven days a week, being a light to the world outside of church.  Unfortunately, few discuss a painful reality, obedience to God brings opposition from the world.

“If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hated you,” John 15:18.

In the past two months, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been verbally crucified by the media daily.  While sexual assault accusations have received most of the headlines, you have to read between the lines understand the motivation behind these attacks.  First, Kavanaugh is a devout Catholic who isn’t afraid to express his faith.  Second, Kavanaugh will likely defend and protect pro-life cases.  Thus, an obedience to support life in the past has alarmed abortion activists to attack this man of God.

19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this the world hates you, John 15:19.

No one wants to be hated.  Human nature creates a desire within to be embraced and loved.  Yet, one day Jesus revealed a side of Christianity to his disciples that is hard to grasp.  Obedience to God brings opposition?  Really?  Well, if your life is a living example of Christ, shining light into darkness, this will expose flaws within the lives of others.  Thus, this will lead to resentment and in some cases hatred.  Therefore, if you want a complete perspective of what to expect as a Christian living in 2018, obedience to God brings opposition from the world.

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

 

The Righteous Mirror

The inventor of a silver glass mirror is credited to Justus von Liebig.  This German chemist used a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate.  Prior to 1835, individuals could see their reflection from a still body of water under ideal conditions.  Yet, modern day mirrors enable the human eye to see fine details, revealing flaws and imperfections on your face and body.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God], 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul eludes to a righteous mirror.  Paul uses the term sanctifying grace, an ongoing spiritual process necessary to purify souls from sin that manifests itself on earth.  This concept is built upon in Paul’s second letter, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  Despite the reality of disobedient hearts, human error and repetitive mistakes, when God sees human beings, a righteous mirror reflects Christ in our place.

So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), Ephesians 6:14.

According to the Bible, the Devil uses numerous schemes to take your eyes off of Christ.  When your eyes aren’t fixed upon Jesus, you become vulnerable to Satanic attacks.  These come in the form of subtle temptations, thoughts and whispers that deviate from the Bible.  Thus, its essential to put on the armor of God.  This includes the belt of truth that hold the breastplate of righteous in place.  Just as a catcher in baseball uses a chest protector, Christians should apply the proper equipment.  When you do, you won’t see all your blemishes.  Rather, as you do, God will see the righteous of Jesus, Christ in you.

by Jay Mankus

Look to the Book

If you asked a series of highly regarded professions, what’s the most important thing in life, answers would vary.  The 1991 film City Slickers sought to address this question, using a man played by Billy Crystal who is going through a mid-life crisis.  After running with the bulls in Spain, a friend suggests an excursion out west, reliving the cattle drives of old like a cowboy.  On this vacation with the guys, Crystal meets Jack Palance who plays Curly Washburn, their trail guide.  During a two week trip from New Mexico to Colorado, Crystal and Palance develop an unlikely friendship before his sudden death.  Left in the middle of no where without a leader, friends played by Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern step up to lead the herd back to the ranch.  Rejecting an initial offer to finish what they started, Crystal has a change of heart, applying the knowledge Curly bestowed upon him.  When a calf born during their journey is swept away by a raging river, Crystal risks his life to save this animal.  Following a dramatic rescue, Crystal comes to understood what Curly meant by the most important thing in life.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts], Psalm 119:9.

My youngest child Lydia started high school today.  As a parent, I don’t know where the time has gone, flying by without any signs of stopping.  Thus, if I could bestow one simple suggestion to my daughter and others like her, its look to the book daily.  When you read the passage above, the Psalmist claims that the only way keep a young person pure is by mediating on the Bible.  As a former student and teacher, I understand the desire to pursue good grades.  Yet, there is a temptation to do whatever is takes to obtain an A, even if it means saying or writing things contrary to what you believe.  After receiving a poor grade on my first college English paper, I brushed aside my convictions to construct a paper acceptable, entertaining and popular in the world’s eyes.  While I received an A, bringing my overall average up to a B, I betrayed the precepts of the Bible.  I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a fine line between being the best that you can be and staying true to your beliefs.

With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You]; Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].  Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You, Psalm 119:10-11.

The concept of meditating on the word of God may be awkward or overwhelming for a millennial.  However, what the Psalmist eludes to in the passage above is that the Bible serves as a filter for human minds.  As individuals look to this book, the more you become aware of God’s desire and expectations.  As you examine, inquire and study how the Bible applies to life, the Bible serves as a flashlight, shining light into formerly unknown areas.  Unfortunately, when Bibles begins to collect dust, minds can forget the difference between right and wrong.  As gray areas expand, human nature will rationalize acts, behavior or words that stray from God’s commandments.  This is why I pray that all my children develop the habit of looking to the book, the Word of God.  If the Bible can change and transform my life, then these living words, Hebrews 4:12, still possess the power to revive souls today.

by Jay Mankus

Pray at Lunchtime for the United States

The origin of praying for a meal has ties to the Old Testament and New Testament.  In the days of Israel, cup bearers were similar to modern day secret service agents.  Instead of serving as an armed guard, these men tested the food and wine for poisons.  If no one died, this meal was safe for the king to enjoy.  One of the most famous cup bearers is Nehemiah, who God used as a vessel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  In the first century, the apostles gave thanks for each meal the Lord provided.  While the passage below does not detail the words spoken, praying before eating was a form of thanksgiving.

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, and he broke it and began to eat, Acts 27:35.

Today, Christians continue this practice, folding their hands, closing their eyes and either silently or verbally expressing thanks to God for daily bread.  Just as Moses gave thanks for manna from heaven and quail via God, saying grace is an act of appreciation for the little things in life.  Unfortunately, praying at lunch has made national news recently for the wrong reason.  Brigadier General John Teichert who has a blog encouraging individuals to pray at lunchtime for the United States is being threatened by a lawsuit.  Attorney Michael Weinstein who trolls Christians on military bases recently said, “General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,”

Then all of them were encouraged and their spirits improved, and they also ate some food, Acts 27:36.

Luke provides the benefits of praying before a meal in the passage above.  Based upon the words used by Luke, saying grace can be moving as people pour out their hearts to God.  This specific prayer encouraged everyone in attendance as well as uplifting their spirits.  If public prayer for a meal could have this impact on a group of people, why is this attorney be so upset?  If prayer can inspire souls to act, what’s the big deal?  How is prayer hurting military bases and the men and women who serve this country?  Perhaps, if atheists, critics and skeptics begin to pray, this world would become a better place.  May the readers of this blog keep General Teichert in your prayers so that the power of prayer will continue to thrive in this country and throughout the world.

by Jay Mankus

Sharing That Which You Believe

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment.  This time period spanned from 1685 to 1815.  As Plato once illustrated in a painting known as the School of Athens, philosophers stopped looking up to the heavens for answers to life, to God above.  Rather, scholars began to look within, replacing God with science by relying on minds to direct and guide future beliefs.  Before his death in 1804, Kant once said, “There are many things that I believe that I shall never say. But I shall never say the things that I do not believe.”

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

This quote from Immanuel Kant applies to today’s political climate in America as candidates seek to persuade undecided voters.  Kant realized that sharing everything that he believed openly would hinder his ability to convince skeptics to embrace his philosophical position.  Subsequently, Kant only shared the things he believed, strengthening his message.  Sharing too much information can confuse your listeners.  As long as you focus on your main points, audiences can be persuaded to change their mind.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

When making any argument, its important to possess confidence.  The Greek word εμπιστοσύνη refers to individuals who are confident, faithful, reliable and trusting.  Whenever you share what you believe, if you aren’t a credible source, living out your convictions, no one will believe you.  Therefore, its essential to demonstrate faith before you share what you believe.  The more confidence oozes out of your soul, the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12, will pierce and persuade hearts to follow Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

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