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Tag Archives: holiness

Apart from Me?

“The Italians have a Proverb, ‘He that deceives me once, its his fault; but if twice, its my fault.’” This is where Americans have derived the saying “fool me once, shame on you; full me twice shame on me.” Unfortunately, anyone who attempts to be good without relying on God will experience disappointment over and over again.

“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you], John 15:1-3.

A disciple shares an analogy used by Jesus.  This imagery compares God to an arborist.  Whenever human beings begin to sag, tire or wilt, the Gardener prunes every dead branch to stimulate growth.  The key to maintaining growth is staying connected to the vine.  The vine is Jesus, symbolic of the source to spiritual life.  Trying to pursue holiness apart of Jesus wears souls out, like a perfectionist who is never satisfied.

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing, John 15:4-5.

This passage serves as a needed remainder to me that living life on my own isn’t working.  Thus, I am dying of thirst, in desperate need of living water.  Right now I feel like the apostle Paul in Romans 7, wanting to do the right thing, but unable to do so.  Therefore, it’s time for this vicious cycle of failure to come to an end.  The answer is easy, let God in to change you from the inside out.  Away with apart from me, replaced by Jesus in me.

by Jay Mankus

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Stages of Worship

As a former runner, I see a comparable relationship between running and worship.  The first time you do each, its not always the most pleasant experience.  While those in advanced stages have a different perspective, the novice may quit early on, claiming what’s the point.  Trying to excel at each requires knowledge, preparation and training.  During a church service last weekend, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to 3 stages of worship.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship, Romans 12:1.

Stage 1: Good

The apostle Paul encourages those who embrace the Christian faith to respond to God’s mercy.  When your sins were pardoned, this should elicit a spirit of thankfulness within forgiven souls.  As right and wrong acts are differentiated by the Bible, this exposure to truth hopefully fuels a fire within hearts to pursue holiness.  This environment sets the scene to ignite and stoke a desire to worship.  This is a good first step.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will, Romans 12:2.

Stage 2: Pleasing

If running or worship does not bring pleasure or a sense of progress, most will abandon the journey, filling their time with other worth while pursuits.  Thus, Paul suggests the pattern of the world will become a distraction for many.  Subsequently, finding pleasure in running or worship begins with a renewing of your mind.  Just as Jesus went into the wilderness, fasting and praying before beginning his earthly ministry, worship is taken to the next level by believing and claiming God’s promises for your life.  As the worries of life fade, your worship will please God as you bow down in holy reverence to your creator above.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Stage 3: Perfect

Human nature tends to lead people to rely on their own strength and abilities.  Yet, perfection is not attainable in flesh alone.  Rather, individuals need to come to a spiritual state where they recognize any weaknesses and lean on Christ’s power.  The apostle Paul was forced into this predicament through an unknown physical ailment.  While the Bible is not specific on his condition, God’s power is made perfect through weakness.  Therefore, if you are struggling to concentrate as you run or worship, don’t run this race alone.  Rather, cry out to the Lord for help and perhaps one day you will reach new levels as you worship God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Nights Void of Holiness

Franz Xaver Gruber composed the melody to Stille Nacht in 1818, giving birth to the classic Christmas carol known as Silent Night.  An Austrian school teacher, Gruber was likely inspired to write this song while serving in his church in Arnsdorf, Austria.  Beginning in 1816 Gruber took on the role as organist and choirmaster at St Nicholas Church.  Working with Joseph Mohr, a catholic priest who write the lyrics in German, the two combined their gifts to debut this song for a Christmas Eve mass 2 years later.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them, Luke 2:6-7.

If you believe the political pundits, public educators and progressive agenda in America, you may be convinced of a different America than the actual founders.  Instead of pointing to a Continental Congress which spent several hours in prayer seeking God’s insight, you will be pointed toward slave owners who should not have the right to be heard or followed.  This tense climate has given birth to nights voids of holiness.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord, Luke 2:10-11.

The 1988 film Diehard based upon the book written Roderick Thorp has recently become an usual Christmas classic.  Few people realize the irony behind one of the main characters.  The leader of a terrorist group and mastermind of a scheme to steal millions of dollars of bonds shares the last name with the composer of Silent Night, called Hans instead of Franz.  While Christmas is suppose to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the World to Mary, a virgin, I can’t recall a recent night void of violence.  Instead of experiencing holy nights, many endure a fallen world on the verge of hell.  Despite this painful reality, don’t let others steal the joy of Christmas.  Rise above the Ebenezer Scrooges and recent terrorist attacks to share love to others this season.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Energy Necessary for Making Peace

Sometimes who you are and how you are perceived can be miles from the truth.  Yet, anyone who seeks to leave a lasting legacy may be surprised by the impressions that you make.  Such was the case for chemist Alfred Bernard Nobel who spent most of his earthly life pursuing patents, the most famous of which is dynamite.  When a premature obituary was published in a local paper, Nobel was shocked by the comments summarizing his life.  This moment of conviction gave birth to the Nobel Peace Prize investing his accumulated wealth into the formation of this annual award.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord, Hebrews 12:14.

The author of Hebrews sets a similar high standard, urging readers to do everything in their power to make peace.  This includes what I call extra grace individuals who have the gift of gnawing away at your patience.  No exceptions are made as everyone is included.  The target to aim for is holiness, imitating the life and love of Jesus.  Despite whatever human emotions you may experience, the Holy Spirit is the energy necessary for making peace.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world, John 16:33.

I wish I could say that I have arrived or am well on my way, but that would be a lie.  Unfortunately, disappointment, frustration and pain from the past has a way of developing into holding or keeping grudges.  This current place doesn’t take any effort nor is it holy.  And yet, there is one who has overcome the world.  Therefore, I take comfort in knowing God still forgives.  My job is not complete nor is the journey finished.  So I press on, praying and searching for the energy necessary for making peace.

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

 

 

Making A Clear Distinction

In a world of diminishing absolutes, making a clear distinction between right and wrong isn’t what it use to be.  Shades of grey have entered the equation, leaving the truth uncertain.  To erase this confusion, one must shine the light of the Bible on this matter to distinguish the moral from immoral.

History reveals this struggle is nothing new as periods in time are filled with examples of people who blended in like chameleons, hiding their faith from society.  This pattern led Moses to challenge Israel to make a clear distinction between holiness and common citizens in Leviticus 10:10-11.  This lesson from the past should challenge us to examine our own lives to ascertain where do you stand?

When you’re feeling good about yourself, pride will lead you to hold a higher view than your actions actually display.  On the other hand, when your day of humility comes, you might feel like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15.  Despite the good and bad that you do, Jesus still wants believers to shine their light, Matthew 5:13.  Like the childhood song proclaims, don’t hide your light anymore, make a clear distinction today by imitating God, Ephesians 5:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

Finding Your Why

Author Simon Sinek wrote the book Start with Why, uncovering how great leaders inspire others to take action.  While many modern businesses have a high school mentality, punishing everyone for a few workers transgressions, Sinek highlights what separates great companies and leaders from the rest.  While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers didn’t have much in common, they all started with why.

While listening to an interview yesterday on the Blaze Radio Network, I began to wonder, why do I do what I do?  Subsequently, its important to find your why.  During the exile of Israel in the Old Testament, a prophet unveiled some chilling news.  “People are destroyed from a lack of knowledge,” Hosea 4:6.  This passage suggests if you don’t find your why in life, you will likely come to ruin before you fulfill God’s will on earth, Philippians 1:6.

One of Israel’s founding fathers advised God’s people to read, ponder and meditate on the Torah, Joshua 1:8.  The son of God called His followers to action, putting into practice the words He, Jesus shared, Matthew 7:24.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul encouraged seekers to devote their lives to holiness, worship and renewing minds to conform with Scripture, Romans 12:1-2.

As you set out to find your own why for what you do, let us know how your journey is going.

by Jay Mankus

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