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Tag Archives: Human nature

Pro Wrestling and the Bible

I’m sorry for the spoiler alert, but pro wrestling is the not real. Whether you’re talking about a Steel Cage, Rumble or Tag Team Match, the outcome has already been decided. While the action is fast and furious with some wrestlers thrown out of the ring and into the stands, promoters predetermine who will win and who will lose. Yet, the main event is what usually draws an audience to watch, sort of knowing all long who will win.

And shall say to them, Hear, O Israel, you draw near this day to battle against your enemies. Let not your [minds and] hearts faint; fear not, and do not tremble or be terrified [and in dread] because of them. For the Lord your God is He Who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you, Deuteronomy 20:3-4.

Relying upon past experiences, Moses sensed God’s presence during the 10 Plagues during his time in Egypt. While Israel’s safe exodus out of Egypt seemed improbable, the Lord protected God’s people until they reach the Promised Land. However, slaying a land filled with giants didn’t sit well with 10 of the 12 spies sent out in Number 13. Nonetheless, the Lord your God goes out to fight for you against your enemies today, with little recognition or praise.

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [upon the soul] through [the abuse of] the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

In case you haven’t read the end of the Bible, spoiler alert #2, in the end God wins. The apostle Paul explains this spiritual victory in the passage above. Following original sin in the Garden of Eden, human nature separated human beings from God. Yet, Christ died and conquered death by rising from the grave 3 days later. This is what connects Professional Wrestling with the Bible, the outcome is known. Yet, the only question remaining is “have you made your reservation?” See 1 John 5:13 and Romans 10:9-11 for further instructions.

by Jay Mankus

Finding Answers in a Loss

At the end of last year, my daughter and I joined a volleyball league. Every Friday night until April, I am able to compete for an hour. While the initial reason for participating was to allow my daughter to sharpen her skills during the offseason, I find myself outclassed by much younger and athletic individuals. The ultimate purpose of any sport is to determine who is the best. Thus, when you lose more than you win, human nature begins to search for answers to explain why your team lost.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.,” Matthew 5:4.

In her 2017 song Can’t Live Without, Hollyn sings about someone who doesn’t know what they are chasing after. Using the context of a person driving in rush hour, sometimes you are so busy that lose sight of where you are actually going. Near the end of the lyrics, there is a transition which struck a nerve, ” Some people gotta lose it all to find out what they really want.” Progress, success and victory doesn’t require any need for reflection as positive momentum breeds confidence. Yet, embarrassment, failure and losing leads souls to ponder why.

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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me., 2 Corinthians 12:9

As a former professional athlete, I hate to lose, even if it’s playing a board game with my family at home. However, my desire to win takes joy away from competing. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states if you get rid of competition, you eliminate pride. Thus, if you take your focus off of winning and turn it toward savoring the opportunity, it doesn’t matter what the final outcome or scoreboard reads. Thanks to Hollyn’s song, I am now able to see the big picture, a father who is able to spend quality time with his daughter. While our team’s record may be mediocre, I have found an answer in a loss.

by Jay Mankus

The Slow Decay of a Cold Heart

From a secular point of view, cold hearts are not ignored.  A classic written by Foreigner speaks to this topic in the song Cold as Ice.  The soundtrack for Cold as Ice inspired a skit on the March 25, 1978 broadcast of Saturday Night Live.  While mild by today’s standards, this illustration demonstrates how cold hearts negatively influence attitudes, behavior and words.

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them,’ Matthew 13:14-15.

The Christian group Casting Crowns attempts to explain why hearts grow cold in their song Does Anybody Hear.  According to the lyrics, “But the canyons ever widening in the depths of her cold heart” suggest this is a spiritual dilemma.  Instead of addressing, correcting and dealing with wounded hearts, human nature causes individuals to set out on another misadventure to cover up their pain.  Instead of turning to Jesus to fill this void, temporary substitutes are found.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

The question few people ever ask is what‘s wrong with me?  How can I stop the slow death of a cold heart?  The apostle Paul suggests cold hearts are a byproduct of being alienated from God.  This may explain King David’s prayer in Psalm 51, “create in me a clean (pure) heart.”  The longer people ignore situations, hearts will continue to grow cold; hardening, without care.  Yet, the moment you confess, beg and plead with God for forgiveness and mercy, change is possible.  May this blog revive your soul, turning a cold heart into a heart of gold.

by Jay Mankus

An Unlikely Comeback

There are certain things that God calls people to do that are awkward, challenging and unappealing,  Unless someone possesses a strong conviction or will to act, most individuals exercise freewill to decline this opportunity to serve God.  In the passage below, an Old Testament prophet receives a clear message from the Lord.  However, human nature compels Jonah to flee, heading in the opposite direction of Nineveh.  This decision sets the stage for an unlikely comeback.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to ]Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:1-3.

From time to time, I have met people whose lives have taken a similar path to Jonah.  Initial stages play the role of a prodigal, indulging their sinful nature until hitting rock bottom.  For those who come to their senses, confessions, repentance and reconciliation follows.  While in college, I spent a day at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio with two co-workers.  My friend Harry ran into an old youth pastor.  Eddy and I stared at each other in shock, unaware of Harry’s former life.  Prior to this encounter, Harry was in full blown prodigal mode, cursing like a sailor daily while living with his girlfriend.  This God instance planted the seed for another unlikely comeback.

Then they said to him, “Now tell us!  Who is to blame for this disaster? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country?” So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I [reverently] fear and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was running from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What should we do to you, so that the sea will become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming more and more violent, Jonah 1:8-11.

Stories like this and the apostle Paul’s radical transformation in Acts 9 communicate a powerful message, anything is possible with God.  The Psalmist uses the imagery of infinity, ” as far as the east is from the west,” to describe God’s endless supply of grace, love and mercy.  To the human mind, this fact is hard to comprehend and grasp.  Nonetheless, whether you are currently running away from God, stuck in a relentless storm or ready to give God another chance, its never too late for a comeback.  May the testimony of Jonah give you hope that you too are a candidate for an unlikely spiritual comeback.

by Jay Mankus

The Worry Meter

Joyce Meyer blames human nature for the cause of worry in an article on this topic.  Troubled and uneasy feelings haunt millions of Americans daily.  Demons, the devil and powers of darkness prey on these raw emotions, causing many to worry beyond what is reasonable.  When conditions are ripe, panic attacks come on suddenly, involving intense and often overwhelming fear.  Panic attacks can happen to anyone, yet multiple occurrences can be a sign of a panic disorder.  When you add anxiety to this condition, the anticipation of a stressful event or situation, the worry meter starts BEEPING intensely.

Jesus said to His disciples, “For this reason I tell you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; or about your body, as to what you will wear,” Luke 12:22.

In the passage above, Jesus refers to three main sources of worry.  Depending upon how you want to classify daily concerns, food, health and clothing are basic essentials.  The poor may not know where their next meal will come from.  Those in debt may have to choose the cost of health care over hearty meals.  Teenagers may be forced to buy clothes at resale shops just to have money for other activities in high school.  In terms of worry, the amount of money available to you will often dictate the degree to which you become stressed.  Some concerns will be superficial, based upon social status.  Meanwhile, those without a place to call home will not rest until shelter is found.  No matter what your situation, an internal worry meter is tracking your emotions.

So it is for the one who continues to store up and hoard possessions for himself, and is not rich [in his relationship] toward God,” Luke 12:21.

The worry meter tends to reflect your relationship with God.  However, there is a catch, a glitch.  The closer you get to God, the more the Holy Spirit reveals your imperfections.  Thus, as some draw near to God, there is a hesitancy to get closer.  To avoid conviction, you may chose to go in the opposite direction, taking a break from God for a while.  Whatever your situation may be, Jesus wants his followers to become rooted in Christ, Philippians 2:6-7.  As your relationship with God improves, your level of worry should decline.  Trusting God and worry are reciprocal, polar opposites that work against one another.  If you want to reduce your own worry meter, the Bible offers solutions.  Solomon suggests to trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Meanwhile, Jesus urges people to seek God first and his righteous, Matthew 6:33-34, then all the things you are worrying about will be given unto you.  May you put this advice into action so that the worry meter will quickly return to low levels.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

You Might Want to Reconsider That Thought

The National Inquirer was established in 1926.  This supermarket tabloid is designed to be an impulse purchase as you wait in line at grocery stores across the country.  This magazine will pay sources for tips, a practice generally disapproved of by the mainstream press.   Subsequently, many of the stories inside are fantasies, gossip and rumors that are unsubstantiated.  For this reason, the National Inquirer has developed a reputation as a joke, something to read for a good laugh and not taken as a serious source for journalism.  Nonetheless, times are changing and what used to be considered crazy is now being verbalized daily by paid protestors.

He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went into a Samaritan village to make arrangements for Him; 53 but the people would not welcome Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem, Luke 9:52-53.

Due to human nature, anyone can make bizarre, outlandish and stupid comments.  During the first century, the disciples made a statement that was front cover material, a story that might peak the interest of the National Inquirer if it existed at that time.  The headlines reading something like “Sodom and Gomorrah 2,” as disciples try to convince Jesus to call down fire from heaven.  However, this slip of the tongue is immediately addressed by Jesus.  In the passage below, Jesus is unsettled by this thought, correcting this error by explaining the proper mindset to possess in the future.

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and destroy them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them [and He said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they journeyed on to another village, Luke 9:54-56.

Due to the invention of social media, comments, tweets and words are getting individuals into trouble every day.  Employers are now screening the internet, examining previous posts by prospective candidates.  Many qualified people are being denied the job of their dreams due to careless statements from their past.  While you may feel compelled to express your point of view from time to time, you might want to reconsider before you press send.  If not you will find yourself in a similar situation to the disciples, embarrassed and rebuked publicly.

by Jay Mankus

 

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

Overcoming an I Don’t Care Anymore Attitude

Care refers to the provisions of that what is necessary.  Synonyms include alertness, attentiveness, cautious, guidance, management, protection, safe keeping and watchfulness.  As I reflect upon my early days as a father, I recall hearing the word “no” often.  This expression reveals human nature at work within the lives of children.  Before infants learn the English language, no is code for I don’t want or I don’t care.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others, Philippians 2:4.

In 1974, Harry Chapin collaborated with his wife Sandy to compose the song Cat’s in the Cradle.  The lyrics of this classic convey a sad but true story about extreme dedication to work and its negative impact on a family.  Those who are workaholics place a higher priority on their career, leaving little or no time at home.  Spouses left at home with the kids regularly will likely begin think their significant other does not care anymore.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you, Ephesians 4:32.

Those who develop an I don’t care anymore attitude often become jaded.  This process occurs gradually as disappointment erodes hope.  If negative conditions persist, optimism will be replaced by sarcasm, expecting bad things to continue.  Thus, if you sense this mentality beginning to take over, the apostle Paul provides useful advice in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  To break free from the temptation to not care anymore, you need to take spiritual measures to protect your mind.  Only when you begin to take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ can you overcome an I don’t care anymore attitude.

by Jay Mankus

 

What are You Still Lacking?

If you asked a recent high school graduate the same question after completing a four year degree in college, perspectives would likely change.  Human nature tends to make young people think they are infallible.  When you add knowledge, wisdom and a wealth of information to this equation, some will likely think they know it all, now smarter than their parents.  This is the state we find the rich young ruler in the passage below, only lacking one thing in life.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

Searching for eternal security, this man sought out Jesus, hoping to discover the secret to possessing eternal life.  Immediately, Jesus catches this ruler off guard by demonstrating humility, giving God the credit for his goodness.  From here Jesus turns his attention to God’s standards in the Torah, the first five books in the Old Testament.  Obtaining knowledge of the Bible is one thing, but applying these principles separate average believers from genuine people of faith.  Perhaps, this rich young ruler thought he could enter heaven by being a good person.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Honor your father and your mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these things from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:20-22.

There are two invisible forces which drag and nudge souls in different directions.  The Holy Spirit convicts hearts and minds, revealing imperfections and shortcomings.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature is more accommodating, making those who stray from God think more highly about themselves than they should.  While the Spirit led the apostle Paul to claim he was the greatest sinner of all in 1 Timothy 1:15, my flesh made me feel better the further I slipped away from God in college.  This spiritual dilemma exists today, compared to a spiritual war in Galatians 5:16-18.  Thus, if you really want to know what are you still lacking, draw close to God and He will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

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