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Tag Archives: Human nature

When You’re Painting Light Illuminates Imperfections

I spent last week trying to renovate a new house in South Carolina. The longer I participate in this process, the more helpless I feel as building and construction is not one of my gifts. Rather than get in the way, I turned to painting and sanding. After putting on a coat of primer, I thought we were ready to paint the ceiling. However, when I inspected each section a little close with light, I was disappointed by all the areas that I missed. When you’re painting, light illuminates imperfections.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves, 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.

Light appears 272 times in the King James Bible. Light is used as spiritual imagery to illuminate everything that is good and true. Meanwhile, darkness is the opposite of God. Human nature tends to lower one’s standards, using justification and realization to participate in deeds of darkness. Until I started to read and study the Bible, I didn’t know right from wrong accept from what my parents taught me. Yet, like the apostle Paul’s confession in 1 Timothy 1:15, the closer you draw near to God, the more your sins are brought to the surface.

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or [c]the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life, Ephesians 5:8-9.

In the passages above, the apostle Paul calls Christians to leave the darkness of their past by entering the light of the Lord. Yet, change requires a catalyst, something to trigger a dead spirit so it can be brought back to life. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, it was a Jewish man longing to eat the sloop given to pigs that altered his perspective. Any time human beings hit rock bottom, common sense is illuminated. Despite how frustrating it is to recognize any imperfection in your life, the light of God’s Word helps believers see what issues they need to addressed before maturity can be achieved, James 1:2-4.

by Jay Mankus

Before My Sufferings Begin

Famous writers use foreshadowing as a way to misdirect readers, confuse anyone who has prematurely judged a character or as a way to leave behind a series of clues. In Hansel and Gretel, the Grimm Brothers use a trail of bread crumbs. However, throughout the four Gospels, Jesus drops subtle hints. Unfortunately, the disciples developed an ungodly belief, thinking that Jesus would become the earthly King of the Jews. Subsequently, no one knew what Jesus meant by “before I suffer.”

And they went and found it [just] as He had said to them; and they made ready the Passover [supper]. 14 And when the hour came, [Jesus] reclined at table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; Luke 22:13-15.

Human nature has a tendency to compare your own life to someone else. Hollywood has a series of scenes where two characters compare their scars starting with subtle ones before escalating to the most severe. Yet, suffering is often in the eye of the beholder. If you’ve lived a sheltered life without many trials or tribulations, it’s hard to comprehend the life of an orphan. In the case of Jesus, he waited 33 years before laying down his life. Yet, his disciples didn’t understand what was about to happen.

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 2 Corinthians 12:6-7.

At the conclusion of a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul pours out his heart about his own suffering. Whether this suffering was physical, spiritual or a combination of the two, Paul reached a point in his life where he began to accept this condition. As religious leaders attempted to kill and stone Paul on numerous occasions, he began to see a silver lining. Whether you’re in the beginning, middle or end of suffering, this experience has been allowed to occur so that in your weakness, placing your entire trust in Jesus will make you stronger than ever before.

by Jay Mankus

For Every Wrong Turn… God’s Spirit Will Guide You Back Home

A first century doctor devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to illustrating the lengths to which God will go to search for lost and wayward souls. Luke 15 is broken down into 3 stories about a lost sheep, lost coin and prodigal son. For every wrong turn you may take in life, there is a Shepherd and Father who is waiting for you to make a U-turn back toward the Lord. Unfortunately, when most people get lost, pride or a stubborn heart keeps you from asking for directions to get back on the right track.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

Most prodigal stories resemble the 40 year journey of Israel from the Exodus out of Egypt to the promised land. Perhaps human nature is to blame as I’ve done my own wandering away from the Lord. One of my college friends once told me, “stop using Jesus as a crutch.” When times were good, I had a tendency to go off on my own, leaving the Lord behind as my Bible collected dust. Yet, when I broke my ankle playing sand volleyball just before my final year of college, this was a sign to come back to Jesus.

If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit [g]we have our life in God, let us go forward [h]walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit,] Galatians 5:25.

Unfortunately, most of the time things aren’t so obvious. This is where the Holy Spirit can intervene, to guide you back home. However, the context of the passage above includes an internal tug of war. Human nature feeds on cravings, desires and impulses that can ravage souls if not contained, Galatians 5:16-18. The apostle Paul provides crucial advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13. The next time you make a wrong turn by ending up in a tempting situation, look for the way out as you listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you back home.

by Jay Mankus

The Guarantee of a Better Agreement

An agreement refers to harmony in accordance with an opinion or feeling. This occurs when two parties reach a position where a joint settlement is finalized. Prior to any agreement being made, there are often sacrifices made on either side. Unfortunately, human nature causes many individuals to fall short of the oath, promise or vow made. Whenever your heart is broken in this life, entering into any future agreement may be difficult, struggling with the concept of trusting someone.

In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant]. 23 [Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 But He holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever, Hebrews 7:22-24.

The author of one New Testament book refers to an eternal guarantee. Instead of relying on an Old Testament priest, the Bible introduces a stronger agreement. Rather than heading off to the temple to confess your sins so that a priest can offer a sacrifice up to God on your behalf, Jesus had a better plan. Fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 3:15, Jesus became a perfect lamb to die once and for all sins past, present and future. Rising from the dead following his crucifixion assured the guarantee of a better agreement.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed, Romans 10:9-11.

Typically, agreements are finalized with a hand shake, kiss or a financial commitment. Yet, the apostle Paul explains in the passage above how to enter into this spiritual agreement. This begins with the acknowledgement of your inability to religiously follow the Ten Commandments. Upon this confession, you are verbalizing your need for a personal Lord and Savior. Finally, as an act to seal and secure this guarantee, you must place your entire confidence and trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6. This is the guarantee of a better agreement.

by Jay Mankus

When You Let Someone Down

As a child, whenever my mom yelled my full name, I immediately knew that I did something wrong. When expressions like “what were you thinking” or “I’m so ashamed of you” followed, this was a clear indicator that I let someone down. Whenever people that you care about or love are disappointed by your actions, human consciences produce spirits of conviction and guilt. Seeing the grief that you cause others to feel is not a welcomed sight.

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul addresses individuals who have not lived up to biblical standards. The ideal goal is to become an imitator of God. This is accomplished by emulating the love and life of Jesus. As individuals become willing to offer their lives as a living sacrifice, the Holy Spirit can replace sinful tendencies. Yet, as the Psalmist reminded the apostle Paul, “there is no one righteous; not even one,” Romans 3:9-12.

But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people). Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God], Ephesians 5:3-4.

Subsequently, every day human beings continue to do the opposite of their initial intentions, Romans 7:15-16. You may be able to tame these sinful cravings temporarily through discipline, but when you let your guard down you will disappoint someone. Beside confession and acts of contrition, James 5:16, reconciliation takes time. Although you can’t go through life trying to please other people, you can develop a will to devote yourself to God.

by Jay Mankus

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

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