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Positions of Authority

Near the end of Luke’s account of the first century church, the apostle Paul finds himself in the middle of a long drawn out trial.  After overseeing this case for two years, Governor Felix was succeeded in office by Porcius Festus.  Prior to leaving his position, Felix caved to public pressure, leaving Paul as a prisoner in chains to curry favor with powerful Jewish leaders.  Held captive by a political justice system, Paul recognized that his fate was in the hands of positions of authority.

So, said he, let those who are in a position of authority and are influential among you go down with me, and if there is anything amiss or criminal about the man, let them so charge him, Acts 25:5.

While the United States Judicial System is not perfect, it’s based upon the concept that individuals are innocent until proven guilty.  This idea is foreign to many countries where some are held against their will in encampments, jails or re-programing sites for weeks, months or years.  Unfortunately, positions of authority are often influenced by political figures who seek absolute power, control and expanding their jurisdiction.  Despite their innocence, some people are still waiting in jail for an influential leader to come to their rescue.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God, Romans 13:1.

In the passage above, perhaps the apostle Paul is referring to his own situation, waiting for justice.  Whatever the inspiration for this statement, Paul recognizes that God places leaders into the positions that they now hold.  Although some may not deserve it, God has a purpose or reason for the outcomes that have already taken place.  Unfortunately, the answers many hope, pray for and seek often don’t arrive until the afterlife.  Thus, for now the only reasonable action obedient citizens can take is to be subject to governing authorities, praying for wisdom to guide your state or country.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Go There or Else

There is a new movement emerging from members of the media, seeking to destroy naysayers, opponents and those possessing opposing worldviews.  This rush to judgment ignores the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  Instead of waiting until the facts to come out during a trial, the severity of recent accusations are more than enough to presume guilt.  Where did this mentality come from and what does the Bible say to address this issue?

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, Psalm 103:10.

According to David, God does not treat human beings as they deserve.  According to Psalm 103:12, God’s love is infinite, “as far as the east is from the west.”  If God is willing to show forgiveness, grace and mercy to undeserving sinners, why is the mainstream media so quick to condemn.  Have the elite been offended by conservatives in the past?  Is this recent response some sort of pay back for previous hypocritical actions?  Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to use common sense by replying, “don’t go there.”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times, Matthew 18:21-22.

There was an unspoken belief that forgiveness should be limited in the first century.  Sensing a good opportunity to address this topic, Jesus shares the parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  Attempting to shatter any stereotypes on forgiveness, Jesus illustrates God’s mercy on those who are unable to pay back earthly debts accrued over time.  God the Father bestows grace on those who beg for mercy.  Yet, lip service is disregarded unless individuals reciprocate mercy by doing to others as you want others to do unto you.  In other words, don’t go there or else.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The or else part of this equation was addressed by Jesus earlier in the book of Matthew.  At the conclusion of the portion of Scripture known as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, Jesus emphasizes the conditional aspect of forgiveness.  Yes, I did say conditional, based upon how you treat other people.  In next chapter, Matthew 7 builds upon this concept proclaiming, ” the measure to which you judge others will be used against you.”  Therefore, despite whatever differences you may have against others, make sure your remember to live out the Golden Rule.  Don’t seek revenge or the grace of God will turn it’s back on you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Reactions Without Responsibility

Any parent who loses a child to a drunk driver, victim of a crime or family member of a relative fatally shot wants to see justice prevail.  In the heat of the moment, especially after receiving this bad news, emotions can cause harsh reactions.  Yet, in America people are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty.  Sure, it would be nice if the court systems could speed up this process.  However, until individuals have their day in court, its irresponsible to incite violence, rush to judgment or use social media to encourage others to seek revenge.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:4

In the hours following the unfortunate shooting deaths of African Americans by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, reactions in the media were fast and furious.  Apparently, some people took black leaders, politicians and twitter posts literally.  Subsequently, now there are six dead police officers in 2 states, several more wounded and public servants have been betrayed by the citizens they are paid to protect.  The response by celebrities to the initial two deaths is a clear indication that reactions have consequences.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:5.

America has come to a cross roads, on the verge of a racial divide.  The leadership and message provided by Dr. Martin Luther King has either been forgotten or is absent from this current generation.  In view of this dire situation, its time for personal responsibility, realizing that everyone is imperfect.  During his sermon on the Mount Jesus encouraged followers to get their own lives in order before criticizing or judging other people.  The same truth applies to Americans today.  Therefore, the next time you have an urge to lash out, over react or post complaints on social media, remember these words of Jesus.  If put into practice, God’s Word can begin to transform lives one soul at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Mindset of a Killer

In light of yesterday’s indictment of Aaron Hernandez for a 2012 double murder in South Boston, family, friends and sports fans are left with troubling questions.  Yes, I know in America, you’re considered innocent until proven guilty, but how can a former rising star of the New England Patriots fall so far and fast?  If guilt is by association, what led Aaron to entertain such bad company?  What triggers someone to snap, inspiring the act to take another person’s life?  The answer lies in the mindset of a killer.

According to Psalm 64, there is an enemy who uses thoughts of conspiracy and evil to steer individuals off course.  The tongue serves like an invisible sword full of poison, aimed at bystanders that rub you the wrong way.  Anger, rage and hatred engage violence, tempting frustrated souls to leave prudence and temperance in their rear view mirrors.  Subsequently, a gang or mob mentality develops, persuading rushed vengeful acts.  At this point, the sinful nature grabs control of minds, Galatians 5:16-21, leading the lost down the highway to hell, Matthew 7:13-14.

In 1972, the United Negro College Fund created the slogan, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Whether you’re in high school contemplating college, a laid off employee forced to start a new career or a troubled soul bombarded by temptation, the mind plays a vital role in life’s final outcome.  If unwholesome thoughts begin to creep into your brain, take the apostle Paul’s advice in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  The sooner you take your thoughts captive, the less likely you’ll be heading toward a mindset of a killer.

by Jay Mankus

 

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