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Tag Archives: integrity

The Nazarite Vow of Abstention

According to current law, the legal minimum drinking age is 21 years old in the United States. Prior to 1986, some states allowed college students to drink legally upon reaching their 18th birthday. However, there are 4 exemptions enabling some to bend the rules. Twenty nine states allow children with a parent’s permission to drink alcohol on private property. Six states don’t require a parent’s consent as long as you are on private property. Ten states serve minors at restaurants with a parent’s consent and certain churches use real alcohol as part of their communion services.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

If you want to know the truth, if you live in the United States and really want to drink alcohol prior to your 21st birthday, determined teenagers will find a way. However, before anyone reads this and suggests, “if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?” Well, before you allow this thought to persuade your mind, I want to share a dark period in my own life. During a friend’s wedding in college, I decided to drink. Little did I know that hours later I would be hugging a toilet suffering from alcohol poisoning. If it wasn’t for a member of the wedding party, I probably would have died. Since this event I decided to take the Nazirite vow of abstention.

Paul stayed for a while longer, and then told the brothers and sisters goodbye and sailed for Syria; and he was accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchrea [the southeastern port of Corinth] he had his hair cut, because he was keeping a [Nazirite] vow [of abstention], Acts 18:18.

After doing a little research, Numbers 6:1-21, individuals can make an oath for a certain period of time or can choose to make a vow for life to abstain from alcohol. Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul made the Nazirite vow of abstention during his second missionary journey. To avoid confusing or causing others to stumble, Paul lived above reproach. While I served as a youth pastor, I too took a similar vow to avoid sending a mixed message. Abstaining from alcohol isn’t for everyone, but when you are fixated on reaching a certain audience, taking the Nazirite vow for a set period of time will enhance your message.

by Jay Mankus

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The Way of the World

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star in the 2012 comedy the Candidate.  From a comedy perspective, this is one of my least favorite Ferrell film.  The plot involves two North Carolinians vying for a seat in Congress.  Each opponent stoops to new lows, doing whatever it takes to win.  Backed by millionaires who seek to turn this district into the epi center for a Chinese based factory, Zach Galifianakis‘ character takes a substantial lead in the polls.  As election day approaches, the underdog who is now the favorite refuses to sell his district to the Chinese.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever, 1 John 2:15-17.

This decision results in losing the backing of his donors.  Despite being a comedy movie, this scene could have been a real life example of headlines on a cable news networks.  Before leaving the home of these donors, Zach Galifianakis‘ eyes are opened to the way of the world.  Money controls politics; if you follow the money, you will see the motives behind financial contributions.  In the real world, billionaires like George Soros annually creates, donates and supports the backings of groups that will further his political agenda.  From an integrity perspective, there aren’t many politicians left who can’t be bought.  Unfortunately, those holding out for the truth are often attacked, criticized or demonized.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God, James 4:4.

The earthly brother of Jesus, one of Mary’s other sons, makes a strong statement about the way of the world.  Apparently, you can’t be a friend of God and the world at the same time.  James compares playing both sides of the fence to adultery.  A decision to befriend the world is considered a hostile act.  The apostle Paul clarifies this concept in Romans 8:5-8.  When minds become set on the sinful nature, it’s impossible to please God.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself on the verge tasting temporary pleasures, Turkish delight, flee before you are bewitched by the world.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Signs of the Fullness of God

Whenever anyone seeks to advance in a career, hobby or trade, you must separate yourself from other potential candidates.  When milk sits in a refrigerated container and cream is added, it separates itself and floats on top of the milk.  This is what individuals must do when applying for a job, entering a contest or pursuing a professional career, rise to the top.  When signs of greatness are present, people begin to receive the recognition that they deserve.

Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” Acts 6:3-4.

Sometime after 30 AD, church growth exploded as more and more souls entered into personal relationships with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  The only downside to this movement was that the widows of Greek speaking Jews began to be neglected.  These Hellenistic Jews complained to the twelve disciples hoping that the church could begin to provide for their needs.  A meeting was scheduled to address this concern.  The end result was a selection process to choose seven godly men to oversee the distribution of food to the poor and needy.

The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch. They brought these men before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them [to dedicate and commission them for this service], Acts 6:5-6.

A first century doctor observed three special qualities from one man who separated himself from everyone else.  According to the passages above, Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom.  If you take these observations in the context of Galatians 5:22, the fruits of the Holy Spirit were naturally flowing out of Stephen.  These traits of integrity are a clear sign of the fullness of God.  Anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, Matthew 6:33, will begin to exude the fullness of God.

by Jay Mankus

Half Ass, Half Hearted or All In?

I started working more than 30 years ago. From the very beginning, there was a sense of competition, striving to do your very best each and every day, hoping to receive recognition. Regardless of the backgrounds of my former co-workers, each possessed a conscientious spirit, a desire for promotion and integrity. To move up in a company, you had to step up your game, arriving early, staying late and putting your whole heart into work.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied., Proverbs 13:4.

More than 3 decades later, I have seen work ethic slowly decline. While teaching high school for 10 years, I began to notice apathy settle in. This lack of zeal for greatness began to influence discipline, focus and study habits. Apparently, this mindset has carried over into the workplace. If you had to separate the masses into three groups, most would fit into one of three categories: half-ass, half-hearted or all in.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth,” Revelation 3:15-16.

The Bible refers to individuals who are neither hot or cold as lukewarm. One of Jesus’ disciples has a vision of heaven, writing down what he heard and saw. Based upon the passage above, God despises people who are on again and off again. The Lord desires commitment, not dangling on both sides of a fence. Sure, the easy thing to do is take the easy route, pick and choose the quickest path which makes you look better than others. Yet, God only has one acceptable response, all in, Matthew 16:24-25.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Expect Others to Follow If You’re Not Leading the Way

During a trade school I attended after college, I was introduced to several leadership principles. From time to time, I will go back to examine and review notes from one of two three ring binders. At the time of this course, the curriculum and material was cutting edge, filled with articles, case studies and insight from successful leaders throughout the world. One of the sayings I still recall is “the enthusiasm of a leader will never exceed that of its group.”

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death, 1 John 3:14.

Essentially, this refers to the concept that you can’t expect others to follow if you’re not leading the way. As a parent, the Bible provides several instructions on how to become the spiritual leader of your house. The apostle Paul urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Meanwhile, King Solomon uses Proverbs to help fathers instill in their children godly principles to cling to throughout life. However, when I am not demonstrating love, emulating biblical standards and walking in integrity, I am sending a mixed message.

Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Peter 1:23.

At this point in my life, I have failed miserably at being a godly leader. The hardest part of my current predicament is that if I don’t get my own life/house in order, I’m just another useless hypocrite. When you abide in death, love is impossible to accomplish. Thus, I find myself in need of a spiritual boost, an awakening only available through what Peter calls the imperishable seed. Only when I began to allow God’s Word, the Bible to abide and dwell within me, can I lead my family in the manner that God desires.

by Jay Mankus

Seeing God

My first exposure to the true meaning in the Bible came through two college courses.  Biblical and Classical Literature began by reading all 66 books of the Bible and ended with several classics like Beowulf.  My second class, the Bible as Literature wasn’t as interesting.  While examining the symbolism of the Bible with other ancient stories was educational, I don’t think my college professor went to seminary.  These experiences taught me not to read too much into literature.  Rather, take each piece in its original historical context.  Perhaps, this may explain why Joshua urged readers of the Bible to meditate on God’s laws day and night so that important details are not missed or neglected.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.

In the first century, a spiritual leader entered the scene as a vivid story teller, using analogies called parables to captivate an audience.  In the passage above, Jesus lists a series of beatitudes.  According to Jesus, any individual who pursues these spiritual ambitions will be blessed by God.  If anyone wants to develop a pure heart, three traits are necessary: godly character, integrity and moral courage.  These values are a mindset, steps toward becoming spiritually mature.  For those who stay the course, seeing God work in your life won’t be a concept that you read in a book.  Rather, your eyes will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit altering, changing and transforming your life.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

A disciple of Jesus makes an interesting connection in the passage above.  As children, babies cling to their parents, relying on their mother’s milk for food and father’s leadership for direction.  Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, eager to bless, hold and interact with them.  Yet, when children grow up, innocence is lost as negative adults begin to verbally squash a teenager’s dreams.  John tells first century adults to live in anticipation of God’s promises in the Bible.  Live by faith like children expecting to walk hand and hand with God in heaven.  The key to making this a reality is developing a pure heart.  As hearts become aligned with God’s will, you will see God move in America.

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

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