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Integrity Doesn’t Take a Day Off

Daniel spent 70 years in public service while living in exile. Despite being 85 years of age at this point in time, Daniel served in 3 different administrations under 3 kings. Like any successful leader, Daniel developed a daily ritual, praying 3 times a day. This time of reflection enabled Daniel to remember Israel, hoping to return to his native country.

And over them three presidents—of whom Daniel was one—that these satraps might give account to them and that the king should have no loss or damage. Then this Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king thought to set him over the whole realm, Daniel 6:2-3.

According to the passage above, carefully following God’s laws in a foreign land helped Daniel distinguish himself from the other administrators. Apparently, Daniel didn’t leave his integrity in Jerusalem nor did he allow temptation to influence any thoughts of taking a vacation from his faith. Although the excellent spirit doesn’t specify if this is the Holy Spirit or not, Daniel maintained a positive attitude throughout his exile in Babylon.

Then they came near and said before the king concerning his prohibitory decree, Have you not signed an edict that any man who shall make a petition to any god or man within thirty days, except of you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed or repealed. 13 Then they said before the king, That Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not regard or pay any attention to you, O king, or to the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day, Daniel 6:12-13.

In this day of political correctness, integrity gets Christians into trouble daily. While you won’t end up in a den of lions like Daniel, standing up for God could result in a lost job, losing friends or a slandered reputation via social media. Going against the flow, especially taking a stand that opposes the modern progressive movement will result in outrage. Thus, making sure that integrity doesn’t take a day off requires self-discipline and will power. May Daniel’s example give you the boldness and courage to follow in his footsteps of integrity.

by Jay Mankus

Malicious Accusations

Some of the Psalms in the Bible are like pages out of David’s personal diary. David went from a lonely shepherd boy to a war hero, killing a giant called Goliath. This unlikely rise to greatness incited a spirit of jealousy in those whom David surpassed. Chants by fans of his victorious battles even caused King Saul to become envious of David’s accomplishments. Thus, David quickly gained several enemies who spewed malicious accusations, some warranted and others unwarranted.

Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain and even path because of my enemies [those who lie in wait for me], Psalm 27:10-11.

When these words began to eat away at David’s soul, he cried out to the Lord for help. Based upon the passage above, David’s own parents turned against him for undisclosed reasons. When you examine Samuel’s visit to Jesse in 1 Samuel 16, it appears that David’s oldest brother Eliab was the apple of his parents’ eyes. David was an after thought, not even invited to this special meeting. Yet, at some point, David’s fame and popularity created a rift or David’s parents were embarrassed by some of his ill-advised decisions.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me; they breathe out cruelty and violence. [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! – Psalm 27:12-13

One of the translations of verse 12 uses malicious accusations in place of cruelty and violence. Perhaps, David became cocky, conceited by his success as a soldier. This unhealthy pattern is played out in 2 Samuel 11 as David has an affair with a soldier’s wife. Instead of confessing his sin publicly, David gave orders for Israel’s army to withdraw, allowing Uriah to die behind enemy lines. While David didn’t like the malicious accusations made against him, his actions made the bed he was forced to lie in. While you can’t control what others say about you, a life devoted to character and integrity can persuade former enemies to change their minds about you.

by Jay Mankus

The Words You Speak

After experiencing another disappointing month, I find myself in the middle of a moral dilemma. Since the fall began, I have told family and friends of my aspirations to get back into shape, start eating healthier and lose weight. The climax of this preparation was a 5K that I ran last weekend. Well, after spewing endless words of my desire to change and improve my life, the only thing I accomplished was completing this race without walking.

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth, Ecclesiastes 7:1.

While driving home from work yesterday, I received a rhema from God in the form of a question. Are the words that you speak making you more or less credible? The Old Testament doesn’t use modern terms such as character, integrity or reputation. Rather, authors use the expression earning “a good name” instead. King Solomon compares a good name with a precious ointment. After accumulating wealth as Israel’s leader, Solomon claims that when you receive favor from your peers due to a good man, it’s more valuable than silver or gold.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold, Proverbs 22:1.

If you want to develop and keep a good name, the words you say play a big role. For example, many Americans don’t like president Trump’s blunt nature, boldly speaking and tweeting brash comments daily. Yet, anyone who examines the promises Donald Trump made during the 2016 presidential campaign, his actions have fulfilled what he said and vowed to do. Unfortunately, I find myself telling my wife and kids that I am going to do this and that without following through. Just as faith without deeds is dead, James 2:26, words without action are meaningless. May God use my own conviction to inspire you to ensure that the words you speak coincide with your actions.

by Jay Mankus

The End of Integrity

At the beginning of my adult life, doing what is right when no one is looking was a motto adopted by some of my mentors. Developing a good reputation at school, work and in your community was the way I was taught to make it in this world. By going the extra mile, arriving early and staying late was how individuals got noticed by their boss or owner. The more integrity was displayed, the greater your chances were to succeed and advance.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

During my final year of college, I became friends with the owner of a local Christian bookstore. Whenever I heard a song on the radio that I liked, I would go to Jackie to find this artist or specific song. This relationship ignited a life long quest for quality Christian music. When my life was void of integrity, inspirational lyrics gave me hope to press on despite bad habits, depression and periods of hypocrisy.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love, 2 Peter 1:5-7.

If you follow current events or politics, you are likely witnessing a different standard being applied, “do as I say, not as I do.” Instead of choosing integrity, the elect are using power to bend the rules in their own favor. Even if lies have to be spread daily, the end result trumps the means. If current leaders continue down this path, I’m afraid that the end of integrity is approaching. Now is the time to pray for conviction and revival.

by Jay Mankus

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

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

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