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A Litmus Test

When an individual is nominated to serve as an ambassador, cabinet member or judge, politicians host hearings for these potential candidates.  Members of Congress take turns asking a series of questions.  This exchange is considered a litmus test as leaders are hoping to learn how what each believes, thinks and how they will serve if appointed.

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever, 1 Timothy 5:8.

In a letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul shares a spiritual litmus test.  The passage above serves as a key indicator, revealing the character of a church member.  Emphasizing faith in action, Paul wants to ensue that this young shepherd choices his leadership wisely.  Anyone who does not show care, love and respect to family is not fit to represent Christ.

Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

In the first century, Bereans were the standard for biblical churches.  This congregation was taught not to fall for gossip, hearsay and rumors.  Rather, leaders were trained to test everything that they heard against the Word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.  This practice prevented false teaching from being embraced.  In the end, each day is like a litmus test.  The decisions you make speak louder than words.  These choices will determine if you accept or reject God.  May this litmus test inspire you to adhere, follow and live out the instructions within the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

 

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What’s Good for You May Not Be Right For Me

Wanting and having are two things in life that young people sometimes have to learn the hard way.  Before graduating high school, many children are pampered, given cell phones, maybe a car, food and shelter by generous parents.  Yet, college serves as a open book test for life as wanting and actually having are two different things.

But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways, Judges 2:19.

Some students gain weight quickly unable to say no to endless all you can eat buffets.  Others turn to partying to be the popular person on campus.  Temptations lurk around every corner with no guardian or parent to tell you no.  Thus, over a short period of time, people change.  As poor decisions undo your upbringing, you might reach a point where what’s good for you may not be right for me.

Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

One day the apostle Paul noticed that some of the people whom he led to Christ began to repeat the sins of their past.  To get everyone’s attention Paul provides a history lesson from the Old Testament.  Without using a hell and brimstone message, Paul urges this church to learn from past mistakes.  Whether its Adam and Eve in the Garden or the Judges who did what was right in their own eyes, each tarnished their faith.  In view of this warning, may you cling to that which is right so that what feels good does not corrupt your soul.

by Jay Mankus

That’s the Worst!

In this age of raw emotions expressed on social media, perspective is often lost.  Subsequently, blogs, instagrams and tweets tend to exaggerate events, making things far worse than reality.  Thus, if you troll social media long enough, don’t be surprise if you find a comment claiming, “that’s the worst.”

Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue, Psalm 120:2.

Whenever I drive, my patience is at its worst.  Whether I am alone or driving my family, I am frustrated by the slightest mistake made by other drivers.  These offenses strike a nerve, usually getting me bent out of shape.  Unfortunately, I prematurely judge and label each individual behind the wheel as the worst driver I have ever seen.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; Luke 6:37.

Debates over what’s the “worst” varies.  Some claim accidental deaths, others suggest cancer victims and a few argue that the millions of aborted babies since 1973 is a travesty.  As for me, I believe eternal separation from God is the worst.  In a discussion with his 12 disciples, Jesus brings up the concept of losing your soul.  The context suggests the temptation to be rich, self-supportive and wealthy causes some to forfeit their soul.  In view of this, follow Jesus’ advice within Matthew 16:24-26 by giving your life away.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Listening to the Judge

When Greece was as its mecca, bemas were used, a raised area for a public official who either made speeches from a stepped position or served as a judge for legal cases.  The city of Corinth was the host of the Corinthian Games, an early version of the Olympics.  During track competitions, a bema seat was used to insure no one broke the rules.  The apostle Paul, an avid spectator devotes a portion of one letter to listening to the judge.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

In modern track and field events, judges hold two flags, one that is white and another that is red.  In a relay, white represents a clean hand off.  Meanwhile, if a red flag is raised, a foul has been committed.  Although red means automatic disqualification in races; field events give competitors three chances before being eliminated.  Thus, whether you like the rules or not, if you want to be  successful you must listen to the rules.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:25.

One of God’s greatest qualities is that He doesn’t keep any record of wrongs.  However, just imagine for a moment if a judge was assigned to you daily, holding up a red flag for everyone to see each time you messed up.  This would be extremely embarrassing and make people uncomfortable, especially on a bad day.  Thank God this isn’t the way life has been designed.  Rather, the Lord created free will so that you have every opportunity to listen or to ignore the judge.  Until you cross the finish line, choose wisely by listening to the Judge.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Their Story?

In the 1984 film Footloose, Kevin Bacon plays Ren, a city boy from Chicago who is forced to move to Utah following his mother’s divorce and re-marriage.  Labeled a trouble maker by the church and community leaders, Ren is targeted and kicked off his high school gymnastics team.  After this ordeal, Ren begins to ask questions, trying to find out, “what’s their story?”  Coming home from a date, Ren discovers the death of a pastor’s son inspired law makers to restrict the freedom of teenagers.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven,” Luke 6:37.

From the outside looking in, its hard to get a feel for what’s going on inside the human soul.  Events, family and surroundings influence who people become for the good and bad.  Recently, I heard about a former high school student who denounced their faith.  Some where along the way, academia, revisionist historians and secular humanism have encouraged this young man to abandon his relationship with God.

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

Every day, someone or something is causing associates, co-workers and friends to behave in a certain manner.  Thus, when an individual is depressed, erupts in anger or has an outburst, these variables come to surface in the form of emotions.  Instead of taking things personally, the sooner a friend can discover the story behind one’s action, the quicker the healing process can begin.  Therefore, don’t allow finger pointers to lead you to judge others.  Rather, lean on God’s mercy to comprehend what’s their story.

by Jay Mankus

 

Compare and Pride Spreads Fast

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. – Galatians 6:3

As English classes increase in difficulty, students will eventually be introduced to compare and contrast papers.  The purpose of these essays involves emphasizing the differences of two topics, highlighting dissimilar entities, objects or traits.  This exercise enables individuals to examine, evaluate and develop necessary problem solving skills in life.

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. – Proverbs 11:12

Outside of the classroom, its not uncommon for adults and youth to compare themselves to others.  This often occurs to help build up one’s self-esteem by choosing lesser souls in their comparison.  Subsequently, instead of striving to improve one’s own life, people would rather attack and or tear down others to improve their own situation.  If these comparisons continue, pride will spread like gangrene, poisoning the hearts and minds within society.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. – Romans 2:1

Christians aren’t exempt from this temptation, with a long history of falling prey to this desire.  The apostle Paul calls out first century believers for passing judgment on the low lifes of their day.  Since no one is perfect, Romans 3:9-12, there aren’t any who are able or worthy to throw the first stone, John 8:10-11.  Therefore, before a spirit of pride runs rampant across America and throughout the world, these comparisons must cease, replaced by humble hearts which seek God first.

by Jay Mankus

 

A New Appreciation for Justice

If you have ever been taken advantage of, wronged or violated, a part of you cries out for justice.  As for me I recall one of my final days in college.  While driving to see a friend play in a tennis match, a car went through a red light, side swiped my front end and took off my license plate.  Immediately, the driver apologized and told me it was his fault as a crowd of students gathered around the intersection.  Trusting this individual, I told the witnesses to go home.  Unfortunately, when the cops arrived, this man’s demeanor changed and so did his story.

Although there wasn’t significant damage to my car, the evidence suggested to the police that the man in the other car was to blame.  However, since I sent the eyewitnesses home before talking to the police, it was my word against his.  Could a college student be more honest than an adult with a flawless driving record?  This stalemate led to a trip to traffic court to see whether or not justice would be served.  Despite spewing out the biggest pile of manure during his testimony, aggravating the 2 officers I sat next to, the judge acquitted this postal worker of any wrong doing.

The frustration I felt was similar to some of the Psalms of David, questioning God when the wicked prospered.  Calming my emotions was difficult, wondering why this event had to occur to me.  Until you have something like this happen to you, justice is just another word.  Despite this setback, passages such as Psalm 9:1-7 provide a glimmer of hope, a day when the wrong will be made right.  A few years ago, I was the eyewitness who hung around so when the driver at fault tried to lie, I was there to inform the cops of what really happened.  Therefore, the next time you endure, feel or see injustice, ask the Lord to fill you with a new appreciation for justice.

by Jay Mankus

 

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