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No Strings Attached

The expression “no strings attached” is directly tied to 18th century fabric merchants. Whenever a defect was discovered during a project, merchants would mark flaws in woven cloth by tying small strings to the bottom of the bolts at the locations where flaws were present. Instead of deceiving someone before a purchase was completed, buyers were made aware of any imperfections by these strings attached.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

Over the past 300 years, this symbolic act of honesty has disappeared. Instead, modern advertisements, commercials and infomercials contain a long list of fine print at the conclusion of their sales pitch. This content is included to cover and protect entrepreneurs from lawsuits and liability. Thus, strings attached have been replaced by label warnings in modern times. Making a decision to determine the genuine merchants from scammers gets harder and more difficult each year.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:17.

If you have ever been burned by a purchase, exposed to carcinogens or deceived by unread fine print, hearts have become skeptical. Past experiences have caused many to wonder, “okay, what’s the catch? What am I not seeing? Where are the strings attached?” This is where the Bible provides a breakthrough, a promise that sounds too good to be true. After embracing the gospel 35 years ago, the only thing that ruins this message are pastors who communicate an inaccurate description of what it takes to live in this world, but not of it. May this blog resonate with your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Looking Up from Hell

At the end of every year, television networks reflect upon what happened, news worthy events of the year which form a best of list. When a year falls at the end of a decade, this only adds to programming as shows analyze current events of the past year and decade. If you did this for President Trump’s comments or tweets, there aren’t enough days in the year to follow the good, the bad and the ugly. One recent comment got my attention.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14 But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

During a Trump Rally in December, the president went off script. After being impeached by the House, President Trump told a story about a phone call from the widow of John Dingell, a former congressman from New York. Following this story, Trump couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke fun of a former adversary, suggesting that John Dingell might be looking up from hell instead of down from heaven. This particular comment created a fire storm in the media, making headlines on every cable channel and newspaper. Yet, few members of the media reported the full context, that one of Dingell’s last text before dying wished that President Trump would to go to hell. This doesn’t make Trump’s comment right, but it reveals the full context.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Most funerals assume that the loved one who died went to heaven. While this is a natural desire, hope and wish, the Bible paints a different picture. Jesus uses the analogy of two paths, a spacious one which many follow and a narrow trail which few find. Thus, if this is true, there are far more souls looking up from hell rather than looking down from heaven. Since you only get one chance, one life on earth, devote 2020 and beyond to following the Way so that your eternal destination will be secured before you die, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

How Happiness Happens

A recent survey found that only 1 out 3 Americans are truly happy with their current life. While this feeling of contentment is a temporary state, only a third of those who participated were found to be joyful and satisfied. This makes me wonder, how does happiness happen? How can individuals use the beginning of a new year and decade to turn their frown around?

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Best selling author Max Lucado’s newest book provides biblical insight to explain How Happiness Happens. While watching Fox and Friends over my Christmas Break, I caught Lucado’s interview to promo his latest project. Based upon this brief segment, Lucado draws upon Jesus’ teaching on giving, “it’s better to give than receive.”

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered, Proverbs 11:24-25.

King Solomon provides another perspective on giving in the passage above. It’s unclear if Solomon is speaking about his own life or merely referring to the sowing principle. Regardless of this context, those who learn to freely give without expecting something in return will be blessed by God and others. As 2020 commences tomorrow, my prayer is that you may begin to understand how happiness happens.

by Jay Mankus

The Proximity of Your Relationship

Proximity is nearness in space and time. In the context of a relationship, proximity can include accessibility, closeness, presence or vicinity. Depending upon an individual’s personal desire and feelings, proximity will draw near or withdraw and fade away. As love is conceived within human hearts, couples will marry to ensure that proximity is never an issue again.

And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises comes into being) in your hearts. [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving), 2 Peter 1:19-20.

Moses makes an intriguing correlation about proximity in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 28 suggests that your proximity to God will influence how blessed or cursed your life will be on earth. Those who closely listen to God’s voice by carefully obeying God’s commandments will be rewarded with blessings. These blessings are dependent upon one’s ability to heed God’s calling via the Holy Spirit. This fact should make all believers eager to reside in close proximity with God.

For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so—it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21.

Unfortunately, earthly distractions, human impulses and temporary pleasures cause me to weekly leave God’s presence and wander away from the Lord. The further I drift, replacing my time with God for self fulfilling practices, blessings disappear. Instead, trials in the form of curses often block and prevent me from drawing near to God again. Although no one wants to accept that they are living under a curse, disobedience to the biblical commands, decrees and principles will result in unfortunate events. May this blog inspire you to improve your proximity with God by drawing near the Lord to praise and worship the Great I Am daily.

by Jay Mankus

What it Means to Love

Due to negative life experiences, most individuals can’t comprehend the concept of love. When the majority of acts you witness on earth are contrary to love, this quality becomes foreign, strange and rare. Thus, when few are actually emulating love, millions of inhabitants on this planet go through life without ever knowing what it means to love.

For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:14-15.

In her song Vanity and Rot, Lacey Sturm addresses what it means to love from a woman’s perspective. The lyrics of the song from the album Life Screams focuses on the internal battle of forgiveness. Sturm references the desire to believe what she learned as a child. Yet, forgiving someone who commits the same wrongful act over and over again is exhausting.

Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven! – Matthew 18:21-22.

One of Jesus’ own disciples struggled with what is means to love. When the concept of forgiveness arose, Peter asked Jesus if Christians should put a limit on forgiveness, using 7 as a starting number. Jesus’ response seems more like a math equation 70 X 7. However, the point of Jesus’ words here point to infinity. Just as God forgives sinners an infinite amount of times, what it means to love is forgiving others just as Jesus forgives you.

by Jay Mankus

Compelled and Obligated

During a visit thirty miles south of Ephesus, the apostle Paul feels compelled to reach out to nearby church leaders. This desire pushed Paul to summon for elders in Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. Apparently, the Holy Spirit informed Paul that this would be the last time he would see these individuals. Like a sense of duty, Paul does not hold anything back, compelled to give one more inspiration speech.

And now, compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, Acts 20:22.

In the passage above, Paul communicates the connection between being compelled by the Holy Spirit and obligated to follow biblical convictions. Keeping in the step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, requires a drive and urging from God. As the Spirit prompts you to seize the day, making the most of an open door, an opportunity to use your God given talents, your degree of conviction will make the difference. When conviction is lacking, souls will bypass the Holy Spirit to indulge their sinful nature. Thus, many discard, ignore or reject their obligation to follow God’s calling.

So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but not to our flesh [our human nature, our worldliness, our sinful capacity], to live according to the [impulses of the] flesh [our nature without the Holy Spirit]— 13 for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever, Romans 8:12-13.

In a letter to Christians at the church in Rome, Paul uses tough love to reinforce the importance of being compelled and obligated to Christ. Two chapters later, Romans 10:9-10, Paul eludes to those who have believed in their hearts and confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. For those who make this commitment, this public confession requires a transformation from giving into your flesh to living in the power of the Holy Spirit. As believers daily and habitually put to death their sinful deeds, the Holy Spirit compels souls to act via an obligation fueled by biblical convictions.

by Jay Mankus

Under the Influence of Hypocrisy

The definition of under the influence refers to the capacity or power of a substance to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, and language of individuals. This phrase is often used in the context of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Terms such as drunk, inebriated, intoxicated and tipsy are synonyms to describe someone who is under the influence of a foreign substance. If souls make a conscious decision to participate in this type of behavior, are there other spiritual forces that affect, burden or control minds?

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.

If you are like me, you probably know someone who lives by the motto, “do what I say, not as I do.” The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not reflect is hypocrisy. These type of individuals can be annoying, ruining a school or work setting. However, what if you reach a point in your own life where you possess good intentions, but you never carry out your convictions. Unfortunately, I find myself in this very predicament, under the influence of hypocrisy. I have become that which I despise.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen, 1 John 4:20.

One of Jesus’ disciples brings up a similar issue which began to occur during the first century. As new converts dedicated their lives from their past, sinful thoughts remained. Thus, while people could say they love God, many still harbored hate within their hearts, unable to forgive some people. In the initial portion of his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, Jesus gives tangible examples of how to live out the 10 Commandments. During a debate with religious leaders, Jesus simplified these rules into 2 simple goals, love God and love your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 22:37-40. This is the only way I know to be set free from being under the influence of hypocrisy. If you still can’t break free, rely on prayer to rescue your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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