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The HEART of the Matter

Recently, the media has been quick to jump to conclusions, especially when current events align with liberal talking points.  The recent feeding frenzy began following a church shooting during a Bible Study at a Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  Sadly, nine dead African Americans are being used as a political pawn to accomplish a specific agenda, ban the Confederate Flag.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Luke 6:45.

Since June 17, the night of these murders, anyone who displays, owns or doesn’t condemn this flag has been labeled an accessory to this hate crime.  Afraid of negative press, P.G.A. star Bubba Watson decided to paint over the flag on his General Lee, Nascar offered fans attending the July 4th weekend race at Daytona American flags in exchange for Confederate ones and several in the south have removed this symbol from state buildings and court houses.  While this act of terror on Christians is an awful tragedy, the human heart is the main culprit not a flag.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

During debates with religious leaders and discussions with his own twelve disciples, Jesus proclaimed that what comes out of a man or woman makes them unclean.  Hearts set on evil are like ticking time bombs ready to explode.  Whether killers display a Confederate flag or swastika, acts are conceived by angry hearts according to Jesus, Matthew 5:21-22.  There will always be opinions which have some valid points.  However, owning the Confederate flag doesn’t make you anti-Christian or anti-black.  Rather, those who are raised and taught to embrace bigotry are planting seeds of evil for future actions.  May those filled with hatred receive a spiritual heart transplant to insure future attacks will cease.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Clean or Unclean: The Debate Continues

Attracted to junk food growing up, I regularly heard the expression, “you are what you eat.”  Whether it was an adult or a concerned friend, the taste of sweets were too delightful to pass up.  Thus, I tended to run on sugar highs before crashing, void of any protein inside my stomach.  By modern standards I would be labeled as unclean, indulging in non-nutritional foods.

Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them, Mark 7:15.

The book of Leviticus is dedicated to defining for readers the difference between wholesome and unwholesome food.  As vegetarian diets continue to attract people seeking to change their eating habits, those that don’t adhere may experience cultural peer pressure to stop eating meat.  If this trend continues, individuals will follow in the footsteps of the Pharisees, making the same mistake they made by prejudging others.  What you eat does not define who you are.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of, Luke 6:45.

According to Jesus, the heart is the organ which dictates your spiritual classification.   Solomon goes one step farther, referring to the heart as a well spring to life, Proverbs 4:23.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul adds the mind into this principle, urging Christians to set your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.  Finally, Jesus ties this discussion together by revealing the relationship between the eyes and heart, Matthew 6:21-23.  Therefore, don’t judge others based upon their appetite.  Rather, clean and unclean is determined based upon the treasures of your heart.  May you choose life over pleasure as the debate over clean and unclean continues today.

by Jay Mankus

 

Tongues of Ruin

With the rash of individuals sharing their controversial opinions in the media, tongues are ruining the lives of once prominent Americans.  Donald Sterling isn’t the first or last to do so as Jimmy the Greek’s of today have been shown the door, with bosses caving into peer pressure from sponsors and civil rights groups to fire anyone who is politically incorrect.  Unfortunately, these souls didn’t listen to mothers who proclaimed, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it!”

I guess you can say the old adage applies, “you’re your own worst enemy.”  By opening your mouth at the wrong place or the wrong time, you might be the next Riley Cooper, caught on video with a racial slur.  Whether its alcohol, anger or impatience, the mouth is full of poison waiting for the right trigger to explode, James 3:5.  Without zipping your lip or shutting your trap, ruin will fall on those who don’t practice prudence and temperance.

According to King David, God will allow tongues to destroy anyone who plots injustice in their hearts and minds, Psalm 64:6.  Despite the cunning schemes of mankind, the Lord will let human beings destroy themselves with their words, Psalm 64:7-8.  God will have the last laugh when tongues of ruin will bring about justice.  The next time you have an urge to gossip, slander or trash someone’s reputation, remember David’s warning by practicing self-control.  If you don’t, you might make the grapevine for the wrong reason.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Watch Your Ways

When I was a freshman in high school, I was privileged to be asked to attend my first party by a sophomore.  While I had a crush on this girl at the time, something in my heart told me not to go.  Thus, as half of this party was being arrested for under aged drinking, I was subbing for my parent’s Friday Night bowling league.  On this night, I could do no wrong like a blessing from above, bowling my best single game, 199 and three games series, 570.  I knew I was in the right place as my first poor shot of the evening hit 3 pins initially, before somehow turning into a strike.

Psalm 39:1 illustrates a similar principle with 3 directions for life.  First, King David shares the importance of watching your ways.  This includes how you spend your time, the friends you choose, places you go and entertainment decisions you make.  If I rejected my initial gut feeling, my entire high school experience and career path might have changed.  Fortunately, my parents had raised me up in the church, which has provided guidance and wisdom along the way.

Second, David warns others to keep their tongue from sin.  The most common temptation in schools and the workplace is gossip and or slander.  However, if you steer clear from this, anger can also encourage evil words to roll off your lips.  In addition, envy, jealousy and pride may inspire venomous words, attacking others, often in the form of a word curse.  Like the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5, the best way to keep your tongue from sin is by taking your thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ.

Finally, the king ends Psalm 39:1 by emphasizing the need to put a muzzle over your mouth.  Slightly different from the tongue, I believe David is referring to your conversation.  Jesus talks about adding flavor to others by what you say, Matthew 5:13.  Paul adds to Jesus’ words by stressing the need for grace in Colossians 4:6.  Even Peter, who struggled with this area throughout his life adds a reminder for gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15-16.  Therefore, whether you want to change your way, tongue or mouth, if you put God’s word into practice, Matthew 7:24, eternal blessings will follow.

by Jay Mankus

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