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Misrepresenting God

When you misrepresent someone or something, this usually involves giving a false or misleading account. Whether by action, deeds or words, misrepresentation distorts, perverts and puts a new spin on something. From a spiritual perspective, Christians and or churches often exhibit subtle ways of misrepresenting God. This is displayed through Syncretism which is the  fusion of two or more belief systems, and can be applied to philosophy, politics, and religion. In the Old Testament, Jews began to misrepresent God by adopting and observing pagan gods and practices.

Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life, John 8:12.

There are other examples in Scripture that are much more obvious. The context of the passage above involves a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to Jewish law, this woman must be sentenced to death. The local scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus to either test him or simply get his opinion on this matter. Instead of taking the bait, Jesus gets down on one knee, writing with his finger in loose soil. Legend has it that Jesus began to write down transgressions committed by people in the crowd who were about to stone this woman. Bible scholars suggest that Jesus was writing down specific sins, ways that these religious leaders were also misrepresenting God.

We are even discovered to be misrepresenting God, for we testified of Him that He raised Christ, Whom He did not raise in case it is true that the dead are not raised, 1 Corinthians 15:15.

According to the apostle Paul, anyone who denies the resurrection of Jesus also misrepresents God. Prior to this passage, Paul lists several accounts of individuals who met with Jesus after being crucified on a cross. Perhaps, Paul was merely reminding first century believers of the facts. Nearly 2000 years later, atheists and agnostics have cast doubt on Jesus’ resurrection, relying on science rather than faith. However, an entire chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15, is devoted to highlighting the power and significance of Jesus’ resurrection. While it takes time to change, may this blog inspire you to stop misrepresenting God.

by Jay Mankus

Run with Certainty

After spending 4 years running cross country in high school, my college career lasted a week. The coach who recruited me and spoke at my high school banquet didn’t know my name on the first day of practice. Everything that I thought to be true about my potential in college was a lie. I’ve never been a quitter, but I lost my sense of purpose after 5 days. I didn’t have the energy to even make it on the junior varsity team. I guess you can say I lost that loving feeling for running if there is such a thing.

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary, 1 Corinthians 9:26.

Intramural sports kept me in shape after I gained the freshman 25. I suppose breaking the dorm record by eating 9 cheese steaks in 30 minutes wasn’t such a good idea. Anyway, as my first set of mid-term exams arrived, I used running as a study break to clear my mind. Some nights I took a slow jog around campus. When finals stared me in the face, running became like a break from life. Listening to the sound track to Rocky IV provided me to the adrenaline to fly around campus before returning to my books.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

Thirty years and another fifty pounds later, I have limited my running to the spiritual kind. While eluding to the Corinthian Games, a popular track and field event during the first century, Paul talks about the mindset runners possess. Instead of listening to your body, long distance runners enter a trance like state, focused on what’s ahead while maintaining a steady stride. When you run with certainty, there’s no doubt you’ll cross the finish line. Christian’s don’t leave their old life behind to follow Jesus just hoping to get into heaven. Rather, we run with certainty, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Overusing the Enjoyments of this Life

The apostle Paul uses the Greek word koʹsmos in a letter to the church at Corinth. When translated into English, this refers to the figure and form of the world. Meanwhile, the book of Galatians goes into further details in what is described as desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21. These natural tendencies begin with sexual immorality and end in full blown lust. Perhaps, this is what Paul means by overusing the enjoyments of this life.

And those who deal with this world [overusing the enjoyments of this life] as though they were not absorbed by it and as if they had no dealings with it. For the outward form of this world (the present world order) is passing away, 1 Corinthians 7:31.

At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul mentions a letter sent to him by members of the church inquiring about marriage, relationships and remaining single. This entire chapter is devoted to educating Christians to a biblical world view on these topics as well as including Paul’s own opinion. As a man who felt called to remain single, Paul wasn’t distracted by the enjoyments of life which other men were tempted by and often indulged in.

My desire is to have you free from all anxiety and distressing care. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord; 1 Corinthians 7:32.

In the passage above, Paul reveals the secret to his spiritual success, free from the anxiety and distress of relationships. Instead, Paul’s mind is able to clearly focus on the things of the Lord. Like anything in life, the less distracted you are, the easier it is to concentrate on fulfilling God’s will for your life. Colossians 3:1-4 provides advice for overusing temporary pleasures. When hearts are set on eternity, pleasing the Lord is made possible by purging and taking captive distracting thoughts from your mind, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Conjugal Rights

From time to time, I will come across foreign concepts when I study the Bible. While studying a chapter written by the apostle Paul, one translation uses the term conjugal rights. Conjugal refers to marriage and the relationship of a married couple. The rights in this context applies to sexual relations, regarded as exercisable in law by each partner in the covenant of marriage. According to the beginning of chapter 7, the Corinthian Church wrote Paul a letter wanting to know what Christian’s should believe about relationships, remaining single and marriage.

But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights (goodwill, kindness, and what is due her as his wife), and likewise the wife to her husband, 1 Corinthians 7:2-3.

While this chapter in the Bible isn’t R rated like the Song of Solomon, Paul does go into graphic details. Conjugal rights includes goodness, kindness and loving spouses as Christ loved the church. This final call to love serves two purposes. The first is designed to live out your faith when you are with your soul mate. The second is a safe guard against controlling your spouse by using sex as a form of manipulation. Paul reminds couples that partners don’t have exclusive authority over their mate’s body. Rather, part of making vows to become one includes marital rights.

For the wife does not have [exclusive] authority and control over her own body, but the husband [has his rights]; likewise also the husband does not have [exclusive] authority and control over his body, but the wife [has her rights]. Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire, 1 Corinthians 7:4-5.

While there may be exceptions to abstaining from sex for a mutually agreed upon time, Paul is clear about the dangers. When a communication gap occurs, often due to anger, Ephesians 4:26-27, the Devil has a way of ruining relationships. When you add this factor to a growing number of Christians addicted to pornography, temptation is awaiting and lurking around every corner of the internet, social media and television. In view of this dark reality, offering your spouse conjugal and marital rights is essential to save the institution of marriage in America.

by Jay Mankus

Driving Out Wickedness

The term wicked suggests that one of two spiritual conditions is present. Either an individual has become poisoned by evil. Or the moral state within a human heart has become corrupted, spreading like gangrene within their soul. In both cases, the conscience designed to convict wrong actions, behavior and choices has stopped working properly. Those teetering on the brink of temptation are vulnerable, at risk of opening the Devil’s Door. Unless these sinful urges are resisted, common sense will disappear, replaced by enticement and a lust for more.

What [business] of mine is it and what right have I to judge outsiders? Is it not those inside [the church] upon whom you are to pass disciplinary judgment [passing censuring sentence on them as the facts require]? – 1 Corinthians 5:12

When these conditions are present, it won’t be long before the righteous and unrighteous will meet at the intersection of sin. In the context of the passage above, a believer and non-believer partake in a shocking sex scandal. Instead of accusing an unbelieving mother, the apostle Paul places the blame on a wayward Christian who disregarded a vow to put to death his former way of life. This unfortunate event gives Paul an opportunity to discuss the biblical view of judging others. As a former high school Bible teacher, judging is one of the most misunderstood concepts today.

God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside. Drive out that wicked one from among you [expel him from your church], 1 Corinthians 5:13.

Since atheists, the worldly and un-churched haven’t accepted or believe in the Bible, they follow different standards. Subsequently, Paul states that only God is allowed to judge those outside of church. As for Christians who have been baptized, made statements of faith and verbally profess a desire to follow Jesus, the church is the forum for judging believers. The purpose for church discipline isn’t to shun the wicked. Rather, Jesus introduces a 3 step process for the wayward, Matthew 18:15-18. Known as the Matthew 18 principle, this is God’s plan for driving out wickedness.

by Jay Mankus

Show Up, Stand Up and Speak Out

Showing up on time for appointments, meetings and work reflects where your priorities lie. Whenever you find yourself becoming careless, slipping a little or stuck in unhealthy patterns, others begin to lose hope in you. Thus, showing up is only half the battle, the initial stages of earning the trust of others. When showing up becomes a habit, a building block is laid, a foundation for future things to come.

All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any person, be it man or woman, who shall go into the inner court to the king without being called shall be put to death; there is but one law for him, except [him] to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live. But I have not been called to come to the king for these thirty days, Esther 4:11 .

In the first Psalm, the Psalmist suggests blessings arise from avoiding the temptation to touch, taste or indulge in forbidden behavior. When you fail to stand up for what is right, you run the risk of falling prey to subtle forms of compromise, Psalm 1:1. Stepping, standing and sitting is symbolic of daily actions. Depending upon your spiritual state of mind, you may be vulnerable to conform to peer pressure.

On the third day [of the fast] Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the royal or inner court of the king’s palace opposite his [throne room]. The king was sitting on his throne, facing the main entrance of the palace. And when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight, and he held out to [her] the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the tip of the scepter, Esther 5:1-2.

When you wake up to a new day, only God knows if you are going to turn away from your faith. Although you may experience periods of confidence like Peter, it doesn’t take much to go from walking on water to drowning in doubt, Matthew 14:27-31. Thus, if you find yourself being lured into a false sense of security, stay humble and meek. Putting everything together takes time, prayer and resolve to show, up, stand up and speak up,

Then Queen Esther said, If I have found favor in your sight, O king and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, slain, and wiped out of existence! But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I would have held my tongue, for our affliction is not to be compared with the damage this will do to the king, Esther 7:3-4.

The passages in today’s blog reveal the progress Esther made as queen. Despite being ignored by the king for over a month, Esther kept showing up day after day recognizing the time she was living in. Willing to risk death, Esther’s courage grew daily, standing up for the nation of Israel. When the time arrived to finally speak, Esther’s boldness was rewarded. May the testimony of Esther inspire all of us to show up, stand up and speak up for the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

God’s Help or Satan’s Hurt

During a trip to Gibeon, King Solomon experienced a special dream one night. According to 1 Kings 3, the Lord appeared to Solomon in this dream, asking him to make a decision between wealth or wisdom. After thoroughly examining his options, Solomon requested a discerning heart and understanding mind. This decision pleased the Lord resulting in a life of blessings, riches and wealth like no other ruler in the Bible.

Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of David my father, and I am but a lad [in wisdom and experience]; I know not how to go out (begin) or come in (finish). Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who cannot be counted for multitude. So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people? – 1 King 3:7-9

In the first century, the apostle Paul writes a letter to a teenage pastor named Timothy. Apparently, Timothy was uncertain and unsure of what position to take on wealth. The passage above provides biblical insight and perspective. While blessings are a sign of God’s favor, Satan uses riches as a vessel for temptation. Thus, when money becomes your god, God’s initial help can quickly turn into Satan’s hurts.

But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. 10 For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs, 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

You don’t have to look any further than the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 to understand this concept. A younger son became consumed by his share of an inheritance. Before receiving this money, his mind became filled with earthly pleasures. Like an addict who can’t control himself, the prodigal son quickly became Exhibit A for Satan’s hurt. Broke, desperate and homeless, the only way to overcome Satan’s hurt is coming to your senses. May this story of redemption inspire you to embrace God’s help so Satan’s hurt becomes a thing of the past.

by Jay Mankus

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

Learning to Operate in the Supernatural

The apostle Paul makes an interesting observation while writing a letter to the Church at Rome. Human beings have grown accustom to operating in the natural by following bodily organs. If you know your body, some can sense an illness about to conceive, an abnormal pain and when you’ve eaten too much. Yet, Paul takes this concept deeper, referring to sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh. These internal obstacles make operating in the supernatural extremely difficult.

When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death, Romans 7:5.

A complete picture of this internal struggle is provided in the passage below. The theological term for this wrestling match between good and evil is dualism. Dualism believes in two equal but conflicting powers that reveal the distinction between God and the world, and between matter and mind. C.S. Lewis once said, “Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.” The rebel inside or Lucifer himself?

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. 18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law, Galatians 5:16-18.

This is the barrier that currently exists, a byproduct of original sin, due to Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden. The only way to operate in the supernatural is by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, Paul writes about having an obligation to the Spirit to those who believe, Romans 8:10-11. During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the analogy of good deeds to elevate expectations for followers of Christ, Matthew 5:43-47. Therefore, instead of just doing enough to get by, its time for believers to begin operating in the supernatural daily, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

Drop It!

Everyone has at least one member of their family who feels like they always have to get in the last word. Instead of letting a comment go without a response, the temptation to reply is indulged. This character flaw often leads to arguments, heated debates and never ending disputes. Thus, before tempers flare, someone must intervene with a simple message, “drop it!”

So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices], Colossians 3:5-7.

The apostle Paul refers to this expression in the passage above. Instead of focusing on the negative, Paul begins chapter 3 with the ideal, “setting your hearts and minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-4. After setting the bar for Christians to reach for, Paul does a reality check by referencing acts of the sinful nature. These desires are natural until individuals make a decision to follow Jesus. This is when believers must drop their former practices.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. 13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony], Colossians 3:12-14.

Paul recognizes that certain things will be hard to drop, especially forgiving those who have severely hurt you in the past. Thus, Paul urges individuals to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven you. Perhaps, Paul is referencing the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:14-15, where Jesus introduces the forgiveness clause. Therefore, if you want to receive God’s forgiveness, drop any bitterness in your heart now to ensure your own forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

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