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Tag Archives: repentance

Can Tough Love Go Too Far?

Bill Milliken wrote a book entitled Tough Love in 1968. Milliken refers to tough love as an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. While modern scholars point to Milliken as the originator of this term, the apostle Paul appears to have used a similar strategy in the first century. When I first read the passage below, my initial thought was that Paul went a little too far by handing a sinner over to Satan. Paul’s explanation for this punishment was to bring about repentance.

So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5.

According to 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth isn’t what we now know as 1 Corinthians. The purpose of this initial letter was to address a spiritual emergency. Based upon the beginning of chapter 5, a sex scandal reared it’s ugly head in the form of incest. Some Bible scholars have suggested that the tone of Paul’s initial letter to Corinth was so harsh and over the top with tough love that it was excluded from consideration from the Bible during the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.

Not [meaning of course that you must] altogether shun the immoral people of this world, or the greedy graspers and cheats and thieves or idolaters, since otherwise you would need to get out of the world and human society altogether! 11 But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person. 1 Corinthians 5:10-11.

After Paul’s anger cools off, parameters are set to avoid similar incidents from occurring within the church. Paul’s advice is centered around taking careful considerations about who you associate with. To avoid becoming like the Amish, Paul provides a series of guidelines for the friends that you make and keep. The goal isn’t to shun the world. Rather, Paul references Psalm 1:1 to highlight who you walk with, stand with and join. Maybe tough love can go too far, but when used to protect vulnerable souls from walking away from God, it is an effective tool to bring about repentance.

by Jay Mankus

Greatest Hits

The term “greatest hits” often refers to a best of album from an artist, band or group.  This collection of songs highlights a musicians career, selecting the best, most popular and top singles.  The Eagles’ were one of the first groups to release a greatest hits album in 1976.  Shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway” have a comedy skit where entertainers such as Wayne Brady, Charles Esten and Brad Sherwood make up fictional best of and greatest hit songs.

There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name, John 20:30-31.

The Bible contains God’s version of greatest hits.  The four gospels contain 37 miracles performed by Jesus.  These miracles can be described as Jesus’ best of magical moments.  According to John, if all of Jesus’ miracles were written down, these volumes would not fit into the Library of Congress.  Based upon the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus performed miracles every day for three years.  Thus, the 37 selected demonstrate that Jesus is the master of all trades, defying death and science.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written, John 21:25.

Based upon individuals who have had a near death experience, each person will witness a video, a movie reel of your entire life.  This screen plays your greatest hits as well as your most embarrassing moments.  After this review of your life has finished playing, judgement awaits.  According to the apostle Paul, there is no one righteous, not even one, Romans 3:10.  Due to this painful reality, there is only one proper response, Romans 7:24-25, thanks be to God for Christ our deliverer.  While the world seems to focus their attention on greatest hits, God calls lost souls to repentance.  May the Lord change our hearts before Judgement Day arrives.

by Jay Mankus

Pursuing God While Breaking Bad

The television series Breaking Bad ran from 2008 to 2013 on the AMC Network.  This popular drama starred Bryan Cranston, a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.   The plot thickens when White turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.  Sometimes when your motives are pure, souls can become lured away, distracted by temptation, resulting in the spiritual version of breaking bad.

As it is written and forever remains written,There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], not even one, Romans 3:10.

The apostle Paul expands upon this concept in a letter to the church at Rome.  The context of the passage above refers to legalistic religious leaders like the Pharisees who attempted to be holy without God’s help.  Paul corrects anyone who thinks otherwise by stating that no one meets God’s standard of perfection.  Thus, when individuals seek to pursue God without leaning on the power of the Holy Spirit, becoming bad can happen to anyone.

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose, Romans 8:28.

The passage above contains a promise.  However, as people go through life, there are accidents, bad breaks and unfair circumstances that don’t make any sense when they occur.  These unforeseen events make embracing this promise from God difficult.  The human mind struggles to grasp the purpose of heart breaking moments, painful experiences and gut wrenching trials.  Nonetheless, as Christians pursue God’s will for their life, don’t be surprised by periods when you are not yourself.  These troubling stretches are marked and stained by immaturity when demons, selfish ambition and worldly desires result in breaking bad until repentance occurs.

by Jay Mankus

Forgiveness Opens the Door for Love

One of the barriers standing between forgiveness is stubborn hearts as certain individuals are unable to forgive or forget a previous transgression.  This unwillingness to let go of the pain inflicted shuts the door on the potential for love.  This reluctance sets the stage for bitterness, like an invisible poison that slowly kills relationships.  Unless there is a willingness to let God in to mend and repair fences, reconciliation is merely a dream.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will], Revelation 3:19.

In the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, John gives an honest assessment of seven churches.  While a few receive compliments, several are exposed for previous actions, beliefs and deeds.  Despite this list of flaws, John uses an analogy of a door to illustrate free will.  God is willing to offer forgiveness, yet souls must demonstrate an enthusiastic spirit of repentance.  Every day God is like an eager visitor, knocking on the door of your heart, but the Lord waits for your invitation.  There is no forced entry.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant to him [the privilege] to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:20-21.

At the end of this passage, God reveals another obstacle in the way of forgiveness.  Overcoming the world involves mindsets, philosophies and traditions that have become embraced by most of society.  This makes following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts that much more difficult.  Peer pressure only complicates any desires to seek God’s ways.  Free will is a daily exercise full of choices with the hope that you stay near enough so that you can hear God’s voice.  For those who fulfill this call, motivation comes as God forgives you.  Thus, as believers pay it forward, forgiveness opens the door for love to flow out of your heart, passed on to others.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s Not What It Seems

As you grow close to co-workers, family and friends, there are certain tendencies that you expect to see.  Sure, there will be anomalies that will occur that might catch you off guard momentarily, but you know them.  Meanwhile, there will be other phases which people go through that will question how much you really know about these individuals.  Nonetheless, sometimes actions, behavior or words are not what it seems.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? – Matthew 3:7
At first glance, I didn’t understand why John the Baptist rebuked Pharisees and Sadducees in the passage above for wanting to be baptized.  At this time in history becoming baptized by John was trending, the popular thing to do in the Jewish community.  Thus, John saw through their hidden motives, like those praying out loud at the weeping wall, trying to convince others of their godliness.  While individuals today continue to seek attention in similar ways, be careful that you’re not fooled by someone living a lie like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar.
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, Matthew 3:8.
When actions appear to be fake, phony and unusual, the Bible provides a truth detector.  The author of Matthew who is a member of the tribe of Levi suggests that genuine confession is followed by acts of contrition.  If an alcoholic is seen at a bar Sunday night after informing his pastor I have finally quit drinking, no one will believe him.  When a woman promises not to have another affair yet is flirting with a co-worker the next day, what good is this vow?  Since we live in a world of hypocrites, stop coming up with excuses for poor decisions or it’s not what it seems may become reality.
by Jay Mankus

Actions Affect Access

Since I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to go confession whenever I made a mistake, messed up or sinned.  Initially, this meant going to a confessional booth.  However, as I got older I meet face to face with a priest.  After bearing my soul, I was usually told to say x amount of Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s, then I would be forgiven.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! – Isaiah 1:15

Looking back, this practice doesn’t make sense.  Then again, I was also encouraged not to challenge authority so I conformed until college.  Through Bible studies, conferences and retreats, I learned that my actions affect access to God.  While you have to be careful not to fall into an Old Testament view of God, acts of contrition following confession is a essential.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The prophet Isaiah first informed the Jews that there are conditions when God will not listen to your prayers.  Unconfessed sin is like a barrier that blocks your connection with God.  Without genuine repentance people will experience periods of mundane prayer where the Holy Spirit is absent.  Following the model displayed in James 5:16 can awaken the Spirit of God.  If you want to improve your spiritual Wi-Fi connection with God, think twice before giving into temptation since actions affect access.

by Jay Mankus

Reasons to Consider

When Job endured a series of trials and tribulations, each one of his three friends had a different perspective.  Coming from an old school point of God, each believed the Lord was punishing Job for something done in the past or present.  Instead of praying for insight, individuals jump to false conclusions daily, following the the footsteps of Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite.

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature, 1 Corinthians 14:20.

As I try to come to grips with my emergency eye surgery, there are some practical explanations.  Maybe I spent too much time on my computer or watched too much television growing up.   Perhaps, poor eating habits are to blame, fueled by a lack of a consistent sleep pattern.  For now I can only speculate, waiting for the Holy Spirit to provide some insight.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool, Isaiah 1:18.”

When things don’t make sense in life, an Old Testament prophet encourages individuals to reason with God.  This process begins with coming cleaning, confessing any wrong doing that is blocking your relationship with God.  However, acts of contrition must follow repentance.  Sure the why’s may remain a mystery, but the Holy Spirit will provide pieces to the puzzle along the way as you continue to ponder reasons why you experience what you do.

by Jay Mankus

Draw Near

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is limited to a few select individuals.  After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden at the end of Genesis 3, intimacy with God was severed.  Thus, God revealed himself to the forefathers of Israel, prophets and some leaders to guide and direct their paths.  However, due to continued disobedience throughout several centuries, God decides go silent for 400 years serving as a transition for the New Testament.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Before Jesus arrived on to the scene, priests were used as a mediator between God and mankind.  To atone for sin, priests performed animals sacrifices with the shedding of blood to cleanse individuals, families and cities from their transgressions.  Without practicing this biblical principle, forgiveness is not obtained.  Therefore, drawing near to God can not occur unless repentance and contrition has been completed.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The new covenant introduced to his disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus eliminated the need for the Old Testament practice mentioned above.  Described as the Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice without blemish, Jesus laid down his own life so that in Him, we too might have life.  While worshiping God at a building, home or a temple is still a vital aspect of faith, you can draw near to God anywhere and anytime.  As you draw near, God’s grace is a free gift available to all approach the Lord with a sincere heart, eager to forgive sinners as far as the East is from the West.

by Jay Mankus

 

Conditions of God’s Favor

The expression “knowing just enough to be dangerous” applies to the Bible as well.  Whether its a casual reader, individuals who like to study the Bible occasionally or a young student of the Word, its easy to make false pretenses.  One of the more common mistakes occur when people think they can bow their head without confession or repentance, snap their fingers as if to say abracadabra and expect God favor’s to immediately arrive at their door steps.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity, Proverbs 3:1-2.

As king of Israel, God blessed Solomon with infinite wisdom, after pleasing God with his response in 1 Kings 3.  This discernment and insight is the foundation for Proverbs 3.  Solomon urges his son to do more than listen; rather keep biblical commands in his heart.  In addition, the spiritual fruit of love and faithfulness must be displayed, adorned like fine jewelry.  These core fruits of the spirit must take hold inside your heart until God’s favor falls upon you.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man, Proverbs 3:3-4.

For those in the process of this journey or just beginning, this does not mean God’s won’t answer prayers or reveal himself to you.  Rather, the conditions must be right for favor to be released.  When a soul embraces the steps below, God’s favor is no longer a wish; its reality.

1. Put Jesus words into action daily after your reading the Bible each day.

2. Meditate day and night on God’s commands so your heart absorbs them.

3. Put to death any aspect of the sinful nature preventing you from love.

4. Resolve to follow Jesus through thick and thin, displaying faithfulness.

by Jay Mankus

Until You Repent

Taking advice from a stranger usually doesn’t go over well.  Some will be insulted, others perturbed and most will shut down, unwilling to go any further with the current conversation.  However, when God is the stranger, perhaps you should open your heart and mind to the message provided.

Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings, Proverbs 1:23.

In a letter addressed to his sons, Solomon stresses the importance of listening like a voice of reason.  Trying to urge his children to avoid the same mistakes he made, Solomon reinforces the principle of repentance.  If you drive long enough, sooner or later you will miss your turn.  Thus, if you want to reach your desired destination, making a U-turn is a must.

But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm, Proverbs 1:33.

The Lord promises the blessing of a safe life to those who heed this call.  Yet, for those too stubborn to stop, drop and pray, calamity is awaiting, with disaster, trouble and distress on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  While the choice is obvious, too many people end up on the wrong side of the fence.  If you’re currently wondering, what the hell is going on, its likely heartache will continue until you repent.

by Jay Mankus

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