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Tag Archives: self-control

Peeling Back the Flesh

Depending upon the species, onions can contain 8 to 13 layers. As someone who enjoys making homemade salsa each summer, I’m always amazed at the inner core of the onions that I cut. After removing the outer two layers, I carefully cut the remainder of the onion to avoid the amino acid sulfoxides that form sulphuric acid. Anytime you peel back an onion, you are at risk of having a burning sensation attack your eyes.

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it, Romans 7:15-16.

According to the apostle Paul, when you peel back the layers of your own flesh spiritually, you may be shocked by what you found. In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul uses baffled, bewildered and disappointment to illustrate the lack of control over his own body. Despite having intentions to do and say the right thing, Paul’s flesh did the complete opposite. If a man of God fought a losing battle daily, imagine what it’s like for the addicted, mentally weak and undisciplined.

However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out,] Romans 7:17-18.

As I participate in an Esther Fast 3 days a week during the month of January, I am beginning to see how powerful my own flesh has become. Beside typical cravings for food, selfish desires lead me to daily withdraw, watching television or writing on my computer. While having hobbies is a normal part of life, controlling fleshly desires is a struggle. Good hearts can be persuaded by wandering minds. Meanwhile, good intentions can be ruined by apathy, idleness and laziness. The only good news comes at the end of Romans 7; verse 25 as Jesus saves us while we are still sinners.

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

Setting Aside Self

While social media is designed to express what you’re doing, thinking or updating your status, the Bible reminds readers of a much simpler time.  Before modern technological inventions, life revolved around family.  Whether this meant following in your father’s footsteps, setting out to explore a new frontier or take over a family business, you didn’t eat or drink without working hard.  People didn’t have idle time to contemplate whether your life was acceptable or worthy of by your peers.  Rather, selfish desires were set aside for the greater good.

Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and [e]take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me], Mark 8:34.

In the first century, Jesus set high standards for his followers.  There were no surprises or speculation about what to expect.  Rather, Jesus required a full commitment, setting aside any selfish ambitions or desires.  In addition, Jesus laid out three major steps as well as a willingness to endure whatever may come during your faith journey.  According to the gospel of Luke, these extreme measures caused lesser known disciples to turn away, unable to commit.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

To a certain extent, some people are so over committed today that they do nothing well.  Others withdraw, doing little or nothing outside of school or work.  According to the apostle Paul, discipline is available through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This unseen force is attainable through the fruits of the Spirit, but only when you set aside self.  Many individuals struggle throughout life with discipline due to the inability to say no to their flesh.  This weakness is stunting their growth, unable to break free to reach their full potential.  If you are willing and spiritual hungry, set aside self so that God’s will may come into focus.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It

It doesn’t take much for a coach, parent or teacher to get under a teenager’s skin.  Sometimes the tone chosen is demeaning.  Others come across as pompous or smug, alienating the individual they are talking to.  Meanwhile, impatient adults have a tendency to take out their frustrations upon young people, creating an even greater generational gap.  This disconnect proves that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When you are reading a book, sometimes the context of previous events isn’t a hundred percent clear.  Thus, you are forced to go back to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.  In the passage above, you have to understand who Saul was before he changed his name to Paul.  This former Pharisee was a perfectionist, critical by nature, eager to point out flaws.  Therefore, the words Paul choses serves as a reminder to himself and his leaders within the church at Ephesus to focus on the positive, not the negative.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While writing a letter to a teenager, Paul reveals an important truth about the Holy Spirit.  Although the world tends to emphasize imperfections, staying optimistic isn’t impossible.  Rather, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is self-control, the discipline to control your own tongue.  The language you choose to express daily is a conscious decision.  Unfortunately, many don’t realize the power of words.  Every coarse joke, put down and sarcastic remark influences others in a negative manner.  Therefore, make sure the next time you open your mouth, you think before speaking for it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Paralysis of Sin

Terms like debilitating, immobility and incapacity describe symptoms of paralysis.  Those individuals whose lives are turned upside down by accidents, disease or extreme events are forced to go with life with several new obstacles to overcome.  Unfortunately, paralysis can attack souls through the presence and spread of sin.

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate, Romans 7:15.

The apostle Paul highlights how sin impacts individual actions.  Similar to an addiction, bad habit or compulsive behavior, the ability to maintain self-control is lost.  This phenomena is not exempt for Christians as anyone who plays with fire in the form of temptation will eventually get burned.  Thus, even a missionary like Paul was paralyzed by sin.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin, James 4:17.

One of the people who has made the greatest impact on my life is Skip Wilkins.  After becoming a high school All-American in 4 sports, Skip was paralyzed while water skiing before his senior year.  When colleges heard of his accident, all 2000 plus full scholarships were rescinded.  Skip’s faith helped him overcome this setback and eventually became a motivational speaker.  If it wasn’t for Skip Wilkins testimony, I still might be paralyzed by sin.  Yet, because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, you too can be set free from sin as there are no wheel chairs in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Wasted Breaths

Recently, I have noticed an unpleasant change in my life.  Whenever I find myself in a no win situation, complaining consumes my vocabulary.  While venting frustrations may feel good initially, I came to the conclusion I was wasting my breath.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, Philippians 2:14.

While there is nothing wrong with expressing disagreements, the Bible seeks to resolve and improve situations.  Grumbling or questioning others doesn’t help.  Rather, if I only can find a common ground, perhaps I won’t waste my breath anymore.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

In a letter addressing a community known for hostility, Paul encourages people to give thanks in all circumstances.  Thinking every thing in life will go your way in life is unrealistic; some sort of pipe dream, but the opposite is true.  In view of this, the next time you have the urge to explode in the form of wasted breaths, may God bring these verses to memory to avoid saying something you might regret.

by Jay Mankus

All the Fixings

One of the ways restaurants attempt to improve business is through monthly or season specials.  Whether its All You Can Eat, Buy One Get One Free or events like Crab Fest, these ads nudge families to go out to eat.  As for me, I enjoy restaurants with all the fixings like my families favorite Chinese buffet.  Although I don’t always practice self-control, my hunger is satisfied.

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you, Jeremiah 32:17.

Beside food, there is another type of fixing which exists.  Whether its a parent with a child, teacher with a student or spouse with a husband or wife, some become obsessed with fixing other people.  While these intentions are good, some people like who they are.  Thus, when you may mean well, many people don’t what to change or simply aren’t ready yet.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, Ephesians 3:20.

In the end, its probably better to let God do all the fixing.  While you wait for those whom you love to come around, the best thing you can do is pray.  This may involve doing prayer walks through a room, seeking the advice of others and fasting for a specific need.  If you take the words of the apostle above, remember the power of God who is able to do far more abundantly than the human mind can imagine.  Let the fixings begin.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Let Yourself Go

To deter drug use during the 1980’s, Nancy Reagan came up with the slogan “Just Say No.”  While some historians have labeled this former public service announcement a failure, she was on the right track.  People don’t wake up and become addicts over night.  Rather, addictions develop through a series of poor choices, one compromising decision at a time.  Thus, a far better warning is don’t let yourself go where evil lurks.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls, Proverbs 25:28.

Discipline is a vehicle to keep individuals out of danger.  Similarly, self-control can guide people when they are tired or weary.  Nonetheless, temptation attacks minds, implanting fantasies, lustful desires and ill-conceived ideas.  Escaping these thoughts require divine intervention.  However, prayer does not always prevent people from tasting forbidden fruit, going beyond defined boundaries into the unknown longing for a permanent high.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Yesterday, I missed working out for the first time in 2017.  Sure, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I know what this decision can result in.  As an expert snoozer, not getting up the first time your alarm goes off can set a precedent.  The next time you roll over to hit snooze sends a message which feeds your sinful nature, “I’ll get up when I want to.”  If you have great expectations for 2017, don’t let yourself go any further.  Before laziness takes over, trust in the Lord to keep you on track to fulfill what God has called you to do.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Don’t Make a Big Deal About It

In this current age of social media, immediate reactions and thoughts are often broadcast to the world to read.  However, now with the recent addition of Facebook Live, individuals can stream video live that is unfiltered.  When some try to attain 15 seconds of fame like the 4 teenagers in Chicago, that which was meant for good can be corrupted by an axis of evil.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings, Proverbs 25:2.

During times of uncertainty, people tend to seek out advice, guidance or wisdom to figure out what to do next.  2 Kings 18-20 details the reign of Hezekiah, the king of Judah.  Described as one of the godliest leaders in the Bible, Hezekiah wasn’t satisfied with the pieces of the Old Testament he had access to, seeking out previous writings of Solomon.  One of the suggestions Hezekiah discovered was when something occurs, try not to make a big deal about this.

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense, Proverbs 19:11.

To extract what Solomon means by the phrase “conceal a matter,” you have to go back a few chapters to understand the true meaning.  Based upon the context of chapter 19, the intent refers to avoid over-reacting.  In the heat of the moment, human nature tempts people to retaliate.  Yet, those who practice self-control by restraining your emotions, it is to God’s glory.

by Jay Mankus

Merry ???

Earlier in the week I went Christmas shopping for my wife.  Due to the nature of the gift, I was forced to rely on the expertise of sales associates.  After finding two similar items, I wanted to know which would be the best purchase for the long haul.  When I was finally convinced on the best brand name to buy, I approached the check out counter.  On my way out, I replied, “Merry Christmas,” that was followed by an awkward silence.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Sometime in the last few decades, Christians have become afraid of offending other people of faith.  Due to political correctness, retailers are now training new staff to avoid expressing specific phrases or words.  Subsequently, Merry Christmas has become like cheap greeting cards, X’ed out and replaced with Happy Holidays.  It’s no wonder that this cashier was uneasy, not sure how to respond to my seasonal greeting.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

The apostle Paul witnessed a spirit of timidity in his day.  When persecution broke out against the early church, fear consumed many believers.  This environment initially hampered the growth of the Way as described in the book of Acts.  Yet, as soon as fear was replaced by the love of Christ, the tides began to turn.  May this wave of the Holy Spirit arrive on the scene today to inspire people to share two special words, “Merry Christmas.”

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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