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Tag Archives: souls

Kicking and Screaming

After one year of attending Channin Elementary School, within walking distance of my house, desegregation bused me into the city of Wilmington, Delaware.  For the next three years, Harlan Elementary became my new school home.  This drastic change was eye opening.  Whenever a student broke a rule, became disobedient or get caught doing something illegal, rarely did I hear, “my bad, I did it, I’m guilty.”  Instead, students were often dragged to the office, kicking and screaming, escorted by one or more administrators.

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another, Galatians 5:13.

Today, whenever someone feels like they have been treated unjustly, social media has become a popular site to air your grievances.  While there are many options to choose, Facebook and Twitter are filled with rants daily.  Instead of thinking before individuals press send, emotions stir the pot, building up until one final act boils over to form a vicious tweet.  Once posted, souls attempt to bite and devour one another, plummeting the gutter to an all time low.  While the prudent thing to do is walk away, the sinful nature can’t resist to pile on by fighting back.

But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.

The context of the two passages above are sandwiched by a verse referring to the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated.  Jesus uses this principle at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, adding a condition to forgiveness.  According to Matthew 6:14-15, your forgiveness is dependent upon how you treat and forgive others who trespass against you.  Jesus is clear, “if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.”  Near the end of this gospel, Matthew 25:30, Jesus reveals what will happen on judgement day to those who harbor bitterness. failing to forgive.  Not only will these unfortunate souls be dragged away, kicking and screaming, eternity will be spent weeping, wishing they would have chosen love over hatred.

by Jay Mankus

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Pushing and Shoving

Pushing and shoving are often associated with a heated argument, fight or skirmish.  When tempers flare, maintaining self-control is a difficult task.  In my half century on earth, I have only been involved in two fights.  While eating lunch in junior high, someone called my name, I stood up and then was blind sided by a punch, dropping to the floor immediately.  A few years later, I was defending a younger neighbor who was black from a high school student who wanted to beat him up.  Although I didn’t want to fight, I stepped in to protect my friend.

But as Jesus went, the people were crowding against Him [almost crushing Him], Luke 8:42b.

The Bible refers to a difficult kind of pushing and shoving.  The passage above would be equivalent to a modern day outdoor rock concert, with fans trying to get as close as possible to their favorite member of a band on stage.  Although its unclear, I’m assuming the disciples served as body guards, attempting to hold the masses back from crushing Jesus.  Nonetheless, these desperate souls did whatever was necessary to touch Jesus while he passed by.

And a woman who had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years [and had spent all her money on physicians], and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His outer robe, and immediately her bleeding stopped, Luke 8:43-44.

When people are hurting, ill or plagued by an unknown condition, there are different levels of urgency.  An initial diagnosis may be cause for concern, but some take no immediate action.  However, as symptoms intensify, hope turns into fear.  The woman in the passage above went from doctor to doctor, spending her life savings without any improvement.  This dire state prompted this woman to push and shove her way through a massive crowd of spectators until Jesus was in reach.  When you reach this point of desperation, cry out to Jesus so that healing and restoration becomes reality.

by Jay Mankus

Magnifying Confidence

If you have a tendency to be analytical like me, you might over think things instead of relying on common sense.  Yet, you can’t deny the difference confidence makes within an athlete, Christian and student.  Uncerainty can stiffle souls, causing individuals to be hesitant, without conviction to act.  However, confidence transforms lives, taking quiet soft spoken individuals to new heights.

When Jesus saw their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him], He said, “Man, your sins are forgiven,” Luke 5:20.

One day Jesus was teaching in a home when crowds surrounded the building.  By this time in history, Jesus’ healing powers had become legendary as no condition was impossible to cure.  This knowledge empowered a few friends to climb on top of the roof, carrying their friend who was paralyzed.  Eager to get Jesus’ attention, these men cut open a few tiles and lowered their friend to Jesus’ feet.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

This act of faith impressed Jesus and one of four gospel authors.  Luke magnifies confidence by referring to belief, energy and passion linked to those who trust in God’s power to transform lives.  Luke uses the imagery of a spring, bubbling over out of the ground.  When Christians stop focusing on the cants in this life and begin to open their minds to the possibilities with God’s help, confidence is magnifed.

by Jay Mankus

What are You Still Lacking?

If you asked a recent high school graduate the same question after completing a four year degree in college, perspectives would likely change.  Human nature tends to make young people think they are infallible.  When you add knowledge, wisdom and a wealth of information to this equation, some will likely think they know it all, now smarter than their parents.  This is the state we find the rich young ruler in the passage below, only lacking one thing in life.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

Searching for eternal security, this man sought out Jesus, hoping to discover the secret to possessing eternal life.  Immediately, Jesus catches this ruler off guard by demonstrating humility, giving God the credit for his goodness.  From here Jesus turns his attention to God’s standards in the Torah, the first five books in the Old Testament.  Obtaining knowledge of the Bible is one thing, but applying these principles separate average believers from genuine people of faith.  Perhaps, this rich young ruler thought he could enter heaven by being a good person.

You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not testify falsely, Honor your father and your mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these things from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:20-22.

There are two invisible forces which drag and nudge souls in different directions.  The Holy Spirit convicts hearts and minds, revealing imperfections and shortcomings.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature is more accommodating, making those who stray from God think more highly about themselves than they should.  While the Spirit led the apostle Paul to claim he was the greatest sinner of all in 1 Timothy 1:15, my flesh made me feel better the further I slipped away from God in college.  This spiritual dilemma exists today, compared to a spiritual war in Galatians 5:16-18.  Thus, if you really want to know what are you still lacking, draw close to God and He will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

Death Knows Where to Find You

The older you get, the presence of death becomes more of a reality.  In the past year, I have lost a cousin, aunt and father in law.  At the last funeral I attended, I received news that my wife’s aunt Rose was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Last week, Rose went home to be with the Lord.  A homecoming in heaven, but a painful reminder of our temporary status on earth.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

According to Solomon, our bodies are on loan from God.  The Hebrew word for Adam is Adamah, symbolic of God forming Adam’s body out of the earth.  The moment death strikes human beings, souls return back to God.  While your body is left to decay beneath the ground, your spirit awaits judgment before spending eternity in heaven or hell.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

The apostle Paul referred to human bodies as a temple.  When the Holy of holies was torn in two during the earthquake immediately following Jesus’ death on a cross, this event set the stage God’s presence to no longer be limited to a physical building.  Rather, Jesus’ resurrection and the Day of Pentecost opened the door for the Holy Spirit to enter your life.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

In the last chapter of the Bible, John has a vision of Jesus in heaven.  Seeing the toll death takes on friends, family and relatives, Jesus promises to provide an eternally environment where they will be no more tears.  Heaven is the final destination where God will make you whole.  Since death knows where to find you, make sure your plans are secured before your time is up, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

You Can Only Do So Much

Ten years ago, I volunteered for a week to serve as a camp counselor at an overnight Christian Camp just south of Reading, Pennsylvania.  Due to a weeklong heat wave, a cabin without air conditioning and inner ear infection that lingered the rest of that summer, I never returned for a second year.  Instead, my two sons now serve as camp counselors at Camp Cedarbrook.  During a de-briefing session over lunch, my oldest son James shared his frustrations of boys in his cabin who never listened to him.  Despite repeated attempts, numerous reminders and intervention from veteran counselors, James was unable to change these bad habits.  Unfortunately, you can only do so much in one week of time.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

Unless you are a coach, counselor, parent or teacher, you may not realize that America is on the verge of a parental crisis.  After years of appeasing, bribing and spoiling children, basic character traits, courtesy and morals are missing.  Instead cell phones, electronic devices and video games are killing social skills, creating a further divide between children and parents.  Those individuals who are diligently working to stop this trend have their own obstacles to overcome.  Abandonment, death and divorce has led to single parent homes, struggling to provide and raise kids at the same time.  Giving a word of encouragement to my son, I replied “you can only do so much on your own.”

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is a small quote from King Solomon.  This wise man compares a black smith to being the best person you can be.  When human beings enter into an accountability relationship, affirmations point out the good while flaws are pointed through honest assessments.  As long as both parties seek the best interest of the other, character is strengthened like iron sharpening iron.  For those who feel called into the ministry, you may not be able to win the hearts and souls of those who you love.  God doesn’t call everyone to be successful, but faithful.  Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed by a lack of progress in your life, remember you can only do so much.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Book

The song Living in the Pages by Bruce Carroll changed my perspective of the Bible.  This 1995 release from the album One Summer Evening challenges Christians to spend their time on earth living in the pages of the Bible.  After finishing two different stints as a youth pastor, I realized that spiritual growth is directly linked to the quality time invested beyond the book.  This includes meditating upon, reflecting on and putting into practice biblical practices.  Without any sort of application, conviction and I nspiration, a willingness to change fades away.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

From my own personal experience, it doesn’t take long for me to resemble Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  First published in 1886 as the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this Robert Lewis Stevenson gothic novel uncovers the dual nature living inside of human beings.  Whenever I go a day or two without reading and studying the Bible, my behavior suddenly changes.  Impatience spreads, foul words come out of my mouth and my emphasis becomes self-centered.  Meanwhile, when I do read the Bible, jot down notes and write blogs influenced by this spiritual discipline, God becomes more of a priority in my life.  Thus, your faith depends upon what happens beyond the Bible.

So faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ, Romans 10:17.

Since illiteracy was rampant among first century citizens, the Torah was regularly read out loud by priests and letters written by apostles and disciples shared by home church leaders.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul details the relationship between faith and the Bible.  The phrase out of sight, out of mind applies to Scripture.  If the numerous words of the Bible contain supernatural power to transform souls, then the more time you spend putting this advice into practice the better off you will be.  Therefore, beyond the book, put your faith into action so that your life may win the respect and trust of outsiders.

by Jay Mankus

 

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