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The Toll of Temptation

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A few years ago, I read an article on the effects marathons had on a runners body.  Based upon totals miles run, long distant runners can lose between a half inch and inch in height over the course of their lives.  The constant pounding on ligaments and tendons takes a toll on the human body, eventually wearing down and shrinking over time.  This might explain how I lost nearly an inch in height after running several thousand miles over a 7 year span.

At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent, Proverbs 5:11.

Inside the human body, another aging process is occurring.  The obvious is the decay of internal organs.  However, the one I am eluding to involves the emotional and spiritual toll temptation takes on the soul.  When you don’t feel well, people make reservations to see a doctor.  However, there are some health conditions that can only be cured by a spiritual transformation.

I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do, Romans 7:15.

The apostle Paul once experienced a trying time in his life.  While the specifics are missing, it appears Paul was struggling to overcome some sort of addiction.  No matter what he tried failed.  Sin was ravaging Paul’s life, unable to break free from this chain of sin.  If you find yourself in a similar pattern, intervention is a must.  Seek out a friend, fellow believer or godly influence to bring you out of this pit of despair.  If you refuse help, the toll of temptation will continue to devastate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Importing Deities

Countries tend to import articles, goods or services when there is an increase in demand or no entity from within who can provide this in a timely manner.  However, spiritual elements are imported daily, often going unnoticed by citizens.  These subtle deities contain hidden powers, fueled by demonic strongholds that exist throughout the world.  If not rejected and deported, hearts, minds and worldviews will be transformed, shifting the beliefs of a nation.

According to C.S. Lewis, apologetics involves finding common areas and beliefs that you share with other world religions.  His logic is based upon one simple principle, “no one want’s to hear that you are right and everyone else is wrong,” Mere Christian, Book 2, chapter 1.  When it comes to importing deities, no one is as resolute as Islam.  Meanwhile, several Christian denominations have begun practicing Syncretism, blending practices not found in the Bible, Deuteronomy 4:2, with the Christian faith.

As Israel approached the promised land, a similar temptation arose to import gods from Egypt.  Leviticus 17:7 suggests that some had already carried foreign traditions with Israel into the desert.  Laying down the law, through the words of Moses passed down from generation to generation, this command still applies, importing foreign deities is prohibited.  Going forward, make sure you practice 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, testing everything you hear or read with the truths of Scripture.  By doing this, you will protect your mind from further harm, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Guard Rails: Real Life Bumper Bowling

Its not uncommon for youth to embrace their parents’ hobbies.  A one time opportunity for me soon became a weekly obsession.  While some of my peers were out partying on Friday night, I spent 3 years bowling, filling in as a sub for a league.  Before the days of bumpers, there was nothing to keep loose shots from entering the gutter.

Outside of bowling lanes, Guard rails were designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous areas while driving.  Unfortunately, not every street  contains such a guide.  On country, desolate or rural roads, poor counties can not afford, support or justify spending that much money.  However, when someone dies in a car accident, their life is priceless.

From a spiritual perspective, the Bible is like bumpers, a guide to keep you from falling of course, Matthew 7:13-14.  The life lessons, principles and truth inside of God’s Word serves as a light source, Psalm 119:105, to help you see down the road.  Although invisible, conviction, gut feelings or promptings from the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, can lead souls through the darkness in life.  May the words of this book provide you with the direction you are searching for today.

by Jay Mankus

 

On Your Lips

Microbiology suggests lips protect the mouth, communicates body language based upon their positioning and serves as a mechanism to feel, touch and taste.  As a highly sensitive body part, lips often need natural moisture, an exterior balm or vaseline to prevent dryness and cracking.  As a gateway to the mouth, lips can warn your body when something is too hot or possibly harmful to you.

From a spiritual perspective, lips are given a great responsibility according to Exodus 13:9, “the law of the Lord is to be on your lips.”  The etymology of the expression “bite your tongue” refers to a rebuke when an individual makes a rude or unpleasant comment.  However, if you close your lips, zipper tight, lips can steer your mouth in the right direction like a bit, James 3:3-6.  Solomon understood this principle expressed in Proverbs 13:3, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”

In the days of his youth, David was a gifted musician, 1 Samuel 16:18-23.  In fact, the footnote above Psalm 8 suggests David was a music director, possibly prior to becoming king.  Caught up in a state of worship, the spirit of the Lord moves David to make the following admission, “From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger,” Proverbs 8:2.  Whether you are currently happy, sad or stoic, may this blog inspire you to live out the words of Psalm 119:171.

by Jay Mankus

The Second Glance

Casting Crowns uses the expression second glance in their song Slow Fade, on their The Altar and the Door album.  From an earthly sense, taking a second glance is normal, a natural inclination of a curious flesh.  However, when you consider the context of these lyrics in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30, the second glance leads to lust, which Jesus equates with adultery.

While working on a service project last week, I listened to the same Casting Crowns album twice on my MP3 Player.  Initially, the background music served as motivation, an adrenaline rush to inspire me to complete my task.  Yet, the second time through my focus shifted from an earthly view to a spiritual perspective.  Upon hearing the lyrics of Slow Fade, I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit.

This whisper kept repeating over and over in my mind, “the second glance seems innocent, but leads to a slow fade within your faith.”  Like a cross country runner who stops training, it doesn’t take long for the discipline of running to cease.  Therefore, aim yourself with the attitude of Christ, 1 Peter 4:1, sharpening your mind like the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.  Avoid the second glance by developing a Job like mentality, Job 42:5-6, swapping a slow fade for a raging fire of faith!

by Jay Mankus

The Day When the Others Fell Away

If Matthew 5:48 is any indication, Jesus had high expectations for his followers.  Hard teachings like Matthew 19:16-25 even made Jesus’ own disciples question their faith.  Thus, to meet his lofty goal, Jesus selected 12 men, giving each special authority to act on his behalf, like an ambassador, Matthew 10:1.  During their initial trial run which began in Mark 6:7, it appears by remarks made in Mark 9:14-29 that success didn’t always came easy or in this case, not at all.  When all your attempts to please your boss, mentor and teacher fail, some fall by the wayside, John 12:6.

Meanwhile, Luke 10:1-20 implies an addition 72 disciples were appointed by Jesus and given similar responsibilities like the more famous 12.  Since the first 12 Jesus called are sent out in Luke 9:1-9, Luke is not repeating himself by accident.  Rather, Luke 10:17 suggests Jesus delegated an identical power to these men who were able to cast out demons, possibly healing others as well.  However, when the crowds following Jesus grew beyond a reasonable limit, Jesus offered up the words of Luke 14:25-35 to communicate his standards and necessary sacrifices to maintain for the long haul.  While none are mentioned to have left there on the spot, logic says people began to second guess their stance or commitment level.

The decision within the minds of many followers came to a climax in John 6:25-66.  Jesus used the feeding of the 5,000 as a teachable moment, to further people’s understanding of who he was, “the bread of life,” John 6:51.  Just as Jesus’ words puzzled Nicodemus in John 3:4, many disciples were left dazed, unable to grasp this spiritual message.  This difficult teaching lead to grumbling among the ranks of the disciples according to John 6:60-61.  While no names are given, John 6:66 clearly states that many of the 72 and possibly other categories of disciples abandoned Jesus.  This is the day, prior to Jesus’ last Passover on earth, when the others fell away.

by Jay Mankus

Eclipsed by Glory

Inspired by the first woman to swim the English Channel, a California swimmer attempted a similar feat, trying to make the 22 mile journey from Catalina Island to the California coastline.  Swimming for 15 hours, with a boat on either side of her for safety, a thick Marine layer prevented this woman from seeing the finish line.  Exhausted and swimming blind the entire time, she gave up only a few hundred yards from the beach.  Thus, the fog, as thick as pea soup, eclipsed her glory, failing to make history.

From January 1st, 2012 through March 23rd, 2013, I was living in a dense spiritual fog.  During this 15 month stretch, there were moments, even a day or two, when I thought, finally these clouds are dissipating.  To my disappointment, another layer of fog rolled in, more dense than the one before.  My career path became like a yo-yo, slinky and a series of one hit wonders, showing hope and promise one day, yet gone the next.  As a result, I was ready to quit, as my plans kept coming up empty, Proverbs 19:21.

From an astronomy perspective, an eclipse occurs when there is an obscuration of light as a moon or planet intervenes momentarily.  From a spiritual point of view, human beings often seek fame for themselves, stealing God of the glory He is due.  Despite these efforts, the Lord’s purpose always prevails, using the weather to steer you in the direction, toward His will.  Therefore, move out of God’s way, let Jesus take the wheel, Ephesians 2:10 and submit to the Creator’s commands in Philippians 2:13-14.  Then, you can experience the eclipse of God’s glory!

by Jay Mankus

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