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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

Living on the Dark Side

In March of 1973, Pink Floyd released their 8th album entitled The Dark Side of the Moon.  This Abbey Road production included 4 major themes: conflict, greed, mental illness and time.  Less than a decade later, the movie industry introduced another dark side through the Star Wars episodes.  Famous Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi explained this force with the following quote.  “It takes strength to resist the dark side.  Only the weak embrace it!

Jesus speaks of a spiritual dark side in John 3:19-21.  Jesus introduces this concept with a verdict, a decision which unveils a reality of life, people are attracted to darkness and evil.  Like the show Bad Boys, society tends to gravitate toward those living on the dark side.   According to Jesus, people stay on the dark side out of fear their deeds will be exposed.  Like a vampire afraid of the light, many choose to live in rebellion against authority, blazing a new trail in the dark.

Unfortunately, there are some people who have never experienced the light, from their family or spheres of influences.  Living a life without church, healthy role models and positive reinforcement, result in a Ephesians 4:18-19 lifestyle.  Not giving up on these residents, Jesus leaves a simple message for anyone willing to change their mind in John 3:21.  Reinforced by the words of 1 John 1:5-10, Jesus is waiting for many to come back home into the light, Luke 15:20!

by Jay Mankus

Offense

As the seasons turn from winter to spring, an annual commotion draws near.  This month long hysteria known as March Madness serves as a drug for college basketball enthusiasts.  When you look beyond the brackets, politics and officiating, you’ll find amazing performances, buzzer beaters and even Cinderella.  Although offense is more entertaining, defense wins championships.  If a team can possess both, their squad becomes an impenetrable fortress on their way to the Final Four.

In life, roles are often reversed.  Arrogance, pride and over confidence lull people to sleep spiritually.  Instead of going on the offensive, many Christians resemble a goalie being bombarded with balls and pucks, trying to secure a daily shutout.  However, in the game of life, if you only play defense, you’ll never score.  This feeble strategy results in exhaustion, mental fatigue and emotional burnout, leading to a spirit of defeatism.

In the days of the apostle Paul, the residents of Corinth were avid sports fans, the host of the Corinthian Games, an Summer Olympic like competition.  This likely explains Paul’s use of athletic terminology in his 2 letters to the members of the Corinthian church.  Trying to connect with their culture, Paul addresses a lack of offensive minded individuals.  In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul reveals why people are failing miserably, they’re not using the proper weapons.  The key to game planning an offensive attack against the devil is through your mind, verse 5.  As soon as you learn how to take each thought captive by making them obedient to Christ, you can begin demolishing spiritual strongholds.  Paul’s further advice in Ephesians 6:10-11 is crucial if you want to begin seeing progress.  Stop being one dimensional, play offense today!

by Jay Mankus

Living in Anticipation or Dying with Regret?

In the days of my youth, I often longed for certain moments in time, excited about a specific day, event or weekend.  Like a student who lives for Spring Break and summer vacation, anticipation was building up inside, waiting to be satisfied.  However, recently, I haven’t had much joy living day to day.  As I was filling up my car at a local gas station, a song from the 80’s, piped through exterior loud speakers, convicted me of my blasé attitude.

Robin Williams communicates a similar message to his students in the film Dead Poets Society.  Instead of a boring first day of class with assigned seats, handing out books and going over a course syllabus, Williams wants his students to live English.  Quoting a Latin phrase from a poem, Carpe Diem, Williams challenges his class to seize each day!  Thus, the question remains; will you live the rest of your days in anticipation of what may occur or die with regrets?

One of the most intriguing passages of scripture is found in the gospel of John.  The red letters in John 10:10 indicate that Jesus is speaking, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  They refers to Jesus’ sheep, those people who know the voice of their shepherd and follow him.  The first portion of Jesus’ words focus on how Satan attempts to steal your joy for living, kill any dreams you may have and destroy your life.

Therefore, this battle is not only internal; finding motivation to make the most of each day, but it is also spiritual.  Thus, if you want to make the promise in John 10:10 a living reality, putting on the armor of God is essential, Ephesians 6:11.  Otherwise, you might die regretting your last years on earth.  As Andy Dufresne says in Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying,” the choice is yours?  Seize the day now before its’ too late!

By Jay Mankus

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