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Anybody is Capable of Anything

No matter how hard coaches, parents and teachers seek to be impartial, there are certain individuals who demonstrate likeable qualities.  Thus, from time to time, adults are blinded by a perception that some students are perfect, uncapable of doing something wrong.  In the days of the Old Testament, David was a prime candidate, a man who developed a good reputation, possessing a heart for God.  Yet, when pressed by the prophet Nathan, David’s most recent transgression is exposed for everyone to see.  This account reveals that anyone, no matter how godly he or she appears, is capable of anything.

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, As the Lord lives, the man who has done this is a son [worthy] of death. He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no pity. Then Nathan said to David, You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king of Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:5-7.

The apostle Paul and King David shared similar qualities.  Paul was recognized as a person of character following his conversation to Christ in the first century.  With each missionary journey, Paul’s faith was admired by the leaders of churches throughout the Middle East.  Yet, during a letter written to the Church in Rome, Paul opens up about his own inner demons.  This invisible force became known as the sinful nature, fleshly desires which convince souls to do the opposite of what they have been taught.  This alarming reality illustrates that anybody is capable of doing anything.

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. However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of mem, Romans 7:16-17.

Whenever I connect to the internet, tune into talk radio or watch television, unthinkable acts are reported on daily.  These head scratching actions don’t make sense logically until you study the powerful grip of carnal desires.  While writing to church leaders in Rome, Paul confesses that the sinful nature often causes him to do that which is wrong.  Despite having good intentions, Paul is currently losing this spiritual tug of war.  Instead of being surprised, it’s time to accept the fact that anybody is capable of doing anything.  The sooner you understand this, the quicker you will fall upon your knees, pleading with God to remove these ungodly desires with the mind of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Uninformed

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, known as the Day of Infamy, “Man on the Street Interviews” were conducted in rural and urbans areas to obtain the pulse of the American people. The Latin phrase Vox populi literally means voice of the people. This concept has been embraced by comedians, journalism and late night talk shows. Videos from these interactions are often edited to reveal the clueless, unusual and least informed individuals.

When they heard this, they were filled with rage, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Then the city was filled with confusion; and people rushed together [as a group] into the amphitheater, dragging along with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions, Acts 19:28-29.

When first century Greeks began to abandon idolatry in exchange for Christianity, local craftsmen began to lose business as customers purged their lives from reminders of their past. In the passage above, Luke describes what appears to be a labor union. The leader of this group starts a chant which begins to be repeated by nearby citizens. After a short period of time, Ephesus was stirred into a frenzy. A mob mentality took over as the curious joined in just to be part of the crowd.

Now some shouted one thing and some another, for the gathering was in confusion and most of the people did not know why they had come together, Acts 19:32.

Apparently, Luke conducted his own man on the street interview. Likely using a short two or three question survey, Luke discovered most of the people in attendance did not know what was going on. Not much has changed over the last 2000 years as a large portion of Americans accept the beliefs, ideas and worldviews expressed by their talk show host of choice. Daily programs like the View often elevate opinions to fact status. Instead of wanting to be educated and informed, a lack of time has increased the number of the uninformed, not testing what they hear with God’s Word, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.

by Jay Mankus

Fulfilling the Common Good

Good is one of those words that is overused.  As absolutes are becoming replaced by opinions fueled by cable news and talk radio, what is good and what is bad varies.  In the days of the Old Testament, Judges began to do what was right in their own eyes, removing the Bible as a measuring stick.  Similar to modern day humanism, anything that feels natural is deemed good.  On the other hand, anything that results in unpleasant experiences is considered bad.  Those who adopt this mentality place self seeking endeavors above the common good.

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.

During the first century, there was some confusion due to how God was allocating spiritual gifts among church members.  Apparently, jealousy distracted Christians from accomplishing the common good for society.  People who were blessed with special abilities that demonstrated God’s extraordinary powers were placed in higher esteem that those with more traditional gifts like discernment and hospitality.  This rift within Corinth inspired the apostle Paul to remind believers that without displaying love, spiritual gifts are meaningless, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Each of us… must rededicate ourselves to serving the common good.  Our individual fates are linked, our futures intertwined.  And if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit, together, as the Bible says, we can move mountains,” President Jimmy Carter 1978.

Jimmy Carter is the last evangelical Christian to hold the presidency of the United States.  Although most Americans would refer to the Carter presidency as a failure, this man has held a higher calling.  Known for his service to Habitat for Humanity, founded in his home state of Georgia, Carter has embraced the concept of providing homes for the homeless.  While most former presidents end up going on book tours, concentrate on speaking engagements or traveling the world, Carter volunteered his time to build homes.  The quote above serves as a great example of what it means to fulfill the common good.  Just as the city of Babel came together with a common purpose to erect a tower, Christian’s united under one spirit can move mountains.

by Jay Mankus

I’m All Boycotted Out

I read a Facebook post last week blasting Vice-President Mike Pence’s tie breaking vote to nominate Betsy Devos as the next Secretary of Education.  Moments later a heard a Fox News host discuss a movement to boycott Nordstrom’s after they dropped the Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.  While listening to Talk Radio on my way to lunch, I heard soundbites of Democratic plans to continue to fight, obstruct and take president Donald Trump to court.  After less than a month of America’s 45th president, I’m all boycotted out.

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed, Romans 13:6-7.

I’ve heard several thousand sermons over the years, but one applies to this topic.  Early on in the 1990’s, Kmart did something to outrage Christians.  I don’t recall what it was, yet there were several members of Cornerstone Church pressuring Pastor Paul to get behind a movement to boycott Kmart.  During a private conversation, Paul had a Solomon like moment, making a brilliant point.  “How can I lead this congregation and look a mother in the eyes who just happens to work at Kmart?  It’s not her fault.  Sometimes you have to stay out of the fray and let the situation please itself out.”

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Matthew 22:17-21.

Jesus had a similar discussion when religious leaders accused him of being against taxes.  Using this topic as a teachable moment, Jesus makes an important distinction between God and the government.  This simplistic reply silences Jesus’ political critics.  Perhaps, the leaders of this country need to apply this same principle today.  Sure, disagreements lead to gridlock.  Nonetheless, give to God what is God’s and give to the government what is due.  While boycotts might make some people feel good, the love of Christ calls individuals to turn the other cheek.  May the Holy Spirit soften hardened hearts and restore a sense of unity.

by Jay Mankus

 

All is Not Lost

Classic movies tend to provide quotable lines which become part of pop culture.  Although some get more attention, one that comes to mind often goes unnoticed.  In Animal House, Kevin Bacon play Chip Diller who plays a character similar to a ROTC college student.  During a parade high-jacked by Delta Tau Chi who were recently kicked out of school, Chip tries to maintain a panicking crowd.  As people begin to run down the sidewalk, Diller cries out, “all is well, remain calm.”  Unfortunately, Chip goes trampled as his words got drown out by fear.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! – Psalm 37:7

If you turn on cable news or talk radio, not much has changed.  It’s almost as if networks seek to scare people, trying to out do competitors.  This ambulance chasing mentality will continue until the public stop listening, watching and get news in some other manner.  In fact, the times I tune out the world and other outside distractions, I feel great and tend to hear God’s calling much clearer.  Therefore, all is not lost, especially when you slow down to be still before the Lord.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him, Psalm 62:5.

When I lived in Chicago back in the mid 1990’s, I attend Willow Creek Community Church, just down the road from our apartment.  Pastor Bill Hybels spoke about the importance of finding a quiet place each summer to spend time with God.  The Psalmist above provides a similar message.  Despite any silence you might experience, waiting for God’s presence either through prayer or reading the Bible sparks spiritual growth.  Sure, everyone has their days, weeks and months in the dark.  Yet, in the stillness of the night, the Holy Spirit still speaks truth to convince individuals that all is not lost.

by Jay Mankus

 

Blame it on the Jet Stream

In 1989, the song Blame it on the Rain reached number one for two weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.  This was Milli Vanilli’s third number one single.  However, Milli Vanilli’s fame and fortune was short lived, running off the stage during the middle of a concert.  What the world eventually found out, these two stars were lip syncing each song, not the actual singers of their music.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

In this age of environmentalism, today’s weather patterns are used by some scientists to claim this is proof of global warming.  However, if meteorologists can’t accurately predict tomorrow’s forecast with all their fancy technology, there must be some other force at work in the earth’s atmosphere,  If you want a scapegoat, blame it on the Jet Stream.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us, 1 John 1:8-10.

History has a way of exposing imposters, liars and those covering up the truth.  Whether its a group like Milli Vanilli, global warming or secrets from the past, time will bring what was once in darkness into the light.  Therefore, don’t get caught up in arguments that occur weekly on cable television and talk radio.  Rather, live your life as an open book, confess your short comings and may the truth about Christ set you free.

by Jay Mankus

Novel Concepts for Developing a Sound Mind

If you watch cable news or listen to talk radio, it won’t before an opposing opinion makes your blood boil, expressing a polar opposite worldview from what you hold.  When you add in the over dramatization of television along with paranoia expressed through future projections of pending storm systems, its hard to remain calm or maintain a sound mind.  Subsequently, I have tried to limit my intake of the media to weekends.  This novel concept has led to positive outcome so far in 2016.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful, Joshua 1:8.

After Moses retires, Joshua is chosen to lead Israel into the promised land.  However, the Lord is clear, providing careful instructions for God’s people to follow.  Trying to find a way around this system, Achan learns the hard way in Joshua 7, stoned to death along with his entire family.  If only Achan listened to Joshua the first time, mediating on the Torah, his fate would have been different.  Unfortunately, listening and doing are two different things.  Another novel concept is obedience, which must be demonstrated first prior to tasting prosperity and success.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

The final novel concept to developing a sound mind is discipline.  You don’t have to sleep all day, watch television for hours or waste countless hours playing video games.  According to one of the apostles, God provides the Holy Spirit in times of decision.  Don’t allow a weakened work ethic to give into temptation.  Feeling defeated is a choice, an attitude for losers.  Therefore, tap into God’s Spirit so that when your flesh is weak, Christ power is strong, propelling you toward a sound mind.

by Jay Mankus

 

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