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The Desires of the Spirit

From my own personal experiences, many of the so called “spirit filled” churches that I have attended over emphasize certain spiritual gifts. Instead of teaching the desires of God’s Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues overshadow what God desires. Thus, I find myself as an adult who lacks the knowledge and spiritual insight to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

When the concept of the Holy Spirit was first introduced to his disciples, Jesus refers to this Holy Ghost as a Counselor. Synonyms for counselor include advisor, confidant, guide and mentor. If this was Jesus’ ultimate goal, then I have been misinformed about the role of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, I need to simplify my understanding to an invisible counselor who yearns for me to become aware of the desires of God’s Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

The apostle Paul has provided a list below to visualize what God prefers. These fruits of the Spirit are desired actions, behaviors and character traits that Christians should seek to obtain. Mere Christianity written by C.S. Lewis contains two types of virtues, with the second only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal virtues such as prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice are qualities that anyone can possess. Yet, the theological virtues of charity, hope and faith are limited to Christians.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

According to Paul, sinful appetites, desires and passions keep many individuals from every fulfilling the desires of the Spirit. Until your human flesh is crucified, dying to self, the ability to produce spiritual fruit is hindered. This may explain why many regions of the world are filled with darkness, void of any spiritual life. If you want to add flavor to the lives of those who you come in contact with daily, follow Paul’s advice by pursuing the desires of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Keep Up Your Courage

The English word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, which means hinge. Thus, cardinal virtues are four moral principles which all other virtues are connected. While courage was not selected as a cardinal virtue, prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude share similar traits. The ability to do something that frightens you by exhibiting strength in the face of adversity will test your soul.

So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith (complete confidence) in God that it will be exactly as it was told me; Acts 27:25.

The context of the passage above occurs on ship being battered by the first century’s version of the Perfect Storm. Stuck in the middle of a typhoon for 14 days, the urge to abandon ship increases daily. While everyone else is freaking out, the apostle Paul addresses the crew. Displaying leadership during a time of crisis, Paul verbalizes his complete confidence and faith that God will spare everyone’s life.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Paul’s comforting message is consistent with the words of Israel’s forefathers. In the passage above, Moses uses a farewell address to remind the Jews that the Lord is with you. This was followed by his predecessor who urges God’s people to be strong and courageous, Joshua 1:9. You shouldn’t have to endure a disaster to be courageous. Rather, God uses extreme situations to provide opportunities for courage to prevail.

by Jay Mankus

World Mental Health Day

This year’s day to recognize global mental health is Thursday October 10th. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. More than 150 countries take part is this day to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. Leaders in Australia feel so strongly about this issue that an entire week is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Unfortunately, most of the curriculum, education and programs will steer clear of biblical principles. Yet, this provides me an open door to examine what the Bible has to say about mental health. The apostle Paul claims the biggest obstacle to achieving a mind at peace is fleshly desires which crave instant gratification. This internal force must be brought under control and tamed by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [the message, the basis] of faith which we preach— because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation, Romans 10:8-10.

According to C.S. Lewis, the Holy Spirit is only accessible to those who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Mere Christianity details Cardinal and Theological Virtues. Cardinal virtues include prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. These traits are available to everyone who strides to obtain mental health. Yet, access to the Theological virtues of charity, hope and faith is limited to active believers in Jesus. Therefore, if you want to truly celebrate mental health, embrace Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Remaining Above the Fray

The expression above the fray refers to abstaining from getting involved in a heated argument, confrontation or debate.  While individuals may participate by adding their opinion, temperance is demonstrated by going the right distance and no further.  One of the reasons I have not activated my twitter account is to avoid being dragged into a no win situation of endless mudslinging back and forth.

But avoid foolish and ill-informed and stupid controversies and genealogies and dissensions and quarrels about the Law, for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers], Titus 3:9-11.

Controversy is nothing new.  During the first century, philosophers meet in the marketplace to exchange their ideas.  When these new teachings conflicted with biblical principles, dissensions and quarrels about the God’s law triggered heresy, a departure from biblical beliefs.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns a servant of Christ to avoid getting sucked into these futile discussions.  In the centuries following biblical times, God raised up Christian historians who wrote apologetic books defending and justifying biblical truth.

Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ], Philippians 2:1-2.

The best solution to remain above the fray is by developing a Christ-like mind.  Arguments tend to bring out raw emotions that influences human nature to attack, lash out and seek revenge.  Yet, Jesus shares a contrary message, to let God judge the living and the dead.  Jesus had the power to call down fire from heaven as the Son of God, but he choose to live a humble life as a blue collar carpenter.  By taking time every day to meet quietly with God, this spiritual discipline empowered Jesus to carry out God’s will on earth.  When individuals begin to practice Philippians 2:2-5, attitudes will transform toward a heavenly mindset to remain above the fray.

by Jay Mankus

A Sign of Wisdom

When I become frustrated, sarcasm is the first thing to come out of my mouth.  If I’m not careful, these words can become foreplay before I erupt with anger.  The biblical definition of temperance refers to going as far as permissible and no further.  Perhaps, this might explain why the apostle Paul suggests “in your anger, do not sin.”

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues, Proverbs 17:28.

Meanwhile, Solomon addresses a similar issue with the Israelites.  There are several moments in life when its better to kept silent, refraining from saying something that you might regret.  Maybe this is where parents get their expression, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”  Either way, this advice provides a sign of wisdom.

So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs, 2 Corinthians 2:11.

One of my college professors use to remind our class, if you don’t learn from history you will simply repeat the mistakes of the past.  The passage above serves as a warning that Satan is on the prowl, looking to pounce on a weak soul.  Thus, you should not be ignorant of his schemes, Ephesians 6:10-12.  In view of this knowledge, put on the shield of faith.  Those who wear the armor of God daily will serve as a sign of wisdom to those living in darkness.

by Jay Mankus

 

Teetotalism in Religion

As dictionaries are updated annually, important words from history are fading from the forefront.  Instead, slang, tech terms and pop culture is redefining societies vocabulary.  One of these obsolete words is teetotalism, a stringent form of following the rules.  Islam or Muslims  is one of the few faiths which practice teetotalism in adherence to the 5 pillars.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis addresses teetotalism in a chapter called The Cardinal Virtues, values that anyone can possess.  Lewis suggests that initially, teetotalism was a form of temperance, going the right distance and no further.  Like anything in life, context, time and understanding alter the meaning of words.  Thus, teetotalism in the context of religion is merely knowing the boundaries between the right and wrong and failing to cross over this line.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

However, when faith is limited to an adherence to rules, meaning can be lost like Pharisees who strayed from God’s commands.  Rather, Jesus doesn’t care what you wear to church on Sunday; only that you come as you are, ditching the facade the fake put on.  Once souls reach the understanding that you can’t do it on your own, Romans 6:23, spiritual hunger is conceived.  Free will enables hearts to wait until they are ready.  When this day arrives, believers won’t have to rely on teetotalism anymore.  Instead, a desire for biblical truth will prompt individuals to pray, read the Bible and worship the Lord 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

Staying Cool When the Heat is On

Before any volcanic eruption occurs, there are subtle signs.  Tremors, increased steam and ground swells are some of the warning signals scientists have uncovered to prepare nearby residents.  As for human beings, increased tension, a red complexion and short temper are precursors to someone blowing their top.

Regardless of how disciplined someone may be, its hard to stay cool when the heat is on.  In the days of my youth, there were numerous occasions when I lost my composure.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about Cardinal Virtues.  One of these 4 is known as temperance, going the right distance and no further.  While this trait is available to everyone, you can’t stay cool when the heat is on all by yourself.

According to 2 Timothy 1:7, the Holy Spirit is the piece of the puzzle  individuals are missing.  When push comes to shove in the form of temptation, a spirit of anger lurks in the air.  Don’t fool yourself with over confidence or you too may fall, 1 Corinthians 10:12.  Place your trust in the words of Proverbs 3:5-6; then you too can stay cool when the heat is on.

by Jay Mankus

 

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