RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the apostle Paul

Can Tough Love Go Too Far?

Bill Milliken wrote a book entitled Tough Love in 1968. Milliken refers to tough love as an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run. While modern scholars point to Milliken as the originator of this term, the apostle Paul appears to have used a similar strategy in the first century. When I first read the passage below, my initial thought was that Paul went a little too far by handing a sinner over to Satan. Paul’s explanation for this punishment was to bring about repentance.

So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5.

According to 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth isn’t what we now know as 1 Corinthians. The purpose of this initial letter was to address a spiritual emergency. Based upon the beginning of chapter 5, a sex scandal reared it’s ugly head in the form of incest. Some Bible scholars have suggested that the tone of Paul’s initial letter to Corinth was so harsh and over the top with tough love that it was excluded from consideration from the Bible during the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.

Not [meaning of course that you must] altogether shun the immoral people of this world, or the greedy graspers and cheats and thieves or idolaters, since otherwise you would need to get out of the world and human society altogether! 11 But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person. 1 Corinthians 5:10-11.

After Paul’s anger cools off, parameters are set to avoid similar incidents from occurring within the church. Paul’s advice is centered around taking careful considerations about who you associate with. To avoid becoming like the Amish, Paul provides a series of guidelines for the friends that you make and keep. The goal isn’t to shun the world. Rather, Paul references Psalm 1:1 to highlight who you walk with, stand with and join. Maybe tough love can go too far, but when used to protect vulnerable souls from walking away from God, it is an effective tool to bring about repentance.

by Jay Mankus

The Spirit of the World

According to Luke, the apostle Paul spent a year and a half visiting the church of Corinth. Following a visit to Athens, Paul headed to southern Greece, Acts 18:1. Philosophy, the search for wisdom and worldly traditions was a common topic of conversation at local marketplaces. Opening minds in Corinth to the spiritual dimension appears to have hit a snag. Paul blames this on the Spirit of the World in his first letter to the church.

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God, 1 Corinthians 2:12.

This term is not limited to the book of Acts. Paul writes two letters to a teenager pastor named Timothy building upon this concept. 1 Timothy 4:1 warns of a time coming in the near future where individuals will reject faith in God. Instead, people will turn their attention toward deluding and seductive spirits. Paul doesn’t hold back his feelings, suggesting the Spirit of the World teaches doctrines influenced by demons.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

If you follow current events, listen to talk radio or watch cable news, it appears this time has arrived. The Me Too Movement comes alive when a Conservative or Republican is accused of sexual assault or rape. However, whenever a Democrat or Liberal politician is under a similar investigation, the leaders of Me Too and the mainstream media become silent. When you examine this silence with logic, the Spirit of the World isn’t willing to allow truth to enter it’s domain, Ephesians 6:12. Powers of darkness fuel this invisible fight to ensure worldly views overshadow biblical worldviews.

by Jay Mankus

What Would the Bible Say about You?

At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul thanks those who worked quietly behind the scenes. Without these men and women, Paul’s ministry journeys would not have been possible or successful. Beginning with a deaconess and woman who opened her home as a congregational meeting place, Paul wanted to ensure that their contributions were not minimized or overlooked. Unlike the gospels where woman and children are excluded from the overall count of individuals present, Paul places women first on his list.

Now I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, That you may receive her in the Lord [with a Christian welcome], as saints (God’s people) ought to receive one another. And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many including myself [shielding us from suffering]. Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, Who risked their lives [endangering their very necks] for my life. To them not only I but also all the churches among the Gentiles give thanks, Romans 16:1-4.

In another letter to the church at Galatia, Paul breaks down his entire life into three stages. Galatians 1:11-24 serves as an outline for sharing your faith by detailing your life before knowing Jesus, your conversion experience and transformation since making this decision. While every faith story contains peaks and valleys, portions of your testimony will connect with or touch other souls. One of Jesus’ disciples urges first century Christians to be prepared, always ready to provide the reason for the hope that you have in God, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

[Remember me] also to the church [that meets] in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was a firstfruit (first convert) to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked so hard among you. Remember me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners. They are men held in high esteem among the apostles, who also were in Christ before I was. Remember me to Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, that one tried and approved in Christ (the Messiah). Remember me to those who belong to the household of Aristobulus, Romans 16:5-10.

As I turn our attention toward today, I’m curious about what modern writers might say. Would you receive a shout out like Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila or be out-shined by other believers? As you go to work, reside in a neighborhood and let your guard down at home, what do people notice? According to my children, I drive too fast, I’m impatient and too opinionated. Are your daily actions full of light or do moments of darkness blur the love of Jesus inside of you? The book of Acts ends abruptly. Some scholars suggest that either the final chapter was never fully completed or simply missing. When judgement day arrives, what will God say about you? Only time will tell so make the most of the days that the Lord gives you.

by Jay Mankus

Getting Dialed In

The origins of the expression “dialed in” is unclear.  The only agreement on this saying is that it pre dates cell phones.  There is a thought that dialed in refers back to the Vietnam War.  Whenever a soldier couldn’t do his or her assigned task within the required time or kept screwing up one of the crucial steps, getting dialed in was necessary to overcome their deficiencies.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established, Proverbs 16:3.

If you enjoy watching sporting events, whether its college, professional or the Olympics, most athletes are shown listening to wireless headphones prior to their competition.  Like any profession, there is a set schedule leading up to competitions, games and meets.  Certain styles of music have a way of preparing minds to focus.  While some may be more superstitious than others, listening to your favorite songs prior to competing is a common form of getting dialed in today.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Within a letter to the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul informs Christians on how to get dialed in spiritually.  Understanding the power of the sinful nature, Galatians 5:16-18, Paul warns believers that your mind must be renewed by the words of the Bible.  Unless a spiritual discipline of reading and studying the Bible is implemented, individuals are at risk of conforming to the world.  Therefore, if you want to get dialed in spiritually, follow the directions in Joshua 1:8 so that God’s voice and will become clear.

by Jay Mankus

How Praying Can Direct Your Life

A first century doctor provides a case study on prayer in the book of Acts.  Luke also served as a historian, traveling along side of the apostle Paul to document each missionary journey.  In the chapter below, Luke interviews a man named Cornelius and Peter about a special God instance.  Before meeting one another, each man prayed to God within a 24 hour period.  What takes place in the passage below illustrates how praying can direct your life.

About the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had come to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius was frightened and stared intently at him and said, “What is it, lord (sir)?” And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and gifts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God [an offering made in remembrance of His past blessings], Acts 10:3-4.

A centurion from an Italian Regiment is described as God fearing.  This reverence for God resulted in a devout faith; becoming a family man.  Cornelius earned a reputation for being a charitable man, giving donations to Jews and known as a prayer warrior.  Apparently, praying in the afternoon was a daily habit, resulting in a vision involving an angel from God.  This encounter results in a series of directions which Cornelius acts upon and follows.

The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” – Acts 10:9-13.

Meanwhile, 21 hours later God begins to move within Peter as he prays to the Lord.  During a conversation with Luke, Peter describes his experience to a trance.  The hunger within his stomach sets the stage for a teachable moment for Peter.  Initially, Peter rejects God’s message which is contrary to the law of Moses.  However, after God repeats himself a second time, Peter agrees to be open to this new teaching.  Thus, prayer gave a non-Jew in Cornelius hope while changing the heart of Peter to accept future Gentiles, non Jews.  If God can speak to two praying individuals, then image what God can do when communities pour their hearts out to God in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

How Close Is the End?

The introduction to each episode of the Days of Our Lives shows an hour glass flipped over.  The narrator of this soap opera follows with the words, “like sand through an hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”  The assumption made here is that life on earth is limited.  Eventually your time will expire, resulting in death.  The only question is how close is the end?  This fateful anticipation inspires cast members to live for the moment, without any care for tomorrow.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear], 2 Timothy 3:1.

The apostle Paul sheds light on the question above in a letter to a teenager.  Apparently, this first century pastor experienced a series of hardship.  Troubled by what he saw, his mentor Paul reached out to Timothy in the form of a two letters.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul unveils a list of events that will occur prior to the second coming of Jesus.  These acts, behaviors and outcomes highlight the fact that many will fall away from God in the last days.

For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them, 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

After hearing about what happened to students at Covington Catholic High School last weekend, it appears the checklist above is nearly complete.  Students wearing Make American Great Again hats were unknowingly targeted by a group of protesters.  This set up switched the facts of what happened, edited video to a couple of minutes to define a specific narrative and posted these on social media.  Once a couple of posts went viral, these teenage victims became the instigators.  Like chum in the water, cable news anchors, journalists and twitter followers created a feeding frenzy.  If this dishonest hit piece isn’t a clear sign that the end is near, it’s a foreshadowing of future persecution that Christians and conservatives will face.

by Jay Mankus

 

Within the Grasp of the Human Mind

Modern scientists tend to gravitate toward atheism, trusting only that which they can prove via science.  Others follow a similar path to C.S. Lewis, abandoning a childhood faith, encouraged by higher education professors who do not believe that God exists.  A more recent example is Lee Strobel, a former reporter for the Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald, eager to prove that Christianity is a fraud.  Strobel’s testimony can be found in the book and now movie The Case for Christ.  Regardless of what so called experts, the media and scholars proclaim, the answer to the meaning of life is within the grasp of the human mind.

“Those laws (of nature) are within the grasp of the human mind; God wanted us to recognize them by creating us after his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts,” Johannes Kepler in 1599.

During a trip to the new Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, I found this to be true.  On the second floor, Level 2, this exhibit is entitled the Impact of the Bible.  Like a living history book, there are hundreds of quotes from Colonists, Pilgrims, founding fathers, former presidents and past leaders of the United States.  Yet, other displays extend beyond our borders, documenting famous individuals in their fields throughout the world.  Two of the most intriguing comments come from a former astronomer and mathematician listed above and below.  Without mentioning scripture, each man appears to be referencing the invisible qualities of God, Romans 1:20.

“If the sacred scribes had had any intention of teaching people certain arrangements and motions of the heavenly bodies… then in my opinion they would not have spoken of these matters so sparingly, Galileo Galilei in a 1615 letter to the Grand Duchess of Christiana.

During his own letter to the church of Rome, the apostle Paul suggests that no should claim, “I didn’t know?”  Rather, the creation of the world reveals God’s invisible attributes.  A sunrise, the sun setting over an ocean and a rainbow following a storm are clear signs of a mastermind.  C.S. Lewis devotes the first section of Mere Christianity eluding to the Law of Human Nature.  While Lewis does highlight objections to this law, his words support what Galileo and Kepler have written.  If only human beings slowed down this Christmas season and stopped what they are doing for a moment, Psalm 46:10, the answers to the meaning of life are within the grasp of the human mind.  This revelation is just a prayer away.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Thought That Moved Jesus

The gospel according Luke was written by a first century doctor.  In the book of Acts, also penned by Luke, he becomes a close friend to the apostle Paul.  This relationship gives Luke more credibility as if a physician really needed anymore.  Nonetheless, Luke is the only author who refers to an unnamed group of 72 disciples.  Either Luke was one of these selected servants or he observed their ministry, feeling compelled to detail the role these men played in relation to Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Like the 12 disciples, Jesus divided each into teams of two, preparing cities, towns and villages for future visits by him.  This strategy was adopted by Billy Graham, working with local churches nearby upcoming crusades so that new converts would have a place to develop, grow and mature as Christians.

Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven,” Luke 10:20.

After delegating special authority to these 72 disciples, Jesus shares one final thought in the passage above.  To a certain extent, Jesus was concerned that some of these men might begin to think quietly, “look what I did.”  This reminder is spoken to help these individuals see the big picture in life.  It’s not about casting out demons or healing the sick.  The most important thing is whether your names are written in the book of life.  As Jesus verbalizes this message, this thought moved him as the words below suggest that Jesus becomes emotional and exuberant.  Perhaps, Jesus  is reminded that one of this own disciples, Judas Iscariot, is not a member of this book.  When something like this hits home, souls discard the meaningless aspects in life and develop a spiritual hunger to wins souls for eternity.

In that very hour He was overjoyed and rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and He said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things [relating to salvation] from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants [the childlike and untaught]. Yes, Father, for this way was [Your gracious will and choice, and was] well-pleasing in Your sight, Luke 10:21.

According to Luke’s words, the Holy Spirit spoke through Jesus.  In the passage above, Jesus eludes to a child like faith, the importance of maintaining your innocence.  Young children rely on their parents for their basic needs in life.  However, when kids grow up, some pursue education and wisdom rather than God.  Just as liberal college professors can challenge and overturn the values you were raised with, the Holy Spirit is the only source you need to alter your course.  This invisible counselor enables faith driven souls to understand the real meaning and purpose for being born.  During this interaction with 72 disciples, the thought of eternity moved Jesus to open up about this spiritual matter.

by Jay Mankus

Is There Such a Thing as Righteous Anger?

Anger Management is nothing to joke about, especially for those who struggle to maintain their composure when upset.  Yet, Hollywood created a 2003 film and television sitcom bearing the same name in 2012.  To the average person, there is a belief that getting angry is a sin.  This perception will lead non-believers to criticize Christians, referring to assertive comments, raised voices or certain tones like that displayed by Brett Kavanaugh as inappropriate behavior.  However, is there such a thing as righteous anger?

And Jesus entered the temple [grounds] and drove out [with force] all who were buying and selling [birds and animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and He turned over the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the chairs of those who were selling doves [for sacrifice]. 13 Jesus said to them, “It is written [in Scripture], My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den,” Matthew 21:12-13.

The Bible provides two specific examples to address this issue.  The first occurs as Jesus enters Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover Celebration.  While visiting the temple grounds, Jesus is disturbed by what he sees, a holy site turned into a money making operation.  This offended Jesus, inspiring righteous action, turning over these tables to shut down this shady business.  Jesus explains his reaction in verse 13, God’s house should be a place of prayer not a den of robbers.  Thus, in this case it appears righteous anger is acceptable in God’s sight.

Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down, Ephesians 4:26.

The second illustration comes from a letter written by the apostle Paul.  Most Bible translations of the passage above say “in your anger do not sin.”  However, the Amplified version takes this notion one step further by insisting to get angry when you see immorality, injustice or ungodly behavior.  This is followed by a warning, in your anger do not sin as these emotions might cause you to do something that you regret.  However, the Bible is clear about anger management.  You can become angry at those acts that upset God, but in your anger do not sin.

by Jay Mankus

The Righteous Mirror

The inventor of a silver glass mirror is credited to Justus von Liebig.  This German chemist used a thin layer of metallic silver onto glass through the chemical reduction of silver nitrate.  Prior to 1835, individuals could see their reflection from a still body of water under ideal conditions.  Yet, modern day mirrors enable the human eye to see fine details, revealing flaws and imperfections on your face and body.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God], 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul eludes to a righteous mirror.  Paul uses the term sanctifying grace, an ongoing spiritual process necessary to purify souls from sin that manifests itself on earth.  This concept is built upon in Paul’s second letter, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  Despite the reality of disobedient hearts, human error and repetitive mistakes, when God sees human beings, a righteous mirror reflects Christ in our place.

So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), Ephesians 6:14.

According to the Bible, the Devil uses numerous schemes to take your eyes off of Christ.  When your eyes aren’t fixed upon Jesus, you become vulnerable to Satanic attacks.  These come in the form of subtle temptations, thoughts and whispers that deviate from the Bible.  Thus, its essential to put on the armor of God.  This includes the belt of truth that hold the breastplate of righteous in place.  Just as a catcher in baseball uses a chest protector, Christians should apply the proper equipment.  When you do, you won’t see all your blemishes.  Rather, as you do, God will see the righteous of Jesus, Christ in you.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: