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Tag Archives: the apostle Paul

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

 

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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

Stages of the Heart

Solomon refers to the heart as the well spring of life.  This vital organ controls the flow of blood throughout the human body using the circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to internal tissues.  Unfortunately, accidents, age and viruses each influence the degree to which each heart functions.  From an external perspective, anxiety, depression and stress also wage war on human hearts.  These spiritual factors result in what I call the stages of the heart; shifting some where between soft, hard and moldable.

“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds,” Jeremiah 17:10.

The first phase is soft like Jell-O.  This type of heart is extremely sensitive, causing individuals to over react or read too much into a conversation.  If you try to pick up a piece of Jell-O, it can shake like an uncontrollable wave.  Emotional outbursts are an obvious sign of this condition, revealing an immature heart.  People that fall into this category need to toughen up, learning to better cope and deal with things beyond their control.  Placing your sole trust in Jesus is a good place to start for soft hearts, Proverbs 3:5-6.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

The polar opposite of this stage is a calloused heart, hardened by various trials and tribulations that people have endured.  When minds became jaded by what you feel to be an unfair hand dealt by God, circumstances are prime for hearts to turn to stone.  The group Foreigner once sang about this condition, using an analogy to compare a woman’s heart to be As Cold As Ice.  Hardened hearts often reflect someone who is apathetic, no longer caring about things in life as they once did.  When struck firmly, these hearts can shatter.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

The final stage are hearts molded out of clay.  During a letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul refers to God as Abba Father.  When translated into English, this refers to a child being molded and fashioned by a spiritual father.  When clay is dropped or falls, the potter can fix, repair and reshape the clay back into its original form.  Thus, the goal in this life is to develop a moldable heart, open to God’s advice in the Bible.  While no one knows what tomorrow brings, may the Lord give you a new heart and spirit to thrive in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Where Envy and Resentment Can Lead You

Envy and Resentment are like a notorious WWE Tag Team Wrestling Champion.  Envy begins each bout, distracting opponents by focusing on what others have instead of how God has blessed you.  The moment you fail prey to this tactic, resentment hits you over the head with a chair.  This is immediately followed by a punch to your gut before ending up in a headlock, struggling to break free.  Anyone who fails to come to their senses will be dragged away like a rag doll.  This is how envy and resentment lead people to some of the most vile and wretched places on earth.

Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had turned Jesus over to him because of envy and resentment, Mark 15:9-10.

During the first century, Jesus was despised by the ruling class.  The thought of a carpenter from Nazareth developing a massive spiritual following offended the chief priests, elders and scribes.  When his disciples failed to adhere to Jewish ceremonial laws, this lack of observance opened the door for envy and resentment to consume these religious leaders.  If Jesus’ popularity continued without some sort of intervention, the power of future Pharisees and Sadducees was in jeopardy of being stripped away.  Thus, envy and resentment fueled this elite group to conspire, plot and pressure authorities to crucify Jesus.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice, Ephesians 4:31.

When the apostle Paul turned his back on Judaism to follow Jesus Christ, he began to experience pushback from envy and resentment.  Human nature feeds off of the acts of the sinful nature, thriving on venting frustrations as well as unleashing your anger on others.  Yet, if this run away train of emotions possesses you, exhibit A features Cain who killed his brother due to jealousy.  Today, America’s ruling establishment is teaming up with the deep state to foil Donald Trump’s presidency.  This resistance has lasted more than a year, crushing souls along the way.  Perhaps its time to take a step back before envy and resentment devours another victim.  May the passages above convict hearts before any further actions are taken.  If not, envy and resentment may lead participants to an undesirable eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

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