RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the Garden of Eden

Blinded by Conceit

In this age of work, individuals who strive to become team players are invaluable. Being able to see the greater good makes your business, department or office more efficient and successful. Developing this mindset is like the apostle Paul’s analogy in 1 Corinthians 12:4-8. Whenever you find a role where you thrive, this is where you should excel and remain like a church body with many parts that becomes a well oiled machine. While this is the ideal scenario, seeking attention, fame or praise from others causes many to become blinded by conceit.

He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did, 1 Timothy 3:6.

In the passage above, Paul is listing spiritual qualifications that a pastor should look for as they recruit a leadership team within their church. Since Paul is writing to a teenage pastor who may be persuaded by unqualified individuals, he doesn’t want Timothy to select a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Anyone can make a good first impression, but the longer you are around someone will reveal their true character and nature. Even adults who become Christians later in life have to grow up and mature by putting on the mind of Christ while purging their old self, Colossians 3:1-4.

Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap, 1 Timothy 3:7.

However, cunning individuals like the serpent in the Garden of Eden will keep on pushing the envelope. Meanwhile, Lucifer has the ability to present himself as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14. According to Paul, Lucifer’s fall from heaven was due to being blinded with conceit. Perhaps. when the Psalmist writes “pride comes before the fall” is eluding to Lucifer and those who follow in his footsteps. Pride can be like having blinders on, unable to see the errors of your way. Therefore, before pride becomes fully developed, snap out of this spiritual funk as soon as possible.

by Jay Mankus

The Source Behind a Fall from Grace

Depending upon your reading comprehension, you may read for speed to get through as many pages as possible or take your time so that you don’t miss anything. I tend to follow the latter, slow and steady, searching for patterns that tie everything together. After reading 1 Timothy 4, I was reminded by something I read earlier in this letter written by the apostle. What I found was a similar explanation to explain an individual’s fall from grace.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but [the] woman who was deceived and deluded and fell into transgression.15 Nevertheless [the sentence put upon women of pain in motherhood does not hinder their souls’ salvation, and] they will be saved [eternally] if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control, [saved indeed] through the Childbearing or by the birth of the divine Child, 1 Timothy 2:14-15.

According to the apostle Paul, the source behind original sin was deception. As the Spirit of Lucifer entered into the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Eve was convinced that God’s rule about eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was holding her back. Rather than reject this new age of thinking, thoughts planted within Eve gave birth to a spirit of lust. The more Eve stared at this low hanging fruit, it was only a matter of time before her fall from grace.

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

As the second coming of Jesus approaches, a similar mindset will return. Rather than using merely deception to delude God’s commands, demonic spirits will seduce weakened minds. Like itching ears eager to indulge in gossip, a simple story is taken out of context, filled with distortions, exaggerations and lies. If a lie is told over and over again, especially by the media, it won’t be long before the innocent are deceived, on their way to another fall from grace.

by Jay Mankus

God’s First Patient in Need of Mental Health

The summer of 2021 has brought back a sense of normalcy for those who have endured and survived the Coronavirus. Yet, a series of professional athletes from multiple sports have confessed an internal struggle that few people rarely verbalize. As golf and tennis stars have failed to meet and surpass their own expectations, depression, emotional distress and a lack of confidence has taken a toll on players like Naomi Osaka and Bubba Watson.

And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed, Genesis 4:4-5.

After his parents were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Cain was forced to farm on less fertile land. In fulfillment of the punishment placed upon Adam for his disobedience, Genesis 3:17, trying to plant crops in an arid climate made Cain’s trade increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, Cain’s little brother Abel was prospering as a shepherd. When a root of bitterness grew within Cain’s heart, God tried to intervene with a face to face conversation.

And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. And Cain said to his brother, Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? – Genesis 4:6-9

As earth’s first mental health session began in the passage above, Cain wasn’t very happy with what God was suggesting. Apparently, God could sense the envy and jealousy brewing within Cain’s heart. As this festered, evil thoughts entered into Cain’s mind. Instead of pushing back the idea of murder, the Devil convinced Cain to follow in his father’s footsteps of disobedience. Don’t wait until it’s too late to to break the sins of your parents, Exodus 20:5. Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart publicly so that healing and restoration can begin, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

Pro Wrestling and the Bible

I’m sorry for the spoiler alert, but pro wrestling is the not real. Whether you’re talking about a Steel Cage, Rumble or Tag Team Match, the outcome has already been decided. While the action is fast and furious with some wrestlers thrown out of the ring and into the stands, promoters predetermine who will win and who will lose. Yet, the main event is what usually draws an audience to watch, sort of knowing all long who will win.

And shall say to them, Hear, O Israel, you draw near this day to battle against your enemies. Let not your [minds and] hearts faint; fear not, and do not tremble or be terrified [and in dread] because of them. For the Lord your God is He Who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you, Deuteronomy 20:3-4.

Relying upon past experiences, Moses sensed God’s presence during the 10 Plagues during his time in Egypt. While Israel’s safe exodus out of Egypt seemed improbable, the Lord protected God’s people until they reach the Promised Land. However, slaying a land filled with giants didn’t sit well with 10 of the 12 spies sent out in Number 13. Nonetheless, the Lord your God goes out to fight for you against your enemies today, with little recognition or praise.

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [upon the soul] through [the abuse of] the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

In case you haven’t read the end of the Bible, spoiler alert #2, in the end God wins. The apostle Paul explains this spiritual victory in the passage above. Following original sin in the Garden of Eden, human nature separated human beings from God. Yet, Christ died and conquered death by rising from the grave 3 days later. This is what connects Professional Wrestling with the Bible, the outcome is known. Yet, the only question remaining is “have you made your reservation?” See 1 John 5:13 and Romans 10:9-11 for further instructions.

by Jay Mankus

Obscured and Covered Up

Every day there are chances and opportunities to encounter God. Yet, busyness, other priorities, and a lack of time conceal most people from seeing individuals sent by God. Instead of stopping to chat, entertain or engage these divine messengers, blinders prevent most from even saying hello. Perhaps, the apostle Paul witnessed a similar pattern in the first century as spiritual truth was obscured and covered up.

But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost, 2 Corinthians 4:3.

Paul blames this on the god of this age, Ephesians 2:2, who roams the earth as the ruler of the air. This fallen angel is not a fictional character in the latest Sci-fi film. Rather, Lucifer is real, using the same tactics that led Adam and Eve to break God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:16-17. When you allow subtle compromises to bend your belief system, it doesn’t take long for bad habits to become full blown sin, James 1:13-15.

For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Despite growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, the Gospel of Jesus was obscured and covered up. Church was a religious exercise for me, void of any personal relationship. Attending church quickly became a chore, not a forum to worship a living God. After 15 years of being close, my coach and mentor Ken Horne unveiled to me what Christianity was all about. Following a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s event, my eyes were opened as I began my journey in faith, Romans 10:9-10. May this blog inspire you to unmask blinded minds of those whom you love today.

by Jay Mankus

God Doesn’t Move… But Many Run Away

The phrase “like father like son” first appeared in 1616, written within a book called Bibliotheca Scholastica Instructissima.  This piece included proverbs collected by an Englishman named Thomas Draxe.  Apparently, this idiom existed in the English language prior to this date, verbally communicated in similar manners or ways.  The point expressed by this saying implies that sons tend to emulate their fathers in action. behavior and word.  The eyes of a young child are watching, copying what they see.

Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked; and they fastened fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:7-8.

The Bible has another way of explaining like father like son.  The theological term used in the Old Testament is generational sins: weaknesses or tendencies that are handed down to individuals through the generations from parents or members of a family. These sins can involve behavioral patterns and ways of thinking that keep us trapped in the past.  When Adam and Eve broke the only rule in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:16-17, God didn’t move, but this couple ran, hiding in shame.

Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers upon the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers],” Exodus 34:6-7.

When the news that Aaron, his brother, helped the people of Israel create a golden calf, righteous anger led Moses to break the 10 commandments.  After coming back down the mountain, Moses introduces generation sins with the phrase iniquities of the father.  Any violation of God’s moral law is considered an iniquity.  Thus, each time a father strays from the Word of God, setting a bad example for his children, these sinful tendencies are passed down three to four generations.  Isaac learned how to lie from his father Abraham, Jacob’s family was notorious for disguising the truth and Solomon developed an unwholesome obsession with women after his birth from an adulterous affair.

‘Because the Lord was not able to bring these people into the land which He promised to give them, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ 17 But now, please, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving wickedness and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting (avenging) the wickedness and guilt of the fathers on the children, to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers],’ Numbers 14:16-18.

Everyone has some sort of tendency to collect or pick what they see on a daily basis.  This subconscious practice shapes who you and I become.  Some may do this to fit in, others to obtain a hobby with a few to merely pass time.  Nonetheless, the scene in the Garden of Eden is replayed daily when conviction leads to guilt and shame.  Instead of drawing near to God, many run away ashamed, embarrassed and haunted by past mistakes.  When any hopes for perfection are shattered, may the grace of God lead you to stick around.  Wait for God’s forgiveness and mercy to be poured out through confession like a cold glass of water on a hot and humid day.

by Jay Mankus

Tithes and Lives

According to the book of Genesis, the first family on earth felt compelled to make offerings to the Lord.  It’s unclear if God first communicated the concept of a tithe to Adam while living in the Garden of Eden or later on in life.  Nonetheless, sons of Adam, Cain and Abel began to practice what is referred to as first fruits.  As a farmer, Cain brought forth crops during the harvest.  Meanwhile, little brother Abel was a shepherd, not withholding any expense, presenting the Lord with some of his finest sheep.  These offerings often reveal who trusts God completely from those whom are still trying to control the steering wheel.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord, Genesis 4:3.

Like buying Christmas gifts, some individuals have the means to purchase anything they want.  Meanwhile, the majority have to set spending limits to avoid going into debt.  This limitation can create animosity between family members or friends over the holidays.  If you expect a certain amount of gifts in your mind, any type of high expectations can lead to disappointment.  From God’s perspective, He is the Creator of life, a spiritual father to all.  Unfortunately, human nature breeds selfishness, causing many to forget about God the Father, like the wayward child in the parable of the prodigal son.

And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, Genesis 4:4.

The prophet Isaiah uses the term Emmanuel to refer to the coming Messiah, Jesus.  When translated into English, Emmanuel means God with us.  Perhaps, this inspired three Magi to each bring gifts from their lands.  One brought gold, another frankincense and the last myrrh.  If there is a lesson people can learn from these three wise men it’s that tithes and lives go together.  Giving tithes and transforming lives go hand in hand.  As Christmas Day approaches, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to give back to God through tithes and a rededicated life to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Sorry

Every year terms are added to the dictionary to keep up with an ever changing vocabulary.  Meanwhile, other words are modified as cultural slang redefines ordinary phrases.  One such word is sorry which ironically means deplorable, an insult to Trump supporters.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

Growing up, sorry was something that the Fonz couldn’t say, often stuttering before completing a sentence.  Sure, its been decades since Happy Days was a prime time hit series, but watching television tends to distinguish one generation from the next.  Subsequently, sorry has lost its original intent.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin, Psalm 32:5.

To confess any wrong doing tends to diffuse a tense situation.  Yet, this generation allows pride to get in the way, afraid of the consequences of coming clean.  Thus, instead of saying, “I’m sorry,” the blame game Adam began in the Garden of Eden continues.  Like a never ending game of Jumanji, true remorse has been abandoned.  May this blog inspire individuals to embrace a spirit of reconciliation and practice saying, “I’m sorry.”

by Jay Mankus

Envy

When an American talks about the first family, they are usually referring the president and their family.  However, the Bible also has a first family.  Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel.  Everything was perfect until Adam and Eve broke God’s only rule.  Following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a curse was unleashed.  Subsequently, the human flesh was inflected with envy.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

When life as a farmer hit a snag, Cain struggled to provide for his family.  This lack of production influenced Cain to cut back on his first fruit offering.  In the meantime, his kid brother Abel decided to become a shepherd.  Based upon the early portion of chapter 4, Abel gave the first portion of his profits to the Lord.  This offering pleased God, but conceived envy within the heart of Cain.  This is the beginning of how envy rots the bones.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones, Proverbs 14:30.

Envy is like a double edged sword.  On one side envy is self-seeking, wishing you possessed what others have.  All the while, this same sinful nature is causing individuals to disconnect from God.  Unless this desire is cut off, envy will continue to cut to heart, poison souls and rot human bones.  For those of you caught up by this spiritual disease, start by implementing the words of Colossians 3:4-7.  From here, confess, pray and enter into accountability relationships to rid yourself of any ill-effects of this addictive nature.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Draw Near

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is limited to a few select individuals.  After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden at the end of Genesis 3, intimacy with God was severed.  Thus, God revealed himself to the forefathers of Israel, prophets and some leaders to guide and direct their paths.  However, due to continued disobedience throughout several centuries, God decides go silent for 400 years serving as a transition for the New Testament.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Before Jesus arrived on to the scene, priests were used as a mediator between God and mankind.  To atone for sin, priests performed animals sacrifices with the shedding of blood to cleanse individuals, families and cities from their transgressions.  Without practicing this biblical principle, forgiveness is not obtained.  Therefore, drawing near to God can not occur unless repentance and contrition has been completed.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The new covenant introduced to his disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus eliminated the need for the Old Testament practice mentioned above.  Described as the Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice without blemish, Jesus laid down his own life so that in Him, we too might have life.  While worshiping God at a building, home or a temple is still a vital aspect of faith, you can draw near to God anywhere and anytime.  As you draw near, God’s grace is a free gift available to all approach the Lord with a sincere heart, eager to forgive sinners as far as the East is from the West.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: