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Tag Archives: the grace of God

Falling Apart

If you have ever played golf or watched a high school match, you understand the expression falling apart. After coaching for a decade, there is nothing worse than observing a teenager lose their confidence. Since there is no coaching during a hole, all you can do is encourage, pray and uplift players on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

As a parent of a freshman and junior, I spend two days a week each spring following both of my kids. Today, a series of showers turned a warm overcast day into a fight for survival. When my daughter had a bad hole I switched over to watch my son who had his worst round of the season. Perhaps, I was the bad luck charm as wherever I went players kept falling apart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

The Psalmist provides a message of hope for anyone on the verge of falling apart. David reflects upon a time in his life where his heart was broken and spirit crushed. When David pretended to be insane before Abimelech, he hit rock bottom, ashamed of his current state of mind. Yet, by the grace of God, the Lord brought David through this difficult time. The same applies today for anyone who falls apart. Thus, in future moments of despair, cry out to Jesus who promises healing and restoration to the brokenhearted.

by Jay Mankus

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Witchcraft: Fact or Fiction

According to a report that broke late last week, a coven of witches in New York plans to hold an event this week.  The purpose of this public gathering is to perform a ritual to place a hex on recent Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  I watched a segment on cable news over the weekend as a liberal guest speculated on what the sponsors of this ceremony hope to accomplish.  While neither claimed to be an authority on hexing, this news story makes me wonder if witchcraft is fact or fiction?

Then Saul said to his servants, “Find for me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], so that I may go to her and ask her advice.” His servants said to him, “There is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.” So Saul disguised himself by wearing different clothes, and he left with two men, and they came to the woman at night. He said to her, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up [from the dead] for me [the spirit] whom I shall name to you.” But the woman said to him, “See here, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off (eliminated) those who are mediums and spiritists from the land. So why are you laying a trap for my life, to cause my death?” 10 Then Saul swore [an oath] to her by the Lord, saying, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this.” 11 So the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed with a loud voice; and she said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!” 13 The king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but [tell me] what do you see?” The woman said to Saul, “I see a divine [superhuman] being coming up from the earth,” 1 Samuel 28:7-13.

One of the most detailed passages in the Bible in relation to witches occurs in the Old Testament.  In the passage above, the witch of Endor is compared to a medium.  The best modern comparison to this woman would be the show Crossing Over.  John Edward is a psychic who claims to be able to communicate with the spirits of dead members of his audience.  At the height of this shows popularity, I asked my senior pastor what he thought about Edward’s gift.  Based upon the encounter above, able to communicate with Samuel, he believed certain individuals do have a special ability.  While certain parts of Crossing Over may be faked or over dramatized, some experiences are genuine.

O you foolish and thoughtless and superficial Galatians, who has bewitched you [that you would act like this], to whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified [in the gospel message]? This is all I want to ask of you: did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying [the requirements of] the Law, or was it the result of hearing [the message of salvation and] with faith [believing it]? Are you so foolish and senseless? Having begun [your new life by faith] with the Spirit, are you now being perfected and reaching spiritual maturity by the flesh [that is, by your own works and efforts to keep the Law]? Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing—if indeed it was all for nothing? So then, does He who supplies you with His [marvelous Holy] Spirit and works miracles among you, do it as a result of the works of the Law [which you perform], or because you [believe confidently in the message which you] heard with faith? – Galatians 3:1-5

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses witchcraft in a different context.  A group of zealous religious leaders were unable to let go of the traditions of Judaism.  Thus, this sect known as the Judaizers began to add conditions to salvation.  When the apostle Paul visited the church in Galatia, these individuals had tricked members through excessive legalism, slowly forgetting about the grace of God and freedom in Christ.  This compelled Paul to ask, “who bewitched you?”  Paul uses the analogy of a witch casting a spell over these church members, forgetting everything that Paul had taught during a previous visit.

 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places, Ephesians 6:10-12.

After searching through the scriptures, there are only 2 questions left to address: what is a hex and are witches real?  According to the dictionary, a hex refers to casting a spell over someone or something.  The purpose of this act is to jinx a person by calling upon demonic powers.  When you search placing a hex on someone, most of my searches tied nexing to voodoo, taking a pin and placing it in a voodoo doll.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul reveals three different realms of darkness.  Physical opponents in the form of rulers, worldly forces that tempt individuals to be lured into darkness and spiritual forces of evil.  While modern day witches may not resemble characters from Bewitched, Charmed or other Hollywood shows, witches do exist and can harm the body of Christ by placing curses of those they deem to be the enemy.  Thus, its essential to use prayer as a hedge of protection to prevent you and your family from current or future curses.

by Jay Mankus

Bitterness or Sweet?

Depending upon how well your are connected in your community or at work, it doesn’t take much to notice the content from the disenfranchised.  Some people feed off of bitterness, often poisoning positive individuals.  Meanwhile, the encouraging need to work extra hard to ward off negativity.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; Hebrews 12:15.

When my children  were younger, I enjoyed watching Veggie Tales.  My favorite was the Rumor Weed illustrating an important lesson for anyone.  If you allow evil to take root in your life, bitterness usually follows.  For this reason, the author Hebrews warns readers about how bitterness can become an obstacle to obtaining God’s grace.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Sweetness is received when sinners are forgiven, pardoned by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Yet, there are forces of darkness that continue to steal joy from this life.  As demonic influences manipulate unknowing accomplices, some are deceived calling evil good.  If you listen and watch carefully to voices in the media, Isaiah’s prophecy is being fulfilled.  In view of this growing bitterness, may the power of the Holy Spirit protect you and lead you to the sweet promises of hope found in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

The DNA of Sin

Deoxyribonucleic acid is the hereditary material within human beings.  These molecules provide genetic instructions for growth, development, function and reproduction.  Although each DNA is unique, genetics are passed down through parents from generation to generation.  However, this does not excuse behavior as free will is exercised for the good and bad decisions made.

You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned, Titus 3:11.

According to the apostle Paul, some individuals possess the DNA of sin.  Perhaps, some individuals possess a greater tendency to commits acts of disobedience than others.  Yet, like anything in life, the deeper you get attached or addicted to something, the further away from God you become.  Thus, whether its DNA or disobedience, be careful with the choices you make.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

One of the Old Testament prophets points to another factor.  Jeremiah reveals that the human heart can become like a poison that spreads throughout the entire body.  This disease is what the Bible calls sin.  Unfortunately, there is no known cure.  Nonetheless, the medication necessary to overcome this dire situation is the grace of God.  Therefore, whether you are walking in darkness, standing in the light or somewhere in between, may the power of the Holy Spirit help you overcome the DNA of sin.

by Jay Mankus

Breaking it Down

If you are an avid sports fan like me, you probably enjoy watching post game shows following a favorite teams game.  After a win, you revel in watching the highlights that led to victory.  However, in defeat you want to know what happened; searching for the reason why your team lost as analysts break down the film.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do, Romans 7:15.

Unfortunately, the older I get, the more analytical I become.  Subsequently, I do the same thing with my own life, trying to point a finger on why I’m not getting the results I expect.  While some may consider this a waste of time, this is merely a way that I discern what I need to do different in the future.

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin, Romans 7:25.

The breakdown to life on earth is pretty simple.  Mankind was on a path toward destruction, destined for hell.  Yet, this is where Jesus stepped in, taking the fall for every sin ever committed.  Thus, despite my own failed attempts to step out of trouble, the grace of God is available to those who believe.  May the Lord open your eyes as the Bible breaks down God’s plan for eternity.

by Jay Mankus

 

Rules Without Reason

As a former high school teacher, I spent ten years hearing teenagers complain about rules without reason.  While students enjoy testing a teacher’s limits, pushing the envelope as far as possible, these complaints aren’t without merit.  Sometimes I established rules that didn’t make sense.  Following a methods course in Classroom Dynamics, I began to see the error of my way.  Thus, I started to alter, change and eliminate any rules without reason.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? – Luke 14:28

Unfortunately, the government not only thrives on creating rules without reason, new legislation often provides positions to enforce these new policies.   While cell phone and texting laws are practical, some states have made it illegal to eat and drive.  In fact if you want a big gulp from 7 Eleven, local officials are trying to prevent individuals from purchasing anything over 24 ounces.  It’s no wonder that Frank Baum wrote the Wizard of Oz to illustrate the empty promises made by the United States government.  Perhaps, a candidate in 2016 will run on the platform of ending rules without reason.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God, Romans 13:1.

The government is not the only culprit, as the church is not far behind, relying on theology written several hundred or in some cases thousands of years ago.  In an attempt to force a congregation to adhere to a denominations’ beliefs, teetotalism can surface.  This stringent enforcement contradicts free will, resulting in members feeling like they have the power to police others in the church.  Perhaps, its time to exchange religion for a personal relationship with God.  In doing so, the grace of God will flow as rules without reason are replaced with faith.

by Jay Mankus

The Final Weigh In

During my sophomore year of college, my parents moved from Delaware to Cleveland, Ohio.  In my first summer, I met some friends working at a local country club, one whom I instantly clicked with.  When he wasn’t serving as my sand volleyball partner, Eddy wrestled for Cleveland State.  Always conscience of his weight, Eddy shared about the discipline and sacrifices necessary to make weight for his matches.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way, Daniel 1:8.

Today, my oldest son James deals with a similar issue on a weekly basis.  Before each Pole Vault competition, you have a weigh in before a judge.  Depending upon the scale, your pole is determined based upon your weight.  Thus, if you weigh just a pound over the legal limit, you are forced to use a heavy pole, not as flexible as the lighter ones.  A few weeks ago James had to lose five pounds in 24 hours just to compete.

At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food, Daniel 1:15.

Following ten days of eating fruits and vegetables, there was a noticeable difference between Daniel and rest of those in the king’s service.  While there wasn’t a scale to step on, Daniel and his Jewish friends found favor with God.  Under different circumstances, I had one last weigh in upon completing my Daniel Fast.  To my surprise, I lost 16 pounds in 21 days.  Although part of me wants to continue to lose weight, that’s not my main priority.  One day everyone will have their final weigh in on judgement day.  When this day arrives, may the grace of God be merciful on this sinner.  Prepare now for your own final weigh in.

by Jay Mankus

 

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