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Tag Archives: ungodly beliefs

My Ultimate Appeal

The 2006 film Amazing Grace details the life of William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the Atlantic slave trade.  Despite battling health issues, Wilberforce persisted through initial failed attempts to persuade fellow politicians.  Before his death in 1833, Wilberforce was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

“The Bible is my ultimate appeal… slavery is contrary to the example and precepts of our body and merciful Redeemer, and of his apostles… Slavery then is a national sin,” Angelina Grimke.

Fourteen years before the Civil War began, a woman from the south felt compelled to make an appeal to Christian women who also lived in the south.  Using the Bible as her main point of reference, Angelina Grimke wrote letters to persuade other believers.  One of these letters is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.  Excerpts from the quote above can be found within a display on the Bible’s impact on ending slavery.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1.

The apostle Paul makes a similar appeal during the first century.  However, the context of the passage above refers to spiritual slavery.  Some churches, denominations and leaders used fear, legalism and peer pressure to make followers conform to their demands.  A group known as the Judaizers began to infiltrate the church at Galatia.  This sect held on to Jewish rituals, adding circumcision to salvation by forcing members to comply.  This practice goes against free will as God doesn’t force individuals to do anything.  Rather, God gives people the choice to accept or reject Jesus.  Any teaching that strays from this is a form of slavery according to Paul.  Just as Angelina Grimke makes her ultimate appeal, God longs for souls who hunger and thirst for the Bible to avoid falling prey to ungodly beliefs.

by Jay Mankus

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Guilt by Association

Television is filled with shows based upon the concept guilt by association.  Whether you prefer dramas like Bones, Castle, CSI or NCIS, each follow a similar format.  A death, murder or victim is found in the opening scene.  Crime scene investigators collect evidence, put together a list of suspects and use modern technology to solve each case.  Initially, the obvious culprits are interviewed leading the audience in one direction before a twist or turn take authorities to a previously unknown person of interest.  Although some episodes are based upon true stories, viewers of these programs should be weary of their own friends with troubled pasts.

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers), Psalm 1:1.

The first chapter of the longest book in the Bible addresses guilt by association.  The passage above provides a short list of what to do and what not to do.  The author uses walking to illustrate how you can begin hanging out the wrong people.  Though walking is an innocent act, its like an open door into another world.  The further you walk with someone, the more you begin to accept, embrace and stand for ungodly beliefs.  However, the moment you sit down with this crowd, joining and participating in similar acts commences.  This passage serves as a warning, encouraging souls to avoid guilt by association through seeking God’s blessings.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity], Psalm 1:2-3.

The passage above provides a blueprint for those who desire to please God.  Meditating on God’s Word, the Bible helps prevent individuals from walking, standing and joining inappropriate acts, behavior and deeds.  Meanwhile, spiritual disciplines like Bible Study, prayer and worship rejuvenate souls daily as if drinking from the living water mentioned in John 4:14.  If you clearly want to avoid guilt by association in the future, live out the apostle Paul’s advice in Colossians 2:6-7 to become deeply rooted in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction states: I attract to myself, whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to; whether wanted or unwanted.  When this term is mentioned, there are two other alternative theories.  One refers to electrostatics dealing with the attraction and repulsion of electric charges.  Another is related to the law above, but credits self-fulfilled prophecies where individuals are influenced by anxiety, doubt or worry.  By dwelling on ungodly beliefs such as I’m going to get sick, fail or get into an accident, these thoughts become reality.  Thus, the law of attraction uses positive and negative thinking to shape what will come to be in the future.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed, Mark 1:32.

This same principle can be applied to the spiritual life.  Faith is dependent upon conviction, desire and hunger to draw near to God.  Those who possess this spiritual attraction will find the time to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord.  When earthly distractions get in the way, attention is steered in other directions resulting in changed priorities.  The closer you get to God, the more the Holy Spirit exposes your imperfections like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15, claiming to be the greatest sinner of all.  Meanwhile, the further you drift apart from God, the better you feel, relying on justification and rationalization to approve of your actions.

The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was, Mark 1:33-34.

Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine during a wedding reception in Cana often overshadow others that followed.  After Jesus cast out a demon within a Capernaum synagogue, the people were amazed.  According to John Mark, the entire town gathered outside of Simon Peter’s house.  The passage above illustrates the law of attraction, drawn to Jesus like groupies flocking to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, professional athlete or rock star.  However, in this case Jesus takes the time to cure the sick, drive out demons and heal others with various ailments.  May this blog speak to your heart as your strive to become like the citizens of Capernaum, eager to wait upon the Lord to be healed.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Power of Thanksgiving

The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is ydh, referring to a public acknowledgement.  Greek uses the term efcharisto meaning the sense of appreciation, inspiring an expression of gratitude.  When a spirit of thanksgiving is verbalized to the down trodden, hurting and needy, affirmations can uplift anyone feeling down in the dumps.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 106:1

Unfortunately, there is a negative force at work in the world, breeding critics, complaining and condemnation.  Whenever human beings give into the sinful nature, acts of the flesh come forth, usually in a cruel and harsh manner.  This mental barrier prevents individuals from doing the right thing as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 7.  The only way to break free from this addictive habit is through Jesus Christ.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As a former professional golfer, my mind always got in the way, preventing me from reaching my full potential on the golf course.  Yet, the mind also hampers those off the course, in real life, whispering doubts, failure and ungodly beliefs into your head.  Unless you confront this battle with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, victories will be few and far between.  Despite this troubling reality, with God all things are possible.  Therefore, if you want to make a difference this holiday season, unleash the power of Thanksgiving by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

Places Where Dreams Die

According to the 1993 film, Rudy Ruettiger was an average athlete and middle of the road student with dreams that seemed far fetched.  Thus, Rudy took a job at a local Steel Mill, buying some time.  When his best friend Pete dies in an accident at the mill, Rudy finds himself at a crossroads.  During the funeral Rudy comes to the realization, “if I don’t leave now my dream will never happen,” dying at a dead end job.  Standing at a Greyhound Bus Station, Rudy’s father shares a series of ungodly beliefs, filled with negativity, hoping his son stays.  Deep down Rudy Ruettiger sensed that remaining in his hometown was another place where dreams can die.

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

Meanwhile, Homer Hickam faced his own set of struggles illustrated in the 1999 movie October Sky.  Playing the role of the younger brother, Homer could never escape the shadow of big brother Jim, a football star destined for a college scholarship.  Despite his efforts, Homer was unable to compete with his brother’s popularity or talents.  After his father’s work related injury, Homer drops out of high school to become a coal miner attempting to follow in the footsteps of his dad. Yet, Homer’s new job couldn’t quench a passion for rockets.  Fueled by his teacher Miss Riley, Homer leaves the occupation where his dream would have died in the mine to participate in a science fair that altered the course of his life.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, Ephesians 3:20.

Unfortunately, most people fail to become famous, rich or successful, ending up in a place where their dreams disappear.  Some are forced by financial constrains to keep multiple jobs just to survive, fighting a losing battle with debt throughout life.  Others endure destructive relationships that often end with another mouth to feed, divorce or years of regret.  Within all these distractions, time flies by causing dreams to be altered, downgraded or pushed back until nothing is achieved.  If you have ever reached this point like me, you need an inspirational friend like Pete who speaks words of encouragement.  Or a mentor like Miss Riley who will uplift your spirits, challenge you and instill in you perseverance to press on through places where dreams die until you taste the abundant life Jesus promises, John 10:10.

by Jay Mankus

 

Mind Over Matter

Over the last few decades, the Name It and Claim It movement has gained traction, permeating into mainstream Christianity.  This theological position combines the bible with metaphysics, using faith as a force to speak the truth within an individual’s mind into existence.  Unfortunately, this view fails to address obstacles such as generational sins and sins of the father, Exodus 20:4-5, ungodly beliefs like John 8:31-38, soul spirit hurts in Matthew 11:25-30 and demonic influences, Ephesians 6:12.  In addition, some of these churches now encourage members not to seek a doctor when sick, claiming if they had genuine faith, they would be healed.

I tend to lean toward what I call a Read it and Believe it view of Christianity.  In other words, as you read and study the Bible, you begin to learn God’s precious promises.  As you examine how the Israelites and first century church leaders claimed these promises, you can apply these same principles into your own prayer life.  During trying moments, you might want to use prayers of King David or Jesus himself as an outline for prayer.  Faith in this context is in the word of God, not your own mind.  Belief is exercised through the power of the Holy Spirit as described in 2 Peter 1:3-4.  According to this passage, God has given us everything we need for life in the form of the Holy Spirit.  In my mind, this is a more realistic and accurate view of a biblical life.

During my tenure as a high school Bible teacher, I slowly began to see how weak individual minds were.  Not in an intellectual sense, but in their belief, confidence and power of God to change their current situation.  Many of my students had given up hope that their circumstances could ever improve.  Divorce, heartbreak and trials poisoned their minds with doubt, leading many to dwell on matters beyond their control.  This mindset can develop into a defeatism mentality, creating Christians who never successfully take their minds captive, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  This is likely why the name it and claim movement has become attractive to so many Christians today.

To my knowledge, there are only 2 clear examples of mind over matter in scripture.  The first is used by the apostle Paul in the context of an athlete training for the Corinthian Games, similar to the modern day Olympics.  Runners must force their minds to overcome the pain they are experiencing so that one can push their body beyond a normal limit, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.  Practice and training prepares a runner for the various competitions in life.  Meanwhile, the disciple Peter is referring to having a certain mindset, one like Jesus in 1 Peter 4:1.  This use of the mind relates to the thought process which helps you endure your current state, enabling you to reach the goal or end result you desire and seek to obtain.  This mindset is accessible when Christ is Lord over all areas of your life.  Therefore, as 2012 draws to a close, my prayer for 2013 is that people begin to scratch the surface of the love and power of God, Ephesians 3:14-21.

by Jay Mankus

Making Sense of Hollywood

In his book Restoring the Foundations, former engineer Chester Kylstra has developed a cutting edge theology which helps Christians better understand Hollywood.  If Ephesians 6:12 is true, one must begin to fully grasp and understand the spiritual forces which influence an individuals’ actions, behavior and choice of vocabulary.  In today’s blog, I will use the 1993 sports classic Rudy to illustrate RTF’s biblical principles.

According to Kylstra, a person’s life experiences form and shape what they end up believing.  Beliefs in turn create specific expectations, if I do something good, blessings will result, Leviticus 26:1-13.  However, if I choose to do the opposite of what I believe, bad things will follow, Leviticus 26:14-45.  When belief expectations are not met, individuals face a crisis of faith often rebelling from God.  Finally, these expectations influence behavior, which explains to a certain point why people in Hollywood act as they do.

In the case of Rudy’s father, he was abandoned by his own dad when he was a teenager.  Therefore, when Rudy was about to get on a Greyhound Bus to follow his dream of playing football at Notre Dame, Rudy’s dad tried everything in his power to stop him.  Rudy’s father had developed an ungodly belief which led him to think he would never see his son again if he got on the bus.  Abandonment had become a routine expectation in the mind of Rudy’s father.  Thus, when you examine this spiritual perspective, you start to comprehend the thought process behind the father’s self-destructive words toward Rudy.

Whether we like it or not, everyone has ungodly beliefs and a set of life expectations.  When you pray to God, you expect to be heard and receive an answer.  As you work hard in your present occupation, you will eventually expect a raise or promotion.  Unfortunately, if any of your expectations are shattered, you can easily turn into Rudy’s father.  “You’re not good enough!  Your not smart enough!  You don’t belong there!”  This is precisely why the apostle Paul urges believers to put on the whole armor of God, not just the parts you feel like putting on, Ephesians 6:10-11.  As you wage war against the powers of darkness, tempting you to erupt, follow the words of Romans 13:12-14 to avoid losing control like Rudy’s father.

by Jay Mankus

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