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When Ungodly Beliefs Hinder Your Ability to Love

I was introduced to the concept of ungodly beliefs while reading the book Restoring the Foundations. Authors Betsy and Chester Kylstra claim ungodly beliefs can gain access to individuals through painful experiences. These lies that people come to believe arrive unexpectedly through hurtful and traumatic events. As minds begin to seek answers to why this or that occurred in your life, a strong emotional pull opens a door into your soul. Fueled by doubt and uncertainty, thoughts such as “God doesn’t care about me, I’m not good enough, or I’ll never amount to anything” hinders one’s ability to love.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church], Galatians 5:7-9.

In the passage above, one of the churches the apostle Paul helped start began to struggle with their own ungodly beliefs. Influenced by a religious sect who added circumcision as a requirement to be saved, a spiritual elitism entered the Galatian church. This mentality became so prevalent that Barnabas and Peter began to withdraw from Gentiles Christians, believing that a close association with Gentiles would make them unclean. This unwillingness to let go of Jewish customs, regulations, and traditions inhibited their ability to love their love as themselves.

But, brethren, if I still preach circumcision [as some accuse me of doing, as necessary to salvation], why am I still suffering persecution? In that case the cross has ceased to be a stumbling block and is made meaningless (done away). 12 I wish those who unsettle and confuse you would [go all the way and] cut themselves off! 13 For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another, Galatians 5:11-13.

This is the context as Paul introduces acts of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:16-24. Depending upon what you allow yourself to believe will dictate the actions that you will take. You can either listen to God’s voice by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit or indulge your earthly desires. Ungodly beliefs are theories you pick up over time from parents, peers, and other spheres of influences. When these beliefs contradict the Bible, payback and revenge will replace love. If this blog finds you in a bad mood, struggling to be nice, explore Restoring the Foundations so that healing will enable you to love your neighbor as yourself.

by Jay Mankus

The Devil or Bad Decisions?

Behind the scenes, ungodly beliefs and self fulfilled prophecies lurk within human minds. Whispers of “you’re not good enough, you’ll never amount to anything or everybody else is doing it,” play like a commercial in your thought life. Depending upon how you deal with these distractions, you might blame the Devil for your current ordeal. However, whenever individuals lose confidence, circumstances are prime for bad decisions to be conceived. When common sense is ignored, consequences of poor choices come to the forefront.

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, Genesis 4:6-7.

Take the first child born on earth. Cain followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer. However, as the curse in Genesis 3:17 commenced, the earth’s soil turned from fertile ground into an arid desert. Subsequently, as his younger brother Abel prospered as a shepherd, envy and jealousy began to consume Cain’s soul. This dire situation caused God to intervene, warning Cain of the sin crouching at the door of his heart. Unfortunately, the Lord was too late as Cain already made up him mind. It was only a matter of time before Cain’s thoughts were acted upon.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

The earthly brother of Jesus makes sure God is not one to blame for temptation. Rather, those who give into temptation slowly ponder their options before finally taking steps toward the dark side. Whether it’s a second glance, a season of idleness or lustful passions that you can’t hold back any further, when sin is conceived it fills your minds until you finally give into a variety of fantasies. In the end, the only way to escape temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13, is by purging all reminders of your past sins so that you find the way out that God provides.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Leave God on the Outside Looking In

One of the greatest lies the Devil perpetuates today is that God is going to punish you, This implanted thought causes some to give up hope, believing that they will never be good enough for God. Subsequently, those who develop and embrace this ungodly belief will keep God at a distance. Rather than accept the biblical fact that God disciplines those who He loves, a barrier is built up over time, keeping God on the outside looking in.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude], Revelation 3:19.

While on the island of Patmos, one of Jesus’ disciples has a vision of what a relationship with God is like. Instead of barging into our rooms to examine what you’ve done wrong, God is patiently waiting to be welcomed inside. Eager to get your attention, God has a way of knocking on certain aspects of your life. Like leaving a trail a bread crumbs, the Lord has a way of providing signals to let you know He’s only a pray away. Nonetheless, Jesus will remain outside in the cold until you let him into your heart, Romans 10:9-10.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:20.

Unfortunately, human timing and God’s timing often clash. When you’re ready to open up and become vulnerable, something immediately interrupts you from God. Meanwhile, you may be busy, consumed by what you are working on, leaving little or no time for a spiritual conversation. Most human beings don’t do this on purpose, but way too many individuals go through life leaving God on the outside looking in. May this blog inspire you to make room in your busy schedule for Jesus this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Going on Beneath the Surface in America?

It doesn’t take Captain Obvious to reveal that 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of this century. Just like 1918 was marred by the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Coronavirus is changing the way that people live today. Depending upon what the future spread of this virus, hand shakes, hugs and other personal displays of affection may be a thing of the past. This is just one of the under lying currents going on beneath the surface.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days, for the vision is for [many] days yet to come, Daniel 10:13-14.

Prior to the Soviet Union’s occupation of Lithuania in 1940, the citizens of this country were religious. My father was born and raised in the Roman Catholic as the forces of communism began to attack institutions of faith. During the Soviet’s occupation of Lithuania, religious symbols began to disappear. Traces of absolute truth began to vanish from Lithuania in an attempt to fundamentally change my father’s country. The more I study history and talk to my father, I fear the same forces are at work in America.

For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do, Galatians 5:17.

According to an Old Testament leader, demonic strongholds exist throughout the earth. These powers of darkness often control major cities, filling the minds of citizens with ungodly beliefs. Daniel encounters a demonic force that he calls the Prince of Persia. Held captive for nearly a month, Daniel needed the arch angel Michael to come to his aid. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul refers to the internal battle within human souls as a war between the flesh and God’s Spirit. These a just a few of the factors going on beneath the surface that are attempting to radically change the United States of America. May the prayers of the saints reverse this trend.

by Jay Mankus

When the Negative is What You Believe

As I prepare to write another movie is 2020, I have been doing some research this month to prepare me. One book has pointed me to a few scenes from the 1990 film Pretty Woman. The goal of these exercises is to receive inspiration, ideas to develop characters and write dialogues that relate to every day people. While Julia Roberts is talking with Richard Gere, the two discuss what brought Vivian to become a prostitute. Despite receiving a few compliments from Edward, Vivian shrugs them off, suggesting that “the negative is what you remember and believe.”

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

During a first century conversation with religious leaders, Jesus introduces a theory to explain the whispers and inner voices that attempt to hold human beings down. As human beings struggle to overcome the demons of their past, the source of the negative in your mind is the Devil, “the father of all lies.” Unfortunately, even those who learn of this truth still tend to develop ungodly beliefs such as “you’ll never amount to anything, you’re not smart enough and even if you try, you’ll end up failing anyway.” A similar conversation occurs in the 1993 film Rudy as young man waits at a bus stop, eager to fulfill his childhood dream. Rudy’s father played by Ned Beatty tries to talk his son, Sean Astin, out of this decision, with the words, “you’re a Ruettiger; we’re not good enough for Notre Dame.”

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

During the parable of the Shepherd, Jesus takes this concept one step further. Not only does the Devil want to keep you down by remembering and believing negative comments, his ultimate goal is to steal, kill and destroy. First, whispers of evil are designed to steal any glimmers of hope that pop into your mind. When this has become successful, stage two seeks to encourage people to gradually give up on pursuing childhood dreams. Finally, spirits of depression, despair and suicide enter to further devour and destroy lives. May this blog expose how negativity influences wounded souls to come to believe the father of all lies.

by Jay Mankus

Wasting Away

The average hard working American man or woman doesn’t get up on their weekend with plans to waste away a day. Rather, energy level, focus and motivation will dictate one’s degree of productivity. Depending upon how well or poorly your week went, some people will need a mental break, catching up on lost sleep, reading a book or binge watching a favorite show. In a letter to church leaders, Paul suggests that you have to take care of yourself before you can effectively help others.

Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others, Philippians 2:4.

Despite attempts to maximize my own three day weekends, I find myself caught in a web of unproduction, getting less and less done each day off. The Bible refers to this as idleness, a state of laxity often influenced by boredom. The most famous example of idleness occurs in the passage below. Instead of leading the Israel army into battle, King David decides to take an extended Spring Break. This decision began to waste away at David’s soul, participating in adultery, a cover up and murder of Uriah.

In the spring, when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites [country] and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold, 2 Samuel 11:1-2.

In their 2010 album, Consider This, Tonight Alive sings about Wasting Away. The lyrics of this song by the same title talks about how dreams are often put on hold by a busy schedule. The excuse to abandon a dream uses the lie, an ungodly belief that “it’s too hard.” Unfortunately, many people blame the fear of failure for not taking risks to follow their dreams. When you come to a point in life where you play it safe day after day, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wasting away.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Let Shame to Rewrite Your Story

Shame is defined as a painful feeling of distress and humiliation caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.  The Bible illustrates shame immediately following Adam and Eve breaking God’s only rule, “do not eat from the tree of knowledge,” Genesis 2:16-17.  This couple responded to shame by hiding from God, ashamed of what they have just done.

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 human conscience is like a built in GPS device for morality.  When an act of kindness are performed, helpful hands extend a word of encouragement which results in a sense of warmth to my soul.  Yet, whenever my own mouth spits out poison, guilt strikes me like an invisible punch in the gut.  When bad outweighs the good, shame alters your mood and influences your mind.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work], Hebrews 12:1-2.

One of the ways this is accomplished is through ungodly beliefs instilled within you by family, friends and peers.  Words such as “you’re not good enough and you’ll never amount to anything” serve as wounds to the soul.  If these ungodly beliefs aren’t replaced by godly beliefs from the Bible, shame will rewrite your story.  The consequences of shame could be eternal.  Therefore, if you are tired of hiding from God, reach out to Jesus who disregarded shame by enduring the cross and rising from the dead.

by Jay Mankus

Evading Demons of Doubt

In the context of war, evasive maneuvers are employed by starship commanders to evade enemy weapons fire. Whenever planes are under attack, these tactics involve a sequence of defensive movements to escape a direct hit. During a scene from Independence Day, Bill Pullman who plays president Thomas Whitmore and former fighter pilot uses evasive maneuvers during an alien attack.

“Now when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through waterless (dry, arid) places in search of rest, but it does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So will it also be with this wicked generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

In the spiritual realm, its hard to respond to something that you can’t see. To those who are spiritually awake, the presence of demons can be sensed. However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to evade demons of doubt. The passage above eludes to sweeping your spiritual house clean. This involves setting your heart and mind on things above, not on earthly things. The apostle Paul uses this mental approach to evade demons, scars and ungodly beliefs from your past.

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

Yesterday I was talking to a coach during my kids golf match. Unlike most sports, the game of golf can become extremely frustrating. One hole you can look like a professional and the next like you have never touched a golf club before. This mental anguish provides an open door for demons of doubt to creep in. Unless you follow the advice of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 whispers of “I can’t” will bombard your mind. Therefore, if you want to avoid demons of doubt, make sure you take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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

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

 

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