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Tag Archives: grace

It’s Time To Drop Your Own Stone

One aspect of human nature is an inclination to pile on.  Whether this is criticizing, joking or teasing, when everyone is doing it, your conscience may be confused.  Despite sensing that this behavior is wrong, the temptation to make fun of someone no one likes often promotes a knee jerk reaction.  At the end of the day, the desire to conform influenced you to cast a stone that inflicted pain.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  – John 8:3-5

Old Testament law can be construed as harsh, with no room for grace.  One day the religious leaders tried to ensnare Jesus, putting him in position to oversee the death of a woman caught in adultery.  The passage above gives a brief summary on the context, seeing if Jesus would fulfill the law of Moses.  Instead of talking, Jesus bent down to begin writing in the sand with his finger.  Although the content is unknown, whatever was drawn began to convict hearts.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,”  John 8:7.

To avoid knee jerk reactions on this day, Jesus posed a question for everyone in the crowd to consider.  If you think this woman is guilty, go ahead, pick up your stone and throw it.  However, if sin is living in you, you could be next?  According to the remainder of this passage, little by little, individuals dropped their stone and went home.  Perhaps, twitter followers, negative people and those who have a tendency to overblow situations need this reminder.  Maybe you will come to the same conclusion I recently did.  It’s time to drop your own stone.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Don’t Go There or Else

There is a new movement emerging from members of the media, seeking to destroy naysayers, opponents and those possessing opposing worldviews.  This rush to judgment ignores the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  Instead of waiting until the facts to come out during a trial, the severity of recent accusations are more than enough to presume guilt.  Where did this mentality come from and what does the Bible say to address this issue?

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, Psalm 103:10.

According to David, God does not treat human beings as they deserve.  According to Psalm 103:12, God’s love is infinite, “as far as the east is from the west.”  If God is willing to show forgiveness, grace and mercy to undeserving sinners, why is the mainstream media so quick to condemn.  Have the elite been offended by conservatives in the past?  Is this recent response some sort of pay back for previous hypocritical actions?  Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to use common sense by replying, “don’t go there.”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times, Matthew 18:21-22.

There was an unspoken belief that forgiveness should be limited in the first century.  Sensing a good opportunity to address this topic, Jesus shares the parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  Attempting to shatter any stereotypes on forgiveness, Jesus illustrates God’s mercy on those who are unable to pay back earthly debts accrued over time.  God the Father bestows grace on those who beg for mercy.  Yet, lip service is disregarded unless individuals reciprocate mercy by doing to others as you want others to do unto you.  In other words, don’t go there or else.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The or else part of this equation was addressed by Jesus earlier in the book of Matthew.  At the conclusion of the portion of Scripture known as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, Jesus emphasizes the conditional aspect of forgiveness.  Yes, I did say conditional, based upon how you treat other people.  In next chapter, Matthew 7 builds upon this concept proclaiming, ” the measure to which you judge others will be used against you.”  Therefore, despite whatever differences you may have against others, make sure your remember to live out the Golden Rule.  Don’t seek revenge or the grace of God will turn it’s back on you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

You Can’t Run From Your Past

As an adult, you can learn from previous mistakes.  Depending upon the degree of your past transgressions, the healing process varies.  Those who succumb to addiction at some point in life will have a much tougher road to recovery than individuals who just flirted with temptation.  In the end, you can run, but you can’t hide from your past.

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.

The disciple whom Jesus loved makes an interesting observation in the verse above.  Your degree of faith is based upon your level of sincerity.  Those who open up about dark periods of their past are considered genuine.  Yet, many remain silent, afraid that previous lapses in judgments will cause others to abandon current relationships.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

Since recent allegations made by women against Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore, the media is assuming that these accusations are true.  I don’t know Judge Moore nor can I speak on his behalf.  Nonetheless, I know that everyone has secret scars.  These imperfections are symbolic of periods in life that you are ashamed of, hoping no one finds out.  Yet, James the earthly brother of Jesus urges individuals to come forward by acknowledging any unconfessed sin.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy, Proverbs 28:13.

Whether you are talking about a public figure, Hollywood star or yourself, the Bible applies to everyone.  According to Solomon, one of the wisest individuals to walk the face of the earth, mercy is dependent upon confession.  Jesus reinforces this concept at the end of the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:14-15.  Therefore, if you want to escape the demons of your past, confess any deeds of darkness so that grace, healing and mercy will be found.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What You Say Isn’t Always What God Wants Others to Hear

As someone who works at Amazon, I come across thousands of products weekly.  Some of these units I have to examine, investigate or test.  Due to the bizarre nature of some or unusual name of others, I am tempted by sarcasm.  Without any type of a filter, I may blurt out something comical, funny or witty.  Despite how humorous my comments may be from time to time, what I say isn’t always what God wants others to hear.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

I can’t speak for other people, but I tend to go through various stages of conviction.  When I am in tune with God, my spiritual antennas are heightened.  This usually results in obeying God.  The rest of the year I experience weeks when I am numb, aimlessly wondering through life like Israel in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.  This stage produces periods of coarse joking and sarcasm, as I lose my direction and vision for life.  If I allow apathy to reign, this is where I lose control of my vocabulary, letting loose words slip.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

As I have fallen into bad habits, the Lord reminded me of this verse above.  Frustrated by my current state, I tried to apply taking my thoughts captive.  What I learned is that what was funny to me last week, isn’t funny to God.  Thus, as I performed my daily responsibilities, keeping my mouth shut was tough, much harder than I thought.  Although I blurted out a few sarcastic responses, taking every thought captive requires extreme discipline.  While I don’t have the ability to be perfect, in my own weakness to do and say the right thing, Jesus can be strong.  Therefore, I press on forgetting my past to focus on the future so that God’s sanctifying grace will make me whole.  In the meantime, make sure the words you utter reflect the compassion, grace and love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Blessings in the Eyes of the Beholder

Every time I look into a mirror, I am reminded of my emergency eye surgery last December.  Due to the type of the procedure, my right eye lid doesn’t close as it should.  If I were in high school or college, I’d probably be depressed by this permanent defect on my body.  Yet, as I have experienced good vision in consecutive months, this blemish has become a blessing in the eyes of the Beholder.

Or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.

To a certain extent, I am beginning to understand the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above.  The Lord had blessed Paul with a special connection.  While Wi-Fi didn’t exist in the first century, Paul was able to sense, see and understand the nature of God like no one else in his day.  Thus, Paul came to a point in life where he accepted his physical condition, realizing that his pain was a blessing in the eyes of the Beholder.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Human nature causes most people to complain daily.  I am not immune to this disease called sin, lashing out with criticism, frustration and impatience.  Nonetheless, after my wife’s father passed away over the weekend, God has humbled me, making me more teachable.  While my first reaction to trials will always be to question God, we all need to reach a state like the apostle Paul to accept the hand in life that we have been dealt.  The sooner we do, the easier it will become to recognize blessings in the eyes of the Beholder.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It

It doesn’t take much for a coach, parent or teacher to get under a teenager’s skin.  Sometimes the tone chosen is demeaning.  Others come across as pompous or smug, alienating the individual they are talking to.  Meanwhile, impatient adults have a tendency to take out their frustrations upon young people, creating an even greater generational gap.  This disconnect proves that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When you are reading a book, sometimes the context of previous events isn’t a hundred percent clear.  Thus, you are forced to go back to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.  In the passage above, you have to understand who Saul was before he changed his name to Paul.  This former Pharisee was a perfectionist, critical by nature, eager to point out flaws.  Therefore, the words Paul choses serves as a reminder to himself and his leaders within the church at Ephesus to focus on the positive, not the negative.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While writing a letter to a teenager, Paul reveals an important truth about the Holy Spirit.  Although the world tends to emphasize imperfections, staying optimistic isn’t impossible.  Rather, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is self-control, the discipline to control your own tongue.  The language you choose to express daily is a conscious decision.  Unfortunately, many don’t realize the power of words.  Every coarse joke, put down and sarcastic remark influences others in a negative manner.  Therefore, make sure the next time you open your mouth, you think before speaking for it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Man Can Only Take So Much Failure

Parents tend to possess unique ways of motivating their children.  Over the years, most learn which buttons to push and which to avoid.  In the 1996 film Invincible, Kevin Conway plays Vince Papale’s father.  After thinking about backing out of an open try out hosted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Conway addresses Vince played by Mark Wahlberg.  Using reverse psychology, Conway suggests, “Vince, maybe you should sit this one out.  A man can only take so much failure.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

While I have watched this movie several times, this quote struck a cord in my heart for the first time last weekend.  To an extent, this expression is true as human beings can only handle so much.  Over time, everyone reaches a breaking point that leads to depression, heartbreak or suicide.  Thus, when you approach, near or reach this desolate place, it’s essential to turn your attention to God’s grace and mercy as instructed by the passage above.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:10.

The unlikely journey of Vince Papale from bartender to professional football player parallels the life of the apostle Paul.  Vince relies on his friends to get him through the loss of his wife and child.  Meanwhile, Paul places his trust in Christ alone.  The man who once persecuted Christians and gave the order to have Stephen executed ends up becoming a follower of the movement he once despised.  When individuals come to a crossroads in life, you have to eventually choose.  You may have two or multiple paths to decide from.  Yet, if you resolve to fulfill a childhood dream, make sure humility results in leaning on God’s power as a man can only take so much failure.

by Jay Mankus