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Tag Archives: Jesus

The Searing of the Mind

If a live frog is placed into boiling water, the instinct to jump will immediately kick in, escaping this pot in a split second.  However, if you take a pond, gradually increase the temperature without stopping, this creature will die, scalded and scorched by extreme conditions.  Unfortunately, the same conclusion can be drawn to the human mind.  As the American culture has become pornified, filled with graphic images, mature content and shocking sights, the searing of the human mind has commenced.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

If you have lived a sheltered life, guarded and protected by parents, you may be naïve to the numerous temptations that exist today.  Whenever you veer off into a foreign place, accidently take a wrong turn or wander into unknown territory, the presence of darkness can be overwhelming.  During a first century trip through the streets of Athens, the apostle Paul was troubled.  Depending upon what Bible commentary you rely on for research, Paul likely witnessed nudity, prostitution and sexual practices in the name of religion.  With each step, Paul’s mind was bombarded by unwholesome symbols, breaking his heart and distressing his soul.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals a key relationship between eyes and the mind.  Based upon the analogy above, eyes are the light source for human beings with minds serving as a screening mechanism.  When minds fail to filter out the presence of darkness, corruption occurs.  If unhealthy thoughts are allowed to go unchecked without any urgent action, pornographic images are collected, processed and stored.  Like a sponge cleaning up split water on a counter, minds absorb countless sights that you are exposed to daily.  Thus, without the discipline of putting on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-20, to fight against lust, innocent minds can be scarred for life.

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.

In an article first published in 2011, the Christian Research Journal wrote about the Effects of Porn on the Male Brain.  This piece attempts to illustrate how pornography impacts hormonal, neurochemical and neurological development as sexual images become attached to souls.  One of my favorite points made by the author is that viewing pornography hijacks the normal functioning of the brain and it’s maladaptive patterns.  Perhaps, this man explain the call to action to renew your mind in the passage above.  Pornography is one of those taboo topics most churches side step, afraid to confront.  Yet, as this world continues to push the envelope further and further, it’s time to educate the masses to the searing of the human mind.  May the Bible guide, instruct and prepare you with the necessary resources to overcome the temptations people face in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Saltless Without the Supernatural

The older I become, the harder it is for me to become energized.  Perhaps, a lack of vision is to blame.  Yet, as I dig a little deeper through prayer and reflection, I think I have found the culprit.  Apparently, I have lost my saltiness, losing the ability to add flavor to the lives of those whom I come in contact.  This may explain why I have so little to say wherever I go.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot,” Matthew 5:13.

In the first century, salt was used as a preservative, caking and packing fresh meat to slow down the spoiling process.  Prior to electricity, if you wanted protein hunting or fishing was the only option.  Salt allowed leftovers from lunch for dinner until this endless cycle continued the next day.  In the passage above, Jesus uses Sermon on the Mount as a teachable moment to interject salt into every day conversations.

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another,” Mark 9:50.

For those of us not gifted with a type A personality, another source is necessary to fill this gap.  This is where the sinful nature must submit to the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:16-18.  Until you become separated from this tempting force, you will be saltless without the supernatural.  Like filling up a car, the shy, quiet and uninspired must plug into God through Bible study, prayer and worship.  You could try other methods like I have but you likely come up empty.  May this blog motivate you to have salt in yourself by sharing what God is teaching you daily.  May the salt be with you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Self Medicating Pain

According to a 2017 article posted on The Upshot, Josh Katz uses new data to illustrate that drug deaths in America are rising faster than ever before.  Drug overdose claimed the lives of nearly 64,000 Americans in 2016.  A large majority of these deaths are being blamed on opioids, prompting a 2017 presidential commission to address this growing crisis.  Instead of coping with depression, an attempt to self medicate pain has resulted in deadly addictions nationwide.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – Matthew 9:10-11.

During the first century, class warfare was commonly practiced to avoid negative influences from those who shared a different worldview.  This mindset caused religious leaders to question Jesus’ association with sinners, regularly dining and reaching out to social outcasts within society.  In the passage below, Jesus reveals the purpose for this unusual outreach.  If you read between the lines, the goal for any adult is learning how to take care of yourself.  This is a sign of maturity, being able to self medicate pain through spiritual practices.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, Matthew 9:12.

The apostle Paul shines light on how this is accomplished within Philippians 2:1-4.  The spiritual healthy gradually develop a Christ like mindset.  Before beginning every day, Jesus withdrew to a quiet place, often on a mountain top outside of where he was staying, void of distractions.  Essentially, Paul is suggesting you can’t help others until you take care of your own needs first.  When your daily devotions, prayer and reflection is complete each morning, you are primed to self medicate pain.  Until this process is complete, you won’t be any good to anyone.  Therefore, if you want to be healthy, not needing a doctor, start each day with a daily dose of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

You Don’t Deserve Until You Serve

I spent most of my teenage years attending a Roman Catholic Church.  While this tradition style of service can become boring quickly, every so often I was surprised by a timely message.  One of the heroes of the church was Mother Teresa.  This Catholic nun turned missionary dedicated her life to helping and serving the less fortunate.  Despite living most of her adult life in poverty, Mother Teresa became the hands and feet of Christ.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves, James 1:22.

When certain things in life don’t go my way, I have a tendency to complain.  Gripping to God, I can’t believe that I was passed over while someone else got the honor or position that I sought.  This unproductive practice didn’t make me feel better or resolve any of my unanswered questions.  Yet, a recent whisper from the Holy Spirit helped me understand my current plight, “you don’t deserve until you serve.”

“So the last will be first, and the first last,” Matthew 20:16.

In the Parable of the Workers in the Field, Jesus illustrates the importance of service.  Trying to give a glimpse of what heaven is like, the temptation to compare yourself with others leads to meaningless debates.  Those who accept God’s free gift of eternal life by receiving as your own, Romans 10:9-10, all receive the same reward, a place in heaven.  Yet, some devote their entire lives to God while others become Christians on their bed beds.  This discrepancy in time make some jealous, expecting a greater reward for their additional years of service.  Nonetheless, Jesus is clear, “the first will be last and the last first.”  Or in modern terms, you don’t deserve unless you serve.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Taking as Many People with You as Possible

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul discovered a passionate group of sports fans.  Instead of modern sports like basketball or football, Corinthians embraced Track and Field as host of a Summer Olympics type of annual event.  Thus, Paul felt compelled to use words in one of his letters that appealed to this culture.  Within 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares evangelism with a race, hoping to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Years earlier, Jesus reveals an interesting concept to his disciples in the passage above.  While speaking about persecution, Jesus provides a heavenly perspective to a common event followers of Christ will encounter.  Human nature tends to make individuals fearful of what other people think of you.  However, Jesus warns the disciples about worrying about the wrong thing.  Rather, be on guard against the Devil, the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, who uses temptation to ensnare souls toward a life in hell, eternally separated from God.

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time, 1 Timothy 2:6.

The Bible is filled with promises about life and the future.  John 3:16-17 reveals why God the Father sent his son Jesus to earth.  Upon completing God’s will for his life on earth, Jesus gave himself up as a ransom, paying the price for the sins of mankind.  This selfless act made it possible for fallen creatures to have a place in heaven, John 14:1-4.  Thus, anyone who makes their eternal reservation, 1 John 5:13, should want to take as many people with you as possible.  May the hope of a new year inspire souls to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15-16 so that the afterlife will serve as a great big family reunion in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

Without You I’m a Disaster

You don’t have to experience the heart break of a broken relationship to know loneliness, pain and suffering.  Busy schedules may hide your grief momentarily, but idle time will eventually reveal the hole in your heart.  Reflection often stokes emotions held in check until now.  Over the holidays some will come to the conclusion without you I’m a disaster.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful,” John 15:1-2.

My Darkest Days sings about this reality in their song Without You.  While most people will think of this in a context of a man and woman, this also applies spiritually.  Biblical scholars and theologians reference John 15:1-8 as the answer to this connection.  Jesus uses an illustration of a gardener watering his vineyard.  Jesus is symbolic of the vine, human beings are the branches and the Holy Spirit nurtures and oversees life.  Unfortunately, many individuals attempt to live without remaining connected to the vine, Jesus.  This decision usually results in disaster.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:4-5.

One of the ways Christians neglect Jesus’ instructions is by trying to go through life without any regular time attending church, praying or reading the Bible.  While you may not recognize the difference, each day without interaction with God breeds selfish tendencies.  If this pattern continues, you will likely reach a point where you think you don’t need God.  Sure, in times of desperation Jesus will be like crutches until you can walk again on your own.  As someone who went down this path in college, your mind becomes transformed by the world, believing in lies whispered to you by the Devil.  Justification and rationalization become a new religion.  As 2018 approaches, I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to help you see without accepting Jesus into your heart, Romans 10:9-10, life is a disaster waiting to happen.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Won’t Get There in a Straight Line

As much as families plan for a summer vacation or trips, things rarely go exactly as planned.  If you are driving, accidents, detours or traffic may re-route you in a different direction.  Flying across the country may save time, but unless you are flying direct there is always a chance you might miss your connecting flight.  Meanwhile, some destinations can only be accessed by ferry; missing one boat may throw off your entire schedule.  Thus, it’s important for human beings to learn to become flexible, making the best of an awkward situation.  If not, you may not have the persistence it takes to get you where you want to go in this life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it,” Matthew 7:13.

In 1920, Robert Frost wrote the Road Less Traveled.  This poem seems to transcend time, applicable today just like it was nearly 100 years ago.  This was written shortly after cars were invented, long before the development of America’s Interstate Highways.  Most people were forced to walk wherever they went or take the train if leaving the state.  The 2006 animation film Cars provides a scene with a poignant message.  Owen Wilson, the voice of Lightning McQueen is talking with Sally, Bonny Hunt.  While driving on a scenic road Sally says “people used to go for a drive to have a good time.  Now, people drive to save time, bypassing scenic destinations.”  When you rush from point A to point B in life, you often don’t enjoy everything in between.

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” Matthew 7:14.

Like Frost’s poem, Jesus compares life to two different roads.  The first is similar to a super highway filled with attractive advertisements, adult entertainment and various rest stops along the way.  The second is less flashy, filled with overgrown brush, unpaved and vacant.   One is full of distractions, grabbing the attention of anyone who is ADHD.  The other is less appealing, laid back and quiet.  If you were talking about which destination, hotel or restaurant to choose,  I want the one which is cool, hip and thriving.  Upon further review, Jesus is talking about eternity, not a route to work.  Therefore, I’d rather get to heaven in a round about way than missing the exit completely.  Don’t worry if your life is currently going no where or stuck in neutral.  Rather, hold on to hope because no one get’s to heaven in a straight line.

by Jay Mankus