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Tag Archives: love

Adding Love to the Law

From an early age, the idea of boundaries is a turn off.  At birth, human nature introduces a curiosity similar to that which led Eve to break God’s lone law, eating from the Tree of Knowledge.  As a parent, condemnation comes naturally, a common response to children who disobey you.  Yet, Jesus reminds a large crowd during the first century that love should be applied to Jewish law.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? – Matthew 5:46-47

Jesus uses common sense to drive home this point.  Pagans lived by a different set of standards.  Jews were expected by God to be set apart, striving to apply biblical principles.  Yet, if a Christian’s love is no different from a Pagan, what’s the point.  Therefore, individuals should make it their ambition to add love to the law.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

The only problem is this goal requires maturity as love doesn’t come naturally.  This fruit of the Spirit is an acquired trait nurtured by the Holy Spirit.  At some point people have to grow up by developing a will to love.  Hanging around like minded people, growing in your knowledge of the Bible and practicing prayer is a good place to start.  However, if you want to fulfill Jesus’ request, make sure your feelings are held in check, sanctified by love.

by Jay Mankus

Forgo the Show

If you take a walk through classrooms, wander through a public park or visit a nearby downtown, you will probably hear or see someone seeking attention.  This attempt to draw the interest of others reveals some sort of insecurity.  Unfortunately, a growing numbers of individuals have carried this immature behavior over into adulthood.  Facebook Live, Instagram Posts and You Tube Channels only encourage show boaters to continue in these childish ways.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full,” Matthew 6:2.

During the first century, religious leaders tried to put on a similar persona.  Whether it was publicizing gifts donated to the needy or long drawn out prayers at the Wailing Wall, religion was on full display.  During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called out these impure motives.  Instead, Jesus urged his listeners to demonstrate a quiet faith by giving and praying in secret.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full,” Matthew 6:5.

Modern times have brought faith healers, television evangelists and summer tent revivals.  Frauds, phonies and self seeking leaders have been mocked by Hollywood.  This hypocrisy was illustrated by Steve Martin in the 1992 film Leap of Faith.  Three years earlier, Chevy Chase plays an impersonator in the comedy Fletch Lives.  If Jesus delivered a message to religious leaders today, he would likely stress forgo the show by letting your faith glow.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Life Void of Substance

Substance can be defined as a particular kind of matter with uniform properties.  Yet, something as simple as water can be labeled as boring.  Subsequently, human nature draws individuals toward that which is intoxicating or stimulating.  Those who lack this substance can get lost, disappearing from sight, hidden by strong personalities.

“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.

As someone born with a severe speech impediment, I have never been known to be eloquent.  If you don’t possess this quality, it’s essential to add flavor to the lives of those whom you meet.  However, if you lose your passion for a career, hobbies or life in general, there is a tendency to become stale, adding little to daily conversations.  Unfortunately, this is where I currently find myself, a life void of substance.

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent, Exodus 14:14.

The times when I become alive are often influenced by my hot button issues.  These topics allow me to express my knowledge, love and perspective.  When conversations do not provide an opportunity to open out, there is another source which adds flavor.  Whether it’s opening up the Bible, fellowship with believers or times of prayer, God unveils spiritual insight to those listening.  Therefore, if you find yourself on the verge of a life void of substance, fuel up on the Holy Spirit to add flavor to the lives of those you interact with.

by Jay Mankus

Never Be The Same

There are moments in life that serve as life altering experiences.  Whether this is a decision to begin a new career, relationship or adapt to an unexpected event, your life will never be the same.  Like a fork in a road, you have to decide the path your life will take.

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, John 15:4.

The Christian Group Red sing about this on their Innocence and Instinct album.  The context of the song Never Be the Same refers to entering into a relationship with Jesus.  Unlike any other earthly experience, God’s love is unconditional.  For anyone who has been burned, disappointed or let down by unfulfilled promises, this concept is hard to grasp.

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 15:5.

Yet, any prodigal who has come to their senses, God’s timing serves as a saving grace.  While modern church leaders attempt to manufacture this setting through long drawn out altar calls, the desperate will run to God.  After the emotion of God’s forgiveness fades, the hard part is setting time aside daily to maintain this connection.  You can’t force anyone into a relationship that they have no interest in.  However, if freewill is allowed to run it’s course freely, new Christians will never be the same.

by Jay Mankus

What Are We Praying for?

Frederick Douglass is a key figure featured every February during Black History month.  After escaping slavery in Maryland, Douglass completed his autobiography in 1845.  If you attended a public school, you probably never heard about this man’s great faith.  While talking to a friend earlier in the week, I was amazed to hear about his concept of prayer.  This made me wonder, what am I actually praying for?

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word, Psalm 119:9.

Instead of praying for the obvious, God’s blessings on your family, friends and work, Douglass narrowed in on a few simple things.  First, as a slave, Frederick prayed that his master would not beat him.  From here, Frederick fervently asked the Lord to have mercy on him so that his service would please his master.  Within his autobiography, Douglass comments on how his master’s treated him.  Oddly enough, those who claimed to be Christians treated him the worse.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

Following this conversation, I was convicted, wondering how cruel I have treated others in this life.  Beyond the bubble that I live in, my actions are far from the grace, love and mercy Jesus demonstrated on earth.  Instead of treating prayer like some kind of Christmas wish list, perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics.  Whether this means using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide or quoting parts of Psalm 119, something has to change.  May this blog inspire you to put into practice Jesus’ words above, starting prayer by seeking God’s kingdom and righteous first.

by Jay Mankus

From Bad to Unbearable

There is an old cliché of going from bad to worse.  However, in some circumstances individuals experience unbearable conditions.  Sometimes this occurs due to an accident, illness or trial.  Whenever you encounter one of these extremes, faith and perseverance are essential to survive.

“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.  But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God,’ Exodus 5:7-8.

During Israel’s 400 years of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh took out his frustrations on the Hebrew servants.  Beginning in Exodus 5, the quota of work remained the same, but the workers were forced to now collect straw to make bricks.  This decision was like the last straw forcing God’s hand to ramp up the plagues on Pharaoh.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

One of Jesus’ brothers records a mindset necessary to overcome harsh periods in life.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that when most people hear it you reply, “yeah right.”  Nonetheless, staying positive is half the battle.  Any type of negativity can poison minds resulting in an avalanche of doubt.  Therefore, the next time things go from bad to worse in your life, consider it a pure joy so that those who endure will receive the crown of life.

by Jay Mankus

America’s Uncivil War

Rarely does a war develop overnight.  Usually there are a series of events which convince one side to consider a response.  Acts of aggression, conflicts or injustice tend to trigger battles that can last for years.  On some occasions leaders earn the support of their country due to just, moral or social causes.

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him, 2 Timothy 2:4.

Such is the case of America’s Civil War.  The country became divided over slavery following president Abraham Lincoln’s election.  Northern states wanted to free slaves while the South fought for state rights.  In February 1861, seven southern states declared their secession to form the Confederate States of America.  An attack on Fort Sumter commenced this four year war.  In the end, history remembers this period as a positive step in the right direction since the North’s victory gave birth to the civil rights movement.

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division, Luke 12:51.

One hundred and fifty years later, a different kind of war is developing.  However, this battle isn’t between state lines.  Rather, America’s uncivil war is based upon ideology.  Liberals and Progressives have joined forces to rid America of conservative values.  Activist judges, indoctrination using education and revisionist historians are slowly erasing the works of America’s founding fathers.  With most of the mainstream media on their side, God may soon be banned from America, using the same strategy that kicked the Bible and prayer out of public education.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask, James 4:1-2.

The earthly brother of Jesus shines light on why this uncivil war continues.  According to James, the root of uncivil acts, behavior and words comes from unfulfilled desires.  When people don’t get their way, internal frustrations come out in various forms of rage.  Social media tempts angry souls to vent everything within.  This just adds fuel to the fire igniting like minded individuals to carry on this war.  The only means to peace or a truce rests in God’s divine intervention to send another revival to save this land that I love.  May God have mercy on us all.

by Jay Mankus