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Playing God

If you take the time to catch up on breaking news, you might notice a disturbing new trend.  Instead of providing the full context of a conversation, sound bytes are used to promote a certain narrative.  Instead of relying on truth, justice and the American way, political allegiances have been formed.  This decision has replaced the Bible with political correctness.  Anyone who does not adhere to this new standard is attacked, exposed and slammed for intolerance.  The idea of a corrupt media was something I thought was impossible, left for nations of dictators from third world nations.  Yet, as the media’s elite begin to play God, redefining right and wrong, I’m afraid of what the future holds.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment, James 2:13.

In 2009, Paramore released Playing God, a single from their third album Brand News Eyes.  Lead singer Hayley Williams was one of the authors of this song, collaborating with band members Josh Farro and Taylor York.  The music video begins with Hayley sitting in her car, staring at a cross and a button of Jesus on her dashboard.  This time of reflection sets the stage for a new concept, what if God did not introduce freewill?  Instead God used force, to tie people up so they didn’t go where God didn’t want them to be.  While God refuses to participate in this mindset, adults, other siblings and parents from time to time like to play God.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Known for his wisdom, King Solomon addressed this topic during his day.  According to Solomon, everyone has an idea, a plan for their lives.  While your heart may guide you throughout this life, God ultimately establishes the direction you will take.  Along the way, barriers, obstacles and road blocks stand in your way, altering your course.  Thus, the sooner you start keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, the better off you will be.  Rather than condemning those around you for not following the path of integrity, make sure you show mercy to others so that when you do fall, forgiveness will be extended to you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Losing Your Personality

Charisma, magnetism and presence separates one person from the next.  These qualities are built into human beings like DNA.  Some individuals are born with charm, gravitas and hutzpa, naturally flowing out of their souls.  Other people like me rely on confidence to display their personality.  Unfortunately, when things don’t go your way, depression can cause you to forget or lose sight of who you are and the person God wants you to be.

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught, Proverbs 3:26.

In their song, Back to the Start, Esterlyn writes about this topic.  While I am not sure if losing your personality is possible, you can lose your way.  When and if this occurs, the author of this song encourages anyone struggling to go back to the start.  Conviction, guilt and remorse has a way of eating at souls.  This nagging feeling can suck the life out of those who dwell on the negative.  Thus, before things get any worse, go back to the foot of the cross, where grace, mercy and forgiveness can be found.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:5.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is easier said than done.  Those who give into the desire to strive for perfection usually end up disappointed.  Meanwhile, the temptation to be in control entices individuals to place their sole trust in themselves.  This ill-fated decision blinds minds from God’s willingness to provide daily bread for those who believe.  If today’s blog finds you losing touch with your personality, go back to the start so that your confidence will be placed in the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

More than the World Has to Offer

Regardless of how you were raised, there will always be individuals who embrace a prodigal spirit.  Despite countless warnings, some people have to learn the hard way, ignoring the advice of friends, family and mentors.  For those who go down this path, this could be merely a phase in life before common sense takes over.  However, the longer you indulge your flesh, any reckless binge can become bad habits or in extreme cases resulting in addiction.  After cravings, desires and lust have been satisfied, what else does the world have to offer?

A few days later, the younger son gathered together everything [that he had] and traveled to a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and immoral living. 14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to do without and be in need, Luke 15:13-14.

Every day throughout the world, a modern version of Garden of Eden takes place as demons, evil spirits and sinful minds justify poor decisions.  The whispers of Satan lurk within minds eager to compromise.  Temptation often begins with “Did God really say or is God keeping me from enlightenment?”  From here its only a matter of time before the fall.  Yet, what are these distracted souls missing?  What does Jesus mean by living water?  How does one obtain an abundant life?  Perhaps, opening the pages of the Bible will open your eyes to an alternative life style that provides more than the world has to offer.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And]the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil,” Genesis 3:1-5.

One day a Pharisee was curious about a popular first century leader.  Afraid his colleagues might find out, Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night, in the cover of darkness.  Following a sarcastic comment, Jesus reveals his purpose for being born, coming to save mankind, John 3:16-17.  This concept was hard to grasp for a religious zealot like Nicodemus.  During a later conversation with a tax collector, Jesus takes this concept one step further, “coming to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10.  Regardless of where you have been or what you have done, Jesus offers a clean slate.  While the world tends to keep a record of wrongs, God offers an infinite amount of grace, mercy and forgiveness.  When you come to your senses, your heavenly father is waiting with open arms.

by Jay Mankus

When Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right

In any social setting, there are preconceived thoughts based upon appearance, attire, background, education, intellect and wealth.  If character is excluded from this set of standards, people can be misled, confusing right from wrong and vice versa.  Like Samuel waiting to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel, the heart is often overlooked.  While David’s brothers fit the physical features of a leader, David’s heart set him apart from his siblings.  Thus, Samuel told Jesse to call his youngest son from the fields, led by the Holy Spirit to anoint David.

Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume; 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume, Luke 7:37-38.

Several hundred years later, another famous anointing took place.  Unfortunately, the disciples were fooled by the tarnished reputation of an unwelcomed guest.  To make matters worse, this woman broke and wasted a valuable vial of perfume.  The actual worth of this bottle was equivalent to nearly a years pay for a first century laborer.  This display blinded religious leaders from the true intentions of this woman.  Staring at the spilled perfume as if it was a load of cash blowing in the wind, the man who invited Jesus over to his house is offended by Jesus’ interaction with this prostitute.  Subsequently, in Simon’s eyes right is wrong and wrong is right.

Now when [Simon] the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a [notorious] sinner [an outcast, devoted to sin],” Luke 7:39

Over reactions like Simon are carried out within homes every night in the 21st century.  Instead of seeing things for what they are, preconceived notions blind decent human beings from the truth.  Thus, knee jerk reactions lead to conflict, division and tension within Christian homes.  Perhaps, everyone needs to become more like Jesus, expecting the best in others regardless of past or present reputations.  May this passage of the Bible speak to your soul, opening your heart to forgive, forget and extend God’s grace and mercy to others.  If you don’t, you too may confuse right from wrong and wrong with right.

by Jay Mankus

I Don’t Know How He Does It

The thought of patience is foreign to me.  I have a short fuse, easily enraged by obstacles that get in my way, slow me down or become a burden to me in any manner.  So when I read the Bible, the command to love, be patient and kind seems impossible to achieve.  The idea of forgiving and loving enemies is hard to comprehend.  Nonetheless, when religious leaders and the people who followed Jesus turned on him, shouting for death by crucifixion, this Man practiced what He preached.  Moments from death, Jesus cried out to his heavenly father, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  I don’t know how He did this?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

The context of the passage above shines light on the nature of God.  Anyone can talk a good game, pretend to be good person or use money to influence the general public.  However, if you don’t display love, all of your gifts and talents are meaningless.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy of a clanging symbol to prove his point.  You may be an amazing musician, but without love you are nothing.  Perhaps, people inside of church at Corinth were forgetting the purpose of being a Christian, becoming Christ like is all aspects of life.  Essentially, Paul was trying to prove a point, this is not how you do it.

Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14.

Today, many believers fail miserably, unable to love, display patience or be kind.  Part of this failure is due to a departure of complete trust in God.  Rather, the temptation to be self-reliant has trumped faith.  Instead of undergoing a subtle spiritual transformation, the world is winning, with compromise after compromise.  If the apostle Paul struggled to defeat temptation, Romans 7:14-18, everyone will face a similar fate.  In the meantime, yield to God, surrendering control of your life.  When you do, the mercy God displayed for you can flow outwardly toward others.  While I still don’t know how Jesus loved the unlovable, let all that you do be inspired by love.

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

 

 

Skeletons of Your Past

Despite how perfect some individuals may act, behave and live out on a daily basis, everyone possesses imperfections.  These blemishes often result in a dark side with secret addictions, bad habits or unthinkable acts that would shock the average person.  This collection of scars accumulate into skeletons of your past.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us, 1 John 1:8-10.

There was a time in American history where honesty was the best policy.  However, sometimes revealing a skeleton or two from your past can do permanent damage.  Recently. Pete Rose admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a minor back in the 1970’s.  This confession sent shockwaves across the country, igniting outrage throughout social media.  Based upon the comments posted, it’s as if this was the worst act ever committed.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The second aspect of confession is taking the steps toward the road to recovery.  Perhaps, this may explain the criticism of Rose over his lack of contrition for his previous transgressions.  Thus, if you want to experience healing from the skeletons of your past, you must learn to walk according to the Holy Spirit.  Based upon the apostle Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will provide a way out when temptations arrive.  In your journey toward healing, may the Lord guide you out of bondage to find freedom in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus