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Tag Archives: soul

Proud or Ashamed?

Before adulthood tends to complicate life, children can wear their emotions on their sleeves.  Young people celebrate achievements with exuberance and gleeful satisfaction.  Unfortunately, at some point while growing up, minds become convinced that certain activities, beliefs and faiths are inappropriate.  Thus, peer pressure may cause something you were once proud of to be replaced with shame.

For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul and eternal life [in God’s kingdom]? – Mark 8:36-37.

Prior to the mass shooting that took the lives of 17 victims, students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida weren’t experts on gun control.  Yet, in the days that have followed this tragic event, teenagers have been regularly used on cable news networks to ban, limit or repeal the second amendment.  Instead of correcting the flaws in their school safety policy or address the failure of school security guards to react, guns continue to be demonized along with those who own or use a gun.

For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels,” Mark 8:38.

This persecution of gun owners relates to Jesus’ words above.  How you respond to the Bible, faith and Jesus in public will influence how God treats you.  Those who disown their faith amidst criticism, pressure to conform or progressive views will be shunned by God.  Thus, you can’t be halfway, its either all or nothing.  Will you be ashamed due to what others think or will a zeal for the Lord reveal pride for God?  May the passage above serve as inspiration to strengthen your faith so that your choice is clear.

by Jay Mankus

 

Malevolent Thoughts

Inside of every human being, subtle imperfections exist.  While its easy to focus on the negative, highlighting the good within people seems like a lost art.  Driven by a political climate where enemies are destroyed, discredited or smeared, malevolent thoughts are taking over.  Instead of listening to the guiding light of your conscience, a glimmer of darkness is infiltrating minds to promote hostility.

And He said, “Whatever comes from [the heart of] a man, that is what defiles and dishonors him. 21 For from within, [that is] out the heart of men, come base and malevolent thoughts and schemes, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 acts of greed and covetousness, wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness and foolishness (poor judgment). 23 All these evil things [schemes and desires] come from within and defile and dishonor the man,” Mark 7:20-23.

During a parable known as the heart of man, Jesus’ harsh words made his disciples feel uncomfortable.  After the crowds went home, the disciples requested a private meeting, wanting to understand what Jesus meant by malevolent thoughts.  If the eyes are the lamp of the body, Matthew 6:19-24, the heart is the voice within.  Cursing, inappropriate language and swearing doesn’t happen over night.  Rather, words naturally flow out of what’s stored up inside your heart.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do, Galatians 5:16-17.

The apostle Paul blames this conflict on a spiritual battle between 2 opposing powers.  If Lucifer infected Eve with lust in the Garden of Eden, the presence of sin has become a deadly venom poisoning once innocent hearts.  While cable news, social media and talk radio focus on outward actions, deeds and words, no one is addressing the heart of this matter.  Unless individuals begin to take this condition serious, malevolent thoughts will continue to create havoc.  May this blog awaken your soul so that you will become responsive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to overcome malevolent thoughts.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Seed of the Church

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born in the middle of the second century.  Spanning 85 years, Tertullian lived during the height of the Roman Empire.  After the apostles within Acts and Jesus’ disciples passed away, Christian historians began to record post biblical events.  Residing in the Roman province of Africa in Carthage, Tertullian is regarded as one of the earliest theologians.  He is the first Christian author to produce extensive literature on apologetics, defending Christianity against heresy and the threat of Gnosticism.  These works earned Tertullian the title father of Latin Christianity.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you,” John 15:18.

While Tertullian was born after Nero’s persecution and died well before the reign of Decius third century worldwide persecution,  suffering was rampant.  Another early historian Eusebius spoke of a great multitude of believers who perished.  Tertullian developed a unique perspective of Christian persecution that he witnessed.  In the cases of death, Tertullian said the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.  This quote is found in what is known as Apologeticus pro Christianis within the concluding chapters, pages 48-50.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12.

Persecution is one of those experiences you don’t want to brag about it.  Depending upon the severity you endure, these events can scar your soul.  Nonetheless, Jesus tells his disciples to not take this personally for the world hated me first.  Meanwhile, one of the apostle Paul’s mission helpers makes a strong statement about the topic of persecution.  Its not a matter of if, but when.  Therefore, persecution should be expected for those who stand out by emulating Christ in this life.  In fact, if you’re not receiving weekly doses of persecution, perhaps you have become a chameleon, blending in to avoid this.  As Palm Sunday arrives, make sure you come out of your shell to give Jesus the praise He deserves.  If persecution results, so be it.  As Tertullian once wrote, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

by Jay Mankus

Trying to Heal a Defiled Heart

If you maintain a burdensome schedule each week, finding time to take an honest assessment of your life isn’t easy to do.  Most busy people press on. ignoring any signs, symptoms or traces of trouble.  When a state of emergency was issued for Delaware during the fourth snow storm in March, I was forced to slow down, unable to go to work.  After reading the passage below, an overwhelming sense of guilt struck my soul, exposing a defiled heart.

After He called the people to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen [carefully] to Me, all of you, [hear] and understand [what I am saying]: there is nothing outside a man [such as food] which by going into him can defile him [morally or spiritually]; but the things which come out of [the heart of] a man are what defile and dishonor him. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him he}” Mark 7:15-16.

As a former high school teacher, I gave my students some sort of assessment every 3 weeks.  Homework, papers, quizzes and exams were given during each unit to reveal the degree of comprehension.  Unfortunately, after graduating from high school or college, adults rarely think about assessing their faith like educators.  This lack of reflection often hides glaring issues.  As for me, a lack of candor has brought to light a defiled heart.

For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit. For figs are not picked from thorn bushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a briar bush. 45 The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart, Luke 6:43-45.

According to Jesus, your choice of language provides immediate feedback to what’s in your heart.  If you find yourself using coarse joking, put downs or sarcasm, this serves as a warning of a heart in grave condition.  In order to take a positive step forward, confession is the best place to start, James 5:16.  If your language does not improve, finding an accountability partner can help turn your life around.  While transformation takes time, meditating on Bible verses, prayer and fasting are all honorable steps toward healing a defiled heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Enemy of Depth

Anyone who lives in a city, endures a long commute or works in a fast paced environment understands the cramp time places on relationships.  I have allowed this barrier to prevent me from developing deep and meaningful relationships.  Distracted by where I need to go and what I need to do next often leaves me feeling distant from those that I care about.  Unfortunately, as someone who always seems to be in a hurry, impatience has become the enemy of depth.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

The opposite of depth is those who suffer from relationship fatigue.  This state occurs when associates, co-workers or friends become too intense, like a leech that sticks to you and won’t let go.  When imperfections, quirks and social warts of individuals wear on your soul, any desire for intimacy fades away.  Thus, any close ties that you might have developed in the past soon dissipate as well.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Sadly, other relationships that you may have hoped to nourish over  time never amount to anything due to fear.  Possibly thinking about prior failed friendships, there is a tendency to avoid becoming too close to someone, afraid the bond that you share will be broken.  In the passages above, the apostle Paul attempts to illustrate what love looks like.  When people begin to forgive and forget, your slate of past wrongs is wiped clean.  Yet, until you emulate the character traits of love, depth will continue to be an enemy.

by Jay Mankus

Watch Out for Parasites

Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea star in the 2008 film Fireproof.  Cameron plays Caleb Holt, the captain of a local fire station who has allowed his job and pornography addiction to ruin his marriage.  After his wife files for divorce, Caleb is sent a diary called the Forty Day Challenge by his father to help save his marriage.  On day 23, the theme is watch out for parasites.  These words convict Caleb of this bad habit, prompting him to destroy his computer with an aluminum baseball hat.  This moving clip should urge individuals to begin to examine their own lives to see if any parasites are currently on the prowl.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism.  These minute creatures feed off of its host, deriving nutrients at the host’s expense.  Similar to a leech which feeds off of human blood, these pests can drain, sap and wear on your soul.  If action is not immediately taken, parasites will destroy, kill or steal any joy that you have for life.  In an analogy about a shepherd watching over his sheep, Jesus refers to a thief who seeks the destruction of others.  This is what parasites do, taking pleasure in feasting on the exploits of others.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If you read passages like Job 1, Satan is a spiritual parasite who relies on demons to do his dirty work.  Spirits of depression, fear and loneliness cause individuals to drift apart from their support systems.  Once isolated, demonic parasites prey on these troubled souls, resulting in tragedies like the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  After talking to his lawyer, Nikolas Cruz confessed to acting upon voices within his mind to shoot up his former school.  While the national media’s attention is focused on banning guns and addressing mental illness, no one is talking about the powers of darkness that inspired this senseless act.  May this week’s unfortunate events serve as a warning to watch out for parasites.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Ghost of Worry

Apparitions, phantoms and shadows are often associated with ghosts.  Television channels like Destination America are feeding this craze with a series of programming related to paranormal activity.  Whether you are talking about ghost towns, haunted houses or demonic encounters, there are so many spirits roaming this country and throughout the world.    One of these invisible presences is the ghost of worry.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27

Worry is the little bug or gnat that constantly pesters you.  This nuisance can be emotionally draining, sucking any joy that you may have out of your life.  If you allow this force to continue to wear on your soul, stress levels can explode resulting in panic attacks.  In the passage above, Jesus uses common sense to address the ghost of worry.  Instead of dwelling of things that you can’t control, trust God to provide what you need.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them, Matthew 6:28-32.

When I was a child, if I took too much food at the dinner table and did not finish it, my parents often said, “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”  If the ghost of worry gets the best of you each week, your mind is bigger than your faith.  Revealing God’s special care and concern for nature and wildlife, Jesus illustrates how the Lord provides for the most basic elements on earth.  Therefore, if you want to perform an exorcism on worry, seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.  If you adhere to this advice, the ghost of worry will slowly dissipate as God provides for each of your needs.

by Jay Mankus