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Crashing Waves that Erode Your Faith

According to the latest research, erosion washes away 25 feet of coastal beach annually. When a region experiences more than it’s typical amount of hurricanes, crashing waves can wash away up to 50 feet of coastline in a season. On a rare occasion, the aftermath of a great storm forms a new land mass. Such is the case of the great hurricane of 1933. Crashing waves and storm surge eroded the Ocean City inlet, resulting in the creation of Assateague Island.

[Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me, Psalm 42:7.

There are 53 verses in the Bible that use the expression wave. However, only 16 refer to a wave on a lake or sea. In the passage above, a chief musician sings about the power of rushing water. Whether the author is writing about a specific river, waterfall or a raging flood flowing after a severe storm, water has a mind of itself. One downpour can take a country road and transform it into a river, sweeping away anything that comes close to it’s path.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

While the height of waves are limited on lakes and rivers, the larger the body of water, the higher that waves climb. Although tsunamis are rare to most coastlines, invisible tsunamis occur daily in the forms of hardship, trials, and tribulations. If your faith is weak or unprepared, doubt will come crashing through like a freight train. Instead of hesitating, believers must be alert, forming hedges of protection via prayer so that when days of danger arrive, your faith will stand tall.

by Jay Mankus

When Adversity Causes You to Forget Your Faith

If you have been pampered, protected, or sheltered by your parents, it’s only a matter of time before you are introduced to adversity. This comes in the form of affliction, bad luck, distress, and heartache. While no one wants to endure adversity, these temporary periods of turmoil provide opportunities for growth. Yet, when the heat is turned up in the middle of any ordeal, adversity has a tendency to cause Christians to forget about their faith.

We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul shares the spiritual benefits of adversity. While you may feel abandoned from time to time when adversity strikes, God will stand by your side. As pressure and trouble builds, its easy to become overwhelmed. Yet, Jesus’ earthly brother reveals the purpose that these events play in your life, James 1:2-4. Instead of throwing in the towel, hang in there until maturity develops.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you, 1 Peter 5:8-10.

The passage above is written by a disciple who publicly denied knowing Jesus three times. Perhaps, Peter is referencing this event as he unveils what is happening behind the scenes. In the spiritual dimension, demonic forces and powers lurk, waiting for a moment of weakness to attack. This explains why adversity causes many Christians to forget about their faith. Like pottery in a furnace, you have to go through fire before imperfections begin to fade. In the meantime, hold on to Jesus until adversity passes.

by Jay Mankus

30 Seconds of Courage

Audacity, boldness, and valor are words associated with courage. While the average lifespan of a male in the United States of America is 76 years of age, few ever demonstrate 30 seconds of courage while on earth. Fear of rejection, peer pressure, and political correctness keep most people confined, under wraps, afraid to go against the flow.

From that time forth Jesus began [clearly] to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and the high priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised from death. Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! 23 But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men, Matthew 16:21-24.

Although some may talk a good game, when the opportunity to be courageous arrives, rarely does an individual rise to the challenge. Take Peter for example, the rock upon which God will build the church, Matthew 16:18. When Jesus was about to be arrested early Good Friday morning, Peter took up his sword. However, later that night when asked if he knew Jesus, Peter did the opposite with 30 seconds of cowardice.

You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]! 52 Which of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? And they slew those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you now have betrayed and murdered—53 You who received the Law as it was ordained and set in order and delivered by angels, and [yet] you did not obey it! – Acts 7:51-53

Despite Peter’s epic failure, there was one apostle who displayed 30 seconds of courage. Instead of recanting his faith in Jesus, Stephen gave a moving speech before being stoned to death. Oddly enough, the religious leader who gave the order to have Stephen killed is the soon to be apostle Paul. If it wasn’t for Stephen’s 30 seconds of courage, Paul’s life may have taken a different path. May the power of the Holy Spirit inspire you to demonstrate 30 seconds of courage this Easter Season.

by Jay Mankus

From Community to Chaos and Back

The final event of Jesus’ earthly ministry is the Last Supper. This meal celebrating the Jewish Passover was the last event with all 12 of his disciples present. What began as the very first communion service, ended in speculation as Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would soon betray Jesus. This pivotal gathering started with a spirit of community, but ended in chaos.

And as My Father has appointed a kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer on you [the privilege and decree], 30 That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, 32 But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren, Luke 22:29-32.

The first person to crack was Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of Jesus’ ministry. Poisoned by betrayal and greed, Judas agreed to hand Jesus over to Jewish religious leaders. While this was going on, Peter was confronted by 3 different individuals about his connection with Jesus. Each time, Peter vehemently denied his association with Jesus. As the cock cried three times, a spirit of conviction and remorse sent Judas into the desert to take his own life.

And He said to them, When I sent you out with no purse or [provision] bag or sandals, did you lack anything? They answered, Nothing! 36 Then He said to them, But now let him who has a purse take it, and also [his provision] bag; and let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy a sword. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must yet be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted and classed among the wicked (the outlaws, the criminals); for what is written about Me has its fulfillment [has reached its end and is finally settled], Luke 22:35-37.

Chaos is a state of confusion, disarray, havoc, mayhem, tumult, and upheaval. As Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified on a cross, the Savior of the world was lost. Or was he as the day turned to night, a great earthquake tore the temple curtain into two, and the dead began to walk through the streets of Jerusalem like a scene from the Walking Dead. Out of this chaos, God raised Jesus from the dead three days later. This is the reason why Christians celebrate Easter Sunday as God restored order by uniting a community of believers through faith.

by Jay Mankus

When Gusts of Doubt Uproot Your Faith

Every Easter pastors, priests, and teachers read passages in the Bible of disciples abandoning Jesus in His greatest time of need. When asked to pray late at night, they fell asleep. After being confronted about his relationship, Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. As the winds of doubt began to blow on that original Good Friday, the only disciple not uprooted by the pressure to conform was John who took care of Mary after Jesus ascended into heaven.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides], James 1:6-8.

According to first centurion historians, even Jesus’ earthly brother, James, did not believe until Resurrection Sunday. Perhaps, the passage above is a personal confession, disappointed by his own lack of faith. Instead using his God given ears to hear and eyes to see, gusts of doubt blinded James from Jesus’ true identity. Nearly 2000 years later, the gusts of doubt continue to blow. Some of these storms are hidden by gray clouds, appearing without a moments notice. When the sky clears, a trail of wounded souls and debris remain.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

The apostle Paul compares faith to a deeply rooted tree, Colossians 2:7, nourished and built up by Christ. Unfortunately, winds of doubt often separate believers from their source of light and life. After cursing an unproductive fig tree, the disciples were shocked by Jesus’ miraculous powers. Jesus uses this teachable moment to reveal how doubt impacts his followers. Therefore, the next time you feel the gusts of doubt begin to blow, clear your mind before prayer is exercised to secure a firm defense.

by Jay Mankus

Lord It’s Been So Long

If you’re not careful, life can be like a white water rafting trip. Once you’re on the river, there is danger lurking around every corner. Depending upon the classification and level of rapids, each one can come fast and furious. Unless there is some sort of break in between for your mind to relax, there will be no rest for the weary. Anyone who finds themselves on a wild ride may be so focused on survival that taking time to spend with God is like a blip on a radar screen.

Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Get up this way by the South (the Negeb) and go up into the hill country,18 And see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds, 20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes, Numbers 13:17-20.

In his 1993 song, Power and Promise, Brett Williams uses the phrase, “Lord It’s Been So Long.” The context of these lyrics date back to Moses waiting to enter God’s Promise Land. In the second stanza, Williams refers back to the anguish Mary felt while her brother Lazarus was dead for 3 days. When signs of God’s power or presence is absent, invisible to your eyes, staying optimistic in times of trouble is difficult. This is where faith comes into play.

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? Anyone who walks about in the daytime does not stumble, because he sees [by] the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks about in the night, he does stumble, because there is no light in him [the light is lacking to him]. 11 He said these things, and then added, Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep, John 11:9-11.

However, when basic spiritual routines like going to church, reading the Bible or praying stop occurring, God fades from your memory. While the Coronavirus may have been an excuse for some to use in 2020, it’s time to reconnect. The imagery of Luke 15:20 pictures the Lord as a concerned parent, patiently waiting on the front porch for prodigals to come home. Until lost souls come to their senses, this reconciliation is put on hold. Therefore, if you find yourself distant from God, today as good as any day to open up by saying, “Lord, it’s been so long.”

by Jay Mankus

Truth and Integrity

Propaganda uses lies, half-truths, innuendo, smears, misinformation, one-sided arguments and inflammatory rhetoric to influence the public’s attitude toward a cause, ideal or, usually, a political agenda. Propaganda is regularly pushed by cable news networks, political lobbyists, and through social media posts. If you scan the headlines on any given day, you will find similar mantras, talking points, and vocabulary to convince the American people what they should believe about a specific issue or policy.

Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, Ephesians 6:14.

If a famous talk show host has an expert on to shed light on this hot topic, minds began to be swayed. When another professional in a similar field deviates from this view, the Cancel Culture is willing and able to beat this individual into submission by whatever means necessary. Even if the Science clearly supports this unpopular view, opinions are elevated to fact status so that what one political party wants, one political party gets. This hyper sensitive climate doesn’t leave room for truth or integrity to reside or fit in.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15.

If you use the illustration portrayed by the apostle Paul, all it takes for truth to disappear is for the Belt of Truth to be loosened and taken off. As soon as moral absolutes are stripped away, the is no need for integrity. If everyone is doing what’s right in their own eyes, Judges 21:25, the truth turns to grey until that too soon fades away. Don’t look now, but truth and integrity are like spare change jars at your local convenience store. Until someone is willing to be courageous by taking a stand for God today, Ezekiel 22:30, I’m afraid truth and integrity will disappear like the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. May God inspire believers to stand in the gap daily for integrity and truth.

by Jay Mankus

The Day of Danger

Next to experience, repetition is one of the best modes of teaching. Perhaps, Moses was painfully aware of the human condition, so focused on the present that lessons of the past are forgotten. The Book of Deuteronomy simply means second law, serving as a constant reminder of God’s expectations. From the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-26 to the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12, if important principles aren’t brushed up on, you won’t be prepared for the day of danger that will rock your world.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place], Ephesians 6:12-13.

The context of this expression is found in what Bible scholars refers to the armor of God. As tension within the spiritual dimension builds, powers of darkness are lurking, waiting and eager to pounce upon weakened and lonely Christians, 1 Peter 5:8. This invisible danger seeks to steal spiritual truths within young and vulnerable hearts. Meanwhile, trials and tragedy are just a few of the weapons used to steal dreams and poison souls. If you think you’re exempt from the day of danger, just listen to the words of King Solomon below.

A prudent man sees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished [with suffering], Proverbs 22:3.

What’s odd about this passage is that five chapters later in Proverbs 27:12, Solomon chooses the exact same words. As one of the wisest human beings to walk the face of the earth, there must be a specific reason. Perhaps, one of his son’s was forgetful or had a short attention span. As Jesus often said, “you have ears, but do not hear.” When the timing isn’t right, crucial lessons fly by, out of sight, out of mind. Yet, when the timing is right and hearts embraces these spiritual morsels like a sponge, Christians are prepared when your day of danger arrives.

by Jay Mankus

The Shield of Saving Faith

The initial shield as described by the apostle Paul in the Bible is called a scutum. The scutum was a large body shield measuring roughly 2.5 feet wide by 4 feet tall. Auxiliary soldiers had a different shaped shield as these shields were mostly made of wood, gluing a few layers together to make the curved shape. This shield was then covered in leather and a sheet of linen cloth added to the front. Designs were usually painted onto the front following it’s completion. After the 3rd century the oval or round clipeus became the standard shield for Roman soldiers.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. 16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one], Ephesians 6:15-16.

According to Psalm 7:13, flaming arrows were used during battles in the Old Testament. As technology improved, so did the accuracy which made Roman shield’s life saving. Prior to battle, these shields were soaked in a fire retardant substance to extinguish incoming flaming arrows. When bombarded by the enemy, soldier’s would dig their shield’s into the earth at an angle to protect their entire bodies from harm. Perhaps, this specific detail is why Paul refers to this weapon as the shield of saving faith.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul refers to the necessary mindset to ward off spiritual attacks. Whenever wars occur, soldier’s can become exhausted mentally and physically. If you don’t get enough rest or your confidence is shattered, it’s only matter of time before defeat and death set in. However, as Christians learn to fight fire with fire by using spiritual weapons to fight invisible supernatural forces, momentum can change at a moment’s notice. Therefore, the next time you feel like you’re getting pelted by this present age of darkness, pick up the shield of faith and stand your ground.

by Jay Mankus

What Children Ought to Know

Context is the circumstances that form a setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. As a student of the Bible, I regretfully must confess that I have overlooked the context of the Armor of God. At the end of Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul addresses God’s expectation for a husband and wife. While recently reading Ephesians 6, Paul clarifies what the Lord expects from their children as well. Based the comment in the passage below, the armor of God is designed to protect the entire family, including children. Therefore, this is what children ought to know before they leave a Christian home, Genesis 2:24.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil, Ephesians 6:10-11.

As an adult, I don’t always have the expectations that I should for my own children. According to a first century doctor, the more you know spiritually, the more expectations Jesus has for you, Luke 12:48. Yet, when coaches, parents and teachers expect little of their athletes, children and pupils, the same can be true. Thus, whenever adults don’t fully prepare children for what lies in wait for them in the future, we as Christian leaders are setting children up to fail. The initial passage below should be ingrained into the hearts and minds of every teenager. This spiritual dimension isn’t just something that appears on a movie screen or streaming service. Rather, this biblical truth uncovers the spiritual forces of darkness at work in our world today.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. 14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, 15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), Ephesians 6:12-18.

Most Christian denominations have some sort of confirmation process. When I was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, I was under the impression that I was taking ownership of my faith. Instead of going to church because your parents tell you to go, Confirmation serves as a way to pass the spiritual torch for one generation to the next. Yet, I was never told about Ephesians 6:12, likely out of fear. However, how can someone comprehend the armor of God when you don’t know what your spiritual enemy is up to, John 10:10. This blog was designed to sound the alarm, 1 Peter 5:8, so that when this roaring lion attacks, children will how what to do and how to react. May this blog be shared with countless households so that children will know how to handle and use the Sword of the Spirit, Matthew 4:1-11, so that the Devil will be forced to flee.

by Jay Mankus

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