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Tag Archives: apologetics

What the World Needs

One of the favorite weeks of the year as a teacher was attending the annual youth leadership conference. As a member of the Spiritual Life Committee, serving as chaperone for this event gave me the opportunity to recognize and encourage student leaders to follow God’s calling. These events introduced me to cutting edge curriculum designed by Summit Ministries. During one decade, I was blessed to participate in work shops led by Dr. Jeff Meyers and John Stonestreet. During my final year of attending, I was challenged to stop judging the world by engaging our culture with the living Word of God.

Now while Paul was awaiting them at Athens, his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned and argued in the synagogue with the Jews and those who worshiped there, and in the marketplace [where assemblies are held] day after day with any who chanced to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Stonestreet’s best lesson focused on the apostle’s initial visit to Athens. Despite being discouraged and grieved by a city full of idols, Paul tried to find something positive. Based upon the passage below, Paul identified a point of reference, an altar dedicated to an unknown god. Following a similar method of apologetics used by C.S. Lewis in the second portion of Mere Christianity, Paul establishes a common ground. Instead of preaching a message of condemnation, Paul compliments the citizens of Athens, referring to them as religious. Paul also quotes a poet who refers to being an offspring of God. This is what the world needs to hear.

So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], said: Men of Athens, I perceive in every way [on every hand and with every turn I make] that you are most religious or very reverent to demons. 23 For as I passed along and carefully observed your objects of worship, I came also upon an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. Now what you are already worshiping as unknown, this I set forth to you, Acts 17:22-23.

In the aftermath of the George Floyd’s unnecessary death at the hands of a white police officer, buildings, local businesses and vehicles have been set ablaze in Minnesota. As riots continue to spread to other major metropolitan cities, anger over Floyd’s death has fueled this outage. As African Americans, minorities and protesters seek justice for this hate crime, time will tell what the future holds. As for now, cooler heads must prevail. If this country wants to continue it’s reputation as the great American melting pot, we must come together to discover what we have in common. When common beliefs and ideals are embraced, Americans can unite over the freedoms laid out in the Bill of Rights.

by Jay Mankus

Parental Discretion Advised

If you catch the very beginning of a televised movie or arrive early at a local theater, a disclaimer will flash across the screen. This statement is designed to warn viewers of what individuals are about to see. In legal terms, phrases such as “parental discretion is advised” enables those behind the making of a film to avoid liability or being held responsible for its content.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

As the apostle Paul visited the city of Athens, there was no warning. Instead of being prompted by parental discretion advised, Paul was bombarded by pornography. Some of these idols were dedicated to the goddess of love, celebrating, encouraging and promoting sexual immorality in the name of religion. This visual cesspool didn’t stop Paul for searching for positive signs of life. Like a rigid site seeing tour, Paul didn’t stop until discovering an altar and poem that spoke to his heart.

Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

If Jesus and his disciples encountered this adult and mature content, I can imagine one of the disciples pleading with Jesus to call fire down from heaven to destroy Athens. Yet, Paul shows much more grace, engaging philosophers with an inscription and poetry. These two pieces of literature serve as a common ground, opening the door for the apostle Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ with Greeks. Instead of being offended, Christians need to learn to engage other cultures by using apologetics, defending the Christian faith. This means leaving safe spaces to bring life to dark and immoral places, relying on the Holy Spirit as your guide.

by Jay Mankus

Remaining Above the Fray

The expression above the fray refers to abstaining from getting involved in a heated argument, confrontation or debate.  While individuals may participate by adding their opinion, temperance is demonstrated by going the right distance and no further.  One of the reasons I have not activated my twitter account is to avoid being dragged into a no win situation of endless mudslinging back and forth.

But avoid foolish and ill-informed and stupid controversies and genealogies and dissensions and quarrels about the Law, for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers], Titus 3:9-11.

Controversy is nothing new.  During the first century, philosophers meet in the marketplace to exchange their ideas.  When these new teachings conflicted with biblical principles, dissensions and quarrels about the God’s law triggered heresy, a departure from biblical beliefs.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns a servant of Christ to avoid getting sucked into these futile discussions.  In the centuries following biblical times, God raised up Christian historians who wrote apologetic books defending and justifying biblical truth.

Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ], Philippians 2:1-2.

The best solution to remain above the fray is by developing a Christ-like mind.  Arguments tend to bring out raw emotions that influences human nature to attack, lash out and seek revenge.  Yet, Jesus shares a contrary message, to let God judge the living and the dead.  Jesus had the power to call down fire from heaven as the Son of God, but he choose to live a humble life as a blue collar carpenter.  By taking time every day to meet quietly with God, this spiritual discipline empowered Jesus to carry out God’s will on earth.  When individuals begin to practice Philippians 2:2-5, attitudes will transform toward a heavenly mindset to remain above the fray.

by Jay Mankus

Amusing Myself to Death

The definition of entertainment refers to providing and or receiving amusement or enjoyment.  Early cultures built theaters, often used to host plays to provide comic relief from the troubles in life.  In recent years, sports allows individuals to release their stress for a couple of hours each weekend.  However, if you get too comfortable or close to the finer things in life, you may be in danger of amusing yourself to death.

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

After a long week of work, I tend to find myself on a recliner soaking in something on television.  While I do spent time outside playing golf, at my current age, I prefer to be entertained.  Perhaps this explains why I have a hard time turning the channel when movies like A Few Good Men, Bourne Identity or Shawshank Redemption come on.  Its strange how reruns can attract someone’s attention, wasting valuable time that could be spent fulfilling your dreams.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there, Acts 17:17.

One of the best resources for escaping the grips of amusement is Summit Ministries.  During my decade of teaching, Dr. Jeff Myers and John Stonestreet were at the forefront of preparing students for college.  One of their common messages is that life imitates art.   The best way to address this is by engaging today’s culture through apologetics.  Just as the apostle Paul persuaded the people of Athens, this world needs a leader to snap people out of their spiritual slumber.  May the Lord awaken couch potatoes with the saving grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Somebody’s Gotta Be Right?

If you unravel the earth’s history, forefathers, prophets and religious leaders have made some bold statements.  These claims have shaped and formed the beliefs of worship centers throughout the world.  Founders like Buddha, Moses, Mohammad and Jesus have inspired generations of followers.  However, how do you know the one that is right from those who have slightly strayed from the truth?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.

According to C.S. Lewis, each belief system possesses ethics, morals and prudent principles.  A former atheist,  Lewis wrote Mere Christianity to explain his journey from unbelief to faith.  Using apologetics, logic and theology, Lewis methodically separates Jesus from all other individuals.  Despite his findings, a progressive culture has forgotten about Lewis, professing there are many paths to heaven.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved, Acts 4:12.

At this point of contention, do you go along with the crowd, confront naysayers or examine the scriptures to ascertain the correct road to heaven?  While critics may call you intolerant, narrow minded or old fashioned, most would rather be safe rather than sorry, spending eternity in hell.  Thus its essential for inquiring minds to test everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, so that in the end the truth will set you free.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Does My Help Come From?

The term apologetics in the context of theology (the science of God) is derived from expressing what you believe and why.  This process takes time to reflect, meditate and verbalize the rationale behind the beliefs you hold dear.  Thus, one of the areas a person may contemplate over the course of their life is this: where does my help come from?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? – Psalm 121:1

Those who claim to be rugged individuals, consisting of discipline, hard work and persistence, often give the credit of their success to how they were raised, trial and error and earning most of what they have received in life.  Meanwhile, victims are on the opposite side of the spectrum, learning to pass the blame for their failures on everyone or anything possible, creating an excuse for each loss, setback and unreached dream.  As for those somewhere in between, the divine, luck the family you are born into usually help to explain why help arrived or never came to the rescue.

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; Psalm 121:2-3.

Looking back on my own personal experiences, there have been too many occasions in the past to write off as mere coincidences.  During my sophomore year of high school, I first sensed the hand of God leading me.  Although I have endured periods where I felt abandoned by God, help eventually was provided by angels, conversations, letters, unusual encounters and whispers from the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, as for me and my household, our help comes from the Lord!

by Jay Mankus

Importing Deities

Countries tend to import articles, goods or services when there is an increase in demand or no entity from within who can provide this in a timely manner.  However, spiritual elements are imported daily, often going unnoticed by citizens.  These subtle deities contain hidden powers, fueled by demonic strongholds that exist throughout the world.  If not rejected and deported, hearts, minds and worldviews will be transformed, shifting the beliefs of a nation.

According to C.S. Lewis, apologetics involves finding common areas and beliefs that you share with other world religions.  His logic is based upon one simple principle, “no one want’s to hear that you are right and everyone else is wrong,” Mere Christian, Book 2, chapter 1.  When it comes to importing deities, no one is as resolute as Islam.  Meanwhile, several Christian denominations have begun practicing Syncretism, blending practices not found in the Bible, Deuteronomy 4:2, with the Christian faith.

As Israel approached the promised land, a similar temptation arose to import gods from Egypt.  Leviticus 17:7 suggests that some had already carried foreign traditions with Israel into the desert.  Laying down the law, through the words of Moses passed down from generation to generation, this command still applies, importing foreign deities is prohibited.  Going forward, make sure you practice 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, testing everything you hear or read with the truths of Scripture.  By doing this, you will protect your mind from further harm, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Great Fortune Teller

crystal ball photo: Crystal Ball Crystal_ball.jpg

Modern fortune tellers rely on crystal balls, horoscopes, psychics and tarot cards to predict information about a person’s life.  At the turn of the first century, there was a girl from Philippi, a city on the north shores of the Aegean Sea, who possessed a powerful spirit.  According to Acts 16:16, she was purchased by a group of businessmen who greatly profited from her ability to predict the future.  While unknown, apparently this young girl was tired of being enslaved, reaching out to the apostle Paul by interrupting his ministry, Acts 16:17.  Thus, Paul was left with no choice, casting out the demon within her along with this special ability, Acts 16:18-19.  Although this girl was delivered from her bondage, Paul and Silas received a night in the slammer for their efforts, putting the slave owners out of the fortune telling business, Acts 16:19.

Today, fortune telling is considered taboo for many Christians to discuss, especially within evangelical circles.  By squashing debate on this topic within churches, people are overlooking the greatest fortune teller of all time.  In the gospel of Mark alone, Jesus is a perfect 21 for 21 without counting the same category twice.  The Holy Spirit, poured out upon Jesus during his baptism in Mark 1:12 enabled God’s son to read hearts, minds, motives and thoughts.  In addition, Jesus predicted betrayals, conversations, foresaw shortcomings, future events and reactions of his disciples and religious leaders.  A prophet may be perceived as getting lucky if they go lets say 3 for 3 on predictions.  Yet, once you foretell 21 future events exactly as they occur, luck is taken out of the equation.

I think one of the main reasons the Bible is under attack by college professors, scrutinized by the media and considered obsolete by Naturalistic Scholars is due to fear from within that Scripture does foretell the future.  Based upon Revelation 20:7-15, in the end, Satan loses, the Book of life will be opened, each person will be judged according to what they have done on earth and God’s sheep will be separated from the goats who will spend eternity in hell.  Though only the Father knows the date, year and time of day, Mark 13:32, the future is pretty obvious.  Use your talents that the Master has given you on this earth while you still have time, Matthew 25:14-30, before Jesus’ eminent return.

by Jay Mankus

Fortune Telling References:

Mark 2:8-11, 18-20, Mark 4:37-40, Mark 5:36-41, Mark 6:4-6, 38-44, 48-52, Mark 7:6-13, Mark 8:16-21, 31-32, Mark 9:17-29, 31-32, Mark 10:22, 32-35, 41, Mark 11:1-7, 17, Mark 12:38-40, Mark 13:32, Mark 14:6-9, 12-16, 18-21, 24-25, Mark 14:30-31, 42, 62, 66-72.  All verses are from the New International Version of the Bible.

The Real Smooth Operator

During the summer of 1984, the English group Sade released the song Smooth Operator, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for 2 weeks.  The distinct voice of Sade Adu has etched a place in history for this song, a classic which highlights the unique sounds of the 1980’s.  While modern commercial studs, movie stars and players try to claim this crown, there is only one Smooth Operator, Jesus of Nazareth.

According to Mark 12:13-15, the religious police came after Jesus, pulling out all their stunts to find a way to arrest him.  In Act I, found in Mark 12:15-17, Jesus faces off with the Pharisees and Herodians, thirsty for blood ever since Mark 3:6.  These two religious groups attempt to force Jesus into a corner where he either breaks Roman law, not paying taxes to Caesar or refuses to respect the proper temple tax.  Celebrating too earlier, Jesus asks for a coin, answers both questions, leaving a jaw dropping response in Mark 12:17.

Act II begins in Mark 12:18-27 with a group known as the Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  Thus, one of their zealots poses a hypothetical question, hoping to stump and or trick Jesus into giving an unbiblical reply.  Likely yawning, thinking, “is that the best you’ve got,” Jesus quickly disposes these morons.  Toying with their minds, Jesus clarifies their flawed logic by explaining there is no marriage in heaven and Oh by the way, Moses served the God of the living, not the dead.

On fire now, burning through his competition, Act III rolls out one final expert to duel Jesus, a teacher of the law, Mark 12:28-39.  Playing pin the tail on the donkey, this teacher thinks he can get Jesus to de-emphasize one of the 10 commandments, Exodus 20:1-17.  Instead, Jesus divides the commandments God gave to Moses in 2 classifications: 1-4 focus on loving God, 6-10 require loving your neighbor as yourself.  By loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and following the golden rule, individuals can insure that they will keep all 10 commandments.  Astonished by his wisdom, this teacher of the law is nearly converted by Jesus in Mark 12:34.  After this, no one else dared to ask Jesus another question, proving once and for all, He is the real smooth operator!

by Jay Mankus

Did God Really Say vs. It Is Written

Until God gave Moses the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, any command, decree or law was passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation.  In the book of Genesis, God spoke directly to people like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph informing each of His will and plan for their life.  Therefore, when a serpent began to speak with Eve in the garden of Eden, she knew the boundaries God established in Genesis 2:16-17.  Thus, the battle between did God really say and it is written began.

Using the same main strategy of deception that worked in the garden, Satan meets his toughest opponent in a desert east of the Jordan River, Matthew 4:1.  Jesus prepares for this battle for the masses with 40 days of prayer and fasting, enabling Him to be spiritually in tune with God the Father.  Hungry but not weak of mind, Jesus reminds Satan of his rules violation at the beginning of this conflict, Matthew 4:4.  Not deterred, Satan pushes on with plan B.

Conforming to his challenger’s playbook, Satan quotes the Bible hoping to place Jesus into a corner, forcing Him to act.  Alert and confident in the Spirit’s leading, Jesus squashes Satan’s efforts by correcting the words of scripture taken out of context, Matthew 4:7.  In one last desperate move, Satan offers Jesus the authority Adam lost in the Garden of Eden, a consequence of original sin.  Cool as a cucumber, Jesus knocks Satan out of the arena with a jab using the right scriptural response, Matthew 4:10.

Unfortunately, this battle rages on today in public education, on college campuses and in the liberal media.  Satan has persuaded historians to rewrite the events of this battle, confusing the minds of countless, convincing the uninformed that Did God really say has won.  If you want to set the record straight, you must test everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, cling to what is good and boldly proclaim it is written as the victor, Acts 4:29.

by Jay Mankus

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