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Tag Archives: Bible Study

A Nightmare or Scary Reality

Several years ago I attended a Bible Study led by a pastor who opened my eyes to the spiritual realm.  When the timing was right, I probed deeper, wanting to understand more about angels and demons.  One night an opportunity arose for this pastor to share a few stories about powers of darkness that he and other members of his church have encountered on earth.  Before revealing these details, pastor Bruce gave a warning to everyone in the room.  Whenever confronting any type of spiritual entity, you must have a group of prayer warriors covering you to serve as a hedge of protection against demonic attacks or push back from these powers of darkness.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places, Ephesians 6:12.

Curious, I asked a simple question, why is a team of prayer warriors necessary?  Pastor Bruce went on to talk about a former leader of his church who attempted to confront the powers of darkness of a well known vacation destination by himself.  Unaware of the stronghold that existed in this area, this man ended up in a mental hospital, troubled by the demonic entities unleashed upon his life.  This encounter caused this man to leave church for several years, haunted by scenes often reserved for Hollywood horror movies.  All I needed was one real life example to realize I needed to begin to become proactive in my prayer life to protect myself from similar attacks as a Bible teacher at the time.

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone], 1 Peter 5:8-9.

This leads me to the other night.  I have been taught to be careful when addressing certain topics.  Last week I felt compelled to share a blog about Witchcraft in the context of people wanting to place a hex on Brett Kavanaugh.  Anyway, I should have expected some sort of push back, but I got careless, unprepared spiritually.  Subsequently, I was minding my own business, drifting off in a deep sleep when it happened.  I’m not sure if this was a nightmare or a scary reality, but I saw a voodoo doll in someone’s hand.  As soon as I got a little closer, the doll resembled me as a pin was placed into this doll.  I felt immediate pain, waking up moments later with a severe headache, struggling to grasp what just happened.  Inspired by a whisper from the Holy Spirit, I started praying.  About 15 minutes later I began to feel normal again.  Yet this ordeal, whatever the explanation, serves as an instant reminder to watch and pray so that future attacks aren’t successful.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Evicted

After retiring from his Lutheran church, a pastor and his wife felt called to begin a ministry for seniors, for people their own age.  The most logical place to start was a local retirement home.  Ken and Liv Hauge reside at the Evergreens, a senior living community in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  A suburb of Washington D.C., this area has strict regulations, something the Hauge’s found out when they wanted to start a Bible Study.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion, Proverbs 28:1.

According to the civic association, the Hauge’s were required to call their meeting a book club.  Initially, they agreed even though this event was in fact a Bible Study.  To avoid this rigid restriction, this couple decided to move the group to their own apartment.  When word got out that the Hauge’s were hosting a Bible Study, they received a letter from their residential complex stating “stop holding Bible studies or face eviction.”  Why you may ask?  The apartment complex defines a Bible Study as a business which is illegal in a private residential unit.

Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance, Acts 28:31.

The Hauge’s have turned to a lawyer to fight this legal battle.  I haven’t heard an update on this battle for religious freedom, but this case is an eye opening for the kind of persecution active Christians may face in the future.  The apostles endured similar threats during the first century.  Paul was arrested, beaten and nearly killed a couple times during his ministry trips throughout the Mediterranean.  Despite these trying times, Luke implores believers in Jesus to boldly proclaim the kingdom of God whatever the cost, even if it means eviction.

by Jay Mankus

What Do You Value…Show Me Your Money

Rod Tidwell is a fictional character played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire.  Tidwell is a veteran wide receiver in the National Football League who is about to become a free agent, looking for one final contract to secure his families financial security.  Tom Cruise plays a hot shot sports agent who is fired from the firm he helped built.  Thus, Cruise is left with one client, Tidwell, whose main request is “show me the money.”

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for [the hands of] the righteous, Proverbs 13.22.

As part of a small group Bible Study, my wife and I have to create a detailed budget to track where our money is being spent.  Upon completion, this spreadsheet will reveal what each of us value in life.  While the majority of our paychecks are spent on a mortgage, food and utilities, other interests will be unveiled by previous expenses.  I am not sure what the final results will uncover, but I am sure there are areas like fast food and golf that need to be reduced in the future.

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:6-7.

According to the Bible, King Solomon is one of the richest and wisest to walk the face of the earth.  Thus, as this man shares some advice about financial matters in the passages above, its important to reflect upon this information.  Solomon places an emphasis on leaving a financial legacy for your children and grandchildren.  As this process is ongoing, Solomon urges individuals to educate your children about money.  Whether this is through allowances, chores or saving money, these practices help shape what your offspring value in life.  In other words, Solomon is asking what do you value?   If you want to know, show your spouse where your money is being spent.

by Jay Mankus

Communion, Connection and Conviction

Depending upon your upbringing, communion may mean the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings.  To Catholics and Christians, communion is a Holy Sacrament, also known as the Eucharist.  In the context of the passage below, Jesus withdraws from a crowded house to spend time with God, likely listening, meditating and praying to his heavenly father.  This daily spiritual practice energized Jesus’ soul, providing vision and direction for his earthly ministry.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

Before the concept of home churches began, Jesus connected every day with his disciples.  This time together was spent teaching, answering questions and reclining at a table while eating.  Like a first century Bible Study, Jesus was the living word, John 1:1-5, living his life as an open book for the whole world to see.  The disciples maintained this gathering after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Acts 2:42-47.  The more individuals connect with fellow believers, the sharper you become spiritually, Proverbs 27:17.

Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father].” 39 So He went throughout Galilee, preaching [the gospel] in their synagogues and casting out demons, Mark 1:36-39.

When communion is immediately followed by connection with like minded Christians, the Holy Spirit fills individuals with a strong conviction to act upon their faith.  Communion and connection propelled Jesus to preach the good news of salvation from town to town.  If you have ever had the chance to attend a conference, retreat or revival, God fills people with confidence, desire and energy to serve Jesus like never before.  This fusion of excitement is like a raging river bursting out of its banks.  May this blog inspire you to commune with God, interact with brothers and sisters and share your faith with others without hesitation or regret.

by Jay Mankus

Guilt by Association

Television is filled with shows based upon the concept guilt by association.  Whether you prefer dramas like Bones, Castle, CSI or NCIS, each follow a similar format.  A death, murder or victim is found in the opening scene.  Crime scene investigators collect evidence, put together a list of suspects and use modern technology to solve each case.  Initially, the obvious culprits are interviewed leading the audience in one direction before a twist or turn take authorities to a previously unknown person of interest.  Although some episodes are based upon true stories, viewers of these programs should be weary of their own friends with troubled pasts.

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers), Psalm 1:1.

The first chapter of the longest book in the Bible addresses guilt by association.  The passage above provides a short list of what to do and what not to do.  The author uses walking to illustrate how you can begin hanging out the wrong people.  Though walking is an innocent act, its like an open door into another world.  The further you walk with someone, the more you begin to accept, embrace and stand for ungodly beliefs.  However, the moment you sit down with this crowd, joining and participating in similar acts commences.  This passage serves as a warning, encouraging souls to avoid guilt by association through seeking God’s blessings.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity], Psalm 1:2-3.

The passage above provides a blueprint for those who desire to please God.  Meditating on God’s Word, the Bible helps prevent individuals from walking, standing and joining inappropriate acts, behavior and deeds.  Meanwhile, spiritual disciplines like Bible Study, prayer and worship rejuvenate souls daily as if drinking from the living water mentioned in John 4:14.  If you clearly want to avoid guilt by association in the future, live out the apostle Paul’s advice in Colossians 2:6-7 to become deeply rooted in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Church That is Right When the World is Wrong

Fulton J. Sheen was born in 1895.  Before his death in 1979, Sheen became an outspoken bishop in the Catholic Church.  Sheen’s popularity began as a preacher on radio and television programs.  One of his famous quotes would have offended many if announced today.  Yet, Sheen’s goal was to establish a church that is right when the world around it is wrong.  While logical on the surface, a changing world is often offended by those who cling to absolute truths.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Fulton was merely practicing the teaching of the apostle Paul.  During the height of the Roman Empire, emperors used their influence to ban, persecute and on some occasions put Christians to death.  Like a bully trying to control those around them, the apostle Paul urged first century believers to win the battle of the mind.  Unless you protect your mind through a daily dose of Bible Study, prayer and worship, conformity to the world will occur at some point.  When this happens to church leaders, the power of the Bible is lost as doctrines become watered down.

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

The Bible uses several analogies to explain the ongoing schemes of Satan.  Jesus refers to this fallen angel as the father of all lies.  One of Satan’s objectives is to convince Christians to bend, overlook or stretch the truth.  When weak minded leaders take over a church, worldly beliefs are slowly blended into biblical teaching.  The theological term for this process is known as syncretism.  Unfortunately, when this dangerous practice begins to spread, there isn’t much difference between the church and the rest of society.  When the light of Christ fades and the saltiness of faith disappears Fulton’s goal becomes impossible.  May the Fulton’s quote many years ago inspire believers today to develop a church that is right when the world is wrong.

by Jay Mankus

Estranged

When love is absent, conditions can deteriorate.  If this negative climate persists, relationships can be torn apart.  By products of this atmosphere result in arguments, fights and misery.  Without reconciliation, family, friends and relatives can become estranged.  This tension creates a dysfunctional mood at an family gathering or reunion.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12.

The Bible refers to estranged in context of a relationship with God.  Any type of sin separates individuals from God.  In the Old Testament, Israel was given the Torah as a set of standards for life.  Breaking, cutting corners or slightly deviating from these laws is described as a willful act of disobedience.  Deuteronomy 28 contains a list of blessings for those who obey God, ending with a much longer list of consequences called curses.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near, Hebrews 10:24-25.

A first century Jewish convert to Christianity wrote the book of Hebrews.  In the passage above, advice is provided to restore estranged relationships.  Accountability serves as a tool to sharpen one another spiritually.  While this takes place in the form as a Bible Study, prayer or sharing group, these fellowships promote healing and forgiveness.  If you find yourself in a relationship drifting away or falling apart, take steps now so that these precious bonds are not severed permanently.

by Jay Mankus

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