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As a father who recently celebrated his oldest son’s wedding, the term engage makes me think of the process a couple goes through prior to getting married.  Yet, synonyms of engage provide a much broader scope.  Absorb, captivate, engross, occupy and seize refer to an engaging encounter, the act of focusing on a specific activity or making the most of your time.  Couples who are dating that are not engaged does not mean they are disengaged.  Rather, one, or both parties are unsure that their significant other is Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he had discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place day after day with any who happened to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Upon his first visit to Athens, this city full of idols greatly distressed the apostle Paul.  Instead of withdrawing to a place of safety, Paul began to ask locals about the history of these idols.  Apparently, Paul had daily discussions with these Jewish believers, asking if any inspirational or positive idols existed.  By engaging God-fearing Gentiles, Paul discovered a altar dedicated to an unknown God and a poet who spoke of God’s offspring.  This search for something good inspired Paul to approach the philosophers who debated in a public square daily.

They took him and brought him to the Areopagus (Hill of Ares, the Greek god of war), saying, “May we know what this [strange] new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some startling and strange things to our ears; so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners visiting there used to spend their [leisure] time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new,) Acts 17:19:21.

Unfortunately, the art of persuasion is disappearing.  Past historical events like the Scopes Money Trial led Christians like William Jennings Bryan to debate atheists in a public forum.  Instead of continuing this tradition, modern politicians use the media to attack, demonize and smear the reputation of their opponents.  Subsequently, instead of putting aside differences to embrace being Americans, belief systems are creating an expansive divide.  The end result is that adults are acting like spoiled children, disengaging from those who don’t share their worldview.  The only way to alter this trend is through prayer and fasting so that engaging the lost will bring hope to dead and dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

Entertaining Evil

Captivate, delight and enthrall are words associated with entertaining.  Whenever you have the opportunity to host a party, you want to make it memorable.  In the first century, Jewish families threw wedding receptions that lasted up to a week.  When guests became extremely intoxicated, the premium wine was swapped for a cheap replacement.  Modern readers to an event like this might suggest these people were entertaining evil.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” John 2:3-5.

The word reputation refers to what others think about you based upon previous conversations and encounters.  Reputations may not be accurate if you don’t make a good first impression.  Nonetheless. this perception is based upon what you do, how you behave and the words you choose to express.  If a Jewish family ran out of wine at a wedding, this was like committing social suicide, a stain that would tarnish your families’ name for a generation.  Afraid of this outcome, the mother of Jesus and friend of the bride comes up with a plan.  Despite initial thoughts, Jesus honors his mother’s request.

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? – Matthew 9:4

According to Jesus, entertaining evil begins in your heart.  Perhaps, you’re jealous of someone else’s success?   Maybe the thought of someone you don’t like succeeding triggers schemes within your mind?  In the passage above, some Pharisees believed Jesus was on the verge of committing blasphemy.  Judging him quietly without hearing Jesus’ rationale for his words is equivalent to entertaining evil.  The average bystander might suggest, ” wait a minute Jesus, you’re over-reacting, don’t you think you’re taking this a little too far?”  Well, if Lucifer planted a seed of lawlessness within the mind of Eve and that’s all it took to open the door for sin to be conceived, Jesus is right to address this issue.  Therefore, the next time you are quick to judge others, make sure you don’t entertain evil.

by Jay Mankus

Behind the Mystery of Haunted Places

The series A Haunting began in 2005 on the Discovery Channel.  Nearly a decade later, Destination America produced a 7th season this year, captivating audiences with paranormal activity.  As a casual viewer, the idea of demonic entities, exorcisms and haunted houses challenges my biblical worldview.  However, there are answers in the Bible to explain the reality of haunted places.

First of all, the disciples refer to ghosts several times in the 4 gospels, thinking Jesus was a ghost on a few occasions.  Why would the Bible’s authors talk about ghosts and refer to the Holy Spirit as a holy ghost if they did not exist.  Secondly, demons were a daily obstacle to Jesus and his 3 year ministry on earth.  If you get a chance to study the gospel of Matthew particularly, you will find to demons and or spirit entities can cause epileptic seizures, loss of hearing, illness, muteness and paralysis.  Although Hollywood may over-dramatize scenes, spiritual darkness can hover over specific homes, properties or nations.

Take for instance the encounter within Daniel 10:13.  The prince of Persia, a demonic stronghold in this region, fought Daniel for 21 straight days.  If this is true, then places around the world, especially those with a history of civil war, continue to reign today, holding their citizens hostage.  While people may eventually flee a haunted home, property or kingdom, these spirits remain living and active.  If I could unlock the answers to this phenomena, I would likely become a wealthy man, but for now if you want to know more, find resources on spiritual mapping.  Like modern GPS systems, spiritual mapping often detects and exposes the secrets behind haunted places.

by Jay Mankus


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