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When Religion and Politics Mix

Los Angeles became the first city in the United States to be designated as a sanctuary city.  This 1979 decision was designed to prevent police from inquiring about the immigration status of arrestees.  Today, there are 36 other United State cities that have adopted this policy.  In recent years, churches in border states have been recruited to hide and protect illegal immigrants.  From time to time, I see cable news exclusives of local pastors defending their position.  This is where religion and politics mix.

But the Jews incited the devout, prominent women and the leading men of the city, and instigated persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them forcibly out of their district, Acts 13:50.

During the first century, Jewish leaders were fearful of the Jesus movement.  As more Jews converted to Christianity, influence and political power was being lost.  Thus, high priests, Pharisees, Sadducees and zealots sought whatever means necessary to stop any other Jews from turning their back on their Jewish heritage.  According to Luke, Jewish leaders used prominent, powerful and wealthy individuals to drive Christian leaders from their district.  This is where religious obsessions cloud minds and judgment.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

An earthly brother of Jesus makes an interesting observation in the passage above.  Religion and politics can and will mix from time to time, but if your tongue leads you astray, religion is worthless.  Jesus uses an analogy of a city on a hill in his Sermon on the Mount.  Christians are suppose to stand out, like a city with bright lights in the dark.  Actions, behavior and words reflect what is inside of your heart.  Unfortunately, the pressure of religion and politics may result in compromise, temptation or unexpected words.  When religion and politics and a fall from grace ensues, may conviction bring you back to the place where God desires.

by Jay Mankus

The Second Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost is referenced in Acts 2:1-13.  This event serves two purposes.  First, to fulfill Jesus’ promise in John 14 to send a Holy Ghost as an advocate, counselor and helper of souls.  Second, this spiritual power is designed to empower disciples to fulfill the Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20.  This initial day is celebrated every year in churches across the country and throughout the world.  Yet, until recently, I overlooked the second Pentecost.

And Cornelius told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, ‘Send word to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 he will bring a message to you by which you will be saved [and granted eternal life], you and all your household.’ 15 When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning [at Pentecost], Acts 11:13-15.

The second Pentecost is mentioned in Acts 10:34-48.  Prior to this day, Peter received the same vision four different times.  When this vision of unclean animals stood opposed to the Law of Moses, Peter rejected God’s initial message.  According to Acts 10:13-15, this scene is repeated three more times before Peter finally changes his mind.  When the Holy Spirit tells you to do something completely different from what you have been taught, changing your ways is hard.  Yet, this spiritual tug of war between Peter and God set the stage for a second Pentecost.

Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So, if God gave Gentiles the same gift [equally] as He gave us after we accepted and believed and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ [as Savior], who was I to interfere or stand in God’s way?” – Acts 11:16-17

Peter uses a rhetorical question in the passage above which convinced him step aside to allow the Holy Spirit to move and work.  Unfortunately, one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit is not as visible in the United States as third world nations is spiritual interference.  Modern apostles and disciples are standing in God’s way, blocking the Holy Spirit from being unleashed.  Traces of the sinful nature, stubborn hearts and rebellion from biblical practices are to blame.  Yet, is it possible for a third Pentecost, a modern movement of the Holy Spirit.  The only thing missing is concerts of prayer which fueled America’s last great awakening.  May biblical history serve as a blue print to inspire believers to follow in the footsteps of the church at Antioch, Acts 11:19-21.

by Jay Mankus

Giving God Some Space

When I was in high school, it wasn’t uncommon for a girl to tell her boy friend that she needed some space.  What girls were trying to say to guys like me was she needed time away to clear her mind.  Somehow I was suffocating this relationship and freedom was necessary to let this individual breathe.  Unfortunately, this conversation usually meant the beginning of the end, a nice way to say I’m breaking up with you.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, James 4:14.

If you apply this concept to God, countless individuals express this with their own actions, not making time for the Lord daily.  However, this assumes that people actually took time to invite God into their lives initially.  As churches close down, go out of business or are forced to join another congregations to survive, it appears that Jesus is low on our priority list.  Instead giving God some space to work within your heart, soul and mind, busy schedules drown out the Holy Spirit’s whisper to draw near.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8.

Last weekend I heard a local missionary speak about giving God same space.  What she meant by this expression is opening your calendar to allow God to speak.  Whether it’s a day, week or month, stop what you are doing and begin listening for the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my own life that I ignore God completely.  Christians can’t expect to spend eternity in heaven if they haven’t invested any time on earth storing up heavenly treasures.  In view of this fear, get up a little earlier, stay up later or get away over the weekend to give God some space to invigorate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Making Room for God’s Servants

Churches, temples and other places of worship ask their members to pitch in.  This typically involves gifts, offerings and tithes to help maintain buildings, ministry needs and running costs.  Yet, in the early days of any congregation, sacrifices and time are crucial.  Those who see the big picture often make room for God’s servants.

She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God.  Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us,” 2 Kings 4:9-10.

In the Old Testament, there’s an account of a woman who came up with a selfless idea.  Not wanting to act alone, she shared this with her husband, convincing him to put an addition on their home.  When construction was completed, she left on open invitation to the prophet Elisha to stay whenever he was in the area.  This act of kindness was repaid by the Lord.

“About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” – 2 Kings 4:16

The symbolism of a barren woman in the Bible represents a lack of blessing from God.  Meanwhile, those who give birth to multiple children are deemed to have God’s favor.  The context of the passage above suggests this woman was well beyond the age of child bearing.  Despite this fact, Elisha promises the impossible, the miracle of a future son.  While not every kind act of repaid in full, the Lord honors those who make room for God’s servants.

by Jay Mankus

 

More Than Just A Saint

Nestled on the edge of southern New Castle County lies the quaint town of St. George’s.  As the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal began in 1823, this community was divided in two with the majority of the buildings now located north of the C & D Canal.  While only a few blocks in diameter, the name’s founder of this town was more than just a saint.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation, Mark 16:15.

George Whitfield was born in Gloucester, England in December of 1714.  An educated man, Whitfield attended Pembroke College before meeting the Wesley brother’s, founders of the Methodist Church at Oxford University.  As the first Great Awakening began to spread, Whitfield traveled to America to play his part.  Preaching a series of sermons at tent revivals in Delaware, large crowds flocked to hear George Whitfield speak at Pike Creek and what is now St. George’s.  These messages transformed the spiritual climate of Delaware, giving birth to churches throughout New Castle County.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.

Today, the amphitheater upon which Whitfield spoke is gone, leveled during construction of the C & D Canal.  However, his legacy continues in the form of a new school that bears his name.  St. George’s Vocational Technical High School stands about a mile southwest of St. George’s.  Although most students are likely unaware of this saint, history has not forgotten the passion that George Whitfield preached with, winning over founding fathers like Benjamin Franklin.  Just as Paul Harvey ended each of his programs, it’s fitting to say “now you know the rest of the story about St. George’s.

by Jay Mankus

Sitting on the Sidelines or Fighting to the End?

Take, take, take.  A common theme in an ever increasing selfish world.  When communities, churches or marriages begin to fall apart, most sit along the sideline watching the situation deteriorate.  Meanwhile, few have the strength to fight to the very end.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, 1 Peter 4:10.

From 2010 through the present, I’ve witnessed two special relationships end.  The first was a special church family that I became entrenched in, serving as an elder for six years and teacher for another ten years at its adjacent high school.  While many abandoned Red Lion as it first started to take on water, I tried my best to do what I could.  Although, I probably should have been more outspoken initially, the odds were stacked against me.  In the end, the church closed its doors and the school was sold to another denomination, causing several colleagues, including myself to lose their job.

It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, Matthew 20:26-28.

The second divorce began as the first became final.  The baseball league that my sons played in under went a similar myriad of trials.  Trying to prevent an identical ending, I spent two years investing my time in the youth of Greater Newark.  Like a M.A.S.H. unit, the efforts I provided extended the life of the league for a couple of years.  Stepping aside to allow the next generation of parents to lead, most have passed the buck, unwilling to save this sinking organization.  While GNBL’s future is bleak, my only question is who will get off their butt, move beyond the sidelines and fight to the very end?

by Jay Mankus

Exposing the Advent of a Superficial Faith

As I listen to the content of my conversations and those around me, substance is usually lacking.  Instead of creating hunger or thirst for more, the topics I choose lack the flavor and seasoning Jesus expects his followers to discuss.  Thus, I often going days or weeks at times without experiencing heart to heart, meaningful or personal exchanges.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. – Matthew 5:13

Perhaps, the fault goes beyond my own inabilities to commune with individuals.  Answers can be traced back to the decline of Judeo-Christian values passed on over the past hundred years in America.  When churches, temples and houses of worship were the center of towns, you couldn’t escape hearing words from the Bible.  Yet, a trend toward minimizing the offensive words of the Scriptures has watered down truth, enabling educators to subvert the Word of God.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

Rather than carry on a heritage of faith, the desire to be liked, receive promotions and obtain positive press has bred a superficial faith.  Unfortunately, I find myself at the front of the line, afraid that my God won’t intervene.  Unless people begin to stand up, this decay will continue until Christianity is against the law like the days of Nero in Rome.  In these times, may the power of the Holy Spirit encourage warriors to stand up, Acts 4:29, to prevent a superficial faith.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Waste Your Vote

My first experience with politics was during a debate I attended in Wilmington, Delaware during my senior year of high school.  Before the days of attack ads, candidates often met in public forums, hosted by local churches to give citizens a chance to see what each individual stood for and was against.  Since this site was where I went to youth group, I was a curious onlooker, sitting back and absorbing the 3 nominees.

Looking back, the most impressive individual in my eyes was a pro-life democrat.  Since the incumbent was a Rhino Republican with all the experience and money, my guy never had a chance.  Unfortunately, pro-life democrats at the national level have become extinct.  In fact, the Progressive Movement has swallowed up the entire Democrat Party with eyes on engulfing the Republican Party as well.  As Independents sell their votes to the highest bidder, its easy to become a disenfranchised voter.

However, as Election Day 2014 arrives on Tuesday, don’t waste your vote.  While you might have voted your party line, cast your ballet for who your peers suggested or bet on the person who promised you the most, make your vote count this year.  Listen to the 4 men in the you tube attached as each have experienced a defining moment.  In view of potential fraud, a biased media and illegal votes already cast in several states, make the most of your privilege to select the future leaders in America.

by Jay Mankus

 

To Hell With You

The other night at Bible Study, an impromptu discussion broke out about how hypocritical Christians can be.  In fact, every year people who are seeking God become turned off by churches, pastors and modern day Pharisees who care more about traditions than displaying the love of Jesus.  Instead of continuing their search, hurt people have decided to stay at home, finding other things to do on Sunday.

In business, there was a an old principle called the 3/10.  For every good experience an individual has, they will tell 3 other people.  However, whenever a customer encounters poor service, they reach out to 10 people, sharing their disappointment and frustrations.  Recently, a new ratio has replaced the 3/10 now known as the 11/4 principle, with the negative being the higher number.  Since first impressions often have lasting affects, if you’re not careful, someone might say, ” to hell with you and your religion!”

 

Unfortunately, the reality in life entices most people to get a little too comfortable, caught off guard by unknowing observers.  As a result, Christianity becomes less and less attractive to Americans due to the bad taste of judgmental believers.  In the end, something has to give, either the offended will give God another try or immature followers of Jesus will grow up by starting to resemble the son of God.  Whenever you are on the road of life, Matthew 7:13-14, may God nudge you back in the right direction.

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.

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