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Tag Archives: fear

My Ultimate Appeal

The 2006 film Amazing Grace details the life of William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the Atlantic slave trade.  Despite battling health issues, Wilberforce persisted through initial failed attempts to persuade fellow politicians.  Before his death in 1833, Wilberforce was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

“The Bible is my ultimate appeal… slavery is contrary to the example and precepts of our body and merciful Redeemer, and of his apostles… Slavery then is a national sin,” Angelina Grimke.

Fourteen years before the Civil War began, a woman from the south felt compelled to make an appeal to Christian women who also lived in the south.  Using the Bible as her main point of reference, Angelina Grimke wrote letters to persuade other believers.  One of these letters is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.  Excerpts from the quote above can be found within a display on the Bible’s impact on ending slavery.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1.

The apostle Paul makes a similar appeal during the first century.  However, the context of the passage above refers to spiritual slavery.  Some churches, denominations and leaders used fear, legalism and peer pressure to make followers conform to their demands.  A group known as the Judaizers began to infiltrate the church at Galatia.  This sect held on to Jewish rituals, adding circumcision to salvation by forcing members to comply.  This practice goes against free will as God doesn’t force individuals to do anything.  Rather, God gives people the choice to accept or reject Jesus.  Any teaching that strays from this is a form of slavery according to Paul.  Just as Angelina Grimke makes her ultimate appeal, God longs for souls who hunger and thirst for the Bible to avoid falling prey to ungodly beliefs.

by Jay Mankus

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When God is Near… Fear Disappears

If you have lived long enough, you will see something that you can’t explain.  Whether you experience some sort of spiritual phenomena, are spooked by the presence of darkness or witness an unidentified flying object, fear is a common emotion.  These events result in awe, goosebumps and head scratching thoughts.  When God’s presence seems distant, fear can overwhelm souls.  However, when God seems near, fear disappears.

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened, Luke 2:8-9.

At the beginning of the first century, a few shepherds had their own encounter with the supernatural.  When the country side began to glow with the presence of heavenly hosts, these men were frightened.  Shepherds are use to sudden attacks by wolves seeking to eat one of their sheep.  Yet, when the evening sky is overwhelmed by the glory of the Lord, it’s not surprising that these shepherds were freaked out.  Recognizing the fear in their eyes, an angel used a conversation to settle their nerves.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. 11 For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). 12 And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger,” Luke 2:10-12.

The term certainty refers to a fact that is definitely true.  Prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus, fear riddled my life.  My lack of direction in life along with the uncertainty of my eternal destination resulted in a reoccurring nightmare.  By the age of ten, I cried myself to sleep on a nightly basis, unaware of the meaning to life.  This state of sadness led me to pursue answers to my questions.  While I still get scared from time to time, the moment God entered my life, fear disappeared.

by Jay Mankus

Forcing Aside Unbelief

As a former teacher, there is nothing like a great open ended question to promote discussion.  Unfortunately, peer pressure deters many from asking the thought on their mind, afraid of what others may think.  When Jesus visited an obscure town during the first century, an un-named person was not denied, eager to discover if it’s possible to escape God’s judgment and wrath.

And someone asked Him, “Lord, will only a few be saved [from the penalties of the last judgment]?” And He said to them, Luke 13:23.

Jesus responds with an interesting comment in the passage below.  The two greatest obstacles to human beings is unbelief and the attractive nature of sin.  My initial response was Jesus has it backwards, the attraction to temptation should be first.  Yet, based upon the order, unbelief is the reason why people give into and indulge sinful desires.  Thus, Jesus urged this audience to force aside unbelief.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able,” Luke 13:24.

Based upon the content of 1 John 2:15-17, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of fellowship.  When you have fellowship with God, communing in prayer, study and worship, spiritual light in the form of right and wrong will be revealed to you.  However, if you participate in fellowship with the world, unbelief will open your eyes to lust and sensual cravings of the flesh.  Therefore, unless you force aside unbelief via the Holy Spirit, you will be vulnerable to the attractions of sin.  May this blog inspire you to seek the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

The Seventh Hand

The oldest preserved measuring rod is a copper-alloy bar discovered by the German Assyriologist Eckhard Unger during an excavation of the ancient city of Nippur.  This device is believed to have been used 2650 years before Christ.  According to the Bible, a cubit is the earliest form of measurement.  A cubit is the forearm length from the tip of the middle finger to the bottom of the elbow.  Thus, the hand was an essential body part necessary to complete the most basic measurement.

And these are the measurements of the altar [of burnt offering] in cubits (the cubit being a [long] cubit [the length of a forearm] and a hand width): the base shall be a cubit [long] and a cubit wide, with its border on its edge all around it of a span [in width]. And this shall be the height of the base of the altar, Ezekiel 43:13.

Within the Old Testament, some of the authors introduce the concept of guardian angels.  The Psalmist describes this spiritual being as one who encamps around those who fear God, Psalm 34:7.  In addition, God commands angels to guard you in all of your ways, Psalm 91:11.  This invisible being is like the hand of God watching over your life.  Yet, the Psalmist does include a requirement, fearing God.  The context of this fear is similar to a holy reverence, respecting the Creator of life on earth.  The degree to which you fear the Lord serves as a measuring stick of your faith.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future], John 16:13.

Prior to his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus refers to a Holy Ghost that will be sent after his departure.  New Testament authors refer to this being as a counselor, sent to guide and direct followers of Christ to a complete understanding of truth.  Like another hand to hold, nudge or tap, God uses angels and the Holy Spirit to seek and to save those who are spiritually lost.  Depending upon your current state of mind, may the presence of guardian angels and God’s Spirit encourage you to hold onto the seventh hand, messengers of God, until the storms in life subside.

by Jay Mankus

 

Searching for a Ray of Hope

The latitude lying within the Arctic Circle is known as the “land of the midnight Sun.”  Each summer the sun never sets, remaining on the horizon in this polar region.  While this is the season of never ending rays of sun, the other side of the world in Antarctica plunges into four months of darkness.  Unfortunately, you don’t have to reside in the South Pole to experience extended periods of darkness.  Accidents, trials and unexpected illnesses can leave dazed individuals searching for a ray of hope.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it, John 1:5.

Over the last few decades, researchers and scientists have uncovered some of the negative influences that darkness has on human beings.  Seasonal affective disorder causes depression due to the limited number of hours of daylight every winter.  Depending upon the location, schedule and where people work, some individuals only see a few hours of daylight daily until the weekend arrives.  Darkness has a psychological affect, invoking doubt, fear and uncertainty.  Thus, beside waiting for Spring to come, the Bible provides a cure for those searching for a ray of hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13,

Any day now I will be receiving an email from Hollywood about a movie, screenplay that I submitted in April.  For six consecutive summers, I have opened up “I regret to inform you” notices, rejecting my previous projects.  I’m not sure if I can handle the news of another failure, but I am trusting God to shine light into any future darkness that I face.  When storm clouds roll in and begin to surround you, rays of hope enable souls to persevere until extreme conditions subside.  In the meantime, lean on the Holy Spirit as you struggle and fight to make your dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Invasion of the Mind

The Invasion of the Body Snatches debuted in 1956.  This science fiction film introduced the thought that normal human beings could be replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.  In the original movie, a doctor discovers that the population of his small town is secretly being replaced.  Twenty two years later, a remake features a scene change as San Francisco is under attack by clones who are swapping out bodies.  While this classic horror flick put fear into the audience, Satan has his own ongoing scheme known as the invasion of the mind.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil,” Genesis 3:1-5.

Based upon the passage above, the invasion of the mind begins by planting seeds of doubt.  If your belief system begins to crumble, develop holes or fall apart, the boundaries that once kept you safe and out of trouble can disappear.  When prodigal spirits are conceived within human minds, individuals will push the limits, exploring areas once forbidden by God.  Every day there are reports of strange news stories, mostly embarrassing, a sign of souls looking for love in the all the wrong places.  Despite this decline of morality, Satan is convincing modern people to rely on justification as a means to rationalize what the Bible calls sin.

For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

Evidently, the apostle Paul saw disconcerting signs from a first century city.  While its unclear how many people were infected, the invasion of the mind was under way within Corinth.  New Christians trying to break free from previous addictions, habits and unhealthy patterns were failing, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  To address this concern, Paul introduces a plan to fight back against this invisible attack.  Like the modern phrase “fight fire with fire,” the only way to defeat Satan is by using spiritual weapons.  Fasting, prayer and worship are key to reclaiming minds poisoned by the world.  Yet, the greatest asset is the Sword of the Spirit, the Bible which can be used for defense and offense.  Like a spiritual fast break, good defensive praying can lead to regaining lost ground.  May the reality of this invasion of the mind keep you spiritual sharp, putting of the armor of God daily to ward off evil spirits.

by Jay Mankus

 

Reflecting God’s Glory

In the final scene of Cast Away, Tom Hanks comes to a four way intersection, unsure of which way to go.  The lone survivor of a plane crash, everyone assumed Hanks character Chuck Noland was dead, moving on with their lives despite never finding his body.  Stuck on a remote island for a couple of years, Hanks had ample time to reflect upon his years on earth.  Like many individuals consumed by advancement, promotions and work, Hanks never took the time to appreciate life.  After listening to a sermon last Sunday morning, a spirit of conviction overwhelmed my soul.  Somewhere along the way, I have forgotten to reflect God’s glory.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

On a sunny day, you can see your reflection from a still body of water.  However, when windy conditions arise, this reflection disappears, broken by choppy waves.  Looking back on my last seven years, I haven’t experienced many calm days.  Yet, I have allowed busyness to distract me from what’s really important in life.  Instead of living for a higher purpose, I have regressed, defaulting back to survivor mode.  Rather than concentrating on glorying God, the only thing people see are my selfish desires, void of a servant’s heart.  This sad reality has awoken my soul from years of a spiritual slumber.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:14-16.

No one likes to be ridiculed, teased or persecuted.  Yet, Jesus told his followers to embrace these attacks.  Unfortunately, this harsh climate is causing some believers to deflect, hide from or minimize their relationship with God.  Jesus addressed this fear in the first century, providing instructions to be bold, shining God’s light wherever you go.  One of Jesus’ disciples takes a similar stance, 1 Peter 3:17-18, encouraging followers to not worry about suffering for doing good.  This suffering should be viewed as a badge of honor.  If you can reach this point of spiritual maturity, then the world will begin to see glimpses of God’s glory, a reflection of the love of Jesus inside your heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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