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Shutting the Door on Fear

Two first century authors use the imagery of a door to prove their point. The apostle Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil an open door to enter your life. This analogy suggests that you shouldn’t leave a crack or a gap. One of Jesus’ disciples focuses on the positive. This spiritual illustration uses God’s love as a source of superior power to snuff out fear by closing the door.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.

As I read the passage above recently, my mind turned to 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. Trying to confront the Devil alone is reckless. Yet, when you learn to take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ, shutting the door on fear is possible. If fear feeds on weakened minds that become paralyzed by ungodly beliefs, you’re giving the Devil a foothold to use your fears against you.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him], Ephesians 4:26-27.

One of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a predator that feeds on isolated and wounded Christians. When a door is left ajar or cracked open, fear will enter your dreams while you’re sleeping. Anyone who doesn’t shut the door on fear will allow nightmares to continue to fester. These threats will only intensify as time goes by. This is why shutting the door on fear is essential for all Christians to practice.

by Jay Mankus

A Wonderful Perspective

I recently read the screenplay for the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. The turning point occurs when Diana played by Gal Galgot is told a story by her mother Queen Hippolyta. Sharing a brief history of war, Queen Hippolyta tries to warn her daughter of the dangers of battles and fighting. When Diana learns of Ares, the Greek God of War, she develops a wonderful perspective about life. Diana comes to believe that if she can find Ares and defeat him, war on earth will end.

I But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia.

One of the topics most churches don’t talk about from the pulpit are the spiritual forces of evil that exist on earth. According to the passage above, Daniel experienced a spiritual battle for 3 weeks. While no details are mentioned, it appears that a demon known as the prince of Persia had developed a spiritual stronghold over this specific region. While attending a nearby Vineyard Church in Pennsylvania, I was introduced to the concept of spiritual mapping. This teaching is built upon the sins of the father in Exodus 34:7 and giving the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27, an open door to create havoc on your life.

Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, Ephesians 6:11-12.

As Russia continues to attack and invade Ukraine, demonic strongholds once mentioned in the Bible continue today under the guise of darkness. According to the apostle Paul, certain leaders in these demonically controlled regions can become vessels of the Devil. Former president George W. Bush referred to this invisible force as the Axis of Evil in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002. Whatever you want to call it, we need to develop a similar mindset of Diana in Wonder Woman with one difference. Instead of seeking to defeat Ares, seek to defeat the devil and war will be replaced by peace.

by Jay Mankus

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When the Spiritual Dimension Changes

Jesus uses a parable to illustrate the spiritual dimension in John 10:1-10. Jesus lays out a series of characters from a shepherd, a thief and a watchman. Eluding to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Jesus urges his audience of the need for sheep to know the voice of their shepherd. When the spiritual dimension changes, Satan uses his angel like abilities as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, seeking to steal your hope, kill your dreams and destroy your life.

Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. 26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down, Ephesians 4:25-26.

The apostle Paul takes a more practical approach to the spiritual dimension. While Jesus uses the analogy of a shepherd leading his sheep into a pen, Paul focuses on how individuals give the Devil opportunities to enter their life by the choices that you make. Anytime someone does not resolve their issue with a neighbor or spouse before the sunsets, this opens the door for the spiritual dimension to create havoc in your life.

Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:27-28.

Whenever anger is allowed to fester overnight, roots of bitterness are conceived within human hearts. Subsequently, when the sun rises on a new day, this pent up frustration brews until the spiritual dimension changes. It only takes one conflict, hardship or trial for what’s inside of a trouble soul to be unleashed upon an innocent victim. This is exactly why Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil a foothold, a crack to come crashing through an opened door to ruin another life.

by Jay Mankus

Unguarded

Confidence, egos and pride tend to convince individuals that they can handle anything that life throws their way.  With success, this mindset gradually leads people to become self-reliant, trusting in their own strength and abilities.  And yet, these factors create the perfect storm, setting the stage for a demonic attack on the unguarded.

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

The human mind is an accessory, a willing accomplice.  As the mind is a giant sponge, able to record and store millions of pieces of information throughout your life.  Some of this content triggers fond memories of former relationships, places or things.  Meanwhile, other events can expose or uncover secret scars, a painful remainder of nightmares from your past.  Subsequently, anyone who starts a day without the covering of prayer or a support system is vulnerable to invisible attacks known as spiritual warfare.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27.

After a great first month of 2016, I’ve found myself falling back into careless patterns.  Any type of apathetic manner allows on open door for the Devil to come back into and torment your life.  This is why addiction, bad habits and unguided souls experience so much pain and remorse.  If you find yourself in this precarious situation, going through life unguarded, its time to create a war room, a place of prayer to prepare you for Satan’s schemes.  Like the old American Express Ad campaign, don’t leave home without it.

by Jay Mankus

 

Diagnosis Murder

The CBS television series Diagnosis Murder ran for eight seasons from October 1993 to May 2001.  Starring Dick Van Dyke, Scott Baio and Victoria Rowell to name of few, this drama examined the motive behind each act, crime and murder.  Little did creator Joyce Burditt realize that four months after this show’s conclusion a new diagnosis was necessary, to comprehend the heart and mind of a terrorist following 9/11.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

After each mass shooting, politicians meet behind closed doors to determine their talking points.  Questions such as “Was this an act of terror, motivated by the religious right, Muslim extremists, work place violence, a loose canon or someone with a record of mental illness?”  Unfortunately, these acts in America have become so common expert panelists are probably on standby or speed dial, waiting to analyze the next act of terror.

“In your anger do not sin:” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27.

The Bible has its own theory on why murder and terrorism occur.  Some thoughts are conceived through jealousy like Cain.  Envy and jealousy eat away at the human soul, planting seeds of revenge inside the hearts and minds of those who feel threatened by another person or faith.  Meanwhile, Jesus links anger and hatred to murder within his sermon on the Mount.  Expanding upon this view, the apostle Paul refers to someone who gives the devil a foothold.  When evil comes crouching at the door of vulnerable hearts and minds, conditions are ripe for horrific acts.  May the truths of these biblical principles reach those on the verge of making a poor choice, preventing the need for another diagnosis murder.

by Jay Mankus

Not in My House

As the NBA kicks off its pre-season, I am reminded of Dikembe Mutombo’s patented block celebration pointing his finger back and forth as if to say, “not in my house!”  Others may recall Tommy Lees Jones’ role in Man of the House, playing Texas Ranger Roland Sharp, laying down the law to University Texas cheerleaders as too what is modest dress and what is unacceptable attire.  While those who grew up in an authoritative household, learned quickly as to what was and was not acceptable behavior.

Playing the role as a father is much more difficult than I first thought.  I am careful not to be overbearing as my father was, using his experience in the military like a drill sergeant to rule the roost.  On the other hand, if I’m too relaxed, I may give the devil a foothold, enabling my children to stretch the boundaries between right and wrong.  Thus, I am learning that being a parent takes time, evolving with the times, remaining biblical, yet not exasperating my kids, Ephesians 6:4.  The best way to demonstrate a not in my house atmosphere is through consistent Christ-like actions.

After returning from a retreat with my daughter, I was immediately challenged to apply what I learn from the weekend.  One of my sons was about to play a video game not suitable for his age.  As this game was loading, I was shocked by the initial image on the screen.  Without raising my voice, I asked a simple question, “this doesn’t look like a game you should be playing?”  Following a slight pause, my son switched this to a football game.  Although, I ‘m not perfect and still have a long way to go as a dad, there’s still time to proclaim, “not in my house!” – Joshua 24:24

by Jay Mankus

The Prayer of An Afflicted Man

Psalm 102 credits the author of this chapter to an afflicted man.  The term afflict means to badly affect, cause problems or make miserable.  In life, several variables can influence individuals to become bothered, distressed or troubled.  Depending upon the degree to which circumstances and or events inflict pain, people often rely on prayer as a last resort.

Thus, the words of Psalm 102:1-9 relate to one’s emotions, desperately crying out to God for Him to make sense of your situation.  Like the powerful scene in Forrest Gump, sometimes there aren’t enough rocks to throw, unleashing the bitterness deep inside of Jenny’s heart toward her father.  Unfortunately, most of us are persuaded by the devil to blame God for failures in life.  According to Ephesians 4:27, similar decisions allow the devil to have a foothold, making matters worse instead of better.

Since affliction is a common occurrence, Psalm 102 is a great outline to use for prayer.  Verse 17 promises that God will respond to the prayer of the destitute, answering their plea.  Therefore, the next time you experience signs of affliction, remember the words of this Psalm.  Whether you are a man or a woman, pour out your heart to God so that your pain will be replaced by the peace of Christ!

by Jay Mankus

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