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Translating God

There are many unsolved mysteries that have been recorded throughout the history of the earth. Some of these mysteries are detailed in the Bible. Whenever you read something that doesn’t make sense, you have to go back to see what the context is to help you understand what really happened. Unfortunately, there are chapters and verses in the Bible that require further research. This process is often referred to as translating God to extract why an account or story has been placed in the Bible; unveiling God’s nature.

And behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. The man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you shall he offer the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Behold, the altar shall be split and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. [Fulfilled in II Kings 23:15, 16.] When King Jeroboam heard the words the man of God cried against the altar in Bethel, he thrust out his hand, saying, Lay hold on him! And his hand which he put forth against him dried up, so that he could not draw it to him again, 1 Kings 13:1-4.

When I first heard a sermon on the passage above, I immediately thought of the song U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer. This hit song reached #1 on the Hip Hop and R&B Billboard charts in 1990. Normally, kings would call upon body guards or soldiers to remove an individual from their presence. However, the words of this unnamed prophet from Judah infuriated King Jeroboam so much that he tried to harm this man. In what can only described as a scene from a Science Fiction film, King Jeroboam’s hand immediately shriveled up.

And he went and found the corpse thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion stood by the body; the lion had not eaten the corpse or torn the donkey. 29 The prophet took up the corpse of the man of God and laid it upon the donkey and brought it back, and the old prophet came into the city to mourn and to bury him. 30 And he laid the body in his own grave, and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother! 31 After he had buried him, he said to his sons, When I am dead, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones, 1 Kings 13:28-31.

The news of this strange encounter and subsequent healing spread throughout the land like a raging wildfire. A wayward prophet, paid off by King Jeroboam to only proclaim positive messages to enhance his reign felt compelled to reach out to this man of God. When his own sons couldn’t alter his course, this desperate man made up a story about an angelic counter to persuade him to stay an extra day. This decision proved to be fatal, killed by a mountain lion on his way back to Judah. Realizing it was his fault, the corrupt prophet has this man buried in his own personal tomb. Although this story has a sad ending, translating this chapter reveals the important of complete obedience to God. Anything less is unacceptable.

by Jay Mankus

Fear and Love

Kanye West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur and fashion designer. West first became known as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, contributing to hit singles for artists such as Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys.  Last year, Kayne was ridiculed for coming out in support of president Donald Trump, wearing a “Make America Great Again’ hat during a television interview.  This decision to publicly support president Trump led to a backlash from African Americans, Hollywood and the hip hop community.  On Thursday night, Kayne West was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, revealing how this criticism has affected his life.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love], 1 John 4:18.

In response to a question from Kimmel, Kanye spoke about two motivating forces in life, fear and love.  When Trump first announced his willingness to run for president before the 2016 Republican Primary, West was urged by friends not to announce his support for Trump in public.  This peer pressure caught Kayne off guard, causing him to lose his confidence for nearly 18 months, fearful of what others might think of his political affiliation with Trump.  The life lesson West learned from this experience is that if you truly believe that something is right, acting upon your conviction will set you free from the fear of being bullied by other people.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [the message, the basis] of faith which we preach— because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

While the other 11 disciples abandoned Jesus as he was arrested and sentenced to death on a cross, John the brother of James was not fazed.  At some point in his life, John understood that perfect love drives out all fear.  Thus, as other disciples allowed fear to drive them into hiding, John stayed next to Jesus’ mother Mary, at the foot of the cross.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul reveals the freedom individuals experience as you profess your faith in God.  As a former Jewish zealot, Paul was once an enemy, who gave the order to have the apostle Stephen killed.  Despite his past, God gave Paul the courage to come out of the closet, betraying everything he was taught as a child to pronounce that Jesus is Lord.  May Kanye’s interview with Jimmy Kimmel fill you with boldness to speak out, defending the things you believe to be true.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Further Seems Forever

I may be one of the few people in America who still buys cassette tapes and CD’s, but when I uncover a hidden gem I can’t resist.  Although my desire to start my own Christian radio station faded years ago, I enjoy broadening my scope of musical genres.  Whether its alternative, hip hop, ska or techno, wholesome music soothes my soul.  Perhaps I skipped a decade, yet I’m glad I stumbled upon the group Further Seems Forever.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise, James 5:13.

This title reminds me of the times in life where I have strayed off course, abandoning God for the pleasures of this world.  Sin has a habit of distracting its willing participants longer than expected.  Subsequently, skipping church, reading the Bible or praying once can form a pattern.  Before you know it, days turn into weeks, months or possibly years, resulting in an extended vacation from God.

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed, Psalm 71:23.

To make sure this slide doesn’t lead to eternal separation from God, drastic steps must be taken.  Forever Seems Forever suggests concentrating on how to start a spiritual fire within your heart.  While distance makes the heart grow fonder, temptation can paralyze victims through addiction.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down today until you lift up your hands in prayer, open up the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to set your heart on fire.

by Jay Mankus

The Soothing Sound of Music

Record players, eight tracks and cassette tapes were just the beginning to the revolution called music.  Today, MP3 players, iTunes and computers able to download thousands of song, enable the soothing sound of music to be just one click away.  Life without cell phones, electronic devices and voice activated technology is now unthinkable as silence has been replaced by your favorite play list.

Yoga and meditation rely on music as an alternative to healing and relaxation.  Serving as a substitute for God, retreat centers, seminars and private classes are exploding in popularity, ushering in a New Age.  The angel of song, Lucifer, uses all kinds of music to entice individuals like Eve in the garden, replacing an apple with a catchy beat, void of any true meaning.  Meanwhile, whispers penetrate your soul, “I don’t listen to the lyrics,” planting seeds for compromise to commence.

To battle this movement, churches are introducing Soaking in the Spirit, turning prayer rooms into a comfortable place to relax while listening to worship music.  Based upon the principles within Romans 12:1-2, minds are being transformed by words inspired by the Bible, Romans 10:17.  Considered a skilled musician, 1 Samuel 16:14-23, David understood the gladness, joy and peace one experiences while listening to music, Psalm 45:8.

For me, the choice of my music often dictates my mood and or behavior.  Whether you prefer hip hop, rap or classic rock and roll, pieces of the songs you listen to stay with you for hours, days or weeks.  If you’re skeptical, take the Music Challenge.

Spend one day listening to secular music, journal at the end of the day how this music influenced you.  Then, take a day listening to Christian/Gospel/Worship music, using Pandora if you don’t have a large selection.  Compare your language, thoughts and overall mindset.  If you don’t see a definite difference, consider a longer time span, like the challenge found in Daniel 1:8-16.

Feel free to share any findings you discover or interesting insights on the soothing sound of music.

by Jay Mankus

The King of Bling

The term bling is synonymous with the hip hop culture, who coined this slang phrase by the expensive jewelry wore by stars  in music videos.  Rappers loaded with bling often flash gold bracelets, necklaces and rings as a sign of their celebrity status.  Although entertainers  come and go, most would be surprised by the true King of Bling.

According to Exodus 39:8-21, it appears that God is the architect of bling.  Dressing to impress, the Lord designed an immaculate wardrobe for his priests, adorned with gold and precious gems, verses 10-14.  Priests were the first individuals to garnish braided chains of pure gold, verse 15, like the ropes of gold displayed on television today.  Unfortunately, this aspect of God’s character is neglected, forgotten by most except for those who take the time to read the Old Testament.

While the bling on earth is impressive, heaven holds a storehouse of riches.  Jesus conveys a message of hope to his disciples in John 14:2, suggesting their are many rooms in heaven waiting for his followers.  Although names are not specified, the apostle Paul promised crowns that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:25.  Therefore, if you can’t afford bling in this present life, don’t be dismayed.  Wait on the King of Bling, Jesus, to adorn you with eternal jewelry.

by Jay Mankus

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