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Following in the Footsteps of Judas

As one of my college professors once proclaimed, “If you don’t know history, it is bound to repeat itself with the next generation.”  While reading the passage below, I began to wonder, what caused a disciple of Jesus to fall from God’s grace?  How could someone who spent nearly three years with Jesus betray Him in such a manner.  This topic requires further attention so that others do not follow in the footsteps of Judas.

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him, Mark 14:43-45.

According to John 12, Judas Iscariot served as the money changer.  In modern terms, Judas was the treasurer of the 12 disciples.  Whenever individuals donated to Jesus’ ministry, Judas was responsible for collecting and distributing this money to pay for food and travel during this three year span.  While it’s not mentioned, anyone healed by Jesus would have felt compelled to give something exchange for each miracle performed.  Although not everyone possessed money, the wealthy likely contributed a handsome sum.  As gifts and tithes started pouring in, Judas began to help himself like a corrupt politician.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it, John 12:4-6.

Based upon the passage above, careless use of expensive perfume set Judas off.  Enraged by a prostitute wasting this by anointing Jesus, Judas’ bitterness opened the door for the Devil to enter.  During the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Jesus confronts Judas, referring to him as the Devil.  This public rebuke in front of his peers pushed Judas over the edge, making a deal with religious leaders in exchange for money to hand Jesus over to them.  Whenever individuals allow greed, money or selfishness to influence decisions, integrity is lost.  If you want to avoid this slippery slope, take heed of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24.  Failing to do so may lead to following in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot.

by Jay Mankus

The Value of a Statue

Ancient Greece memorialized their heroes by erecting statues of gods and goddesses throughout cities like Athens.  When visitors passed through the streets, these monuments served as a reminder of their importance within the Greek culture.  During a first century mission trip to this region, the apostle Paul took some time to explore before Silas and Timothy arrived.  While waiting for his friends, Paul became overwhelmed by the images he observed.  Despite being offended, Paul desperately sought to engage the citizens of Greece, searching for something, anything they shared in common.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

Although Paul does not give an actual number of statues that he witnessed, it appears to be in the hundreds.  As a former Pharisee, the zealot within him immediately thinks of these statues as idols, breaking the second commandment within the Torah, You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them,” Exodus 20:4.  However, the teaching of Jesus moved Paul to put a positive spin on what he saw, calling a crowd of Greeks religious.  This compliment opens the door to allow Paul to introduce philosophers to the unknown God based upon an altar erected by a former citizen.

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you,” Acts 17:22-23.

Sure, every culture possesses something that is offensive.  Whether this is a document, religious background or statue, history is meant to educate individuals, not divide citizens.  The United States of America was founded on the principle of free speech earning the nickname back in the 1970’s as the great American melting pot.  The first amendment of the Bill of Rights declares Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  This is what makes America great.  However, if the citizens of this country allow government officials to destroy or remove historic statues of the past, there were will nothing to warn us from making the same mistakes.  May the events of Charlottesville in August of 2017 help people see the real value of a statue.

by Jay Mankus

Aliens, Demons and UFO’s

Depending upon your cable or satellite provider, if you channel surf long enough, you will probably find some sort of show dealing with alien’s, demons or UFO’s.  Destination America, History, Learning and Science channels regular air content related to these subjects.  I have spent months contemplating how to address this issue.  Based upon a chapter in Genesis, I believe there is a connection that might begin to illuminate this controversial topic.

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose, Genesis 6:1-2.

The passage above is one of the most debated in the Bible possessing three possible explanations.  The first hypothesis of the phrase sons of God refers to angels or minor deities.  When angelic beings left heaven to reproduce with earthly females, a civilization of giants was born inspiring the gods and goddess of Ancient Greece.  The second refers to an aristocratic class of rulers who married ordinary woman to create an elite society.  These men were inspired by the desire to make a name for themselves similar to those behind the building of the Tower of Babel.  Finally, the sons of God are aliens from another world who took earthly females as their wives.  This final view may explain advanced technology discovered by archeologists within the ruins of ancient civilizations.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown, Genesis 6:4.

Since I am not a Bible scholar, I won’t declare which of these theories is correct, but I do know that this unusual breeding gave birth to giants on earth.  After this unnatural relationship began, God’s displeasure led to a global flood which served as a do over with Noah and his eight family members the sole survivors.  Unfortunately, there are some things in life that people can only speculate about until the answers are provided in heaven.  However, what act was so vile that God was willing to destroy the inhabitants of his prized creation?  This my friends is the ten million dollar question.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Good for You May Not Be Right For Me

Wanting and having are two things in life that young people sometimes have to learn the hard way.  Before graduating high school, many children are pampered, given cell phones, maybe a car, food and shelter by generous parents.  Yet, college serves as a open book test for life as wanting and actually having are two different things.

But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways, Judges 2:19.

Some students gain weight quickly unable to say no to endless all you can eat buffets.  Others turn to partying to be the popular person on campus.  Temptations lurk around every corner with no guardian or parent to tell you no.  Thus, over a short period of time, people change.  As poor decisions undo your upbringing, you might reach a point where what’s good for you may not be right for me.

Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

One day the apostle Paul noticed that some of the people whom he led to Christ began to repeat the sins of their past.  To get everyone’s attention Paul provides a history lesson from the Old Testament.  Without using a hell and brimstone message, Paul urges this church to learn from past mistakes.  Whether its Adam and Eve in the Garden or the Judges who did what was right in their own eyes, each tarnished their faith.  In view of this warning, may you cling to that which is right so that what feels good does not corrupt your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Coming Together

History tends to move in cycles, rising and falling as leadership, ideology and worldviews change.  There are moments in time for conquest, peace and war.  Each major event leaves its imprints on civilizations, cultures and society.  At some point, regardless of what you feel, it’s important to come together.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The author of Hebrews encourages individuals to do the same thing with God.  This process begins with a sincere heart.  Like the guilt, remorse and sorrow Adam and Eve endured following trespassing against God’s lone rule in the Garden of Eden, modern citizens experience a similar feeling.  This conviction serves as a sign to get your life right with God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful, Hebrews 10:23.

The final step to coming together involves hope.  One of the ploys the Devil uses is making people feel like God hasn’t forgiven them after publicly confessing sin.  Thus, many place their trust in feelings, not faith.  Thus, clinging to an unswerving hope is what will get you through periods of darkness.  Finally, life isn’t complete unless you begin to spur on others toward love and good deeds.  This mindset sets the stage for truly coming together.

by Jay Mankus

Hurry Up and Wait

Sometimes parents have a bad sense of timing.  Whether its getting a child out of bed for school, making it in time for church or an event, our sense of time doesn’t always match with the actual time.  Subsequently, there are days where quick reactions from children result in hurry up and wait for parents to get into their vehicle.

Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river, Joshua 3:8.

There are moments in time when God uses a similar strategy.  During the Passover, the Lord instructed Israel through Moses to leave Egypt in haste.  This was the hurry up part of the equation.  The waiting part involved entering a promised land which the hearts and minds of Israel were not ready for yet.  However, when God’s followers step out in faith like the passage above, the only thing remaining is to wait for a miracle.

And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap, Joshua 3:13.

The hardest part of trusting an invisible God involves risking embarrassment and failure.  What makes matters worse is that the Lord does not honor a lukewarm spirit.  To step out in faith requires a full commitment, yielding to the God above.  If the priests did not enter the Jordan River with the ark, the promised land would merely be a dream today.  Nonetheless, this simple act of obedience set the stage for divine intervention.  If this blog finds you becoming impatient with God and the road He has chosen for you, may this hurry up and wait example from history give you hope that the Lord hasn’t run out of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Hide From History

 

George Washington University made national news earlier in the week for a change in its history department.  Following a recent trend, school officials have decided to no longer require history majors to take American History before graduating, making it optional.  Currently, only a third of colleges make American History mandatory for those who major in this field.  Yet, it seems strange for an institution named after the first president of the United States to not stress and treasure American History.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

Upon hearing this news, an outsider like me was initially put off until I realized who is teaching these classes.  To the atheist, liberal, progressive and socialist professors, the thought of American exceptionalism is offending.  Subsequently, the curriculum must be filtered, eliminating and skipping over content which reveals a Christian heritage and biblical principles.  Instead of getting the whole story, a revisionist history void of spiritual leaders is giving students a false narrative making American History just another class.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible, Hebrews 11:3.

Unfortunately, most college students graduate from universities thinking America’s founding fathers were a bunch of hypocritical slave owners.  If only material like Steeling the Mind of America was used to enlighten classes.  When individuals see American History that is unfiltered first hand, the outcome will be much different.  Most forget a time when this country celebrated 4 national religious holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Independence Day.  While a different narrative is winning over naive minds, you can’t hide from history when you search for the truth.

by Jay Mankus

 

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