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The Counterfeit Idol

Idols are an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. This person or thing is greatly admired, loved, or revered. Meanwhile, counterfeits are made in exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud others. In the manufacturing world, counterfeiters have become masters at making duplicates of high end products that appear to be authentic.

Then He told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man was fertile and yielded plentifully. 17 And he considered and debated within himself, What shall I do? I have no place [in which] to gather together my harvest. 18 And he said, I will do this: I will pull down my storehouses and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain or produce and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily, Luke 12:16-19.

From a biblical perspective, Jesus conveys a parable that opens up conversation for a counterfeit idol. Whenever an individual through dedication and hard work builds a successful business, there is a temptation to ease up by relying on past performances. While money in itself is not bad, the love of money is the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10. Jesus warns about allowing money to darken your soul, Matthew 6:19-24.

But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? 21 So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself and is not rich [in his relation] to God [this is how he fares]. 22 And [Jesus] said to His disciples, Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious and troubled [with cares] about your life, as to what you will [have to] eat; or about your body, as to what you will [have to] wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body [more] than clothes. 24 Observe and consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn; and [yet] God feeds them. Of how much more worth are you than the birds! – Luke 12:20-24

When greed takes over someone’s life, minds are blinded by the source of all wealth, Malachi 3:9-10. Instead of solely trusting God to provide, Proverbs 3:5-6, greed makes someone believe that they can make money on their own. If success continues, greed becomes the counterfeit idol, feeding the cravings of those hungry for control, money and power. “If your body has been infiltrated by darkness, how great is that darkness,” Matthew 6:23. This is what makes greed the counterfeit idol. Let the light of God’s Word expose this darkness.

by Jay Mankus

Parental Discretion Advised

If you catch the very beginning of a televised movie or arrive early at a local theater, a disclaimer will flash across the screen. This statement is designed to warn viewers of what individuals are about to see. In legal terms, phrases such as “parental discretion is advised” enables those behind the making of a film to avoid liability or being held responsible for its content.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

As the apostle Paul visited the city of Athens, there was no warning. Instead of being prompted by parental discretion advised, Paul was bombarded by pornography. Some of these idols were dedicated to the goddess of love, celebrating, encouraging and promoting sexual immorality in the name of religion. This visual cesspool didn’t stop Paul for searching for positive signs of life. Like a rigid site seeing tour, Paul didn’t stop until discovering an altar and poem that spoke to his heart.

Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

If Jesus and his disciples encountered this adult and mature content, I can imagine one of the disciples pleading with Jesus to call fire down from heaven to destroy Athens. Yet, Paul shows much more grace, engaging philosophers with an inscription and poetry. These two pieces of literature serve as a common ground, opening the door for the apostle Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ with Greeks. Instead of being offended, Christians need to learn to engage other cultures by using apologetics, defending the Christian faith. This means leaving safe spaces to bring life to dark and immoral places, relying on the Holy Spirit as your guide.

by Jay Mankus

What Tables Would Jesus Turn Over Today?

The final 7 days of Jesus’ earthly life is often referred to as Passion Week.  Beginning on Monday, Jesus experienced several different emotions.  While approaching Jerusalem, Jewish broken down in tears, having compassion on lost people, unable to discern what was about to happen.  A few hours later, Jesus is enraged by a temple corrupted by the world, becoming more like a flea market than a house of worship.  The Bible claims Jesus turned over tables, trying to eliminate impure motives from this holy place.

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”                  Luke 19:45-46

According to the Bible, God sees all things.  If today was the beginning of his final week on earth, I wonder if Jesus would respond in a similar manner.  How much compassion would be displayed?  What anger would be demonstrated and where else beside the temple would Jesus target?  Although its just a hunch, I believe Jesus would go into the house of saints, throwing idols off their shelves, trying to purge believers from their worldly ways.  After this visit, Christians must decide for themselves, relying on freewill to determine, “who will I follow?”

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:13

One of the greatest misconceptions about Christianity is that God forces individuals to do this or do that.  Essentially, the Lord gives freedom, like Adam and Eve in the Garden with just one rule to follow.  Although the fall of mankind has complicated life, each day involves choices, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.  According to Moses, good choices lead to life and bad ones to death.  Therefore, if you want to honor God and avoid from having the tables turned over in your own temple, the body, choose the narrow path today, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

 

Modern Idols of Nations

Footbaal, Basketbaal and Basebaal?  Idolatry involves cultism, devotion and zeal for a pastime.  When any hobby get’s out of hand, obsessions can lead to a veneration, turning into a form of worship.  Priorities and time allocation often reveal where a human heart lies.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! – Psalm 135:15-18

This allegiance is nothing new.  Developing a well-rounded personality is beneficial, yet idols influence individuals as nations rise and fall.  Whether religion is a fad, trend or life long pursuit, the powers of darkness will persuade some to delay, postpone or quit their journey called faith.   Thus, peer pressure sways the weak toward to idols of nations.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

According to Jesus, there is a direct correlation between one’s heart and idols.  “Those things you treasure will permeate into your heart, Matthew 6:21.”  Its no wonder that King Solomon urged the Jews to guard their hearts, Proverbs 4:23.  Therefore, to avoid the same fate of fallen saints throughout history, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, follow the words of Deuteronomy 28:1-3.  When quiet times with God become a habit, escaping the idols of nations can be achieved.  May your life be filled with prayer, meditation and worship.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Substitute for Reality

As a student, whenever a substitute was standing up front or sitting in a chair, it was like a holiday.  Although plans were passed on, most periods turned into a study hall, a break from the normal routine.  Whether this lasts for a day, week or longer, this individual serves as a substitute for reality.

Stressed out by the events of a week, human beings often turn to their televisions to escape.  Whether its a favorite channel, show or sporting event, this time mends the broken and heals wounded souls temporary.  However, if this habit becomes a life style, entertainment can become a substitute for reality.

Perhaps  the breakdown of the American family started with different viewing interests.  Once on, there isn’t a need for communication as the big screen turns into an alternate reality.  If this pattern continues, minds zone out, numb to deadening relationships inside their home.  As soon as the number of televisions increase to multiple rooms, the stage is set for a divided house.  May those on the verge of falling into this trap, awaken before this idol becomes a permanent substitute for reality.

by Jay Mankus

Good Grief Charlie Brown

Beginning in the early1950’s, the Peanuts Comic Strip became a main stay in American newspapers.  As the popularity of Charles Schultz’s creation grew, television brought this animation to life in the 1960’s, known as the golden era of Peanuts.  By the 1980’s, holidays and Charlie Brown specials became an annual tradition  for families.  This is where children first saw Lucy pull back a football that Charlie Brown was about to kick, causing him to fall to the ground in anguish.  Thus, the expression, “Good grief Charlie Brown” was born.

Today, there is a different kind of pain parent’s experience.  Unrelated to sports, this infliction is derived when their own children begin to date individuals who have a questionable reputation.  Despite their initial warning, teenagers have a mind of their own, often neglecting the advice of mom or dad.  Blinded by love, lust or self-fulfillment, most proceed into a relationship, doing whatever it takes to love or be loved.  In many cases, a person blends into this new environment, compromising who they are and want to be.  As a result, I can hear adults mutter, “Good grief, Charlie Brown!”

According to Genesis 26:34-35, Esau’s choice in a wife, Judith the Hittite caused Isaac and Rebekah great distress.  Instead of seeking someone with a similar beliefs, standards,  and values, Esau goes outside of God’s family.  Although her physical appearance is not mentioned, its likely that Esau choose external features over character.  Like distant relatives, Esau’s decision to marry a Hittite leads him away from God’s favor, corrupted by a nation full of idols.  Once stuck in this relationship, the only barometer left was his conscience, “good grief Esau!”  Unfortunately, its too late for those who are gone, dead and buried.  Yet, for those of you still clinging to life, break free of sin’s chains so that you will bring peace and not grief to your family.

by Jay Mankus

Dying Nations

If you study geography, globes and maps appear to be in a constant state of flux.  Portions of Africa and other regions of the world go through transitions as individuals wrestle for control and power.  Depending upon the ruler and their worldview, citizens are at the mercy of its leaders.

According to Psalm 135:15-17, vital signs can be detected  by the finger prints left by mankind.  The images of a culture reflect their aspirations, priorities and ultimately, their god.  When idols cripple a nation, Acts 17:16, its only a matter of time before empires fall like Rome.  If America continues on its current path, the inevitable will happen, erasing any impact it has as a world leader.

To change course, nations have options if they wish to survive.  Civil wars, rebellions and revolutions are just a few of the usual suspects.  However, if 1799 is any clue from the past, only a spiritual revival can save countries from vanishing from the pages of modern textbooks.  As concerts of prayer began to change the mindset of Christians in America, God began to ignite a fire within lost souls.  May history repeat itself, giving life to dying nations across the globe thereby fulfilling the great commission in the process, Acts 1:8.

by Jay Mankus

The Breath of the Lord

Norway rat

During the dark days of the Black Plague, sneezing was an early indication of this disease.  Thus, the expression, “may God bless you,” was aptly spoken, hoping the individual who sneezed would not die.  This spoken prayer was the only line of defense people had, since scientists were initially baffled by this outbreak.

In the beginning of this world, God created Adam to live forever, breathing life into his body.  However, like the Black Plague, sin’s influences and presence after the fall, gradually sucked the life out of mankind.  The toll of this spiritual disease eventually forced God to limit human life to 120 years.

Today, there is a different kind of threat, the absence of the presence of God.  Just as in the decay of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, America is experiencing a similar power outage of God’s blessing.  Disobedience, idols and worldliness has eliminated the breathe of the Lord in many regions of the world.  Like the words of the prophet Isaiah 40:7, America and other dying nations are overdue for the breathe of the Lord.  May desperate souls rise from the ashes, made whole again by the Holy Spirit!

by Jay Mankus

Mere Images

The expression “you are what you eat” is nothing new.  Nor is practice what you preach.  However, the prophet Hosea brought me something fresh and poignant this morning.  According to Hosea 9:10, you become a mere image of that which you worship.

If you study time management theories, you will stumble across the Pyramid Theory, which attempts to break each day into 24 one hour time slots.  Since the average individual sleeps roughly 8 hours a day, every person has 16 hours to invest their time.  If work consumes another 8-10 hours per day, people may only have 6 hours for their own personal use.  Thus, how you treat these precious hours will reveal your character, interests and priorities.

Israel had wasted their free time indulging in self gratifying practices during the days of Hosea.  This decision caused most of the Jews to become like grapes rotting in the desert heat.  As a result, their hearts shifted toward corruption, radically transforming their lives.  Instead of dedicating their bodies to the God of Abraham, most desecrated their flesh to shameful idols.  Looking into a mirror, their witness became just as vile as the images they worshiped.

Today, golden calves have been replaced by the internet, television and twitter.  While Jesus calls people to go into the world to tell others what God has done for you, Mark 5:19, the real question is, are you living in this world or of the world?  When people look into your day planner, where are you investing your time?  Do people see Jesus living in you or in something else center stage?  May the month of March serve as a transition, a restoration project to erase sin from your life by allowing Abba Father, to mold and shape you into the precious image of Jesus his son, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6.

by Jay Mankus

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