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Tag Archives: National Treasure

More Than a Bell

Nearly twenty years ago I worked directly across the street from the Liberty Bell, driving by it six days a week.  To a certain extent, I took this local landmark for granted, just another piece of scenery on my ninety minute commute home.  Two years after leaving this position, National Treasure debuted in theaters.  Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha play treasurer hunters, Benjamin Gates and Riley Poole, searching for a treasure left behind by several founding fathers who were Free Masons.  In this film, the Liberty Bell holds a clue, the next piece to a puzzle that ultimately leads to a hidden vault underneath a church in New York City.  Yet, this two thousand pound structure made out of copper and tin is much more than just a bell.

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan, Leviticus 25:10.

In 1751, the Pennsylvania assembly ordered a bell for its State House, today’s Independence Hall.  The assembly chose a biblical inscription from the Bible that proclaims “liberty throughout the land,” Leviticus 25:10.  This bell would become an emblem of American independence.  One century later this bell also served as a symbol of the anti-slavery movement during the Civil War.  Initially, the Liberty Bell summoned Philadelphia lawmakers to their assemblies and local citizens to public announcements.  Today, over five million visitors travel to Independence National Historical Park to see this national treasure.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isaiah 61:1.

The context of the phrase “liberty throughout the land” comes from an Old Testament practice known as the Year of Jubilee.  The symbolism of this celebration is based upon freedom, setting anyone living in bondage or enslaved free.  Every fifty years on the Jewish calendar, the Jubilee cancelled any outstanding debts.  Thus, slaves were allowed to return to their homeland without being forced to return.  When you add the year of Jubilee to the end of slavery in America, the Liberty Bell has duel meanings.  If you ever have a chance to visit Independence National Park in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, remember that this monument is much more than a bell.

by Jay Mankus

When the World Laughs in Your Face

In the film National Treasure, Nicolas Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a treasurer hunter searching for the Knights Templar.  Hidden by the Free Masons, Gates tries to unlock clues left behind and revealed by his grand father.  However, in the professional arena Gates is considered a joke, a dreamer who is chasing after something that doesn’t exist.  To make matters worse, government officials laughed at him when he warns that the Declaration of Independence is in danger.

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine,” Acts 2:13.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter and the disciples met a similar fate.  As the residents of Jerusalem listened to these Jewish leaders speak in tongues, a group individuals jumped to a conclusion, suggesting these men are merely drunk.  Empowered by this spiritual presence, Peter says “at 9 in the morning, I don’t think so?”  Despite this come back, I’m sure not everyone was convinced.  Thus, whenever you encounter critics, all you can do is trust what you believe by living out your faith.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed, 1 Peter 1:7.

If the creative, dreamers or visionaries stopped pursuing their calling due to other people’s opinions, the world would lose its artists, inventors and future leaders.  Like the apostles of the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is an essential force to continue on regardless of whatever others may think.  Therefore, don’t overreact if joking, laughing or mocking ensues.  Rather, hold fast to your beliefs, roll with the punches and strive to fulfill God’s plan for your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Sermons of John Wise

John Wise is one of those individuals who has been forgotten by history.  A reverend at the Congregational Church in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Wise blazed a trial which the founding fathers of America emulated.  Until yesterday, I never realized that the Declaration of Independence was based upon by a sermon series John Wise preached in 1687.  These messages were inspired by a tax levied by royal Governor Andros without the representation of a legislative body.  Wise was one of the first civil rights leader, going to jail for his opposition, a pioneer who used his pulpit to preach liberty and justice for all.

John Wise devoted his entire life to the ministry, serving from the time of his ordination to his death in 1725.  Prior to his passing, Wise completed his most famous work,   A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches in 1717.  This compilation became a blue print that was adopted in 1776 during the Continental Congress, known as the Declaration of Independence.  When reverend Wise spoke to his community, he didn’t see black, red or white skin.  Rather, Wise developed an expression saying, “there are only 2 kinds of races, those who believe in God and those who don’t!”  This is just a glimpse of the sermons of John Wise.  These inspired words are simply Supernatural as DC Talk once sang.

There is much to learn from this second generation Pilgrim leader.  First, a preacher should not be muzzled by the government.  Church should be a place of refuge where worshipers can experience heaven on earth before going back into the world like disciples for the next 6 days.  Second, the Bible is a blue print for life, liberty and the American way.   Allowing atheists to silence the spiritual foundation of this country is like spitting the reverend Wise in the face.  Finally, history is like a true National Treasure, full of mentors, stars and visionaries who have made America a great nation.  Go to a local library today to examine diamonds in the rough, lost over the course of time, by a media ashamed of God.  If you want to know more about John Wise, David Barton has written books about his impact on American History.

by Jay Mankus

 

When You’ve Got Nothing Left to Give

In the film National Treasure, Nicolas Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a treasure hunter with a tarnished reputation.  Despite trying to warn authorities, no one takes his threat serious, that the Declaration of Independence is in danger.  In life, there are times when you reach a similar fate, when you’ve done everything you can think of, with nothing else to give.

The apostle Paul refers to these moments in life as periods of humility, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.  When you’re successful most of the time, individuals have a tendency to steal the spotlight from God by saying, “look at me!”  Whether you’re watching the Olympics, professional sports and a high school game, the victor receives the spoils.  However, behind the cameras, the losers are forced to face the fact they’re got good enough, with nothing left to give except reflecting on what went wrong.

Today, I find myself at the bottom of the barrel, leaning on the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  As much as I want to be magically healed and return to work now, I am stuck with an aging imperfect body which need times to be restored.  Thus, I have nothing else to give except time.  In my weakness, Christ needs to be strong, to carry me through the frustration of being helpless.  When you’ve got nothing left to give, lean on God’s power to lift you up each time you fall!

by Jay Mankus

Give Me A Clue Lord

Sometimes I feel as if life is an endless game show filled with segments of CharadesHangman and Wheel of Fortune.  Like a Nickelodeon late night rerun, I have moments where I feel as if I am acting out life just as God intended.  Unfortunately, there are other choices, decisions and errors I make which put me one step closer to game over.  Or there are days like today in which I am compelled to buy a vowel so I can begin to solve the puzzle staring at me.  In other words, give me a clue Lord.

The prophet Elijah had similar feelings in 1 Kings 19:10.  After receiving a death threat from Queen Jezebel, Elijah literally runs for his life without crying out to the Lord in prayer.  While on the run, Elijah begins to feel all alone, as if there is no one else on earth who understands what he is going through.  In this desperate state, the Lord gives Elijah a series of clues to bring him back on track, 1 Kings 19:11-13.

Besides fasting, prayer and reading the Bible, there is one clue most believers fail to notice or recognize, the whisper of God.  No, I am not talking about The Sixth Sense scene when Cole says, “I see dead people!”  Rather, I am referring to God’s still small voice, similar to a sheep being able to recognize their shepherd’s voice, John 10:4-5.  If you are paying attention to your surroundings, alert and sober, you will be more likely to discern what God wants you to do, respond or say, leading to more clues.

Like the search in the first National Treasure film, your quest for life’s answers can lead you on a wild goose chase.  In fact, those around you may even try to convince you to quit, giving up before you obtain your dream.  Nonetheless, this is when you have to dig down deep, cling to what you know is right and follow the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  There will be distractions along the way, Matthew 7:13-14, but if you fully obey God’s commands, these clues will lead you to a promised land, Deuteronomy 28:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

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