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Tag Archives: Nazareth

Is This Really Happening?

In 1997, Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts starred in Conspiracy Theory.  Gibson plays Jerry Fletcher, an outspoken critic of the government who is obsessed by numerous theories that he believes to be true.  Paranoid by the thoughts in his mind, Gibson’s character is portrayed as crazy, a lunatic that needs to be locked up in a mental hospital.  Meanwhile, Roberts plays Alice Sutton, a sympathetic lawyer from the Justice Department who humors Fletcher until some of his theories turn out to be true.

At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another, Matthew 24:10.

Early in the first century, a man from Nazareth developed a large following.  Without any formal education or schooling, this preacher puzzled religious leaders.  Experts of the law, Pharisees and Sadducees were amazed by his authority, communicating the Old Testament like a biblical scholar.  However, when Jesus prophesized about the end of days, public officials began to label Jesus as a lunatic and liar.  Following his death on a cross and resurrection, those who once mocked Jesus began to say, “is this really happening?”

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, 2 Timothy 3:1-4.

I watched the History Channels version of Revelation: the End of Days the other night.  As a former seminary student, it wasn’t hard to recognize the various theological errors, stretching the truth to appeal to an American audience.  Nonetheless, when you read the Bible, listen to conspiracy theories espoused daily and watch reports of great stress and trouble on cable news, the end of days may be closer than I once thought.  When I reflect upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 and the apostle Paul’s comments about societal trends in 2 Timothy 3, to a certain extent these events have arrived.  According to the Bible, no one will know the time of Jesus’ second coming, but if I were you, I’d make my reservations for heaven immediately, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

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When God Uses Less Than Perfect Places

Due to prejudices that exist, accomplishments of certain individuals are brushed aside, ignored or neglected.  During Black History Month in America, its important to recall how God can use less than perfect places to further His will on earth.  In the Old Testament, God sends Abraham to Gerar during a time of famine.  Oddly enough, when translated into English, Gerar means to drag off roughly.  Infested with Philistines, a land of giants eager to display their dominance over others is the city that God chose as a place of refuge for the founding father of Israel.  Sometimes trusting God requires extreme faith, overlooking clear and present dangers for hidden treasures revealed in the future.

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines, Genesis 26:1.

In the early first century, certain towns had become a haven for criminals.  Nazareth developed a reputation for being a tough place to live, with rampant crime.  These reports poisoned the mind of Nathanael, doubting if any good could ever come out of this place.  Despite the evidence leading to Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, many were skeptical.  Instead of listening to rumors, Philip encourages his friend to just come and see, to find out for yourself.  Unfortunately, stereotypes stifle people from different backgrounds from really getting to know each other.  Perhaps, the enemy, the Devil uses this strategy to prevent intimate friendships from developing on earth, keeping atheists from taking a leap of faith to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip, John 1:45-46.

I have spent the majority of my life on earth living in or near Wilmington, Delaware.  I spent three years at an inner city school, Harlan Elementary, using sports as a way to connect with African Americans and Hispanics.  When I was on the basketball court at recess, I wasn’t a cracker or honkey.  I was a normal kid trying to fit in by doing what he loved.  Today, Wilmington is often in the news for the wrong reasons, ranking in the top ten for murder rates for its size and number one in teenage pregnancy.  Sure, for those teens trapped in this hopeless environment, the percentages for success isn’t high.  Yet, if God can use places like Gerar and Nazareth, then anything is possible for those who believe, Matthew 21:22.

by Jay Mankus

Who’s the New Guy?

Despite efforts to create equality in all avenues of life, not much has changed.  While there will always be exceptions to the rule, breaking into new circles, finding a job or getting a promotion is still based upon who you know, not what you know.  Trying to advance to new heights takes an incredible talent, luck or supernatural intervention.  However, every so often someone new arrives on the scene causing the masses to ask, “who’s the new guy?”

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law, Mark 1:22.

Early in the first century, Jesus had the odds stacked against him.  His birthplace of Bethlehem and residence in Nazareth was a negative, inspiring doubts from even potential disciples, “what good can come from Nazareth?”  Nonetheless, Jesus continued to follow God’s will, gathering a team of twelve disciples before introducing himself to the world.  This wait ended in Mark 1:21-28.  Without an Ivy League Degree or Seminary training, Jesus taught with an authority never seen before or since.  Following a Sabbath in Capernaum, the legend of Jesus was born.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him,” Mark 1:27.

The religious leaders of the day were baffled by the insight Jesus possessed.  The words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 highlight the fact that God’s wisdom is a mystery, hidden from the intelligent in this world.  Subsequently, the only training requirement necessary to tap into this spiritual realm is keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.  Regardless of your age, background and knowledge, the Spirit will provide the answers you need in life.  Yet, an invisible force, the sinful nature stands in your way of accessing fruits of the Spirit.  Since with God all things are possible, perhaps people will become attractive to your own relationship with God by wondering, “who’s the new guy or girl?”

by Jay Mankus

A Family Christmas

The origin of Christmas is based upon the words found in the gospel of Luke 2:1-7.  In a sense, the census issued by Caesar Augustus forced a family reunion of sorts.  However, in this case, “everyone went to his own town to register,” Luke 2:3, back to your home town where relatives were born and raised.  Thus, Mary and Joseph rode on a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem nicknamed the City of David creating the first Christmas traffic jam.

Like finding a cheap hotel in Dover, Delaware during Race Weekend, Joseph didn’t have a prayer.  With the odds stacked against him, Joseph begged, pleaded and sought out a hole in the wall motel.  This dive was filled with manure, cold drafts and the constant noise of animals.  Yet, in this desolate place, the world welcomed a Savior, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.  When the shepherds arrived, the first Christmas concert was performed by angels, praising God for the miracle of life.

Today, Christmas has become a day where families reunite, if only for a day, meal or weekend.  Putting the past behind, its a time of reflection, thanksgiving and worship.  Despite the distractions of parades, sporting events and more shopping, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without family.  Maybe this is why death, divorce and orphans struggle to find peace on this sacred day.  Regardless of where this holiday may lead you in 2013, let me be the first to say, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

by Jay Mankus

Killing Jesus

According to the most recent New York Times Best Sellers list for the first week of October, 2013, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s book Killing Jesus has reached number one.  O’Reilly’s latest novel follows in the footsteps of his 2011 project Killing Lincoln, which remained a best seller for 65 weeks.  While this new project focuses on the historical events leading up to Jesus’ death on a cross, my blog serves as a reminder of how the American media is successfully killing Jesus from modern history books.

jesus on cross photo: Jesus Cross.jpg

Based upon my research using theology books, Jesus was born sometime between 4 and 5 BC, using the decree made by Caesar Augustus for a census for the entire Roman world as a reference point, Luke 2:1-3.  Since Joseph and Mary were on the run. fleeing Jerusalem from King Herod’s slaughter of boys 2 years and under, hiding in Egypt until his death, Matthew 2:13-15, the term Anno Domini was introduced when Jesus returned to Israel in Nazareth, Matthew 2:23.  Despite the rise and fall of empires, history has used Before Christ and in the year of our Lord, the English translation for AD, for thousands of years.  Until recently, Jesus’ place in time was secure.

jesus on cross photo: Jesus on_the_cross.jpg

As educational institutions continue to hire Atheists, Marxists and Socialists as professors, Jesus has been killed, erased and omitted from modern textbooks.  Relying on the Gregorian Calender, which is influenced by international groups like the United Nations, Before Common Era (B.C.E.) and Common Era (C.E.) have now replaced Before Christ and Anno Domini.  The National Education Association, also known as the N.E.A. has adopted this view, removing the traces of Jesus from history books.  These were like the first lashings Jesus received, prior to carrying the cross to a hill on the north side of Jerusalem.

In 1985, the Jesus Seminars appeared on the scene, inspired by Robert Funk, designed and formed by the Westar Institute.  Under the guise of a biblical movement, this phenomena follows in the foot steps of the Gnostic Gospels, written a few hundred years after the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The scary aspect of this movement is their 4 colored bead system.  Red designates what Jesus definitely said, pink represents what Jesus probably said, gray for not original, but like minded comments and black for words Jesus did not say.  If this same scrutiny was applied to the Koran, there would be an uprising among Muslims.  Unfortunately, most churches have remained quiet, allowing Jesus to be mocked, spit on and verbally crucified all over again.

by Jay Mankus

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