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The Transition From Elementary Teachings to Faith

From a public education point of view, Elementary is the second of four stages that students must complete prior to graduation. Learning usually begins at some sort of Pre-School, followed by Elementary, Junior High and High School. According to a recent study, the United States ranks 26th in the world for overall education. While stats don’t tell the whole story, the state of Massachusetts was ranked first in education in 2019 while New Mexico was ranked last. As Charter Schools become more competitive and popular, parents will make whatever sacrifices necessary so that their children receive the best education possible.

So we [Jewish Christians] also, when we were minors, were kept like slaves under [the rules of the Hebrew ritual and subject to] the elementary teachings of a system of external observations and regulations, Galatians 4:3.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul is referring to the spiritual side of elementary teaching. As a former high school Bible teacher, I developed curriculum based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy. This building block approach seeks to go well beyond elementary teaching so that students put into practice what they are learning. Instead of just remembering and understanding concepts for unit tests, this education theory forces students to go deeper by applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Perhaps Jesus had a similar idea at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount by urging listeners, “to put my words into practice,” Matthew 7:24.

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law, To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons], Galatians 4:4-5.

The context of today’s selective passage is geared toward Jewish Christians who are struggling with observing the law while grasping their new found faith. When a religious zealot group known as the Judaizers began to overemphasize the law and de-emphasize faith, the apostle Paul felt the need to intervene. The author of Hebrews addresses a more pressing concern, Hebrews 6:4-6, as apathy within first century Christians began to cheapen God’s grace. If you want to graduate from the elementary teachings of studying the Bible, you need to transition from spiritual knowledge toward biblical application. As individuals begin to produce spiritual fruit, the transition from elementary teachings to faith is near completion. However, unlike an earthly graduation, Christian’s are encouraged to keep learning by striving to fulfill God’s will for your life.

by Jay Mankus

Climate Despair

There is a new disorder which I recently heard about on the news.  Apparently, climate despair is a condition millennials are struggling to cope with as global warming concerns spread throughout social media daily.  The seed for climate despair has been planted by public education, introduced through curriculum beginning as early as first grade.  I guess as children are taught that the use of fossil fuels used by their parents are melting the polar icecaps, the image of polar bears dying has resulted in depression and fear.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears, Psalm 34:4.

According to a recent article on Vice, climate despair is causing a growing numbers of millennials to give up on life.  Anxiety attacks brought on by thoughts of human extinction is too much for some to bear leading to suicide.  Those who don’t pull the trigger are haunted by the unstoppable force described in books like the Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells.  Since environmentalism is becoming a form of religion and worship, scare tactics are used by members of the media to guilt souls into conforming causes like the Paris Climate Accord.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken, Psalm 34:17-20.

One message missing from global warming is hope.  In the passage above, the Psalmist writes about crying out to God in prayer when troubles arise.  While your heart may be broken and soul crushed, the Lord promises to answer those whom call upon his name, Romans 10:9-11.  Therefore, the next time you feel overwhelmed by news that you can’t control, cry out to God for help so that you will be delivered from climate despair.

by Jay Mankus

Lowering the Bar or Extending God’s Grace?

As a former Catholic, you can tell a lot about the direction of a church based it’s leadership.  Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is now calling for priests to forgive any woman who has terminated a pregnancy.  During a recent interview on cable news, a member of a local archdiocese summarized this theological change.  In the past, female Catholics who had an abortion were excommunicated from the church, viewing this act of killing an innocent life.  Today, Pope Francis wants to focus on love and forgiveness by extending grace to those who have fallen short of God’s glory.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

When I heard excerpts of this interview, I wasn’t sure what to think.  However, now that I have had time to digest this new stance, there are two possible explanations.  First, the church is lowering the bar by altering the expectations of what it means to be a modern day Christian.  Just as public education has changed the standards for a passing grade, clergy is now more accepting.  As godliness diminishes within society it’s hard to find willing servants of Jesus.  Thus, many churches are being forced to overlook past transgressions to fill half empty buildings and worship services.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace, Romans 11:6.

The other logical explanation is a shift from an Old Testament view of God’s wrath and judgment toward a New Testament approach based upon the love of Jesus.  This theological position points to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  God is already working in the lives of the righteous according to Matthew 9:9-13.  It’s the rebellious, lost and those wandering in the dark who need help.  Instead of emphasizing church growth, pastors have become more evangelistic to reach out to a generation of people who have not grown up in the church.  Depending upon your theological beliefs, you may lean toward one of these two positions.  Nonetheless, the church is suppose to be the hands and feet of Christ, like a beacon of light piercing into the darkness of a spiritually dead and dying world.

by Jay Mankus

Listening to a Child’s Perspective

After three years of home schooling, my daughter Lydia has been reintegrated back into public education as a freshman at St. George’s High School.  Once meek and timid, my daughter has flourished socially, enjoying daily interactions with students her own age.  While it doesn’t always happen, I try to have one meaningful conversation with Lydia per month, hoping to get an update on her overall experience.  This past weekend I found myself enthralled with our discussion, yet convicted by my daughter’s perspective.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

While driving back from the beach, Lydia wanted to know what my wife and I believed about dating, music and tattoos.  Lydia shared what she believed, then listened to her mom and dad talk.  At times she laughed, surprised how certain views have changed since her parents were teenagers.  At one point, Lydia cut me off, suggesting I was brash, opinionated and negative.  Normally, I would attempt to defend and justify myself, but conviction led me to listen to a child’s perspective.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

These comments from my daughter served as a mirror, giving me a chance to see who I really am at this point in life.  The truth hurts, but you must come to terms with where you are before you make a full recovery.  To a certain extent, I am bitter and frustrated by where I am, like being in limbo.  Meanwhile, I have become more vocal in my feelings, brash, critical and trashing those I disagree with.  After listening to my daughter’s perspective, its time for me to confess my shortcomings, seek God’s counsel and pray that the Holy Spirit begins to transform my imperfections.  May this blog encourage you to listen to those who care about you.

by Jay Mankus

A National Anthem in Crisis

Prior to the events in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11th 2001, the relationship between sporting events and the playing of National Anthems had become a mundane ritual.  If you take away the Olympics, playoffs and the Super Bowl, anthems were rarely ever televised.  Some professional sports even played anthems while players were still in the locker room.  However, post 9/11 the singing of Francis Scott Key’s song united this nation for a minute or so daily.  I was in Philadelphia for the first National Football League Monday Night Football game following this terrorist attack.  When a flag the shape of the United States was displayed across the entire field, the crowd went crazy, setting the stage for an emotional national anthem.  Those professional athletes who have chosen to kneel or sit have forgotten what the national anthem represents.  As more begin similar displays as a protest, the future of America’s national anthem is in jeopardy.

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! – Psalm 105:2

As a former teacher, I understand pressure to remove the national anthem at professional sporting events isn’t the end but the beginning of an attempt to erase any trace of God from American history.  During homeroom or over a loud speaker, public schools read a daily passage or verse from the Bible up to the early 1960’s.  The reading communicated a morale, trait or value teachers hoped to instill within their students.  When a few atheists were offended, a law suit followed that removed the Bible permanently from public education.  When schools obliged others were upset about students and teachers praying for each other.  This too was banned, stripping God’s influence from the classroom.  Looking back at history, schools have never been the same as God has removed his own blessing from those who have not made room for Him.  Then, there was the 10 commandments, “surely we can’t allow human beings to read and see these rigid rules.”  Today, religious leaders are arrested if 10 commandment statues aren’t removed from all court buildings.  Finally, there is the pledge of allegiance which has been made optional for children or simply discarded all together.  If the national anthem is silenced, there’s always something else atheists, leftists and progressives will deem offensive.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted, Isaiah 49:13.

I hope the owners of professional sports teams don’t cave to public pressure like weak minded republicans more interested in gaining approval from the press rather than upholding American values.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp.  When this promise was made, I don’t think Trump realized how deep and dangerous this resistance would be.  While the media continues to label the Trump presidency as the worst ever, the horizon appears to be void of any leaders willing to stand up for the national anthem.  Sure, there may be some closet defenders, afraid to vocalize their opinions.  Yet, America appears to be on the verge of a social war between the past and the present.  As someone who grew up in a military family, respect was impressed upon me.  Unfortunately, some where along the way respect for God and country has slowly faded away.  In view of this decay, may God raise someone up to carry the torch for the National Anthem so that this treasured tradition does not disappear like those now forgotten.  Stand up and sing, thanking God for all the Lord has done for this land called America.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Ebbs and Flow of Life

Since public education began to remove biblical principles from curriculum in the 1960’s, understanding the why’s in life is much foggier now.  Instead of searching for real answers, there is a growing tendency to blame others, becoming a victim of circumstance.  Unfortunately, the concept of taking personal responsibility for your actions is becoming rare, lost in the ebbs and flow of life.

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity, Proverbs 11:3.

According to Solomon, the virtue of integrity is a guiding light when things don’t go your way.  Whether the trial you are currently facing is self induced or a mystery, adopting a Christ like attitude will provide a big picture view of your situation.  While many overreact by losing control or their temper, giving into these raw emotions can lead to destruction.  Perhaps, this may explain the apostle Paul’s words below.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 8:38-39.

If anyone had the right to complain to God, it was the apostle Paul who was regularly arrested, beaten and accused for sharing his faith in Christ.  I’m not sure how Paul handled every trying moment, but somewhere along the way he learned to consider each trial as an opportunity for growth.  Thus, these experiences inspired the words above that remind anyone undergoing the ebbs and flow of life that nothing separate us from the love of God.

by Jay Mankus

A Soul Tormented by Lawless Deeds

If you turn on a news cast, at some point you will witness something disturbing, shocking or sad.  Unfortunately, many have been desensitized by a barrage of extreme videos.  Thus, as the average citizen become comfortably numb, a soul tormented by lawless deeds is either overlooked or forgotten.

For that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard, 2 Peter 2:8.

Ever since public education has de-emphasized moral absolutes, the line between right and wrong has been turned to gray.  Subsequently, hearts and minds can become confused, unsure what’s acceptable and what’s frowned upon.  In this politically correct climate, the law breaker can be excused if they hold a socially acceptable worldview.  Yet if the shoe is on the other foot, a conservative will be verbally crucified for a similar transgression.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

Lost in the shuffle are those individuals wounded by lawless deeds.  When television cameras move on to the next city, disaster or scandal, those left behind must begin to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Beyond these scars, an invisible voice calls out to the bruised and broken-hearted.  May the hope of Jesus bring peace to souls tormented by lawless deeds.

by Jay Mankus

 

Life Isn’t Meant to be Fair

Common Core Standards are based upon the premise that every child should have a common experience in life.  To distribute the wealth of knowledge across cultural, economic and social lines, education has been dumbed down in an attempt to create equality.  The fatal flaw within this K-12th curriculum is that life isn’t meant to be fair.  Subsequently, one person will be rich, another poor, some will be blessed while others are cursed and the disciplined will achieve great heights as the lazy fall short of the goals they set in life.

So the last will be first, and the first last, Matthew 20:16.

Somewhere along the way, public education has placed a priority on self-esteem instead of fulfilling Darwin’s teaching.  My best recollection of high school was survival of the fittest, a series of tests and trials to reveal the best  One of my greatest teachers, Mrs. Ehrig challenged me, pushing me to a place I never thought I could reach.  She didn’t care about how I felt, just ways to motivate me to unlock my potential.  The myriad of excuses must end, replaced by the core principles which once made America’s schools elite.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Outside of the classroom, churches must communicate a biblical message explaining how and why life isn’t fair.  If sermons portray unrealistic teachings like a prosperity gospel, believers will be set up for disappointment.   Experiences shape beliefs so to prevent individuals from a disenfranchised faith, truth should rise above fiction.  While each person is dealt a different hand in life, you have to play with the cards, talents God gives you.  Although some days you may feel as if the deck is stacked against you, make the most of each day you are given as you endure the good, bad and ugly circumstances within this life.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Sure About That?

I guess when you remove the Bible as a source of truth from public education, even the Bible Belt isn’t safe.  This likely explains the actions of a high school teacher in Tennessee who kicked a student out of class and suspended for saying, “bless you,” to another classmate who sneezed.  Fifty years since expelling God from school, now His children are in danger of experiencing the same fate.

To make matters worse, a professor from the College of Coastal Georgia has banned his students from saying bless you in class.  Students taking his Introductory Physics course will have grades lowered if the words “bless you” are uttered.  The media’s silence is defying.  Where is their outcry like the so called war on women?  This isn’t a war against one gender, its against the Creator of mankind.  Are these school’s sure about their decisions?

According to James 3:9, students have 2 daily options: to bless or curse.  If blessings become outlawed, do these administrations want their student body cursing classes, teachers and the school itself?  If the political correct crowd wants everyone to be open minded about gender issues, why are educators closing the door on God?  My question to any school official across the fruited plains, are you sure about the stance you are taking?

by Jay Mankus

 

The Sounds of Violence

Yesterday, I was taking a walk on a cart path just north of down town Wilmington.  With a fence separating this golf course from nearby neighborhoods, I began to hear some commotion a few blocks away.  Voices gradually increased in volume, leading to a fervent disagreement between 2 individuals.  Others joined in yelling back and forth.  Memories of school yard fights flashed before my mind.  However, on this day, no fists, knives or guns were raised, just the sound of violence.

A few years ago in Newark, while having practice with my sons baseball team, I wasn’t as fortunate.  When a suspicious car rolled slowly through an adjacent street, several rounds of bullets were fired.  Before I knew it, I experienced my first drive by shooting, pulling the team quickly off the field into the building behind home plate.  The gunman proceeded to cross a creek behind the left field foul line, run across a field and hid near the University of Delaware until a police helicopter found him about a half hour later.  This time the sound of violence was too close for comfort.

The apostle Paul warned first century Christian’s that this day would come, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  His words were prophetic as children are regularly disobedient to adults and their parents.  Junior high and senior high teachers are now front row witnesses since the sound of violence has entered the classroom, especially in public education.  The consequence of this reality is persecution, with Christ absorbing this anger and hatred on the cross, Isaiah 53:3-11.  May the hope of this fulfilled prophecy help you overcome the sound of violence.

Please comment on how God has helped you rise above the violence in our world.

by Jay Mankus

 

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