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A Wonderful Perspective

I recently read the screenplay for the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. The turning point occurs when Diana played by Gal Galgot is told a story by her mother Queen Hippolyta. Sharing a brief history of war, Queen Hippolyta tries to warn her daughter of the dangers of battles and fighting. When Diana learns of Ares, the Greek God of War, she develops a wonderful perspective about life. Diana comes to believe that if she can find Ares and defeat him, war on earth will end.

I But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia.

One of the topics most churches don’t talk about from the pulpit are the spiritual forces of evil that exist on earth. According to the passage above, Daniel experienced a spiritual battle for 3 weeks. While no details are mentioned, it appears that a demon known as the prince of Persia had developed a spiritual stronghold over this specific region. While attending a nearby Vineyard Church in Pennsylvania, I was introduced to the concept of spiritual mapping. This teaching is built upon the sins of the father in Exodus 34:7 and giving the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27, an open door to create havoc on your life.

Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, Ephesians 6:11-12.

As Russia continues to attack and invade Ukraine, demonic strongholds once mentioned in the Bible continue today under the guise of darkness. According to the apostle Paul, certain leaders in these demonically controlled regions can become vessels of the Devil. Former president George W. Bush referred to this invisible force as the Axis of Evil in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002. Whatever you want to call it, we need to develop a similar mindset of Diana in Wonder Woman with one difference. Instead of seeking to defeat Ares, seek to defeat the devil and war will be replaced by peace.

by Jay Mankus

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Overcoming the Curses that Exist on Earth

A few weeks ago I got together with an old friend from church. After catching up on what’s going on, our conversation turned toward a common theory. While sharing strange experiences from our former church, each of us came to the conclusion that this property was cursed. Although this may seem strange to many of you, this is consistent with the words of the Old Testament. Prior to being expelled from the Garden of Eden, God places a curse upon men and women, one that includes cursing the ground.

And to Adam He said, Because you have listened and given heed to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it, the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat [of the fruits] of it all the days of your life. 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return, Genesis 3:17-19.

As I drive to work each day, I pass by a portion of the debris path from a recent tornado. Spawned by the remnants of tropical storm Isaias, this particular tornado stayed on the ground for over 29 miles. My view of this destruction is a once thriving corn field. While portions of this property remain untouched, a large section of the corn is completely flattened. Four power lines across the street were also leveled before being repaired. Perhaps, this too is a casualty of the curse mentioned in the Bible.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days, for the vision is for [many] days yet to come, Daniel 10:13-14.

Beside the curses placed upon Adam and Eve, there are also powers of darkness that control specific cities, countries, and regions. In the passage above, Daniel refers to a demonic presence called the prince of Persia. While studying a book on spiritual mapping in America, similar places exist in the United States today. While you probably won’t hear about this, the apostle Paul is clear about spiritual forces of evil, Ephesians 6:12. The best way to overcome curses is by arming yourself with the armor of God daily, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

by Jay Mankus

When Materialism Becomes a Disease within Your Heart

A new missionary in Africa wanted to hit the ground running. His initial goal was to take a spiritual inventory by talking to community and village leaders. To his surprise, the greatest barrier in this culture was materialism. Trying to make sense of materialism in a land plagued by hunger and poverty, this man asked, “how could this be?” The elders pointed to a spirit of coveting, not satisfied by and with their own possessions, always wanting more.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it, Job 1:6-7.

No matter where or when you enter this earth, there is an invisible adversary looking to prey on weakened souls. While not everyone is tempted by materialism, a fallen angel known as Lucifer is eager to uncover your most vulnerable areas. The Bible is littered with spiritual forces of evil ready to pounce on isolated individuals on the verge of giving up. This is when you need to lean on a community of believers, to overcome temptation and weakness, by asking Jesus to be strong, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.

As my father once said, you never have enough money no matter what your annual income may be. Thus, you have to reach a point of contentment, finding that balance between work and play. Perhaps, this explains the words from the author of Hebrews listed above. As someone who has struggled with being a workaholic in the past, balance is essential to preventing me from becoming burned out. While most Americans have been stuck at home, I’ve spent the last 10 weeks working over time. Although the extra cash has been a blessing, money disappears quickly. Therefore, until you yield control of your money over to God, materialism will continue to linger as a dreaded disease within human hearts.

by Jay Mankus

Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Enemy of Our Souls

How you ever noticed the large-scale systematic plan that is occurring worldwide?  This clever marketing scheme distracts individuals from the real problem, the enemy of our souls.  The 2017 version of the film It has recently become the top grossing horror film of all time, amassing over 300 million in sales.  I’m amazed how people can take a diversion to a theater to experience their monthly fright night, yet fail to recognize the personal demons that terrorize individuals daily.  This invisible war is crushing, destroying and wounding human souls who don’t know what to do or how to fight back.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, Ephesians 6:10-11.

Roman soldier’s were equipped with spikes on the bottom of their sandals.  Similar to techniques used during the Revolutionary War, battalions were taught to hold the line of defense so that the enemy could not come up from behind for a sneak attack.  Prior to any battle, Roman soldiers began to dig in like a baseball player entering the batter’s box.  This practice enabled warriors to secure their footing, entrenched and ready to fight.  Unfortunately, most people are caught off guard, flat footed, unable to stand up against the schemes of the Devil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Ephesians 6:12-13.

As a former teacher, I made plenty of mistakes.  Some from a lack of experience, maturity or wisdom.  As I reflect upon this decade of my life, one common error that haunts me is overlooking specific details.  In the passage above, verse 12 gets most of the attention, unveiling the spiritual realm that exists in another dimension.  Yet, the end of verse 13 is the key, the solution to the enemy of our soul, making sure that you have done everything to stand.  Do you start end day with Bible Study, take time to pray, make the effort to fellowship with believers, seek out godly council and worship the Lord in song?  Depending upon your exposure to Christianity, this check list may be shorter or longer.  Nonetheless, if you truly want to live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, you have to prepare like a soldier gearing up for battle.  May this blog arm you with necessary resources to protect your soul.

by Jay Mankus

When You Can’t Put It Back in the Box

Pandora’s box is an artifact from Greek mythology.  However, this box was actually a jar that belonged to Pandora.  Upon opening the lid, all the evils of the world escaped.  When she placed the lid back on, the only thing remaining inside of Pandora’s box was hope.  This story illustrates certain things in life like innocence.  When individuals entertain temptation, purity will eventually be lost.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves, Genesis 3:7.

Ancient writings and the Bible share similar stories passed on from one generation to the next.  The story of original sin starring Adam and Eve parallels Pandora’s Box.  Despite given only one rule to obey, the image of the tree of life planted a seed of lust within human hearts.  The more Eve stared at the fruit hanging from the limbs, enticement clouded her judgment.  As soon as she took a bite and gave one to her husband to try as well, Eve quickly realized that you can’t put it back in the box.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:8.

Just as Pandora was filled with remorse for allowing evil to enter the world, guilt caused Adam and Eve to hide from God.  Today, many people do not enter churches due to scars from their past.  Wounds to the soul cause individuals to withdraw, ashamed of who they are or what they have done.  Satan has convinced many broken souls that God can not forgive them for their sins of the past.  This mindset serves as an obstacle to healing.  Although you can’t put evil back into Pandora’s Box, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection occurred to cancel your sins, Colossians 2:13-15.  Despite your current spiritual condition, may the promise of eternal life in 1 John 5:13 give you hope to overcome the spiritual forces of evil in this world.

by Jay Mankus

Resisting Evil Desires From Within

Meteorologists use barometers to measure atmospheric pressure.  Since pressure can be used to predict short term changes in the weather, barometers reveal a glimpse of future events.  While weather forecasts remain inconsistent despite high tech equipment, those with the gift of discernment tend to have a higher success rate.  If this is true, perhaps there is a barometer of the soul.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

During an extended stay in Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, the apostle Paul makes an astute observation.  When defeat, failure and trials occur, many people focus on external factors as the cause.  Paul disagrees claiming there are invisible forces to blame, dark, demonic and supernatural forces attempting to steal your joy in life.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul, 1 Peter 2:11.

Peter provides another perspective, likely reflecting upon his public betrayal of Jesus in the verse above.  Certain desires can be overwhelming, wearing you down over time.  Before you know it, temptation lures individuals to act in direct contrast with their morals causing a war against your soul.  Warning others not to fall into this trap, a barometer of the soul is essential to escape evil desires from within.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

The mind is like a human computer, created long before Serry and Elexia.  Prior to killing his brother, God was able to read Cain’s thoughts.  Troubled by what he is thinking, the Lord lays out Cain’s dilemma, sin is crouching at your door.  Likewise, today individuals must rule over evil thoughts with biblical truths, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Success is achieved through taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ.  Any other means will ultimately lead to indulgence.  In view of this, meditate on God’s Word daily to purge yourself from evil desires from within.

by Jay Mankus

 

Things That Break Your Momentum

1. Television

Direct Television’s Settler’s commercial uses a play on words, claiming that if you don’t have their package you are settling for second rate customer service.  During my recent fast, television was the first thing that broke my spiritual momentum.  After a long week of work, I thought I’d indulge in a few hours of viewing pleasure.  In return, I was in a funk for the rest of the weekend, sluggish, unmotivated and felt like I wasted valuable time.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 6:12.

2. Technology

Little Caesar’s recent ad campaign about going off the grid illustrates that you don’t need technology to order a pizza.  All you have to do is show up and its hot and ready.  Having unlimited access to the worldwide web has caused many to binge, soaking up as much as possible.  Unfortunately, people have become hooked, unable to drive, walk or eat without texting, tweeting or view the latest trending video.  Instead of conversing, opening up their hearts or sharing serious issues, individuals are content with staring at a screen.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Ephesians 6:13.

3. Attitudes, Annoyances and Mood Swings

The other night at work, I was in the zone, in a good state of mind when I was bombarded by a series of emotions.  I came into contact with bad attitudes and was poked by several annoying situations.  As I mumbled my displeasure, the momentum of the evening was broken by a myriad of mood swings.  Whenever you let your guard down or aren’t prepared for spiritual attacks, your soul can take a beating.  Thus, whether its television, technology or trials, make sure you arm yourself with the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-20.  If not, don’t be surprised when the things of this world break your momentum.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Anointing

Sometimes there are things in life that are difficult to explain.  While you may try to verbalize specific details, unless you experience, feel or sense it, no one will likely believe you.  Earlier on, I disregarded such a notion.  Yet now, after stumbling upon the words of a Psalmist, I have come to acknowledge the anointing of God is real.

He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you, Psalm 147:13.

The opposite of this force is similar to the Haunting, a show on Destination America.  Although many people remain skeptics, certain properties, homes or land are subject to demons, ghosts or spirits which dwell on these premises.  Once limited to documentaries and horror movies, powers of darkness has risen up to make their domain a living hell on earth.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, Ephesians 6:12.

In view of these unwelcomed visitors, its essential for individuals to begin to ask God for a special anointing.  Home owners can invite members of their church to dedicate and prayer over newly acquired property.  Meanwhile, prayer walks along the borders of businesses and land owners can serve as a hedge of protection for those who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Finally, setting aside time to prayer for children and family members, especially inside of their own room can have life altering effects.  May readers embrace this concept and be inspired to practice it so that the anointing of God will be fanned into flame to negate any demonic influences currently keeping you from living the abundant life Jesus promised, John 10:10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

It’s Evil, Not Insanity

Since the terrorist attacks on marathon runners and spectators on April 15th in Boston, media outlets are trying to come to grips with this unfathomable act against humanity.  In my car, talk radio is a buzz, verbalizing opinion after opinion.  Water cooler chats about local sports have been replaced by a more serious topic.  Meanwhile, cable news networks are scanning every nook and cranny of this unfortunate event, searching for credible experts to speak on this matter.

From my perspective, most commentators are missing the mark.  You can’t punish the law abiding citizens for a few people who have lost touch with reality.  Sure, Americans have to be vigilant, proactive about suspicious people in public places.  However, you can’t legislate against insanity and if you do, lawyers will just find another way to excuse their client from taking responsibility.  The world’s problem is not insane terrorists, its evil within the hearts and minds of individuals.

While many things in Hollywood films are fake, the presence of evil in society is a Clear and Present Danger.  Stephen King’s 1994 mini-series entitled The Stand illustrates how evil can change the attitude, behavior and life style of average citizens.  Meanwhile, Andrew Neiderman’s film The Devil’s Advocate uses a combination of embellishment and reality to portray spiritual forces of evil.  Although many have been duped by lies, countless Americans refuse to accept the truth about evil in this world.

The apostle Paul refers to Satan as the ruler of the air in Ephesians 2:2.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to the devil as a roaring lion, seeking to pounce on and devour unprepared bystanders, 1 Peter 5:8.  Jesus claimed the devil could enter your thoughts, Matthew 16:23 and hearts like Judas Iscariot as detailed in the 4 gospel accounts.  If 3 godly men, pillars of the church testified to this fact, why can’t modern Americans accept evil as the cause of terrorism?  May the words of Romans 10:17 open minds to embrace the shocking reality, “its evil, not insanity!”

by Jay Mankus

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