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Tag Archives: the Roman Catholic church

No Doubt About It

One of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church is a time of prayer during each mass. Depending upon the congregation or priest, a list of prayers is usually read out loud. Following each individual request, the audience responds with “Lord hear our prayer.” One of Jesus’ disciples writes about this in the passage below. According to John, God does hear these prayers and there’s no doubt about it.

And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him, 1 John 5:15.

It’s not uncommon for children to adopt an invisible friend when they are young. While parents may be uneasy about this behavior, this is the power of the imagination of a child at work. Similar to Robin Williams’ adult character in the film Hook, age and time have a way of sucking the joy out of parents. Rather than revel in the innocence of being young, the Devil has a way of wearing down faith, John 10:10.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:20-22.

During a first century walk, Jesus teaches his disciples a powerful lesson about pray. This isn’t a meaningless imaginary exercise where you pretend to talk to an invisible God. Rather prayer is maximized when Christians approach God without doubt. Having belief and faith takes prayer to the next level. To those who pray without a doubt begin to move the mountains blocking God’s path for you.

by Jay Mankus

The Law of Liberty

When I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, the fear of God was quickly ingrained within me. Subsequently, this mindset caused me to refer to the Bible as a long list of Do’s and Don’ts. Religiously following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts gradually wore me out. Yet, once I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, I began to see the Bible as a means toward liberation.

But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience), James 1:25.

Jesus’ earthly brother refers to the Torah as the law of liberty in the first two chapters of his letter to first century Christians. I wouldn’t be surprised if this concept was shared with him by Jesus. Rather than treat the Bible as a rigorous list of spiritual chores to carry out daily, James began to become liberated. Based upon the passage above, James sounds like Moses during his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30:15-16.

But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing]. Once I was alive, but quite apart from and unconscious of the Law. But when the commandment came, sin lived again and I died (was sentenced by the Law to death). 10 And the very legal ordinance which was designed and intended to bring life actually proved [to mean to me] death, Romans 7:8-10.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter in the Book of Romans to reveal how God’s law eventually liberated his troubled soul. Paul doesn’t hold back, pouring out his heart in frustration about his bleak spiritual condition. No matter how hard Paul tried to keep God’s Commandments, he failed miserably time after time, Romans 7:19-20. Despite Paul’s fallen nature, the final portion of Romans 7:21-25 illustrates how sinners can be liberated by the law of liberty through Christ, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

The Witching Hour

As the practice of witchcraft spread through Europe, the Roman Catholic Church prohibited activities between 3 and 4 in the morning beginning in 1535. This paranoia spread across the Atlantic Ocean to colonial Massachusetts, spawning the Salem Witch Trials. Between February 1692 and May 1693, a series of hearings and prosecutions of people took place as all were accused of practicing witchcraft. Thirty individuals were found guilty and nineteen were executed by hanging, (fourteen women and five men).

So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words. 45 Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of especially wicked sinners [whose way or nature it is to act in opposition to God]. 46 Get up, let us be going! See, My betrayer is at hand!-Matthew 26:44-46.

While Jesus predicted his betrayal, it was during the witching hour when Judas led the chief priests and elders to Jesus’ location. Meanwhile, Jesus is wrestling with fulfilling God’s will, becoming obedient to death on a cross and the other 11 disciples were too tired to pray. Jesus’ advice to his disciples to overcome falling prey to evil is “the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41. Every year after the NFL Draft, there is a rookie symposium for the newest draft class. A common message is repeated year after year, “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. 20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. 21 Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good, Romans 12:19-21.

While walking to class one day at college, I noticed a female student carrying a Bible in one hand. On the surface, it appeared this young woman was a Bible believing Christian. After complimenting her boldness for not hiding her Bible in a backpack, her response caught me off guard. Without hesitation she replied, “I read it every Day so I know how to pray against God.” This brief encounter opened my minds to zealous witches, hungrier than most believers. In the passage above, the apostle Paul provides advice on how to overcome the witching hour. Rather than become overwhelmed by evil, overcome evil with good, by the love of Jesus in your hearts.

by Jay Mankus

What Children Ought to Know

Context is the circumstances that form a setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. As a student of the Bible, I regretfully must confess that I have overlooked the context of the Armor of God. At the end of Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul addresses God’s expectation for a husband and wife. While recently reading Ephesians 6, Paul clarifies what the Lord expects from their children as well. Based the comment in the passage below, the armor of God is designed to protect the entire family, including children. Therefore, this is what children ought to know before they leave a Christian home, Genesis 2:24.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 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, Ephesians 6:10-11.

As an adult, I don’t always have the expectations that I should for my own children. According to a first century doctor, the more you know spiritually, the more expectations Jesus has for you, Luke 12:48. Yet, when coaches, parents and teachers expect little of their athletes, children and pupils, the same can be true. Thus, whenever adults don’t fully prepare children for what lies in wait for them in the future, we as Christian leaders are setting children up to fail. The initial passage below should be ingrained into the hearts and minds of every teenager. This spiritual dimension isn’t just something that appears on a movie screen or streaming service. Rather, this biblical truth uncovers the spiritual forces of darkness at work in our world today.

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. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. 14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, 15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), Ephesians 6:12-18.

Most Christian denominations have some sort of confirmation process. When I was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, I was under the impression that I was taking ownership of my faith. Instead of going to church because your parents tell you to go, Confirmation serves as a way to pass the spiritual torch for one generation to the next. Yet, I was never told about Ephesians 6:12, likely out of fear. However, how can someone comprehend the armor of God when you don’t know what your spiritual enemy is up to, John 10:10. This blog was designed to sound the alarm, 1 Peter 5:8, so that when this roaring lion attacks, children will how what to do and how to react. May this blog be shared with countless households so that children will know how to handle and use the Sword of the Spirit, Matthew 4:1-11, so that the Devil will be forced to flee.

by Jay Mankus

When Religion is Too Much Work

Within any religion, there is a set of beliefs, doctrines and rules that appeal to certain individuals.  You have to weigh the good with the bad as no perfect church exists.  Thus, denominations offer a wide range of options for families to select from before joining a church.  However, if your connection with God is based upon a religion rather than a relationship, some have come to the conclusion that religion is too much work.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

As someone who was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church,  I understand the amount of energy a religion based faith requires.  I memorized the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, partook in my first communion, spent six years taking religion classes in CCD and completed my confirmation by taking ownership of my faith.  Fortunately, I was introduced to a Methodist youth group during my sophomore year in high school.  While the church services were similar in some ways, there was a climate of genuine love that was passed on to everyone, even strangers like me.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ, Galatians 1:10.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes about his struggle between letting go of his zeal for Judaism and his new relationship with Christ.  When you follow a rigid set of rules, there is a tendency to seek the approval of others.  Yet, when anyone makes a decision to devote their life to Jesus, the religious may resent you.  Meanwhile, others reject you from deviating from the defined path within your church doctrine.  If you want to be free from this rigid course, a line from the Shack provides the answer.  During a conversation the main character Mack is talking with Jesus about stereotypes.  Jesus replies, “religion is too much work.  God doesn’t want slaves; He wants you to be part of his family.”

by Jay Mankus

Lady Poverty

I heard an interesting sermon last weekend on a topic previously unknown to me.  A priest was giving a summary of the life of Saint Francis.  Born into a wealthy family, Francis was torn between the pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps and his faith.  According to a 13th century eye witness. Francis took off his clothes in public, stripping down until he was naked, giving his possessions to the poor.  This act demonstrated Francis’ rejection of the world while placing his sole trust in his heavenly father.  This leap of faith inspired the Lady Poverty movement resulting in amazing servants like Mother Teresa.

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you,” Leviticus 25:35.

Francis of Assisi traveled to the Vatican hoping to get a meeting with the Pope.  The goal was to gain support from Rome so tht Francis’ calling would not be some rogue movement.  Unfortunately, Francis’ first attempt failed, unable to get the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Years later Francis wrote a famous letter to Clare which led to his second visit to Rome.  This time Francis was successful, getting the Pope’s blessing to start the Lady Poverty movement which still exists today.  While I’m not encouraging people to literally follow in Francis’ footsteps, tackling poverty concerns in your area should suffice.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? – 1 John 3:17.

The passage above should speak to every heart.  While poverty may be hidden in some neighbors, a growing number of busy intersections are filled with people with signs begging for food or money at red lights.  Although this may be a public nuisance in the eyes of local politicians, its a sad reality of broken families and people who have no one to help them in their time of need.  The Bible eludes to Christians as the hands and feet of Christ.  Yet, as cars continue to look the other away, passing by the poor suggests that the Lady Poverty movement is dying.  In view of this, may hearts, minds and souls be drawn to lend a helping hand when you have the opportunity to give.

by Jay Mankus

Spicing Up Church

Church history tends to go in cycles with one generation often forgetting the mistakes of the past.  Church growth experts substitute previously failed measures with cutting edge facilities, programs and technology.  Thus, if you attend modern church services you will find many replicate a concert with loud music, some sort of light show and overhead projectors that replace hymnals.  Only time will tell if spicing up church is successful.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.

My spiritual background is a like a blended family.  I grew up in the Roman Catholic church, attending CCD until my confirmation.  While in high school, I began to attend a Methodist youth group.  During my college years I spent time at Baptist, Pentecostal and Non-denomination congregations before graduating.  Six months later I participated in a Lutheran dominated Youth Ministry Trade School.  I could go on, but for me the only thing that spices up church is developing permanent meaningful lasting relationships.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

I can recall one night walking for miles, spending several hours pouring out my heart to close friends Dave and Liz.  The earthly brother of Jesus is correct when he states publicly confessing your sins leads to healing.  In fact, a teenager in England ignited the second great awakening by asking his congregation for forgiveness, revealing his deep and dark sins.  Perhaps, if the leaders of modern churches begin to practice the biblical principles which led to previous spiritual awakenings, communities would notice what it means to spice up the church.

by Jay Mankus

 

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