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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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