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Tag Archives: the Roman Empire

A Church That is Right When the World is Wrong

Fulton J. Sheen was born in 1895.  Before his death in 1979, Sheen became an outspoken bishop in the Catholic Church.  Sheen’s popularity began as a preacher on radio and television programs.  One of his famous quotes would have offended many if announced today.  Yet, Sheen’s goal was to establish a church that is right when the world around it is wrong.  While logical on the surface, a changing world is often offended by those who cling to absolute truths.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Fulton was merely practicing the teaching of the apostle Paul.  During the height of the Roman Empire, emperors used their influence to ban, persecute and on some occasions put Christians to death.  Like a bully trying to control those around them, the apostle Paul urged first century believers to win the battle of the mind.  Unless you protect your mind through a daily dose of Bible Study, prayer and worship, conformity to the world will occur at some point.  When this happens to church leaders, the power of the Bible is lost as doctrines become watered down.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

The Bible uses several analogies to explain the ongoing schemes of Satan.  Jesus refers to this fallen angel as the father of all lies.  One of Satan’s objectives is to convince Christians to bend, overlook or stretch the truth.  When weak minded leaders take over a church, worldly beliefs are slowly blended into biblical teaching.  The theological term for this process is known as syncretism.  Unfortunately, when this dangerous practice begins to spread, there isn’t much difference between the church and the rest of society.  When the light of Christ fades and the saltiness of faith disappears Fulton’s goal becomes impossible.  May the Fulton’s quote many years ago inspire believers today to develop a church that is right when the world is wrong.

by Jay Mankus

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The Seed of the Church

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born in the middle of the second century.  Spanning 85 years, Tertullian lived during the height of the Roman Empire.  After the apostles within Acts and Jesus’ disciples passed away, Christian historians began to record post biblical events.  Residing in the Roman province of Africa in Carthage, Tertullian is regarded as one of the earliest theologians.  He is the first Christian author to produce extensive literature on apologetics, defending Christianity against heresy and the threat of Gnosticism.  These works earned Tertullian the title father of Latin Christianity.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you,” John 15:18.

While Tertullian was born after Nero’s persecution and died well before the reign of Decius third century worldwide persecution,  suffering was rampant.  Another early historian Eusebius spoke of a great multitude of believers who perished.  Tertullian developed a unique perspective of Christian persecution that he witnessed.  In the cases of death, Tertullian said the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.  This quote is found in what is known as Apologeticus pro Christianis within the concluding chapters, pages 48-50.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12.

Persecution is one of those experiences you don’t want to brag about it.  Depending upon the severity you endure, these events can scar your soul.  Nonetheless, Jesus tells his disciples to not take this personally for the world hated me first.  Meanwhile, one of the apostle Paul’s mission helpers makes a strong statement about the topic of persecution.  Its not a matter of if, but when.  Therefore, persecution should be expected for those who stand out by emulating Christ in this life.  In fact, if you’re not receiving weekly doses of persecution, perhaps you have become a chameleon, blending in to avoid this.  As Palm Sunday arrives, make sure you come out of your shell to give Jesus the praise He deserves.  If persecution results, so be it.  As Tertullian once wrote, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

by Jay Mankus

Fulfilling The Roman Mile

The New Testament and the Roman Empire intersect during the first century.  As Romans expanded their control, Jews were forced to adhere with two different sets of law.  Beside the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, non-Roman citizens needed to comply with Roman law or else face punishment.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles, Matthew 5:41.

One law required a Jew to carry a Roman’s belongings or possessions for a Roman mile if asked to do so.  A Roman mile is one thousands paces, equivalent to 1,000 yards, or 660 yards shorter than a modern day mile.  During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages his audience to do more than a Roman mile, going above and beyond what a Roman citizen asks you to do.

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you, Matthew 5:42.

Jesus didn’t ask his followers to do anything without first modeling it within his own life.  Several New Testament passages refer to Jesus as a servant of God, laying down his life for others.  Jesus understood that preaching and theology doesn’t convince non-believers to enter into a personal relationship with God.  Rather, lives are transformed when the love of God is displayed daily through a spirit of servant-hood.  Therefore, if you want to leave a lasting legacy on earth, emulate the Roman mile by giving of yourself to those who ask, need or appear to require some sort of help.  This is what Jesus means by going the extra mile.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Fortification of Faith

Peace has always been temporary throughout the course of history.  Subsequently, cities created ramparts, defensive walls to protect their citizens from potential enemies.  Thus, the only way to enter certain regions was through gates, strategically located around city walls.  Although this fortification system was not perfect, gate keepers could warn city officials if aggressors were approaching on the horizon.

During the Roman Empire, soldiers were responsible for defending a 6 feet by 6 feet area, to prevent attackers from breaking the line of defense.  At their disposal, these men possessed a large shield coated with a non-flammable liquid which extinguished flaming arrows shot by enemy troops.  The apostle Paul compared this weapon to a shield of faith, Ephesians 6:16.  When overwhelmed by incoming fire, a solider could entrench themselves under this shield until help arrived.

Unfortunately, faith can be a mystery, especially if your prayers aren’t answered or help never comes.  According to 1 Peter 5:8, the devil uses discouragement to lure depressed souls away from church.  If depression leads to disenchantment, doubting the existence of God,  the fortification of faith can be destroyed, Hebrews 10:26-27.  In this age of suffering, its important to arm yourself with the right weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Despite where you are on the spectrum of faith, its time to fortify yourself with the armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-18.

What advice can you share to help anyone currently struggling with their faith.  People are waiting for your suggestions.

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

The First Game of Crying Uncle

The expression of crying uncle appears to have some ties to the Roman Empire.  During the first through third centuries, when a child was bullied by a stronger individual, they were coerced to use the Latin term Patrue.  Once spoken, meaning uncle, the dominant figure would release or set free the person they had cornered.

Today, when an older sibling catches up to a faster and younger sister or brother, either holding onto or sitting on them, a power trip rushes through their soul.  As a result, the elder statesman in the house usually seeks total submission before letting go or getting up.  Like a bribe, torture continues until a person finally gives in, “crying uncle,” at the top of their lungs.

While researching this topic, I stumbled across a biblical account that might of inspired the first game of crying uncle.  According to Genesis 32:24-26, Jacob participates in a wrestling match which lasts all night long, something the founders of W.W.E. would be proud of.  Holding on for dear life, Jacob refuses to let go until this stranger blesses him.  Unbeknownst to Jacob, his opponent is God himself, Genesis 32:27-30.  Although he does not force God to say uncle, Jacob follows a Jesus like approach to acquiring what he desires, Matthew 7:7-11.

The next time you feel caught, captured or cornered by the devil, try to emulate Jesus’ model for prayer.  Don’t forget to ask God specifically, crying uncle, confessing that you can’t make it in life on your own strength.  If nothing happens right away, keep on seeking God for advice, answers and direction.  Finally, like Jacob, hold on to God, by knocking on heaven’s door until you receive the blessings of God!

by Jay Mankus

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