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Tag Archives: Theologians

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

What am I Doing and Where am I Going?

I was introduced to the concept of evaluation early on as a youth director.  Through conferences, seminars and a youth ministry trade school, I learned the importance of gaining feedback from participants.  During my decade of teaching high school, I incorporated this into my curriculum, encouraging students to be critical, honest and fair.  After years of fine tuning, the last day of each class I asked five questions.  What did you like?  What did you dislike?  What topic(s) did I not spent enough time addressing?  What topic(s) did I spent too much time covering?  What changes would you make to improve this class?  After giving students five minutes in silence to write down their opinions, I gave individuals an open forum to express their feelings verbally if so inclined.  While some discussion were brief, others carried on for several minutes.  These papers were collected, stored in notes books and became the foundation for improving my curriculum each summer.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Unfortunately, outside of the classroom it’s easy to become so consumed with life that you forget what you’re really doing and where your going?  Thus, I must confess that as I write blog after blog, I often forget the purpose for Express Yourself 4Him.  Initially, I wanted to create a modern day diary using the Confessions of Augustine as my inspiration.  The autobiography of this 4th century theologian from Hippo details Augustine’s conversion to Christ and the evolution of his understanding of the Bible.  As Augustine reflected on life while sitting on his back porch, the Holy Spirit began to unveil pieces to the puzzle called life.  Over the weekend, God convicted me of my haphazard nature, sensing a need to become more focused.  Thus, in the coming days, weeks and year, I plan on focusing on two main areas.  First, continue to use the Bible to help explain and understand current events.  Second, become more interactive by using the comments I receive as a source for future blogs.  If I don’t help my readers address their concerns, issues and problems of others, I’m missing an opportunity to use my God given gift.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you, Psalm 32:8.

If you have ever played a team sport team, sometimes the play called by a coach is flawed.  If you are quick or shrewd enough, you might be able to freelance enough to turn a loss into a gain.  This same concept applies to life.  There will be circumstances, days and scenarios where what normally works is ineffective.  Therefore, you have to improvise, change while on the fly.  This is where individuals must learn to place their sole trust in the Lord.  Yes, like anything else, this can be scary, requiring blind faith.  Like the Psalmist suggests above, this leap of faith involves counsel, instruction and teaching.  If you really want to make sure you are on the right track, Bible Study, prayer and worship is available to most everyone.  As I start my sixth as a blogger in February, I pray that the Lord enables me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit so I can minister to those in need.

by Jay Mankus

Spoiler Alert

As society evolves, new words arrive on the scene to define what’s really happening.  Such is the case of a spoiler alert, derived from someone watching a repeat of an episode, film or show.  Individuals sometimes memorize lines or think out loud, ruining a punch line before a first time listener can enjoy it.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” Genesis 3:15.

While clergy, pastors and theologians may use lofty words, the Bible is full of spoiler alerts.  These clues are known as prophecy, a foreshadowing of what God is planning to do in the future.  Following the fall of mankind, also known as original sin, the author places a subtle hint in between the punishment of Adam and Eve.  The passage above promises to send someone a second Adam to restore that which was lost.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Luke 19:10.

A well known doctor echoes this point in the New Testament.  Luke issues this spoiler alert to his readers, highlighting purpose for Jesus’ life on earth.  Meanwhile, the disciple John shares another spoiler alert at the end of the book of Revelation.  The plot for life has been exposed, but the hardest part is the waiting for God’s prophecies to be fulfilled.  May faith carry you to the finish line or as show biz states, “the grand finale.”

by Jay Mankus

A Lost Art or a Ceased Power

When you study history, centuries are remembered by the movements within each age.  Whether you are talking about the Renaissance, Industrial Revolution or Nuclear Age, culture. technology and trends shape the next generation.  As philosophers like Plato once proclaimed, these shifts have caused human beings to turn their faith from above to within.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you, 1 Timothy 4:14.

During periods of spiritual Dark Ages, individuals wandered away from the truth.  As access to the Bible was limited to priests and spiritual leaders, saints were unable to fully practice the apostles teachings.  Thus, the notion of laying hands on individuals was likely a foreign concept.  It wasn’t until the 15th century when Johan Gutenberg’s printing press provided Bibles for the masses, making sure there no excuses from here on out.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress, 1 Timothy 4:15.

Within one of the apostle Paul’s letters is an interesting concept, spiritual gifts are conceived following the laying on of hands by elders of a church.  In fact in the next verse, spiritual progress is attributed applying spiritual gifts and laying hands on needy people.  This leads me to ponder, is this a lost art or a ceased power limited to the Pentecost generation?  While theologians will tend to lean toward the latter, perhaps this lost art is the difference between a dying church to one on the verge of revival.  Whatever you believe, the next time you have an opportunity to reach out, say a prayer and release the power of the Holy Spirit, just do it!

by Jay Mankus

 

Should the Cross Be Vacated or Kept as a Reminder?

The author of the Old Rugged Cross went through his own trying experience prior to completing this classic hymn.  In the midst of despair, George Bernard reflected on the pain Jesus endured while on a cross that initial Good Friday.  Nearing the end of the second great awakening in America, Bernard devoted himself to Bible reading, prayer and revival services.  This journey led him to the conclusion, “the cross is the heart of the gospel message.”

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts, Deuteronomy 6:6.

One hundred and two years later, the cross has taken on many shapes and forms.  Hollywood has their Cross of Gold which inspired Michael W. Smith’s 1993 song.  Churches have stations of the cross, often highlighted by magnificent stain glass windows around the entire sanctuary.  Theologians have their own views about an empty cross, Jesus on the cross and whether or not the cross is an idol placed at the center of most altars.  All this debate makes me wonder, should the cross be vacated or kept as a reminder?

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, Deuteronomy 6:7-9.

When teaching the Israelites about God’s commandments, Moses recognized the need to create symbols so that people don’t forget about God.  These practices should involve things which invoke conversation, especially in the main meeting room within Christian homes.  Thus, whether you are entering, exiting or simply taking a look around, individuals should be challenged to discuss spiritual matters.  In view of this, I must admit the answer is clear regardless of what the world may think.  Despite the offensive nature of the cross and any controversy it may bring up, the Old Rugged Cross should continue to be a beacon of light and source of hope for the lost, dying and those seeking salvation.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

An Angel and The Shepherd

There are some amazing true stories in the Bible, especially those who encountered Jesus like a date with destiny.  However, I stumbled across a new one this morning, intriguing yet mysterious.  According to Genesis 48:15-16, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, shares a story of 2 people who protected him.  On his deathbed, Israel briefly mentions a shepherd and angel, possibly one and the same.

Israel refers to God as his shepherd, safely leading, protecting and providing for him like the promise within Psalm 23:1-4.  In fact, one may go out on a limb, claiming that David’s words may have been part of oral tradition, a reminder of God’s provisions of his forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Either way, Israel clearly recognizes God’s providence over his life, delivering his family from starvation during the 7 year famine when his son Joseph becomes governor of Egypt.

The second character is more difficult to understand due to the lack of information in this passage.  An English teacher will look at the capital A in Genesis 48:16, suggesting that this angel is likely God.  However, theologians might conclude Moses wanted to include God’s head angel, possibly the archangel Gabriel or Michael.  Although it would be nice to know who Israel means, one thing is clear.  This angel saved him from Esau’s anger, being wronged by his Uncle Laban and guided Israel throughout his life like a guardian angel.  Thus, whether you or young or old, don’t forget about the God who serves as both an angel and shepherd.

by Jay Mankus

Inquiring Minds Want Answers

One of the most difficult tasks I have ever been assigned was trying to teach Junior High students the Bible for 5 years.  If I wrote down all the questions asked during my lectures, I could have written a thorough sex ed curriculum.  While some of my students were simply trying to waste time, others asked great questions that needed a reply.  When inquiring minds want answers, those in authority or leadership positions must feed these hungry souls.

As I started to read the Old Testament again, memories of these questions reverberated within my mind.  Once deemed foolish, I am beginning to share a similar interest into the mysteries of the Bible.  For example, why is nakedness now equated with shame, Genesis 2:25?  Did Cain marry his sister, Genesis 4:17 or did God created other females beside Eve, Genesis 5:1-2?  Does Genesis 4:10 explain the concept of ghosts, haunted houses and dead spirits which still dwell on certain properties?  Finally, does Genesis 6:1-4 refer to aliens, fallen angels or mixed marriages between giants and normal human beings?

I wish I could answer these questions with a sense of certainty and clarity, but I can’t.  Theologians vary, debating these and other topics for centuries.  All I can do is provide my best guess based upon my years of study and training.

1) Marriage is a sacred covenant that you make to another man or woman.  Once you consecrate this bond, there should be no shame among one another.

2) Based upon the time line of Leviticus 18, it appears God allowed intermarriage initially until the population of Israel was large enough.  Once written and communicated by Moses, this type of act was prohibited.

3) Since Jesus and his disciple use the term ghost throughout all 4 gospels, it appears that ghosts and spirits did exist by the first century.  Therefore, the growing accounts of paranormal activity today suggest what happened to Abel certainty does occur.

4) Before answering this final question, Genesis 6:1-4 is one of the most controversial passages in the Bible.  If you link the great pyramids of Egypt, the great wall of China and other architectural wonders of the world, some credit this advanced knowledge to either aliens or fallen angels.  However, the Tower of Babel is erected due to an one world language, making nothing impossible for mankind according to Genesis 11:3-6.  Thus, like many mysteries, you will have to wait until the after life to know for sure.

As inquiring minds send me more questions, I will try my best to answer each from a biblical perspective.  Continue to following the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, testing everything you hear or read with the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

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