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Did You See That?

In her 1990 song From a Distance, Bette Midler suggests that God is watching us from a distance. This song from the Some People’s Lives album spoke to my heart. Reaching number one on the Adult Contemporary chart, the lyrics of From a Distance connected with average people, stirring and touching souls. Based upon the passage below, Bette was right.

And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent. 43 And He called His disciples [to Him] and said to them, Truly and surely I tell you, this widow, [she who is] poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury, Mark 12:42-43.

John Mark references a mundane event, watching people place their offering to God. According to Mark, Jesus sat directly opposite of where individuals placed their tithe for the temple treasury. While the disciples were paying careful attention to what the rich gave, Jesus had his eyes on the poor. Although the expression was not used by Jesus at the time, modern translations support a comment like, “did you see that?”

For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had—[even] all she had on which to live, Mark 12:44.

While in college, I attended several retreats, especially my last two years. Usually, there was some sort of love offering for the guest speaker Sunday morning. On a few occasions, I emptied my wallet of $5 or $10, forgoing a meal or two before arriving back at campus. However, this widow had nothing to fall back on, trusting God to supernaturally provide her next meal. Whenever faith like this is demonstrated, it’s worth mentioning.

by Jay Mankus

Knowing, Believing and Claiming

To promote higher forms of thinking in education, Dr. Benjamin Bloom introduced six learning domains in 1956.  Each domain serves as a building block, applying knowledge one level at a time.  Today, Bloom’s Taxonomy uses remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating to ensure that words spoken in classrooms don’t fall upon deaf ears.  On the spiritual side of knowledge, D. James Kennedy developed Evangelism Explosion in the 1970’s so that individuals introduced to the Bible would go beyond just knowing.  One of the terms Kennedy crafted within training materials is mere intellectual assent.  This theological saying refers to people who knows something to be true within their minds but doesn’t act upon this information.  According to the brother of Jesus, faith without deeds is dead, resulting in a shallow foundation, susceptible to being completely uprooted by schemes of the Devil.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder, James 1:19.

Belief is based upon awareness to something that makes sense or convincing evidence which gives credence to what you thought to be true.  The closer one gets toward the truth, doubt slowly disappears.  However, if the source for what you believe contains contradictions, inconsistencies and misleading statements, faith will be stunted.  Jesus’ earthly brother James brings up a valid point when considering belief in the passage above.  Merely believing in God doesn’t make you special as even demons, servants of the Devil acknowledge this fact.  Thus, if you regularly attend church, give a monthly tithe and strive to do good works, this is a good start but not the top of the mountain.  The author of one New Testament book dedicates an entire chapter, Hebrews 11 to illustrate what genuine belief looks like, faith in action.

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it, John 14:10-14.

If Benjamin Bloom were to create spiritual learning domains today, knowing, believing and claiming would suffice for the initial three stages.  Early in the first century the illiteracy rate was high, forcing the uneducated to rely on hearing rather than reading.  Romans 10:17 reveals that churches gathered together in homes, synagogues or down by a river to publicly read out loud parts of the Old Testament and available letters written by apostles.  Meanwhile, James 1:22-27 encourages individuals to become doers of the Word, practicing belief.  Sensing religion is worthless without applying what you believe, James urges his audience to care for orphans and widows.  The final level of faith is introduced by Jesus in the passage above.  If you know and believe, claiming God’s promises is the next logical step.  This spiritual exercise is accomplished through praying over passages of the Bible.  Depending upon what you are dealing with, modern technology can give you a verse in seconds with a click of a mouse, providing a powerful weapon.  Those who mature from knowing to believing and onto claiming may begin to experience untapped potential, taking Jesus at his word to bless those who believe.  I pray that these words inspire you to take your faith to the next level by claiming God’s promises in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Why Did This Happen?

Since the Las Vegas mass shooting at the Harvest Country Music Festival on the evening of October 1st, 2017, everyone in the media is asking why did this happen?  As investigators begin combing through physical evidence, this reason for this evil act is still unknown.  While a timeline is being recreated, it’s hard to logically explain how someone could violently gun down so many.  Perhaps, the Bible can shed some light behind the mindset of a murderer.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  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 4:6-7.

The first murder ever recorded occurs due to jealousy as a younger brother’s success becomes a motive for murder.  While Cain struggled to make ends meat as a farmer, God blessed Adam’s shepherding business.  When it came time to bring forth first fruits, similar to a modern day tithe, Abel had plenty to offer.  Meanwhile, Cain’s offering did not receive God’s favor.  As jealousy began to spread within his heart, the Lord confronts Cain in the passage above.

 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

When impure thoughts enter your mind, you have one of two choices.  You can listen to evil or take your thoughts captive by ruling over them.  This ongoing battle doesn’t take breaks so you may resist the first time, but as you grow tried and weary, individuals begin to give into temptation.  The passage above eludes to addiction as bad choices lead to a life style.  Once hooked on something, spirits often overwhelm weak souls.  In the case of Cain, once the idea of getting rid of the competition, his brother, it was only a matter of time.  Perhaps, Stephen Paddock allowed impure spirits to enter his body inspiring the murderous rampage he went on.  Although time will uncover more evidence, this blog gives a brief biblical explanation of why this tragic event happened.

by Jay Mankus

 

How Do You Make Money Last?

One of the most famous passages in the Bible pertaining to money is found in 2 Kings.  An apprentice of Elisha dies, leaving behind a widow and two sons in debt.  As creditors are eager to collect the overdue interest, this woman seeks out wisdom from the prophets.  Probably feeling foolish initially, she follows their directions, filling up jars of oil one at a time.  In fact based upon Elisha’s words, this oil would flow until she ran out of jars.  Although not money, the Lord supernaturally provided oil until her debts were paid off in full.

When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing, 2 Kings 4:6.

My grandmother possessed similar wisdom as an immigrant to this country.  A survivor of World War II, she displayed frugality to her children despite how strange it may appear to today.  First, she placed plastic over every couch, sofa and mattress to ensure it would last.  Second, each spring she planted a large garden on the side of the house to lessen the cost of groceries.  Finally, to avoid going into debt, she opted to walk to work rather than drive a car, finding a nursing position at a hospital in town.  Looking back, my grandmother was the queen of stretching money as far as it could go.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it, Malachi 3:10.

Today, the times may not be as bleak, yet expenses continue to mount.  Added necessities such as cell phone bills, cable, the internet and insurances tend to suck up monthly pay checks before you or a savings account has a chance to enjoy it.  Subsequently, budgets are created to promote discipline and good spending habits.  Yet, even this can’t make money last.  Beside finding the dream job or a position with ample pay, the answer lies in the principle of tithing.  Somehow and someway, as individuals begin to give back to God the first fruits He deserves, an unexplainable miracle occurs, God provides.  Whatever your financial situation may be, may God reveal to you storehouses in heaven as you fully tithe.

by Jay Mankus

My Two Cents

During my junior year of college, I once attended a local church in Newark, Delaware, in walking distance of the University of Delaware campus.  Up to this point, I had never experienced a pentecostal worship service.  Beside realizing I couldn’t keep a beat or stay on clap with the regular members, something unusual happened during the tithe.  I have heard of 2 different offerings occasionally, one for the church and another for missions or a needy family.  However, this church had the quickest counters I have ever seen, informing the pastor after the song, there wasn’t enough money collected.

Since I was a typically college student at the time, poor with a few singles and some change in my pocket, I passed on my first opportunity to give.  Moments later, the pastor began preaching on Malachi 3:6-10, so I obliged giving nearly half of what I had in my wallet.  Just when I thought the actual sermon would begin, this preacher began to shout, “yelling you have to give until it hurts,” like the widow in Mark 12:41-44, informing the ushers to make one more pass around the pews.  Although the message he was trying to communicate was clear, this pastor’s tone turned my roommates and I off, never stepping foot into that church again.

I believe tithing is like going to church, reading the Bible or praying.  If someone forces you to do any of these biblical principles, you may agree to do it, yet there is a void which exists within your heart.  When you take ownership of your faith, you want to go to church, read the Bible and pray.  Therefore, your heart is the key to giving, which led the widow to offer up her 2 copper coins worth a fraction of a modern penny in Mark 12.  For what it is worth, my two cents are give in secret, Matthew 6:3-4 and give back to others what God has bestowed upon you, Galatians 6:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

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