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Tag Archives: Worship

Something Greater Than the Temple

Traditions play an important role in life.  Religious traditions passed on by parents influence what you believe, especially early on in life.  During the first century, Pharisees displayed a holy reverence for Solomon’s Temple.  This passion for a physical place to worship the Lord soon became a stumbling block, limiting God’s power in their lives.  Subsequently, during one encounter with religious leaders Jesus refers to something greater than the temple.

 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here, Matthew 12:6.

Today’s Roman Catholic Church shares some of the practices of Judaism.  Modern priests play a similar role as great high priests in the Old Testament.  However, instead of sacrificing animals to forgive sins, confessionals are used to hear and forgive the sins of their congregation.  While there is a movement to encourage members to read and study the Bible on their own, traditions of the past have stunted spiritual growth.  Thus, the concept of a place greater than the temple is still foreign to many.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

The apostle Paul understood what Jesus meant by something greater than the temple.  Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, an earthquake destroyed the temple that the Jews held in high esteem.  This event opened the door for a transformation to occur, from the temple into your own heart, Romans 10:9-10.  Thus, using a priest as a mediator between God and man was no longer necessary.  Instead, followers of God need to view their bodies as a living temple of the Holy Spirit.  When modern believers make this connection, the human heart becomes greater than the temple.

by Jay Mankus

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Elevation or Heresy?

In this age of Progressivism, bizarre news stories once thought to be a joke are now becoming reality.  Such is the case of a new church in Denver, Colorado known as the International Church of Cannabis.  According to a recent interview with the pastor by Jesse Watters, this church uses marijuana as a Holy Sacrament to reach a new level of faith.  Is this new practice a form of elevation or merely heresy?

Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things, Proverbs 23:33.

The context of the passage above refers to drinking too much vine.  The consequence of doing such a thing can result in hallucinations.  If you pass by liquor stores in your community, you might see the words Wine and Spirits.  The spirit part eludes to the passage above.  Since alcohol is a drug, cannabis produces a similar state.  The question is does God want his worshippers to experience this high in church?

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble, Romans 14:21.

During a private conversation with his disciples within Matthew 18:1-6, Jesus warns his leaders about causing children to stumble by following in the footsteps of your own sin.  According to the son of God, it would be better to have this person tied to chains and thrown into the sea to die alone.  Thus, the apostle Paul makes sure no one in the first century forgets about this teaching.  Sure, the idea of cannabis as a Holy Sacrament sounds enticing, but using a drug in any form of worship service is simply heresy.

by Jay Mankus

 

An Infusion of Worship

Following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, I’ve been consumed with depression.  Anyone trying to keep up with this story has been bombarded with a media frenzy.  Cable news stopped normal programming to air hourly updates, carry eyewitness reports and talk to panelists about their professional opinions.  The more I listened and watched, the worse I felt.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth, John 4:24.

After experiencing a few days of media silence this week, attempting to remove the negativity from my life, a thought came to my mind.  The Bible suggests that human beings were created to worship God.  When individuals drift off course away from this divine purpose, meaning and purpose for life fades.  Thus, those who reach this point like me need an infusion of worship to revive your soul.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship, Romans 12:1.

Yesterday, I replaced the radio with Christian music from my car stereo.  As soon as a few inspirational songs came on, my mood was transformed.  Instead of arguing with talk radio callers and the host, my mind was swayed by the lyrics I began singing along to.  This spiritual infusion gave me the boost I needed to make it through the day.  However, this shouldn’t be a once in a while practice.  Rather, if you want experience a permanent infusion of worship, set aside time daily for worship by offering your body up as a living sacrifice.

by Jay Mankus

Becoming Vulnerable Again

Ten years ago I was at a good place in my life.  At this time, I felt like I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.  I was in the prime of my teaching career, mentoring students on and off the golf course as a coach and serving on the board of my church as an elder.  Then, a series of trials left deep wounds to my soul.  When the dust settled, I lost my job, several friendships and the desire to become vulnerable.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

Whenever I endure hardship, it becomes difficult for me to allow strangers back into my life.  Whether this is a defense mechanism, fear of being disappointed again or signs of depression, I tend to withdraw.  Part of me is jaded, hesitant to invest time and energy without knowing what the future holds.  Yet after years of being in some sort of spiritual fog, a moving worship experience a few Sunday’s ago has led me to realize it’s time to open up.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

During one of these songs, I had a vision of clay being molded and fashioned by a potter.  This imagery was a subtle reminder of God’s nature as a heavenly Potter.  All of my heartache over the last decade is symbolic of the imperfections within clay.  If I can only trust God while I go through the furnace called life, I will become whole.  May the message that I am learning inspire others to become vulnerable to others again.

by Jay Mankus

When the Spirit Left the Church

Most seminaries and theological institutions make a distinction between the Holy Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost from that which exists today.  Based upon the amount of healings, miracles and spiritual revivals that takes place in the book of Acts, scholars refer to this time period as a special anointing.  Sometime after A.D. 300, the Holy Spirit experienced by apostles and disciples left the church.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them, Acts 2:4.

The answer for why the Holy Spirit vanished from the face of the earth can be attributed to the influence and reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.  Prior to his conversion early in the third century, the Christian church was led by apostles, elders and laymen.  Despite increasing Roman persecution, faith flourished until some of Constantine’s edicts went into law.  One decree banned home churches from meeting.  Instead congregations could only meet in worship centers built by Constantine.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness, 2 Peter 1:3.

In an attempt to Christianize the world, Constantine tied pagan holidays and symbols to Christian celebrations.  While his motives likely had good intentions, this decision perverted and tainted sound theological doctrine.  Subsequently, ungodly beliefs that developed and those formed stunted the power of the Holy Spirit.  The presence of healings, miracles and radical transformation slowly faded from existence in the years following A.D. 300.  Despite these facts, the Bible talks about a pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the last days.  Although the Holy Spirit left the church initially, it doesn’t mean a spirit of revival can’t return.  May the Lord hear the prayers of the saints by bringing back the Spirit of Pentecost.

by Jay Mankus

You’re Fired

In view of the increasing violence across the country and throughout the world, this old punch line by Donald Trump at the end of each Apprentice episode is no longer something to laugh at.  While hard working men and women have likely experienced the pain of losing a job, life is too fragile to be ended by a bullet,  Yet, as music videos, television dramas and violent video games desensitize life through countless depictions of murder, the value of human life is eroding.

But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up,” Daniel 3:12.

One of the byproducts of today’s warped mentality on life involves a lack of conviction and principles to life by.  While most civilizations experience cycles where morals rise and fall, few people demonstrate the commitment to put their faith on the line.  During the Jewish captivity by the Babylonians in the Old Testament, three men refused to worship a foreign god.  Drawing a line in  the sand, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to die rather than break one of the ten commandments.  The penalty for such an offense was fire.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up,” Daniel 3:17-18.

These three men weren’t fired by the king.  They were all on fire for God, willing to put their faith on the line, risking death over compromise.  Not many people would do the same today.  Recently, armed men with machine guns stormed a church in a country where Christianity is illegal.  Raising his voice, the leader demanded all the true believers to walk up to the altar.  Only a few rose to their feet,  “Is that it, anyone else?”  No one else stood.  “Okay everyone else can leave,” as the timid ran out of this place of worship.  Moments later instead of gun shots, the leader proclaimed, “now that all the true believers are here, let’s worship the Lord!”  May this experience inspire others to become fired up for Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Where’s the Meat?

In 1984 the Wendy’s Fast Food Chain introduced one of the most memorable advertising slogans of my time, “where’s the beef?”  Actress Clara Peller receives a small burger on a large bun which sets the stage for this classic line.  This commercial convinced customers for a period of time that you had to go to Wendy’s to enjoy a beefy hamburger.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil, Hebrews 5:14.

In spiritual houses of worship, there is a similar question asked by hungry souls, “where’s the meat?”  Due to a movement toward entertaining church services, there appears to be more fluff and less detailed teaching.  Thus, many believers are struggling to grow, lacking challenging sermons filled with spiritual meat.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” Matthew 9:12.

During a conversation among disciples and Pharisees, Jesus makes an assumption about spiritual growth.  Sooner or later, the spiritually mature must grow up by learning to take care of their own faith.  When you reach this stage in life, you can feed yourself through times of Bible Study, fellowship with other believers and prayer.  As you develop healthy spiritual disciplines, you can find the meat, godly principles, within the Bible daily.

by Jay Mankus