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Category Archives: Truth

Don’t Let Discouragement Keep You Out of the Game

Beside Christmas morning, my favorite day of the year as a child was Opening Day of Little League Baseball. The smell of freshly cut grass, dressing up in a brand new uniform and hearing my name called during the opening ceremonies inspired me to play baseball. When I finally reached the majors as a twelve year old, I was the lead off hitter and starting pitcher. After nearly homering on the first pitch of the season, I was left stranded at second base. After this hit, it was all down hill as I never made it out of the first inning. If ESPN was covering this 31-19 loss, the analyst’s would describe my pitching performance as “getting lite up and rocked.”

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:9.

This shocking result haunted me for a couple of years. Instead of fighting through adversity, I often took myself out of the game, losing confidence in my ability to pitch. The harder I threw, the further the ball flew, putting my head down on numerous occasions after giving up home runs to opposing batters. I went from standing tall on the mound to losing my love for this game. No one likes to lose and the more I did as a pitcher, I doubted that I would ever taste success again. Just prior to my only season of high school baseball, my 8th grade coach believed in me. Although the rest of our staff threw harder and were more talented, I had a better command of the strike zone. Thus, when I was named the opening day starting pitcher, I longed for redemption. This time I struck out the side in the first and pitched a complete game, earning the victory.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.

After watching episode 12 from Season 2 of Joan of Arcadia, I was inspired to write this blog. Joan was fighting her own battle with confidence. Following an embarrassing encounter with her guidance counselor, Joan was told she had no future at a four year college. This news caused Joan to lower her expectations, deciding to attend a trade school rather than apply to colleges. After meeting a tutor, receiving encouragement from her mother and support from a friend, Joan realized that she took herself out of the game of life. Discouragement kept Joan on the bench, afraid of another embarrassing setback. Using an uncanny gift for Rock, Paper, Scissors, Joan challenges two of the smartest students in school to this game. After easily defeating the first boy, Joan faces her brother Luke in a best of three duel. Despite losing in overtime, Joan realizes that it’s time to get back in the game. If you’re afraid of defeat, may this blog inspire you to face your fear of failure by getting back into the game of life.

by Jay Mankus

Confronting Your Phobias

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in cooperation with the American Psychiatric Association outlines several of the most common phobias. If you were wondering how many actual phobias exist on earth, there is no official list provided by the DSM. Phobias typically fall within one of five general categories: fear of animals, the natural environment, getting hurt or sick, specific situations like driving or flying and a generic non-related category referred to as others. Clinicians and researchers make up names for new phobias as the need arises by using Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes.

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.

My initial phobia was the fear of heights after visiting the Empire State Building as a children. After several bizarre encounters with snakes and spiders in high school, these two are now at the top of my list. Confronting poisonous snakes and spiders sounds illogical and stupid. Yet, at some point you have to face your fears by trusting in God. Like many things in life, this is easier said than done. Although I have confronted by fear of heights, I still feel uncomfortable looking out the window of a tall building. Nightmares often hinder one’s ability to confront your own phobias. Just like the scene in Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford complains, “Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?”

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

In an episode of Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn is asked by God to join the diving team. After a verbal beat down from his girl friend Grace about never taking am uncalculated risk in life, Joan’s brother Luke played by Michael Welch also tries out for the team. Like two fish out of water, neither have the talent to actually make the team, but will they conquer their phobias? This season 2 episode challenged me to examine my own life. Have I stopped taking risks in life? Am I afraid of what others may think instead of doing the right thing? In this age of the Cancel Culture, common sense must be balanced with conviction. However, if you want to confront and conquer your phobias, faith is essential to achieve success.

by Jay Mankus

Juggling Your Way Through Life

The oldest known depiction of juggling was discovered in the Beni-Hassan tombs. Images of woman juggling were found among acrobats and dancers on a crypt wall that dates back to the middle-kingdom of ancient Egypt. The modern word for juggling was derived from the English term jogelin. This refers to entertaining others by performing tricks. Contemporary jugglers have perfected this physical skill by throwing objects in the air, catching them and throwing them back up.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls, Matthew 11:28-29.

After watching an episode of Joan of Arcadia that features juggling, today’s blog was conceived. Although the Season 2 Episode 8 is entitled Friday Night, Judith persuades Joan to use juggling as a Physics project. During this show, Joan meets a man who shares a parable. A man who weighs 190 has to carry three 10 pounds boxes over a bridge. The only problem is that this foot bridge has a maximum weight capacity of 200 pounds. The only way this man could make it across in one try was by juggling these 3 boxes.

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne, Matthew 11:30.

Using a story line from this episode, life has a way of throwing many things at you. Sometimes unexpected trials come in bunches, overwhelming souls with multiple burdens. Unless you have a friend to share this load, pain and weight, individuals are forced to juggle what they can. If you are alone, the weight of circumstances, ordeals and situations can suck the life out of you. When you reach this point or stage in life, you need to learn how to unload unexpected burdens. In the passages above, Jesus provides a blueprint to release these burdens as a form of prayer. When anxieties, concerns and worries don’t go away, keep juggling.

by Jay Mankus

Drawn in Diverging Directions

Diverging refers to following a different direction or path. Whenever you make a decision to diverge, you want to become different, going against the flow. In this Progressive Age, those who diverge should be celebrated for being interested in new ideas, findings and opportunities. Unfortunately, backlash from the Cancel Culture Movement is using political correctness, progressive ideology and social justice to shame individuals who deviate from the norm.

My desire is to have you free from all anxiety and distressing care. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord; 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly matters—how he may please his wife—1 Corinthians 7:32-33

The apostle Paul introduces the concept of spiritual divergence in a letter to the church at Corinth. While trying to explain his perspective as a single man, Paul points to friends who were drawn in diverging directions. If you understand the concept of happy wife, happy life, spouses feel compelled to please their soul mates. Based upon Paul’s own encounters with married Christian brothers, devotion to God often slips as wives become a greater priority than the Lord.

And he is drawn in diverging directions [his interests are divided and he is distracted from his devotion to God]. And the unmarried woman or girl is concerned and anxious about the matters of the Lord, how to be wholly separated and set apart in body and spirit; but the married woman has her cares [centered] in earthly affairs—how she may please her husband, 1 Corinthians 7:34.

Whether you are single, married or recently divorced, everyone experiences cycles. Periods where you draw close to God and years when you drift apart. Days. weeks and months when you are disciplined and focused on seizing the moment only to fall back into bad habits, drawn back into diverging directions. This is where maintaining a healthy balance comes into play between work and recreation. As long as free will exists, people will continue to be drawn in diverging directions. As you diverge, make sure that you don’t stray too far from home.

by Jay Mankus

The Royalty of Loyalty

What is royalty? Is it diplomats, heads of state, or members of the royal family in England? While royalties are a sum of money paid to authors, composers and real estate agents, royalty is designated specifically for people of royal blood or descent. In the Old Testament, Jonathon was the son of King Saul, Israel’s first king. If his father didn’t deviate from God’s commands, Jonathon would have been next in line to become king.

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life. Saul took David that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life, 1 Samuel 18:1-3.

Meanwhile, loyalty are actions that naturally flow out of one’s character. These attributes are highlighted by allegiance, devotion, dependability and faithfulness. Rarely, does an individual possess both royalty and loyalty. However, in the case of Jonathon, he cared more about protecting his best friend’s life than becoming Israel’s second king. As soon as Jonathon saw that David was a man after God’s own heart, they developed a strong bond.

But on the morrow, the second day after the new moon, David’s place was empty; and Saul said to Jonathan his son, Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today? 28 And Jonathan answered, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, Let me go, I pray, for our family holds a sacrifice in the city and my brother commanded me to be there. Now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers. That is why he has not come to the king’s table, 1 Samuel 20:27-29.

When King Saul became consumed with jealousy, he sought take David’s life. This tested Jonathon’s loyalty, serving as a mediator to protect and stand up for his friend. Unfortunately, Saul was so blinded by his hatred of David that he lost the ability to be reasonable. Despite this rising tension within the royal family, Jonathon never forgot about the covenant he made with David. This display of love makes Jonathon the royalty of loyalty.

by Jay Mankus

Conjugal Rights

From time to time, I will come across foreign concepts when I study the Bible. While studying a chapter written by the apostle Paul, one translation uses the term conjugal rights. Conjugal refers to marriage and the relationship of a married couple. The rights in this context applies to sexual relations, regarded as exercisable in law by each partner in the covenant of marriage. According to the beginning of chapter 7, the Corinthian Church wrote Paul a letter wanting to know what Christian’s should believe about relationships, remaining single and marriage.

But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights (goodwill, kindness, and what is due her as his wife), and likewise the wife to her husband, 1 Corinthians 7:2-3.

While this chapter in the Bible isn’t R rated like the Song of Solomon, Paul does go into graphic details. Conjugal rights includes goodness, kindness and loving spouses as Christ loved the church. This final call to love serves two purposes. The first is designed to live out your faith when you are with your soul mate. The second is a safe guard against controlling your spouse by using sex as a form of manipulation. Paul reminds couples that partners don’t have exclusive authority over their mate’s body. Rather, part of making vows to become one includes marital rights.

For the wife does not have [exclusive] authority and control over her own body, but the husband [has his rights]; likewise also the husband does not have [exclusive] authority and control over his body, but the wife [has her rights]. Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire, 1 Corinthians 7:4-5.

While there may be exceptions to abstaining from sex for a mutually agreed upon time, Paul is clear about the dangers. When a communication gap occurs, often due to anger, Ephesians 4:26-27, the Devil has a way of ruining relationships. When you add this factor to a growing number of Christians addicted to pornography, temptation is awaiting and lurking around every corner of the internet, social media and television. In view of this dark reality, offering your spouse conjugal and marital rights is essential to save the institution of marriage in America.

by Jay Mankus

Running Toward Your God

An Old Testament prophet referred to human hearts as deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17:9. Perhaps, this explains the reactions by members of the Israeli army upon seeing a 9 feet 6 inch Philistine. Seeing the fear in their eyes, Goliath became bolder each day, challenging anyone to a duel as Jewish soldiers continued to withdraw from the front line in fear. Following in the footsteps of Jonah, Israeli solders ran in the complete opposite direction of their enemy, Jonah 1:3-4.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid, 1 Samuel 17:8-11.

Instead of sending a violent tempest in the case of Jonah, God sent a lowly shepherd boy. David was sent by his father to bring food to his brothers, listening to war stories. When David heard about the reward being offered by King Saul for anyone willing to fight a giant named Goliath, his mood changed. Apparently, his oldest brother Eliab confronted David, suggesting this was a ploy by his little brother to gain attention. After a brief spat, David turned away, trying to receive confirmation about Saul’s reward.

David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. 33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth. 34 And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep. And when there came a lion or again a bear and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and smote it and delivered the lamb out of its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and smote it and killed it. 36 Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God! – 1 Samuel 17:32-36.

According to the passage above, King Saul didn’t take David serious either. Like an unwanted tiny mouse, Saul attempted to shoe David away, not wanting to waste his time on a little kid who didn’t stand a chance. Determined to state his case, David persuades the king with his previous encounters fighting off bears and lions. The secret to David’s success was running toward God instead of fleeing in fear. While every Israeli soldier focused on the strength of a giant, David put his faith in the power of God. The next time you face adversity, run toward God with an expecting heart.

by Jay Mankus

The Blessing of a Busted Nest

A nest represents home to newly hatched baby birds. Within this enclosed area, mothers and fathers display  love, commitment, and effort to raise their young. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points to how his heavenly Father provides for the birds of the air, Matthew 6:26. However, from time to time, gusts of wind will cause an egg to fall to the ground or relocate a nest from it’s original branch. These unforeseen events force adult birds to adjust, regroup, and start over.

Then I said, I shall die in or beside my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. 19 My root is spread out and open to the waters, and the dew lies all night upon my branch, Job 29:18-19.

Job’s nest was busted up early in his book of the Bible. According to the first 2 chapters, Job’s life is plagued by a series of trials. Like a tsunami wave that continues to rise higher and higher, Job lost his possessions, children and his health. The passage above suggests that Job became complacent, ready to retire and play it safe the rest of his earthly life. God had different plans by busting up Job’s nest. The more you lose in life, the hopeless are drawn back to God, leaning on the Lord until the storms of life subside.

He found him in a desert land, in the howling void of the wilderness; He kept circling around him, He scanned him [penetratingly], He kept him as the pupil of His eye. 11 As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions. 12 So the Lord alone led him; there was no foreign god with Him, Deuteronomy 32:10-12.

During the initial stages of the Coronavirus, I was fortunate to have my position considered to be an essential job. With many of my co-workers afraid of contracting COVID-19, voluntary over time has been offered every week since March. These circumstances have led to ideal conditions for earning money. Just as I began to accumulate wealth, the Lord allowed a storm to bust up the front of my home, causing more than $3000 of damage. While paying for the repairs has been a hassle, this unexpected storm has put life into perspective. My faith and trust needs to be in Christ alone.

by Jay Mankus

Surviving These Days of Uncertainty

Everyone has a tipping point. This occurs when an evolving situation leads to a critical point, resulting in a new and irreversible development. Human beings can only handle so much until feelings boil over and erupt. For the African American community, the death of George Floyd ignited raw emotions that no longer could be kept within. One month later, tensions continue to be volatile as some peaceful protests have turned cities across the United States into riot zones.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you], John 16:33.

When I look to the Bible to find answers for my concerns, Jesus has a way of providing comfort. While talking to his disciples about the future, Jesus refers to the fate of his followers. Instead of painting a rosy picture of a blessed and happy ending, life is filled with distress, frustrations and trials. If you want to survive these days of uncertainty, Jesus encourages individuals to be courageous and undaunted. Before completing his comments, Jesus reminds his disciples that He has overcome the world.

[Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection. Others were tortured to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life. 36 Others had to suffer the trial of mocking and scourging and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated—Hebrews 11:35-37.

The author of Hebrews takes Jesus’ words to the next level. The context of the passage above is at the end of a chapter known as the Hall of Faith. Instead of naming every worthy member of this spiritual family, the author highlights the cost of faith. Rather than bow down to the world in an attempt to be accepted and fit in, these saints were willing to die for their beliefs and convictions. When the Marxist’s mob run out of statues to topple, recent reports suggest that historic churches may be next on their list. If your house of worship is targeted, what are you going to do? May God help us all to get through these days of uncertainty with wisdom.

by Jay Mankus

More Than a Phoenix Rising

In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a bird that cyclically regenerates. This regeneration process is similar to the Christian concept of becoming born again. To rise like a phoenix is symbolic of overcoming adversity. When a phoenix rose from the ashes, this new bird emerges stronger, smarter and more powerful than before it’s death. Thus, when an individual makes a spiritual decision to die to self, 2 Corinthians 5:21, this resurrection is greater than a Phoenix rising.

But now if Christ (the Messiah) is preached as raised from the dead, how is it that some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen; 1 Corinthians 15:12-13,

Without the resurrection, the Christian church would merely be a club or group living in denial. The Roman’s feared accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so much that soldier’s were bribed with a large sum of money to spread fake news, Matthew 28:11-13. This lie became widely accepted as rumors spread like an out of control wildfire claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, his disciples merely came and stole his body. Recognizing that many still believed this theory, Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to the resurrection of the death using Jesus as his inspiration.

14 And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain [it amounts to nothing] and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded).15 We are even discovered to be misrepresenting God, for we testified of Him that He raised Christ, Whom He did not raise in case it is true that the dead are not raised, 1 Corinthians 15:14-15.

While doing research for this blog I discovered that Phoenix Rising is the name of a charity that supports people who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a disabling disease that affects multiple body systems which often results in a post-exertional malaise. As a Christian, there are many days that I wake up without any energy. Just as Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “the Spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” this struggle still exists today. When you start to lose this battle, the power of the Holy Spirit is needed to rise from the ashes of defeat to a higher spiritual state, more than a Phoenix rising.

by Jay Mankus

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