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Tag Archives: afraid

When Fear Causes Your Dreams to Begin to Sink

When you are young, minds aren’t afraid to dream big.  Summit Ministries refers to this as BHAG’s, short for big hairy audacious goals.  Innocent minds don’t think of common obstacles that stand in the way of adults.  Rather, a child like faith exists which sets the stage for great things in the future.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus, Matthew 14:27-29.

Unfortunately, at some point in life, doubt creeps into confident individuals.  Such is the case of Peter, a bold disciple not afraid to take chances.  Thus, when Jesus asked him to join him on the water, Peter jumped at this opportunity.  Initially, Peter was defying gravity as he was actually walking on water just like Jesus.  Then, a gust of wind caught Peter by surprise.  This act of nature led to a chain of events as fear caused Peter to begin to sink into the middle of the lake.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:30-31

This story is symbolic of people who allow fear to interfere with accomplishing their dreams in life.  Determination, focus and vision enable individuals to get off to a good start in life.  Yet, at some point we take our eyes off of Jesus.  The moment this occurs people begin to think about the reasons why you can’t fulfills dreams and goals.  The next time this doubt creeps into your mind, shift your attention toward the power of God so that fear doesn’t cause your dreams to sink.

by Jay Mankus

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Don’t You Have a Better Excuse Than That

Getting caught in a lie can be embarrassing.  Thus, as the truth draws near, human nature influences individuals to begin using excuses to justify inappropriate actions.  During a recent interview with the FBI, Reality Winner blamed Fox News for why see smuggled a classified report from a NSA government facility.  Upon hearing this my initial thought was, “don’t you have a better excuse than that?”

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? – Exodus 4:10-11

Reality is not the only have to come up with a lame excuse.  When asked to become the voice for Israel to confront Pharaoh, Moses becomes afraid.  Instead of recalling God speaking to him through a burning bush moments earlier, Moses uses stuttering as a crutch to avoid God’s request.  In the exchange above, God appears to become upset, pointing to his power as creator.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come,’ Luke 14:18-20.

While there will always be excuses in life, but at some point people need to grow up.  When you are given authority at church, school or work, responsibilities should not be taken lightly.  Rather, when asked, encouraged or offered an opportunity to serve, rely on the Lord’s strength for these endeavors.  If you don’t, you will be tempted to come up with a reason why you didn’t instead of sticking things out until God’s calling has been completed.

by Jay Mankus

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

Learning to Let Go of Those Things You Can’t Control

I spent a couple of hours in and out of waiting rooms on Friday, waiting to hear what the tests on my eyes revealed.  Like a prophet, I overheard a Christian woman provide some profound advice.  Chatting with a woman next to her, she replied, “I’ve learned you have to let go of those things you can’t control.”

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4

Almost an hour later, I was prepared for the bad news that I received.  While various medical terms spoken were foreign to me, I was told eye surgery was imminent.  The doctors advice was the sooner was better, causing my mind to race about how this will change my life.  Yet, as the woman in the waiting room professed, you can’t worry about things beyond your control.

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.

One of Jesus’ disciples shines some light on this topic.  Whenever faced with something beyond your control, fear is a common response.  However, the cure to overcoming this is the perfect love found in Jesus Christ.  As I cope with what awaits me in the next few weeks, I can’t say I am confident.  Nonetheless, my hope lies in Christ alone as I trust God’s providence to oversee that which I can’t control.

by Jay Mankus

 

Putting in Order What was Left Unfinished

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If you own a home or like to work on cars, you probably have some type of project that you haven’t gotten to.  Sometimes time is the issue.  Yet, other aspirations remain unfinished due to hidden problems, a lack of resources and technical difficulties.  Thus, situations will arise when you will have to rely on others to get the job done.

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you, Titus 1:5.

Unfortunately, some people tend to be Lone Rangers, enjoying the freedom of doing things their own way.  Meanwhile, others allow pride to get in the way, afraid, ashamed or too proud to ask for help.  The end result often leads to abandoned dreams, clutter and countless unfinished projects rusting away in attics, garages and sheds.

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you,” Ephesians 5:14.

When the raw emotions of being overwhelmed fade, its time to snap yourself out of it.  You might have to wait longer than you planned, but Jesus is waiting for you to call upon his name.  Therefore, don’t get bogged down by the mountain of unfinished work waiting for you to tackle.  Rather, pray that the Holy Spirit will send someone or something to help you complete that which is left unfinished.

by Jay Mankus

 

Back Seat Drivers Afraid to Take the Wheel

In the earliest models of automobiles, the speedometer was located in the back seat. In this environment, the driver could not see exactly how fast they were traveling. Therefore, whenever someone in back sensed a degree of carelessness or recklessness, commands to slow down were conceived. Thus, the phrase back seat drivers was born.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” – Luke 17:5

A century later, this term has evolved into various forms. In sports, these individuals are called Monday morning quarterbacks, second guessing what coaches, players and stars could have done which to turn a loss into a victory. In the lyrics of their song Back Seat Drivers, the Fold refer to a different concept. This analogy concentrates on people who tell you have to live, but are afraid to take the wheel.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

This is where faith enters the equation, trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead you in the right direction. Sure, there will be critics, especially when you make the wrong decision, missing out on blessings from God. Yet, sometimes you have to learn from previous failures so you know where to turn. Therefore, don’t be afraid to let Jesus take the wheel as those who have begun this journey often experience the ride of their life. May the Lord give you the courage to let go and let God lead the way.

by Jay Mankus

How Relevant are You?

I spent the majority of my years as a student in obscurity, afraid my stuttering would embarrass me in some way.  It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I began to become relevant, serving on student council, volunteering to help build the class float for homecoming and reaching out to individuals throughout the school.  Whether popularity makes you relevant or not, I came into my own as a human being, with the highlight turning my parents basement into a nightclub for one Christmas evening during my freshmen year of college.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? – James 2:14

In the years that followed, inconsistency is the best term that describes my life.  I had my moments in the spot light, playing sand volleyball at Geauga Lake in its hey day, serving as a journalist for Travel Golf Media and store manager of Michael Jordan Golf at O’Hare International Airport.  However, I consider these personal accomplishments, not something that makes you relevant.  The best way to explain relevance is by quoting Larry the Cable Guy, ” get ur done!”  Yet, what if you invest your time and energy into things that are trivial?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead, James 2:17.

From an eternal perspective, my most relevant year was 1993.  I spent the first portion at a youth ministry trade school called Tentmaker’s, fine tuning my spiritual gifts.  The next three months involved applying this new found knowledge as a counselor and teacher at a boarding school for career underachieving junior high students.  The final six months of 93 were my finest, serving as a youth pastor in Columbus, Indiana.  These days were the epitome of relevance, meeting my wife to be in the final month of this year.  Yet, for now, I struggle to find relevance, distracted by the stress of life.  Although its nice to reminisce from time to time, its never to late to become relevant again.  May we all strive to find our place in this world so that our deeds, faith and work will not be done in vain.

by Jay Mankus

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