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Who is There to Hurt You?

While anxiety is less intense than fear, stress tends to be a more sustained emotional response than phobias. Although human beings may be threatened by overreaching and power-hungry individuals, inner demons are often your own worst enemy. Anyone who has ever experienced an anxiety attack, know the overwhelming feeling you endure and how it can interfere with your daily life.

Now who is there to hurt you if you are [d]zealous followers of that which is good? – 1 Peter 3:13

Since my days at Hanby Junior High School in Wilmington, Delaware, I’ve turned to music to find comfort and hope. Whenever I was sad, I’d listen to Air Supply or Chicago which made me even more depressed. Perhaps this empty feeling eventually drew me to only listen to Christian music. While in college, a friend introduced me to punk rock and a group called the Altar Boys. The emptiness I once experienced was replaced by a quiet confidence thanks to the song “When I’m with God.”

But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, to be envied). Do not dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition], 1 Peter 3:14.

No matter how big, tall or old you may be, there is always someone faster, stronger and smarter. Despite all of the new threats that you may experience, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ has eased many of my anxieties in life. Like the words of one of Jesus’ disciples in the passage above, who is there to hurt you if you are passionately following the Lord? No one likes hardships, persecution or trials, but when I’m with God my fears tend to fade away. Place your hope in Jesus today, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Songs to Get You Through the Storms in Life

When radio was in it’s prime, I spent summer days as a teenager hanging out on my back deck with friends listening to music.  Except for all request lunch hours, you could guess which dozens songs were played on an hourly loop until the next set of singles were released.  The only thing comparable from this era that remains today is Delilah Radio.  One of the few DJ’s to survive advances in technology, Delilah’s nightly show plays songs to get it’s listeners through the storms of life.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Like the various genres that exist, my tastes in music has evolved over time.  Early on, I turned to songs from Air Supply, Chicago and REO Speedwagon to get me through trying times.  Unfortunately, some of these songs made me more depressed, especially ballads by Chicago.  Thus, I began searching for something more meaningful.  Lyrics with encouraging, positive and uplifting messages.  My good friend Mindy introduced me to a new sound, inviting me to my first Christian concert.  My swim coach Ken Horne who also served as the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s school huddle leader, furthered my knowledge of this brand of wholesome music.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27

These two individual inspired a life long quest to uncover hidden gems.  This lead me to discover a huge Christian warehouse where I could listen to music before buying it.  Meanwhile, Jackie, the former owner of the Sonshine House was my guide to find my favorite songs played a new local Christian station.  When I didn’t have anyone to ask, I developed a successful system based upon album covers.  Those artists who spent a little extra money on design and graphics usually produced solid tunes.  Sure, I bought plenty of duds void of any decent songs, yet I pressed on to share my passion with others.

Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him., 1 Samuel 16:23.
On this journey, I came across Christians who practiced legalism, referring to any secular form of music as being inspired by the Devil.  Years later I read a quote from Wes King in an article on the difference between Christian and secular music.  King’s opinion struck a cord with me that I have adopted.  “There are two types of music, that which glorifies God and those that glorify self.”  Depending upon your preference, you need to make sure you don’t get caught up judging the opposing side.  Rather, it’s best to seek and tell others about those songs which help you overcome the storms in life.  Below is a list of artists and topics that have helped me endure various hardships in life.
Crying Out for Help: Breathe on Me by Jennifer Knapp
Coping with Suicide: For Annie by Petra
Finding Answers: Is There Anybody Out There by Secondhand Serenade
Finding New Life: The Lost Get Found (remix) by Britt Nicole
God’s Presence: Hold On by Stellar Kart
Holding on to Hope: The Anchor Holds by Ray Boltz
Loneliness: He Won’t Let You Go by The Kry
Long Distance Friendships: Somewhere Somehow by Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith
Overcoming Addiction: Pull by Curious Fools
Perseverance: For Those Who Wait by Firefight
Starting Over: A Father’s Love by Billy Crockett
Seeking Forgiveness: When God Ran by Benny Hester
Starting Over: Back to the Start by Esterlyn
Struggling with Integrity: Get it Right by Silverline
Struggling with Problems in Life: Therapy by Reliant K
The Fullness of God: The Love of Christ by Wes King
Overcoming Failure: Perfect Love by David & the Giants
Overcoming Self-Esteem Issue: Mirror by Barlow Girl
When You’re About to Quit: Six Candles by FM Static
When You’re Losing Faith: Faith Like That by Jonah 33
by Jay Mankus

Theories about Falling Apart

I grew up in the soft rock era as nearly every album contained a minimum of one ballet per side.  During the 1980’s, radio stations played the same 12-15 songs in a loop.  Except for all request lunch hours or evenings with Delilah, individuals waited in their cars, on their deck or listening to a stereo as depicted in Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do.  Groups like Air Supply sang about being lost without their significant other in All Out of Love.  However, when it comes to theories about falling apart, no one compares to the band Chicago.  While I loved their music, their songs are filled with break up lyrics, trying to recover from one broken relationship after another.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me, John 15:4.

Canadian Rock band Thousand Foot Krutch continues to expand upon theories about falling apart.  In their video of the song Falls Apart, TFK uses ropes like strings on a puppet.  The lyrics suggest that everything falls apart when they walk away from their girl.  However, beyond the obvious is a spiritual message.  Whenever a person of faith walks away from God, their life begins to slowly fall apart.  Like Bette Midler’s famous song, the Lord is the Wind Beneath Our Wings.  Thus, any type of absence, departure or period of prodigal journey will weaken the human soul.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

In a private meeting with his disciples, Jesus gives one final theory about falling apart.  The Lord compares himself to a vine, the source of life.  God plays the role of a gardener, pruning those areas of life that are unproductive.  By staying connected through Bible Study, prayer and worship, spiritual nourishment is provided.  However, the moment you become disconnected, removing God from the equation, emptiness replaces the Giver of Life.  Therefore, if you feel like you’re on the verge of falling apart, tap into a higher power to rejuvenate a thirsty soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Empty

Air Supply, a popular soft rock group from Australia was in its prime during the 1980’s.  One of Air Supply’s greatest albums, Love in Love featured three classic songs which made the top 100 billboard charts.  The highest, All Out Of Love, reached number two in the early 1980’s.  After reading through the lyrics, this song refers to an individual who is tapped out, unable to muster the strength necessary to love.  Essentially, this soul is empty.

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things, Isaiah 45:7.

This week I attended a Wilmington Blue Rocks game, a local Class A minor league affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.  My sister’s company usually rents out one of the boxes or suites so I enjoy spending the night with family.  However, on this particular night the ballpark was empty.  While the full capacity is over 2000, there might have been two hundred people sitting in the stands.  Normally, the heat of summer would be an excuse, except it was 80 degrees with little to no humidity.  Either people are too busy, don’t have the extra money to spend or are simply empty, losing their love for America’s summer pastime.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

Baseball is not the only thing in life people have grown cold toward.  The stress to provide for your family, struggle to fit in and the worries of each day can suck the life out of individuals.  Thus, people like me endure periods of feeling numb.  Though psychologists may call this depression, I think sometimes in life, people need to sort things out on their own.  When the malaise ends, you can snap out of it.  However, don’t be surprised when someone you love is quiet for a while until emptiness is replaced by joy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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