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World Mental Health Day

This year’s day to recognize global mental health is Thursday October 10th. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 as an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health. More than 150 countries take part is this day to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. Leaders in Australia feel so strongly about this issue that an entire week is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Unfortunately, most of the curriculum, education and programs will steer clear of biblical principles. Yet, this provides me an open door to examine what the Bible has to say about mental health. The apostle Paul claims the biggest obstacle to achieving a mind at peace is fleshly desires which crave instant gratification. This internal force must be brought under control and tamed by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word [the message, the basis] of faith which we preach— because if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation, Romans 10:8-10.

According to C.S. Lewis, the Holy Spirit is only accessible to those who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Mere Christianity details Cardinal and Theological Virtues. Cardinal virtues include prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. These traits are available to everyone who strides to obtain mental health. Yet, access to the Theological virtues of charity, hope and faith is limited to active believers in Jesus. Therefore, if you want to truly celebrate mental health, embrace Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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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

 

Where God’s Calling is Clearest

Skeptics will tend to agree with the words of 1 Samuel 3:1, “in those days the word of the Lord was rare.”  If these conditions exist today, how can someone discern or know if it is actually God’s voice calling out?  History provides 5 examples where God’s calling  is clearest.

1. In the Temple of the Lord, 1 Samuel 3:1-18.

Although just a boy, Samuel was raised in the temple.  Since his mentor was a priest, Samuel learned how to approach God, yet had never heard his voice.  On one ordinary night, Eli the priest introduced Samuel to the voice of the Lord.

2. Reading the Word of the Lord, 2 Kings 22:11-13.

Often, God is the first thing people cut from a busy schedule, allowing their Bible to collect dust on a shelf.  Time away from this book slowly reveals a shift in one’s actions, behavior and words.  After hidden for several years, Josiah finds a copy of the Old Testament hidden in a closet.  Astonished by the words he is reading, the king of Judea is moved by God to repent for the sins of his nation.

3. Retreating to a Remote Location, Mark 1:35-39 & 1 Kings 19:9-13.

To flee distractions and interruptions, Jesus regularly began his day in solitude, talking to God the Father.  This enabled the son of God to go where the Lord wanted Him daily.  Meanwhile, most retreat destinations are located in mountains or valleys, isolated from the hectic pace of life.  This atmosphere opens the door to listen for God’s still small voice.

4. Fasting and Worship, Nehemiah 1:4-11 & Acts 13:1-4.

Fasting is the practice of going without food for a set period to seek God’s will in a specific matter.  When you add worship to this equation, the Holy Spirit often opens up doors that were previous locked.  During a worship service, Paul and Barnabas each sensed a clear calling to become missionaries, sharing the good news of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

5. Keeping in Step with the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:26-31 & Galatians 5:25.

Whether you are in God’s house, fasting, praying, reading the Bible, retreating to recharge your spiritual batteries or in a state of worship, these environments provide unfiltered access to the Holy Spirit.  Essentially, this takes faith to the next level, becoming a doer of the word, Matthew 7:24.  Believers should test every voice, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, before accepting God’s calling, Isaiah 6:8.  If you think I’ve left any place out, please let me know under the comment section.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Around the Next Corner

I’ve never been known as a quitter, but the mystery of the future is hard to endure when life isn’t playing out as you expected.  Influenced by instant success early on, I assumed there wouldn’t be surprises around the next corner, causing you to want to turn around or head off in a different direction.  Saturday was one of those days, as impatience brought me to a ledge of despair.  Just as I was about to give up, a glimmer of hope appeared in the distance.

Galatians 6:9-10 contains a similar message to those who begin to think, “what’s the point; why should I waste my time doing good when nothing seems to change?”  This mindset is like the parable of weeds, Matthew 13:24-30, sowed by the devil, trying to convince souls their short term effort isn’t worth the long term gains.  This explains why so many so called Christians fall away from God during their college years, illustrated by the 2014 movie God is Not Dead, with one foot in the world and the other trying to remember what the Bible says.  Perhaps, Jesus’ younger brother was right, writing, “nobody knows what’s around the next corner in life,” James 4:14.

As for me, I was frustrated by a lack of progress at work.  Like Charles Dutton, the janitor at Irish Stadium in the movie Rudy, I allowed bitterness get the best of me.  These negative thoughts prevented me from seeing around the next corner, a compliment and reward for my hard work.  Thus, what started off as a bad day in my view, changed in an instance.  Therefore, don’t let your mind blind you from the gifts from above waiting for you in the future, James 1:17-18.  I look forward to hearing what the Lord is doing in the lives of his children around the next corner.

by Jay Mankus

The Shopping Test: Who is Naughty and Nice ?

If you go to the grocery store or shopping mall, you will likely be tested to see just how patient you are.  Finding a parking spot can be an adventure as oblivious individuals will walk in front of you car, others rush to get the last close spot and the lazy leave shopping carts in parking spaces to make your blood boil.  When you finally locate a cart, trash is often left in the bottom, filled with expired coupons.

As you make your way into the entrance, speeds vary, like a Nascar race going 4 wide into a corner.  However, the fast lane isn’t always the left, requiring zig zag maneuvers to navigate your way to finish your check list.  Non planners talk on the phone the whole time, stopping right in front of you without warning.  Meanwhile, the carefree window shoppers, seem to block your intended route every other aisle.  Courtesy separates the naughty from the nice, in a hurry to get to no where, as the self absorbed carry on, going as fast as possible.

Today, I failed the shopping test, bickering, complaining and talking to myself the whole time.  My idea of shopping is like a quick splash and go on pit lane, trying to stay out in front of the crowds.  Instead of enjoying the journey, impatience has made by grumpy, frustrated by a lack of urgency demonstrate by my fellow shoppers.  On my way out to the car, the Holy Spirit convicted me of Philippians 2:14-15.  Although I didn’t directly voice my beefs, I was naughty, not shinning the light of Christ as God calls, Matthew 5:13-16.  See where your patience falls on the Shopping Test Scale.

Level                                                                                     Attributes                                                                                      Meter

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

1                                                                                              Calm & Relaxed                                                                           Pleasant

2                                                                                              Sarcastic & Slightly Irritated                                                 Okay

3                                                                                              Rolling your Eyes / Frustrated                                             Selfish

4                                                                                              Gossiping / Grumbling                                                             Angry

5                                                                                              Ignorant / Rude                                                                          Naughty

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Where do you fall on the scale? Any thoughts on how to become more patient?

 

by Jay Mankus

God Doesn’t Play that Game

As a high school teacher of 10 years, I was shocked how negatively students viewed a snitch.  Whether you are an informer, tattle tale or tell the truth when asked a question, most class mates will treat you like a Benedict Arnold.  In the March 4th airing of Amish Mafia, the episode entitled De Rott portrayed a similar message, referring to a rat or snitch.  This term is associated with anyone who tells authorities outside of the Amish community about activities by their members.  John was shown privately meeting with a police officer from Lancaster County to save himself from going to jail, sharing information about potential illegal activities.  Hollywood has a history of covering this topic.

Brenden Fraser, Chris O’Donnell, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck starred in the 1992 film School Ties, a drama illustrating the strong ties one makes in a boarding school setting.  Brenden Fraser plays David Greene, a ringer quarterback who is recruited to bring a championship his season year.  As long as no one knew he was a Jew in an all boys Catholic school, he was one of the guys.  When the secret slipped out, his life changed, shunned by those who celebrated with him on the football field.  Considered a traitor, classmates accuse David of cheating on a mid-term exam, despite his own roommate seeing the real cheater.  When school ties form against David, only a miracle will save him from being expelled.

James 4:17 addresses a broad aspect of stitching and telling the truth.  The essential message brought forth in this passage urges followers of Jesus to do the right thing.  Whether its speaking out against an injustice or reaching out to someone in need, if you sit back without acting, you’re just as guilty as someone who blatantly sins.  Despite what our culture may think about snitching or telling the truth, God doesn’t play that game!  The Lord is waiting for people to stand in the gap on His behalf, Ezekiel 22:30.  In the end, strive to please God by putting your faith into action, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2.

Is there ever a time when you should not snitch or tell the truth?  Please share your comment below.

by Jay Mankus

 

What’s In Your Lunch Box?

Before the invention of insulated lunch bags, kids brought decorative lunch boxes to school with their favorite cartoon characters or television show on the outside and thermos. Meanwhile, adults brought coolers or metal containers which resembled a toolbox to their workplace. Although teasing did occur on some levels within society, what’s was in your lunch box is what got people’s attention.

In the days of Jesus, one of his disciples claimed he performed so many miracles on a daily basis that if each one was written down, there would not be enough library books in the world to cover them, John 21:25.  Of the miracles of Jesus recorded in the Bible, only one appears in all 4 gospels, the feeding of the 5000.  Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:1-13 detail this supernatural experience.  While there are many theories why God chose this particular event to be covered by all 4 authors, the answer lies in the lunch box of a poor young boy.

Luke, a physician who accompanied the apostle Paul on some of his mission trips, explains the dire situation leading up to Jesus’ miracle, over 5000 people are in a remote place without any access to food, Luke 9:12-13.  Meanwhile, only one disciple records the source of their food, a young boy who offered his small lunch: 5 wafers and 2 sardines, John 6:9.  In view of this information, most of the disciples likely shared Philip’s sentiments in John 6:7, “no way Jesus, we don’t have the time or money to help these starving people!”  Andrew, the brother of Peter, made a suggestion, yet even he had his doubts, John 6:9.

Today, millions of people worldwide are in desperate need of a miracle, either in the form of clothing, food or shelter.  Others are still searching for a full time job to provide for their family, humbling themselves to do whatever it takes to survive.  In the end, all Jesus is looking for in people is faith like a mustard seed, Mark 4:30-32.  May you step out in faith, like this little poor boy, sharing his lunch with thousands, setting the scene for a memorable miracle from God.

Feel free to comment below, sharing what miracle you are hoping, longing and praying for.

by Jay Mankus

 

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