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Tag Archives: believe

Overcoming a Dying Faith

Paul Simon’s 1977 song “Slip Slidin’ Away” addresses the depressing topic of death. One of the final stanza’s of this song accurately describes the journey people take through life. God only knows, God makes his plan
the informations unavailable to the mortal man. We work our jobs collect our pay, believe were gliding down the highway, when in fact were slip sliding away.
Maybe I’m alone, but I endure annual cycles where I feel like I’m dying inside as my faith flickers on life support.

So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead), James 2:17.

One of Jesus’ siblings provides insight into symptoms of a dying faith. An active faith is highlighted by acts of obedience and deeds inspired by the Holy Spirit. Just as the physically fit are disciplined, exercise regularly and work out each week, the out of shape do the exact opposite. James describes a dying faith as destitute, inoperative and spiritually dead, void of any signs of life. If you can relate that any of these troubling traits, it’s time to develop a plan to overcome a dying faith.

Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac? You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works, James 2:21-22.

Jesus’ brother points to Abraham who did not have access to the New Testament, but demonstrated faith by his willingness to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Abraham had his own flaws, with a record of lying instead of trusting the Lord in Genesis. Whenever individuals go through trying times, God uses hardships, trials and tribulations to spark faith. Moses and Sarah waited for years to have a child and now God was going to take Isaac’s life? The moment anyone takes a step beyond what logic tells you, faith is ignited as daily acts compliment what you believe.

by Jay Mankus

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What Do You Remember?

A 2016 research study has shown that children exposed to trauma don’t forget it, as previously believed. In an attempt to suppress these painful experiences, these individuals engage in denial as a defense mechanism. These findings peaked my interest as I blocked out most of second grade. While writing a paper for Childhood Development in college, I had to interview my parents about my behavior as a child. As I asked my mother a series of question, I began to realize why I tried to conceal these memories. My stuttering had become so severe that even my own mother regularly couldn’t understand what I was trying to say.

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord! – Psalm 25:7

When my father was transferred to Delaware a year later, this move was a blessing in disguise. The neighborhood in north Wilmington, Delaware that I called home until college was amazing. While some friends like Brad moved away a few years after I arrived, Jeanette, Steven and Richie helped make this a smooth transition. Although I still battled spouts of stammering and stuttering, this community became like an extended family. Every summer I couldn’t wait to get up so that I could play outside until dark. On rainy days, Atari and epic games of Monopoly passed the time. These interactions in North Minister fueled my love for competition and sports.

Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people, Nehemiah 5:19.

While fond memories from your past are nice to cling to, the Bible reveals what individuals should remember. The Psalmist writes a prayer for change, seeking to forget the wayward decisions of their past. Meanwhile, a servant of the king pleads that God remembers only the good that he has done. The apostle Paul reveals God’s ultimate Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Once the perfect lamb of God (Jesus) died on a cross for our sins and rose from the dead, God no longer sees our imperfections. Thus, this is what our heavenly father wants individuals to remember while residing on earth.

by Jay Mankus

What People Do to Become Accepted

Beside my accolades as an athlete, I spent most of high school living in relative obscurity. When I became a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year, a majority of my friends were members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. During a conversion with one of my coaches as a senior, I discovered that several of my peers labeled me as a freak, holy roller and loner who didn’t know how to have fun. Perhaps, this perception inspired me to become accepted once I entered college at the University of Delaware.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

During a summer vacation to Tampa, Florida, I bought a socially acceptable muscle shirt. While this tank top was white, there was a character with shades and cigarette in one hand. The caption on this shirt was Too Cool. By wearing this on the day I moved into my dorm, I received several positive comments. Although the message on this shirt contradicted everything that I believed in at this time, I cared more about being accepted than serving as a light for Christ. This is what I did to become accepted.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My plan worked as became one of the four horseman. My nickname was derived from my tank top, J.L. Cool. I guess you can say I made the most of my first semester in college, getting special invites to several parties even some to fraternities that I didn’t belong to or join. This was a wild ride, indulging in deeds of darkness while my lure and popularity spread across campus. When the second semester began, nearly half of my floor in Lane flunked out. Consumed by dread, guilt and shame, a winter retreat provided an opportunity for me to get my life right with God. While my testimony has a happy ending, only God knows the blessings that I missed out on by wanting to become socially accepted.

by Jay Mankus

Did I Hear What I Think I Just Heard?

Back in 1995, Tim LaHave and Jerry Jenkins released their first of 15 books in the Left Behind Series.  This subject matter places readers in the last days, what life on earth will be like prior to and after Jesus’ second coming.  While seated on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gives his own disciples a sneak peek into the future as he privately shares signs to look for as the end draws near.  Beginning in 2000, Alan B. McElroy adapted these books into a series of films.  Left Behind the movie portrays the rapture leaving behind a commercial airplane pilot and a GNN reporter played by Kirk Cameron.  These two characters eventually meet, trying to figure out how and why millions of people suddenly vanished into thin air.

Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in My name [misusing it, and appropriating the strength of the name which belongs to Me], saying, ‘I am the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),’ and they will mislead many. You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end [of the age], Matthew 24:4-6.

Whenever a supernatural event takes place, cable news networks bring in a panel of so called experts to logically explain what just happened.  In the first Left Behind film, Buck Williams, a famous GNN anchor is befriended by the UN Secretary General Nicolae Carpathia who is played by Gordon Currie.  This initial encounter leads to an invitation for Williams to cover a private gathering with all ten UN delegates.  During this closed door meeting, Carpathia shoots Jonathan Stonagal and Joshua Todd-Cothran, who tried to bankrupt the United Nations.  After witnessing this murder, Carpathia brainwashes everyone in the room to believe this was a murder suicide except for Buck.  This scene caused Buck to ponder, “did I hear what I think I just heard.”

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,  2 Timothy 3:1-4.

During his missionary journeys, the apostle Paul meets a teenager pastor named Timothy.  When the subject of eschatology comes up, Paul writes a second letter to prepare this teen and his church for end times.  As I have listened to the media coverage following the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I find myself sensing that Christ’s return is closer than ever before.  News coverage in America has become so slanted toward a progressive and secular worldview, that I can’t believe what I am hearing.  Just as Buck Williams was dazed and confused following his UN meeting, you must test everything you hear, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 so that you aren’t deceived by partisan politics.

by Jay Mankus

Demonic Influences on Mental Health

Whenever people hear accounts of curses, demons and evil spirits, there is a hesitancy to believe these stories.  Perhaps, unrealistic movie scenes or television re-enactments have placed doubts into human minds.  Unless you are an eyewitness to one of these supernatural events, demonic influences on mental health isn’t even considered.  However, if curses, demons and evil spirits are real, their impact on mental health would explain many unsolved questions.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and the man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with chains. For he had often been bound with shackles [for the feet] and with chains, and he tore apart the chains and broke the shackles into pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue and tame him. Night and day he was constantly screaming and shrieking among the tombs and on the mountains, and cutting himself with [sharp] stones, Mark 5:1-5.

An estimated 2 million Americans practice some form of self-injury.  During my final year of teaching high school, I became aware of the practice of Self-Mutilation.  According to an article on the Daily Dot, Emo music and it’s impact on teenagers has been overlooked in America’s growing mental health crisis.  Apparently, this new age disco like music is playing a role in tempting depressed and lonely souls to continue cutting their bodies.  If you take the passage above as a case study, it’s possible that demons are the force behind modern self-mutilation.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him, Genesis 4:6-8.

The passage above sheds light on what happens inside the human brain as individuals contemplate what they are going to do.  In this case, God has a private conversation with Cain as he wrestles with jealousy within his heart.  Cain is frustrated that his occupation as a farmer is much harder than Abel’s position as a shepherd.  Subsequently, a spirit of hatred seizes this opportunity to consume Cain’s vulnerable heart.  In the end, this evil spirit persuades Cain to do the unthinkable, murder his younger brother.  While those who commit crimes today are usually imprisoned, demons and evil spirits flee the scene without blame or getting caught.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

The apostle Paul throws another curveball into the discussion of demonic influences on mental health.  As a fallen angel, Satan knows how to appear as an angel of light.  Thus, you must know that this masquerade continues today, deceiving many Christians and non-believers.  This is why Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica warning people the test everything that you hear with the word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Abstinance from every form of evil must be practiced.  If not, demonic influences will impact your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

 

Can’t Stop Thinking About It

Mind-wandering is referred to today as task-unrelated thought. Depending upon the situation, you might experience thoughts not remaining on a single topic for a long period of time. This state of mind is allowed to continue when people are not engaged in an attention-demanding task.
Once individuals are less bogged down by the pressure of day to day life, minds can begin to narrow in on what’s important.

But after ordering them to step out of the Council [chamber], they began to confer among themselves, 16 saying, “What are we to do with these men? For the fact that an extraordinary miracle has taken place through them is public knowledge and clearly evident to all the residents of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to keep it from spreading further among the people and the nation, let us [sternly] warn them not to speak again to anyone in this name.” 18 So they sent for them, and commanded them not to speak [as His representatives] or teach at all in the name of Jesus [using Him as their authority]., Acts 4:15-18.

Following the day of Pentecost, miracles once performed by Jesus began to occur by his followers. After a man lame from birth was deemed healed after showing himself to a priest, John and Peter was brought in for questioning. A group of ruling men known as the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Court, were concerned that Jews were getting caught up in a new Jesus Movement. Evidently, people couldn’t stop thinking about miracles performed under the authority of Jesus Christ.

But Peter and John replied to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves]; 20 for we, on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard,” Acts 4:19-20.

Thus, the Sanhedrin tried to stop this spiritual movement from spreading any further. This suggestion presented John and Peter with a moral dilemma. Should we give into this peer pressure to become politically correct or should we obey God? These former disciples of Jesus chose the latter, risking imprisonment to stand up for their beliefs and convictions. If there is one thing you shouldn’t stop thinking about, it’s Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Stop Blocking Miracles

As a novice student, when high school teachers and college professors started to repeat something, my classmates began to write this information down in their notebooks. Others instructors would be more obvious, coughing in jest or implying, “hum… this sounds like a good test question.” However, when the son of God, Jesus, repeats the same message three chapters later, you might want to take this to heart. In the verses below, Jesus takes two different scenarios that illustrate how and why individuals can block miracles from occurring.

“Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them,” Matthew 18:19-20.

This first passage is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. A month doesn’t go by without someone in church, a person praying or a pastor on television who names and claims this promise. However, Jesus places two escape clauses in verse 19. The first refers to harmony within the body of Christ. God wants members of a congregation to be on the same page, united in the decisions that are made. The second clause mentions the will of God. Prayers that exclude, ignore or go outside the will of God will be rejected. Thus, whenever discord or selfishness exists, potential miracles will be blocked and nullified.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

The second disclaimer is based upon faith. Despite witnessing miracle after miracle, the disciples struggled to place their complete confidence and trust in Jesus. When a fig tree isn’t bearing fruit in season, Jesus curses it, withering this tree immediately. Using this as a teachable moment, Jesus refers to a mountain blocking your view from God’s full potential. Thus, the key element is a persistent faith that believes you will receive what you ask for in prayer. When this is missing, a lack of faith blocks potential miracles from occurring. Therefore, if you want to determine what’s keeping you from ascending to your full potential, you may be out of alignment with God’s will. Or traces of doubt are holding back future miracles. May this blog help you gain understanding into what God truly desires.

by Jay Mankus

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