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Tag Archives: Comfortably Numb

With All Your Heart

Within every culture, there are clichés that exist.  As a former high school athlete and coach, playing with all your heart was often stressed.   Perhaps, this saying comes from a fictional character, Rocky Balboa, an overweight, out of shape boxer who is given a once in a life time chance of facing the heavy weight champion on Independence Day.  What Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, lacked in raw talent was compensated by a heart that refused to quit.  I guess you can say this is Hollywood’s depiction of with all your heart.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

I recently watch a documentary on director Stanley Kubrick.  Entitled Filmworker, Leon Vitali spent decades serving as Kubrick’s punching bag, absorbing and learning from the criticism dished out by Stanley.  According to this film, during production Kubrick worked 18-20 hours daily, rarely sleeping.  As a perfectionist, tiny little details that few directors consider kept Kubrick on edge.  The more I watched, I began to understand what it means to do something with all your heart.  While Stanley Kubrick was difficult to work for and with, his request to his production crew and cast remained the same, give everything you have and more.

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” Matthew 22:37.

Jesus asked first century followers for the same commitment level.  To meet, reach and surpass this standard takes passion.  When you feel like you have been born to do something, excitement comes naturally.  However, as human nature pulls your attention into other direction, focusing on a task is extremely difficult.  Perhaps, this inspired the apostle Paul to write “I beat my body and make it my slave,” 1 Corinthians 9:26.  When human hearts grow cold, lose interest or become comfortably numb, maintaining spiritual disciplines in your daily is crucial.  For those who are able to weather the storms in life, you may reach a point when you can honestly say, I have given all of my heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Light Shines Brighter in the Dark

If you live in the middle or northern parts of the United States, you have probably experienced one of the strangest Springs in recent memory.  After the Northeast experienced four noreasters in March, April has greeted the Midwest with a couple of late snow storms as winter attempts to hold on for another week.  While Spring will eventually give way to Summer, there is one truth hidden within these unusual weather patterns.  Light shines brighter in the dark.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil, John 3:19.

The Bible is filled with references to light and darkness.  Jesus uses light to illustrate that which is good, right and true.  Meanwhile, darkness symbolizes imperfections, lies and secret sins that people are afraid of, hoping that no one finds out these embarrassing deeds.  According to Jesus’ earthly brother, freedom comes from opening up, allowing light to enter darkness, James 5:16.  When confession is genuine and sincere, God’s light brings healing to wounded souls.

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, Ephesians 5:8.

The apostle Paul eludes to this transition in a letter to the church of Ephesus.  Later in this chapter, Paul writes about how human nature influences individuals to gravitate toward darkness, where there are no rules or standards.  Yet, Paul reminds believers of their decision to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, choosing light over darkness.  However, some stop growing along the way, comfortably numb.  In this scenario, imperfections are not exposed as God’s light is not fully magnified.  Although it may be difficult, painful and humbling, let God into every area of your life.  When you do, light will shine brighter in the dark to restore you back toward the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Standing Still or Forward Motion?

While growing up in Delaware, I got caught outside in a torrential rain storm one summer afternoon.  Trying to find the shortest route to my house, I came to the banks of Namaans Creek.  At this section of the stream, it was a about a five foot jump across raging waters.  The longer I waited, the more dangerous this situation became.  Thus, I was forced to make of one of two decisions; stand still and wait it out or take a leap of faith, proceeding in forward motion.  I choose the latter, just clearing the ledge on the other side.

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies, 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Unfortunately, I have spent most of the last five years standing still, afraid to take chances.  At some point in time, apathy sets in.  This often leads to becoming comfortably numb, like Pink Floyd’s 1965 hit song.  The longer you remain in the same place, the harder it becomes to change.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s unsettling when you know you are not where God wants you to be.  According to the Bible, those who become idle eventually end up back sliding, slipping further and further away from God.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Philippians 4:8.

Nearly forty years later, Reliant K released their new album Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right, But Three Do in 2003.  My favorite song from this project is Forward Motion, a reminder to avoid idle time.  Although I can’t change my past, I do have the ability to alter my future.  Thus, if this blog finds you in a similar position, stuck in a rut, don’t let doubt paralyze your faith.  Rather, trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding so that a leap of faith will place you in forward motion, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you throughout life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Love Can’t Keep Us Together

One of Captain and Tennille’s greatest hits Love Will Keep Us Together debuted in 1975.  This song was written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield; originally released as a single in 1973 that was sung by Sedaka.  In 1976 the song Love Will Keep Us Together reached gold status, winning a Grammy and Record of the Year.  Unfortunately, after 39 years of marriage, love couldn’t save their marriage, recently announcing their divorce.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

It’s sad to see couples separate, especially ones who were examples of true love.  Along the road called life, conditions, situations and time changes individuals.  Some for the better, others for the worse and somewhere in the middle many become comfortably numb.  Like this Pink Floyd song, most turn to alternative solutions to kill their pain.  These addictions often distract loving people from caring for their spouses causing marriages to spiral out of control.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:10.

If you ever find yourself in this predicament, the apostle Paul provides some helpful advice.  Periods of weakness caused Paul to rely on the Lord’s strength.  Therefore, if you ever sense that you’re wavering, lean on Christ to give you the boost to tarry on.  Thus, if you reach a point where love won’t keep you together, pray for a will to love and a heart of forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

A Soul Tormented by Lawless Deeds

If you turn on a news cast, at some point you will witness something disturbing, shocking or sad.  Unfortunately, many have been desensitized by a barrage of extreme videos.  Thus, as the average citizen become comfortably numb, a soul tormented by lawless deeds is either overlooked or forgotten.

For that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard, 2 Peter 2:8.

Ever since public education has de-emphasized moral absolutes, the line between right and wrong has been turned to gray.  Subsequently, hearts and minds can become confused, unsure what’s acceptable and what’s frowned upon.  In this politically correct climate, the law breaker can be excused if they hold a socially acceptable worldview.  Yet if the shoe is on the other foot, a conservative will be verbally crucified for a similar transgression.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

Lost in the shuffle are those individuals wounded by lawless deeds.  When television cameras move on to the next city, disaster or scandal, those left behind must begin to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Beyond these scars, an invisible voice calls out to the bruised and broken-hearted.  May the hope of Jesus bring peace to souls tormented by lawless deeds.

by Jay Mankus

 

While You Worship

Sandra Bullock starred in the 1995 love story While You Were Sleeping.  After saving a man’s life from an on coming train, Peter played by Peter Gallagher falls into a coma where rumors alter and hide the truth.  In the real world, many people fall into spiritual comas, sleeping through most of life on earth.  Some individuals are revived, others perish and those remaining often become comfortably numb.  One of the solutions to snap of these mental states occur while you worship God.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them,” Acts 13:2.

In the 1992 film School Ties, Brendan Fraser plays a star quarterback recruited by a prestigious private boarding school.  The only problem is Brendan is Jewish and the school is Catholic.  Thus, this high school senior is encouraged to keep this a secret, pressured to adhere to foreign beliefs.  Whenever people are forced into doing something, its not naturally and can lead to future grudges.  The same can be said about children who feel forced to worship a God in whom they do not a relationship with.  Adults who grew up in this kind of atmosphere often stray far from the Lord, trying to figure life out on their own.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them, Acts 16:25.

The Bible is filled with numerous examples and unlikely ways in which people can to faith.  However, without action, these emotions can die.  Thus, as seekers enter into God’s presence in the form of worship, spiritual awakenings commence.  There is something to be said of a house of worshipers in one accord and spirit.  Although this doesn’t come natural, energy in a building, a song or state of desperation can unleash a movement of God.  I can’t explain it, but when you find yourself on your knees, shouting at the top of your voice and raising your hands toward heaven, God can unveil wisdom about your past, present and future.  Don’t delay any further by joining a local congregation this weekend while you worship.

by Jay Mankus

What Do You Do… When You’re All Tapped Out

The term tapped out refers to reaching a point of emptiness, unable to go any farther.  A mother breast feeding her child may hit a wall, unable to produce any more milk.  Despite an infant’s cries, mom is done.  A keg on a college campus is bound to dry up, tapped out from over use.  However, one of the most common examples today relates to a parent or student, burning the candle at both ends until they crash and burn from sheer exhaustion.

1. Acknowledge your condition – Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray, James 5:13a.

In the prime of my life, I worked 90 hours a week as a youth pastor.  On my only day off, I led a Bible Study at McDonald’s in the morning, drove to Cincinnati to meet a friend (a 90 minute drive one way) and came back by dinner time to attend an adult Bible Study which required extensive reading.  Sure, this sounds like a lot, but I was young.  After my wealthy church rejected a plea for a homeless guy, I let him stay on my couch at my apartment for six months.  To justify my raise after one year, my responsibilities tripled to include Confirmation, Coaching High School Basketball and Helping out with Young Life.

2. Find someone to confide in – If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

Sometime after the first six months, I became comfortably numb, running on fumes.  Since I didn’t have anyone to intervene, I reached an emotional breaking point, unable to give anymore.  Thus, 14 months after starting my dream job, what I was born to do, I was forced to take a step back.  So… what do you do when you’re all tapped out?  Well, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail with a mentor from high school, a former coach and Fellowship of Christian’s Athletes director.  Looking back now, most of this weekend was a blur, yet I needed to retreat before I could go any further.

3. Find a quiet place to meet with God – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Before he became king of Israel, David had his own issues.  The king, who just happened to be his best friend’s dad was trying to kill him, jealous of his fame from defeating Goliath.  A man without a country, David fled for a cave, encouraged by 400 men, soldiers who had became friends.  Despite being anointed as king by Samuel, David had to wait and wait and wait some more.  Just as the mountains served as a retreat for me, this cave was like an oasis, able to shoot the breeze, wondering where to go and what to do next.  Fellowship in these close quarters likely developed friendships for a lifetime.

4. Publicly confess your sins – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed, James 5:16a.

To provide a woman’s perspective, I can’t help but mention the woman described in Matthew 9.  If you think you’ve had a tough life, just listen to her sob story.  Suffering from a bleeding disorder, she saw every specialist possible until she ran out of money.  Broke and still unhealed, she was probably forced to beg like the homeless.  Yet, fearful of contracting what she had, this woman was forced beyond the cities gates to live among the outcasts in society.  Financially tapped, healing appeared unattainable until a man named Jesus worked the earth.

5. Find rest for your soul – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, ” Matthew 11:28.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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