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Tag Archives: COVID-19

Starting Over in 2021

ξεκινώντας από την αρχή is the Greek word for starting over. Meanwhile, the Latin expression for starting over is iterum incipi. When translated literally into English this refers to again, a second time. As 2020 is thankfully ushered out for good, it’s time to hit the reset button. While no one knows for sure how long the Coronavirus will stick around, starting over with a blank canvas gives me hope of a brighter future.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome, Jeremiah 29:11.

Despite earning a nickname as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah 9:1 and Jeremiah 13:17, there is a glimpse of positive news. In the passage above, the Lord finally gives Jeremiah a message of hope. These future plans includes blessings, dreams and a final outcome worth waiting for. Therefore, if you still haven’t gotten over the worst pandemic in the last century, the Bible provides some encouraging news.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired, Isaiah 40:30-31.

Another Old Testament prophet provides an analogy that most adults can relate to. Between the spread of Covid-19, forced closures of businesses and the stress of trying to stay alive, 2020 has worn out countless souls. Thus, as many have lost their energy and joy for life, it’s time to place your faith in God’s hands again. Just as eaglets trusted their parents renew their strength, it’s time to place your faith in God to start over in 2021.

by Jay Mankus

A Last Ditch Effort to Save a Nation

The origin of concerts of prayer dates back to revivalists in Scotland, in October, 1744. According to Joseph Tracy, a historian of the First Great Awakening,  the desire to convert the world to Christ prompted evangelists to devote two years toward prayer oriented events. Churches set aside time for prayer Saturday nights, Sunday mornings and the first Tuesday of each quarter. As a spirit of prayer spread throughout the region, souls were primed to confess their sins and receive Jesus as Lord.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

A similar movement began 36 years ago in South Korea. The International Prayer Assembly included 2,000 prayer-mobilizers from 70 nations who issued an International Call to Prayer. This concert of prayer was based upon five main objectives: call out to God for a worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to apply the work of the Cross to men and women, to awaken the church, to break the power of Satan over people’s lives and to unify and empower the church for world evangelism. The impact of these prayers likely explains the revival that spread throughout South Korea.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:17.

When you fast forward to today, the 2020 Presidential Election and Coronavirus have teamed up to create havoc. As Trump battles elections results in 6 battleground states, a growing number of COVID-19 cases have empowered government officials to flex their political power. While Biden is expected to become the 46th president, America is close to having spiritual holidays cancelled. Meanwhile, recent allegations that states using software provided by Dominion and Smartmatic may have rigged the election in Biden’s favor, omitted from the media. In view of this chaos, starting a new generation of concert of prayers may be the only hope to save the constitution and spiritual heritage of this once great nation.

by Jay Mankus

The Fight to Survive

The song I Will Survive was written and composed by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. The first recording of this song was done by Gloria Gaynor in 1978. As a top-selling song, I Will Survive became a popular disco anthem. The lyrics just prior to the opening chorus reads “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?” This line leads into “Oh, no, not I, I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive.
I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive, I will survive, hey, hey.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

Over the past 9 months, the fight to survive has taken on a new meaning. Between the Coronavirus, the lock down designed to flatten the curve, wearing masks in public and the stress to keep up with your bills has worn down countless souls. Meanwhile, as individuals have been stuck inside their homes, addiction, abuse, depression and suicide has skyrocketed. All it takes is just one more setback to push people over the edge, losing the will to live and survive. While I’ve probably been more fortunate than most in 2020, I too have known individuals who have lost their battle with COVID-19.

In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—Ephesians 2:2

While some have blamed God for this worldwide plague, the Bible points to a spiritual enemy. Jesus calls this character a thief, seeking to kill your dreams, steal your joy and eliminate the concept of hope. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul eludes to the spiritual dimension where Lucifer reigns, commanding demons to attack at a moments notice. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 provides advice, directions and insight to deal with these dark powers. The only way to fight back is by using spiritual weapons. May this blog encourage you to not lose hope so that you will survive your next trial.

by Jay Mankus

Censoring Science

Dr. Stella Immanuel made a speech in front of the Supreme Court a few weeks ago. In this age of social justice, Immanuel possesses the ideal pedigree as an immigrant and African American, Yet, there is one blemish on this doctor’s resume, she is pro hydroxychloroquine. Unfortunately, if you are for something that President Trump is in favor of, the media has a tendency to demonize you.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security, Jeremiah 33:6.

After having success using hydroxychloroquine with zinc, Dr. Immanuel believes that this combination of medicine is the cure for COVID-19. When a video of Dr. Immanuel’s speech went viral on social media, Facebook and Twitter each removed this video claiming the content violated their policies on misinformation. When members of the media discovered that Dr. Stella was also serving as a Christian pastor at a church in Houston, a smear campaign was unleashed against her.

When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose, Genesis 6:1-2.

Instead of using evidence to refute Dr. Immanuel’s claims that using hydroxychloroquine with zinc isn’t the cure for COVID-19, science is being censored. Meanwhile, several quotes from previous sermons were immediately leaked to portray Stella as a crazy doctor who has lost her mind. One message used the passage above, attempting to explain how giants came into existence on earth. This passage has 3 different interpretations with one suggesting fallen angels conceived with the women of earth. Perhaps, it’s time to stop censoring science by entering into a healthy debate, by putting facts on the table and let the people decide.

by Jay Mankus

When I Get Around To It

Prior to the second week in March, busyness could be used as an excuse for not getting around to doing something that you deem important. Depending upon your normal work schedule, certain unexpected things can alter your list of priorities. When businesses, cities and states began to issue work at home orders if possible, priorities changed overnight. Instead of using time as a lame excuse, free time at home is what many households had until their states began to re-open.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides, Matthew 6:33.

In the middle of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes some time to focus on motives and priorities. Unfortunately, the invisible forces of worry tend to distract individuals from what’s important in life. Instead of trusting God to provide daily bread, minds and thoughts often race out of control. By the time you find yourself in bed, what you didn’t get around to do is held off until tomorrow. Thus, for people like me, another opportunity to meet with God is missed.

And in the morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed, Mark 1:35.

Tired of rarely keeping my New Year resolutions, I have taken extreme measures to avoid skipping my daily time with God. Although I am not a morning person, I do have an advantage to practicing Jesus’ morning ritual. Since I work nights, I arrive home early 4 days a week. While I haven’t carried out my plan every day this year, I usually read a section of the Bible and pray before going to sleep. Instead of waiting until I get around to it, my first few moments at home in the morning are spent with God. Don’t fall prey to the when I get around to it trap. Meet with God right now!

by Jay Mankus

The Blessing of a Busted Nest

A nest represents home to newly hatched baby birds. Within this enclosed area, mothers and fathers display  love, commitment, and effort to raise their young. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points to how his heavenly Father provides for the birds of the air, Matthew 6:26. However, from time to time, gusts of wind will cause an egg to fall to the ground or relocate a nest from it’s original branch. These unforeseen events force adult birds to adjust, regroup, and start over.

Then I said, I shall die in or beside my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. 19 My root is spread out and open to the waters, and the dew lies all night upon my branch, Job 29:18-19.

Job’s nest was busted up early in his book of the Bible. According to the first 2 chapters, Job’s life is plagued by a series of trials. Like a tsunami wave that continues to rise higher and higher, Job lost his possessions, children and his health. The passage above suggests that Job became complacent, ready to retire and play it safe the rest of his earthly life. God had different plans by busting up Job’s nest. The more you lose in life, the hopeless are drawn back to God, leaning on the Lord until the storms of life subside.

He found him in a desert land, in the howling void of the wilderness; He kept circling around him, He scanned him [penetratingly], He kept him as the pupil of His eye. 11 As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions. 12 So the Lord alone led him; there was no foreign god with Him, Deuteronomy 32:10-12.

During the initial stages of the Coronavirus, I was fortunate to have my position considered to be an essential job. With many of my co-workers afraid of contracting COVID-19, voluntary over time has been offered every week since March. These circumstances have led to ideal conditions for earning money. Just as I began to accumulate wealth, the Lord allowed a storm to bust up the front of my home, causing more than $3000 of damage. While paying for the repairs has been a hassle, this unexpected storm has put life into perspective. My faith and trust needs to be in Christ alone.

by Jay Mankus

When You Feel Like You Can’t Hold On Any Longer

Over the course of my life, music has gotten me through several difficult moments.  While in college, I developed an unhealthy pattern of drawing close to the Lord during the school year, then falling away over the summer.  On any given day, I listened to a few hours of music.  Whether I was running, studying or working out, the beat, lyrics and sound motivated me to press on.  One of the songs that touched my soul in college was Hold On by Wilson Phillips.  The following stanza helped me overcome the stress of college: “Don’t you know things can change. Things’ll go your way. If you hold on for one more day. Can you hold on for one more day. Things’ll go your way. Hold on for one more day.”

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery], James 4:7-8.

When I became a high school Bible teacher I tried to incorporate music into my classes and lesson plans.  Unfortunately, most of my music was archaic, out of date and wasn’t appealing to my students.  After swallowing my pride, I began to search for modern artists that my students could relate to.  One of my former students Evan introduced me to the group Stellar Kart.  Although I didn’t have much disposable income back then, I searched the Sonshine House for discounted music.  After losing my teaching job, I spent a month struggling to find a new one.  The song that got me through this ordeal was Hold on to Jesus by Stellar Kart.  While walking through un-charted territories, the Lord used this song to help me persevere.

But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.

Since the Coronavirus shut down professional sports in March, I have increased my time listening to music.  During the week, I spend 5 hours a day minimum, listening to Christian music.  Although I still struggle to find artists, groups and songs with a specific message and style, there is one song that gotten me through these months of social distancing.  While listening to You Tube one night, I came across a spontaneous worship montage.  Kari Jobe has a 19 minute video starting with Speak to Me before moving into the songs Defender and Closer.  This worship medley has become a daily prayer for me, another way of Holding on to Jesus as the world tries to makes sense of COVID-19.  May these songs touch you like they have inspired me to hold on when you feel like you can’t hold on any longer.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

To Those Who are Able

Able refers to having the means, power, skill or opportunity to do something. Synonyms include capable of, competent, fit, in position to or up to the challenge. Unfortunately, in this day and age of the Coronavirus, even those who are able to work are stuck at home under a quarantine until their state allows non-essential businesses to re-open. Thus, many are hoping, praying and urging states leaders to open as soon as possible.

Now to Him Who is able to strengthen you in the faith which is in accordance with my Gospel and the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ (the Messiah), according to the revelation (the unveiling) of the mystery of the plan of redemption which was kept in silence and secret for long ages, Romans 16:25.

While concluding a letter written to the church at Rome, Paul uses a call to action in the passage above. Apparently, in the middle of the first century the conditions were prime for a spiritual revival, but the workers were few. Depending upon where you live, churches in my state have been closed since the second weekend in March. Thus, as individuals cope with depression, financial concerns, isolation and unemployment, there is a similar need today. This is a golden opportunities for fellow Americans to step up spiritually, for those who are able to strengthen the faith of others.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you, Philippians 1:6.

Despite the potential for a financial collapse, the passage above serves as a glimmer of hope. Even during periods of darkness, God is silently at work behind the scenes to finish what God started in you. Although there may not be many things in life to be thankful for at this moment, faith is based upon trusting in an invisible God. Therefore, if you are able to act by strengthening anyone in your spheres of influence, don’t let being quarantined hinder your ability and desire to serve God.

by Jay Mankus

With United Hearts and One Voice

As the Coronavirus continues to ravage vulnerable individuals and spread across the United States, communities are being forced to come together. Instead of allowing politics, religion and worldviews to divide souls, the instinct to survive is slowly changing hearts and minds. Perhaps, in the face of tragedy as the death toll in the United States surpasses 30,000, this country will become united with one voice: find a cure for COVID-19.

Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5.

I recently listened to a you tube clip of Amy Wolter from an old concert. The lead singer of Fighter shared her inspiration behind the song Radio Man. As a former disc jockey at a local rock station, listeners began to call in during request hours. Initial concerns were superficial like breaking up with a boy or girl friend. Over time, the need for healing intensified. These requested songs served as a form of healing as strangers poured out their concerns, troubles and unfortunate situations.

That together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Romans 15:6.

During the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul felt a need to unite the church at Rome. Perhaps, differences began to develop, causing friction within the body of Christ. Paul wanted mature adults to put aside childish ways by uniting under a common calling. As the Coronavirus transforms life as we know it due to its’ contagious nature, this is as good of a time as ever to come together as cities, states and one nation under God. The only thing missing are willing hearts ready to let go of control and let God in.

by Jay Mankus

Forced Isolation

Social Distancing practices date back to the fifth century Before Christ. According to the book of Leviticus, this initial movement was forced upon the Jewish culture due to leprosy. Leviticus 13:45-46 lays out a guideline for follow if anyone is stricken. To avoid spreading this disease, anyone inflicted with leprosy was sent outside the city gates. Until individuals were cured or healed, these unfortunate souls lived as social outcasts. No one dared to get close, until Jesus arrived on the scene in the first century.

He who willfully separates and estranges himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire and pretext to break out against all wise and sound judgment, Proverbs 18:1.

Nearly two thousand years later, a more dangerous disease has forced a modern form of social distancing. While the symptoms vary from person to person, if COVID-19 spreads to your lungs, it has proven to be deadly. What started out as a movement to be socially responsible by staying home if not feeling well has been altered week to week. Initially, you just needed to stay a minimum of six feet from co-workers, neighbors and others while out in public. Now, masks are strongly encouraged if not mandatory in some states now. Who knows what else will be added if new info is discovered.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching, Hebrews 11:24-25.

Unfortunately, forced isolation is not how God designed human beings to live. Genesis 2:18 reveals God’s true intentions, to find a soul mate for life. Yet, the Coronavirus has separated friends, neighbors and states temporarily, doing whatever doctors and experts tell citizens to do. While families are forced to spent countless hours together, friendships and person to person encounters have been put on hold until this virus dies out. While this forced isolation continues until at least the end of April, may you find comfort in the Bible, prayer and songs of worship.

by Jay Mankus

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