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Sharing the Comforts of Home

In the past 20 years, my parents have been blessed to have two dream homes. The first was in Ohio where my father was promoted to a leadership position at his company’s corporate headquarters. Upon retiring, my folks were able to build one from scratch across from the Indian River Bay. Over the past 20 years, my parents have shared the comforts of home with my family and their grandchildren.

Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it, Hebrews 13:2.

The author of Hebrews refers to a similar form of hospitality. Since first century churches didn’t have a physical building like today, members would open their homes as a weekly gathering place. Apparently, shy and quiet individuals began to feel left out, not welcomed like the more outgoing. This shortcoming is pointed out in the passage above with a call to share the comforts of your home with believers.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

The apostle Paul alludes to another element of hospitality. As people endure troubling times, everyone reacts a little differently. Some withdraw due to depression, others become sarcastic and people like me become comfortably numb. When reaching out to hurting people, you don’t have to beat out what’s inside. Rather, share the comforts of home and when the timing is right, the hurting will bear their souls to you when they are ready. Until then, keep consoling and encouraging anyone who is crushed in spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Changing the Way You See Life

In my adolescence, I was a shallow person. Beside being forced to attend a local Boy Scout troop, I lived and died sports. I even broke up with my high school sweetheart to pursue a state championship. Despite my ambitious attempts to win Concord at least one state title in my four years there, second place was the best that I could do. Rather than enjoy the chance to compete, I let the final result ruin my love for sports.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

While I made my initial confession to follow Jesus in high school, I continued to live according to my sinful nature. My faith was nothing more than a feeling, following God when it was convenient to do so. Subsequently, I struggled with depression throughout high school and into my first year of college. During a weekend at James Madison University, I was introduced to the concept of making Jesus the Lord of your life. Making this decision forever changed the way that I see life.

And the grace (unmerited favor and blessing) of our Lord [actually] flowed out superabundantly and beyond measure for me, accompanied by faith and love that are [to be realized] in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost, 1 Timothy 1:14-15.

For the first 18 years of my life, I was a selfish athlete who only cared about me, myself and I. I was a cocky athlete who believed that I was better than I was. Yet, when I read the statement made by the apostle Paul in the passage above, I came face to face with humility. Despite all the miracles performed and lives he help transformed, Paul considered himself the greatest sinner of all. This one confession taught me a vital lesson, the closer you draw near to Jesus and yield control over to him, the more your sins are unveiled. May the Word of God and prayer help change the way you see life like it did for me.

by Jay Mankus

God’s First Patient in Need of Mental Health

The summer of 2021 has brought back a sense of normalcy for those who have endured and survived the Coronavirus. Yet, a series of professional athletes from multiple sports have confessed an internal struggle that few people rarely verbalize. As golf and tennis stars have failed to meet and surpass their own expectations, depression, emotional distress and a lack of confidence has taken a toll on players like Naomi Osaka and Bubba Watson.

And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed, Genesis 4:4-5.

After his parents were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Cain was forced to farm on less fertile land. In fulfillment of the punishment placed upon Adam for his disobedience, Genesis 3:17, trying to plant crops in an arid climate made Cain’s trade increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, Cain’s little brother Abel was prospering as a shepherd. When a root of bitterness grew within Cain’s heart, God tried to intervene with a face to face conversation.

And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. And Cain said to his brother, Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? – Genesis 4:6-9

As earth’s first mental health session began in the passage above, Cain wasn’t very happy with what God was suggesting. Apparently, God could sense the envy and jealousy brewing within Cain’s heart. As this festered, evil thoughts entered into Cain’s mind. Instead of pushing back the idea of murder, the Devil convinced Cain to follow in his father’s footsteps of disobedience. Don’t wait until it’s too late to to break the sins of your parents, Exodus 20:5. Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart publicly so that healing and restoration can begin, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

A Reason to Snap Out of It

Depression is one of those oppressive spirits that can consume troubled souls. If you allow yourself to be swept away by past failures, having the strength to press on can be difficult. Whether you’re struggling with addiction, bad habits, or poor choices, you can’t dwell on the past forever. At some point, you need a glimmer of hope, a reason to snap out of a your spiritual funk.

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, Philippians 3:13.

Apparently, the apostle Paul noticed that some of the members of the Philippian Church kept living in the past. Anyone who is a perfectionist knows the pain of beating yourself up day after day. Rather than reflecting upon past mistakes, Paul calls first century Christians to forget what lies behind and look forward to what lies ahead. Unfortunately, bad moods and depression can be difficult to overcome.

 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward, Philippians 3:14.

In the passage above, Paul focuses his attention on eternity. When individuals are able to separate the temporary from the eternal, you can begin to process what’s important and what can wait. However, if you wake up without an aspiration, goal or plan, you’ll tend to wander aimlessly without any sense of purpose or direction. Therefore, if you want a reason to snap out of your current state of despair, remember God has plans for your future, Philippians 1:6.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Become Despondent Through Fear

Living out a Christian faith can be oppressive, tedious, and seemingly without end of obstacles. Furthermore, when things don’t go the way you expect or think, it’s not uncommon to suffer from depression. When confidence is lost or hope slips away, fear can suck the joy out of life. Like a golfer who is all over the place during their round, there are many days where you have to grind everything out.

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you, Ephesians 3:12-13.

Whatever optimistic message you have received about a new life in Christ, every day has a new set of challenges. If you let your guard down, become over confident or don’t have enough prayer cover, extreme discouragement may not be too far behind. Unpleasant emotions are a byproduct of fear, caused by a belief that someone or something is a threat. This is where faith must rise to the occasion, opening the door for boldness and courage to shine through.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Apparently, despondency was an issue in the first century as the apostle Paul writes a similar message to two different congregations. The context of the passage above refers to you reap what you sow. If your mind is constantly fixated on fear, you will become worn down by despondent thoughts. Therefore, if you want to rise above your circumstances, approach God with a humble heart, expecting blessings for those who belong to the household of faith.

by Jay Mankus

Not the Thanksgiving I Invisioned

A routine physical earlier this week has turned my life upside down.  Standing on a scale revealed my heaviest weight ever, not a good way to start this check up.  Before my primary care doctor entered the room, I took a brief depression survey, confident in my responses.  However, after my blood pressure was sky high, a series of comments from my doctor sucked the joy out of my soul, wanting to go back to change my previous answers.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:20.

Like a warning from God, I listened to all the possible conditions that might be wrong with me.  This internal alarm resulted in a series of tests on my heart, kidney and thyroid.  The past 48 hours has been like a whirlwind, hooked up to machines, placed on new medicine and forced to endure another series of examinations and tests next week.  This wasn’t the way I expected to spend the week of Thanksgiving.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As I began to embrace self pity, a whisper from God via the Holy Spirit has put my circumstances into it’s proper perspective.  “At least you’re alive.  What about the residents of Paradise, California, losing their city, homes and loved ones?”  While I still don’t know what’s exactly wrong with me beside being overweight, Thanksgiving has a new meaning to me.  Although there will be aches and pains throughout life, staying positive, hopeful and thankful is what get’s you through the tough times.  God uses trials like mine to remind people to place their trust in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Recovering from a Wounded Soul

When the average person begins to feel sick, showing signs of an impending illness, airborne, cold medicine or pain killers are taken to be proactive.  If this action fails to improve your condition, a doctor’s appointment or some sort of check up ensues.  In the worst case scenario, you may even need to be hospitalized.  Yet, when individuals begin to suffer from a broken heart, depression or wounded souls, few react with a sense of urgency.  Thus, society is filled with a spiritual epidemic, unable to recover from a crushed and wounded soul.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

After Levi decided to leave his career as a tax collector to follow Jesus, joining the other 11 disciples, he threw a party at his home, Matthew 9:9-13.  This guest list included former co-workers, Pharisees and sinners.  When this worldly crowd tried to engage spiritual leaders, a clash of classes developed.  This prompted the Pharisees in attendance to question Jesus’ choice of friends and associates.  Using these concerns for a teachable moment, Jesus deciphered the healthy from the sick.  The disciplined and mature are able to self medicate, managing their own spiritual temperature.  However, the addicted, lost and lonely are in need of a spiritual physician.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

According to Jesus, healing occurs as individuals begin to recognize their sins and actively seek forgiveness.  Thus, the key to recovering from a wounded soul involves reconciliation with friends, enemies and God.  Matthew 11:25-30 details a call to action for anyone overwhelmed by the worries of this world.  Jesus promises to give rest to the weary if you are willing to lay your burdens at the feet of the cross.  Whenever someone comes to their senses like the prodigal son, consumed by a sense of urgency, wounded souls are refreshed with salvation, Romans 10:9-10.  May this blog serve as a blue print for healing in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Rediscovering the American Spirit

While Hurricane Harvey and Irma have received most of the headlines this month, another human interest story hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.  As Americans watched images of devastation, flooding and property loss from these storms, compassionate hearts have been compelled to act.  Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watts thought maybe he could raise some money using social media.  More than thirty million dollars later, donations continue to pour in.  Meanwhile, average citizens with boats, trailers and trucks have driven to Texas to aid in the search and rescue of stranded homeowners.  Countless others have provided clothes, diapers and water for victims who have lost everything except their lives.  In the face of adversity, these hurricanes have revived the American Spirit.

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.

From a historical perspective, King Solomon is considered one of the wisest human beings to ever walk the face of the earth.  In the passage above, Solomon points to the goal Israelites should strive to achieve.  Human beings can be fragile, often in need of a social companion.  Whether this is a classmate, co-worker or friend, life is easier when you have someone close to pick you up after a fall.  Sometimes falling refers to a physical act, but others struggle with a lack of confidence, depression or insecurity.  Based upon the context of Genesis 2, Adam spent a portion of his life searching for a suitable helper.  Initially, Adam looked for companionship among animals, likely taking some home as pets.  Yet, at some point these relationships didn’t suffice, eventually resulting in God creating Eve.  The Lord in his infinite wisdom understood the power of one person helping another in need.  Like the pay it forward movement, as one person demonstrates random acts of kindness, other good Samaritans are motivated to join in.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:33.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus uses an analogy to illustrate what happens every day.  Sometimes people get into an accident, need help or are stranded along side of the road.  The people that should come to the rescue like priests and religious people use a busy schedule as an excuse to continue on their way.  The social outcast like the Samaritan ends up saving the day.  One of the points Jesus is trying to make is which one are you?  Are you going to remain on the sideline, failing to lend a helping hand to the countless who lost a home or family member?  Or will the selfless response by J.J. Watt inspire you to abandon your own worries to reach out to someone less fortunate?  Many the power of the Holy Spirit fall upon the volunteers in Florida and Texas to rediscover the American Spirit.  Although there will be other natural disasters in the future, I pray that this kindred spirit of giving continues to impact the lives of individuals forced to start over from scratch.  When communities love their neighbors as themselves, this world becomes a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Man Can Only Take So Much Failure

Parents tend to possess unique ways of motivating their children.  Over the years, most learn which buttons to push and which to avoid.  In the 1996 film Invincible, Kevin Conway plays Vince Papale’s father.  After thinking about backing out of an open try out hosted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Conway addresses Vince played by Mark Wahlberg.  Using reverse psychology, Conway suggests, “Vince, maybe you should sit this one out.  A man can only take so much failure.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

While I have watched this movie several times, this quote struck a cord in my heart for the first time last weekend.  To an extent, this expression is true as human beings can only handle so much.  Over time, everyone reaches a breaking point that leads to depression, heartbreak or suicide.  Thus, when you approach, near or reach this desolate place, it’s essential to turn your attention to God’s grace and mercy as instructed by the passage above.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:10.

The unlikely journey of Vince Papale from bartender to professional football player parallels the life of the apostle Paul.  Vince relies on his friends to get him through the loss of his wife and child.  Meanwhile, Paul places his trust in Christ alone.  The man who once persecuted Christians and gave the order to have Stephen executed ends up becoming a follower of the movement he once despised.  When individuals come to a crossroads in life, you have to eventually choose.  You may have two or multiple paths to decide from.  Yet, if you resolve to fulfill a childhood dream, make sure humility results in leaning on God’s power as a man can only take so much failure.

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Worship

Following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, I’ve been consumed with depression.  Anyone trying to keep up with this story has been bombarded with a media frenzy.  Cable news stopped normal programming to air hourly updates, carry eyewitness reports and talk to panelists about their professional opinions.  The more I listened and watched, the worse I felt.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth, John 4:24.

After experiencing a few days of media silence this week, attempting to remove the negativity from my life, a thought came to my mind.  The Bible suggests that human beings were created to worship God.  When individuals drift off course away from this divine purpose, meaning and purpose for life fades.  Thus, those who reach this point like me need an infusion of worship to revive your soul.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship, Romans 12:1.

Yesterday, I replaced the radio with Christian music from my car stereo.  As soon as a few inspirational songs came on, my mood was transformed.  Instead of arguing with talk radio callers and the host, my mind was swayed by the lyrics I began singing along to.  This spiritual infusion gave me the boost I needed to make it through the day.  However, this shouldn’t be a once in a while practice.  Rather, if you want experience a permanent infusion of worship, set aside time daily for worship by offering your body up as a living sacrifice.

by Jay Mankus

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