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Tag Archives: fear

Responding to Criticism

Censure, denunciation and reproof are examples of criticism. Whenever condemnation comes your way, it’s not pleasant. Some of the accusations made against you may not be credible. Yet, how you respond to criticism will dictate how others will react to you.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor, Proverbs 29:23.

After a series of severe tribulations, three of Job’s friends jumped to the same conclusion. Using Old Testament logic, these men associated bad things as a curse from God. In their eyes, Job must have done something wrong to have all of his children die and become inflicted with boils. The book of Job is filled with criticism followed by Job’s response.

Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the curse [when swearing an oath to testify], but discloses nothing [and commits perjury by omission]. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe, Proverbs 29:25.

King Solomon provides advice to individuals facing the hot seat known as criticism. When attacked, human nature relies on pride to defend yourself. Instead of allowing a knee jerk response to come out of your mouth, Solomon encourages individuals to embrace rebukes. Everyone has room for improvement, subtle imperfections that need to be worked out. Thus, the next time you receive critical comments, ask the Lord how these words can be used to benefit you in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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Inside Out

I’m usually not a big fan of animation movies. Yet, it seems like every Pixar film appeals to kids and adults. Whether you’re talking about Cars, Toy Story or Finding Nemo, there is something for everyone in the audience. When I first put Inside Out into my DVD player, my initial thought was “this is going to be lame.” The more I watched, I became glued to the screen.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer, Romans 12:12.

This 2015 animation illustrates how emotions affect the life of a newborn baby called Riley. Inside this little girl, characters compete to influence Riley’s life through a control panel. Joy, sadness, fear, disgust and anger take turns helping Riley understand these emotions. Until her family moves to San Francisco, Joy is the dominate emotion, maintaining a positive mindset despite what happens each day.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

As joy and sadness get sucked out of the control center during an accident, Riley’s life takes a drastic turn for the worse. This portion of the film pierced my heart, taking me back to my years in junior high when I was lost, lonely and searching for the meaning to life. Like Riley, I tried to find alternates, substitutes to fill the void in my heart. Nothing satisfied me until a friend introduced me to Jesus. The only way to truly change is to open your heart to Jesus who has the power to transform you from the inside out.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Afraid or Hesitant to Ask God

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him, James 1:5.

Three pillars of faith advise readers of the Bible to essentially do the same thing. The earthly brother of Jesus suggests that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God who has a long history of generosity. The disciple whom Jesus loved adds to the concept. The context to any prayer request should emphasize and align your wishes with God’s will. Meanwhile, during his Sermon on the Mount Jesus urges listeners to not be afraid or hesitant to ask God. Rather, continue to seek and knock on God’s door until answers are received.

This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. 15 And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him, 1 John 5:14-15.

In the passage above, John speaks from experience. These words aren’t some unrealistic dream that you hope for God to answer a prayer. Rather, John refers to his degree of confidence as he reflects upon all the prayers that the Lord has specifically answered. One of the reasons some people don’t offer up prayer requests to God is the fear of being disappointed. John urges readers of the Bible to move beyond doubt by trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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.

One of Jesus’ biggest frustrations with human beings is their lack of dependence on God. Throughout the gospels Jesus highlights one essential point, “you don’t have because you haven’t asked.” According to the passage above, prayers are directly linked to your degree of belief. The greater your faith, the more you will begin to see answers to prayer. However, when doubt enters your mind, prayers become words without any divine power. Therefore, if you want to see modern miracles don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask God. When you do pray, place your personal trust and confidence in Jesus to do what he promises in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Weather or Not?

Whenever I go on vacation, I try to check weather forecasts prior to leaving.  Depending upon the site you choose, you can research temperature up to ten days or hour by hour.  Usually, this helps me know what clothes to pack.  Unfortunately, just because a network has the most sophisticated technology in the world doesn’t make their anchors weather experts.  Anyone with a weather radar channel or doppler program open can see weather systems approaching.  However, unless you understand what you seeing on a screen, the exact forecast will always be in doubt.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4

This past weekend I had planned a family ski trip in the Poconos, two hours north in Pennsylvania.  The early projections called for heavy snow Saturday, causing me to alter my initial plans.  To make matters worse, the state of Pennsylvania issued a state of emergency at noon Saturday.  Two days of skiing at Camelback Mountain turned into one, but snow didn’t start falling until five in the afternoon.  Right on the ice/snow line, estimations ranged from three to twelve inches.  To a certain extent, my families plans were held hostage by an ever changing weather report.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

In times of doubt and indecision, individuals are forced to rely on common sense.  When you aren’t able to decide which way to go or turn, the Bible introduces the concept of trusting God.  You may take the information provided like a weather forecast, but God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25, can direct you like it did for the apostle Paul during the first century.  Perhaps, this explains why the translators of the King James Bible use the term Holy Ghost to describe the Holy Spirit.  This invisible force serves as a counselor, a guiding hand during times of darkness.  Whether or not forecasts are correct, trusting God can turn cloudy or foggy mornings into an ideal day on the slopes.  Sometimes the weather is merely a state of mind.  When trust is present, fear is replaced by a loving appreciation for God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

My Ultimate Appeal

The 2006 film Amazing Grace details the life of William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce was an English politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to stop the Atlantic slave trade.  Despite battling health issues, Wilberforce persisted through initial failed attempts to persuade fellow politicians.  Before his death in 1833, Wilberforce was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

“The Bible is my ultimate appeal… slavery is contrary to the example and precepts of our body and merciful Redeemer, and of his apostles… Slavery then is a national sin,” Angelina Grimke.

Fourteen years before the Civil War began, a woman from the south felt compelled to make an appeal to Christian women who also lived in the south.  Using the Bible as her main point of reference, Angelina Grimke wrote letters to persuade other believers.  One of these letters is on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.  Excerpts from the quote above can be found within a display on the Bible’s impact on ending slavery.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1.

The apostle Paul makes a similar appeal during the first century.  However, the context of the passage above refers to spiritual slavery.  Some churches, denominations and leaders used fear, legalism and peer pressure to make followers conform to their demands.  A group known as the Judaizers began to infiltrate the church at Galatia.  This sect held on to Jewish rituals, adding circumcision to salvation by forcing members to comply.  This practice goes against free will as God doesn’t force individuals to do anything.  Rather, God gives people the choice to accept or reject Jesus.  Any teaching that strays from this is a form of slavery according to Paul.  Just as Angelina Grimke makes her ultimate appeal, God longs for souls who hunger and thirst for the Bible to avoid falling prey to ungodly beliefs.

by Jay Mankus

When God is Near… Fear Disappears

If you have lived long enough, you will see something that you can’t explain.  Whether you experience some sort of spiritual phenomena, are spooked by the presence of darkness or witness an unidentified flying object, fear is a common emotion.  These events result in awe, goosebumps and head scratching thoughts.  When God’s presence seems distant, fear can overwhelm souls.  However, when God seems near, fear disappears.

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened, Luke 2:8-9.

At the beginning of the first century, a few shepherds had their own encounter with the supernatural.  When the country side began to glow with the presence of heavenly hosts, these men were frightened.  Shepherds are use to sudden attacks by wolves seeking to eat one of their sheep.  Yet, when the evening sky is overwhelmed by the glory of the Lord, it’s not surprising that these shepherds were freaked out.  Recognizing the fear in their eyes, an angel used a conversation to settle their nerves.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. 11 For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). 12 And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger,” Luke 2:10-12.

The term certainty refers to a fact that is definitely true.  Prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus, fear riddled my life.  My lack of direction in life along with the uncertainty of my eternal destination resulted in a reoccurring nightmare.  By the age of ten, I cried myself to sleep on a nightly basis, unaware of the meaning to life.  This state of sadness led me to pursue answers to my questions.  While I still get scared from time to time, the moment God entered my life, fear disappeared.

by Jay Mankus

Forcing Aside Unbelief

As a former teacher, there is nothing like a great open ended question to promote discussion.  Unfortunately, peer pressure deters many from asking the thought on their mind, afraid of what others may think.  When Jesus visited an obscure town during the first century, an un-named person was not denied, eager to discover if it’s possible to escape God’s judgment and wrath.

And someone asked Him, “Lord, will only a few be saved [from the penalties of the last judgment]?” And He said to them, Luke 13:23.

Jesus responds with an interesting comment in the passage below.  The two greatest obstacles to human beings is unbelief and the attractive nature of sin.  My initial response was Jesus has it backwards, the attraction to temptation should be first.  Yet, based upon the order, unbelief is the reason why people give into and indulge sinful desires.  Thus, Jesus urged this audience to force aside unbelief.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able,” Luke 13:24.

Based upon the content of 1 John 2:15-17, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of fellowship.  When you have fellowship with God, communing in prayer, study and worship, spiritual light in the form of right and wrong will be revealed to you.  However, if you participate in fellowship with the world, unbelief will open your eyes to lust and sensual cravings of the flesh.  Therefore, unless you force aside unbelief via the Holy Spirit, you will be vulnerable to the attractions of sin.  May this blog inspire you to seek the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

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