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The Spark that Ignited My Passion to Write

It was the Spring of 1992, my final semester of college. I was sitting in the education building at the University of Delaware, surrounded by soon to be teachers. As my professor of Life Span Development began to share stories of her interactions with Mister Rogers, my interest was peaked. These vivid encounters continued for several minutes before introducing our next assignment. On the surface, interviewing one of your parents about your own childhood seemed like an easy paper to write. Yet, these conversations were the spark that ignited my passion to write the screenplay Express Yourself and this blog.

And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue, Exodus 4:10.

Since my father was often traveling the country on business trips, I asked my mom if she could help remember my childhood. What I soon discovered was shocking. I completely repressed any memories of second grade out of my mind. Due to my severe speech impediment, I was told in a parent teacher conference that I wouldn’t be able to handle second grade at a normal school. When I wasn’t able to read out loud, consumed by a stammering spirit, passing English and Grammar seemed impossible. I wish I could say that I stayed optimistic during this trying year, but my mother recounted numerous tantrums triggered by my inability to speak like a normal child.

And the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say, Exodus 4:11-12.

While going through my attic today, I found the paper that I wrote for this class 29 years ago. Quoting a portion of this paper reminds me of the words of Moses listed above. “I was born with a speech impediment. You can call it stuttering or stammering. Either way, every time I opened my mouth I never knew if what I wanted to say would come out right.” This is the pain that Moses and I share. Yet, we each experienced a similar triumph of healing. If you read Moses’ encounters with Pharaoh, he reaches a point that he no longer needs his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. Little did I know at the time, this one paper became the spark that ignited my passion for writing.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Waste the Waning Years of Life

If you want to pace yourself throughout the marathon called life, Hebrews 12:1, taking a break from time to time is essential. Whether this involves getting away for a few days, going on a retreat, or taking a vacation, bodies need to be rejuvenated. When human beings neglect the need to be recharged and refreshed, burnout, emotional breakdowns and exhaustion is likely in your future. Instead of making the most of your waning years, the tired tend to run out the clock.

Isaiah said, What have they seen in your house? Hezekiah answered, They have seen all that is in my house. There is no treasure of mine that I have not shown them. 16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord! 17 Behold, the time is coming when all that is in your house, and that which your forefathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord, 2 Kings 20:15-17.

In the passage above, King Hezekiah was just miraculously healed. After crying out to God in prayer, the Lord gave this king an additional 15 years on earth. Instead of devoting the remaining years of his live to serving God, selfish desires consumed Hezekiah’s soul. Following a visit from the King of Babylon, Hezekiah quickly forgot all that the Lord had done for him. Like a modern day politician who becomes corrupted by power, Hezekiah wastes the waning years of his life.

And some of your sons who shall be born to you shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king. 19 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, The word of the Lord you have spoken is good. For he thought, Is it not good, if [all this evil is meant for the future and] peace and security shall be in my days? – 2 Kings 20:18-19.

Looking back in time, it would have been better if Hezekiah’s illness ended his life. Due to a series of poor choices, Hezekiah’s actions affected his family, faith, and the nation of Judah. Moses introduced the concept of the sins of the father in Exodus 20:5. While 2 Kings doesn’t go into detail of Hezekiah’s transgressions as a father, one of his own sons appears to have been greatly influenced. Subsequently, Manasseh goes on to become one of the most ungodly kings in the Old Testament. This was all set up because a healed king exchanged eternal treasures for temporary pleasures. Seize the day while you still have time.

by Jay Mankus

Prayers to Emulate

According to a recent survey, 90% of the news in the newspaper and on television is negative because that’s what human beings pay attention to. Apparently, consumers of cable and local television have become so desensitized that stories on positive current events is either ignored or drown out by the latest crisis. If you don’t believe me, just check out the death toll of the Coronavirus posted on nearly every news site. This reality has led me to search the Bible for prayers to emulate in a world searching for answers and hope.

After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son? 19 He said to her, Give me your son. And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed and laid him upon his own bed, 1 Kings 17:17-19.

After listening to a sermon last weekend, I was reminded of the story of a poor single woman whose child was extremely ill. Sounds like a typical day in America, minus being unemployed and uninsured. After listening to the ordeals of this woman, Elijah feels compelled to do something. Sensing death was near, Elijah takes this boy into a small chamber and laid him upon a bed. Crying out to the Lord on behalf of this family, Elijah prays for a miracle, trying three times before finally reviving this little boy.

And Elijah cried to the Lord and said, O Lord my God, have You brought further calamity upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? 21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord and said, O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s soul come back into him. 22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the [lower part of the] house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, See, your son is alive! – 1 Kings 17:20-23

Elijah’s prayer reminds me of Jesus’ encounter with Jairus’ daughter, Mark 5:22-42. While on his way to check on this twelve year old girl, Jesus is distracted by the needs of others. A woman suffering from a bleeding disorder, slows Jesus’ journey. By the time Jesus reaches Jairus’ home, weeping family members spread word of this girl’s death. Unwilling to accept this fate, Jesus enters her bedroom to pray “Talitha cumi,” little girl arise from your sleep. Jairus’ daughter was instantly healed. The next time you find yourself in a desperate situation, don’t be afraid to emulate one of these prayers from the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming a Nervous Breakdown

The definition of a nervous breakdown is a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety. This condition manifests itself primarily as severe stress-induced depression, anxiety or dissociation in a previously functioning individual. If these symptoms continue without any sort of intervention, the afflicted are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until this disorder is cured.  During a long cross country practice in high school, I had my own breakdown while running up a hill.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah [over eighty miles, and out of Jezebel’s realm] and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers, 1 Kings 19:1-4.

A mental breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation and similar stressors. In the passage above, an Old Testament prophet wasn’t prepared for the revenge sought by Queen Jezebel. After defeating the prophets of Asherah and Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah may have become over confident, 1 Kings 18:38-40. If I successfully called fire to come down from heaven following a prayer like Elijah, I would feel invincible.

As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said to him, Arise and eat. He looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you. So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God, 1 Kings 19:5-8.

Unfortunately, only God knows the future. Thus, when your suffer a surprising defeat, shocking failure or a humiliating lose, it takes time to recover. If a life is lost or a job terminated, the recovery time is often extended to months and years to feel normal again. This is when you need to retreat like Elijah to quiet place, to be still before God, 1 Kings 19:11-13. While the healing process will vary, this is the first step toward overcoming a nervous breakdown.

by Jay Mankus

PERMA

The technical term PERMA is an acronym for a model of well-being put forth by Martin Seligman. Seligman is considered a pioneer in in the field of positive psychology. PERMA consists of five important building blocks of well-being and happiness. The P stands for positive emotions, E for engagement, R for relationships, M for mission and A for accomplishments. This model was designed to help those individuals who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder and want to overcome this through a major comeback mentally.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.

The Bible compliments the PERMA model through a series of promises. Whenever you are on the road to recovery, doubt is one of the greatest obstacles, filling your mind with unbelief. Following a grueling injury while running a cross country race in high school, my doctors weren’t optimistic of me making a full recovery. After seeing the x-rays of my torn tendons, I was told that I would never run again, a permanent screw would have to be placed into my ankle, and I’d probably walk with a limp the rest of my life.

If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love. 11 I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing, John 15:10-11.

At this time as a 16 year old, I wasn’t aware of the power of prayer. The day before my operation I was mobbed by Christian friends who laid hands on me, praying for a successful surgery. Twenty four hours later, the chief surgeon at Thomas Jefferson Hospital was amazed, explaining this procedure to me after I woke up. Like a skeptic who became open to the power of God, my ankle magically popped into place after twisting it back into where it belonged. Although I never heard of PERMA until listening to a recent sermon, I understood the importance of removing doubt from your mind before you pray, Matthew 21:19-22. May prayer be your PERMA.

by Jay Mankus

Follow the Science… Unless It Contradicts the Media’s Narrative

Comments from an event hosted by the organization of America’s Frontline Doctors recently went viral throughout the internet. After more than five million views, Dr. Simone Gold’s praise of Hydroxychloroquine was deleted by all major social media platforms. Despite being a board-certified physician and attorney, Dr. Simone Gold was silenced. Why, you may ask? These doctors came together to address what this group calls a “massive disinformation campaign” about the coronavirus.

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.

When asked to explain their actions, a spokesman for Facebook said, “we’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” When pressed by a Breitbart News reporter, Facebook did not specify what portion of the video contained false information. Nor did Facebook reveal what doctor it consulted to make this ruling and on what basis it was made. If you want me to fill in between the lines, follow the science unless it contradicts the narrative of the mainstream media.

The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health, Psalm 41:3.

Based upon a recent report, there are currently 139 preclinical vaccine projects in search of finding a cure for COVID-19. Of these vaccine projects, 6 have reached phase 3, the final stage prior to being approved. In other words, president Trump’s Operation Warp Speed is off to a good start to find a cure for the Coronavirus. Meanwhile, Dr. Simon Gold who is a practicing physician who has had great success treating patients with Hydroxychloroquine had her website dropped by SquareSpace and all of her videos have been deleted. Thus, it appears politicians want citizens to follow the science unless it contradicts the media’s narrative.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back from Your Own Bathsheba Like Moment

Instead of using the term reputation, the Bible uses the expression “good name” to refer to an outstanding citizen. King Solomon sets this as a goal to aim for, Proverbs 22:1, better than a precious ointment, Ecclesiastes 7:1. Unfortunately, it only takes one emotional outburst, moment of weakness or subtle compromise to flush your reputation down the toilet. Every week there is breaking news of a shocking fall from grace, the byproduct of a secret sin or sins. When the sun rises on the next day, it’s time to bounce back from your own Bathsheba like moment.

One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold. David sent and inquired about the woman. One said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers and took her. And she came in to him, and he lay with her—for she was purified from her uncleanness. Then she returned to her house, 2 Samuel 11:2-4.

If you think that “this will never happen to me,” don’t be so sure. Check out what happened to a man after God’s own heart. One night David was unable to sleep, so he takes a stroll on top of his castle. While checking out the scenery, a beautiful woman is taking a bath outside in a hot tub. Eager to find out about her availability, David sends a servant who brings back the bad news, “she’s married.” On any other occasion, David would have accepted this and moved on. However, something changed as David was lured away by sexual fantasies as enticement and lust consumed him.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

While you may not have committed adultery, the internet has opened up entirely new avenues to ruin your reputation. A politically incorrect blog post, an inappropriate picture or expressing opinions that oppose secular worldviews can get you into hot water or worse. While I don’t want people to refrain from sharing what you believe, you have to do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:14-15. The earthly brother of Jesus explains at the end of his letter how to bounce back from your own Bathsheba moment, James 5:16. When you confess your sins to one another and pray for each other, restoring your name and reputation can occur.

by Jay Mankus

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In 1982, the Clash released their album Combat Rock. While the song Should I Stay or Should I Go never cracked the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts at this time, a commercial a decade later struck a cord with music lovers. Following a Levi Jeans ad campaign featuring this song, Should I Stay or Should I Go was re-released in 1991. Subsequently, this song reached number one on the United Kingdom’s Singles Chart. This success led Rolling Stones Magazine to rate this Clash hit as one of the top 500 Greatest Songs of all time in 2004.

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were going from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, Tarry here, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel. But Elisha replied, As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. So they went down to Bethel. The prophets’ sons who were at Bethel came to Elisha and said, Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you today? He said, Yes, I know it; hold your peace, 2 Kings 2:1-3.

In the Old Testament, one man was chosen to be the successor of Elijah. Prior to the mantle from being passed on, God tests Elisha to see if he is up to the challenge. Beginning in 2 Kings 2, Elijah visits four cities, asking Elisha to stay behind. Eager to spend ever last minute with Elijah, Elisha refuses to take no for an answer. Each time Elisha replies, “As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” One of the reasons for this resolve is that Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah was dependent of witnessing Elijah being taken up to heaven. Thus, Elisha is determined to go wherever God leads Elijah.

Elijah said to him, Tarry here, I pray you, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan. But he said, As the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you. And the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood [to watch] afar off; and the two of them stood by the Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they divided this way and that, so that the two of them went over on dry ground. And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me, 2 Kings 2:6-9.

Upon being freed from a legion of demons, a man begs Jesus to become one of his disciples, Mark 5:17-20. However, Jesus convinced this man to go home to his family and share how God has healed him. To those with broken, dysfunctional or unloving families, this call is difficult. The question you have to ask yourself, “should I stay where I am in a comfortable spot in life or leave my comfort zone to share my faith with others?” Although you still may be stuck at home due to the Coronavirus, when America reopens for good, God is looking for the next Elisha, eager to receive a double portion of the Holy Spirit by going where God leaves.

by Jay Mankus

A Special Endowment from God

Leadership is the action of leading a group of people through hardship, ordeals and trials. Genuine leaders cast a vision, take the initiative as a trail blazers to show the way and direct and guide followers through difficult times. Researchers have uncovered 12 different leadership styles that exist. A leadership style is merely the way a person uses power to lead other people. If you are still stuck at home as a non-essential worker, you’ve probably seen rogue governors of several states using the national guard and police officers to enforce their specific declarations. Several of these ordinances are unconstitutional, but these leaders are using fear of the Coronavirus to control American citizens.

Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

The older I become, the more I hear and see people blame God for disasters, failures or setbacks that they face in life.  Meanwhile, these same individuals, especially politicians, grandstand by taking credit for any accomplishment, success or victory in their city, state or county.  Instead of spreading around the praise to all the parties involved, press conferences are used to deflect blame while hoarding the credit.  Natural leaders don’t have to pretend to be successful as their labor is on display, a visible sign of spiritual fruit.  Unfortunately, God has become the scapegoat when things go wrong, a proverbial punching bag at the center of many complaints.

Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination]. 15 Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry], so that your progress may be evident to everybody, 1 Timothy 4:14-15.

The passage above is a blue print for spiritual leadership. According to the apostle Paul, everyone is given a special endowment from God. This spiritual gift often lays dormant until the Holy Spirit enters your life through a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. In the first century, the laying on of hands was a common practice for healing and prayer. The apostle Paul urges Timothy to fan into flame the spiritual gift revealed to him in 2 Timothy 1:6. In other words, you can’t be the leader God wants you to become until your spiritual gift is discovered and implemented. While you can’t control what others do or say, may this blog inspire you to show others the way as action speak louder than words.

by Jay Mankus

The Message Behind the Song Miracles

Chris Quilala of Jesus Culture wrote a song over a decade ago that changed his life. A member of the worship team of Bethel Church in Sacramento, California, the inspiration behind the song “God of Miracles” was born out of the loss of his son. At 37 weeks, Chris’ wife lost their son before he was born. While praying for a miracle, things didn’t turn out quite as he expected. This tragedy forced Chris to ponder, “Can I still proclaim the truth that God is our healer, who raises the dead?”

And His name, through and by faith in His name, has made this man whom you see and recognize well and strong. [Yes] the faith which is through and by Him [Jesus] has given the man this perfect soundness [of body] before all of you, Acts 3:16.

In the beginning of 2020, I came across a you tube where the pastor of Bethel Church mentions Chris and his wife’s testimony. As a father with three children, my heart grieved for this couple, forming a special bond each time I now hear this song. Last week, I found the lyrics of Miracles to be an effective and powerful prayer. Early Tuesday morning, I started to panic, sensing that something was wrong internally. I wasn’t sure if it was my back, spleen or ribs, but I was struggling to cope with a shooting pain.

While You stretch out Your hand to cure and to perform signs and wonders through the authority and by the power of the name of Your holy Child and Servant Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom and boldness and courage, Acts 4:30-31.

Following my first tele doctor appointment, my symptoms were associated and related to a pulled or strained back muscle. After a couple of days of medication and treatment, mainly using a heating pad, I was healed by a God of miracles. I can’t comprehend nor do I understand why some prayers are answered while others go without a clear response. Nonetheless, I went from a man not knowing if my wife should drive me to the hospital to nearly pain free one week later. My only explanation for this healing is a God of Miracles.

by Jay Mankus

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