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How Can You Love Your Neighbor When You Hate The Person You’ve Become?

Clive Staples Lewis was an atheist and British writer before becoming a lay theologian. C.S. Lewis once contemplated the concept of loving your neighbor. The following quote reveals his thoughts. You are told to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you love yourself? When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings.” This same dilemma exists today as how can you love your neighbor when many people don’t like the person they’ve become.

Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect), Matthew 22:36-37.

Following a series of parables, Jesus is asked by a religious leader a spiritual question. “What’s the most important commandment?” Instead of de-emphasizing the other 9 from the most essential, Jesus divides the commandments into two parts. The first 4 commandments are based upon loving God with the final 6 focused on loving your neighbor. When Christians began to love God with all their hearts, soul and mind, the practice of religion turns into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 40 These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 22:38-40.

When hearts grow cold, love stops naturally flowing out of human beings. If faith is not revived or resuscitated, this lack of love can slowly turn into self hatred for oneself. When sources for love dry up, there is no positivity that bubbles over on to the people you interact with daily. The longer this subtle decay continues, there is no inspiration to love friends and family. The key to loving your neighbor is to tap into the love of God, John 3:16-17. As individuals begin to feel and sense God’s love, desires to pass this on to others is restored. Unfortunately, healing take time. Just hang in there long enough for restoration to ignite your heart with the love of God.

by Jay Mankus

The Haves and Have Nots

The expression “the haves and have nots” dates back to the 17th century. One of the initial usages was based upon your socio-economic status. This superficial characterization focused on anyone who was living in poverty or did not have much money. As the wealthy flashed signs of their wealth while looking down on the less fortunate, the haves and the have nots was conceived.

To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:8-9.

The apostle Paul created his own list of the haves and have nots in the first century. However, the context of this list was based upon spiritual gifts given to Christians within the Church at Corinth. Some individuals received special powers such as healing, prophecy and the ability to perform miracles. Apparently, these talents were going to some of their heads, looking down upon people with lesser gifts such as giving, hospitality and service.

To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight ([c]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. 11 All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses, 1 Corinthians 12:10-11.

Not much has changed over the past 2000 years. Occupations like doctors, lawyers, and scientists are held in high esteem while those forced to work in blue collared jobs are looked down upon. Regardless of how others view you, God wants Christians to focus on what they have, not what you don’t. Part of life is figuring out what you’re the best at and where you fit in. Once your spiritual gift is revealed to you, the rest of life should be spent looking for opportunities to apply your gift. Fan into flame what you have so that your life impacts the have nots.

by Jay Mankus

Mind Games

As a teenage boy, I wasn’t charismatic or eloquent. I struggled to maintain a B average and entered high school at 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. While competing in sports was my first love, attractive females began to get my attention. Unfortunately, I was so small and quiet, that I was invisible when other guys were around. Subsequently, dating was something that I longed for, but was unable find someone that liked me more than a friend.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

What made matters worse was a severe speech impediment. When I opened my mouth, I never knew if I was going to embarrass myself in class or actually spit something out. I could visualize what I wanted to say, but my mind would play tricks on me. The longer this condition persisted, I began to develop an ungodly belief that I would never be able to share what was in my heart and on my mind.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

After entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the promises of the Bible. When I learned about my own internal struggles in Galatians 5:16-18, the miracles of Jesus gave me hope. My prayers began to focus on healing my stuttering so that this mind game would end. Twenty years after my condition was first diagnosed, the power of the Holy Spirit finally broke through. While the Devil still tries to remind me of my past, the Bible has steadied my faith as this spiritual mind game continues today.

by Jay Mankus

When Fears are Replaced by Faith

Everyone has a personality with some more dominant than others. Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. While the outgoing tend to be more blunt, the shy leave subtle reminders to get your attention. This could be an exaggerated cough, specific body language or a certain facial expression to signal a need for help.

And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, Keep all the commandments with which I charge you today. And on the day when you pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall set up great stones and cover them with plaster, Deuteronomy 27:1-2.

As Moses was about to hand over leadership responsibilities to Joshua, God used his writing of Deuteronomy to serve as a not so subtle reminder. According to Exodus 4:10-12, Moses was reluctant to be the verbal communicator for Israel. Apparently, Moses possessed a speech impediment, likely some form of stammering or stuttering. As someone who struggled with stuttering for two decades, whenever I opened my mouth, I never knew for sure what would come out.

And you shall write on them all the words of this law when you have passed over, that you may go into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, Deuteronomy 27:3.

Instead of looking at the power of His God, Moses could only see as far as his disability. This lack of faith irritated the Lord, sending his brother Aaron to be the voice piece of God until Moses developed the courage to face his fear. While Exodus does not speak of a healing, Moses began to find his voice during the Ten Plagues. If human beings could simply catch a glimpse of God’s healing power, fears would quickly fade, replaced by faith.

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

Understanding the Seasons of Change

According to Genesis 2:4-6, the earth’s atmosphere was initially like an open canopy. According to Moses, underground springs bubbled up from beneath the surface to water the earth. Prior to the flood, there was only one season with a tropical climate similar to a greenhouse effect. Before the heavens opened up to bring rain for the first time, the springs of the earth burst forth, Genesis 7:11. This passage suggests some sort of enormous volcanic eruption like the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park. As massive clouds of volcanic ash blocked out the sun, the first age began, setting in motion the four seasons that exist today.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

King Solomon provides a famous analogy about seasons of change in the passage above. Just as winter gives way to spring, spring introduces summer before summer fades to fall, the cycle is completed by a return to winter. Solomon refers to specific events that take place every year and throughout your life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 suggests that there is a time and place for everything. According to Solomon, God makes everything beautiful in His time as healing allows broken souls to mend and recover. Yet, for anyone undergoing an extremely difficult period in their life, understanding the seasons of change takes time.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

If discovering God’s will for your life can take a couple of decades, discerning the seasons of change involves deep thought and reflection. You may want to pursue a specific career or dream, but when failure causes you to change course, figuring out where to go next takes time. I still remember when I felt God calling me to become a golf professional, then a youth pastor followed by a Bible teacher and golf coach. Each time I thought, surely this is God’s will for my life until the seasons of change left me unemployed. One New Testament author gives great advice for understanding the seasons of change in Hebrews 12:1. If you treat life like a marathon, you have to push through the pain to run with perseverance so when the seasons do change, you’ll be ready to adjust and move on.

by Jay Mankus

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

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