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Escaping Loneliness

Abandonment, isolation and rejection are just a few words that reflect the feelings within a lonely heart.  Loneliness can be self inflicted when alienated, busy or distracted by your own self interests.  Yet, most lonely people are haunted by broken relationships, a loss of confidence or low self esteem which often leads to withdrawing from family and friends.  For anyone who finds themselves in this predicament, the quicker you can escape loneliness, the better.

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment], Hebrews 4:15-16.

The author of Hebrews suggests that not even Jesus was immune to loneliness.  Referred to as the great high priest, Jesus is able to sympathize and understand human weaknesses and temptations.  No verse in the Bible highlights this fact than the passage below.  On the verge of fulfilling God’s will, Jesus felt forsaken, abandoned by his heavenly father.  Despite the raw emotions expiressed, Jesus prepared himself for this moment by praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before..

Now from the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice,Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:45-46

As a highly motivated individual, pursuing my own dreams and goals can result in isolation.  Unless I slow down to invite others into my life, invisible walls are built to shield myself from those who care about me.  Thus, before I find myself heading toward a lone ranger syndrome, I need to take a step back before speeding ahead.  The best way I have found to escape loneliness is by spending time meditating upon God’s Word.  When I do, the Holy Spirit puts everything into perspective by prompting me to  restore relationships that need to be healed.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Council for the Tempted

One of the ploys of the devil is to make people think that they are all alone, with nobody who truly understands their situation.  Those who fall prey to this mentality often leads to isolation, causing struggling people to feel abandoned by God.  This lie blinds many from the reality that there is council for the tempted.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin, Hebrews 4:15.

According to the author of Hebrews, there is one person who is able to empathize with our weaknesses.  Yet, despite enduring the same temptations common to mankind, Jesus did not sin.  Thus, there is a reliable individual who can relate to the human race.  Therefore, when you are on the verge of giving in, fix your eyes on Jesus.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

The apostle Paul discovered that there is a way out of every temptation.  Its unclear whether the Holy Spirit or Jesus himself revealed this information.  Nonetheless, for those of you facing extreme situations, these words are helpful council for the tempted.  Therefore, the next time you consider giving in, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the way out.  This bit of advice will provide the defeated with direction toward victory in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Traces of Decay

As a car ages, there are certain subtle signs which convey a vehicle on its last legs.  Driveways become stained with oil, unusual noises will surface and acceleration pauses just a bit before finally kicking in.  Although modes of transportation can be lemons, there are plenty of what people call “old reliable” which get you where you need to go.  However, traces of decay should serve as a warning that it may be time to move on.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return, Genesis 3:19.

Meanwhile, human beings possess there own signals that they are about to breakdown.  Frustration, irritations and unhappy faces can be like taking a look under the hood.  While individuals can put on fake smiles, inside bitterness can erupt into a raging inferno.  On the other side of the spectrum, discontentment cause many to lose that loving feeling for life, slipping into periods of depression, despondence or isolation.  As these stages approach, intervention is essential before traces of decay turn into reality.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away, Revelation 21:4.

As for me, I find myself taking on a new persona when I get into my car.  Suddenly, I become perfect and all the drivers around me are idiots.  My commentary is relentless, lasting throughout my travels.  This self seeking nature is fueled by a desire to get home, abandoning the rules of the road like a politician during an election year.  Recently, these traces of decay have come to my attention, one of many stains of sin within my heart.  If you too are feeling like you’re going down the wrong road, may the Holy Spirit serve as a pit crew, cleaning up the messes you have made, one sin at a time.

by Jay Mankus

Owner of a Lonely Heart

The classic rock group Yes introduced their song in 1983.  Debuting on the 90125 album, Owner of a Lonely Heart spoke to broken souls, striking a nerve that many experience throughout life.  Prior to its success, this song was turned down by a number of record companies, calling Owner of a Lonely Heart a strange song that would never be a hit.  If Paul Harvey was still here, I’m sure he would say, “and now you know the rest of the story!”

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10

In recent years, Jon Anderson, the lead singer of Yes teamed up with 4Him, a Christian Contemporary group to sing Where There is Faith.  Whether its coincidence, fate or mere circumstance, but believing you will be set free from a lonely heart takes faith.  If you’re down in the dumps, with little hope of improving, doubt creeps in, opening the door for depression, isolation or suicide.  This is where faith can intervene.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

The lyrics of Owner of a Lonely Heart refers to free will on several occasions.  After reading the lyrics, loneliness is a choice, a decision one makes to either dwell in their sorrows or take a chance on tomorrow.  If any of you find yourself to be an owner of a lonely heart today, take some time to read God’s promises in the Bible for those suffering from loneliness.  May the message in these words turn your heart from grief to comfort, trusting in the loving hands of Jesus for healing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

An Illness Called Isolation

No father ever starts out their quest to provide for their family with visions of fulfilling the words of Cats in the Cradle by Cat Stevens.  Yet, the pressure to survive, make rent, pay off a mortgage or actually save money takes individuals into a land of mirages.  Unable to distinguish between bare necessities from the luxuries in life, some men contract an illness called isolation.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.- 1 Timothy 5:8

Like an aggressive form of cancer, isolation blinds people from what’s important in life: faith, family and friends.  Subsequently, many press on unaware they are on the verge of forfeiting their soul.  Searching for something bigger and better, Americans leave their roots for the almighty dollar.  Unfortunately, one day victims will awaken from their coma only to realize that their family is grown, relationships have faded away and isolation is their only true friend.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34-35

The cure to this crippling disease is found when patients start to embrace the community around them.  Only when you exit the rat race and slow down enough to invest in the lives of your neighbors do the symptoms of isolation begin to vanish.  The life of Coach Jim White, inspiration for the film McFarland USA reminds me its not too late for change.  Therefore, the next time you receive an invitation for a job too good to be true, look around before you say yes to ensure isolation doesn’t seduce you, carrying you away from the community God designed you to embrace.

by Jay Mankus

 

Contagious

Over the last month, scenes from the 1985 film Outbreak have come to life.  Dustin Hoffman,Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo  portray the spread of an Ebola like disease imported to America by an infective monkey.  Panic spreads throughout a town which becomes ground zero when the virus goes air born after a victim starts coughing at the local movie theater.    Isolation is the only hope to contain this deadly disease.

Another invisible wave poises a similar threat if not stopped.  According to 2 Timothy 2:16-17, godless chatter can spread like gangrene.  Unless its momentum is cut off, negativity can multiple like wild fires, overflowing from city to city. Fueled by politicians and talk shows, minds are easily infected, piling on, losing control of their emotions with each demoralizing comment.

In life, there aren’t many safe havens remaining.  On every corner, temptation lurks waiting to wrap its claws around you.  Once contaminated, there is only one doctor who possesses the anti-venom, Luke 19:10, to cure the human heart of its condition, Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Nonetheless, everyone is spreading something, either good or bad.  Therefore, the next time you open your mouth, try to cut corners or lead someone astray, think about James 5:19-20 so that the mark you leave will turn others in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Cure to Nightmares

Gone are the days of the Boogie Man living beneath your bed.  Hollywood has devised more sidious figments of your imagination such as Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers and Hannibal Lecter.  All it takes is a scary movie, darkness and isolation to invite nightmares into your dreams.  This is where fear turns an ordinary evening into a terrifying experience.

When you add fuel to this fire by indulging in graphic images on television, the degree only intensifies.  Although dreams come and go, anyone who opens the door to demonic activity, Ephesians 4:26-27, will need a spiritual remedy to set their mind free from nightly horror.  Thoughts such as,” its just an R-rated movie, what harm could possibly come from this,” will likely dig a hole that can haunt souls for years.

According to the Psalmist, there is a cure for nightmares.  Sleepless nights will come to an end as you begin to dwell in the shelter of God’s wings, Psalm 91:1.  This isn’t a casual relationship, coming and going as you please.  Rather, Psalm 91:2-4 suggests a devout faith, trusting in the Lord, not your own strength to overcome obstacles, snares and trials in life.  As your commitment level breeds spiritual disciplines, God promises to protect you from Satan’s flaming arrows in the day and conscience from fear at night, Psalm 91:5.  Applying these principles lead to sweet dreams once again.

by Jay Mankus

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