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When a Joy Ride is Interrupted by Stress

The term joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. When you add similar expressions such as “joyful” and “joyous”, joy is mentioned over 200 times. While the phrase joyride refers to a ride taken for pleasure, usually in an automobile, a New York City judge derived this term in the context of stealing cars or reckless driving. Nonetheless, when a joyous occasion rejuvenates your soul, lives glide through days with a positive mindset.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:4-6.

Unfortunately, moments of joy are often rudely interrupted by stress and worry. There are 40 different passages in the Bible that address the topic of stress and hard times. Meanwhile, worry is used 38 times in the Bible. One of the greatest examples of a joy ride being interrupted by stress is found in Matthew 16. Peter goes from being praised by Jesus in verses 17 and 18 to being rebuked moments later in Matthew 16:22, “get behind me Satan.”

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:7-8.

During a letter written to Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul felt the need to encourage those overwhelmed by stress and worry. Instead of allowing the enemy to ruin your days of joy, Paul provide advice to stay positive. When you can’t find anything in your life to be thankful for, rejoice in the Lord. Pray for a forbearing spirit so that anxiety, uncontrollable circumstances and stress will roll off your back. The next time your joy is interrupted, let the peace of Christ settle you down.

by Jay Mankus

The Fight to Survive

The song I Will Survive was written and composed by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. The first recording of this song was done by Gloria Gaynor in 1978. As a top-selling song, I Will Survive became a popular disco anthem. The lyrics just prior to the opening chorus reads “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?” This line leads into “Oh, no, not I, I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive.
I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive, I will survive, hey, hey.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

Over the past 9 months, the fight to survive has taken on a new meaning. Between the Coronavirus, the lock down designed to flatten the curve, wearing masks in public and the stress to keep up with your bills has worn down countless souls. Meanwhile, as individuals have been stuck inside their homes, addiction, abuse, depression and suicide has skyrocketed. All it takes is just one more setback to push people over the edge, losing the will to live and survive. While I’ve probably been more fortunate than most in 2020, I too have known individuals who have lost their battle with COVID-19.

In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—Ephesians 2:2

While some have blamed God for this worldwide plague, the Bible points to a spiritual enemy. Jesus calls this character a thief, seeking to kill your dreams, steal your joy and eliminate the concept of hope. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul eludes to the spiritual dimension where Lucifer reigns, commanding demons to attack at a moments notice. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 provides advice, directions and insight to deal with these dark powers. The only way to fight back is by using spiritual weapons. May this blog encourage you to not lose hope so that you will survive your next trial.

by Jay Mankus

What is God Waiting for You to Do?

I’ve never been at great student. Assignments that others finished in class took me twice as long to complete. Whether this was due to a lack of concentration or day dreaming, I never really developed a sense of urgency when it came to school. While several of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do following graduation, I changed my major three times before my junior year of college. Taking the 5 year plan, I narrowed down my future to becoming a golf course architect or youth pastor.

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.

During a dual internship with golf during the day and ministry at night and on the weekends, God was waiting for me to make a decision. Since I was too blunt to become a successful architect, I followed my heart into the ministry. However, indecision caused me to bounce around from position to position: Summer Workcamp Coordinator, Youth Director, Boarding School Counselor and Teacher. Being curious isn’t bad, but at some point God wanted me to become stable, staying in one place long enough to see the fruits of my labor.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you, Philippians 1:6.

Over the past 2 decades, I’ve stayed in two places for 18 years. While I’m no longer in the ministry, this blog has to suffice for now until I figure out what God wants me to do next. Of course freewill gives me the option to do whatever I want. Yet, I’ve learned that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, brings me joy that surpasses all understanding. Therefore, as I linger for now, unsure of my next assignment, I pray that I have the faith to walk through this door when it opens.

by Jay Mankus

Coming in Abundant Blessings

As a child I remember singing the song “I’ve Got That Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart, Where, Down in my Heart to Stay.” The chorus continues with “I’m so Happy, so very Happy, that I Have the Love of Jesus in my Heart.” This song was written by George William Cooke and copyrighted in 1925. Over the last century, this song has been introduced to children through camps, curriculum and song books to keep this message of joy alive.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

During the first century, the apostle Paul uses an expression that illustrates the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s letter to the Galatian Church introduces the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23. However, Paul’s letter to Roman Christians focuses on the benefits of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. According to the passage above, faith in action, inspired by the Spirit of God has the ability to abound and overflow soul’s with hope.

And I know that when I do come to you, I shall come in the abundant blessing of the Gospel of Christ, Romans 15:29.

Jesus spoke of the ideal in John 10:10, to live an abundant life despite the attempts of the Devil to steal your joy. Paul applied this concept to his preaching, expecting the Holy Spirit to change hearts and minds as he shared the good news about Jesus Christ. Writing about a potential visit to Rome, Paul expects abundant blessings to accompany his future trip. With the Coronavirus stealing most of today’s headlines with death and despair, may this blog bring a glimmer of hope to broken and crushed spirits.

by Jay Mankus

I Hope So

When it comes to music, timing is everything. Some songs aren’t recognized or uncovered until a band is well past their prime. Each day countless songs are available to listen to or buy on itunes, Pandora or You Tube. Unfortunately, many within this graveyard of songs from the past merely collect dust, forgotten and ignored until the right moment arises.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

Last week I stumbled upon the song God I Hope So. I didn’t think much of this 2012 song from Remedy Drive until I reached the chorus. “Maybe this is just the way it had to be, maybe there’s a beauty in this tragedy I don’t know but I hope so.” These lyrics seem to apply to the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite being released eight years too early, this song challenges people to reflect upon the frailty of life.

Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also, Romans 15:14.

In the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman refers to hope as being dangerous during a lunch time conversation with good friend Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins. For a prisoner serving a life sentence, hope is the only thing you have to get you through each day. Likewise, as the world fights the invisible disease known as COVID-19, hoping for a cure is leading individuals to pray. Although no one knows the day and time this cure will arrive, I hope it comes quickly so that joy will return to America.

by Jay Mankus

A Spirit of Attitude

There are two common Greek words used to describe attitude in the Bible. Diáthesi̱ refers to disposition or mood while stási̱ points to body language and posture. If you are observant, attitude naturally flows out of individuals. Joy can’t be contained while depression sucks the life out of battered souls. Some wear their emotions on their sleeves, the reserved try to say even keeled and others are comfortably numb, jaded by previous trials in life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.

King Solomon suggests that attitude is a choice. You can focus on the positive by looking at life with a half glass full mindset. Or you can be a party pooper, allowing depression to bring you down and everyone else around you. Thus, the attitude of one person filters down to impact your sphere of influence. Neighborhoods, schools and work environments are at the mercy of attitudes. Depending upon the response, whether good or bad, strong attitudes can alter hearts, minds and souls.

As it is written, God gave them a spirit (an attitude) of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, [that has continued] down to this very day, Romans 11:8.

Perhaps, this explains the apostle Paul’s comment in the passage above. It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience periods of insensibility. When the negativity of another person’s attitude impacts your perspective, a state of near-unconsciousness can blind you from the truth. To overcome this spiritual stupor, Paul urges first century believers to set their heart and minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-4. The best way to fight poisonous attitudes is by developing a spiritual attitude fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more you meditate upon the Bible, your attitude can spread joy to others, like good medicine for the soul.

by Jay Mankus

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Living and Moving in the Ways of the Spirit

Every year or so I come in contact with an individual who possesses a dynamic personality. On the surface, these people seem perfect, blessed with keen social skills and filled with a joy for life. Curious and eager to know what makes them tick, I often ask a few probing questions. After a couple of minutes interacting, many of these individuals are at a higher spiritual level, living and moving in the ways of the Spirit daily.

So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit], Romans 8:4.

My Catholic upbringing limited my knowledge of the Holy Spirit throughout my teenage years. However, college was a different story, encountering several uncomfortable scenarios. I witnessed people slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues, holy laughter, a pastor who prayed in rhymes and one church that practiced casting out demons. Unfortunately, none of these churches ever explained how I could life and move in the ways of the Spirit.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

All I have is the teaching of the apostle Paul to help me comprehend this concept. First, Paul stresses the importance of your mind, focusing on eternal treasures; not temporary pleasures. Second, once you develop the proper mindset, Paul uses the expression “governed by the Spirit.” Just as Joshua urged Israel to meditate on God’s Word day and night, a biblical mindset is crucial to keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. However, until you crucify your own sinful passions, you won’t be able to live and more like Jesus during his 3 year ministry on earth.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Best for You and Me

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to look at a glass half empty. This tendency to be negative often results in beating myself up inside. While I can forgive others for committing transgressions against me, forgiving myself is another story. This process may take days, weeks or months to get over a stupid blunder, error or mistake. Whenever anyone is too hard on themselves, Satan uses this vulnerability to steal your joy for life.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

While using an analogy of a shepherd tending his sheep, Jesus illuminates the dangers that sheep face while on earth. According to John 10:6, the crowd was initially confused so Jesus spoke in clearer terms. This is the context of the passage above as Jesus reveals how Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Although this spiritual truth may elicit fear upon receiving this news, you have to know what your enemy will attempt to do to avoid becoming the next victim.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need, Ephesians 4:28.

One of the songs from their 2009 album Breaking the Silence, The Letter Black sings about what’s best for you and me. The lyrics of Best of Me focuses on an individual who is haunted by their past. The author suggests that the only thing keeping us alive breathing is the knowledge of God’s existence. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus provides meaning and purpose for life as new converts seek to ascertain God’s will. As minds are renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, what’s best for you and me is using your own God given gifts and talents to serve the Lord on earth.

by Jay Mankus

The Joy of Parenting

As a parent with 3 children over the age of 15, my days of having a full house are nearing an end. This reality has prompted me to make my two younger children a weekly priority. When I came home from work earlier this week, there was a sticky note for me from my son Daniel. Hoping to play frisbee golf after class, I made arrangements to have lunch and play afterwards. While neither of us played that well, spending a couple hours together brought joy to my heart.

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist, 1 Corinthians 8:6.

When I got back home, I remembered that my daughter Lydia had a volleyball at 3:45. Despite an urge to be lazy, I jumped in the shower, got dressed for work and rushed out the door. Despite some traffic, I arrived as the first serve was being struck. I’ve seen better performances, yet being able to watch Lydia play the sport she loves was worth the 30 minute drive. The team had some good stretches of play, but watching Lydia set the match winning spike was priceless.

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? – Malachi 2:10.

My efforts to be a good parent was just one day. The God of the Bible does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, keeping watch over his spiritual children on earth. Rarely, do I comprehend the joy that comes from being a parent. Since we live in a society and world that is becoming more and more negative, hearing a positive story is a rarity. Yet, I feel compelled to write this blog today to proclaim parenting is not dead. It’s not easy, but as parents study the Bible to train children in the way they should go, the joy of parenting is experienced.

by Jay Mankus

Growing Old and Apart

As one of the newest  members of the AARP club, this is a sign of getting old.  Yet, as I reflect upon my current state of relationships, time has caused me to forget and ignore special friendships from my past.  Part of this is due to my desire to be a good father, spending as much time with my children as possible.  Unfortunately, without a healthy balance at the moment, I am growing old and apart.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him,” Genesis 2:18.

After creating the heavens and the earth, God recognized that a pet could not replace a human soul mate.  Subsequently, the Lord created the first woman out of Adam’s rib.  This miracle set the stage for the institution of marriage, Genesis 1:23-24.  When two people become one, a special bond is formed.  Yet, this doesn’t mean you should forget the people that you have crossed paths with over the course of your life.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit, Psalm 51:12.

Following king David’s affair with Bathsheba, a spirit of conviction consumed his soul.  After hearing the prophet Nathan’s analogy of a little ewe lamb, David became painfully aware of his transgression.  Psalm 51 serves as a prayer of confession, asking the Lord to pardon him from sin.  In my case, before my home becomes an empty nest in 3 years, I need to reconnect with old friends.  While I may not be welcomed back with opened arms, I need to follow the prayer of David above so that I grow old and reunite with old friends.

by Jay Mankus

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