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Tag Archives: joy

The Giving and Taking of Life

Twenty four hours ago, I was celebrating my oldest son’s wedding.  As I witnessed James and Emma’s love for one another, an overwhelming sense of joy touched my heart.  This event highlights a blessing from God as the giver of life in the form of gifts from above, James 1:17.  Unfortunately, I received a text a few hours ago informing me that my uncle John, my dad’s oldest brother, passed away this afternoon.  This wave of emotions has reminded me of the giving and taking of life.

So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome boils and agonizingly painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat [down] among the ashes (rubbish heaps), Job 2:7-8.

Every month or so I stumble upon a television evangelist who paints the Christian life through rose colored glasses.  These messages follow the same script, promising that the moment you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, all of your troubles will disappear.  While new believers will possess a new found hope, this depiction of life is not realistic.  With every blessing, individuals will also endure hardship, pain and suffering.  According to Job, you have to accept the good with any bad that comes your way.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still cling to your integrity [and your faith and trust in God, without blaming Him]? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the [spiritually] foolish women speaks [ignorant and oblivious to God’s will]. Shall we indeed accept [only] good from God and not [also] accept adversity and disaster?” In [spite of] all this Job did not sin with [words from] his lips, Job 2:9-10.

In the passage above, Job’s wife speaks as if thinking out loud.  As she witnessed the boils covering her husband, anguish, grief and frustration motivated her response to “curse God and die.”  In the heat of the moment, knee jerk reactions are a common occurrence.  Nonetheless, if you are looking for answers to why God allows bad things to happen to good people, Job nails it!  You must accept the good with the bad.  According to one of Jesus’ disciples, going through trials are designed to build character, 1 Peter 1:6-7.  Therefore, If you want to possess a realistic approach to life, roll with the punches as you experience the giving and taking of life.

by Jay Mankus

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There is More to Mental Health

The book definition of mental health refers to a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.  As I combed through various statistics, I discovered there was an estimated 1.400,000 suicide attempts in 2015.  This stat is shocking, making me wonder, what would cause so many people to think that death is better than life?  There has to be more to mental health to explain this epidemic.

So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], 23 but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members, Romans 7:21-23.

Last week there was a vigil at the STEM School in Highland Ranch, Colorado.  Forced to cope with another school shooting, a gun control group known as Team Enough attempted to highjack this event for political purposes.  As adults began to pontificate about banning guns, students walked outside of their school.  While ambulance chasers inside started to make plans for overturning the second ammendment, students CHANTED the heart of this matter, MENTAL HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH.

Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? 25 Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin, Romans 7:24-25.

Unfortunately, you won’t find the answers to America’s mental health crisis in public education.  Nor will you find the cure to mental health in higher education.  Why?  Well, God was kicked out, banning the Bible and prayer as a daily part of education back in the 1960’s.  As a former high school teacher, students are searching for the same thing the apostle Paul sought in Romans 7.  Mental health is a battle for the hearts, minds and souls of human beings.  Attempting this on your own will only result in failure.  However, God sent Jesus to save mankind from a sinful nature that is out of control.  The only way to unlock the key to mental health is through Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Infusing My Soul

Infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time. Synonyms for infusing include charge, fill, inspire, permeate and saturate. Once a compound is dipped into a solvent, time will slowly allow the extracting process to be completed.

‘You have made known to me the ways of life; You will fill me [infusing my soul] with joy with Your presence,’ Acts 2:28.

From a spiritual perspective, the Word of God serves as the material upon which souls absorb. Biblical principles, history and truth is available to any human being. Beside being one on the best sellers list year after year, the Bible is available through apps, commentaries and numerous online sites. Thus, infusing your soul isn’t limited to New Testament believers. Rather, anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness can experience the abundant life Jesus promises in the passage below.

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.

Those who don’t take develop a routine for infusing your soul become vulnerable to demonic attacks. Jesus warns his disciples about the enemy, seeking to take away the joy you receive from entering into a personal relationship with God. Beside reading the Bible, I spend several hours a day listening to Christian music. While the genres vary depending upon how I feel, the more inspirational the lyrics, the greater my soul is infused. Therefore, if you want to experience what Peter spoke of in Acts 2:28, you too can be revived by infusing your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Powerful in Deed and Word

The reality show Undercover Boss premiered in February of 2010. Business owners, CEO’s and presidents go undercover to interact with employees. While disguises vary, the employee’s impression will prove to the boss how important their job is to them. During a seven mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus performs a similar act on a couple of his disciples. Jesus plays coy, pretending not to know what happened three days earlier. According to Luke 24:16, no one recognized Jesus, playing the part of an undercover boss.

He asked, “What things?” And they replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, Luke 24:19.

Near the end of this discussion, one disciple makes an interesting observation. While reflecting upon his life, this man compares Jesus to a prophet whose deeds and words are powerful. Jesus wasn’t all talk, no action. Rather, compassion led to miracles, day after day, helping those who came to Jesus as a last resort. Despite the compliments given to Jesus, these men lacked hope, faith and joy, acting like modern defeated Christians.

For indeed you already do practice it toward all the believers throughout Macedonia [by actively displaying your love and concern for them]. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, that you excel [in this matter] more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting], 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12.

The apostle Paul encourages the congregation of Thessalonica to practice displaying the love of God. Instead of speaking too much, Paul urges believers to live out their faith quietly. Unless you earn the respect of outsiders, you won’t be able to expand the gospel. Thus, while some people find it easy to talk to strangers, living out your faith is more important. When the timing is right, doors will open to further God’s kingdom. Until then, may your deeds be just as powerful as your words.

by Jay Mankus

Remaining Above the Fray

The expression above the fray refers to abstaining from getting involved in a heated argument, confrontation or debate.  While individuals may participate by adding their opinion, temperance is demonstrated by going the right distance and no further.  One of the reasons I have not activated my twitter account is to avoid being dragged into a no win situation of endless mudslinging back and forth.

But avoid foolish and ill-informed and stupid controversies and genealogies and dissensions and quarrels about the Law, for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers], Titus 3:9-11.

Controversy is nothing new.  During the first century, philosophers meet in the marketplace to exchange their ideas.  When these new teachings conflicted with biblical principles, dissensions and quarrels about the God’s law triggered heresy, a departure from biblical beliefs.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns a servant of Christ to avoid getting sucked into these futile discussions.  In the centuries following biblical times, God raised up Christian historians who wrote apologetic books defending and justifying biblical truth.

Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ], Philippians 2:1-2.

The best solution to remain above the fray is by developing a Christ-like mind.  Arguments tend to bring out raw emotions that influences human nature to attack, lash out and seek revenge.  Yet, Jesus shares a contrary message, to let God judge the living and the dead.  Jesus had the power to call down fire from heaven as the Son of God, but he choose to live a humble life as a blue collar carpenter.  By taking time every day to meet quietly with God, this spiritual discipline empowered Jesus to carry out God’s will on earth.  When individuals begin to practice Philippians 2:2-5, attitudes will transform toward a heavenly mindset to remain above the fray.

by Jay Mankus

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

Being Open to God Calling an Audible In Your Life

In the context of sports, an audible occurs when a quarterback changes an offensive play at the line of scrimmage. When a quarterback reads the defensive scheme on the field, if the designed play is destined to fail, an audible serves as a backup plan. Audibles put players in a more favorable position to succeed if coaches allow players to improvise. However, if this freedom is not permitted by coordinators or the head coach, stubbornness will lead to failure.

A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them, Proverbs 16:9.

This same principle applies to the spiritual realm. According to an Old Testament prophet, God has a plan and purpose for every human life, Jeremiah 29:11. However, if individuals aren’t teachable, open to God’s will for their life, minds often take human beings in a different direction. This fact inspired King Solomon to refer to God’s audibles, using trials and tribulations to alter human steps back into the right direction. This is how God’s Spirit realigns and reconnects mankind back toward the Creator.

If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit], Galatians 5:25.

The apostle Paul adds to this concept in a chapter about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. While the sinful nature, human desires, pull people in the opposite direction of God, the Holy Spirit calls audibles day after day. As followers of Christ begin to discern, listen and understand whispers from God, you can keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, I find myself too busy, distracted and pre-occupied with my own life to listen. If I would only be open to daily audibles called by God, blessings, success and victories would follow. May this blog inspire you to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

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