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Tag Archives: joy

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

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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

The One Thing In Life That Brings Out Your Best and Worst

Before attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, there was a series of books I needed to read prior to my first class.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Bringing Out the Best in People are the two that I remember the most.  Carnegie’s book opened my eyes to practical principles for making friends naturally as well as the art of persuasion.  Meanwhile, Bringing Out the Best in People introduced me to the 3 C’s: Don’t criticize, complain or condemn other people.  When I began to tame my tongue by steering my words in a positive direction, my life ascended toward greatness.  From a personal, social and spiritual perspective, 1993 was the best year of my life.

Now if we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we guide their whole body as well. And look at the ships. Even though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines. In the same sense, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See [by comparison] how great a forest is set on fire by a small spark! – James 3:3-5

In the years that have followed, I have never come close to this level of joy and satisfaction.  There have been periods, glimpses of greatness, but each time I quickly came back down to earth.  The reason for my fall lies in the tongue.  According to Jesus’ earthly brother, the tongue is like a rudder on a ship.  When rudders begin to malfunction, ships lose control, going off course.  Following a two year stint as a youth pastor, I let my conversation slip, spitting out destructive, harsh and negative comments.  The longer I allowed my tongue to be undisciplined, it didn’t take long to descend to some of the lowest points in my life.  Like any frustrating moment, human tongues feed off of misery, unleashing vicious thoughts formally kept silent deep inside your mind.

But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. 10 Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts], James 3:8-10.

In the passage above, James reveals the danger of the tongue.  No matter how disciplined you may be, you can only hope to contain this aspect of your flesh.  When you open your mouth, only God knows what will come it.  One day you may be filled with blessings; the next followed by curses.  James urges first century readers of his letter to consider their moral obligation to God.  The words and vocabulary that you choose should reflect a reverence for God.  In addition, your mind should be influenced by God’s precepts as you meditate day and night on these principles.  Without taking this advice seriously, your conversations will resemble a roller coaster ride, with highs that uplift others and lows that cut to the heart.  May this blog challenge you to transform the content of your words in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

Replacing Your Filters

Depending upon the quality of your air conditioner and furnace unit, air filters need to be replaced as soon as thirty days or as long as six months.  The U.S. Department of Energy claims that replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent.  Meanwhile, furnace filters should be changed every two to three months depending upon the size of your filter.  Whether you live in an apartment, condo or home, basic upkeep is essential to prolonging your appliances.

We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

The Bible refers to a different kind of filter.  According to the apostle Paul, the human mind is a spiritual filter.  Whenever a thought enters your head, God has given individuals the ability to stop evil from corrupting your body.  Before I became a Christian, I was oblivious to the concept of angels, demons and the powers of darkness.  Yet, the more that I read the Bible, the more I understand the importance of replacing your filter by making every thought obedient to Christ.  This is accomplished by memorizing and meditating upon verses of the Bible to prevent evil from persuading souls to give into temptation.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places, Ephesians 6:12.

While the media attempts to convince the world that certain individuals are the enemy, the apostle Paul corrects the record in the passage above.  Sure, there will always be people that rub you the wrong way by getting under your skin.  Yet, the Devil uses physical opponents to suppress any joy that you may have in your heart.  This is why replacing your spiritual filter daily with biblical principles, God’s promises and truth is essential.  The next time strange thoughts catch you off guard, replace the filter in your mind with the Word of God.  May this practice renew and transform your mind, Romans 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

Celebration and Suffering

News of an expecting birth is worthy of a celebration in the form of baby shower.  After labor ushers into this world a new human being, joy consumes families of this infant.  In the years that follow, there are a series of memorable moments, first steps, first words and first day of school.  As new parents work together to raise children, celebrating is often replaced by suffering.  From childhood to adolescence, life only gets more complicated, especially for first time parents.  At some point, celebration fades away as suffering intensifies.  I don’t mean to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but this is a reality of life.

Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise), Luke 16:22-23.

After sharing the parable of the unjust manager, Jesus transitions into another parable.  Entitled the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus highlights a reason to celebrate and another to fear.  Using a story about a rich and poor man, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to detail what heaven and hell is like.  When Lazarus dies, God rewards this poor man with what Jesus calls paradise.  Meanwhile, a self-centered rich man who cared only about himself was sent to hell.  According to Jesus, hell is a place of eternal suffering, able to see those celebrating above, but unable to do anything to help their agony and pain.  This fact should convict and inspire the living to avoid a similar eternal destiny.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame,’ Luke 16:24.

In the previous chapter, Luke, a well known first century doctor recalls three parables that illustrate God’s grace, love and mercy.  Whether a possession is lost like a coin or pet, heaven celebrates each time a sinner repents.  Angels are programmed to embrace hearts that confess the error of their way.  Meanwhile, even if you are a prodigal son or daughter who has left your family, God will never abandon you.  These stories have been written to urge souls to surrender your life to follow Jesus.  Although this road is narrow as detailed by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, any worldly suffering that you might endure is worth this decision.  Therefore, do not ignore the passage listed above so that your eternal destination will be celebrated at your funeral rather than suffer, not knowing whether you are in heaven or hell.

by Jay Mankus

Cardiomegaly

In the 1966 Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the narrator blames the Grinch’s attitude on an abnormally small heart.  As the citizens of Who-ville began to sing carols in preparation of Christmas, the Grinch started to devise a plan to steal their joy.  From a spiritual perspective, the Grinch represents Satan, seeking to steal, kill and destroy any glimpse of the real meaning of Christmas.  Yet, as his plan was interrupted by Little Cindy Lou Who, God used this child to penetrate the Grinch’s soul.  In one instant, when the meaning of Christmas was revealed, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.

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.

The medical term for an enlarged heart is cardiomegaly.   This isn’t a disease, but rather a sign of another condition.  For example, during pregnancy, some mothers develop an enlarged heart.  This condition is usually temporary because of stress on your body.  Cardiomegaly can also be brought on by the weakening of the heart muscle, coronary artery disease or heart valve problems.  After three visits to a local cardiologist, I have been diagnosed with an enlarged heart.  My doctor wasn’t concerned, rather he wants me to come back in a year to monitor this condition.  Nonetheless, I do have something in common with the Grinch, an enlarged heart.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Throughout the Bible, there is an emphasis on pursuing a new heart.  The context of this reference is usually within a prayer.  King David asked God for a new heart after committing adultery and murder.  The prophet Jeremiah reveals how hearts can become deceitful, longing for fleshly desires instead of obeying God’s commands.  King Solomon refers to the heart as the well spring to life.  As I complete my 2500th blog, my prayer is that the Lord will create in me a new heart, full of forgiveness, love and mercy.  When individuals begin to demonstrate enlarged hearts seasoned with God’s grace, this world will become a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

Consider It a Pure Joy?

As someone born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I guess you can say the Bible was forced upon me.  The congregation my family attended was old school, believing priests were the only ones who could accurately handle and interrupt the Bible.  Reading the Bible outside of church was not recommended.  However, as I began to search for the meaning of life in high school, the homilies I heard from the pulpit didn’t sit well with my soul.  As a teenager I wrestled with respecting authority figures when their message seemed to be contradictory.  When I began to study the Bible on my own, several passages were difficult to comprehend.

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials, James 1:2.

My spiritual mentor in high school, Ken Horne, encouraged me to read the book of James, written for first century Christians scattered throughout the Middle East.  I didn’t get very far before coming across a foreign concept, the second verse in this book.  Consider it a pure joy when you endure trials?  Huh?  Did I miss something?  Well, over time I realized that trials serve as opportunities to grow spiritually.  However, when you are sitting in the emergency room, receiving bad news from a phone call or going through a rough stretch in life, joy is the last thing on my mind.  Like an undefeated athlete or team, sometimes you have to lose to see what you need to address, improve or solidify going forward.

Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:3-4.

Perhaps, the author of this epistle, the earthly brother of Jesus is reflecting upon the mistakes of his past.  When Jesus is your older brother, every child who follows has impossible shoes to fill, a disappointment to mom and dad.  Yet, James learned the more his faith was tested, maturity and peace increased.  As I look back on my own life, celebrating my 35th anniversary of accepting Jesus into my heart today, Romans 10:9-10, I can relate to James.  If I didn’t go through a 20 year battle with iritis, arthritis of the eye, I wouldn’t have a special appreciation for the gift of sight.  Likewise, my recent health issues with high blood pressure and my heart has opened my eyes to the importance of nutrition.  I’m sure there will be other unforeseen events in my future, but as I face each challenge, I do so with a quiet joy, knowing that I am an unfinished product, pottery in the hands of an almighty Potter.

by Jay Mankus

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