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Delusions

A delusion is an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted. Whether by error, fantasy or an illusion, delusions occur when individuals refuse to believe the facts. As others push back with reason, defense mechanisms kick in. The stubborn often deny reality, opting to participate in arguments and debates, seeking to win others over to their side.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion [futile, fruitless], and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin]; 18 And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)! – 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

When it comes to faith, believing and trusting in an invisible God in considered a delusion by many today. In the series Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn plays a high school sophomore who experiences a series of encounters with God. Afraid to tell any of her friends, Joan keeps this relationship secret. When Joan contracts a severe case of Lyme Disease at the end of Season 1, her doctors suggest that her unusual behavior were hallucinations. This crisis of faith makes Joan think God was a delusion.

If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hope only in this life and that is all, then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied. 20 But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. 21 For since [it was] through a man that death [came into the world, it is] also through a Man that the resurrection of the dead [has come], 1 Corinthians 15:19-21.

When things go your way, it’s easy to believe. However, when your life begins to fall apart, trusting God in the dark becomes a challenge. In your moments of weakness, the father of lies, John 8:44, will plant doubt within your mind. If you allow these thoughts to linger, ungodly beliefs will conceive. When you don’t take your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, the Devil can persuade some to believe God is merely a delusion. Don’t fall for this trap as Satan is afraid the same resurrection power that raised Jesus will also transform your life. Learn to trust God in the dark.

by Jay Mankus

Crazy or Enlightened by God?

From 2003 to 2005, Amber Rose Tamblyn starred in the CBS drama series Joan of Arcadia. Amber played Joan Girardi, a sophomore in high school struggling to fit in. The pilot episode introduces Joan while dreaming where she first hears God’s voice as a whisper in the night. The next day God appears to Joan as a human being based upon Joan Osborne’s song “What If God Was One of Us?” This initial meeting sets the format for a typical episode where Joan sees and speaks with God, usually appearing as a different person each time. During this conversation, Joan receives an assignment and performs this task is a round about manner.

Then a fresh division of opinion arose among the Jews because of His saying these things. 20 And many of them said, Jesus has a demon and He is mad (insane—He raves, He rambles). Why do you listen to Him? – John 10:19-20

These encounters make Joan uneasy, unsure if she’s crazy, dreaming or enlightened by God? When Joan regularly leaves her friends to talk to strangers who are God, family and friends begin to get the sense that Joan isn’t all their mentality. In the final episode of season 1, Joan contracts Lyme Disease. After collapsing on the last day of school, doctors believe Joan’s encounters with God were merely hallucinations. Over the summer, Joan is sent to a mental hospital where she meets Judith, as a close friendship develops in season 2. Like many teenagers, when asked to share her special connection with God, Joan changes the topic, never expressing her faith. When you get a chance to share your faith, don’t let these opportunities slip by.

Others argued, These are not the thoughts and the language of one possessed. Can a demon-possessed person open blind eyes? – John 10:20

Telling others that you have a special relationship with God is risky in today’s current climate. Yet, when God put a message upon Jesus’ heart, He regularly shared biblical life lessons. These analogies, parables, and stories threatened many Jewish leaders. Jesus’ teaching caused some to believe that He was either demon possessed or insane. These comments inspired a chapter in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. Lewis asks an opened ended question: “is Jesus a liar, lunatic or Lord?” This question challenged former investigative journalist Lee Strobel who like Lewis was an atheist. Yet, Strobel’s journey ended in a similar manner, writing The Case for Christ. No one wants to be made fun of or teased, but Jesus calls enlightened individuals to speak up, Matthew 10:32-33. Those who stand up for God will be counted but those who deny God will be rejected.

by Jay Mankus

If You Take the Time to Listen

My evenings at Amazon vary as I try to fix any problems before product gets shipped out to customers.  Typically, free time is rare as I am usually exploring and examining some sort of defect.  However, the other night I was selected to be part of a survey, asked a series of questions by a human resource staff member from Seattle.  Due to an initial technical glitch, I was able to talk to a co-worker.  This five minute conversation opened my mind to the importance of listening.

Then a woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink”— For His disciples had gone off into the city to buy food— The Samaritan woman asked Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew [about] God’s gift [of eternal life], and who it is who says, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him [instead], and He would have given you living water (eternal life),” John 4:7-10.

My co-worker was in her first week in a new position.  When my initial phone calls failed to go through, she had to email her manager to figure out what to do.  As we both waited, I discovered that this young woman had lyme disease for ten years before receiving an accurate diagnosis.  Since she never had what is called a bullseye, a tell tale sign of lyme disease, doctors could not figure out what was wrong with her for a decade.  I shared of my own struggles twenty years ago from this same disease.  As I talked, I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering, “this is what happens when you take the time to listen.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not get thirsty nor [have to continually] come all the way here to draw.” 16 At this, Jesus said, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 The woman answered, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I do not have a husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the man you are now living with is not your husband. You have said this truthfully,” John 4:15-18.

When I read the Bible, it is clear that Jesus was a masterful communicator, never wasting an opportunity to interact with a stranger.  Despite the political tension between Jews and Samaritans, Jesus goes out of his way to talk to a woman who has a history of bouncing from one relationship to the next.  After five failed marriages, this woman was trying to love without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  During an intense back and forth, Jesus plants a spiritual seed within this woman for faith to grow.  When you take the time to listen to another person, God can use you to offer a message of encouragement, healing and hope.

by Jay Mankus

Tasteless

Shortly after I got married, I began to play disc golf regularly.  During a round at Brandywine Creek State Park, my friend Dave and I threw a couple of discs into high grass.  Prior to the rise in Lyme Disease cases, checking for ticks never entered my mind.  Oddly enough, each of us contracted this debilitating condition.  While on vacation in Montana, my skin revealed the classic bullet, an obvious sign of Lyme Disease.  Unfortunately, Dave’s condition went undiagnosed for months.  Although Dave eventually recovered, he permanently lost his sense of taste.

“Therefore, salt is good; but if salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? – Luke 14:34

A first century doctor refers to a spiritual condition in the passage above.  Jesus uses the analogy of expired salt to illustrate this point.  Tasteless salt is similar to a Christian who does not practice the principles of the Bible.  According to Jesus, disciples should add spiritual flavor to the lives of outsiders, those unfamiliar with the concept of Christianity.  When believers blend into the world like chameleons, Jesus refers to these individuals as tasteless.

It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words,” Luke 14:35.

Sometimes the truth hurts, especially when you are called out by a co-worker, friend or mentor.  In this case, unsalted Christians are useless, like trash needing to be thrown away.  When joking around with my sons, my video game skills are often described as trash.  Since I know this to be true, rarely practicing, I can laugh along with my children.  However, when Jesus calls lukewarm believers tasteless and trash, this is no laughing matter.  If this blog finds you struggling and unproductive in your faith, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to refuel by studying the Bible daily, praying and seeking to worship God seven days a week.

by Jay Mankus

Gulping Down Evil

Prior to 1955, a bottle of Coca Cola was 6.5 ounces.  If you pour 5 of these into a big gulp cup, the final one will spill out over the top.  Realizing the need for expansion, Coca Cola experimented with a 32 ounce cup supplied to 7 Eleven chains in Southern California.  By 1976, despite public pressure concerning obesity, the Big Gulp was conceived.

A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil, Proverbs 19:28.

Although 7 Eleven stores did not exist during the Old Testament, there were some individuals who developed reputations as heavy drinkers.  Since Jewish weddings could last up to a week, guests who traveled from out of town were wined and dined.  Participating in these festivities likely influenced the words King Solomon chose in the passage above.  Comparing drinking to corruption, there are some people who gulp down evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Almost 20 years ago, my friend and I both contradicted Lyme Disease in the same summer.  While my symptoms were caught early, his went overlooked for several months.  Unfortunately, he lost his sense of taste, unable to distinguish between that which is sweet or bitter.  The same can be said about individuals who can’t discern between good from evil.  Subsequently, its possible for a wayward soul to reach a place where one begins to gulp evil.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe This Is Happening to Me

Action scenes from modern movies can be far fetched, unrealistic and unimaginable.  However, every so often individuals experience something bizarre, emulating a page from a Hollywood script.  Perhaps someone sees an unidentified flying object, Bigfoot or has a supernatural encounter.  These events can produce mixed emotions, amazement and fear, making eyewitnesses cry out, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid, Mark 16:8.

During the first century, a group of women came face to face with an angel.  Initially, afraid and perplexed, they did not know how to respond.  Most likely, each was quietly thinking, “is this a dream?  Did I see what I thought I saw?  People are going to think I’m crazy if I tell anyone?”  Nonetheless, as this entity vanished, the instructions communicated made sense.  Thus, despite what others thought, these women obeyed the voice of God.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, 1 Kings 19:12.

In the first season of Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn plays a junior in high school who begins to hear God speak to her.  At first, Joan Girardi thinks she’s losing it, yet each time she follows the Lord’s advice, things go well.  Despite this success, Joan never tells anyone of these encounters until the final episode.  Unfortunately, a bout with lyme disease causes doctors to suggests these interactions were simply hallucinations.  When others question your own faith, may the Holy Spirit give you the strength to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

Dr. Md; Is There a Doctor in the House?

Illness can be a mystery, especially when no obvious symptoms are present.  One day you feel great; the next you struggle to get out of bed.  As more and more doctors retire after a generation of service, the desperate will continue to cry out for help, “is there a doctor in the house?”

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.- James 5:15

Since 2012, I’ve battled a severe sinus infection that I can’t seem to shake.  Headaches, fevers and periods of fatigue have whittled away my faith of ever improving.  Perhaps, my condition are side affects from lyme disease that I first contracted in 1999.  Whatever the reason for my recent ailments, I pray that a doctor will come to my rescue with the correct diagnosis and cure.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. – 3 John 1:2

Nonetheless, sometimes God allows a person to suffer without any signs of recovery.  According to 2 Corinthians 12:7, the Lord struck the apostle Paul with a thorn in his flesh.  This condition prevented Paul from becoming proud during his successful ministry on earth.  Despite crying out for healing, his request did not get answered.  Although I am currently waiting for insight, all I can do is trust God that one day soon my pain will fade away.

by Jay Mankus

 

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