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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

 

 

Walk This Way…Are You Sure about That?

After watching the film Young Frankenstein, Steven Tyler was impressed by the part played by Mel Brooks.  This character inspired the lyrics to Aerosmith’s hit song Walk This Way.  Steven Tyler wrote the first draft of this song later than night in a hotel room.  Walk This Way was originally the second single on the 1974 album Toys in the Attic.  Twelve years later this song was revitalized by Run DMC on their album Raising Hell.

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night, Psalm 1:1-2.

The Bible refers to a similar mantra.  The Psalmist uses the analogy of walking, making choices along the way.  The passage above details two different paths, like a to do and not to list.  Anyone who does not walk with wicked counsel, stand with questionable individuals and avoids joining those who ridicule others will be rewarded.  According to this author, the key to staying on the right path is meditating on God’s Word day and night.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

Later on in this book, this concept is brought up again, using the illustration of a light.  The Bible serves as a spiritual lamp, to illuminate right from wrong.  Unfortunately there aren’t many believers left in college and public education to reinforce Judeo Christian values.  Instead, liberal leaning voices are expanding gray areas between right and wrong.  Thus, when leaders proclaim walk this way, some might quietly think, “are you sure about that?”  If you want to find the treasure of gold at the end of the rainbow, walk toward the Bible to see what’s right.

by Jay Mankus

Are You in Tune with God?

I spent five years as a member of my school band.  Playing the alto saxophone as a novice required hours of practice each week.  As long as I put in the necessary time, progress was made, developing an ear for music.  However, the older I became, other things took priority causing my musical talent to slip.  Before long I was one of the worst members of my junior high band, completely out of tune with the songs for our spring concert.

He was stating the matter plainly [not holding anything back]. Then Peter took Him aside and began to reprimand Him, Mark 8:32.

If setting aside time to perfect an instrument is key to remaining sharp, then spending a portion of your day praying, reading the Bible and listening to worship music is crucial to staying in tune with God.  Delaying, postponing or skipping this portion of your day will have a similar impact on your life.  Initial signs may be relatively obscure.  However, the more Bibles collect dust, prayers cease and Sunday becomes a day without attending church, attitudes, behavior and life styles will change for the worse.

But turning around [with His back to Peter] and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan; for your mind is not set on God’s will or His values and purposes, but on what pleases man,” Mark 8:33.

Whenever someone makes a scene in public, this is an obvious sign that an individual is out of tune with God.  After Jesus laid everything on the line to his disciples, disclosing his future death, Peter scolded Jesus.  While its unclear how long this occurred, Jesus responds with a powerful statement, referring to Peter as Satan.  Instead of meditating upon and pondering what Jesus said, Peter had an emotional outburst.  Though its never pleasant to see someone explode, these acts serve as a warning that you are not in tune with God.  Therefore, the next tune you are about to lose it, be still so that you can get back in tune with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Ill Gotten Gain

For years I’ve heard preachers and pundits warn Christians against buying lottery tickets, gambling or participating in activities that offer big payouts.  I’ve gone back and forth pondering biblical principles and comparing them with logic.  One of the opposing views I have adopted is comparing the lottery to a contest, if you don’t enter you won’t have the chance to win.  However, after reading a verse from Solomon, I may have changed my mind.

Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death, Proverbs 10:2.

The verse above appears to apply to contests, lotteries or payouts where little or no work is involved.  I would not include investing in this category as this involves researching trends and studying the market that takes years to fully grasp and understand.  If you examine the term ill-gotten, Solomon is referring to methods that involve cheating, dirty or shady.  Then again, this may exclude the lottery from this argument.  Nonetheless, I get the sense that God wants people to work for you make, not handed money you don’t deserve.

Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it, Proverbs 1:19.

Sometimes before you reach a conclusion you have to let new concepts settle.  Instead of making a knee jerk reaction, its probably better to take some time to reflect upon what you really believe.  One of Israel’s founding fathers, Joshua refers to a cow chewing its cud in Joshua 1:8, emphasizing the importance of meditating upon biblical teachings.  Therefore, I won’t make a definitive statement on what you should or should not do.  Rather, I want everyone who reads this to contemplate what it means to receive ill-gotten gain.

by Jay Mankus

Keep on Reading…Until You Receive Inspiration

Although apathy permeates throughout several segments of society, there are beacons of hope that exist.  If you are a historian, books contain powerful messages of leaders who transformed their nations.  Meanwhile, starving souls searching for the meaning of life, keep on reading, flipping through pages until inspiration is found.

As for me, the Bible has become a well spring, the driving force behind this blog.  After reaching 10,000 hits today, I can’t take credit for the articles, titles or words.  Rather, I felt compelled to rely on meditating on the Bible, sermons and words that would connect with common struggles people undergo.

Whether you’re talking to someone every day at work for 3 years or writing 1000 different blogs, the longer you go, the harder it becomes to come up with new material.  While you might have some good days, conversation and pieces can become stale.  Therefore, in my quest to keep a dream alive, I will keep on reading until I receive inspiration.

by Jay Mankus

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then my first full time teaching position after college was a blessing in disguise.  Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest, I spent the Spring Semester of 1993 counseling, teaching and tutoring junior high students who were considered career underachievers.  The learning never stopped, continuing through breakfast, lunch and dinner.  My only true break was for 40 minutes, from 12:20-1:00 pm, Monday thru Friday.  Titled 20/20 Time, students and teachers spent 40 minutes in solitude either on a hillside, in the valley or along the banks of a stream.  The goal of this exercise was to spend 20 minutes reflecting and 20 writing.  To my amazement, I developed a love for journaling; eventually inspiring 12 songs that formed my first album, A Simple Confession.

For those of us who love food, eating is like a race to see who can devour a meal the fastest.  Yet, for businessmen, savvy entrepreneurs and relational individuals, meals are maximized to get work done, explore new opportunities or develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Prior to the rise in youth sports, families spent 30-60 minutes a day at their kitchen table talking .  Now, some households eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, working meals around busy schedules.  Although hunger is a natural part of the body, appetites can vary from delicacies to worldly obsessions.  Realizing this truth, Jesus introduced a new concept for his listeners to digest, “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6.

The Psalms of the Bible illuminate how to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Beginning in Psalm 1:1-3, the author compares this type of individual with an evergreen, a tree that stays green throughout the year.  Known as conifers, the key to this tree is its root system.  When planted near a creek, river or stream, daily nutrients are widely available.  The spiritual dimension to this analogy can be found in Joshua 1:8, where meditating on the Bible day and night results in a similar outcome.  Therefore, if you want to maximize your own meals, start by consuming the Word of God before every breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If this concept takes ahold of your heart, soul and mind, then will resemble the tree in Psalm 1.  This leads me to the chorus from one of the first songs the Holy Spirit inspired me to write, Psalm 1.

“I want to be the tree, down by the river”

“I want to be the tree, down by the bank”

“I want to be the tree, that walks and talks like Jesus”

“Reaching out for nourishment by staying in God’s Word.”

by Jay Mankus

 

A King’s Faith

While channel surfing the other night, I stumbled across an interesting movie.  Titled King’s Faith, I was expecting to see a famous king.  Instead, this film featured a high school senior trying to break free from a turbulent past.  Only a king’s faith could rescue him from a gang who didn’t want to let go.

Long before the 2013 film, history recounts king’s whose faith transformed nations.  When citizens doubted God, feared the future or questioned why the wicked prosper, godly leaders provided a source of light during dark moments in time.  Joash, Josiah and Jehoshaphat, kings of Judah, refused to allow the memory of their God to be forgotten.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, a king’s faith enabled countries like America to exist.  Yet, who will stand in the gap today, Ezekiel 22:30, so that future generations may experience the power of a living God?

To experience a king’s faith, one must examine the common attributes shared by prominent leaders.  First, all successful kings had access to discerning individuals either through a prophet or wise council.  Second, godliness is instilled by surrounding yourself in the word of God, meditating on biblical truth.  Finally, calling on the name of the Lord through prayer is an essential ingredient to passing on faith to future generations.  For now, the world is waiting for the next person to display a king’s faith.

by Jay Mankus

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