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The Balance Between Trusting Medication and God for Mental Health

A 2018 article in Psychology Today addresses “The Voice Inside Your Head.” Author and Doctor Steve Taylor talks about his own personal experience as a teenager. This voice, whisper or thought does have a series of explanations. One could be your conscience designed by God to regulate and steer your body toward doing what’s right. The whisper could be advice imparted to you as a child or inner demons that attempt to drag you down. Meanwhile, thoughts can be the contemplation process in action, weighing the pros and cons. Yet, what is the balance between trusting medication and trusting God for your mental health?

But for [a]Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it, Genesis 4:5-7.

The passage above unveils the conversion that many struggling believers have with God. When things don’t go your way, you may become envious or jealous of that person you know who seems so blessed by God. This was the dilemma facing Cain as his younger brother had become a successful shepherd. Meanwhile, Cain was working his ass off as a farmer, but to no avail. As Cain became depressed about his lack of success in life, a root of bitterness began to take hold of Cain’s heart. Concerned by what Cain was thinking, God sought to intervene, Unfortunately, it was too late as Cain had already made up his mind, James 1:14-15. There was no medicine available at this time to alter Cain’s mental state.

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and [h][especially wicked] sinners came and sat (reclined) with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [preeminently] sinful? 12 But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well (healthy) have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, [i]readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin), Matthew 9:10-13.

Following a meal with religious leaders, Jesus began to open up about the balance between trusting medicine and God for your own mental health. Jesus makes a clear distinction between the sick and healthy. The spiritually mature tend to be able to manage whatever conditions arise, learning how to take care of themselves. Meanwhile, it’s the sick who need the help of a doctor. Whether you’re talking about addictions, bad habits or internal cravings, medical physicians will prescribe what needs to happen before a full recovery can be made. Sometimes this condition requires drugs and other circumstances call for discipline. The ultimate goal is to find that ideal balance between trusting God and medicine.

by Jay Mankus

Strength for the Struggle from Within

Mental Health isn’t mentioned directly in Paul’s letters to the Church at Corinth. Yet, beneath the surface, two chapters a part, there are signs of a struggle from within. While writing to a city known for their philosophers, Paul suggests that there is an invisible solution to overcome the mind games that human brains play on fragile psyches. Paul claims that spiritual weapons are the best way to find strength from the struggles within your soul.

For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Human beings are good at fighting someone or something that they can see. Yet, when flesh and blood become vessels of the Devil to claw, dig and gnaw at you, many fight a losing battle day after day. Meanwhile, demonic strongholds often expand, causing friction and unusual occurrences that can wear down your soul, Ephesians 6:12. If you try to fight this battle alone, oppressive spirits and powers of darkness have the ability to defeat any strong Christian.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

This may explain the apostle Paul’s words in the passage above. The context of this verse begins with Paul opening up about a mysterious illness. It’s unclear if Paul was afflicted with a physical or spiritual condition, but he shares this low point in his life. The lesson learned through this ordeal is that the weaker human beings become, the potential for Jesus to be stronger increases. Perhaps, if you get out of the way, Jesus will give you the strength to conquer any struggle from within your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

Why Did You Do It?

A strange string of current events in my local newspaper has caused me to wonder, “why did you do it?” One couple turned their hotel room into a drug dealing center. Another adult male thought it was a good idea to fill his home with a number of bombs recently uncovered in connection with a local explosion. As I was writing this blog, I heard the news update that the latest school shooter just shot five classmates and himself on his birthday. If this teenage shooter dies, no one will know for sure, why did you do it?

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, Genesis 3:1-4.

The only logical conclusion that makes sense to me is that all of these individuals were deceived by the Devil in some manner or form. While they didn’t have a face to face conversation like Eve in the Garden of Eden, some type of justification and rationalization process occurred within their minds before acting out. Whispers of evil and possibly a desire for 15 seconds of fame has overruled the human conscience. Thus, free will was exercised to do the opposite of what many were taught.

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.

The Bible’s rationale to explain sinful acts is the mental war between the human flesh and Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to his own struggle to do that which is right. This battle is detailed in Romans 7, followed by the spiritual connection in Romans 8 as sinful minds are hostile to God. Thus, as souls straddle the fence between right and wrong, the longer you allow enticement to reside in your mind, the easier it become to pull the trigger, indulging in wrongful acts. May this latest incident turn the attention toward mental health and not just guns.

by Jay Mankus

Maintaining Consciousness

Consciousness in its simplest form is awareness of internal or external existence.  Infants, children and adolescents rarely think about consciousness, unaware of the intricacies of the human body.  As time takes it’s toll on the life, maintaining consciousness becomes an unavoidable challenge.  Between the rising concerns surrounding mental health and numerous complications with old age, staying alive can be a weekly grind.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:13.
Unfortunately, nobody knows the exact day or time of their deaths.  Some may receive inclinations, warning signs or visions, but few people live their lives as if today or tomorrow will be their last.  Thus, maintaining consciousness is in God’s hands.  Unless of course a drunk driver exercises their own freewill to use their vehicle as a tool of death.  One day you could feel great and the next you’re stricken with cancer.  Meanwhile, others show no signals of decay until an aneurysm, heart attack or gun shot wound tragically ends a life.
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect, Matthew 24:44.
While coping with this uncertainty, the Lord desires individuals to exercise a spiritual consciousness.  One of Jesus’ former disciples writes about preparing your mind for action.  This can be executed with a sober mind set fully on the grace of God.  Another disciple devotes an entire chapter on Jesus’ teaching of eschatology, what will happen in the last days.  Until these days arrive, maintaining consciousness is the least that you can do, health permitting.  Draw near to God and God will draw near to you.
by Jay Mankus

Stopping to Take a Deep Breathe

The idiom “taking a deep breathe” refers to pausing for a moment to calm and compose yourself. If you work in a stressful environment like me, taking a personal day or vacation is essential to prevent emotional or physical burnout from occurring. Removing yourself from deadlines, hectic circumstances and pressure for a while is good for your own mental health.

“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth,” Psalm 46:10.

One of the Psalms of the Bible is entitled God the Refuge His people. This chapter is dedicated to the chief musician. The sons of Korah wrote this song, Psalm 46, set to soprano voices. The end of this piece contains one of the most famous and quoted stanzas of the Bible. When disappointment, hardships or trials begin to stress you out, the Psalmist urges believers to slow down by being still before God.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower], Psalm 46:11.

No matter how many friends or relationships you may have, there will always be at least one moment in time where no one will know what to say to you. When comfort can not be found by human means, the Lord is always available. Thus, when you reach a point of despair, stop to take a deep breathe. As you do, pour out your heart to God in prayer so that Selah is achieved, a peace that surpasses all understanding.

by Jay Mankus

The Sound of War

The sound of war was brought to life in a film written by Robert Rodat and directed by Steven Spielberg.  Saving Private Ryan received notoriety for it’s opening 27 minutes, a reenactment of the Invasion of Normandy during World War II.  At the time of it’s release, Saving Private Ryan portrayed the graphic nature of war and the harsh reality for a soldier storming Omaha Beach.  This production helped those not alive during this time in history to experience and understand the violent nature and sound of war.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 He wrote in the letter, “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and leave him, so that he may be struck down and die,” 2 Samuel 11:14-15.

The Bible portrays the politics of war.  The prophet Samuel provides a glimpse of ancient conquests when kings went to war each Spring to spread and strengthen their kingdoms.  One solider is highlighted, Uriah the Hittite, who camped in an open field with his men.  While away at war, King David has an affair with his lonely wife, leaving Bathsheba pregnant.  To cover up this sin, Uriah was escorted back to his home to sleep with Bathsheba.  When Uriah refused to celebrate his time away from battle, a plot was devised to make Uriah a casualty of war.

16 So it happened that as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew the [enemy’s] valiant men were positioned. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among the servants of David fell; Uriah the Hittite also died, 2 Samuel 11:16-17.

Over the weekend, deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio brought the sound of war to local communities.  Sadly, a local nightclub in Ohio and Walmart in Texas were turned into a battlefield.  When the SOUND of gunshots began, innocent souls ran for their lives.  According to the most recent update on the death toll, 31 individuals did not survive.  The only thing worse than the sound of war are ambulance chasing politicians who are using this crisis to fund raise for their campaigns, demonize President Trump and blame guns instead of mental health.  Until the heart of this matter is addressed, the sound of war will likely continue.

by Jay Mankus

 

Anointed with a Great Power

One of the disciples makes an interesting observation about Jesus.  Just as Lois Lane sought to comprehend the source of Superman’s powers, Peter points to the anointing of the Holy Spirit to explain Jesus’ great power.  As someone who spent nearly 3 years living and traveling with Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit defied logic and science.  This anointing occurred as followers watched John baptize Jesus in the Jordan River, Matthew 3:13-17.

You know the things that have taken place throughout Judea, starting in Galilee after the baptism preached by John— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with great power; and He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him, Acts 10:37-38.

As Peter watched Jesus day after day perform miracles, a doctor attempts to explain how the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to heal individuals oppressed by the Devil.  In an era where mental health continues to be a mystery, the Holy Spirit served as x-ray vision to identify unclean spirits messing up the lives of human beings.  The four gospels are filled with testimonies of where Jesus addresses, confronts and casts out demons using the power of the Holy Spirit.

“I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you, John 14:25-26.

As Passion Week, the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, drew close, Jesus gathered his disciples together to reveal a future gift from God.  The disciple whom Jesus loved refers to this spiritual entity as an Advocate, Counselor and Intercessor.  On the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fell upon followers of Jesus.  According to the New Testament, this great power is available to those who are baptized following their conversation.  While the presence of the Holy Spirit may not be as visible today, this great power is awaiting for those who believe.  May the words of the prophet, Joel 2:28-29, deliver a new anointing with great power.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

 

Mental Health: Exploring What Well-Being Means

According to preliminary reports, Nikolas Cruz was suffering from mental health issues before entering a Parkland Florida high school with a gun on Valentine’s Day.  Some people close to the family believe the death of his adopted mother last year only worsened his condition.  Perhaps, this might explain behavioral problems that resulted in the expulsion from two private schools.  Yet, if mental health refers to a level of psychological well-being, what does this really mean?

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Who determines what level of behavior or emotion is satisfactory and what is unsatisfactory?  Depending upon the measurement or standard applied, experts might come to different conclusions.  Another factor relates to the role that faith and religion should play in this discussion.  On a recent episode of the View, Joy Behar mocked vice-president’s Mike Pence’s Christian faith.  Behar believes that anyone who hears God speak to them either through Bible Study or prayer is a sign of mental illness.  This comment received laughter and applause from the audience.  Sadly, no one is laughing days after 17 people were killed with more in critical condition in south Florida hospitals.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ, Colossians 2:8.

The Bible uses a two part process to decipher mental health from mental illness.  According to the apostle Paul, those who dwell and focus on spiritual things experience peace of mind.  Meanwhile, those who reflect upon earthly cravings lead to unfulfilled lives, void of purpose and meaning.  Anyone who falls into this second catalog is vulnerable to human traditions and philosophies of the world.  In a recent confession, Nikolas Cruz said he acted upon the demons in his mind, a byproduct of his obsession with guns and violent video games.  Therefore, if you want to alter your current state, set your heart and mind on things above.  This is accomplished through daily Bible study, fellowship with other believers and prayer.  May a desire to exercise this practice elevate the well-being of your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

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