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Tag Archives: mind

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

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The Mind of a Murderer

The Investigation Discovery Channel began airing in 1996.  Twenty years later, the ID channel has inspired a series of programming based upon finding the killer of unsolved cases.  Recent shows like Snapped examines the mind of a murderer.  This phenomena has influenced Headline News to develop the Making of a Murderer to add to their late night murder mysteries.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

According to the Bible, a murder ruined the earth’s first family as jealousy led the oldest son Cain to kill his younger brother Able.  In the earliest days on earth, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve.  Apparently, God approached Cain before this act of murder occurred.  Like a parent warning their child, God warned Cain of his jealous heart, seeing his displeasure and frustration.  Unfortunately, the thought of getting rid of his brother had already conceived, only a matter of time before these thoughts inspired an evil action.

Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will have respect for him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘This [man] is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him, Luke 20:13-15a.

During a first century parable, Jesus reveals the mind of a murderer.  A group of tenants thought if they killed the owner’s only son, these men would be in line to receive his inheritance.  This flawed decision did not take into account one obvious fact: God is all-knowing and sees every deed committed by human beings.  While some may appear to get away with a crime or murder, sooner or later individuals will be brought to justice either on earth or in the afterlife.

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders shall be guilty before the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell, Matthew 5:21-22. 

Jesus expounds upon this concept in his Sermon on the Mount.  In the passage above, Jesus compares hatred with murder.  Hatred is an emotion that influences how you act.  The more people allow anger to dwell and grow within them, human beings will begin to act, behave and do things out of the ordinary.  Under extreme conditions, the mind of a murderer becomes more than a thought.  In view of this danger, it’s essential to take every thought captive by making them obedient to Christ.  This practice can reverse evil desires implanted by the Devil.

by Jay Mankus

 

Is Hindsight 20/20?

Hindsight is defined as the understanding of a situation or event only after it has developed or happened.  For the past two years, a large cataract hindered my ability to see out of my right eye.  While I experienced periods of improvement, last summer my eye doctor suggested it’s time to deal with this situation.  As I struggled to read fine print, I came to the same conclusion, scheduling a surgery for late November.  A series of unforeseen events forced this operation to be postponed until last Thursday.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

Like any procedure, I was afraid, not knowing the ultimate outcome.  Before I was given drugs to numb the pain, I made my peace with God.  When the nurse at the front desk asked me for my will and testament prior to being admitted, worst case scenarios raced through my mind.  This request likely elevated my blood pressure so high that my first operation was cancelled.  As a person of faith, I wrestle with relying on medicine to resolve health problems.  However, when changes in diet, fasting and prayer does not improve your condition, my operation served as a last resort.  While the healing process takes roughly two weeks, only time will tell if my sight will be fully restored.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

I feel like the prophet Isaiah is speaking to me in the passage above.  I have no control over how well eye will recover.  Sure, I can listen to my doctor’s directions by taking my daily prescriptions, but the degree of healing is in God’s hand.  My dream of writing screen plays is dependent upon the final outcome of my cataract surgery.  Thus, all I can do is place my trust in the Lord,  believing that God will help improve my condition.  Although I am not considering this trial a pure joy as James 1:2-4 suggests, I am relying on hindsight, remembering how God has provided for me in the past.

by Jay Mankus

Running Like the Devil is Chasing You

Depending upon the time of day, I like to listen to the radio while I write.  During today’s news update, there were two murder suicide’s featured in the area.  After watching an episode of Lost Season 1 last night, one scene came to my mind, a conversation between Locke (Terry O’Quinn) and Jack (Matthew Fox).  Locke suggested that some people look like the Devil is chasing them.  In the case of these four victims, they didn’t run fast enough to avoid death.

After [Judas had taken] the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly [without delay],” John 13:27.

In the passage above, Jesus makes the statement Satan entered Judas Iscariot during the last supper.  Bible commentaries suggest this possession accelerated Judas’ desire to betray Jesus.  Knowing what was about to come, Jesus exhorts Judas to finish his plan without delay.  Unfortunately, the moment individuals think things through in their mind, the act of sin quickly follows.  By this time, it’s often too late to turn back.  Using the analogy above, the Devil has caught you from behind and won’t let go.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

Temptation is like a classic car chase scene from a movie.  Initially, the good character is in the clear, far from harm.  However, as this pursuit continues chaos, distractions and traffic place the bad guy within striking distance.  Unless you flee from evil, minds will eventually embrace earthly desires.  Thus, the more you stare at temptation, it’s only a matter of time before the Devil grabs ahold of your life.  Therefore, be alert, on guard and keep watch so you stay well out of the Devil’s reach.

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

The Forgotten Man of Christmas

If you work for a large company, you will come across various characters, personalities and temperaments.  Meanwhile, if you are a regular visitor of social media sites, you can usually decipher those seeking attention from people who simply enjoy connecting with friends.  While there are numerous methods entrepreneurs can cash in on today, it’s okay to live a quiet life beyond the spot life.  Such is the case of one first century man.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly, Matthew 1:18-19.

As a former junior high teacher, teenagers can be cruel.  Teens going through puberty can be down right nasty.  Imagine if your girl friend shows up to school pregnant and you didn’t have sex with her.  These were the thoughts racing through Joseph’s mind when his fiancée returns home from his aunt’s house several months pregnant.  Betrayed, confused and distraught, Joseph was on his way to break off his engagement quietly to avoid a messy divorce.  When an angel intervened, this forgotten man of Christmas had to wait until Jesus was born to consecrate his marriage.

Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Feast. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem, according to the custom of the Feast; 43 and as they were returning [to Nazareth], after spending the required number of days [at the Feast], the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. Now His parents did not know this, 44 but supposed Him to be in the caravan, and traveled a day’s journey; and [then] they began searching [anxiously] for Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find Him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him [everywhere], Luke 2:41-45.

Joseph is one of those characters who quickly fades from the forefront, written out of a drama, movie or show after completing his mission.  There is only one mention of Joseph in the Bible following the events of Christmas, Jesus’ bar mitzvah, the event to celebrate a Jewish boy becoming a man.  This symbolic act enabled Jesus to become a man in God’s house.  Joseph likely died of natural causes, assumed to be dead and long gone, out of the picture, by the four gospel authors.  Then again, Joseph could have completed God’s will for his life following Jesus’ bar mitzvah.  Either way, Joseph is the forgotten man of Christmas, taking a back seat to Emmanuel, God with us in the form of baby Jesus..

by Jay Mankus

The 4 Dreams of Christmas

Dream #1

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins,” Matthew 1:18-21.

You have probably heard of the 12 days of Christmas, a catechism song published in the 1780’s by oppressed Catholics.  Yet, 4 dreams that made Christmas possible, the mass of Christ, are often overlooked.  The first dream prevented Jesus from growing up in a single parent household, void of an earthly father.  While dreams are a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep, the Lord sent an angel from heaven like a scene from a Christmas movie, to fulfill God’s plan for redemption on earth.

Dream #2

Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet [Hosea]: “Out of Egypt I called My Son,” Matthew 2:13-15.

Whenever you have any dream, there are rationale explanations.  This could be due to simply day dreaming, mental aspirations, nightmares or stress.  However, from a spiritual perspective, there are times when God uses dreams as a form of divine intervention.  The second dream of Christmas provoked an immediate response by awakening the soul of Joseph.  Just as Old Testament families plotted the deaths of brothers who stood in their way of the throne, Herod attempted to slaughter the king of the Jews.  However, babies are hard to identify from one another at an early age.  Thus, King Herod devised a plan to kill all babies under the age of 2.  This dream enabled Mary, Joseph and Jesus to escape this massacre in a nick of time.

Dream #3

But when Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20 “Get up! Take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel, Matthew 2:19-21.

Most people use an alarm clock to get up each morning.  Others use their cell phone to make sure they are not late for work.  However, this third dream introduces the concept of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  After being on the run, living in a foreign land, another angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream.  It’s unclear if God sent the same angel each time, but this dream served as a spiritual alarm clock to get up and go.  This dream set the stage for the future king of the Jews to return home to Israel.  Although this is only an assumption, after news of Herod’s slaughter of countless baby boys reached Egypt, Joseph likely developed a keen awareness of his dreams.  Thus, each night as Joseph went to sleep, he was eager, hopeful and waiting for another encounter with God.

Dream #4

But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod [the Great], he was afraid to go there. Then being warned by God in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee, 23 and went and settled in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene,” Matthew 1:22-23.

The final dream of Christmas varies from the first three.  The Lord didn’t need to send an angel to get Joseph’s attention.  Rather, by this time in his life, Joseph was in tune with God, like a faithful servant eagerly awaiting his next command.  These dreams radically transformed the life of Jesus’ earthly father.  Instead of doubting, questioning or becoming a skeptic, Joseph had become a believer in God’s plan.  Mary and Joseph may not have understood the impact their son would make on earth, yet they began to walk by faith, not by sight.  As Christmas carols take over the airwaves this December, don’t forget to remind people of how God used dreams to protect and ensure this sacred holiday.  May these dreams open your mind to the possibility of God speaking to you and me in a similar manner today.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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