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Tag Archives: mind

When Stress Drags You To Your Knees

When it comes to stress, I am usually immune to worry.  After being broke a few times in life, God has always provided in my time of need.  Food, shelter and work have come to me in a variety of ways.  However, 2019 has been one of the more trying years of my life occupationally speaking.  Budget cuts, changing roles and the unknown has consumed me with stress, dragging me to my knees.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad, Proverbs 12:25.

King Solomon writes a letter to impart wisdom to his children.  As a man who married 700 woman and fathered children with an addition 300 concubines, Solomon understood the stress that parents face.  The more you focus on your numerous responsibilities, anxiety can weigh on your heart.  One of the ways Solomon urges people to overcome stress is by focusing on the positive, savoring encouraging words.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved, Psalm 55:22.

When this advice doesn’t work, the Psalmist provides a more practical resolution.  This reflective poem written by David urges stress filled individuals to cast burdens upon the Lord.  During his earthly ministry, Jesus turned to a crowd, calling the stressed out to come to me and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28-30.  Therefore, whenever you can’t control,  endure or handle the stress of a current situation, fall to your knees and lighten your burdens through prayer.

by Jay Mankus

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Demonic Influences on Mental Health

Whenever people hear accounts of curses, demons and evil spirits, there is a hesitancy to believe these stories.  Perhaps, unrealistic movie scenes or television re-enactments have placed doubts into human minds.  Unless you are an eyewitness to one of these supernatural events, demonic influences on mental health isn’t even considered.  However, if curses, demons and evil spirits are real, their impact on mental health would explain many unsolved questions.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and the man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with chains. For he had often been bound with shackles [for the feet] and with chains, and he tore apart the chains and broke the shackles into pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue and tame him. Night and day he was constantly screaming and shrieking among the tombs and on the mountains, and cutting himself with [sharp] stones, Mark 5:1-5.

An estimated 2 million Americans practice some form of self-injury.  During my final year of teaching high school, I became aware of the practice of Self-Mutilation.  According to an article on the Daily Dot, Emo music and it’s impact on teenagers has been overlooked in America’s growing mental health crisis.  Apparently, this new age disco like music is playing a role in tempting depressed and lonely souls to continue cutting their bodies.  If you take the passage above as a case study, it’s possible that demons are the force behind modern self-mutilation.

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.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him, Genesis 4:6-8.

The passage above sheds light on what happens inside the human brain as individuals contemplate what they are going to do.  In this case, God has a private conversation with Cain as he wrestles with jealousy within his heart.  Cain is frustrated that his occupation as a farmer is much harder than Abel’s position as a shepherd.  Subsequently, a spirit of hatred seizes this opportunity to consume Cain’s vulnerable heart.  In the end, this evil spirit persuades Cain to do the unthinkable, murder his younger brother.  While those who commit crimes today are usually imprisoned, demons and evil spirits flee the scene without blame or getting caught.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

The apostle Paul throws another curveball into the discussion of demonic influences on mental health.  As a fallen angel, Satan knows how to appear as an angel of light.  Thus, you must know that this masquerade continues today, deceiving many Christians and non-believers.  This is why Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica warning people the test everything that you hear with the word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Abstinance from every form of evil must be practiced.  If not, demonic influences will impact your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Faith That Stands the Test of Time

I visited a church last Sunday to meet up with a couple I hadn’t seen for a while.  Upon entering the foyer, I recognized the greeters from Red Lion where I taught for a decade.  As the music began to play at the traditional service, I felt like I was transported back to the 1970’s.  I hadn’t heard or sung several of these hymns since I was young.  Despite this odd encounter, I witnessed a faith within members of the congregation that has stood the test of time.

In the morning, as they were passing by, the disciples saw that the fig tree had withered away from the roots up. 21 And remembering, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi (Master), look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered!” – Mark 11:20-21

This faith was conceived during the first century from a motley crew of men who followed an impressive Jewish Rabbi.  One of these disciples connected the dots quickly, amazed at the power Jesus possessed.  One day Jesus cursed an unproductive fig tree and the next day it withered.  As more and more miracles were seen daily, Peter was transformed from someone who denied Jesus publicly into a martyr willing to die for his faith.

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. 23 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will], Mark 11:22-23.

Faith in Christ is like the merging of belief and confidence.  When these two forces join, the words mentioned above become reality as souls tap into God’s unlimited power.  This process is hard to explain. but when you see individuals praying, singing and worshipping with such joy, faith shines through.  While older Christians may cling to traditional hymns, inspired hearts often result in a faith that stands the test of time.

by Jay Mankus

 

Transitioning from Summer Camp Back to Reality

Ten years ago my wife and kids persuaded me to become a summer camp counselor for a week at Cedarbrook.  This decision enabled my youngest Lydia to attend, a year younger than the accepted age.  This week just happened to be during a heat wave in the high 90’s every day.  To make matters worse I stayed in the only cabin without air conditioning.  Between the heat, humidity and lack of sleep, I was sick the rest of the summer.  This experience caused me to never return, retiring after my first and only year.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” Joshua 1:9.

Over the past decade, my two oldest boys transitioned from campers to counselors in training.  Teenagers go through a three year process before a bird name is selected and earn the right to become an official camp counselor.  James, my oldest, graduated and spent two summers as a counselor.  Meanwhile, Daniel completed his counselor in training last summer and is currently a cabin leader this week at camp.  Finally, my daughter Lydia has begun year one of training to follow in her brother’s footsteps.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

One of my favorite traditions is going out to lunch after Cedarbrook’s closing ceremonies.  This meal allows my children to share their experience from the week.  While they may be complaining and frustration, I redirect the topic toward their favorite or most memorable moments of camp.  As I listen, this conversation provides a transition from summer camp back to reality.  Often, my kids talk about what they would do differently to improve things for next year.  This debriefing session gives my wife and I the opportunity to share our perspectives and hopefully promote spiritually growth during this upcoming school year.  May this year’s experience inspire souls to follow Christ daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

What Could Have Been and Has Come to Be

Eight teen years ago today, my wife and I welcomed our second child Daniel into this world.  As time passed, it became clear that our oldest James would be the student and that Daniel would become the athlete.  While James has been blessed with more God given talent, Daniel is more passionate about sports.  Whether it was baseball, golf or ultimate frisbee, Daniel always stood out, eventually becoming the best.  With one year left of high school, only God knows the chapters left to be written.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, Jeremiah 29:11.

However, as Paul Harvey shared on the radio for years, the rest of the story reveals what could have been.  At the height of his popularity, Daniel’s world came to a halt, almost losing his life to diabetes the summer before his freshman year of high school.  There were subtle signs looking back, but I ignored these as needing to hydrate during a hot humid summer.  The news of this diagnosis was shocking, especially for a young teenager.  As a parent, there is a helpless feeling, unable to undo these events or heal my son to ease his pain.  Despite the doctor’s visits, expensive treatments and uncertainty, I am thankful Daniel is alive and well today.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Unless you are diabetic, you can’t relate to the daily shots of insulin needed to stay alive.  As technology advances, perhaps someone will create a new device to help ease this burden.  Nonetheless, you can’t dwell on what could have been.  Rather, for now God is teaching me to focus on what has come to be, a man who is seeking to pursue higher education.  Exactly where is still a question mark, but if things proceed as planned, hopefully golf is part of God’s plan.  You see, Daniel’s middle name is Payne, in honor of my favorite golfer Payne Stewart.  Like a wise king once wrote, “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose previals.”

by Jay Mankus

The Second Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost is referenced in Acts 2:1-13.  This event serves two purposes.  First, to fulfill Jesus’ promise in John 14 to send a Holy Ghost as an advocate, counselor and helper of souls.  Second, this spiritual power is designed to empower disciples to fulfill the Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20.  This initial day is celebrated every year in churches across the country and throughout the world.  Yet, until recently, I overlooked the second Pentecost.

And Cornelius told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, ‘Send word to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 he will bring a message to you by which you will be saved [and granted eternal life], you and all your household.’ 15 When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning [at Pentecost], Acts 11:13-15.

The second Pentecost is mentioned in Acts 10:34-48.  Prior to this day, Peter received the same vision four different times.  When this vision of unclean animals stood opposed to the Law of Moses, Peter rejected God’s initial message.  According to Acts 10:13-15, this scene is repeated three more times before Peter finally changes his mind.  When the Holy Spirit tells you to do something completely different from what you have been taught, changing your ways is hard.  Yet, this spiritual tug of war between Peter and God set the stage for a second Pentecost.

Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So, if God gave Gentiles the same gift [equally] as He gave us after we accepted and believed and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ [as Savior], who was I to interfere or stand in God’s way?” – Acts 11:16-17

Peter uses a rhetorical question in the passage above which convinced him step aside to allow the Holy Spirit to move and work.  Unfortunately, one of the reasons why the Holy Spirit is not as visible in the United States as third world nations is spiritual interference.  Modern apostles and disciples are standing in God’s way, blocking the Holy Spirit from being unleashed.  Traces of the sinful nature, stubborn hearts and rebellion from biblical practices are to blame.  Yet, is it possible for a third Pentecost, a modern movement of the Holy Spirit.  The only thing missing is concerts of prayer which fueled America’s last great awakening.  May biblical history serve as a blue print to inspire believers to follow in the footsteps of the church at Antioch, Acts 11:19-21.

by Jay Mankus

The Role of Resolve in Prayer

According to Luke, one of the sons of Zebedee becomes the first of Jesus’ disciples to die a martyr’s death.  Apparently, the spread of Christianity threatened Agrippa I, the new king of the Jews.  It’s unclear why James was targeted, but he was executed in public to send a message.  When this act received praise from Jewish leaders, Agrippa I made plans to do the same thing with Peter.  As news of Peter’s arrest and rumors of another execution reached the church, fear drew believers to fall to their knees to pray.

Now at that time Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; Acts 12:1-2.

Based upon the passage below, the prayers lifted up to God were fervent and persistent.  Following the Passover, Peter was scheduled to be executed in a similar manner as James.  As this day drew near, prayers of the saints intensified.  Individuals were begging and pleading with God to deal with, fix and resolve this emergency immediately.  Based upon Acts 12:8-10, the Lord sent an angel to save Peter’s life, answering their prayers instantaneously.

When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church, Acts 12:4-5.

During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the role of resolve in prayer is mentioned, Matthew 7:7-12.  Step one is obvious, ask God for any requests on your heart or that come to mind.  Step two begins when prayers aren’t answered, seek God to find out why.  Finally, be fervent and persistent by keep knocking on God’s door.  Don’t give up on prayer; resolved to keep praying until the Lord opens a door to reveal answers for your prayers.  This is the role of resolve in prayer.  May your prayer life begin to resemble first century Christians.

by Jay Mankus

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