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PERMA

The technical term PERMA is an acronym for a model of well-being put forth by Martin Seligman. Seligman is considered a pioneer in in the field of positive psychology. PERMA consists of five important building blocks of well-being and happiness. The P stands for positive emotions, E for engagement, R for relationships, M for mission and A for accomplishments. This model was designed to help those individuals who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder and want to overcome this through a major comeback mentally.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.

The Bible compliments the PERMA model through a series of promises. Whenever you are on the road to recovery, doubt is one of the greatest obstacles, filling your mind with unbelief. Following a grueling injury while running a cross country race in high school, my doctors weren’t optimistic of me making a full recovery. After seeing the x-rays of my torn tendons, I was told that I would never run again, a permanent screw would have to be placed into my ankle, and I’d probably walk with a limp the rest of my life.

If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love. 11 I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing, John 15:10-11.

At this time as a 16 year old, I wasn’t aware of the power of prayer. The day before my operation I was mobbed by Christian friends who laid hands on me, praying for a successful surgery. Twenty four hours later, the chief surgeon at Thomas Jefferson Hospital was amazed, explaining this procedure to me after I woke up. Like a skeptic who became open to the power of God, my ankle magically popped into place after twisting it back into where it belonged. Although I never heard of PERMA until listening to a recent sermon, I understood the importance of removing doubt from your mind before you pray, Matthew 21:19-22. May prayer be your PERMA.

by Jay Mankus

Understanding Demonic Oppression

When the Coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States back in March of 2020, relatively unknown doctors became instant celebrities. While Dr. Anthony Fauci received most of the attention as the media’s darling, Dr. Oz was a regular guest panelist on cable news and talk radio. Depending upon their area of expertise or practice, these physicians tried to educate the general public on understanding the dangers of COVID-19. Although their advice varied, I learned the best way to stay healthy involved getting 7-8 hours of sleep and staying hydrated daily.

And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom last? For you say that I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub. 19 Now if I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub, with whose help and by whom do your sons drive them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.20 But if I drive out the demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has [already] come upon you, Luke 11:18-20.

When it comes to understanding demonic oppression, one of the best sources comes from a first century doctor named Luke. Beside his daily practice, this man sought to become a historian. As Luke began to hear about and see miracles that defied science, eagerness to record these details inspired two books. During a personal account with Jesus, Luke details a powerful spirit referred to as the strongman. Within this parable, Jesus suggests that a person freed from demonic oppression is not completely safe, Rather, if these individuals are careless, reverting back to former sinful practices, demons can return with more powerful tormenting spirits.

When the strong man, fully armed, [from his courtyard] guards his own dwelling, his belongings are undisturbed [his property is at peace and is secure]. But when one stronger than he attacks him and conquers him, he robs him of his whole armor on which he had relied and divides up and distributes all his goods as plunder (spoil). 23 He who is not with Me [siding and believing with Me] is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me [engage in My interest], scatters. 24 When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. 25 And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. 26 And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first, Luke 11:21-26.

In a chapter to the Church at Rome, Paul reveals his own demonic oppression, experiencing periods where he was unable to control his body, Romans 7:15-18. This baffling ordeal left Paul scratching his head, unable to break free from sinful desires. Beside Galatians 5:16-18, Romans 8:5-8 highlights an external battle that occurs within everyone’s soul. While many try a form of teetotalism, the practice of complete abstinence, Jesus reveals that certain spirits can only be removed via prayer, Mark 9:26-29. Although the book definition of demonic oppression is the work of evil spiritual forces that urge us to sin, deny God’s word, feel spiritually dead, and to be in bondage, few see this for what it is, Ephesians 6:12. While I’m not an expert on this topic, there is a lot more to life’s decisions than the “devil made me do it.” Thus, further study the Bible if you want to fully understand demonic oppression.

by Jay Mankus

I Want Something More Than a Message

Depending upon the leader, pastor or speaker at your church, you may or may not be inspired by a sermon. The book definition of inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Thus, as you sit in chairs, pews or watch socially distant at home, the message will move you to act, put you to sleep or cause you to reflect upon a certain aspect of your life. According to an individual who attended the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his followers to put his words into action via practice.

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand. 27 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it. When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, Matthew 7:24-28.

After being an eye witness of another miracle by Jesus, the disciples were sent by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. However, during the night a squall churned up the waves, making it nearly impossible to cross. While this storm was brewing, Jesus decided to take a shortcut, walking across this body of water. Despite their close relationship with Jesus, Peter was the only disciple who wanted something more than just a message. Perhaps motivated by the feeding of the 5000, Peter took a step of faith.

Then He directed the disciples to get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent away the crowds. 23 And after He had dismissed the multitudes, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When it was evening, He was still there alone. 24 But the boat was by this time out on the sea, many furlongs [a furlong is one-eighth of a mile] distant from the land, beaten and tossed by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid! 28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. 29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. 30 But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]! – Matthew 14:22-30

Once outside the boat, Peter began to actually walk, stepping over each incoming wave. According to Matthew, a strong gust of wind caused Peter to become afraid. This fear took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus, turning his attention toward his circumstance, the storm. Subsequently, Peter began to sink beneath the crashing waves. Although Peter’s faith failed, he was the only disciple willing to get out of the boat. While no one likes to be embarrassed, if you want something more than just a message, practicing your faith means be willing to risk failure daily.

by Jay Mankus

H.O.P.E.

Dr. Joseph Klimek came to the conclusion at some point during his practice that there are certain things that happen on earth which science can’t explain. These unknown questions was the motivating force behind the founding of the Hartford Office of Paranormal Exploration. The presence of paranormal activity today shouldn’t be a surprise as the Bible contains 25 accounts of Jesus casting out a demon or demons. Meanwhile, the original term used to describe God’s Spirit in the Bible is Holy Ghost.

There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, John 20:30.

During a recent episode of Unsolved Mysteries, HOPE, the Hartford Office of Paranormal Exploration was featured when a local woman claimed to be possessed by a demon. After interviewing each member of this team, parts of a live exorcism are shown. Although the identity of this possessed woman is withheld, she claims that the exorcism forced this demonic entity to leave her body. Unfortunately, talking about the spiritual realm in many circles today will result in others labeling you as crazy, insane or strange.

But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is], John 20:31.

The author of the Gospel of John makes an interesting observation. At the conclusion of his book, John highlights that many of the miracles performed by Jesus are purposively omitted from the Bible. In his final sentence, John 21:25, if all the miracles performed by Jesus during his 3 year ministry were recorded in a book, libraries would not have enough space for all of these volumes. Thus, if you want to summarize Jesus’ impact on the blind, poor, and the sick, He gave hope to the hopeless.

by Jay Mankus

Removing the Debris that’s Blocking Your Path of Faith

Last week Hurricane Isaias’ path went through the state of Delaware. Although Isaias was downgraded to a tropical system by the time it struck Delaware, this storm spawned a record breaking tornado. Leaving a path of destruction for more than 29 miles, I left for work on Tuesday unaware of what I would face. While my commute normally takes a little over 30 minutes, a closed bridge and 3 other detours led to a 90 minute ordeal.

Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it. 39 Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, exclaimed, But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days! – John 11:38-39

At one point when I realized I would be a minimum of 30 minutes late, I thought about turning around to go home. Yet, with my co-worker on vacation, I pressed on. Since all the traffic lights in Middletown were out, police officers were directing traffic, unable to warn drivers of less traveled roads also blocked by fallen trees. Since my only other option was backed up for several miles, I drove 10 miles out of the way to finally arrive.

Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God? 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger], John 11:40-42.

In the passage above, Jesus is consoling two sisters whose brother Lazarus passed away. Angry at Jesus for not arriving earlier to heal her brother, Martha’s faith is wavering. During a prior visit, Jesus said that these women would see the glory of God. Lazarus’ death served as a boulder, blocking Martha’s path of faith. Unable to remove this stone by herself, Martha gathered family and friends so that Jesus could enter Lazarus’ tomb. Before this day was over, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, opening Martha’s eyes to the possibilities when faith is not blocked. May this story inspire you to remove any stone currently blocking your path to belief.

by Jay Mankus

Who is Chasing Who?

The book definition of chase is to pursue in order to catch or catch up with. Children grow up chasing neighbors in games like Hide-n-Go Seek or tag. After going through puberty, teenagers begin chasing members of the opposite sex, hoping to find true love. Upon graduating from high school, careers, dreams and goals are laid out with aspirations to find success. Along the way, God comes into the picture, planting people, road blocks and spiritual seeds into our lives. However, two first century encounters reveal the true nature of God via Jesus who chases lost souls.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan [and a] woman, for a drink?—For the Jews have nothing to do with the Samaritans— 10 Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water, John 4:9-10.

The first begins in the city of Samaria, often bypassed by Jews. When you dig into the Jewish culture, woman and children are treated with little respect. Jewish father’s were only allowed to speak to their daughter’s in public, not even their wives. Feeling stifled with this man made rule, Jesus places himself at a well in the middle of the day, waiting to minister to those who would come. Jesus uses this opportunity to introduce the concept of living water. This topic of conversation creates a spiritual thirst in a woman who spent a lifetime chasing after love without finding it.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, ” Luke 19:7-10.

During a visit to Jericho, another city with a tarnished past, Jesus reaches out to one of the most hated individuals in town. A tax collector name Zacchaeus treats Jesus’ like a rock star, hoping to get his attention. Hearing stories of healings, miracles and his vast wisdom, Zacchaeus was eager to ask Jesus a number of unanswered questions about life. Moved by the presence and words of Jesus, Zacchaeus is convicted to get right with God. At the end of this conversation, a first century doctor unveils Jesus purpose for coming, “to seek and to save the lost.” While you may not be currently running after God, Jesus is chasing after you, seeing great potential within. As soon as individuals come to their senses, the lost get found.

by Jay Mankus

Recalling Minds to the Way of Life in Christ

I was an average student most of my life, often day dreaming in class about what I wanted to do. For example, I spent most of Geometry designing golf courses which explains why I never understood this concentration of math. Until I realized that my grades in high school would impact which college I could attend, my mind was hard to corral. Since academics wasn’t my forte, most of my energy, focus and time was invested into sports. After becoming a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year, the Holy Spirit helped me become a better student by recalling the promises of the Bible to my mind.

For this very cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ, such as I teach everywhere in each of the churches, 1 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes the quest for knowledge gets in the way, hindering one’s ability to grow spiritually. Members of the Corinthian Church were raised in a culture that idolized philosophers. While the apostle Paul’s visit to this region in Greece sowed spiritual seeds, after his departure it appears that many went back to their former way of life. After receiving news of their idleness, back sliding from the apostles’ teaching, Timothy is sent as a means to recharge their spiritual batteries. Paul’s goal is to recall minds to the way of life in Christ.

Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him, John 14:6-8.

Seeing in Believing is the name of a 1934 British film. Seven years later author John Dickson Carr wrote the mystery novel Seeing in Believing. German singer Xavier Naidoo, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Adriana Evans also released songs with the same name. During the first century, seeing is believing was a common phrase for those who witnessed a miracle performed by Jesus. Yet, the disciple known as doubting Thomas still had reservations, regularly questioning Jesus. Since modern Christians have to rely on the words of the Bible, as you read these living pages may your minds be recalled to the way of life in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Am I Too Old for Pleasure?

While age is a number, aging is a state of mind. If you believe in science, reaching a specific age has limitations. For a woman who wants to get married and have children before turning forty, their biological clock is ticking. Although anything is possible with God, the odds go down each year you wait to walk in faith.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; it had ceased to be with Sarah as with [young] women. [She was past the age of childbearing]. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed to herself, saying, After I have become aged shall I have pleasure and delight, my lord (husband), being old also? – Genesis 18:11-12

When Sarah was well beyond the age of bearing children, she gave up hope. Upon overhearing news that Abraham would have a son, Sarah laughed. One translation suggests that Sarah doubted the ability to still have pleasure with her husband. Nonetheless, this promise sets the stage for an epic miracle. The name Isaac is a masculine name from the Hebrew term Yitzchak meaning “he laughs.”

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.

The Psalmist adds another dimension to pleasure. When individuals are shown and revealed the path of life, God’s will, a fullness of joy is unleashed. Jesus eludes to a similar experience during the first century. John 10:10 discloses God’s purpose on earth, to live an abundant life. Thus, as individuals find their place in this world, walking with God brings pleasure, no matter how young or old that you may be.

by Jay Mankus

When You're Unwilling to Change

Julia Roberts starred in the 1991 film Sleeping with the Enemy. However, nearly two thousand years before Nancy Price published her novel, a Jewish carpenter allowed himself to be infiltrated by a spiritual enemy. Jesus saw the potential in Judas Iscariot as a disciple, giving him an opportunity to change. Yet, in the end, this was part of God’s plan as Judas was unwilling to change despite witnessing countless miracles.

Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (the message) of eternal life. 69 And we have learned to believe and trust, and [more] we have come to know [surely] that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And [yet] one of you is a devil (of the evil one and a false accuser), John 6:68-70.

On December 12th, 2019, scientists discovered an unknown virus in Wuhan, China. As news of this spread across the country and throughout the world, the name Coronavirus was given. As the number of confirmed cases in the United States has surpassed 54,000, citizens are forced to make one of two choices. Practice social distancing by changing how you live your daily life or continue ignoring the new CDC guidelines? The first doesn’t guarantee staying healthy, but the latter risks spreading the Coronavirus to those whom you love.

When it was evening, He was reclining at table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, Solemnly I say to you, one of you will betray Me! 22 They were exceedingly pained and distressed and deeply hurt and sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, Surely it cannot be I, Lord, can it? 23 He replied, He who has [just] dipped his hand in the same dish with Me will betray Me! – Matthew 26:20-23

As Jesus’ betrayal grew near, one event sped up this process. When a prostitute wasted an expensive jar of perfume to anoint Jesus’ body, this decision pushed Judas over the edge. In his role as treasurer, Judas saw this act as a waste of money, not an act of worship. When a seed of betrayal was sown in Judas’ heart and mind, the Last Supper sets the stage for Jesus’ final call out. When individuals aren’t unwilling to change, the consequences can be eternal. May the current Coronavirus pandemic persuade stubborn hearts to alter their lives now before it’s too late.

by Jay Mankus

Cancelled by Coronavirus

In a matter of days, college and professional sports seasons, public education classes and my volleyball league have either been cancelled, closed their doors for two to four weeks or suspended their seasons. The culprit, the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19 is to blame for this latest pandemic. While out picking up weekly supplies during my normal time, local shoppers treated Thursday afternoon as if the world was coming to an end. With this in mind, what does the Bible say about viruses?

At midnight the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead, Exodus 12:29-30.

The most famous plague of the Old Testament struck Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Jews. According to Moses, every family was impacted, losing the first born male overnight. Meanwhile, cattle farmers lost first born calves as well. According to Numbers 16:49, 14,700 individuals died in a plague brought on by the disobedience of Korah. Another 24,000 Israelites were wiped out by a similar plague in Numbers 25:9. There are other accounts of angels of death, deadly plagues and a real Devil who daily seeks to steal, kill and destroy the lives of weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.

So I looked, and behold, an ashy pale horse [black and blue as if made so by bruising], and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades (the realm of the dead) followed him closely. And they were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and with wild beasts of the earth, Revelation 6:8.

Whenever individuals experience the unknown, doubt, fear and panic can take hold of troubled hearts. In just one week, life as we know it has been turned upside down. The only recent pandemic that is comparable was the H1N1, back in the Spring of 2009. My oldest son contracted the Swine Flu months later during the Cross Country season. Although James missed nearly 3 weeks of school, he made a complete and full recovery. As human beings, not being in control of your health and well being conceives emotions of hopelessness. Yet, the only thing that you can do right now until COVID-19 goes into remission is pray to the God of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

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