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When Your Punishment is Greater Than What You Can Bear

As a child, I was grounded a few times by my parents. My worst punishment as a student was being called to the principal’s office. When I gave up trying to improve as a saxophone player in 8th grade, I became a troublemaker. Subsequently, I was rolling up fake joints made out of oregano. However, our band director thought it was the real thing. After being dragged down to the main office like criminals, the boy who brought the oregano to school cracked under pressure. While I was cleared of any charges, my band director never forgave me.

Then Cain said to the Lord, My punishment is]greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, You have driven me out this day from the face of the land, and from Your face I will be hidden; and I will be a fugitive and a vagabond and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me. 15 And the Lord said to him, [d]Therefore, if anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark or sign upon Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. 16 So Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod [wandering], east of Eden, Genesis 4:13-16.

In the case of Cain, he verbalized his concerns to the Lord in the passage above. Perhaps, nightmares of Abel’s death kept replaying in his mind. Cain’s overwhelming conscience brought conviction and regret to his heart and soul daily. Sensing that other members of his family would eventually hunt him down in revenge, Cain asked God for some sort of intervention. God’s solution is detailed above with a mark, a visible sign to avoid touching Cain. Yet, this doesn’t mean Cain lived happily ever after as a social outcast forced to think about what he had done to his brother.

But I say to you that everyone who continues to be [ad]angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be [ae]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be [af]liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You [ag]cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be [ah]liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire, Matthew 5:22.

There’s a lesson in every crime as illustrated by shows like Cold Case Files and Forensic Files. No matter how careful the killer is, there is always at least one clue left behind at the scene of the crime. Although Cain denied any involvement, God saw right through Cain’s lie. Jesus indirectly mentions Cain in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Jesus equates hatred with murder. The jealousy within Cain due to the prosperity of his little brother conceived a root of bitterness inside of Cain’s heart. When you give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-28, hatred can lead to murder. May Cain’s story serve as a warning for all people.

by Jay Mankus

A House of Horrors

As cable and streaming services continue to feature horror films this month, the Bible contains a villain unlike any depicted by Hollywood. The backstory of this man from Gerasa comes to the surface as Jesus asks a series of probing questions. Apparently, this man left home as he was afraid that he might hurt his wife or children. Subsequently, he moved out to live alone in a series of catacombs.

They came to the other side of the sea to the region of the Gerasenes. And as soon as He got out of the boat, there met Him out of the tombs a man [under the power] of an unclean spirit. This man [a]continually lived among the tombs, and no one could subdue him any more, even with a chain; Mark 5:1-3.

According to John Mark, this man exhibited uncontrollable fits of rage, possessing supernatural strength. Sensing some sort of demonic possession, Jesus doesn’t stop his inquiry until discovering this man’s spiritual condition. Based upon the context of Mark 5:13, this Legion which spoke to Jesus was like something out of the Exorcist. The actual number of demons inside this man was two thousand.

For he had been bound often with shackles for the feet and [b]handcuffs, but the handcuffs of [light] chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he rubbed and ground together and broke in pieces; and no one had strength enough to restrain or tame him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always [c]shrieking and screaming and [d]beating and bruising and [e]cutting himself with stones, Mark 5:4-5.

The number of demonic influences living inside this man is incomprehensible, even for Hollywood. Nonetheless, this sets the scene for one of the most memorable exorcisms in the Bible. Mark spends a total of 20 verses on this man living in a house of horrors, waking up from nightmares in a graveyard. Yet, in this story, there were no human murders, just a herd of hogs that drown in the Sea. This account reveals how Jesus can transform one man’s house of horrors into a peaceful sleep and in his right mind.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode103: Whom Shall I Fear?

Chris Tomlin has slowly become the Michael W. Smith of modern-day Contemporary Christian Music. You don’t have to go far to recognize Tomlin’s popularity as fans have purchased over 7 million records. Today’s featured song is a remake of a popular church hymn Whom Shall I Fear? This open ended question serves as a reflection to consider God’s promises and power to protect you from harm.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.

Fear of one of those inner demons that often results in nightmares. Yet, fear can come in the form of peer pressure, especially in this age of virtue signaling and wokeness. However, the apostle Paul reminds his readers that the Holy Spirit is greater than fear, 2 Timothy 1:7. As Christians develop and mature in the love of Jesus, this knowledge can and will expel every trace of fear. Enjoy Chris’ song.

by Jay Mankus

Shutting the Door on Fear

Two first century authors use the imagery of a door to prove their point. The apostle Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil an open door to enter your life. This analogy suggests that you shouldn’t leave a crack or a gap. One of Jesus’ disciples focuses on the positive. This spiritual illustration uses God’s love as a source of superior power to snuff out fear by closing the door.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.

As I read the passage above recently, my mind turned to 2 Corinthians 10:5-6. Trying to confront the Devil alone is reckless. Yet, when you learn to take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ, shutting the door on fear is possible. If fear feeds on weakened minds that become paralyzed by ungodly beliefs, you’re giving the Devil a foothold to use your fears against you.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him], Ephesians 4:26-27.

One of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a predator that feeds on isolated and wounded Christians. When a door is left ajar or cracked open, fear will enter your dreams while you’re sleeping. Anyone who doesn’t shut the door on fear will allow nightmares to continue to fester. These threats will only intensify as time goes by. This is why shutting the door on fear is essential for all Christians to practice.

by Jay Mankus

Undisturbed by Fear

The response known as fear starts in the region of the brain called the amygdala. This unpleasant emotion is often intense as individuals perceive and or recognize a dangerous threat. Depending upon the degree of fear that you encounter, physiological changes may produce behavioral reactions that conceive phobias. One of Jesus’ disciples suggests that reaching a certain level of faith allows Christians to be undisturbed by fear.

Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!] – 1 Peter 3:11

As a child growing up in Delaware, I’d had many strange encounters with snakes. I’ve had snakes slither in between my feet while cutting the grass, fall from trees right in front of me and stop right next to me while swimming in a creek. These experiences conceived a reoccurring dream while in college. Similar to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the snake in my nightmare is coiled up before instantly launching toward me to strike and bit me

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

This phobia of snakes haunted me throughout my childhood. That is until a conversation in college opened my eyes to the meaning of this dream. The snake was symbolic of the Devil whom I spent a lifetime running away from in fear like a coward. The Holy Spirit was calling me to confront this fear with the knowledge of the promise in the passage above. When Christians begin to pray for and claim a spirit of power, love and self-discipline, you will eventually become undisturbed by fear.

by Jay Mankus

Fighting an Invisible Enemy

Like many teenage boys, I was drawn toward horror flicks in high school. I’m not sure why I developed this unhealthy attraction, but the adrenaline of being scared out of my mind brought me back to the movies time after time. When I dreamed that I was being chased around my neighborhood by a beast or killer, I just assumed this was a harmless nightmare, Little did I realize that I was actually fighting an invisible enemy.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

As another Friday 13th approaches, it’s fitting that I was born on Saturday the 14th. I won’t read too much into this irony, but the apostle Paul warns Christians of what believers in God are up against. Following in the footsteps of his heavenly identity Lucifer, this fallen angel is a spiritual magician who is the master of deception. Just as this cunning serpent deceived Adam and Eve, human beings are fooled every day by this invisible enemy.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:9-10.

In the passage above, Jesus suggests that Satan tries to convince people that there is more than one way to enter heaven. As the gullible begin to search for this back door, character is stolen, dreams are killed and lives are destroyed. Jesus didn’t come to earth to condemn those who wonder off, but to seek and to save the lost, Luke 19:10. Therefore, as your eyes are opened to this invisible enemy, come to Jesus so you can begin to experience the abundant life.

by Jay Mankus

Summoned by God

If you have ever been forced to take a day or week for jury duty, you understand what it means to be summoned. Typically, you receive a letter in the mail from a county or state, requesting your presence to serve. If you are an eyewitness to an accident or crime, you may be asked to testify to what you have seen. Or if you have ever received a parking or speeding ticket, you will be summoned to either pay a fine or appeal in court. These types of summons are unpleasant, a day or days that you want to forget.

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.

From a spiritual perspective, some of you have been summoned by God. Spiritual summons can occur at any place or time, usually when you least expect it. When I was child, I had a reoccurring nightmare, dreaming of dying night after night for nearly two years. After falling off a cliff, I woke up just as I hit the ground. I still don’t know why this keep happening, but this caused me the contemplate the concept of eternity. To randomly be born on earth only to die didn’t make sense to me.

Paul, summoned by the will and purpose of God to be an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1.

What I didn’t realize is this silent summons conceived in me a desire to know God. Through the Fellowship of Christian of Athletes in high school and college, I was summoned to receive Jesus into my heart as Savior and friend. After back sliding during my first semester in college at the University of Delaware, I was summoned to return. Through the power of Holy Spirit, a fire was ignited within my soul to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Over the past 35 years, I haven’t always been obedient to each summons from God, straying from time to time. Nonetheless, I’m still living and learning, hoping that I am faithful to my next calling in life.

by Jay Mankus

Unmasking Nightmares

As Halloween 2019 arrives, will the events of today result in nightmares tomorrow? Nightmares are triggered by anxiety, stress or trauma. These unpleasant dreams can range from reliving a scene from a recently watched horror movie to strong emotional unrest within your mind. The most severe nightmares are brought on by posttraumatic stress disorder. Engaging in military combat, coping with abuse or witnessing a death can make every night like a real life Nightmare on Elm Street.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully, 1 Peter 5:7.

At the beginning of chapter 5, a former disciple of Jesus addresses the sufferings individuals will experience on earth. Anyone who makes the decision to follow Jesus is at greater risk. For example, the person who wrote this letter was crucified up-side down for his faith. When anxieties, concerns and worries overwhelm your soul, Peter urges Christians to cast their cares at the feet of Christ. As nightmares begin to stir your mind into a tizzy, cry out to God in prayer to stop these brain tremors in their tracks.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

Just when I thought it was safe, Peter drops a bombshell about a spiritual danger that exists. As a child, I loved to watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. One of the episodes illustrated the passage above as lions recognized, separated and wore down weak animals who were surrounded and killed. This passage unmasks Satan’s schemes on earth. One of the ways people get worn down is through nightmares. When bodies don’t get enough sleep, minds are weakened, affecting how you function. If you want to fight back, the apostle Paul suggests using spiritual weapons to protect your mind, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. As believers begin to put on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:12-18, minds will receive the protection you need to unmask nightmares as an attack from the evil one.

by Jay Mankus

More than Just a Fright Night

Every October television networks devote their programming to reruns of Halloween and horror themed movies. Meanwhile, local cities, communities and towns use haunted forests, houses and theme parks to prepare individuals for Halloween. The first purpose-built haunted attraction was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House located in Liphook, England. Since this establishment opened in 1915, nearly every region has developed their own Fright Land to scare the hell out of visitors.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Most brains have a memory capacity of about 2.5 petabytes. This is equivalent to 2.6 million gigabytes. To place this fact into its proper perspective, Blu-Ray discs hold roughly 50 gigabytes. This means that the human mind is comparable to a digital television able to store up to 3 million hours of television shows. While this potential is impressive, if minds absorb too many images of horror, pornography or other inappropriate content, this opens the door for unclean spirits to enter your life.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

Human minds don’t need an internet connection to be reminded of the unpleasant experiences of their past. All your mind needs is a flashback, a song or some sort of trigger to unleash these haunting memories. Anyone who has ever been abused, raped or fallen prey to pornography have these nightmares seared into their minds. As individuals use horror flicks to get into the mood to celebrate Halloween, it only takes one unwholesome image to inflict a troubled soul. Therefore, as Halloween approaches, be on guard so that this one night of fright doesn’t turn into a lifetime of reliving nightmares.

by Jay Mankus

Scaring the Crap Out of You

As a teenager, I gravitated toward horror movies.  While I may have been living on the edge, witnessing thousands of hours of unwholesome images resulted in several nightmares.  Unfortunately, the scariest scenes often filled me with a rush of adrenaline leading me to continue this hobby throughout college.  I know this is strange, but there is something thrilling about being scared to death.  Not literally of course, but sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next frightening death to occur.

They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing opposite the lampstand on [a well-lit area of] the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the part of the hand that did the writing, Daniel 5:4-5.

The term scaring the crap out of you comes from the Bible.  King Belshazzar was throwing a party for a thousand guests.  As this evening wore on, many became drunk on wine, laughing and staying stupid things like a frat party.  While under the influence, seeing fingers of a man writing on a wall probably started out as a hallucination.  However, the longer this continued, the king and his guests found themselves in a terrifying scenario.  According to the passage below, this event caused the king to crap and or wet himself.

Then the color and the [drunken] hilarious brightness of the king’s face was changed, and his [terrifying] thoughts troubled and alarmed him; the joints and muscles of his hips and back gave way and his knees smote together, Daniel 5:6.

Outside of the Bible. accidents, disease and illness can scare the crap out of any human being.  When a human life is on the verge of death, souls are awakened by this painful reality.  While not everyone drinks, life has a way of numbing hearts to the point that you don’t care about the frailty of life.  This form of apathy is dangerous, especially if it continues for several years.  Thus, don’t be surprised when God allows you to endure a trial so that fear is used to revive and renew your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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