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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

When God is Near… Fear Disappears

If you have lived long enough, you will see something that you can’t explain.  Whether you experience some sort of spiritual phenomena, are spooked by the presence of darkness or witness an unidentified flying object, fear is a common emotion.  These events result in awe, goosebumps and head scratching thoughts.  When God’s presence seems distant, fear can overwhelm souls.  However, when God seems near, fear disappears.

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened, Luke 2:8-9.

At the beginning of the first century, a few shepherds had their own encounter with the supernatural.  When the country side began to glow with the presence of heavenly hosts, these men were frightened.  Shepherds are use to sudden attacks by wolves seeking to eat one of their sheep.  Yet, when the evening sky is overwhelmed by the glory of the Lord, it’s not surprising that these shepherds were freaked out.  Recognizing the fear in their eyes, an angel used a conversation to settle their nerves.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. 11 For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). 12 And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger,” Luke 2:10-12.

The term certainty refers to a fact that is definitely true.  Prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus, fear riddled my life.  My lack of direction in life along with the uncertainty of my eternal destination resulted in a reoccurring nightmare.  By the age of ten, I cried myself to sleep on a nightly basis, unaware of the meaning to life.  This state of sadness led me to pursue answers to my questions.  While I still get scared from time to time, the moment God entered my life, fear disappeared.

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

 

 

When Nightmares Become More Than a Dream

My first nightmare as a child was being chased by Bigfoot throughout my neighborhood, waking up as soon as I got caught.  These vivid details were likely due to my obsession with the paranormal, reading books from Daniel Cohen and watching shows like Unsolved Mysteries.  In 1984, Nightmare on Elm Street introduced the concept that nightmares can become more than a dream.  When 4 teenagers from the same neighborhood began to have the same dream of the Springwood Slasher, the legend of Freddie Kruger was born.  These graphic images ushered in a spirit of fear as individuals began to be afraid to go to sleep.

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

Fourteen years later, another Hollywood production added to this concept.  Charmed ran on the WB for nine seasons, ending in 2006.  This series featured three sisters who discover they are descendants of a witch with each possessing unique supernatural powers.  During season 1, episode 5, entitled Dream Sorcerer uses dream therapy to introduce a character who is able to enter the dreams of other women.  One of the sisters Prue finds her sleep disturbed by strange visions in which she’s taunted by this mysterious man.  After an initial dream, Prue wakes up with marks on her back.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; Acts 2:17.

Over the last decade, Paranormal Witness, the movie and television series has interviewed and researched cases where nightmares became more than a dream.  Depending upon the episode, individuals were haunted by demons, evil spirits and powers of darkness that defy logic.  While critics, doubters and skeptics will continue to suggest this isn’t real, numerous victims continue to speak out today testifying to the fact that nightmares can become reality when you wake up from a cold sweat with emotional and physical scars.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

Prior to ten years ago, I didn’t believe that nightmares could become more than a dream.  However, this all changed when I watched a marathon of Cold Case Files on A&E with my sister Kathie over Christmas break.  Initially, I was relaxing, vegging on the couch.  Yet, when a serial rapist began to open about a demon who visited his dreams in the form of a succubus, this got my attention.  Afterward, I began to do my own research.  I discovered succubus are female demons that seek to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men.  According to men who have come forward, these spirits often appear beautiful at first before transfiguring into devil like entities.  I felt compelled to write this blog not to scare people, but to prepare souls for future attacks so that you will be proactive in prayer to create hedges of spiritual protection.  Don’t let the sun go down before preparing your heart, soul and mind with a covering from the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

An Unforgettable Fire

In the heart of the Pennsylvania coal country lies an ugly reminder of an unforgettable fire.  Underneath Centralia, Pennsylvania, one of the mine shafts caught fire in 1962.  With an unlimited amount of coal, enough to burn for a century, this town of about thousand was abandoned in 1982 due to health and safety concerns.   Though home owners were allowed to return to their properties on October 29th, 2013, flames from beneath still bring smoke to the surface today, a sign that this nightmare is not over.

For our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29.

Two years after residents of Centralia were forced to leave, the Irish Rock Band U2 released The Unforgettable Fire.  This album was inspired by an art exhibit about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  Yet, the lyrics within these songs suggest another fire, the Holy Spirit.  Although this is never mentioned by name, traces of biblical themes can be found.  The Unforgettable Fire was the middle of three albums during U2’s Christian phase, book marked by Under A Blood Red Sky and The Joshua Tree.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

Fire represents life and judgment.  From a biblical perspective, fire also refers to trials, periods where God uses extreme events to mold and fashion individuals like clay.  While these periods of life can be painful, after you have endured these situations, perseverance and maturity are usually developed.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a physical or spiritual fire, ask the Lord to burn off any impurities that persist so that on the other side God will make you whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

Unguarded

Confidence, egos and pride tend to convince individuals that they can handle anything that life throws their way.  With success, this mindset gradually leads people to become self-reliant, trusting in their own strength and abilities.  And yet, these factors create the perfect storm, setting the stage for a demonic attack on the unguarded.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

The human mind is an accessory, a willing accomplice.  As the mind is a giant sponge, able to record and store millions of pieces of information throughout your life.  Some of this content triggers fond memories of former relationships, places or things.  Meanwhile, other events can expose or uncover secret scars, a painful remainder of nightmares from your past.  Subsequently, anyone who starts a day without the covering of prayer or a support system is vulnerable to invisible attacks known as spiritual warfare.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27.

After a great first month of 2016, I’ve found myself falling back into careless patterns.  Any type of apathetic manner allows on open door for the Devil to come back into and torment your life.  This is why addiction, bad habits and unguided souls experience so much pain and remorse.  If you find yourself in this precarious situation, going through life unguarded, its time to create a war room, a place of prayer to prepare you for Satan’s schemes.  Like the old American Express Ad campaign, don’t leave home without it.

by Jay Mankus

 

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