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Don’t Become Despondent Through Fear

Living out a Christian faith can be oppressive, tedious, and seemingly without end of obstacles. Furthermore, when things don’t go the way you expect or think, it’s not uncommon to suffer from depression. When confidence is lost or hope slips away, fear can suck the joy out of life. Like a golfer who is all over the place during their round, there are many days where you have to grind everything out.

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you, Ephesians 3:12-13.

Whatever optimistic message you have received about a new life in Christ, every day has a new set of challenges. If you let your guard down, become over confident or don’t have enough prayer cover, extreme discouragement may not be too far behind. Unpleasant emotions are a byproduct of fear, caused by a belief that someone or something is a threat. This is where faith must rise to the occasion, opening the door for boldness and courage to shine through.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Apparently, despondency was an issue in the first century as the apostle Paul writes a similar message to two different congregations. The context of the passage above refers to you reap what you sow. If your mind is constantly fixated on fear, you will become worn down by despondent thoughts. Therefore, if you want to rise above your circumstances, approach God with a humble heart, expecting blessings for those who belong to the household of faith.

by Jay Mankus

The Spark that Makes Dreams Come True

Modern plows are large farming structures that implement one or more blades fixed in a frame drawn by a tractor. These expensive pieces of equipment are essential for farmers who own hundreds of acres of land. Back in biblical days, this technology wasn’t available, forced to rely on horses, mules or oxen. These animal driven plows were used for cutting furrows in the soil and turning it over, to prepare for the planting of crops.

Do I say this only on human authority and as a man reasons? Does not the Law endorse the same principle? For in the Law of Moses it is written, You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the corn. Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? – 1 Corinthians 9:8-9

As the first son of Adam, Cain found farming to be a thankless trade. This likely explains why Abel decides to become a shepherd, moving his flock once the land became arid. Abel’s initial success combined with Cain’s struggles sowed a seed of jealousy within Cain’s heart. This is the exact opposite thought that the apostle Paul suggests in a letter to the church of Corinth. When you begin to plow, you should expect God to bless your effort as long as you give 100%.

Or does He speak certainly and entirely for our sakes? [Assuredly] it is written for our sakes, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest. 11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits? – 1 Corinthians 9:10-11

Paul seems to be referring to self fulfilled prophecies. If you think you are going to have a bad day, the probability increases that a bad day will come. However, if you remember how God has provided for you in the past, you’ll be more optimistic about plowing in hope of a productive harvest. Therefore, if you want to claim God’s promises in the Bible, faith is the spark that makes dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

Oops I Did It Again

My co-worker and I had an interesting conversation last night.  This discussion centered around whether or not people can actually change.  Trying to be open minded, we disagreed on one’s ability to overcome previous addictions, bad habits and poor character.  While I try to be optimistic, hoping that people reach their full potential, human nature has a way of reverting individuals back to childish ways.  This pattern tends to lead the guilty to confess, “oops I did it again.”

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out, Romans 7:18.

Based upon previous experiences, Harvey tends to believe that people never change.  Although there will be initial signs of transformation, positive steps in the right direction usually do not last.  Sooner or later, bad habits return, ensnaring many in life long addictions.  This reality is supported by the words of the apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Rome.  While it’s unclear what aspect of life this passage is referring to, Paul shares his own internal struggle with fleshly desires.  Since Paul doesn’t declare victory, it’s possible that this apostle fought a losing battle with temptation for years.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My belief in the ability to change lies in the passage above.  I spent many years as a child and teenager saying, “oops I did it again.”  Yet, the apostle Paul provides a blueprint above for anyone feeling defeated.  In order to succeed, you must expect the unexpected.  In this context, temptations are lurking around every corner, luring you to appease your fleshly desire.  However, if you want to resist, be alert, looking for an escape route.  Until you reach this point, any little victories will be short lived.  Therefore, if you want to put your childish ways behind you, 1 Corinthians 13:11, ask God for discernment so that change will occur with one good decision at a time.

by Jay Mankus


When Do Dreams Become Reality?

Dreams could be categorized as one of three possible scenarios.  Dreams could be a desire from within that you developed as a child, becoming a goal you have for life.  A dream can also derive from a vision that you receive from God while sleeping.  Finally, dreams can be random thoughts like a film playing within your mind that may or may not have any relevant meaning.  Nonetheless, the optimist wants to know when do dreams become reality.

When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.  Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more, Genesis 37:4-5.

In the Old Testament, Joseph had a series of dreams which offended most of the people whom he shared this with.  Martin Luther King had a dream of an America where individuals are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  Mr. King was killed before this day arrived and Joseph experienced a series of trials for more than two decades before seeing the hand of God at work.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives, Genesis 50:20.

Twenty years is a long time to wait.  Thus, many people give up quietly mumbling, “it’s not worth it anymore.”  Others claim “if it hasn’t happened by now, it won’t.”  Subsequently, dreams remain just a figment of your imagination rather than reality.  Yet, if you press on like Joseph, perhaps you too can boldly proclaim, “what others intended for harm, God intended for good.”  If there is such a thing as the Nike Bible, it probably says, Just Do It!

by Jay Mankus

The Place of No Return

Deep inside of every individual, a confidence exists whispering “I can do this.”  No matter how dire a situation may get, hope exists giving those on the verge of disaster an optimistic perspective on the future.  Unfortunately, some go too far, reaching the point of no return.

Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead, Proverbs 2:18.

Solomon’s kryptonite was women.  While Don Juan’s move from one partner to the next as if playing a game is impressive, Solomon set the bar high, acquiring over 1000 women as king of Israel.  Somewhere along this accumulation process, Solomon reached a point of no return.  This lustful passion carried him over the edge, creating a wedge between God and the sinful nature.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, the apostle Paul offers a word of hope.  The only way to withdraw from the place of no return involves the Holy Spirit.  This invisible counselor can help you come back to your senses.  On your own, expect failure.  Yet, with the Lord on your side, you can find your way back home soon.  Start now.

by Jay Mankus

Who Will Roll the Stone Away?

When facing a challenge, there are two ways to approach any dilemma, with an open or closed mind.  The optimistic see potential, envisioning that somehow or someway the job or task will be completed.  The skeptic will bring doubt to the table, often rejecting or questioning every possible solution that is brought up.  Thus, when an obstacle is blocking your way, the minds wonders, “how will roll the stone away?”

And they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” – Mark 16:3

On a Sunday morning during the first century, a few women headed for a tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body with spices.  Caught up in all their preparations, none of these women stopped to think about how they were going to enter the tomb.  Guarded by Roman soldiers and protected by a boulder which weighed over a ton, the odds were against them.  However, in this unique case, God cancelled the funeral, arriving to an empty tomb.

For no word from God will ever fail, Luke 1:37.

Every miracle should empower people of faith to believe.  Yet, a disciple named Thomas doubted, another committed suicide and a prophet named Elijah wanted to die after receiving a death threat.  Stones are placed into the paths of our lives on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, most people like me complain, “God why are you allowing this or that to happen?  Or you up there?  Do you care about me anymore?”  These are all good questions, but the answer is easy,  In the Lord’s timing, the Holy Spirit will roll the stones in your life away.

by Jay Mankus



Learning to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Death, financial worries and illness are the 3 most common trials that trigger depression.  If any of these obstacles linger or are replaced by another debilitating force, its hard to remain optimistic.  Thus, learning to get back up when life knocks you down begins with words of encouragement.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:9-10

In the moment of his greatest distress, David sought refuge in a cave within Adullam.  When his friends heard of his despair, they joined him to uplift David’s spirits.  Unable to stand on his own, David was able to get back up, inspired by their camaraderie.  Subsequently, a rejuvenated soul compelled David to become their leader.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. – 1 Samuel 22:2

After I lost my job on New Year’s Day 2012, I was crushed.  I felt like I had just been punched in the gut, without any warning.  However, 2 close friends stood by me in these days of darkness.  One brought my family a meal that night and another scheduled a time to meet weekly.  Through the good and bad, the friends God provides in times of need have helped me get back up when life has knocked me down.

by Jay Mankus









Helpless… Except for Prayer

After last week’s election, most voters were optimistic that their newly elected leaders would cease this opportunity to make a difference.  Several days later, it appears that many career politicians have reverted to their former ways.  Add in a rogue president who disregards the constitution and citizens become helpless.

In a whirlwind of disappointment, I was reminded of a simple solution, prayer.  Scouring over the Psalms of David, there is nearly a prayer for each emotion you encounter.  Whether you feel betrayed, running for your life or in need of divine intervention, help is just a prayer away.

For those of us who struggle to let go, yearning to take control of daily situations, there is one truth you can’t ignore: the Lord reigns over heaven and earth.  Although you may not like the path America is going down or the road God has chosen for you, there is still time to act.  If you’re feeling  helpless like me, don’t let the sun go down without crying out to the Lord.  In the end, warriors of prayer will usher God’s ultimate will into existence.

by Jay Mankus


Days of Trouble

I’m beginning to think that life is like a journey across the Ocean.  Some days the sky is sunny, waves timid and the winds calm, allowing you to coast without any worries.  Yet, without any warning, storms develop out of no where, rocking your world, forming days of trouble.

A few weeks ago, I was on cloud nine, enjoying my seasonal position, optimistic that I would likely receive a full time position in this department.  Today, I’m like the sail boat in Robert Redford’s latest film, All is Lost, slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea.  My perspective has drastic changed, just hoping to get back to work, waiting to be medically cleared to return.  During my days of trouble, the weather appears isolated, a slight drizzle overhead with a dense fog blinding my vision of the future.

Psalm 27:5 recounts the trials King David endured before the Lord fulfilled his promise in 1 Samuel 16:13.  On the run, fleeing the wrath of King Saul and dwelling in a cave wasn’t exactly how David pictured his journey to the throne.  Despite the heartache one experiences in the days of trouble, God has promised to provide shelter from these storms.  As the flood waters rise, place your feet of the rock and God will keep you safe until the days of trouble pass.

by Jay Mankus

Did God Really Tell Me That?

Although its been thousands of years since Lucifer first planted the idea of questioning God within eve’s mind, Genesis 3:1, there is a new trend gaining traction.  Sure, there will always be doubters, haters and nay sayers who will claim God does not exist.  Yet, this latest fad might be more harmful, especially when their promises come up empty.  Like a page out of the Bible, more and more people are sharing stories about how God is speaking to them in an audible voice, either in dreams, during a prayer or while reading the Bible.  Before these phanatics get excited by telling anyone who will listen, maybe they should practice 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, asking the question, “did God really tell me that?”

The reason why I say this is that gullible and hurting people are often burned by optimistic news, taking what pastors, television evangelists or faith healers say as gospel, as if these words came straight out of Jesus’ mouth.  Back in February of 2012, I began to hear countless testimonies, people who reached out to the parents of Joseph Feeley, one of my former students who had been battling cancer for 2 years.  Though I believe each had good intentions, they were proved wrong when Joseph went to be home with the Lord on February 27th, less than a month after confidently proclaiming Joseph would be healed, traveling throughout the country as a motivational speaker.

Six months later, I received a similar message at a Christian bookstore in Delaware.  Since I was still searching for a full time job, I was vulnerable, grasping at straws for anything positive.  When I wrote a blog on this encounter in late August of 2012, I was hopeful the words of this prophet might come true, “God will reward you with a great paying job, surpassing your wildest imagination.”  Unfortunately, this grandois prophecy did not occur within the time table give but who knows, maybe my position at Amazon could turn into something special.  However, like the Feeley family, I am still in a lot of pain, disappointed by the outcome of my current path.

Instead of crying over spilled milk, I won’t give up on chasing my dreams of becoming a novelist, screen writer or both.  In future blogs, I will be careful not to exploit anyone with promises unless I am certain of a specific message, truth or word of insight people need to hear.  The lesson to be learned from this blog is to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, ensuring your words don’t inflict false hope to a world searching for answers.  May these words, stirring within my heart, strike a cord, helping you to reflect before blotting out any words in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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