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When Adversity Causes You to Forget Your Faith

If you have been pampered, protected, or sheltered by your parents, it’s only a matter of time before you are introduced to adversity. This comes in the form of affliction, bad luck, distress, and heartache. While no one wants to endure adversity, these temporary periods of turmoil provide opportunities for growth. Yet, when the heat is turned up in the middle of any ordeal, adversity has a tendency to cause Christians to forget about their faith.

We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul shares the spiritual benefits of adversity. While you may feel abandoned from time to time when adversity strikes, God will stand by your side. As pressure and trouble builds, its easy to become overwhelmed. Yet, Jesus’ earthly brother reveals the purpose that these events play in your life, James 1:2-4. Instead of throwing in the towel, hang in there until maturity develops.

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. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you, 1 Peter 5:8-10.

The passage above is written by a disciple who publicly denied knowing Jesus three times. Perhaps, Peter is referencing this event as he unveils what is happening behind the scenes. In the spiritual dimension, demonic forces and powers lurk, waiting for a moment of weakness to attack. This explains why adversity causes many Christians to forget about their faith. Like pottery in a furnace, you have to go through fire before imperfections begin to fade. In the meantime, hold on to Jesus until adversity passes.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Give Sin the Attention it Desires

As someone who’s life revolves around sports, the best way I can describe sin is like experiencing a bad losing streak. Sometimes you can try so hard to stop something from happening that your mind gives up before you achieve your desired outcome. Subsequently, you find yourself in bondage, held captive by an invisible force that makes you do the opposite of what you really want, Romans 7:15-16.

In the spring, when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites [country] and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold, 2 Samuel 11:1-2.

Sin has a way of casting spells on weak individuals, distracting them from the way out of the mess they’ve created, 1 Corinthians 10:13. In the passage above, David was tired, didn’t feel like going to work so he took the entire spring off. After a few days, David got bored, talking an evening stroll on top of his castle. Instead of being rejuvenated from rest and relaxation, a second glance at Bathsheba caused David to give sin the attention it desired.

But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:14-15.

Perhaps, speaking from personally experience, the earthly brother of Jesus writes about the powerful force known as temptation. When wandering eyes stray from the cross of Jesus toward earthly pleasures, you open the door from sin to come into your life. If enticement, lust and passions are allowed to stick around, sin will take you further than you ever imagined or wanted. Newspaper archives is filled by shocking stories from people of faith who gave sin the attention it desired. This is why we should flee sin, James 4:6-8, while there is time to come to our senses to escape sin’s grasp.

by Jay Mankus

More Than a Phoenix Rising

In Ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a bird that cyclically regenerates. This regeneration process is similar to the Christian concept of becoming born again. To rise like a phoenix is symbolic of overcoming adversity. When a phoenix rose from the ashes, this new bird emerges stronger, smarter and more powerful than before it’s death. Thus, when an individual makes a spiritual decision to die to self, 2 Corinthians 5:21, this resurrection is greater than a Phoenix rising.

But now if Christ (the Messiah) is preached as raised from the dead, how is it that some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen; 1 Corinthians 15:12-13,

Without the resurrection, the Christian church would merely be a club or group living in denial. The Roman’s feared accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so much that soldier’s were bribed with a large sum of money to spread fake news, Matthew 28:11-13. This lie became widely accepted as rumors spread like an out of control wildfire claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, his disciples merely came and stole his body. Recognizing that many still believed this theory, Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to the resurrection of the death using Jesus as his inspiration.

14 And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain [it amounts to nothing] and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded).15 We are even discovered to be misrepresenting God, for we testified of Him that He raised Christ, Whom He did not raise in case it is true that the dead are not raised, 1 Corinthians 15:14-15.

While doing research for this blog I discovered that Phoenix Rising is the name of a charity that supports people who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a disabling disease that affects multiple body systems which often results in a post-exertional malaise. As a Christian, there are many days that I wake up without any energy. Just as Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “the Spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” this struggle still exists today. When you start to lose this battle, the power of the Holy Spirit is needed to rise from the ashes of defeat to a higher spiritual state, more than a Phoenix rising.

by Jay Mankus

Fighting Off Worry with Prayer

As a parent of teenagers, it’s not uncommon to receive a troubling text or phone call about a developing situation. While driving home from a friend’s house last night, my wife answered her cell phone. I could hear my son’s voice as Daniel was upset about a disturbing letter. Focused on driving, I tried to keep my mind on the road as the winds of worry began to consume my soul.

Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened, Matthew 7:7-8.

After getting home after 10 pm, nothing could be done to resolve this issue until Friday morning. The letter my son received claimed that he didn’t complete his defense driving course over the summer which triggered a series consequences. Until my wife called our attorney in the morning, nothing could fix this error. Thus, my son and I remained restless, unable to sleep last night.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a] firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

As I finally sat down in bed before sunrise, the verses above raced through my mind. The more I thought about these passages on prayer, I became emboldened, claiming these promises in a moving movement of prayer. Part of my didn’t want to be disappointed, but an inner faith fought off worry with prayer. When I woke up before noon, I was excited to hear that this mistake was corrected and no court hearing was necessary. The past 24 hours have taught me a valuable lesson, fighting off worry with prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Removing One Obstacle at a Time

Anyone who struggles with perfectionism has a hard enjoying life.  Whenever a flaw is discovered or exposed, energy is wasted to attack, purge and rid this.  If more than one issue is uncovered at the same time, this can be devastating.  Despite anal attempts to achieve perfection, its healthier to remove one obstacle at a time.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1.

The context of the passage above occurs immediately following a chapter known as the Hall of Faith.  The author lists saints from the Old Testament who accomplished great things by stepping out in faith.  The witnesses are those believers who have finished the race called life and are now spectators cheering on those who follow God on.  To reach similar heights requires removing access baggage which weighs you down.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Hebrews 12:5.

Nobody likes to be called out, corrected or rebuked, but sometimes this message is meant for our own good.  As a former runner, if your mind is not into it, you won’t last long.  Perseverance is only achieved after barriers are removed.  To prevent yourself from having a nervous breakdown or becoming overwhelmed, strive to remove one obstacle at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

My Blind Spot

The other night at work I avoided a woman pushing a cart filled with boxes taller than herself.  Expecting the worst, I jumped out of her oncoming path.  When she finally saw me I was greeted by, “I’m sorry, you were in my blind spot.”

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

Little did this lady know that 24 hours later I would be dealing with my own blind spots.  Unfortunately, a series of test over the last 2 weeks have revealed I can’t see that far on either side of my right eye.  Perhaps my eye surgery will improve this condition or keep it from deteriorating.  Either way blind spots are a way of life.

To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace, Luke 1:79.

In the spiritual realm, addiction, bad habits and poor choices blind people from their imperfections.  These warts don’t go away, especially when others enable individuals to justify inappropriate behavior.  Whenever anyone reaches this point, its essential to remember Jesus’ words, to leave darkness by coming to the light through confession.  While physical blind spots will always exist, may you come to the light so that healing will begin.

by Jay Mankus

Attitude Adjustment

At one point as a high school teacher, I thought teenagers were the ones who needed an attitude adjustment.  Whenever certain students didn’t get their way, a scene would ensue, usually huffing and puffing their way into a tizzy.  Yet, as a coach for nearly two decades now, some parents model bad attitudes which their children often adopt.

After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them, Acts 16:23, 25.

In some cases, people have the right to complain.  Especially, for those who have been accused or blamed for an act without a trial to prove their innocence.  However, the apostle Paul teaches those who over-react an important life lesson.  After being imprisoned for freeing a slave from her greedy masters, Paul turns to the only One who can maintain his temper.  In the face of adversity, Paul leaned on prayer and worship to calm his emotions.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want, Galatians 5:17.

Based upon a letter written to the church at Galatia, the apostle Paul dealt with the source behind bad attitudes.  Human nature tends to feed on acts of the flesh which take the form of immoral behavior.  While some are considered worse than others, each of the fruits of this sinful nature can poison the attitudes of good people.  In view of these invisible forces, follow in the footsteps of Paul by turning your heart and minds toward prayer and worship.  By doing this you will be on your way toward completing a spiritual attitude adjustment.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back After Rejection

“There is nothing in this life that can destroy you but yourself. Bad things happen to everyone, but when they do, you can’t just fall apart and die. You have to fight back. If you don’t, you’re the one who loses in the end. But if you do keep going and fight back, you win.” – Alexandra Monir

For a scientist, trial and error is merely a series of experiments to ascertain whether or not your theory is correct.  Thomas Edison didn’t give up after ten, one hundred or one thousand failed tests.  Rather, he pressed on, bouncing back after countless rejections to invent the light bulb.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:12-13.

In today’s climate, you have to be mentally tough to survive.  The best baseball hitters in history only succeeded thirty three percent of the time.  Perfectionists would never survive this degree of failure.  Thus, perspective is crucial to mustering up the strength to carry on.

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded, 2 Chronicles 15:7.

Last weekend I received my third rejection letter in the past four years in my quest to become a professional screenwriter.  My first movie, Express Yourself never had a chance, not knowing the proper format to get noticed.  The second, Behind the Devil’s Door was better, yet after submitting it I realized the flaw of my conclusion.  Sometimes I wonder if I should continue with my third, Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door or invest my time in something else.  Despite thoughts of doubt, I can’t quit until I feel like I’ve done everything in my power to make this dream a reality.  Therefore, regardless of the adversity that you endure, ask God to give you the faith to bounce back following rejection.

by Jay Mankus

The Grind of Life

Inside a coffee grinder, beans are crushed, pounded and smashed into submission until the process is complete.  Sometimes circumstances in life performs a similar act on individuals, grinding and pressing people until their energy is sapped.  Drained, exhausted and spent, my joy for living has been misplaced by a sea of despair.

Perhaps anguish is the guilty party, sucking souls of contentment, fun and thanksgiving.  Despite being known as a man after God’s own heart, 1 Samuel 16:7, David wasn’t exempt from this emotional state.  Psalm 31:10 expresses the toll the grind of life takes on the human body.

Lately, my faith has been void of joy, left behind during my healthier days when work was something I took for granted.  If you take James 2:26 literally, you can’t have one without the other.  Thus, joy is a byproduct of faith, a fruit inspired by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  Like the Samaritan woman, I need to go to the well of living water, John 4:10, so that the grind of life doesn’t crumble my faith.  If you’re thirsty for something more in life, absorb the words of Jesus in John 4:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

The Fraility of the Human Heart

Since Thursday afternoon at 5pm, my life has been a whirlwind of emotions.  After a successful second interview at Amazon on Wednesday, I sensed a promotion in the near future, trying to stayed reserved until I hear the news.   A little more than 24 hours later, my focus switched toward a battle to live, unable to stand or breath on my own.   One second I felt like I was having a heart attack, the next a CAT Scan revealed a pocket of blood around my lungs and liver.

For the past 3 days, I have had a tube sucking the blood out of these 2 areas trying to prevent infection.  Until this improves, I am in limbo, getting stronger, but still waiting on my internal bleeding to stop.  Unfortunately, my body is not healing as quick as it use to in the days of my youth.  Thus, life has been put on hold temporarily, in God’s hand and in His time as I wrestle with the Fraility of the human heart.

God has taught me a subtle lesson these past few days, He’s in control no matter what I try to do.   Though I usually try to speculate about the future, I am helpless, trusting in God’s grace to get me through this ordeal.  Sooner or later, my odds of improvement increase, yet the Lord knows the next steps that I will take.  As for now, time is the enemy, placing me behind where I want to be as the reality of life’s fraility has come crashing through the front door of my heart.

by Jay Mankus

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