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Guilt by Comparison

Guilt by Association dates back to 1525 as a Medieval Latin expression. However, the idea that an individual is guilty of a crime because he associates with the person who actually committed it can be found in the Bible. While Eve actually ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam was right there with her the whole time, Genesis 3:6-7. One chapter later, Cain is the first to experience guilt by comparison.

And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, Genesis 4:3-4.

Whenever individuals begin to believe that the grass is greener on the other side where someone else resides, envy and jealousy is conceived. The saying “grass is always greener on the other side” originated in the 19th century. The more you compare your own life to a family member, friend or neighbor, guilt can consume your soul by wishing you had this or that. When Cain realized how hard it was to be a farmer, the comparisons began.

But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it, Genesis 4:5-7.

Cain’s guilt from comparison leads to a one on one conversation with God. Trying to figure out why Abel’s offering was embraced by God while his was rejected results in anger, depression and frustration. In response to Cain’s displeasure, God reveals how guilt by comparison has lead to an internal struggle. When sin crouches at your door, you must resist or else guilt will ravage your life. Instead of wanting what you don’t have, appreciate all the little things that God has blessed you with in life.

by Jay Mankus

When You Lose the Desire to Sing

Over the course of my life, there were several years that I never wanted to end as I was having the time of my life. Other years can be best described by “blah, ho hum or nothing special.” However, as December begins and a New Year approaches, most Americans are ready now to turn the page on 2020. Between the Coronavirus, countless deaths, a troubled economy and whatever else you have endured, finding something to sing about is tough.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we [captives] sat down, yes, we wept when we [earnestly] remembered Zion [the city of our God imprinted on our hearts]. On the willow trees in the midst of [Babylon] we hung our harps, Psalm 137:1-2.

The Psalmist writes about a similar period in his own life. The forced detention of Jews to Babylonia following the conquest of the kingdom of Judah began in 598. This exile would last a total of 12 years, removing the wind beneath the wings of this harp player. After being removed from their beloved land, musicians lost their desire to play an instrument. Subsequently, harps were abandoned, hung in nearby willow trees in Babylon.

For there they who led us captive required of us a song with words, and our tormentors and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill [with the harp]. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember you not, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy! – Psalm 137:3-6.

People listen to music for a variety of reasons. Some listen as a form of entertainment, others to pass the time or seek inspiration from a particular song or genre of music. While music can sooth human souls as in the case of King Saul in 1 Samuel 16, depressing music can plant troubling thoughts. Whenever I am depressed, I rely on certain songs to uplift my mood. Yet, when you lose the desire to sing, come to Jesus to lighten your load, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus

He’ll Keep You from Falling

If you listen to news updates while driving or watch a portion of the evening news, the headlines can be depressing. Whether it’s chaos in the streets, the latest natural disaster to strike, deadly shootings or riots, the human soul can only take so much pain. At some point, you have to change the channel or tune out these negative vibes designed to stir up emotions.

It is these who are [agitators] setting up distinctions and causing divisions—merely sensual [creatures, carnal, worldly-minded people], devoid of the [Holy] Spirit and destitute of any higher spiritual life, Jude 1:1.

If you ever reach a point in life where you feel like you can’t take it anymore, the Bible introduced me to a friend who can keep you from falling. Despite the agitators, politicians and self seeking individuals who can’t wait to get in front of microphone, there is a God who can prevent you from slipping off the deep end. An invisible hand to pull you back.

But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit; 21 Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—[which will bring you] unto life eternal. And refute [so as to] convict some who dispute with you, and on some have mercy who waver and doubt. 23 [Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality. 24 Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]-Jude 1:20-24.

The passage above is from one of the universal letters sent to Christians scattered throughout the world following their persecution in Rome. Jude received a vision of what the last days on earth would look like prior to Jesus’ second coming. On any given night in Chicago, New York, Portland or Seattle, Jude’s warning has become a reality, surrounded by agitators. Yet, when you put your faith and trust in Jesus, God will keep you from falling.

by Jay Mankus

From the Womb to the Tomb

Based upon annual pregnancy statistics, 6 million American women get pregnant each year. Of these total pregnancies, roughly 4 millions result in live births. In a typical year, there are between 600,000 to 700,000 abortions nationwide. Unfortunately, the remaining 1.3 million pregnancies end in miscarriages. Which mean that millions of unborn babies never make it out of their woman’s womb alive each year.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” Jeremiah 1:5.

To those who survive, the Bible refers to an abundant life. Based upon Jesus’ own words below, there is a thief that will come to steal your joy while living on earth. While no time table is given, it’s assumed that this battle will last from the womb to the tomb. Therefore, it’s essential that you begin to defend yourself so that you don’t go through life depressed, lifeless and void of enthusiasm.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

According to the apostle Paul, joy comes from a personal relationship with God, Romans 15:13. When Christians begin to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4, you’ll find everything that you’ll need for life. Despite this comforting news, remaining joyful is a difficult task when you consider the powers of darkness that exist, Ephesians 6:12. If you want an added sense of security from the womb to the tomb, trusting Jesus each day is your best option, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Falling into Silence Makes It Impossible to Survive

Depression has a way of isolating yourself from the people who care about you the most. Looking back on my own life, I began to withdraw from my friends when I entered Hanby Junior High School. Instead of allowing those who reached out to me in, I secluded myself even further. When I wanted to be miserable, I could suck the life out of an entire room, bringing everyone around me down.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long, Psalm 32:3.

After committing adultery with Bathsheba, King David took a vacation from God. Instead of telling the truth when Bathsheba missed her period, David sent for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to comeback from war to be reunited. When Uriah refused to sleep with his wife, David went to plan C, giving an order to abandon Uriah on the front line, resulting in his death. As each day passed, this silence made it impossible for David to survive spiritually.

For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:4

Guilt consumed David like high humidity on a hot summer day. The longer David put off confessing his sins, the lonelier his soul became. Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 highlight the emotions built up inside David’s heart. As soon as David realized his silence from God needed to broken, the door for reconciliation was opened. The next time you feel like running away from confrontation, remember David’s prayer to end his distance and silence from God.

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Encouraged

I tend to be a positive person, trying to stay optimistic about life. However, over the past week, a wave of depression has come crashing upon the shores of my life. Like a rogue wave that comes out of no where, I wasn’t prepared to deal with this emotional undertow. As I attempt to regain my balance so that I’m not swept away by this strong current, I find myself in need of encouragement.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:3-4

I’m definitely not the first to experience such a strange week nor will I be the last to undergo what the Bible calls a trial. In the passage above, a series of bad choices causes King David to be overwhelmed by guilt. The longer David waited to confess his careless errors and mistakes to God, the worse he feels. As each day passed without acknowledging his sin, David’s strength was sapped like humidity from a summer heatwave.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:5-6.

Jesus’ earthly brother reveals that earthly trials take the form of waves of doubt. Once fully developed, these spiritual storms contain a billowing surge that keeps coming. When you add the wind. conditions only get worse. According to James, when you find yourself stuck in one of these systems, call out to God in prayer to receive wisdom to get you through. While each storm varies, James 1:12 provides hope for those who hold on to Jesus until your storm passes.

by Jay Mankus

A Spirit of Attitude

There are two common Greek words used to describe attitude in the Bible. Diáthesi̱ refers to disposition or mood while stási̱ points to body language and posture. If you are observant, attitude naturally flows out of individuals. Joy can’t be contained while depression sucks the life out of battered souls. Some wear their emotions on their sleeves, the reserved try to say even keeled and others are comfortably numb, jaded by previous trials in life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.

King Solomon suggests that attitude is a choice. You can focus on the positive by looking at life with a half glass full mindset. Or you can be a party pooper, allowing depression to bring you down and everyone else around you. Thus, the attitude of one person filters down to impact your sphere of influence. Neighborhoods, schools and work environments are at the mercy of attitudes. Depending upon the response, whether good or bad, strong attitudes can alter hearts, minds and souls.

As it is written, God gave them a spirit (an attitude) of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, [that has continued] down to this very day, Romans 11:8.

Perhaps, this explains the apostle Paul’s comment in the passage above. It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience periods of insensibility. When the negativity of another person’s attitude impacts your perspective, a state of near-unconsciousness can blind you from the truth. To overcome this spiritual stupor, Paul urges first century believers to set their heart and minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-4. The best way to fight poisonous attitudes is by developing a spiritual attitude fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more you meditate upon the Bible, your attitude can spread joy to others, like good medicine for the soul.

by Jay Mankus

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Time for Moving On

In my preparation to write this blog, I found with link with 2974 quotes about healing. There is an old saying that “time has a way of healing all wounds.” Unfortunately, not everyone recovers from an accident, addiction, broken relationship or painful experience. According to a recent study, nearly 15 million Americans struggle with various degrees of depression. These individuals aren’t ready to move on.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, Ecclesiastes 3:1-3.

As a judge, King’s Solomon’s rulings on cases are filled with insight, strategic genius and wisdom. The most famous was a dispute between two woman claiming to be the rightful mother of a living child. After a baby dies in the middle of the night, an awake woman takes a nearby infant and replaces him with her dead child. This case is brought before Solomon, making what appears to be a strange ruling to have this baby cut in two. However, this decision is merely a plan to reveal the true mother, 1 Kings 3.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live], Ephesians 2:10.

Even when you experience a positive outcome following a trial, life can be emotionally draining. Instead of going from point A to point B in a straight line and so on, each week is full of dead ends, detours and road blocks. Trying to stay hopeful, optimistic and upbeat while undergoing hardships is difficult. Yet, with God’s all consuming love by your side, God wants you to let go of the past by setting your sights on the future, Ephesians 2:10.

by Jay Mankus

An Unlikely Cure for Depression

As someone who has worked nights the past 7 years, there usually isn’t anything good on television overnight. Despite trying to sleep on my nights off, my body is use to staying up late. Thus, I have a tendency to channel surf from time to time. Over Thanksgiving I caught an author who was speaking about an intriguing account from Cambodia. While talking with a psychologist doing research oversees, an unlikely cure for depression was discovered.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

This psychologist was studying Cambodian techniques on treating depression. One case study centered around a rice patty farmer who lost his leg when a land mine exploded. Doctors initially provided an artificial limb to continue his occupation after being medically cleared to return to work. Unfortunately, the strength to stay under water and added pain from this injury was too much for this man to overcome.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

When depression overwhelmed this man’s soul, medication was considered, but not prescribed. Instead, doctor’s listened to this man pour out of his heart, trying to come up with an alternative solution. After several days of discussion, this man was given a cow instead of drugs. This gift enabled this man to transition to a milk farmer. After one month of changing occupations, this man’s depression disappeared. Perhaps, its time that America adopts similar policies by stop handing out drugs and start being creative so that more unlikely cures for depression are discovered.

by Jay Mankus

Climate Despair

There is a new disorder which I recently heard about on the news.  Apparently, climate despair is a condition millennials are struggling to cope with as global warming concerns spread throughout social media daily.  The seed for climate despair has been planted by public education, introduced through curriculum beginning as early as first grade.  I guess as children are taught that the use of fossil fuels used by their parents are melting the polar icecaps, the image of polar bears dying has resulted in depression and fear.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears, Psalm 34:4.

According to a recent article on Vice, climate despair is causing a growing numbers of millennials to give up on life.  Anxiety attacks brought on by thoughts of human extinction is too much for some to bear leading to suicide.  Those who don’t pull the trigger are haunted by the unstoppable force described in books like the Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells.  Since environmentalism is becoming a form of religion and worship, scare tactics are used by members of the media to guilt souls into conforming causes like the Paris Climate Accord.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken, Psalm 34:17-20.

One message missing from global warming is hope.  In the passage above, the Psalmist writes about crying out to God in prayer when troubles arise.  While your heart may be broken and soul crushed, the Lord promises to answer those whom call upon his name, Romans 10:9-11.  Therefore, the next time you feel overwhelmed by news that you can’t control, cry out to God for help so that you will be delivered from climate despair.

by Jay Mankus

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