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Tag Archives: overcoming fear

A Shift in Focus

The difference between success and failure can be small. A fraction here or a fraction there often determines the final outcome. From a spiritual focus, those who dwell on their circumstances tend to become overwhelmed by fear. This is the situation in the passage below as Israeli soldiers focused on the size of Goliath, a physical giant compared to everyone else. Meanwhile, a skinny shepherd boy sent by his father to bring food to his older brothers noticed Goliath’s weakness. Not being circumcised meant that Goliath was beatable, not covered or protected by God.

And David said to the men standing by him, What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? 27 And the [men] told him, Thus shall it be done for the man who kills him. 28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard what he said to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David and he said, Why did you come here? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and evilness of heart; for you came down that you might see the battle, 1 Samuel 17:26-28.

Fast forwarding to the New Testament, the disciples found themselves in the middle of a storm. Unable to take shelter, the wind and waves battered their boat stuck on the Sea of Galilee. Despite just witnessing the feeding of the 5000, Jesus’ disciples began to fear. Instead of focusing of the God of miracles, these men focused on the current storm surrounding their boat. After spending time in prayer, Jesus took a short cut to Capernaum by walking across this body of water. Disappointed by their lack of faith, Jesus used his supernatural powers to take this boat immediately to shore.

[However] when they had rowed three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and approaching the boat. And they were afraid (terrified). 20 But Jesus said to them, It is I; be not afraid! [I Am; stop being frightened!] 21 Then they were quite willing and glad for Him to come into the boat. And now the boat went at once to the land they had steered toward. [And immediately they reached the shore toward which they had been slowly making their way,] John 6:19-21.

In wake of the Coronavirus, perhaps we all need a refresher course on faith. Hebrews 11:1-6 refers to having the assurance and confidence in an invisible God. Without faith it is impossible to please and satisfy God’s expectations, Matthew 16:24-26. Unfortunately, the moment tides change from blessings to adversity, panic causes many to shift their focus. However, the passage above is a reminder that as soon as you shift your focus from your circumstances toward the God of miracles, help is on the way. May this blog inspire you to shift your focus back toward the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

The Secret of a Heart Laid Bare

Until high school, a severe speech impediment kept me from pouring my heart out to others. While my neighborhood friends knew how competitive I was, fear of stuttering prevented me from going beyond surface level conversation. I guess you can say the longer I waited to come out of my shell, anticipation to finally express my inner feelings became like a pressure cooker. When this opportunity arrived, I was ready to become vulnerable.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? 10 I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings, Jeremiah 17:9-10.

As I received invitations to attend Christian camps, lay witness missions and retreats, my heart began to open up, laid bare to complete strangers. I reached a point in life that I no longer cared what others thought about me. Instead of being fake or playing it safe, I immediately opened up to those who I clicked with or related to. Perhaps, this explains why I developed friends so quickly. These friendships propelled me to become a faithful letter writer in college, pouring my heart out via pen every week.

The secrets of his heart are laid bare; and so, falling on [his] face, he will worship God, declaring that God is among you in very truth, 1 Corinthians 14:25.

My vocal coming out party coincided with my decision to become a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year of high school. According to the apostle Paul, as you begin to truly worship God, human hearts are laid bare. As I drew closer to God, I became willing to live my life as an open book. Some of my most intimate conversations on earth began with a innocent walk. The moment someone began to confess their sins or unload secret scars from their past, an instant bond is formed. As Christians learn to keep in step with God’s Spirit, hearts will continue to be laid bare.

by Jay Mankus

I Want Something More Than a Message

Depending upon the leader, pastor or speaker at your church, you may or may not be inspired by a sermon. The book definition of inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Thus, as you sit in chairs, pews or watch socially distant at home, the message will move you to act, put you to sleep or cause you to reflect upon a certain aspect of your life. According to an individual who attended the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his followers to put his words into action via practice.

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand. 27 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it. When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, Matthew 7:24-28.

After being an eye witness of another miracle by Jesus, the disciples were sent by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. However, during the night a squall churned up the waves, making it nearly impossible to cross. While this storm was brewing, Jesus decided to take a shortcut, walking across this body of water. Despite their close relationship with Jesus, Peter was the only disciple who wanted something more than just a message. Perhaps motivated by the feeding of the 5000, Peter took a step of faith.

Then He directed the disciples to get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent away the crowds. 23 And after He had dismissed the multitudes, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When it was evening, He was still there alone. 24 But the boat was by this time out on the sea, many furlongs [a furlong is one-eighth of a mile] distant from the land, beaten and tossed by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid! 28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. 29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. 30 But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]! – Matthew 14:22-30

Once outside the boat, Peter began to actually walk, stepping over each incoming wave. According to Matthew, a strong gust of wind caused Peter to become afraid. This fear took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus, turning his attention toward his circumstance, the storm. Subsequently, Peter began to sink beneath the crashing waves. Although Peter’s faith failed, he was the only disciple willing to get out of the boat. While no one likes to be embarrassed, if you want something more than just a message, practicing your faith means be willing to risk failure daily.

by Jay Mankus

Confronting Your Phobias

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in cooperation with the American Psychiatric Association outlines several of the most common phobias. If you were wondering how many actual phobias exist on earth, there is no official list provided by the DSM. Phobias typically fall within one of five general categories: fear of animals, the natural environment, getting hurt or sick, specific situations like driving or flying and a generic non-related category referred to as others. Clinicians and researchers make up names for new phobias as the need arises by using Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes.

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.

My initial phobia was the fear of heights after visiting the Empire State Building as a children. After several bizarre encounters with snakes and spiders in high school, these two are now at the top of my list. Confronting poisonous snakes and spiders sounds illogical and stupid. Yet, at some point you have to face your fears by trusting in God. Like many things in life, this is easier said than done. Although I have confronted by fear of heights, I still feel uncomfortable looking out the window of a tall building. Nightmares often hinder one’s ability to confront your own phobias. Just like the scene in Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford complains, “Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?”

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.

In an episode of Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn is asked by God to join the diving team. After a verbal beat down from his girl friend Grace about never taking am uncalculated risk in life, Joan’s brother Luke played by Michael Welch also tries out for the team. Like two fish out of water, neither have the talent to actually make the team, but will they conquer their phobias? This season 2 episode challenged me to examine my own life. Have I stopped taking risks in life? Am I afraid of what others may think instead of doing the right thing? In this age of the Cancel Culture, common sense must be balanced with conviction. However, if you want to confront and conquer your phobias, faith is essential to achieve success.

by Jay Mankus

Running Toward Your God

An Old Testament prophet referred to human hearts as deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17:9. Perhaps, this explains the reactions by members of the Israeli army upon seeing a 9 feet 6 inch Philistine. Seeing the fear in their eyes, Goliath became bolder each day, challenging anyone to a duel as Jewish soldiers continued to withdraw from the front line in fear. Following in the footsteps of Jonah, Israeli solders ran in the complete opposite direction of their enemy, Jonah 1:3-4.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. 10 And the Philistine said, I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid, 1 Samuel 17:8-11.

Instead of sending a violent tempest in the case of Jonah, God sent a lowly shepherd boy. David was sent by his father to bring food to his brothers, listening to war stories. When David heard about the reward being offered by King Saul for anyone willing to fight a giant named Goliath, his mood changed. Apparently, his oldest brother Eliab confronted David, suggesting this was a ploy by his little brother to gain attention. After a brief spat, David turned away, trying to receive confirmation about Saul’s reward.

David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. 33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth. 34 And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father’s sheep. And when there came a lion or again a bear and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and smote it and delivered the lamb out of its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and smote it and killed it. 36 Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God! – 1 Samuel 17:32-36.

According to the passage above, King Saul didn’t take David serious either. Like an unwanted tiny mouse, Saul attempted to shoe David away, not wanting to waste his time on a little kid who didn’t stand a chance. Determined to state his case, David persuades the king with his previous encounters fighting off bears and lions. The secret to David’s success was running toward God instead of fleeing in fear. While every Israeli soldier focused on the strength of a giant, David put his faith in the power of God. The next time you face adversity, run toward God with an expecting heart.

by Jay Mankus

Fear Verses Faith

As the Coronavirus began to quickly spread throughout the United States in March, most states enacted 14 day stay at home orders. The goal of this quarantine was initially designed to flatten the curve, lower the spike in cases of COVID-19. Since the end of March, this quarantine was extended into April and now into May, with schools cancelled for the rest of the Spring. With each extension, the goal posts have been moved, suggesting America shouldn’t re-open until a cure is discovered. Following Dr. Fauci’s Senate hearing last week, the stock market plummeted as his comments created a wave of fear and panic throughout this nation.

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.

Last week, Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports posted a video on Twitter of his opinion on the quarantine. This rant went viral on social media as millions of people felt and sensed his frustration. Although Portnoy didn’t use the words fear verses faith, he wants the ability to choose for himself. Instead of being held hostage, living in a police state, Dave wants to take a chance to live, even if it means catching COVID-19. As families continue to be out of work, considered non-essential, alcoholism, domestic violence and suicide is on the rise. Like anything in life, choices have consequences. However, if fear of catching this disease paralyzes one’s ability live, faith must come alive to counterbalance these concerns.

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

While fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If you watch the news on any given night, most broadcasts promote fear, detailing the number of new cases of the Coronavirus and the updated death toll. If you are searching for hope, cable news is the last place to look. The context of the passage above is geared toward a teenage pastor named Timothy, likely in over his head. Instead of allowing fear to reign, Paul encourages Timothy to remember God’s promises. Thus, the next time you sense fear is consuming your soul, cry out to the Lord in prayer so that God’s Spirit of power, love and self-control will set you free from fear.

by Jay Mankus

Far from Oppression

The term fear is mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible. Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous. When fear is left to linger without confronting, this invisible force can ravage hearts and minds. When ideal conditions are present, oppression is conceived. Oppression is the prolonged cruel and unjust treatment that often debilitate souls.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you,] John 16:33.

While speaking to his disciples, Jesus revealed a plan to be far from oppression. After telling these 12 men that he would be killed, a spirit of fear likely hovered over their minds. Sensing this attack, Jesus comforts these individuals with a promise, sending a counselor following his departure. Encouraging these individuals, Jesus calls for acts of courage, to be undaunted in the face of fear.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear 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.

Apparently, this message got through to at least one of the disciples. The passage above suggests that you too can be far from oppression if you do not fear. The key is seeing Jesus’ role in conquering fear. Perfect love drives out fear, expelling any traces of terror. As you mature spiritually, fears that once held you down, slide quickly to your side. The ultimate goal is to reach full maturity of love so you steer clear of oppression.

by Jay Mankus

Full Freedom

The origin of the first amendment, giving freedom of speech to citizens, dates back to 1789. James Madison proposed this along with 11 other amendments in the House of Representatives. Freedom of speech supports the freedom of an individual to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. In recent years, freedom of speech has been attacked as social media sites are now silencing any person who questions what society deems to be appropriate and acceptable. A recent You-Tube by 2 doctors from California was shut down earlier this week despite using raw data from their own COVID-19 resaearch

And now, Lord, observe their threats and grant to Your bond servants [full freedom] to declare Your message fearlessly, Acts 4:29.

The biblical origin of spiritual freedom of speech dates back to the first century. A well known physician served as a historian, traveling with the apostle Paul during several as his missionary journeys. After being restored by Jesus in John 21, Peter is filled with a spirit of boldness which inspired Luke’s words above. Recognizing the threats made by Jewish religious leaders, Peter encourages believers in Jesus to speak boldly. Instead of being afraid, speak from your heart by sharing the good news about Jesus Christ will full freedom.

Who risked their lives [endangering their very necks] for my life. To them not only I but also all the churches among the Gentiles give thanks, Romans 16:4.

The apostle Paul exercised his faith regardless of how others responded. At one point Paul was stoned and left for dead, yet supporters dragged Paul’s body away, saving and reviving him. At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, Paul personally thanks those individuals who risked their own lives. These people weren’t afraid to defend, protect and support Paul regardless of what religious and societal leaders thought of the Jesus movement. While freedom of speech isn’t what it use to be, may the Holy Spirit direct and guide your words as you boldly exercise full freedom.

by Jay Mankus

Buy and Do Not Sell the Truth

In this age of modern technology, you can order almost anything on line. With one click of a mouse, purchases could arrive within an hour in some cities with Amazon Prime. To the impulse shopper, this access can be dangerous, racking up thousands of dollars in credit card bills if you are not careful. Nonetheless, buying and selling is a way of life, the free will of God.

Buy the truth and sell it not; not only that, but also get discernment and judgment, instruction and understanding, Proverbs 23:23.

During his reign as king of Israel, Solomon made countless transactions. When asked by God in a dream to choose between wealth or wisdom, Solomon selected the latter, 1 Kings 3:5. This decision resulted in countless riches, blessed beyond belief by God. Yet, Solomon reached a point in life where he realized truth should never be sold, only purchased.

Yet, O Lord God, You said to me, Buy the field with money and get witnesses, even though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans. 26 Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, saying, 27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?- Jeremiah 32:25-27

The prophet Jeremiah provides an intriguing prophecy in the passage above. Instead of giving into panic like the Stock Market in recent weeks, Jeremiah urges individuals to buy what others are abandoning. Flexing his spiritual muscles, Jeremiah reminds those willing to listen “is anything too hard for God?” These words serve as a message of hope today for those who fear the Coronavirus pandemic. Whatever the future may bring, buy the truth of the Bible as nothing is impossible with God.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Best for You and Me

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to look at a glass half empty. This tendency to be negative often results in beating myself up inside. While I can forgive others for committing transgressions against me, forgiving myself is another story. This process may take days, weeks or months to get over a stupid blunder, error or mistake. Whenever anyone is too hard on themselves, Satan uses this vulnerability to steal your joy for life.

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 overflows), John 10:10.

While using an analogy of a shepherd tending his sheep, Jesus illuminates the dangers that sheep face while on earth. According to John 10:6, the crowd was initially confused so Jesus spoke in clearer terms. This is the context of the passage above as Jesus reveals how Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Although this spiritual truth may elicit fear upon receiving this news, you have to know what your enemy will attempt to do to avoid becoming the next victim.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need, Ephesians 4:28.

One of the songs from their 2009 album Breaking the Silence, The Letter Black sings about what’s best for you and me. The lyrics of Best of Me focuses on an individual who is haunted by their past. The author suggests that the only thing keeping us alive breathing is the knowledge of God’s existence. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus provides meaning and purpose for life as new converts seek to ascertain God’s will. As minds are renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, what’s best for you and me is using your own God given gifts and talents to serve the Lord on earth.

by Jay Mankus

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