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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

Ephphatha: A Prayer to Heal Stuttering

Whenever I come in contact with an individual born with a speech impediment or stuttering, I cringe.  When encountering a stranger or someone I know who struggles to get words out of their mouths, I feel utterly helpless.  As a former stutterer, every condition and degree varies from person to person.  While I want everyone to be healed, I have been unable to intervene until know.

They brought to Him a man who was deaf and had difficulty speaking, and they begged Jesus to place His hand on him, Mark 7:32.

Prior to completing his gospel, John Mark a member of the apostle Paul’s ministry team either interviewed or spoke with an eyewitness to one of Jesus’ many miracles.  Known as Mark to avoid being confused with the disciple with the same name, this gospel contains a prayer spoken by Jesus.  Although the man in this passage was deaf and mute, the word Ephphatha can be used as to prayer to heal stuttering.

Jesus, taking him aside by himself, away from the crowd, put His fingers into the man’s ears, and after spitting, He touched the man’s tongue [with the saliva]; 34 and looking up to heaven, He sighed deeply and said to the man, “Ephphatha,” which [in Aramaic] means, “Be opened and released!” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he began speaking plainly, Mark 7:33-35.

To avoid setting desperate people up for failure, there are multiple variables that cause people to stutter.  For some its a medical condition, others stutter due to nerves or a lack of air that lead to shortness of breath.  According to the Bible, demons and unclean spirits have the power to cease or constrict one’s ability to verbalize thoughts or feelings.  Meanwhile, doubt, a lack of faith and unbelief cause many to stammer and stutter for a lifetime.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solenly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

Prior to being healed of stuttering during my final full year of college, Christian friends questioned my faith whenever I stuttered.  While my roommates and a church friend laid hands on me, claiming Ephphatha, my healing was gradual, not immediate.  Even now when I stray from God, spouts of stuttering return until I draw near the Lord again.  I want to share my testimony to give the defeated a glimpse of hope for the future.  I’m not sure why God choose to heal me, but I believe faith, godly friends and the power of God to open and release tongues via the Holy Spirit can serve as a prayer to heal stuttering.

by Jay Mankus

Silenced by Satan

As someone born with a severe speech impediment, I often wonder why God allows suffering on earth.  From a logical perspective, I understand that enduring trials makes individuals stronger over time.  Yet, I feel as if I spent the first portion of my life silenced by Satan.

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw, Matthew 12:22.

Based upon the verse above, I wasn’t alone as demons and evil spirits have the power to cause someone to be mute.  Although I am not a doctor, I’ve heard plenty tell me “we really don’t know what’s causing this or that.”  Thus, there are medical conditions that can only be cured through spiritual activity.

And Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer,” Mark 9:29.

While Hollywood films usually portrays demons that take the form within demonic possession, this isn’t the whole story.  Demonic oppression is the most common form, likely occurring within the lives of countless individuals daily.  Without a hedge of protection from prayer, anyone is vulnerable to this attack.  Whether it’s the inability to say what’s on your heart or distracted by powers of darkness, this threat is real.  Therefore, if you want to be set free from Satan’s clutches, seek out prayers warriors in your church so that the good news about Jesus Christ will be professed.

by Jay Mankus

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