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Tag Archives: overcoming trials

Juggling Your Way Through Life

The oldest known depiction of juggling was discovered in the Beni-Hassan tombs. Images of woman juggling were found among acrobats and dancers on a crypt wall that dates back to the middle-kingdom of ancient Egypt. The modern word for juggling was derived from the English term jogelin. This refers to entertaining others by performing tricks. Contemporary jugglers have perfected this physical skill by throwing objects in the air, catching them and throwing them back up.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls, Matthew 11:28-29.

After watching an episode of Joan of Arcadia that features juggling, today’s blog was conceived. Although the Season 2 Episode 8 is entitled Friday Night, Judith persuades Joan to use juggling as a Physics project. During this show, Joan meets a man who shares a parable. A man who weighs 190 has to carry three 10 pounds boxes over a bridge. The only problem is that this foot bridge has a maximum weight capacity of 200 pounds. The only way this man could make it across in one try was by juggling these 3 boxes.

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne, Matthew 11:30.

Using a story line from this episode, life has a way of throwing many things at you. Sometimes unexpected trials come in bunches, overwhelming souls with multiple burdens. Unless you have a friend to share this load, pain and weight, individuals are forced to juggle what they can. If you are alone, the weight of circumstances, ordeals and situations can suck the life out of you. When you reach this point or stage in life, you need to learn how to unload unexpected burdens. In the passages above, Jesus provides a blueprint to release these burdens as a form of prayer. When anxieties, concerns and worries don’t go away, keep juggling.

by Jay Mankus

What Kind of Sign are You Holding Up?

A newly married couple once came across a dense fog. As other vehicles slowed to a crawl, the husband attempted to make a pass on a two lane highway. While passing the final car, creating this traffic jam, their car is clipped by a truck heading in the opposite direction. The newlyweds flip end over end, traveling several hundred feet before coming to rest in the parking lot of a local business. Since the fog was so thick, other vehicles continue to pass by, unable to see their totaled vehicle.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, Matthew 5:13-14.

After being knocked out for a few minutes, the man comes to, seeing his wife lying in a pool of bed. Compelled to act quickly before the woman he loves bleeds to death, this man frees himself from the wreck searching for help. To his surprise, this couple landed in a doctor’s parking lot, kicking on the door with his foot fervently with his still wife’s body in his hands. As an elderly man opens the door, the doctor replies, “I’m sorry I stopped practicing years ago.”

Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 5:15-16.

If you are observant, every day you will cross paths with someone in need of help. A co-worker going through a series of trials, a neighbor coping with a death of a relative or friend looking for a source of hope. According to a recent study, 240 million Americans claim to Christians. However, many of these believers have stopped practicing what they believe. Instead, few portray signs of spiritual life like the salt of the earth or light of the world. When the wounded come to your door steps, what kind of sign are you holding up? May this story that I recently heard motivate you to put your faith into action.

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

If You Can Not Stand the Heat…Get Out of the Kitchen

Harry S. Truman coined the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” in 1942. The context of this expression refers to heat as those things in life that bother you. The kitchen is symbolic of the entire situation, the source of the heat, prone to boiling over. Over the years, stand has been replace with handle, yet the overall meaning hasn’t changed.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

Perhaps, Jesus relayed a similar message to first century believers. The passage above was written by Jesus’ earthly brother, likely quoting something said or taught. Life isn’t designed to remain in a cool, air conditioned unit. Rather, God uses the heat provided by hardships to stretch your comfort zone. These difficult encounters provide opportunities for growth, exposing your flawed, vulnerable and weak areas in life.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

One of Jesus’ disciples compares life to a furnace, serving as a purifying process, like a kiln to a potter. If you aren’t tested by out of control circumstances, you won’t know what you were capable of or can handle. Thus, as unpleasant as these events may be, trials and tribulations play a big part in life, serving as mechanisms to build character, endurance and a steadfast spirit. Therefore, the next time God turns up the heat on you, embrace the moment until your assignment is complete.

by Jay Mankus

When Your World Has Been Shaken

Some reporters have compared the Coronavirus to the millennials 9/11. Since my youngest two children were born after September 11th, 2001, I understand this comparison. For me, I remember exactly where I was when I first received news of two airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers. At this time in history, I was an independent contractor and regional staff writer for Travel Golf Media. Both of my positions were impacted as air travel ceased until new safety standards were implemented. Yet, as the Coronavirus continues to reap havoc throughout America, life as we know it has been disturbed and shaken.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? 10 He replied, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away, 1 Kings 19:9-10.

The Old Testament details a story about a prophet whose own world had been shaken. According to the passage above, the Israelites had turned their back on God, turning a deaf ear to Elijah. Beside feeling useless, altars dedicated to the Lord were discarded from mountain tops. In addition, Elijah’s friends were all killed at the hands of Jezebel. Without any signs of improvement, this former spiritual leader had lost the will to live, giving up hope that God could alter his situation. As a way to get Elijah’s attention, a series of natural disasters struck the land. Taking notice, Elijah did not see the Lord as the source behind the tornado, earthquake and fire. Yet, after these storms, Elijah was ready to hear God’s still small voice.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

Well, if you live in a state like Delaware, you are now under a stay at home order. Normal outdoor sports are now out of the equation, on hold until the Coronavirus fades or dies out. Sure, you can go to the grocery store, get gas and take a walk around the block, but that’s it. So… what is one to do with their life when your world has been shaken? Well, after you binge watch your favorite show or series, dusting off the Bible would be a step in the right direction. The great aspect of free will is that God doesn’t force you to anything. The choices that you make throughout life will shape who you become. May this forced time at home due to the Coronavirus draw you near to God as the world around us continues to be shaken.

by Jay Mankus

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

Focus on Worship not Worry

Whenever an accident, illness or unforeseen trial strikes, trying to focus on your normal routine is difficult. Despite the prayers that you have lifted up to God for help, human minds are drawn to worry. Instead of letting go of all of your burdens, some may feel like they have to fight this battle alone. This is where the urge to worry needs to be replaced by a spirit of worship.

Tomorrow go down to them. Behold, they will come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the ravine before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you, 2 Chronicles 20:16-17.

When King Jehoshaphat saw a vast army approaching, he immediately sought the Lord for discernment. During this time of inquiring, Jehoshaphat felt led to declare a fast for all of Judah. During this fast, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel bringing a word of encouragement. “Don’t fear this vast army as this battle is the Lord’s, not yours!”

And they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall prosper. 21 When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy [priestly] garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever! – 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

This message inspired King Jehoshaphat to develop an unique form of combat. Instead of placing a squadron of soldiers into position, the king appointed a choir to sing to the Lord. These singers went out before the army, praising and worshiping the Lord. Like any spirit filled time of worship, any lingering thoughts of worry were replaced with praise. If this technique worked for the Israeli army, why not focus on worship daily.

by Jay Mankus

Time Matters

There are moments in life that are overshadowed by accidents, hardship or other unforeseen events. Just when you find yourself on the verge of a breakthrough, something beyond your control breaks your momentum. Unfortunately, most people never regain this mojo, quickly disappearing. As time goes by, priorities often change due to new responsibilities. Thus, as the days of your youth fly by, now in my rear view mirror, time matters.

Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come or the years draw near when you will say [of physical pleasures], I have no enjoyment in them—Before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened [sight is impaired], and the clouds [of depression] return after the rain [of tears]; Ecclesiastes 12:1-2.

The most quoted chapter, Ecclesiastes 3, points to the concept that there is a season and time for every matter and purpose. In the 1984 film Footloose, Kevin Bacon plays a high school senior, Ren who fights city hall to restore dancing so that a class prom can be held. Ren’s girlfriend Ariel played by Lori Singer, gives him a series of Bible verses as the pastor’s daughter. The force that drives Bacon’s character is the belief that “this is our time.”

In the day when the keepers of the house [the hands and the arms] tremble, and the strong men [the feet and the knees] bow themselves, and the grinders [the molar teeth] cease because they are few, and those who look out of the windows [the eyes] are darkened; When the doors [the lips] are shut in the streets and the sound of the grinding [of the teeth] is low, and one rises up at the voice of a bird and the crowing of a cock, and all the daughters of music [the voice and the ear] are brought low; Ecclesiastes 12:3-4.

In the passage above, King Solomon uses a series of symbols to illustrate how time flies by on earth. The days of your youth end in a flash, like a twinkling of your eyes. Perhaps this explains the origin of carpe diem, found in book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s work Odes. While this Latin phrase literally means “pluck the day,” Horace’s goal was to seize the moment before time slips away. Since time matters, make sure you seize each day the Lord gives you on earth, making the most of the opportunity to live.

by Jay Mankus

Στόχο: Finding a New Target in 2020

Στόχο is the Greek word for target. When translated into English, this term could apply to aim, destination, goal or landing place. As individuals celebrate New Year’s Eve, minds and thoughts will begin to turn their attention toward a new year. Once all of the celebrations have ended, determined souls will search for a new target in 2020.

And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:3-4.

Unfortunately, sometimes your future may be blurred, clouded or uncertain due to unforeseen events. Accidents, failing health or trials can prove to be too much for one person to bear. Whenever you experience a devastating, horrific or troubling circumstance, follow in the footsteps of Nehemiah. After receiving news of Jerusalem vulnerability, this man fell to his knees, fasting and praying for a plan to rebuild this wall.

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses, Nehemiah 1:6-7.

Before focusing on a solution, Nehemiah acknowledges the sins of Israel which brought this fate upon Jerusalem. Before any new target can be discovered in 2020, everyone needs to get right with God. As prayers are lifted up, hearts unload their pain and minds begin to think clear again, conditions will improve for a new vision to be seen. May the beginning of this year inspire you to pave the way for a new target to be located.

by Jay Mankus

Taking a Turn for the Worse

The expression “taking a turn for the worse” often applies to someone’s health. Whenever an individual experiences an accident, battles cancer or recovers from a major operation, conditions can improve or deteriorate at a moments notice. When a celebrity, former president or icon makes headlines due to a medical condition, the words taking a turn for the worse is a polite way of saying that this person is about to die.

But the high places were not removed. Yet Asa’s heart was blameless with the Lord all his days, 1 Kings 15:14.

The Bible refers to a different kind of taking a turn for the worse. Solomon refers to human hearts as the wellspring of life, Proverbs 4:23. Thus, when spiritual leaders take a turn for the worse, their hearts grow cold. This condition may be attributed to backsliding, busyness, a lack of time spent praying, worshiping or studying the Bible daily. As individuals slowly drift apart from God, hearts lose their excitement, fire and passion for serving the Lord.

And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. 12 And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, Matthew 24:11-12.

In the first century, Jesus makes a prediction about the future. As deception and error occur, persuaded by false prophets, the love of many will grow cold. Hearts that grow cold will pursue lawlessness and iniquity. In the case of King Asa, he failed to remove altars, idols and temples dedicated to secular gods and goddess. This inaction eventually led future Jews astray. To avoid a similar fate, refuel your heart with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25 so that your spiritual life doesn’t take a turn for the worse.

by Jay Mankus

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