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A Source of Joy

Perfectionist’s refuse to accept any standard short of perfection. In context of psychology, perfectionism is a broad personality style characterized by a person’s concern with striving for flawlessness. For those of you who possess this mentality, perfection is accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. Until perfection is achieved, there is no time to celebrate, express joy or satisfaction.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

As a former athlete who was consumed with perfection, joy was rare. Despite a successful high school and college intramural career, I never enjoyed the victories like I should have, Instead of embracing the chance to compete, I got distracted by wins and losses. While winning felt good, if I made some mistakes or didn’t live up to my own expectations, I walked off the court, course or field feeling miserable.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:7-8.

After having kids, I came back to the athletic field with a new appreciation. I spent 5 years in a competitive men’s softball league. Each time I ran out to center field or stepped up to the plate, I took on a Philippians 4:8 mindset, savoring each opportunity to play. The last 2 years I joined a Friday night volleyball team to play aside my daughter Lydia. Although our playoff runs ended quickly, I found a source of joy. While our record wasn’t as good as I hoped, the joy of Christ is replacing my old perfectionist nature.

by Jay Mankus

Authenticity

Authenticity is a concept in psychology. Authenticity can be found in existential, existentialist philosophy, and aesthetics. In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which an individual’s actions are congruent with his beliefs and desires. The call to authenticity resonates with the Oracle of Delphi, “Know thyself.” However, authenticity extends beyond this message. “Don’t merely know thyself, but be thyself.”

I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! – Revelation 3:15-16.

The biblical city of Laodicea was situated between mountains and a famous hot springs at Hierapolis. This hot mineral water flowed into the Lycus River in modern day Turkey. Meanwhile, as snow caps melted in the nearby mountains, this icy cold water mixed with the warm spring water. Perhaps, this topography was part of John’s vision that inspired this lukewarm analogy. As first century believers visited this church, a lack of authenticity was present.

For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be [truly] wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see, Revelation 3:17-18.

I recently read the screen play for the film American Beauty. While this secular film is filled with vulgarity, the movie addresses authenticity. When the main character Lester is tried of going through the motions by living a lie, his joy is restored. This mundane individual who is invisible early in the film, Lester finds freedom by bluntly expressing himself. Instead of playing it safe, authenticity breathes new life into dying souls. When you mean what you say and say what you mean, fear about what others think about you disappears. If you feel paralyzed by a lukewarm spirit, break out of this funk with the power of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. The sooner you become real, the better you’ll feel in the long run.

by Jay Mankus

Maybe It’s Make Believe?

According to systematic research within the field of child psychology, there are benefits for children engaging in pretend games.  Based upon an article in Psychology Today, Jerome and Dorothy Singer suggest this type of behavior is acceptable up to age seven.  Recent studies have found cognitive benefits to pretending as participants increase their language usage while role playing adults.  Meanwhile, the concept “theory of the mind” is developed and enhanced by children who exercise their imaginations by pretending.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction, 2 Peter 2:1.

If you had to summarize 2017 in American History, some might suggest this is the year of “fake news.”  After a series of anonymous sources, articles and media reports were proven to be false, president Donald Trump took a phrase previously used and made fake news his trademark term.  As a former journalist, I know that there is a degree of truth in every statement.  However, when a bias exists within the mainstream media, exaggerations, opinions and theories are often shaped in such a way to be conceived as fact or the truth.  Perhaps, some individuals have never grown up, still pretending as if a six or seven year old.  This behavior has tainted current journalists and reporters, causing the average American to wonder, “maybe this story is make believe?”

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1.

As you grow older, you will meet adults who want to hear themselves speak.  Maybe, these individuals were ignored as children growing up.  On some occasions I have met co-workers who pretend to living an amazing life.  Upon further review, digging deeper through a series of questions, I discovered these adults were simply living a lie.  According to the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, the first century was full of people who twisted the truth.  Thus, unless you test what you hear against the Bible, history and reality, you become vulnerable to believing a distortion of the truth.  May the lessons of 2017 make you wiser in 2018, practicing the advice of the Bible by dong your homework before believing that which is reported.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Heroes Journey

In 1949, the concept of the Heroes Journey was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  While this narrative pattern commonly appears in films, this outline can also be found in mythology, psychology and religion.  Campbell’s outline involves 12 stages which takes a character from the ordinary world to the special world and back.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things, Hebrews 13:8.

The reason why people watch the same movies year after year is that the heroes journey enables individuals to identify with certain actors and actresses.  As fictional characters reveal their flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, people can relate to similar trials in their own life.  Subsequently, deep down inside viewers root for their favorites to reach to top of the mountain after facing adversity.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness, Romans 12:6-8.

For someone who struggled with stuttering the first 20 years of my life, I always knew what I wanted to say, but rarely expressed what was in my heart and mind.  As an amateur screen writer, the Heroes Journey provides a valuable resource to make my aspirations come true.  However, before I proceed, I must study these 12 stages like trying to ace a test.  Once I fully grasp the Heroes Journey, I can begin to craft films that may one day end up on your favorites list.  Until then, I need to keep plugging away with an unyielding resolve to make my dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Sixth Sense

Prior to 1999, the sense of taste, touch, sight, smell and feel were the major focus of scientists.  However, following the release of the Sixth Sense featuring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, elements of the supernatural have come to light.  Child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crow, played by Willis, fails to help a patient, discounting the voices he heard.  Thus, when he is hired to help Cole Sear, played by Joel, each discover the reality of a sixth sense.

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake, 1 Kings 19:11.

The prophet Elijah is one of the first to uncover a spiritual sixth sense.  Following an encounter with an angel, Elijah goes up on a mountainside waiting to hear a message God.  Like a science experiment, the Lord sends a series of natural phenomena: earthquake, wild fire and tornado.  Forced to sort through these events, Elijah came to the conclusion that God was not behind these three natural disasters.  Using discernment, Elijah waits patiently, eventually being rewarded by hearing God’s whisper.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, 1 Kings 19:12.

While I do not consider myself to be a prophet, I can relate to Cole from a spiritual sense.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to me when I read the Bible, enlightened by a new truth that is revealed.  Occasionally, I may have a dream, vision or sense things either during or after praying.  Yet, the moment I unplug from the Bible, prayer and worship, my sense of discernment disappears.  Therefore, if you want to draw near to God, stay connected to the vine, John 15:5 and you too will discover a spiritual sixth sense.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Lie-Oh-Meter

In politics, the experts, life long politicians and successful campaign managers have suggested lying is all part of the game.  Little white lies are like wild cards in poker, waiting for just the right moment to be played.  While this style may work in the corporate world, sooner or later, what comes around goes around.  When this moment arrives, the Lie-Oh-Meter will expose the shady for their untruthful ways.

I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law. – Psalm 119:163

As for parents and teachers, a face to face encounter, staring a suspect in the eye is a good starting point.  Based upon the television series on Fox, Lie To Me, which aired for two full seasons beginning in 2009, liars tend to demonstrate facial expressions.  Thus, law enforcement officials use this science based upon research done by Paul Ekman, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California in San Francisco.  Instead of relying on out dated polygraph tests, body language has become the new Lie-Oh-Meter.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. – Proverbs 12:22

From God’s perspective, a false witness is a punishable offense, Proverbs 19:9.  Going one step farther, deceitful ways can result in being excommunicated from part of God’s family, Psalm 101:7.  Yet, Christians alike have embraced the practice of embellishment, creating a society of hypocrites.  The only way to break free from this addiction is to cherish God’s law.  Only when this is achieved will souls begin to love God’s commands like the Psalmists of old.  Until this day, rely on the Bible to ascertain truth from fiction, serving as a modern day Lie-Oh-Meter.

by Jay Mankus

 

Taking Your Phone for a Walk…

Huh?  What a preposterous concept.  That’s what I thought until I spent 2 hours on Main Street in Newark observing people.  Call it a psychology experiment or an unusual way to pass time on a boring summer day, yet technology has altered the way individuals communicate.

Instead of bringing a plastic bag along with you to pick poop, dogs are being replaced with iphones and smartphones.  Seeking immediate feedback, emails, texts and tweets are trending in the right direction, at least that’s what the masses think.  Listening to downloaded music on their stylish new buds, many are so consumed by the devise attached to their hands and or ears that they oblivious to the world around them.

Since language barriers were first established in Babel, Genesis 11:5-8, there have always been periods of division, misunderstandings and silence.  However, the evolution of cell phones has perverted social ethics.  Disinterest, disrespect and ignorance is on the rise, reaching epidemic proportions.  Thus, as blinded citizens continue to take their phones for a walk, its time for bystanders to help their neighbors break out of this spell, Galatians 3:1, until its too late.

What do you think about today’s cell phone manners?

by Jay Mankus

Bitter Troubles

In 2010, more than 5 million car accidents took place in the United States.  Subsequently, 32,885 motorists lost their lives with an additional 2.2 million suffered injuries.  Whether these crashes were induced by alcohol, bad weather or cell phone related, bitter troubles visited individuals without warning.

Meanwhile, teenagers are facing an internal battle with depression.  According to Psychology Today, a teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes.  Among 15-24 year olds, suicide in the 3rd leading cause of death for young people.  Their absence leaves a different kind of bitter trouble for parents, replaying history in their minds to see if they could have done anything differently to save their child’s life.

According to Psalm 71:20, people aren’t immune to bitter troubles.  Like Jesus’ brother once said, everyone should expect trials to come, James 1:2-4.  However, when these unfortunate events do arrive, God does offer a promise.  Therefore, the next time you experience one of those Murphy Law type of days, ask God to restore you from your bitter trouble.

by Jay Mankus

After the Pain Subsides

Some psychologists often suggest pain is a way of life.  Infants battle teething, youth struggle with puberty, teens endure broken relationships and adults face failed marriages.  How you handle this pain influences whether or not you’ll reach the goals you aspire to achieve in life.  After the pain subsides, who will be left standing?

Trials, tribulations and unexpected setbacks are difficult to overcome.  In fact, a weak mind may begin to accept defeat, allowing a season of disappointment to alter their expectations.  This demise lowers the bar so low, that there’s not much to celebrate.  Thus, one becomes like the wind, blowing to and fro trying to make it through each day, dead inside.  However, a time is coming when the sun will rise after the pain subsides.

Perhaps, this is the emotion, feeling and peace a weeping man experiences in Lamentations 3:22-23.  Despite his current condition, a glimmer of hope arises from one of God’s promises, bringing a sense of relief.  Like a cold Alaskan winter, the sun stands on the horizon all summer long to help forget the memory of the bitter cold.  As you try to resist the pain of life, may the words of the Bible offer a sweet pill of truth to get you through the present until your pain subsides.

by Jay Mankus

Say What?

Now that the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl is over or should I say Jerry Rice verses Dion Sanders, the hype for Super Bowl XLVIII can now officially begin.  While this game will match Denver’s NFL best offense against Seattle’s top ranked defense, the media can’t stop talking about Richard Sherman’s post game rant following his team’s victory in the NFC Championship.  Apparently upset by remarks made by 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree last off season, Sherman sounded like a little kid, illuminating poor sportsmanship.

However, what’s more alarming is the media’s justification and rationale for his behavior.  Most experts chalk this up to the heat of the moment, taking place inside the lines of the football field.  Though a few reporters were turned off by a lack of class displayed by Sherman, it seems like in 2014 its okay to be rude as long as you have a good excuse.  I can hear Gary Coleman shouting out his classic line now, “what’s you talking about Willis?”  Maybe I’m simply old fashion or old school, but this verbal assault and continuing coverage is a clear sign of America’s fall from grace toward a society heading toward paganism.

Well, perhaps my words are a little strong, but what is happening to this once great country?  Malls, Movie Theaters and Schools have become shooting galleries for people to take out their frustrations in life.  While the bullied are seeking revenge, God is still waiting for America to open the door, letting Him back into public education.  As psychologists express their opinions on cable news networks trying to make sense of today’s moral dilemma, the Richard Sherman’s in life will continue trash talking until someone bigger, better or both comes along to shut them up.  Only time will tell the final outcome of the Super Bowl and America’s “Say What” culture.

by Jay Mankus

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