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Going to the Dump

Every  summer I was exposed to a local dump in Maine.  Since our cabin did not have garbage pick up, guests were expected to take all their trash to be disposed of at the county recycling center.  The smell of the bags in the August heat was fowl, but this was all part of the complete experience of going to the dump.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

While addressing the masses one day, Jesus refers to a different kind of dump.  The context of this discussion is based upon individuals carrying around baggage.  Whether its depression, stress or worry Jesus doesn’t want people to go through life alone.  Rather, when trash in life begins to pile up, drop to your knees to unload the garbage you have collected.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

The world proclaims he who dies with the most toys wins.  Yet, when people pass away your body will eventually become dust.  Thus, our bodies are on loan from God.  The Holy Spirit is the source of life for human souls.   The opposing force known as the sinful nature wages war by bombarding minds with trash from life.  To combat this weapon used by the Devil, go to the dump daily to unload worries in prayer which God replaces with rest.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Days Don’t End Like You Hoped

The endings of Hollywood movies have ingrained in American minds that life should conclude in a certain way.  Unfortunately, film and reality are miles apart.  Subsequently, more and more individuals feel the crippling effects of sleepless nights caused by days which end far from what each expected.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

After losing my teaching position 5 years ago, I transitioned into screen writing based upon the advice of a former co-worker.  Three complete scripts later my initial goal is to sell one my these scripts before I reach 55; then write a script a year in retirement.  Despite my desires, an unexpected eye condition may put my own plan on hold or cancel it completely.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

When things don’t go your way or days end in heart break, there’s only one place to turn.  Carrying around all your burdens, pain and worry will wear you out.  Therefore, do let trials suck out your joy for life.  Instead, go to the Lord in prayer so that Jesus will replace your burden with peace.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Soul Tormented by Lawless Deeds

If you turn on a news cast, at some point you will witness something disturbing, shocking or sad.  Unfortunately, many have been desensitized by a barrage of extreme videos.  Thus, as the average citizen become comfortably numb, a soul tormented by lawless deeds is either overlooked or forgotten.

For that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard, 2 Peter 2:8.

Ever since public education has de-emphasized moral absolutes, the line between right and wrong has been turned to gray.  Subsequently, hearts and minds can become confused, unsure what’s acceptable and what’s frowned upon.  In this politically correct climate, the law breaker can be excused if they hold a socially acceptable worldview.  Yet if the shoe is on the other foot, a conservative will be verbally crucified for a similar transgression.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

Lost in the shuffle are those individuals wounded by lawless deeds.  When television cameras move on to the next city, disaster or scandal, those left behind must begin to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Beyond these scars, an invisible voice calls out to the bruised and broken-hearted.  May the hope of Jesus bring peace to souls tormented by lawless deeds.

by Jay Mankus

 

What Do You Do… When You’re All Tapped Out

The term tapped out refers to reaching a point of emptiness, unable to go any farther.  A mother breast feeding her child may hit a wall, unable to produce any more milk.  Despite an infant’s cries, mom is done.  A keg on a college campus is bound to dry up, tapped out from over use.  However, one of the most common examples today relates to a parent or student, burning the candle at both ends until they crash and burn from sheer exhaustion.

1. Acknowledge your condition – Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray, James 5:13a.

In the prime of my life, I worked 90 hours a week as a youth pastor.  On my only day off, I led a Bible Study at McDonald’s in the morning, drove to Cincinnati to meet a friend (a 90 minute drive one way) and came back by dinner time to attend an adult Bible Study which required extensive reading.  Sure, this sounds like a lot, but I was young.  After my wealthy church rejected a plea for a homeless guy, I let him stay on my couch at my apartment for six months.  To justify my raise after one year, my responsibilities tripled to include Confirmation, Coaching High School Basketball and Helping out with Young Life.

2. Find someone to confide in – If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

Sometime after the first six months, I became comfortably numb, running on fumes.  Since I didn’t have anyone to intervene, I reached an emotional breaking point, unable to give anymore.  Thus, 14 months after starting my dream job, what I was born to do, I was forced to take a step back.  So… what do you do when you’re all tapped out?  Well, I went hiking on the Appalachian Trail with a mentor from high school, a former coach and Fellowship of Christian’s Athletes director.  Looking back now, most of this weekend was a blur, yet I needed to retreat before I could go any further.

3. Find a quiet place to meet with God – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Before he became king of Israel, David had his own issues.  The king, who just happened to be his best friend’s dad was trying to kill him, jealous of his fame from defeating Goliath.  A man without a country, David fled for a cave, encouraged by 400 men, soldiers who had became friends.  Despite being anointed as king by Samuel, David had to wait and wait and wait some more.  Just as the mountains served as a retreat for me, this cave was like an oasis, able to shoot the breeze, wondering where to go and what to do next.  Fellowship in these close quarters likely developed friendships for a lifetime.

4. Publicly confess your sins – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed, James 5:16a.

To provide a woman’s perspective, I can’t help but mention the woman described in Matthew 9.  If you think you’ve had a tough life, just listen to her sob story.  Suffering from a bleeding disorder, she saw every specialist possible until she ran out of money.  Broke and still unhealed, she was probably forced to beg like the homeless.  Yet, fearful of contracting what she had, this woman was forced beyond the cities gates to live among the outcasts in society.  Financially tapped, healing appeared unattainable until a man named Jesus worked the earth.

5. Find rest for your soul – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, ” Matthew 11:28.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Kissing Your Past Goodbye

In the Bourne Identity series, Matt Damon plays a special ops agent who has forgotten his past.  Suffering from amnesia, Damon searches for clues to figure out who he is.  Little by little, flashes of his memory returns, yet numerous passports with different names makes this quest even more difficult.  Two films later in the Bourne Ultimatum, a sympathetic agent reveals his true identity, David Webb.  However, it was David who agreed to kiss his past goodbye.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19.

In the real world, there isn’t a day that goes by without someone making a mistake, saying something regretful or wasting a perfectly good day.  No matter what happy face, facade or front that you may put on, imperfections permeate throughout the human body.  Exercise can mask obvious blemishes, but a hidden cancer of the soul exists without any cure.  Thus, whether you believe in God or not, the promise of a fresh start is alluring, worth further investigation.

Because of the LORD‘s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, Lamentations 3:22-23.

Whether you have a friend forgive you, experience reconciliation in a broken relationship from your past or commit to starting over from scratch, these events produce peace.  When these interactions are verbal, confession tends to bind people together in perfect harmony.  Perhaps this spirit inspired the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, “come to me who are tired and weary for I will give you rest.”  Therefore, if you are desperate for a new lease on life, come to Jesus to kiss the pain of your past goodbye.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Teetotalism in Religion

As dictionaries are updated annually, important words from history are fading from the forefront.  Instead, slang, tech terms and pop culture is redefining societies vocabulary.  One of these obsolete words is teetotalism, a stringent form of following the rules.  Islam or Muslims  is one of the few faiths which practice teetotalism in adherence to the 5 pillars.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis addresses teetotalism in a chapter called The Cardinal Virtues, values that anyone can possess.  Lewis suggests that initially, teetotalism was a form of temperance, going the right distance and no further.  Like anything in life, context, time and understanding alter the meaning of words.  Thus, teetotalism in the context of religion is merely knowing the boundaries between the right and wrong and failing to cross over this line.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

However, when faith is limited to an adherence to rules, meaning can be lost like Pharisees who strayed from God’s commands.  Rather, Jesus doesn’t care what you wear to church on Sunday; only that you come as you are, ditching the facade the fake put on.  Once souls reach the understanding that you can’t do it on your own, Romans 6:23, spiritual hunger is conceived.  Free will enables hearts to wait until they are ready.  When this day arrives, believers won’t have to rely on teetotalism anymore.  Instead, a desire for biblical truth will prompt individuals to pray, read the Bible and worship the Lord 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

Escaping the Demons of Your Past

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

Have you ever asked someone a question who in their response tried to answer like they were an expert but in the back of your mind you realized this individual doesn’t have a clue?  Well, Jesus’ disciples, particularly Simon Peter gave off this vibe.  However, one day during an unusual encounter, Peter met his match, unable to help a desperate soul escape the demons of his past.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”- Matthew 12:43-45

In the passage above, its hard to distinguish if Jesus is referring to an actual event or merely using a parable to prove a point.  Nonetheless, this image does apply to anyone who has ever battled some sort of addiction.  Numerous times people say they want to stop their bad habit, yet a mysterious force places each on the verge of temptation day after day.  Thus, whenever you break free of these grips and began to clean up your temple, the human body, demons won’t give up without a fight.  Therefore, its essential to have a game plan to counter demonic oppression.

Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:7-8

While King David faced his own demons, three answers were revealed after the prayer above.  First, David realized the more time he spent reading the Bible, God’s unfailing love would replace the guilt down deep in his heart.  Second, David recognized he couldn’t achieve victory over the demons of his past without initially trusting in the Lord’s power.  Finally, listening to the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance could begin to turn his life around.  If this blog finds you losing to your past, may the words of the Bible lift you up, give you hope and help you escape the demons of your past.

by Jay Mankus

 

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