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The Haunting Fear of Death

As September turns to October, normal programming is put on hold for a month. While action films may be weaved in here or there, Halloween related movies will take center stage. This month long marathon seeks to scare the hell out of you. As the deaths quickly accumulate in these slasher classics, the haunting fear of death is often desensitized as villains have their own set of nine lives.

What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna), Matthew 10:27-28.

Growing up my mother was a paramedic, often running off to the nearest accident. emergency or fire. I was sheltered from most of this as a child until my neighbor’s house caught on fire and my next door neighbor was rushed to the hospital. My first brush with death was during a sailboat excursion in the Chesapeake Bay. When our vessel capsized in the middle of the channel, a giant cargo ship was heading straight for us until a good Samaritan pulled us out of the water just in time.

And also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives.16 For, as we all know, He [Christ] did not take hold of angels [[a]the fallen angels, to give them a helping and delivering hand], but He did take hold of [[b]the fallen] descendants of Abraham [to reach out to them a helping and delivering hand], Hebrews 2:15-16.

By the time I reached high school, a classmate and her family were all killed in a car accident and one of my best friends died of cancer shortly after graduating from high school. Two of my teammates in two different sports committed suicide two years apart. These events conceived in me the haunting fear of death. Yet, when I finally put my complete faith and trust in Jesus in college, this fear gradually subsided once I realized that my eternal future was secure, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Prediction, Premonition or Prophecy?

Everyone knows at least one Debbie downer, an individual who conspires and dwells on negative things that will likely occur in the future. These predictions are often influenced by gossip, hearsay and perceptions based upon previous events. When this speculation actually happens, who or what should receive credit for making an accurate prediction. Is this merely a guilt feeling, an unexplained sense in the form of a premonition or merely a self-fulfilled prophecy?

But as [the season was well advanced, for] much time had been lost and navigation was already dangerous, for the time for the Fast [the Day of Atonement, about the beginning of October] had already gone by, Paul warned and advised them, Saying, Sirs, I perceive [after careful observation] that this voyage will be attended with disaster and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but of our lives also, Acts 27:9-10.

While traveling to Rome, Paul and Luke sail into the middle of a northeaster, similar to a strong typhon. Based upon his numerous missionary journeys, traveling by boat in the Mediterranean Sea, Paul became interested in weather forecasting. Based upon the waves, wind and typically weather patterns, Paul perceives this storm brewing in the distance. In the passage above, two factors contribute to Paul’s prediction, the time for fasting and after careful observation. Paul’s experience sailing and faith steered this man of God to make an accurate prediction.

And when neither sun nor stars were visible for many days and no small tempest kept raging about us, all hope of our being saved was finally abandoned. Then as they had eaten nothing for a long time, Paul came forward into their midst and said, Men, you should have listened to me, and should not have put to sea from Crete and brought on this disaster and harm and misery and loss. But [even] now I beg you to be in good spirits and take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you but only of the ship. For this [very] night there stood by my side an angel of the God to Whom I belong and Whom I serve and worship, Acts 27:20-23.

The further Luke details this real life drama, the clearer it becomes that Paul possessed a special connection with God. After Paul expresses an “I told you so” moment, a new revelation provides hope for those fearful of dying. This second predication isn’t a premonition or prophecy. Rather, Paul reveals the source of his news, an angel of God. In a normal setting, there would be skepticism. However, when your boat is about to sink and panic sets in, this angel is an answer to prayer. Whether you are talking about making a prediction, sharing a premonition or having a prophetic thought, the most important thing is giving God the glory.

by Jay Mankus

Embracing the Headwinds in Life

Without wind a sailboat is dead in the water.  On the other hand, when gale or hurricane force winds arrive, the situation turns to a matter of life and death.  Thus, one man’s curse is another’s blessing.  Either way, its important to embrace the headwinds in life.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” Job 1:21.

As a golfer, I once hit a drive in high school 340 yards uphill with a 75 miles per hours gust at my back.  On the same day, I struggled to hit mid-irons 100 yards into the same wind.  For an airplane to take off, it must face headwinds.  If attempting to get off the ground with the wind at their back, the downward force of this wind prevents lift, doing just the opposite.  Therefore, headwinds create ideal conditions for flight.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit,” John 3:8.

Although wind is invisible, you can hear it coming.  While tornadoes create debris clouds, the Holy Spirit restores human beings from the inside out.  Transformation usually takes time, especially for anyone overcoming previous storms which has ravaged souls.  Beyond broken hearts, pain and scars, a supernatural force uses headwinds to bring individuals back to where they need to be.  In view of this fact, remember to thank the Lord like Job for the good and bad so that God will use headwinds to lift you up.

by Jay Mankus

When God Shows Up…

Listening to personal testimonies during a worship service can be moving.  However, you don’t have to be inside church for God to show up.  After viewing another episode of Project Afterlife, its clear that when God shows up, lives can be resurrected from the dead.

While God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will, Hebrews 2:4.

When I was thirteen, I thought I was a pretty good sailor, able to tame the whitecaps present on the Chesapeake Bay.  Pushing the envelope, my neighbor and I entered into the channel, where large vessels traveled in and out of the Port of Baltimore.  Going with the wind was great, until a quick turn left us capsized.  To make matters worse, my friend Richie wasn’t wearing his life jacket, floating further away with each wave.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, John 20:30.

As a large oil tanker approached, there wasn’t much time to waste.  Two good Samaritan’s with boats jumped into action, yet the first also tipped over leaving the larger one our last hope.  With a minute to spare before being sucked under, a pimped out motorboat pulled both vessels to shore.  Common sense told me that I shouldn’t be alive.  Nonetheless, when God showed up on this summer day, I survived to see another day.

by Jay Mankus

Set Sail

Before you can legally set sail around the world, three things are essential: a Sailing Certification, Insurance and Passport.  The final ingredient is Clearance Papers from your port of departure.  This is the last obstacle before your voyage can officially begin.

But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him,   Hebrews 10:38.

To get where you want to go in life takes planning, paying attention to details and patience.  Although spontaneity has its time and place, trips involve weeks, months and sometimes years to put together.  Therefore, if you think you can just get up and go unannounced, you’re either retired or dreaming.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Spiritually speaking, to set sail by faith, one must begin to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, before this occurs, one must rid their lives of any sinful desires which block one’s ability to follow God, Colossians 3:5-10.  Studying the Bible, prayer and worship provide fresh wind and spiritual guidance to set sail.  However, don’t leave shore without the anchor of faith to help you overcome the storms in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

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