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Tag Archives: sorrow

Opening Your Eyes to the Suffering of Friends

When I was younger, I was naive.  This immaturity lead me to become blind, oblivious to the needs of my friends.  Carl who eventually became my best friend in high school often punched me in the shoulder, shouting out “punch buggy” yellow or blue.  Behind this aggression was a boy crying out for help as he silently watched cancer take his mother’s life.  I could have been there for him, providing a shoulder to lean on.  Yet, I was consumed by my own life.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him, Job 2:11.

News of the tragedy that struck Job spread to his friends and neighbors.  Since no funerals are referenced, these three men dropped what they were doing to comfort Job.  However, as they approached, the sight of Job’s condition was overwhelming.  This brought out raw emotions, crying with their friend.  Based upon the words used by Job, none of these friends could come to terms with what happened, remaining silent for a week.  Sometimes a hug is more powerful than words.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was, Job 2:12-13.

In this day and age, its easy to connect or reach out to friends using social media.  Since my emergency eye surgery last November, I posted on Facebook a need for prayers a couple of times.  I’ve been amazed and touched by the outpouring of support that I have received.  In the moments immediately following requests for prayers, I have felt the healing power of your prayers.  This experience has inspired me to open my eyes to the suffering of friends.  May this blog inspire you to reach a helping hand like the friends of Job in chapter 2.

by Jay Mankus

A Day of Laziness

While some individuals will be making last second New Year’s resolutions, there is an invisible obstacle that tends to sneak up on the unassuming.  Commercials such as “you deserve a break today” feed into this mindset.  Thus, if you let your guard down, become complacent or careless, a day of laziness can be the beginning of the end of your dreams.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied, Proverbs 13:4.

As I reflect upon what is left of 2015, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been a victim of days of laziness.  Somewhere along the way, a laissez-faire spirit entered my body.  Sleeping in here and a lack of discipline there has resulted in a luck luster year.  Before I could mount a comeback, compromise has stalled my momentum, leaving sorrow and pain in my heart.

The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor, Proverbs 21:25.

Unfortunately, my spiritual state is like a lukewarm bottle of water on a sunny spring day.  Poor decisions on days of laziness have led me to a tattered soul.  There is no one else to blame but me.  The only blessing is that tomorrow is another day filled with God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace.  Therefore, I press on, hoping to avoid days of laziness in 2016 so I can begin to take hold of that which God has prepared for me in advance to do.

by Jay Mankus

 

Overwhelmed by the Future

There are several variables which can produce anxiety, stress or worry.  Anticipation can make the mind race, questioning all the possible scenarios, often starting with the worst first.  Fear of the unknown adds a feeling of uncertainty, producing a myriad of emotions.  Thus, it doesn’t take much for an individual to become overwhelmed by the future.

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch,” Mark 14:34.

Those who possess discernment, keen insight and the gift of prophecy can sense when bad things are about to happen.  In the case of Jesus, he knew when and how he was going to die.  Thus, as  the hours drew closer, Jesus’ soul was consumed with sorrow.  To make matters worse, the twelve men he invested the last three years of his life into were about to abandon, betray or deny him publicly.  The human side of Jesus was also overwhelmed by the future.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood, Hebrews 12:4.

As Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked his disciples to keep watch and pray.  In the hours that followed, the author describes a level of stress which is unprecedented, suggesting his sweat was like blood.  Whether this happened or not doesn’t matter, the key is Jesus died for all sinners, Romans 5:8.  Therefore, if you are stressed out about today or the future, prepare yourself just like Jesus: keep watch and pray so temptation doesn’t hold you hostage.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Taste Test

Young people tend to break into the work force at some sort of restaurant.  The idea of free food, drinks or both is enticing.  One of my favorite parts in this occupation was taste testing, giving out samples to customers as well as trying new items on the menu.  Only when you take a bite can you explain to others what to expect.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”- Genesis 3:1

In the case of Eve, one item was forbidden, banned from her daily diet of fruit and vegetables.  Despite this knowledge, an evil voice whispered, promising enlightenment for those who indulge.  After considering this, a second glance planted the seed of lust within her heart.  Without any resistance from her husband, Eve participated in the first taste of sin.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”- Genesis 3:5

While the settings have changed, a similar voice exists today.  However, the message isn’t focused on food for the soul.  Rather, this taste test involves a flesh hungry for pleasure.  Unfortunately, this experience is only temporarily satisfied, craving more and more with each encounter.  Guilt, shame and sorrow are common aftertastes.  However, only when you gather the courage to say no, can you escape the trial of destruction awaiting the addicted.  May you have the resolve to avoid the second glance and experience victory over temptation.

by Jay Mankus

 

Owner of a Lonely Heart

The classic rock group Yes introduced their song in 1983.  Debuting on the 90125 album, Owner of a Lonely Heart spoke to broken souls, striking a nerve that many experience throughout life.  Prior to its success, this song was turned down by a number of record companies, calling Owner of a Lonely Heart a strange song that would never be a hit.  If Paul Harvey was still here, I’m sure he would say, “and now you know the rest of the story!”

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10

In recent years, Jon Anderson, the lead singer of Yes teamed up with 4Him, a Christian Contemporary group to sing Where There is Faith.  Whether its coincidence, fate or mere circumstance, but believing you will be set free from a lonely heart takes faith.  If you’re down in the dumps, with little hope of improving, doubt creeps in, opening the door for depression, isolation or suicide.  This is where faith can intervene.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

The lyrics of Owner of a Lonely Heart refers to free will on several occasions.  After reading the lyrics, loneliness is a choice, a decision one makes to either dwell in their sorrows or take a chance on tomorrow.  If any of you find yourself to be an owner of a lonely heart today, take some time to read God’s promises in the Bible for those suffering from loneliness.  May the message in these words turn your heart from grief to comfort, trusting in the loving hands of Jesus for healing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What Disturbs the Devil?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

1) Obedience

Whenever someone refuses to break a rule, fails to compromise or take a short cut, the Devil becomes unsettled.  Therefore, expect a heavy dose of temptation in minds to challenge authority, doubt absolute truth and draw a new line for modern times.  Hollywood is a pawn that continues to remake documentaries and movies about American history, Bible stories and godly leaders in the past, hoping to rewrite a legacy void of character, integrity and truth.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!   I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.   I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.   So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. – Luke 15:17-20

2) Repentance

Any act, attempt or consideration to reconcile unhinges the Devil.  Whenever you confess your sins, you attract God the Father’s attention, thereby creating panic within the realm of fallen angels.  To squash any thoughts of this, don’t be surprised by spirits of bitterness, grudges and or pride getting in the way of restoring broken relationships.  Those on the verge of mending friendships will have unusual things occur, trying to distract and prevent you from publicly expressing your sorrow, James 5:16.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil.   After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. – Matthew 4:1-2.

3) Fasting

Finally, the spiritual practice of forgoing food to draw near to the Lord will certainly be like stirring up a hornet’s nest.  Fearful of the powerful results portrayed throughout the Bible, Satan will pull every dirty trick out of his play book to prevent you from entering this state of worship.  Mental, physical and spiritual attacks always follow this practice so be on guard if the Holy Spirit encourages you to participate in a fast, Ephesians 6:11-12.  Arm yourself with the attitude of Christ so that you will be reach new heights in your relationship with God.

by Jay Mankus

 

Finding Solace in Sorrow

Although inconsistent at times, I’ve tried to be a positive person in my spheres of influence, set on changing the mindsets of defeated souls.  In high school, one of my ministries was seeking out the depressed and down to bring a glimpse of happiness, laughter and joy to their sad faces.  However, now I find the shoe on the other foot as sorrow has moved in, keeping me company during the entire month of February.

Like a prized heavy weight slug fest from the Rocky series, my body has become a punching bag for Apollo Creed, scrambling for the ropes to hang on.  Repeated blows to the heart have erased any remnants of confidence, making room for sorrow to feel at home.  Since I lost control of my health weeks ago, I am finding solace in this helpless condition.  Stripping away my impurities, desolation has forced me to seek a higher power to be rescued from disappointment.

Sorrow has lead me into the furnace, testing my faith beyond what I expected, 1 Peter 1:6-7.  Stretching me like Plastic Man, I have a new appreciation for misfortune, viewing it as an opportunity to display a heavenly perspective, James 1:2-4.  After this hurricane, I will be a better man, able to see the sun on the other side of the storm.  With no easy way out, I am content to find solace in sorrow until the Lord calls me home.

by Jay Mankus

Not The Ending I Envisioned

Gary Sinise played Lieutenant Dan, a Vietnam squadron leader who holds a grudge against Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, feeling that his destiny was stolen by Gump’s heroic efforts.   Lieutenant Dan believed he was meant to die with his army on the battle field.  Thus, he confronts Forrest, turns to alcohol to drown his sorrow, spending the rest of his life bound to a wheelchair, at least in his mind.

Meanwhile, all Forrest wanted was to be Jenny’s girl, his only friend growing up.  Wherever Forrest was, he thought of Jenny, writing letter after letter, hoping for a storybook ending.  Unfortunately, Forrest received these letters back, returned unopened.  After momma died, Forrest turned to running to clear his mind, tracking thousands of miles across the country.  Despite getting his girl, she dies of H.I.V. before they can grow old together.

Whether you are reading a book, watching a movie or living an act from your life, often the scene doesn’t conclude as you wish.  Instead, the curse of Genesis 3:16-19 provides an alternate ending such as death, paralysis or suicide.  Today, I feel like Lieutenant Dan in the shrimp boat during Hurricane Camille.  However, I’m not telling God “is that all you’ve got?”  Rather, I’ve surrendered, whispering “I can’t take anymore disappointment!”

Psalm 33:10-11 provides the answer to those befuddled by the direction their life has turned.  The Lord foils the plans of nation and thwarts the purposes of people.  I have become a causality of this truth, unable to comprehend the logic of God’s ways.  Yet, somewhere in the pages the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 exists.  Getting to this scene and waiting is the hardest part.  May God’s unfailing love rest on you as you trust the Lord to complete the work that He has begun in you, Philippians 1:6.

by Jay Mankus

Stop Pouting and Start Leading

When someone is hurt, ill or sad, its easy to become distracted, absorbed by the painful reality of life.  One of the common reactions is to pout, a visible form of depression by expressing disappointment through your body language.  This pitiful state blinds individuals from those who need you the most, often resulting in isolation and withdraw.  Once you reach this point, its hard to snap out of this mindset.

Since my tubing accident, I guess you can say I lost or wasted the entire month of February.  I feel like I have been bewitched by the sorrow of my circumstances, similar to the church of Galatia who lost sight of faith, Galatians 3:1-5.  In my mental absence, my wife has tried to hold our family together as best as she could.  However, now its time for me to stop pouting and start leading.

“Compromise is the language of the devil,” according to one of Eric Liddell’s mentors in Chariot’s of Fire.  As a parent, if you allow your children to wear you down, compromise will become a way of life.  As my eyes have awoken from my spiritual slumber, its essential for me to lead my kids toward the less traveled road, Matthew 7:13-14.  However, words are meaningless unless I display the way.  Therefore, I need to experience a Chrysalis like the butterfly, 2 Corinthians 5:17, who enters as an inch worm and exits transformed on wings like eagles, Isaiah 40:31.  If people stop pouting and start leading, this generation can be saved one life at a time.

by Jay Mankus

Opps … I Did It Again.

An acronym that I use for sin is Sudden Irrational Nonsense.  Whether you are struggling with something like cursing, lying or sexual desires, all sins can be addictive.  This is why so many individuals make the honest confession, “Opps, I did it again!”

Sudden

Irrational

Nonsense

Unfortunately, the Christian Community has created their own ranking system, giving a degree of severity for each transgression.  The church in Rome was the first to develop this pious attitude, mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-32.  This mindset filtered down into their hearts, leading toward thoughts like “Well at least I am not a murderer, God hater or fornicator.”  Struck down by the words of Romans 2:1-5, God gives words of hope for those wresting with the Opps I did it again syndrome, Romans 2:6-10.

When these words become a weekly or daily occurrence, one call lean on the grace of God.   The well known acronym God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense helps a sinner find comfort in the Bible’s promise, Ephesians 2:8-9.  Beyond this, one must consider how contrite you are after sinning?  If sorrow is absence from a guilty heart, Jesus is nothing more than a Get of a Jail Free Card, Hebrews 6:4-6.  As an expert in sin, reaching this point requires intervention starting with an accountability partner, once a week at the minimum.  If this step is ineffective, you must purge yourself from anything that triggers the thought of sin.  Like detox, this one of the most painful, but a necessary element to achieve freedom.  The goal is perfection, Matthew 5:48, yet the reality of life is giving your best each and every day, letting God do the rest.  When the opps I did it again resurfaces, turn your prayers toward the sky, trusting in God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

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