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Tag Archives: soul

Searching for a Place to Call Home

The sitcom Cheers coincided with my years in high school and college.  Cheers debuted in 1982 as I entered my final year of junior high school.  The final episode of Cheers aired the week before I graduated college in 1992.  While the content of this show did not glorify God, the theme song of Cheers struck a cord with my soul.  The thought of finding a place where everyone knows your name inspired me to search for my own place, a church to call home.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua 24:15.

Oddly enough, Match.com was founded in 1993, one year after Cheers went off the air.  Apparently, trying to meet a significant other in a bar setting isn’t an ideal environment.  Over the past 25 years, single individuals have turned to dating apps to meet the person of their dreams.  While relationships do emerge from more traditional means, 40 million Americans annually use online dating services to find a soul mate.

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches, Proverbs 24:3-4.

Perhaps, it’s time for a Christian entrepreneur to develop an app that searches for a church to call home.  Like a bad blind date, visiting the wrong church can fill souls with disappointment, frustration and loneliness.  Christians want to find a place like the theme song from Cheers, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.”  This song written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo illustrates an ideal place where you can relate to other people, sharing the burdens and troubles on your heart.  I’m not sure what the future holds, but maybe God will put a person with a Computer Science background into my life to form an app that searches for a church to call home.

by Jay Mankus

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Dreams are Like the Stars of Your Destiny

Nightly dreams mainly occur during a stage of sleep known as REM.  This acronym stands for rapid eye movement where brain activity is high, a similar level to being awake.  REM sleep results in the continuous movements of your eyes while you sleep.  Meanwhile, neurologists like Freud and Jung have developed their own theory.  The Dream Theory states that dreams merely come from within the human psyche, exposing what is in your unconscious mind.

For in a multitude of dreams and in a flood of words there is worthlessness. Rather [reverently] fear God [and worship Him with awe-filled respect, knowing who He is], Ecclesiastes 5:7.

When I searched the Bible for another point of view, a Jewish king frowned upon dreaming.  Referred to as one of the wisest men to walk the face of the earth, King Solomon focuses on who to listen to, God or your dreams in the passage above.  Despite this warning, Solomon does have something good to say about dreams in Proverbs 3:24.  Anyone who practices discretion and sound wisdom will be blessed by a deep and sweet sleep.  Later on in this book, Solomon writes about moments in life where dreams, prophecies, revelations and visions are absent, Proverbs 29:18.  When this occurs, rely on God’s laws in the Bible to guide your steps.

And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him,” Matthew 2:12-13.

One aspect of dreaming is described in the New Testament.  The apostle Paul uses the phrase keeping in step with the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:25 as a way to follow God.  In the second chapter of the New Testament, Matthew gives two examples of how God uses dreams.  The first is similar to a nightmare, a warning to not go back to Herod.  Moments later, an angel of the Lord appears in Joseph’s dream.  These clear instructions ushered Joseph into action immediately.  God spoke to Joseph through dreams on numerous occasions, each time to direct and guide his steps on earth.

Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to [the details of] this dream which I have dreamed; we [brothers] were binding sheaves [of grain stalks] in the field, and lo, my sheaf [suddenly] got up and stood upright and remained standing; and behold, your sheaves stood all around my sheaf and bowed down [in respect].” His brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Are you really going to rule and govern us as your subjects?” So they hated him even more for [telling them about] his dreams and for his [arrogant] words. But Joseph dreamed still another dream, and told it to his brothers [as well]. He said, “See here, I have again dreamed a dream, and lo, [this time I saw] eleven stars and the sun and the moon bowed down [in respect] to me!” – Genesis 37:5-9

In the case of Joseph, his dreams were the stars of his destiny.  Based upon the accounts in Genesis, Joseph possessed a special connection with God.  Some may refer to him as a prophet with others focusing on his gift of dream interpretation.  Whatever the source, the favor of God never left Joseph despite a series of hardships.  While many Christians would have become bitter and given up on hope, Joseph never wavered.  From a practical perspective, if you believe in a dream, destiny or goal, a resolve and will is conceived.  When darkness settles in, faith serves as a compass to keep dreams alive.  May the saying “dreams are like the stars of your destiny” be more than just a slip inside of a fortune cookie.  My the Holy Spirit awaken your soul to reach for the stars as you seek to follow God’s will daily.

by Jay Mankus

Pushed to the Brink of Letting Go

Whenever your job description changes over night, an unsettling feeling may overwhelm your soul.  As you search for answers, your nerves may be calmed or a dysfunctional situation only gets worse.  Depending upon your state of mind, anger may brew, bitterness boil and frustration mount.  Yet, perhaps all this has happened to you, pushed to the brink by stress to let go of control by allowing God to take the reigns.

And [later] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile, Genesis 4:2-5.

In the passage above, an older brother becomes jealous of his younger brother.  The long hours of farming gradually took a toll on Cain’s state of mind.  After coming home dirty and exhausted, Abel appeared to have a much better job and life.  However, when Cain was pushed to the brink, he chose to question God as detailed below.  This venting session provided Cain with advice on what to do next, toward an open door to escape temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

Anyone who is about to lose it emotionally needs to reflect upon the passage above.  Every day sin crouches at your door, waiting for foolish souls to welcome it in.  Unless you practice the self discipline referred to in 2 Timothy 1:6-7, sin will overpower you.  Thus, if you want to avoid the same fate of Cain, you must learn to control your body like a competitive athlete.  This pursuit results in a calm and well balanced mind.  Thus, if you are prepared, the next time you are pushed to the brink of frustration, letting go by trusting God will become a natural transition.

by Jay Mankus

Hollow

When my parents moved to Delaware, I developed a sense of adventure by exploring this new state.  A creek in my backyard flowed into a large forest, protecting a tributary that led into the Delaware River.  I spent hours fishing each summer with a net.  After I brought back my catch in a bucket, I attempted to build a dam to preserve my collection.  Unfortunately, after each major storm, the dam overflowed freeing these big and colorful fish.  Nonetheless, when I was younger I woke up with excitement, eager for what would happen each day.

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things, Isaiah 45:7.

As time has passed, dealing with failed dreams and goals have taken a toll on my soul.  After receiving two rejection letters from Hollywood last night, my joy for life has been replaced by anxiety, dread and disappointment.  Instead of seizing future moments of free time that I do have, depression has placed me into a state of misery.  The child like faith that I once possessed is drowning in self pity causing me to develop a half glass empty attitude.  Like a tree that looks healthy on the exterior, somewhere along the way I have become hollow inside.  Perhaps, I have become afflicted by spiritual termites, gnawing on my heart.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed, 1 Peter 2:24.

The book definition for hollow is having a hole or empty space inside.  Synonyms include empty, vacant, void and unfulfilled.  Muhammad Ali once said “age is whatever you think it is; you are as old as you think you are.”  As a professional boxer, Ali demonstrated mind over matter to stay young despite his aging body.  Yet, for many individuals, becoming hollow is now a reality, struggling to become whole again.  As senior citizens retire and enter assisted living communities, they have to maintain an activity or hobby to keep hope alive.  If not, the lonely will spend their remaining years on earth wasting away in a rocking chair, like an empty shell, hollow and unfulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

Music and Lyrics

As a former song writer of A Simple Confession, I enjoy watching documentaries on musicians.  When Music Television first launched in 1983, one of my favorite programs was Behind the Music.  This show interviewed lead singers and song writers, revealing the inspiration behind the lyrics of their songs.  When I watched the 2007 film Music and Lyrics, I was inspired to begin working on a new song or album.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God, Colossians 3:16.

Hugh Grant plays a washed up singer living on the coattails of his past, playing wherever fans crave music from the 1980’s.  When his agent receives a call from a famous pop star, Grant is given a couple days to compose a chart-topping hit for this teen sensation.  Drew Barrymore serves as a replacement plant sitter, interrupting Grant’s session with his lyricist.  When Barrymore begins to put these lyrics into a catchy melody, she is hired to complete this song.

Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Ephesians 5:19.

The Bible mentions the power of music and lyrics.  When David played his harp for King Saul, the sound uplifted his soul.  The prophet Samuel claims that music soothes the soul.  While Huey Lewis sang about the Power of Love in 1996, the Bible is filled with examples of how music encourages, inspires and uplifts hearts.  As individuals meditate on the word of God, hymns, melodies and spiritual songs, the Lord will put a new song upon or within your heart and mind to share with others.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Hunger

Appetites and thirst are an internal signal that our bodies want food and drink.  When it’s hot thirst drives individuals to stay hydrated.  Meanwhile, when you miss a meal, hunger pains may persuade you to binge, raid the refrigerator or order take out to satisfy this desire.  However, God designed human beings with a soul, craving a different kind of hunger.

After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:2-4.

As Jesus prepared for his three year ministry on earth, a fast was performed to focus solely on God.  In this vulnerable state, the Devil tempted Jesus with food, hoping Jesus’ physical need for food would override his spiritual preparations.  Instead, Jesus reminds the Devil that God desires human beings to meditate on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:7-8.  While food satisfies the stomach, spiritual nuggets fuel the soul.

For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:32-33.

During a segment on worry, Jesus uses common sense to illustrate how God provides.  This portion of the Sermon on the Mount focuses on the proper attitude individuals should possess.  Instead of being consumed by worry, believers should develop a spiritual hunger for righteousness.  When God and the Bible become your main priority on earth, everything else falls naturally into place.  While hunger pains may come and go, may the hunger for God keep your soul satisfied daily.

by Jay Mankus

A Consequence for Failing to Listen

For three years, Jesus poured his heart, soul and mind into twelve men. Whether eating, drinking, lodging or traveling together, Jesus trained these disciples on what it means to be a Christian. While the phrase “let him who have ears listen” is not widely recorded in the New Testament, this expression was likely repeated daily. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Jesus talks everyone should listen.

And other seed fell into good soil, and as the plants grew and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundred times [as much as had been sown].” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words,” Mark 4:8-9.

Unfortunately, busyness, distractions and timing influence your degree of listening. When I’m tense, tired or interruptions occur, my mind wanders. Thus, even when motivational speakers convict, encourage or inspire you to act, listening is a two step process. First, you must clearly hear what has been instructed. Second, heeding the words of Jesus requires a special attention to details, noticing the big picture. Without these two elements working together, the good news about Jesus Christ falls upon deaf ears.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your countrymen; you shall listen to Him and obey everything He tells you. 23 And it will be that every person that does not listen to and heed that Prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people,’ Acts 3:22-23.

During a sermon given by Peter, a passage from the Old Testament is quoted. Peter is trying to connect with his mainly Jewish audience by revealing a prophecy made by Moses. Without beating around the bush, Peter uses a message of fear to get the attention of this crowd. In this day of political correctness, suggesting that heaven isn’t for everyone results in outrage and persecution. Yet, Peter states that not hearing and taking heed of Jesus’ teaching will result in spiritual destruction. May this warning prompt hearts to develop a keen sense of listening.

by Jay Mankus

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