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Whispers of Hope

If your voice tends to dominate or over power conversations, your ears will have a hard time hearing the whispers of others.  Breaths, murmurs and subtle tones will be drown out, oblivious to talkative souls.  Meanwhile, the down trodden, hurting and hopeless can become skeptical to any sort of good news.  Jaded hearts turn to sarcasm, laughing at any glimpses of hope.  Regardless of where you may be on this spectrum, a growing number of individuals ignore daily whispers of hope.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you, Psalm 39:7.

Like any distressed soul, its not uncommon to want to find someone who will listen to your frustrations.  Whether this is a co-worker, friend or neighbor, venting has a way of releasing any built up tension within you.  After sessions of complaining, ranting and unloading the stress weighing you down, periods of relief can be temporarily found.  In the Old Testament, David discovered a way to embrace whispers of hope.  Although living as a shepherd can be lonely, with few interaction with people, God is only a prayer away.  Thus, pouring our his heart to the Lord became a daily practice, waiting for his life to change for the better.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

The apostle Paul takes David’s concept to a new level in the passage above.  While praying enables individuals to cry out to God, reading the God allows the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart through whispers of hope.  Whenever Paul was depressed, discouraged or frustrated, reading the Old Testament provided encouragement and the inspiration to endure.  Since modern readers have the luxury of a completed Bible, the Old and New Testaments, studying the Bible is the best way to hear whispers of hope.  May this blog inspire you to live out Romans 10:17 as faith comes from listening and reading God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

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

 

 

Reruns, Rewind and Revive

The summer tends to be a season for reruns.  As students and teachers take a break until the fall semester begins, there is time for late night binge watching.  While most use On Demand, Netflix or DVR’ed programs, the older generation still rely on television guides to plan their viewing pleasures.  Classic movies have a way of grabbing your attention.  Although you know the story, desires from within carry you away for hours at a time as a distraction from the stress and worries in life.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3.

For those of you who don’t spend much time watching television, perhaps you prefer reflection.  Either during a jog, walk or while doing yard work, its nice to rewind, taking an inventory of where you’ve been, where you are or where you want to go.  This practice is like setting goals in your mind, providing direction for the future.  One of the things I enjoy pondering about are those things in life which bring me the most joy.  Listening to music, playing sports, writing and working on projects around the house fill me with a sense of accomplish along with purpose and meaning in life.

Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others, Philippians 2:4.

One of the final activities I engage in involves food for the soul.  Beyond a dose of daily Bible reading and prayer, hearts and minds need to be revived and refreshed to make it in life.  Thus, I have days where I soak in music while I rest.  Sometime I find a book on a topic that interests me, giving me a broader perspective on life.  Although I waste just as much time as the average American lounging around on a couch or sofa, I experience peace that surpasses understanding when I rewind my direction and revive my soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Excel or Exhale?

If you follow youth sports, it seems like the competition intensifies year after year.  Whether its AAU, All-Stars, sports camps or travel ball teams, parents with athletes are spending thousands of dollars annually hoping for a college scholarship.  For those who excel, rising like the cream of a crop, dreams of a professional career may be in their future.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell, Matthew 5:29.

Meanwhile, the laid back take a completely different approach.  Though some of these individuals may have aspirations for greatness, to avoid stress a deep breathe usually calms any nerves that arise.  Nonetheless, you can’t teach motivation.  Thus, children who possess this characteristic are on their own, relying on their own desire, the Lord or will for the final outcome.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell, Matthew 5:30.

Unfortunately, the most talented often get side-tracked on the way to the top.  If you don’t believe me, just scan the internet for articles on star athletes arrested, kicked off a team or suspended due to breaking the law or team rules.  Jesus provides advice for anyone who wants to be the best they can be in his sermon on the Mount.  Therefore, whatever goals you have in this life, be diligent in purging your life from anything that may end your dreams.

by Jay Mankus

R and R

R & R is a military phrase made popular by the 1970 television series MASH.  This abbreviation is slang for rest and recuperation.  In the show, nurses and surgeons would receive weekend passes throughout the year, usually spending time relaxing and recreating.  This break from the stress of life provided individuals a chance to unwind, before returning back to work.

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works, Hebrews 4:4.

Perhaps, its time for busy Americans to apply this biblical principle.  Although, its hard to imagine the Creator of life needing to rest, God created the Sabbath for us.  In His infinite wisdom, the Lord knew the wear and tear a week takes on individuals.  Thus, the soul needs a break, to refuel on fellowship, prayer and worship.  Without taking a day to recharge, people will eventually, crash from sheer exhaustion.

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish, Jeremiah 31:25.

One day, Jesus was disappointed by the lack of faith in those places where he performed miracles.  After lashing out at those who failed to believe, Jesus makes a plea to those in the audience who were hurting, tired or weary.  Within Matthew 11:28-30, the Lord lays out a blue print for finding rest.  First, don’t be ashamed to come to Jesus with your excess baggage.  Second, let go of your burdens, by laying them upon the altar of grace.  Finally, lean on the Holy Spirit to revive your soul.  In this, I pray that you will experience R & R.

by Jay Mankus

 

Regaining Strength

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble was a 1976 television special based upon a true story of two boys who lacked an effective immune system, forced to live in a controlled environment.   Those living outside this bubble may contract mono, draining people of their energy, sleeping up to 18 hours a day until their health is restored.  While healing time varies, its important to take time away from your normal routine for regaining strength.

And after taking some food, Saul regained his strength, Acts 9:19a.

Poor eating habits, stress and long work hours can take a toll on human bodies, leading to other illnesses.  Unfortunately, those stricken with cancer are often forced to endure chemotherapy if they want to survive.  Add in the loss of hair and this disease can suck the will to live out of normally positive people.  Recent clinics based by dietary advances have been successful in curing forms of cancer, yet some individuals are unable to digest the food necessary to live another day.

So Elijah got up and ate and drank.  Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God, 1 Kings 19:8.

Invisible to doctors, depression can also attack healthy people.  Loss of appetite is a common sign.  In the case of Elijah, he let the circumstances of life overwhelm him.  Each day without food, Elijah became weaker.  However, an angelic encounter snaps him out of this funk.  Therefore, if you are burdened by stress or worry, set time aside to eat and sleep so that one day soon strength will be regained.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Resting in Hope

Fifty years ago, most families consisted of a husband, wife and children.  In those days, moms stayed at home, taking care of the kids while the father was usually the main bread winner.  Over the last half century, this sight is rare, like a species of animals on the verge of extinction.  Subsequently, adults are now working nights, weekends or two jobs just to keep up with their monthly bills.  The idea of resting in hope is a fantasy for many tired souls.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, Acts 2:26.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter was filled with peace.  Looking back on the last few months, the hand of God on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection began to make sense.  This clarity boosted the spirits of the disciples.  Despite Jesus’ absence following his ascension into heaven, a metamorphosis was ongoing in the hearts and minds of God’s people.  Peter attributes this reformation due to resting in hope.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Stress has an opposite effect on individuals, leading to restless nights.  A by product of stress, worry induces doubt, causing minds to wonder if things will ever improve.  This is where I am from time to time, struggling to remain optimistic.  Nonetheless, when I reach low points in life, I am reminded of the promises in the Bible.  The more I hear and read these words, I begin to rest in hope.

by Jay Mankus

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