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Cancelled by Coronavirus

In a matter of days, college and professional sports seasons, public education classes and my volleyball league have either been cancelled, closed their doors for two to four weeks or suspended their seasons. The culprit, the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19 is to blame for this latest pandemic. While out picking up weekly supplies during my normal time, local shoppers treated Thursday afternoon as if the world was coming to an end. With this in mind, what does the Bible say about viruses?

At midnight the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead, Exodus 12:29-30.

The most famous plague of the Old Testament struck Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Jews. According to Moses, every family was impacted, losing the first born male overnight. Meanwhile, cattle farmers lost first born calves as well. According to Numbers 16:49, 14,700 individuals died in a plague brought on by the disobedience of Korah. Another 24,000 Israelites were wiped out by a similar plague in Numbers 25:9. There are other accounts of angels of death, deadly plagues and a real Devil who daily seeks to steal, kill and destroy the lives of weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.

So I looked, and behold, an ashy pale horse [black and blue as if made so by bruising], and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades (the realm of the dead) followed him closely. And they were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and with wild beasts of the earth, Revelation 6:8.

Whenever individuals experience the unknown, doubt, fear and panic can take hold of troubled hearts. In just one week, life as we know it has been turned upside down. The only recent pandemic that is comparable was the H1N1, back in the Spring of 2009. My oldest son contracted the Swine Flu months later during the Cross Country season. Although James missed nearly 3 weeks of school, he made a complete and full recovery. As human beings, not being in control of your health and well being conceives emotions of hopelessness. Yet, the only thing that you can do right now until COVID-19 goes into remission is pray to the God of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

A Biblical Look into the Mind

In the hours immediately following a mass shooting, law enforcement searches homes, computer devices and social media to see if any clues can explain these tragic events. While some motives may include revenge or terrorism, most investigations turn up signs of mental health problems. When individuals stop taking their medication or reach a breaking point, one stressful situation can push souls over the edge, acting upon the whispers and voices of evil in their head.

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever], Romans 8:6.

Apparently, the apostle Paul received a revelation about the human mind detailed in the passage above and below. The flesh has a mind of it’s own, placing individuals in direct conflict with their conscious. As people act upon, behave and respond to their own impulses, this seems natural and normal. Yet, Paul warns readers that daily decisions made in the flesh prevents the Holy Spirit from providing spiritual insight. If people aren’t careful, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the miseries which arise from sin.

[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him, Romans 8:7-8.

Just as professional caterers attempt to persuade customers to return to their establishment, the Devil works behind the scenes each day to ensure that souls become addicted to various sins. While appetites vary from person to person, demons are assigned accordingly based upon your own weaknesses. These two verses in the Bible highlight the spiritual dimensions of America’s mental health crisis. Until individuals are made aware of this internal tug of war, peace of mind is unachievable. May this blog help those living in bondage, enslaved by addiction find freedom through a personal relationship with Christ, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond Doubt

Self-doubt often comes from a lack of experience as individuals face new challenges in life. When confronted with any task no matter how confident that you may be in a specific field, the fear of failure may enter your mind. However, some people encounter extremely high levels of doubt to the point where it becomes debilitating. This is the mental condition that the Devil wants to keep you in, frightened by lingering thoughts of doubt.

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Romans 8:38.

One chapter earlier, the apostle Paul confesses an inability to control his own body, Romans 7:16-18. Despite possessing good intentions, Paul found himself held captive by sin, unable to do what was good and right in God’s eyes. Instead of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Paul’s faith was inoperable, caving to and indulging his sinful nature daily. So what happened in one chapter? What sparked Paul’s transformation from addiction to living a spirit filled life?

Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 8:39.

If you glance back at the beginning of Romans 8, Paul’s mind was in the wrong place. As soon as Paul began to focus on eternal treasures by forgoing temporary pleasures, doubt began to disappear. When Christians begin to operate in the supernatural realm, fixated on producing spiritual fruit, Galatians 5:22-23, a hunger and thirst for righteousness is conceived. This is the mindset which inspired Paul to write beyond a doubt, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” May this blog encourage you to pursue a similar mindset so that you can begin to live beyond doubt.

by Jay Mankus

When the Negative is What You Believe

As I prepare to write another movie is 2020, I have been doing some research this month to prepare me. One book has pointed me to a few scenes from the 1990 film Pretty Woman. The goal of these exercises is to receive inspiration, ideas to develop characters and write dialogues that relate to every day people. While Julia Roberts is talking with Richard Gere, the two discuss what brought Vivian to become a prostitute. Despite receiving a few compliments from Edward, Vivian shrugs them off, suggesting that “the negative is what you remember and believe.”

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

During a first century conversation with religious leaders, Jesus introduces a theory to explain the whispers and inner voices that attempt to hold human beings down. As human beings struggle to overcome the demons of their past, the source of the negative in your mind is the Devil, “the father of all lies.” Unfortunately, even those who learn of this truth still tend to develop ungodly beliefs such as “you’ll never amount to anything, you’re not smart enough and even if you try, you’ll end up failing anyway.” A similar conversation occurs in the 1993 film Rudy as young man waits at a bus stop, eager to fulfill his childhood dream. Rudy’s father played by Ned Beatty tries to talk his son, Sean Astin, out of this decision, with the words, “you’re a Ruettiger; we’re not good enough for Notre Dame.”

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

During the parable of the Shepherd, Jesus takes this concept one step further. Not only does the Devil want to keep you down by remembering and believing negative comments, his ultimate goal is to steal, kill and destroy. First, whispers of evil are designed to steal any glimmers of hope that pop into your mind. When this has become successful, stage two seeks to encourage people to gradually give up on pursuing childhood dreams. Finally, spirits of depression, despair and suicide enter to further devour and destroy lives. May this blog expose how negativity influences wounded souls to come to believe the father of all lies.

by Jay Mankus

The Freedom from Religion Movement

When I was a senior in high school, I was naïve about the spiritual dangers that existed in college.  A few of my spiritual mentors who already spent a year away at college warned me about giving into temptation.  These concerns fell upon deaf ears, causing me to wander away from the Lord during my first semester at the University of Delaware.  If I only listened to one of Jesus’ disciples in the passage below, I could have avoided the bad habits and heartache that I experienced during this dark period of my life.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

One of the modern dangers that lurks in the distance is the Freedom from Religion Movement. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is an American non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, with members from all 50 states.  This organization was founded by atheists and humanists who seek to censor and or prevent prayer from taking place in public schools.  The leaders of this movement decided to run a commercial during Tuesday night’s Democratic Presidential Debate.  The attached ad speaks for itself, an eerie preview of the future.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:18.

According to the apostle Paul, the best way to combat the Freedom from Religion Movement is through prayer.  As atheists rely on and use activist judges to take away religious freedoms, Christians need to keep alert by praying in the Spirit at all times.  When hope dies, the power of prayer fades.  Yet, if a concert of prayer begins within churches, communities and homes, hope can be restored.  Throughout history, one movement replaces another, seeking to accomplish it’s goals.  However, when God’s people stand in the spiritual gaps that exists, the Holy Spirit will be unleashed to ensure that the Jesus Movement prevails.

by Jay Mankus

No Good Thing Ever Dies

A first century Jew from the tribe of Levi devotes an entire chapter to some of Jesus’ parables.  A parable is typically a fictitious story that a broad audience can relate to and understand.  Jesus uses a hypothetical character who is confronted with a specific dilemma, issue or problem.  These analogies are designed to illustrate a biblical principle or moral attitude.  The passage below refers to weeds that are planted in between a field of wheat.

Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [resembling wheat] among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the weeds appeared also, Matthew 13:24-26.

When human beings sleep, the enemy known as the Devil is planting counterfeit, fake and phony mirages that attempt to imitate the Christian faith.  Unless you receive training at an early age, it’s easy to be confused, deceived or tricked into believing a lie.  King Solomon wrote about teaching a child in the way that they should go at a young age so they do not depart from this, Proverbs 22:6.  When this behavior and discipline has been instilled by faith, good will remain look after a father has passed away.

He replied to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them out?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; because as you pull out the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat into my barn,”’” Matthew 13:28-30.

In this story, the owner of the wheat field does not overreact to the evil one’s infiltration.  Instead of removing adjacent weeds immediately which might weaken the root system of nearby wheat plants, patience pays off by waiting until the harvest to separate the good from the bad.  From a practical stand point, we can’t control the trials and tribulations thrown our way in life.  Some of you may have to endure Job like heartaches that seem to never end.  Yet, when souls place their feet upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, no good thing ever dies.

by Jay Mankus

Look Me in the Eye

Whenever an engaging conversation is taking place, eye contact is fixated on the other.  Although this may change slightly when individuals are walking and talking, there will be momentary pauses to maintain eye contact.  Unfortunately, the popularity of social media is changing how young people communicate.  Instead of looking at people in the eye, texts are sent, skype is used or images are exchanged via Snap Chat.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is how his name is translated) opposed them, trying to turn the proconsul away from accepting the faith. But ]Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit and led by Him, looked steadily at Elymas, Acts 13:8-9.

In the passage above, Paul felt compelled to confront a spiritual opponent.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul addresses Elymas, a sorcerer who tried to prevent a proconsul named Sergius Paulus from placing his faith in Jesus.  Thus, Paul does not shy away from confrontation, looking at Elymas in the eye and rebuking him publicly.  Paul uses the teaching of Jesus from John 8:44 to refer to Elymas as a son of the devil.  Finally, Paul asks how long will this interference continue?

And said, “You [Elymas] who are full of every [kind of] deceit, and every [kind of] fraud, you son of the devil, enemy of everything that is right and good, will you never stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? – Acts 13:10

During my last year as a high school teacher, texting exploded in popularity.  During the golf season, some of my players would text me a message at practice, off on another hole.  Afraid of confrontation, some golfers would send bold texts, demanding more playing time.  When I addressed their concerns face to face, words were few, often shying away from reality.  Nearly ten years later, communication skills continue to decay.  Perhaps, it’s time for Christians to start keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, by looking at people in the eye.

by Jay Mankus

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