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Tag Archives: Trials

People, Problems and Pain

While every April makes Americans think of 2 certainties in life, death and taxes, there is another that exists.  No matter where you go, what you do or how long you do, there will always be the 3 P’s: people, problems and pain.  People can be the reason or source of your problems and pain.  Some may think if I just eliminate the bad apple or get rid of this negative influence, everything will change for the better.  Unfortunately, there will always be someone else who comes along who possess similar traits.  Thus, to escape problems and pain that are destined to arrive, soulmates play a vital role to survival.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

One of Jesus’ disciples reveals a common held belief during the first century.  Evidently, some individuals were surprised to see turbulent times enter their lives.  This flawed mindset is exposed by Peter, making sure everyone understands what to expect month to month.  Trials aren’t a strange occurrence.  Rather, people, problem and pain are placed into one’s life, serving as a means to refine your faith.  While not everyone will marry, Christian friends are placed on earth to help the suffering endure pain.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us, Romans 8:18.

The apostle Paul brings up a mindset necessary to overcome the turmoil that life brings upon unexpected souls.  The suffering mentioned in the passage above refers to the persecution, trials and harsh treatment from those who opposed the good news about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  While there were days filled with pain, Paul developed a heavenly mindset, understanding that his current battle was temporary.  Thus, if you find yourself in a precarious situation, submit to God by trusting in the Holy Spirit to enable you to overcome the people, problem and pain you face throughout life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Heroes Journey

In 1949, the concept of the Heroes Journey was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  While this narrative pattern commonly appears in films, this outline can also be found in mythology, psychology and religion.  Campbell’s outline involves 12 stages which takes a character from the ordinary world to the special world and back.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things, Hebrews 13:8.

The reason why people watch the same movies year after year is that the heroes journey enables individuals to identify with certain actors and actresses.  As fictional characters reveal their flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, people can relate to similar trials in their own life.  Subsequently, deep down inside viewers root for their favorites to reach to top of the mountain after facing adversity.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness, Romans 12:6-8.

For someone who struggled with stuttering the first 20 years of my life, I always knew what I wanted to say, but rarely expressed what was in my heart and mind.  As an amateur screen writer, the Heroes Journey provides a valuable resource to make my aspirations come true.  However, before I proceed, I must study these 12 stages like trying to ace a test.  Once I fully grasp the Heroes Journey, I can begin to craft films that may one day end up on your favorites list.  Until then, I need to keep plugging away with an unyielding resolve to make my dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Threat of Faith

According to the scientific community life evolves.  As environments or habitats change, creatures and human beings are forced to adapt if they want to survive.  The same can be said about worldviews.  When truth is conveyed, realized or revealed, belief systems are put to the test.  This is the threat of faith.

For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us, Acts 6:14.

People will always go through periods of change.  Whether its puberty, relationships or unforeseen trials, each day provides a series of surprises.  Through the good and bad, hearts rejoice and grieve, while emotions rise and fall.  Yet, when what you have always known is challenged, faith and doubt collide.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

Through the years, time can take a toll on wounded souls.  In the case of the Jews, religious leaders thought the Jesus movement would destroy Judaism.  Thus, this threat elevated tensions, fueling resentment against Christianity.  As more and more individuals believed and were baptized, faith became a threat.  Nonetheless, when souls hear or read the words of the Bible, faith becomes a friend in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

Above the Treeline

Towering above Delaware’s farmlands and tidal marshes, Mount Ebright stands 442 feet above sea level, a trailer park north of Concord High School.  Void of any real mountains, natives of this state must venture north, south or west to find a place above the tree lines.  Traveling along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, I found myself in God’s country, imaging what it must have been like for Moses to come face to face with the Lord.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

While watching a new program on the Travel Channel, Mysteries in National Parks, I was reminded of the invisible realm that exists above the treeline.  According to the apostle Paul, a legion of angels and demons do battle daily, attempting to acquire strongholds.  Beyond the visible trials on earth, territorial wars are waged, seeking to alter the hearts, minds and souls of human beings.  Above the treeline, the devil prowls around like a lion snatching seeds of truth from new converts.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path, Matthew 13:19.

The only line of defense involves meditation, prayer and worship.  Thus, as the powers of darkness try to infringe upon church communities, families and institutions, Christians must be armed with the proper weapons to fight back, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  While the world will give credit for these phenomena to aliens, legends or mythical forces, don’t underestimate the influences of the devil.  Rather, put on the armor of God so that when activity above the treeline intensifies you won’t be caught off guard.  Draw strength from your knees, empowering angels above to take back any ground that has been lost.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Your Cries Reach Heaven’s Ears

Sometimes the Lord saves the best for last.  In the longest chapter of the Bible, God unveils a secret about prayer in the final stanza of Psalm 119.  According to this passage, whenever human beings experience disappointment without any logical explanation, people tend to stray from God and His commands.  Before giving up all hope, many pour out their hearts to God, praying that their cries for answers will reach heaven’s ears.

May my cry come before you, LORD; give me understanding according to your word. – Psalm 119:169

One of the reasons I pray is to seek understanding for the trials I have endured.  Although James 1:2-4 warns individuals to expect difficulty in life, the Bible also promises to hear our cries, Psalm 4:1.  Thus, whenever anyone spreads out their hands toward heaven and does not receive any tangible signs of improvement, resentment is a typical reply.  If these days of darkness persist, the disenfranchised will continue to grow, often going beyond the church doors to find answers to life.

May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. – Psalm 119:170

However, for those who follow in the footsteps of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, one day you will see the hand of God at work.  Upon receiving a response from heaven, a sensation of praise will overwhelm your lips.  Perhaps this feeling led David to develop a heart of prayer while tending sheep in the fields, 1 Samuel 16:7.  Although days of answered prayers may be few and far between, promises to bless, heal and protect keep me going, thirsting for more.  May you resolve to keep on praying until your cries reach heaven’s ears, Psalm 119:169-176.

by Jay Mankus

 

Learning to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Death, financial worries and illness are the 3 most common trials that trigger depression.  If any of these obstacles linger or are replaced by another debilitating force, its hard to remain optimistic.  Thus, learning to get back up when life knocks you down begins with words of encouragement.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:9-10

In the moment of his greatest distress, David sought refuge in a cave within Adullam.  When his friends heard of his despair, they joined him to uplift David’s spirits.  Unable to stand on his own, David was able to get back up, inspired by their camaraderie.  Subsequently, a rejuvenated soul compelled David to become their leader.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. – 1 Samuel 22:2

After I lost my job on New Year’s Day 2012, I was crushed.  I felt like I had just been punched in the gut, without any warning.  However, 2 close friends stood by me in these days of darkness.  One brought my family a meal that night and another scheduled a time to meet weekly.  Through the good and bad, the friends God provides in times of need have helped me get back up when life has knocked me down.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The End of Days

Whether you pick up a news paper to read, watch headline news or listen to daily conversations, life is full of opinions.  Each voice filters current events through their own worldview, trying to sway others to embrace their beliefs.  However, some arguments deviate from the truth, based upon emotions rather than the facts.  The only conclusion I have come to recently is we are living in the end of days.p

Jesus first gave initial warning signs in Matthew 24:6-15.  The end of days is compared to a pregnant woman enduring labor pains.  Contractions will begin with false Messiahs, followed by wars and rumors of war.  In addition, earthquakes and famines will bring death, suffering and trials to the ends of the earth.  As these pains intensify, persecution, hatred and wickedness will spread.  One of Jesus’ final statements rings true today, “the love of most will grow cold.”

I’m no prophet nor will I make any predictions.  Yet, as I look to the Bible to try to understand what’s going on in the world, the apostle Paul builds upon Jesus’ words, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9.  In the last days before Jesus returns, Satan will influence human being to believe lies.  As soon as minds become deceived, lawlessness will reign.  Once a baby is ready to come out, you can’t stop this natural process.  However, if these signs are a precursor to the end of days, prepare your life now or you may be left behind.

by Jay Mankus

 

Do You Remember When?

Time has a way of skewing our memories.  When life is great, people expect things to continue, letting the good times roll.  On the other hand, as soon as the tide turns, individuals are shocked by unfortunate events like death, illness or trials.

Every so often, I will do something to aggravate my ribs that I broke last winter.  This soreness serves as a reminder of a scary moment in my life.  Unable to breathe, cringing in pain, I watched helplessly while a dozen Emergency Room attendants prepared for my surgery.  As the painkillers knocked me out, I wasn’t sure if I would ever wake up again.

Nine months later, I am thankful for life, a great job and wonderful family.  If it wasn’t for the cold weather, I might have forgotten this traumatic event.  Yet, the Lord brought this to my attention while reading Psalm 105.  Just as the Lord inspired Jewish leaders to remind Israel of God’s covenant to Abraham, the Holy Spirit brought to recall the healing power of the Great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

Inside the Praise of an Apostle

Praise is not a natural emotion, at least once the sinful nature entered life’s equation.  When one rule was overlooked to indulge curiosity, the world forever changed.  At one point following Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, God’s anger continued for a generation, 40 years to be exact, Psalm 95:10.  Spoiled, spineless and spiritually lukewarm, many Jews forgot how to praise their God.

A few thousand years later, a misguided man was brought to the forefront.  Blinded by the presence of Jesus, a prideful leader was humbled by the Almighty God, Acts 9:1-19.  Although his transformation was immediate, not every cheered, especially the victims of his persecution.  Nonetheless, Saul from Tarsus tarried on with his relationship with God, unlike what most Christians will ever experience.  Pushed to the brink of death several times, a heart of worship grew within the apostle Paul.

Instead of pouting, “why me God,” Acts 16:16-36 takes a look inside a heart of praise.  Punished for doing the right thing, Paul used negative circumstances as a stepping stone to present prisoners with the good news of Jesus Christ.  The rest of this account is a testament to God’s blessings and faithfulness during the storms and trials in life.  If today’s generation of Christians can apply one lesson from the life of Paul, its simple.  Stop pouting and start praising, whether life is good, bad or indifferent, Philippians 4:4-9.

by Jay Mankus

When It Rains… It Pours

On the surface, some people appear to have bad luck.  If its not one thing, another quickly turns for the worse.  Unfortunately, too many of us on earth know the expression, “when it rains, its pours.”

Trials don’t wait for a convenient time to show up.  Rather, out of the blue and unannounced, these disappointing events inflict anguish, heartache and sorrow.  Like a snow ball thrown off of a mountain, avalanches form creating a wall of destruction headed toward innocent bystanders.  These freaks of nature don’t stop until its energy has been exhausted.

Similar to a fire drill, Christians should be prepared for the next hurricane.  However, spiritual storms aren’t limited to a few months out of the year.  Instead, every day pop up thunderstorms are possible, ripping the foundations out from those not ready, Matthew 7:24-27.  May the promise of Psalm 34:18 encourage anyone who is currently stuck in stationary showers that don’t seem to be letting up.  Hang in there, don’t give up and cling to the Lord, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

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