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The Haunting Fear of Death

As September turns to October, normal programming is put on hold for a month. While action films may be weaved in here or there, Halloween related movies will take center stage. This month long marathon seeks to scare the hell out of you. As the deaths quickly accumulate in these slasher classics, the haunting fear of death is often desensitized as villains have their own set of nine lives.

What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna), Matthew 10:27-28.

Growing up my mother was a paramedic, often running off to the nearest accident. emergency or fire. I was sheltered from most of this as a child until my neighbor’s house caught on fire and my next door neighbor was rushed to the hospital. My first brush with death was during a sailboat excursion in the Chesapeake Bay. When our vessel capsized in the middle of the channel, a giant cargo ship was heading straight for us until a good Samaritan pulled us out of the water just in time.

And also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives.16 For, as we all know, He [Christ] did not take hold of angels [[a]the fallen angels, to give them a helping and delivering hand], but He did take hold of [[b]the fallen] descendants of Abraham [to reach out to them a helping and delivering hand], Hebrews 2:15-16.

By the time I reached high school, a classmate and her family were all killed in a car accident and one of my best friends died of cancer shortly after graduating from high school. Two of my teammates in two different sports committed suicide two years apart. These events conceived in me the haunting fear of death. Yet, when I finally put my complete faith and trust in Jesus in college, this fear gradually subsided once I realized that my eternal future was secure, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Stages of the Heart

Solomon refers to the heart as the well spring of life.  This vital organ controls the flow of blood throughout the human body using the circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to internal tissues.  Unfortunately, accidents, age and viruses each influence the degree to which each heart functions.  From an external perspective, anxiety, depression and stress also wage war on human hearts.  These spiritual factors result in what I call the stages of the heart; shifting some where between soft, hard and moldable.

“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds,” Jeremiah 17:10.

The first phase is soft like Jell-O.  This type of heart is extremely sensitive, causing individuals to over react or read too much into a conversation.  If you try to pick up a piece of Jell-O, it can shake like an uncontrollable wave.  Emotional outbursts are an obvious sign of this condition, revealing an immature heart.  People that fall into this category need to toughen up, learning to better cope and deal with things beyond their control.  Placing your sole trust in Jesus is a good place to start for soft hearts, Proverbs 3:5-6.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

The polar opposite of this stage is a calloused heart, hardened by various trials and tribulations that people have endured.  When minds became jaded by what you feel to be an unfair hand dealt by God, circumstances are prime for hearts to turn to stone.  The group Foreigner once sang about this condition, using an analogy to compare a woman’s heart to be As Cold As Ice.  Hardened hearts often reflect someone who is apathetic, no longer caring about things in life as they once did.  When struck firmly, these hearts can shatter.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

The final stage are hearts molded out of clay.  During a letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul refers to God as Abba Father.  When translated into English, this refers to a child being molded and fashioned by a spiritual father.  When clay is dropped or falls, the potter can fix, repair and reshape the clay back into its original form.  Thus, the goal in this life is to develop a moldable heart, open to God’s advice in the Bible.  While no one knows what tomorrow brings, may the Lord give you a new heart and spirit to thrive in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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