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Speechless

The 2010 film the King’s Speech is based upon a true story.  As Hitler’s popularity grew during World War II, King George VI struggled to find his voice.  Battling with stuttering throughout his life, this movie details the king’s progress with a speech therapist.  When England needed a voice, this once speechless king overcame his fears to lead a nation.

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone, Acts 9:7.

Individuals blessed with the gift of conversation probably can’t relate to those inflicted with speech impediments.   On the other hand, people who tend to be shy do not possess the desire and energy to speak for an extended period of time.  Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, there will be moments of silence.  Times when even the most outgoing individuals become speechless.

For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything, Acts 9:9.

Looking back at my own life, I find that trials usually shut me down for a while.   Whether its confusion, shock or uncertainty, it may take some time to sort things out.  The sooner I can make sense of turmoil, the quicker my life returns to normal.  Yet, life isn’t always fair, presenting difficulties that may push you beyond reason.  Thus, as you battle periods of depression in life, hold on to a God who has a track record of transforming lives.

by Jay Mankus

 

Overwhelmed by the Future

There are several variables which can produce anxiety, stress or worry.  Anticipation can make the mind race, questioning all the possible scenarios, often starting with the worst first.  Fear of the unknown adds a feeling of uncertainty, producing a myriad of emotions.  Thus, it doesn’t take much for an individual to become overwhelmed by the future.

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch,” Mark 14:34.

Those who possess discernment, keen insight and the gift of prophecy can sense when bad things are about to happen.  In the case of Jesus, he knew when and how he was going to die.  Thus, as  the hours drew closer, Jesus’ soul was consumed with sorrow.  To make matters worse, the twelve men he invested the last three years of his life into were about to abandon, betray or deny him publicly.  The human side of Jesus was also overwhelmed by the future.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood, Hebrews 12:4.

As Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked his disciples to keep watch and pray.  In the hours that followed, the author describes a level of stress which is unprecedented, suggesting his sweat was like blood.  Whether this happened or not doesn’t matter, the key is Jesus died for all sinners, Romans 5:8.  Therefore, if you are stressed out about today or the future, prepare yourself just like Jesus: keep watch and pray so temptation doesn’t hold you hostage.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Brain Fart Caught on Camera

With millions of America engrossed in the finish of Super Bowl XLIX, one of the most incredible catches of all time will be forever vacated by a brain fart caught on camera.  With the New England Patriots clinging to a 28-24, Seahawk receiver Jermaine Kearse went up for a 45 yard pass on 3rd and 10 which was deflected and bounced off his knee before reeling in Russell Wilson’s pass while on his back.  After Marshawn Lynch advanced the football to the 1 yard line, Seattle was less than 3 feet from repeating as NFL champions.  As television commentators were considering whether or not New England should allow Seattle to score, Seattle’s play caller had a brain fart, failing to give the ball to their best option.  Instead a 2nd down pass was intercepted, leaving most football fans in shock, with Patriots fans thanking God for this bizarre ending.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Beyond the field of competition, brain farts are a daily reality, especially for those who must make tough decisions.  When faced with pressure or under duress, the human mind may not function properly.  Stress tends to alter one’s ability to make quick judgments.  Perhaps an overwhelming disappointment early on in life may cause some to avoid seeking positions of leadership, afraid to fail.  Known as gun shy, this may explain what happened in the final minute of this year’s Super  Bowl.  Somewhere during the 40 seconds between plays, doubt, hesitation or uncertainty cost a franchise a title.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:7.

Unfortunately, the media will likely ridicule this decision for years to come.  Some may even call it the worst decisions in Super Bowl history.  However, in the grand scheme of life, this is just a game that men get paid to play.  Thus, the costliest brain farts occur in the real world, where one bad choice has consequences.  Once the emotion of victories and losses fade, make sure that you don’t fall into a pattern of neglect.  Just ask Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriot, who is now on trial for double murder.  Regardless of your current mood, may the Lord give you a peace that surpasses all understanding to press on after any brain fart moment that you have to endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

I Don’t Feel Like It Today

After another frustrating day visiting the doctor, sometimes its hard to stay motivated.  When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel like reading the Bible or praying.  Part of me thought, “what’s the point?”  I’ve done everything I can think of and I’m still not cleared to return to work.

Perhaps, this same emotion is experienced by millions of individuals on a daily basis.  Once you bust your butt and work hard without any tangible results, apathy and pessimism often set in.  Thus, staying hopeful is a battle, especially when others around you seem to be better off than yourself.  In these moments, faith must be more than a feeling or else you will collapse under a sea of disappointment.

Despite my initial inclination, I fought through these urges to give God my first fruits, the first hour of my day.  Although I did not receive the outcome I wished for, there is still enough time in this day for my prayer to be answered.  When desperation sets in, the Lord is the only firm foundation remaining, Psalm 28:1.  Within my own uncertainty, I cling to the promise of Psalm 28:7, hoping to leap for joy instead of feeling depressed.

by Jay Mankus

Clinging to the Security Blankets of Your Past

Charles Schultz conjured up in his mind a fictional character with real life tendencies in his classic comic strip Peanuts.  Linus was a boy who never wanted to leave his favorite blanket, finding comfort from this childhood possession.  Today, infants have similar habits, becoming attached to binkies, serving as a calming device to produce sleep.  Despite purging closets each spring, most adults aren’t willing to let go of sentimental items, keeping a few like a security blanket from your past.

Peter was a professional fisherman whose new acquaintance introduced himself as a carpenter.  Luke 5:1-11 recounts this first meeting as Peter listens to Jesus speak after a long night of work.   Despite his initial hesitation, Peter is willing to trust someone from another occupation, based upon a gut feeling within his heart, Luke 5:6.  Subsequently, Peter reached a point of conviction, guilty of holding on to traditions instead of faith.  By the end of this passage, each member of his crew was touched by God, leaving everything they knew behind, letting go of their security blankets.

I’m not sure if its my ego, pride or stubbornness, but I find it hard to completely change the routines I have set in life.  Sure, every New Year’s provides a tempest, the perfect conditions to rededicate one’s life.  Nonetheless, the fear of uncertainty prevents permanent transformation from occurring.  Thus, when the going get’s tough, people fall back on what they know instead of following the advice of strangers.  This reality of life fulfills the words of Proverbs 27:19, “as water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”  May the example of these fishermen inspire others to forgo the security blankets of their past with a faith for the future.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Sure About That?

Whether its an April Fool’s joke or a student trying to pull a prank on one of their teacher’s, its important to double and triple check your information before informing others.  Like the internet picture of a 90 foot snake 2 years ago, those who believed this story were quickly disappointed.  Maybe this is why so many in our culture struggle to accept the testimonies about Jesus in the Bible.  Hoping not to be deceived, a typical reply is, “are you sure about it?”

After reading books such as The Bible as History, The Case for Christ and the entire Bible, I’m more confident than ever about this evidence.  Yeah, stories of a burning bush, talking donkey and light that spoke aren’t every day occurrences.  Throw in a guy walking on water, calming storms and raising the dead, skepticism sets in, unable to rationalize the impossible.  However, as archeologists uncover chariots on the bottom of the Red Sea, find a giant boat in the middle of the  mountains in Turkey and artifacts that proved Jesus lived during the first century, maybe this isn’t as far fetched as once thought.

One thing is certain, people are going to believe what they want to believe.  Each religion will emphasize, interpret and slant information in their favor.  Meanwhile, each church, mosque and temple will de-emphasize certain facts to lean others toward their particular worldview.  In the end, I can’t force anyone to believe what I do.  All I can do is present angles, details and elements that might one day lead someone to say, “I am sure about that!”

by Jay Mankus

Lifting Up Friends

starbucks coffee photo: starbucks-coffee starbucks-coffee.jpg

On Friday, I met a good friend for coffee for nearly 2 hours.  Though I tend not to be a big talker, God compelled me to respond to his questions.  While I may not have eased his concerns, deep within my soul came an urge to lift up this friend up in prayer.  Therefore, I took a few moments before I began working, asking the Lord to bring a glimmer of hope to the uncertainty within his mind.  A few hours later, I received a text which  revealed an open door, a potential full time position and free college tuition for his 2 children.

Listening to Casting Crowns after an 11 hour shift brought this idea to light, lifting up friends in prayer,  The lyrics of their song, Prayer for a Friend is a simple remember of what asking God for something in Jesus’ name can do, John 14:13-14.  The skeptic will say, “its just a coincidence, mere chance that your friend received good news.”  Yet, this is the second time in a month that God moved in a matter of hours after meeting together.  Any way you attempt to explain this, lifting up friends in prayer is one of the few remaining solutions to turn your life or a friend’s around.

The last 2 years has been a struggle for me and my family on numerous levels.  When you and your spouse lose your dream jobs, most of your friends through a church split and are left with an ever increasing financial crunch, doubt, helplessness and frustration blew in like a spring storm.  After the bitterness, complaining and whining cease, lifting up my wife and kids in prayer is my only option.  Thus, while pain and regret still exist, its time to fall down on my knees, look up to heaven and cry out to God, lifting up to my best friend to the One who can alter our future.  In Christ alone, help is on the way, Philippians 4:13.  Call on Him today!

by Jay Mankus

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