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Author Archives: expressyourself4him

Mental Health: Exploring What Well-Being Means

According to preliminary reports, Nikolas Cruz was suffering from mental health issues before entering a Parkland Florida high school with a gun on Valentine’s Day.  Some people close to the family believe the death of his adopted mother last year only worsened his condition.  Perhaps, this might explain behavioral problems that resulted in the expulsion from two private schools.  Yet, if mental health refers to a level of psychological well-being, what does this really mean?

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

Who determines what level of behavior or emotion is satisfactory and what is unsatisfactory?  Depending upon the measurement or standard applied, experts might come to different conclusions.  Another factor relates to the role that faith and religion should play in this discussion.  On a recent episode of the View, Joy Behar mocked vice-president’s Mike Pence’s Christian faith.  Behar believes that anyone who hears God speak to them either through Bible Study or prayer is a sign of mental illness.  This comment received laughter and applause from the audience.  Sadly, no one is laughing days after 17 people were killed with more in critical condition in south Florida hospitals.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ, Colossians 2:8.

The Bible uses a two part process to decipher mental health from mental illness.  According to the apostle Paul, those who dwell and focus on spiritual things experience peace of mind.  Meanwhile, those who reflect upon earthly cravings lead to unfulfilled lives, void of purpose and meaning.  Anyone who falls into this second catalog is vulnerable to human traditions and philosophies of the world.  In a recent confession, Nikolas Cruz said he acted upon the demons in his mind, a byproduct of his obsession with guns and violent video games.  Therefore, if you want to alter your current state, set your heart and mind on things above.  This is accomplished through daily Bible study, fellowship with other believers and prayer.  May a desire to exercise this practice elevate the well-being of your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

A Glimpse of Insanity

On October 21st, 2007 Kyle Walker was suspended from a New Jersey school.  This seven year old had been a bad boy, drawing a stick figure of a gun.  This act violated the school board’s zero-tolerance policy when Kyle’s picture was seen by another student on his bus. Amid mounting pressure from atheist groups and concerned parents, Orange County public schools in Florida banned the Bible from being distributed to students according to a January 14th, 2015 article.  Surely, the presence of absolutes upon which this country was founded is too offensive for progressive minds to handle.  Meanwhile, football coaches Gary Weiss of Catalina High School and Joe Kennedy of Bremerton, Washington were each fired for standing up for their players rights to pray before and after each game.  Not willing to be silenced by administrators, these men lost their jobs for following what each believed to be good, right and true.

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.

These are just a few examples of what public education is trying to teach millennials.  Based upon these four accounts, what are students really learning.  First, guns are bad, even if a kindergarten shows an interest in hunting by drawing an image of a stick gun.  Second, the Bible is a dangerous book.  This piece of literature reflects a period of American history that many current leaders are ashamed of, attempting to right the wrongs of the past.  Finally, the first amendment does not apply to prayer.  Any administrator, coach or teacher who seeks to express their faith in the form of prayer will be punished, reprimanded and in recent cases lose their jobs.  When you add up all of these teachable moments, I am beginning to see a glimpse of insanity as right has become wrong and wrong has become right.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him, James 1:5.

Thus, as you hear, see or read updates on February 14th’s school shooting at a Parkland high school in South Florida, keep this mind.  In the next few days, guns will be blamed for Nikolas Cruz’ shooting rampage that has killed 17 with more in critical condition.  As facts begin to surface, this young man had been kicked out of two private schools prior to be kicked out of a third, the one he re-entered on Valentine’s Day.  I’m not sure about security for a school of over 3000 students, but I’m sure measures will be taken to prevent future attacks.  The high school that my two boys have attended have a cop car parked outside the front and only entrance.  Meanwhile, the doors are locked as visitors can only enter the school through the main office.  When one student exercises freewill by giving into evil desires, common sense doesn’t apply.  Thus, as you begin to form your own beliefs about this shooting, don’t overlook the obvious.  When absolutes are de-emphasized and replaced by opinions, the door is opened for a glimpse of insanity to enter public schools.

by Jay Mankus

Whose Hands Are You Holding?

Assurance, confidence, dependence and expectation are words associated with trust.  Human beings have a tendency to become co-dependent, relying on someone or something.  In the Peanuts Cartoon, Charles Schultz developed a character, Linus, who couldn’t function without his security blanket.  Meanwhile, some individuals can be insecure, clinging to family, friends or strangers when loneliness sets in.  Depending upon the circumstance, whose hands you hold during times of trials reflect whom you ultimately trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

One day, a father took his son aside to discuss an important life lesson.  This conversation is condensed in the passage above.  Solomon who received wisdom from the Lord passed his insight down to one of his many sons.  This command goes against mainstream beliefs, urging readers to hold God’s hand when you don’t understand why something is happening.  Like faith in the dark, when life takes unexpected twists and turns, trust in the Lord with all your heart.  This action suggests that you are all in, clinging to God’s hand.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! – Psalm 40:4

Solomon’s father, David, provides his own perspective of trust in the passage above.  From a man who went from a lowly shepherd to king of Israel, David recognizes God’s role in his ascension to the throne.  David views his status as a blessing from trusting the Lord as a child.  Unfortunately, some people handle success poorly, boasting and taking all the credit themselves.  If you want to guard against arrogance and pride, make sure that you are holding God’s hand, looking up instead of trusting in your own understanding.

by Jay Mankus

The Ghost of Worry

Apparitions, phantoms and shadows are often associated with ghosts.  Television channels like Destination America are feeding this craze with a series of programming related to paranormal activity.  Whether you are talking about ghost towns, haunted houses or demonic encounters, there are so many spirits roaming this country and throughout the world.    One of these invisible presences is the ghost of worry.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27

Worry is the little bug or gnat that constantly pesters you.  This nuisance can be emotionally draining, sucking any joy that you may have out of your life.  If you allow this force to continue to wear on your soul, stress levels can explode resulting in panic attacks.  In the passage above, Jesus uses common sense to address the ghost of worry.  Instead of dwelling of things that you can’t control, trust God to provide what you need.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them, Matthew 6:28-32.

When I was a child, if I took too much food at the dinner table and did not finish it, my parents often said, “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”  If the ghost of worry gets the best of you each week, your mind is bigger than your faith.  Revealing God’s special care and concern for nature and wildlife, Jesus illustrates how the Lord provides for the most basic elements on earth.  Therefore, if you want to perform an exorcism on worry, seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.  If you adhere to this advice, the ghost of worry will slowly dissipate as God provides for each of your needs.

by Jay Mankus

 

What’s In Your Heart is Making You Cold

Lately, I haven’t been myself.  Not just lately; rather for several years or so.  I usually have I good sense of perception, in touch with how I feel and why.  Yet, now I am lost, grasping at straws to comprehend the frustration within me.  Perhaps, knowing I’m not where God wants me to be and not doing anything about it is to blame.  Nonetheless, I heard a quote on the radio yesterday that might have diagnosed my problem,”what’s in your heart is making you cold.”

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

Music tends to speak to me when I am depressed.  This quote reminds me of Foreigner’s classic song Cold as Ice from the 1977 album Feels Like the First Time.  The context of this song refers to a woman’s actions, suggesting a broken relationship has occurred and the interactions are tense, like a cold hearted soul who doesn’t care about you.  The prophet Jeremiah writes about the complex nature of human heart in the passage above.  I guess the heart is unpredictable, expressing what’s inside of you in the form of cruel words or harsh behavior as detailed by Jesus in Luke 6:43-45.

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.

Diagnosing any problem is the first step, but without a solution, broken hearts will continue to convey negative emotions.  Thus, another prophet provides a prayer outline for any one who is willing to change.  This new spirit is like transforming your perspective from negative toward the positive.  Any change will take a transitional period to break old habits.  Yet, for those who bring your dirty laundry to the feet of Christ, Matthew 11:28-30, the heavy burdens on your heart can be eased.  As time proceeds, may your prayers for change exchange regret with God’s grace and love.

by Jay Mankus

Doing Whatever It Takes

As a parent, I can anticipate failure before a grade is given or the final score is relayed.  The secret to this insight is simple, hard work is often rewarded and laziness is penalized.  For me, the most painful aspect of parenting is seeing the potential your child has yet being unable to convince them to do whatever it takes to ensure success.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

For those of you who coach or teach, this same dilemma exists.  How do you express someone’s gifts or talents without trying to live your life through them?  In the film Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays a psychologist who is introduced to a genius played by Matt Damon with a troubled past.  These secret scars, hidden from plain view prevent Will from doing whatever it took to apply his knowledge in a positive manner.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” John 14:15.

Today, the future is bright, but too many young people don’t have the resolve necessary to see their dreams come true.  Sure, the average teenager wants to have a great life, but this doesn’t happen with a snap of your finger.  Only the disciplined, driven and hungry will begin to see the fruits of their labor.  Thus, a parent can encourage, inspire or motivate their offspring.  In the end, a parent can only pray that their child develops a zeal to follow God’s will on earth.  The key to this fulfillment is doing whatever it takes.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Survived for a Reason

On the evening of November 14, 1970, the plane carrying members of the Marshall University football team crashed just before landing in Huntington West Virginia.  This tragedy took the lives of 37 football players, 25 boosters, 5 coaches, 2 athletic trainers, the athletic director and 5 members of the flight crew.  When assistant coach William Dawson played by Matthew Fox switches places with another coach to drive home from East Carolina to recruit future players, he is filled with a sense of guilt.  Instead of reflecting upon why he was alive, Coach Dawson struggled to cope with this ordeal.  This event inspired the 2006 film We Are Marshall.

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure, Psalm 18:32.

If a cat has 9 lives, some people has escaped death multiple times throughout this life.  Some circumstances are less obvious like losing your keys momentarily before passing a fatal car accident that you may have been part of and killed.  On September 11th, 2001, documentaries have revealed individuals who didn’t go to work at the World Trade Center that day or cancelled their flight last second due to a sudden emergency.  When I was in college, I was part of a head on collision where my car was pushed backwards 25 feet or so after contact.  If it wasn’t for my God given quick reflexes, my friend and I may have died before graduating from college.  Thus, I am forced to ponder, you survived for a reason.

You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way, Psalm 18:36.

Perhaps, the Lord knew that I would forego a career as a golf course architect to become a youth pastor, high school Bible teacher and inspirational writer.  I know that I have ignored, missed or skipped over other callings, but there is one reason why God has kept me alive, to highlight meaningful truths from the Bible.  The passage above doesn’t reveal much unless you have run cross country or trained for long distance races.  Twisting your ankle is easy to do when terrain is uneven, holes are hidden or the ground gives way.  Yet, David, a shepherd wearing the equivalent of cheap scandals all day covering various topographies, trusted God to protect his ankles and feet from harm.  The more Christians begin to read, reflect upon and starting claiming God’s promises within your own life, the Holy Spirit will help you understand why you are still here on earth.

by Jay Mankus