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Tag Archives: faith

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

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

 

Finally A Champion

 

My father played college football at the University of Pennsylvania from 1961 to 1964.  At this time, the Philadelphia Eagles played their home games at Franklin Field, the Quakers stadium on campus.  My father got to know some of these players, fresh off the 1960 championship team led by Norm Van Brocklin on offense and Tommy McDonald on the defensive side.  Human nature suggested another championship was close, possibly just around the corner, yet none came while my dad was a college student living in Philadelphia.

Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! – Psalm 35:23

When the team that you are on or cheer for is not victorious, losing takes its toll.  If seasons lead to decades and decades to half centuries, negative thoughts turn fans into cynics.  This loser mentality causes individuals to expect the worst, turning self fulfilled prophecies into reality.  Perhaps this may explain why national sports writers labeled the city of Philadelphia, negadelphia.  As this championship drought continued for 57 years, people struggling with self-esteem issues adopted the Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers or 49ers as their team.  This front runner mentality further alienated diehard Eagles fans from those who jumped off the Wentz Wagon after Carson’s season ending injury.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.

Yet, it took a Christian head coach, Doug Peterson, a man of faith who painted a vision that his team began to embrace to lead the way.  Fellow believers, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, took turns passing the baton as quarterback, from one to the other, putting the team in front of selfish ambitions.  Thus, this group of under dogs did what the experts said was impossible, to beat the greatest coach and quarterback combination of all time.  When the clock finally struck zero after Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass feel incomplete in Super Bowl 52, what Philadelphia fans dreamed of, hoped for and prayed about came true.  By the grace of God, the Philadelphia Eagles are finally a champion.

by Jay Mankus

Turning Procrastination Into Desire

In the minutes leading up to your lunch break or end of the day bell, signs of procrastination come forth.  To pass the time, there is a temptation to remain idle, delaying or loitering as much as possible without being noticed.  Others who are forced to endure deadlines, wait until  the last possible moment to begin, relying on adrenaline to finish on time.  This pattern may be effective for some, but after any failure in life, guilt tends to prompt individuals to consider a change, turning procrastination into desire.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied, Proverbs 13:4.

In the book Communicating with a Purpose, procrastination is the fourth barrier to effective communication.  After rejection, indifference and skepticism, the last two hurdles to clear are procrastination and fear.  The author uses dreaming as a technique to help people visualize success.  When a group or audience fails to act immediately, remind each person of the ideal outcome, what could be or should be if desire is exercised.  Once inspiration is conceived, motivated hearts can turn procrastination into desire.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:15-17.

After spending a year and a half in Corinth, the apostle Paul had a limited schedule.  Thus, his stay in Ephesus is brief, eager to maximize his time with Jewish converts to Christianity.  During his short stint, Paul reassures this new church that if you commit to the apostles teaching, following the blue print found within Acts 2:42-47, success is possible.  Seizing each day, Paul was driven to cast out any thought of procrastination with desire fueled by faith.  May this blog help you resuscitate hope, joy and the motivation to change for the better.

by Jay Mankus

 

Knowing, Believing and Claiming

To promote higher forms of thinking in education, Dr. Benjamin Bloom introduced six learning domains in 1956.  Each domain serves as a building block, applying knowledge one level at a time.  Today, Bloom’s Taxonomy uses remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating to ensure that words spoken in classrooms don’t fall upon deaf ears.  On the spiritual side of knowledge, D. James Kennedy developed Evangelism Explosion in the 1970’s so that individuals introduced to the Bible would go beyond just knowing.  One of the terms Kennedy crafted within training materials is mere intellectual assent.  This theological saying refers to people who knows something to be true within their minds but doesn’t act upon this information.  According to the brother of Jesus, faith without deeds is dead, resulting in a shallow foundation, susceptible to being completely uprooted by schemes of the Devil.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder, James 1:19.

Belief is based upon awareness to something that makes sense or convincing evidence which gives credence to what you thought to be true.  The closer one gets toward the truth, doubt slowly disappears.  However, if the source for what you believe contains contradictions, inconsistencies and misleading statements, faith will be stunted.  Jesus’ earthly brother James brings up a valid point when considering belief in the passage above.  Merely believing in God doesn’t make you special as even demons, servants of the Devil acknowledge this fact.  Thus, if you regularly attend church, give a monthly tithe and strive to do good works, this is a good start but not the top of the mountain.  The author of one New Testament book dedicates an entire chapter, Hebrews 11 to illustrate what genuine belief looks like, faith in action.

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it, John 14:10-14.

If Benjamin Bloom were to create spiritual learning domains today, knowing, believing and claiming would suffice for the initial three stages.  Early in the first century the illiteracy rate was high, forcing the uneducated to rely on hearing rather than reading.  Romans 10:17 reveals that churches gathered together in homes, synagogues or down by a river to publicly read out loud parts of the Old Testament and available letters written by apostles.  Meanwhile, James 1:22-27 encourages individuals to become doers of the Word, practicing belief.  Sensing religion is worthless without applying what you believe, James urges his audience to care for orphans and widows.  The final level of faith is introduced by Jesus in the passage above.  If you know and believe, claiming God’s promises is the next logical step.  This spiritual exercise is accomplished through praying over passages of the Bible.  Depending upon what you are dealing with, modern technology can give you a verse in seconds with a click of a mouse, providing a powerful weapon.  Those who mature from knowing to believing and onto claiming may begin to experience untapped potential, taking Jesus at his word to bless those who believe.  I pray that these words inspire you to take your faith to the next level by claiming God’s promises in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

All You Zombies

 

My first introduction to the concept of zombies came in the form of Creature Double Feature presentations each Saturday.  This syndicated horror show began airing on the east coast in the 1970’s.  Since I lived just outside of Philadelphia at the time, I was intrigued by the thought of watching movies usually reserved for theaters.  About a decade later, the Hooters, a up and coming band from Philadelphia released All You Zombies, a single from their second album Nervous Night.  Using biblical references from the Old Testament, the lyrics contain a stanza where the band asks God, “where have your children gone,” hiding in the dark.  The context suggests fear, peer pressure and sin cause many human beings to become like zombies, void of the abundant life within John 10:10.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life, Matthew 27:51-52.

Recently, the fascination with zombies has been brought to the forefront through The Walking Dead on AMC.  Premiering in the United States on October 31, 2010, this series uses a post-apocalyptic setting where Rick Grimes plays a sheriff deputy who awakens from coma only to find the world overrun by zombies.  However, you don’t have to resort to Hollywood or science fiction to believe in zombies.  All you have to do is read the accounts within the four gospels of the Bible to find the origin of the term zombies.  Matthew was an eye witness to this strange but true event.  In the minutes following Jesus’ resurrection, the bodies of holy figures mentioned in the body came out from their tombs.  If the holy city refers to Jerusalem, the Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a film that debuted in 1968.  Rather, saints of the past walked through the capital of Israel either in grave clothes or in a resurrected form appearing to many people until Jesus ascended into heaven forty days later.

They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people, Matthew 27:53.

Thirty five years after the Hooters released All You Zombies, the call remains the same.  As a chorus in this song proclaims, “You don’t have to hide anymore!”  Sure, we all have hidden sins, secret scars or parts of your life that you are be ashamed.  Nonetheless, God wants his children to break free of their past by coming toward the light of Christ.  Many people wait as long as possible, hoping someone comes along to stand with them.  Yet, faith requires trust, not walking by sight.  Individuals must place their eyes toward heaven, praying for the Holy Spirit to guide you where to go and what to do.  Perhaps, this is why a disciple introduced the readers of his gospel to the power of numbers, Matthew 18:19-20.  When two or more are gathered, God’s power is unleashed.  May this blog inspire you to come out of your comfort zone to serve God by using all of your talents and gifts.

by Jay Mankus