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When Your Mind Get’s in the Way

Depending upon how you were raised, parents give advice, guidance and warnings as you grow up.  Some of the common phrases of my generation were “think before you speak, open mouth insert foot” and simply “think.”  These words suggest that sometimes your mind gets in the way.

But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!”  – Numbers 13:31

In the Old Testament, God had promised Israel a new land flowing with milk and honey.  Before entering this place, Moses sent out a team to explore this region.  Known as the 12 Spies, only two brought back a positive report.  The other ten were misled by minds gripped with fear.  This first glance underestimated the power of God as their minds got in the way.

 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it,” Numbers 13:30.

In the end, the voices of Caleb and Joshua were silenced by the majority.  However, if you want to overcome doubt, leaders must raise their voices to convince the feeble and weak.  The next time you hear a crowd minimizing the power of God, step out in faith to persuade the masses.  If you don’t the human mind will get in the way, leaving you outside of the blessings God has in store for you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

Songs to Get You Through the Storms in Life

When radio was in it’s prime, I spent summer days as a teenager hanging out on my back deck with friends listening to music.  Except for all request lunch hours, you could guess which dozens songs were played on an hourly loop until the next set of singles were released.  The only thing comparable from this era that remains today is Delilah Radio.  One of the few DJ’s to survive advances in technology, Delilah’s nightly show plays songs to get it’s listeners through the storms of life.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6.

Like the various genres that exist, my tastes in music has evolved over time.  Early on, I turned to songs from Air Supply, Chicago and REO Speedwagon to get me through trying times.  Unfortunately, some of these songs made me more depressed, especially ballads by Chicago.  Thus, I began searching for something more meaningful.  Lyrics with encouraging, positive and uplifting messages.  My good friend Mindy introduced me to a new sound, inviting me to my first Christian concert.  My swim coach Ken Horne who also served as the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s school huddle leader, furthered my knowledge of this brand of wholesome music.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27

These two individual inspired a life long quest to uncover hidden gems.  This lead me to discover a huge Christian warehouse where I could listen to music before buying it.  Meanwhile, Jackie, the former owner of the Sonshine House was my guide to find my favorite songs played a new local Christian station.  When I didn’t have anyone to ask, I developed a successful system based upon album covers.  Those artists who spent a little extra money on design and graphics usually produced solid tunes.  Sure, I bought plenty of duds void of any decent songs, yet I pressed on to share my passion with others.

Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him., 1 Samuel 16:23.
On this journey, I came across Christians who practiced legalism, referring to any secular form of music as being inspired by the Devil.  Years later I read a quote from Wes King in an article on the difference between Christian and secular music.  King’s opinion struck a cord with me that I have adopted.  “There are two types of music, that which glorifies God and those that glorify self.”  Depending upon your preference, you need to make sure you don’t get caught up judging the opposing side.  Rather, it’s best to seek and tell others about those songs which help you overcome the storms in life.  Below is a list of artists and topics that have helped me endure various hardships in life.
Crying Out for Help: Breathe on Me by Jennifer Knapp
Coping with Suicide: For Annie by Petra
Finding Answers: Is There Anybody Out There by Secondhand Serenade
Finding New Life: The Lost Get Found (remix) by Britt Nicole
God’s Presence: Hold On by Stellar Kart
Holding on to Hope: The Anchor Holds by Ray Boltz
Loneliness: He Won’t Let You Go by The Kry
Long Distance Friendships: Somewhere Somehow by Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith
Overcoming Addiction: Pull by Curious Fools
Perseverance: For Those Who Wait by Firefight
Starting Over: A Father’s Love by Billy Crockett
Seeking Forgiveness: When God Ran by Benny Hester
Starting Over: Back to the Start by Esterlyn
Struggling with Integrity: Get it Right by Silverline
Struggling with Problems in Life: Therapy by Reliant K
The Fullness of God: The Love of Christ by Wes King
Overcoming Failure: Perfect Love by David & the Giants
Overcoming Self-Esteem Issue: Mirror by Barlow Girl
When You’re About to Quit: Six Candles by FM Static
When You’re Losing Faith: Faith Like That by Jonah 33
by Jay Mankus

Giving God Some Space

When I was in high school, it wasn’t uncommon for a girl to tell her boy friend that she needed some space.  What girls were trying to say to guys like me was she needed time away to clear her mind.  Somehow I was suffocating this relationship and freedom was necessary to let this individual breathe.  Unfortunately, this conversation usually meant the beginning of the end, a nice way to say I’m breaking up with you.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, James 4:14.

If you apply this concept to God, countless individuals express this with their own actions, not making time for the Lord daily.  However, this assumes that people actually took time to invite God into their lives initially.  As churches close down, go out of business or are forced to join another congregations to survive, it appears that Jesus is low on our priority list.  Instead giving God some space to work within your heart, soul and mind, busy schedules drown out the Holy Spirit’s whisper to draw near.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, 2 Peter 3:8.

Last weekend I heard a local missionary speak about giving God same space.  What she meant by this expression is opening your calendar to allow God to speak.  Whether it’s a day, week or month, stop what you are doing and begin listening for the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my own life that I ignore God completely.  Christians can’t expect to spend eternity in heaven if they haven’t invested any time on earth storing up heavenly treasures.  In view of this fear, get up a little earlier, stay up later or get away over the weekend to give God some space to invigorate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Dreams Unlike Any Other

One of the least studied areas of the human mind is the power of dreaming.  Sometimes dreams are influenced by something you experienced, heard or saw earlier in the day.  This is the case of Julia Ward who passed by Union soldier’s singing a song about John Brown’s body on her way to the Willard Hotel.  The next night Julia Ward had a dream where the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic came to here.  This was truly a dream like any other.

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

When I was in college, I attended a local accountable group in Newark, Delaware.  While this group rotated homes on and off, we began meeting at my friend Eric’s house.  There were occasional nights where individuals drifted off on tangents, but most evenings I tried to stay on task, holding people to the promises and vows made the prior week.  On one particular evening, I couldn’t resist adding my own two cents, “why do you keep giving the same lame excuse time after time.”  That night I had a dream that I was in a bookstore.  When I turned the corner, I saw a book with a title exactly what Eric needed to help improve his quiet times with God.  Later that week, I went to look for some new music at a nearby Christian bookstore when I actually lived my dream.  Except, in this case as I turned the corner I bought this book, sharing my supernatural experience the following week.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” Acts 2:17.

According to a first century doctor, the Holy Spirit will usher in a future time where people of all ages will experience dreams and visions.  Although no exact time is mentioned, an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit will be the sign from heaven.  I won’t speculate whether this time has passed or is yet to come, but I will not limit what God can do.  Whether it’s the inspiration for a famous song or a call to action to help a friend,  I can’t wait to pass on the next amazing testimony about dreams unlike any other.

by Jay Mankus

When Confidence Fades Away

There was a time in my life when I believed that I could do anything.  A few months after graduating from the University of Delaware, I felt like I was missing something.  This emptiness led me to pursue a leadership trade school in Minnesota called Tentmakers.  Following my completion of this youth ministry training in March of 1993, I was equipped with the tools I was previously missing.  This training propelled me to new levels of confidence.  Unfortunately, beginning in 1994 this confidence faded away, never to fully recapture again.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

During my fifteen years of coaching, I’ve seen similar situations occur on the athletic field.  Golf is probably the one sport where confidence is essential.  One day golfers may flirt with shooting par and the next can’t break 50 for 9 holes.  Meanwhile, I’ve seen dominant pitchers be unhittable one day and the next can’t find the strike zone.  Confidence is like fuel that drives individuals.  When it runs out its easy for people to become lost, a shell of who they once were.

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught, Proverbs 3:26.

There is a term which refers to someone floundering, flopping back and forth without any sense of direction.  This state is often a by product of confidence that fades away.  If you have ever reached this point in life like me, Solomon encourages people to lean on God.  While you may not regain the heights you once obtained, the Lord promises to restore hope to those who have endured the pain of lost confidence.

by Jay Mankus

Just Another Part of Life

Christopher Bullock was one of the first Americans to coin the phrase, “there are 2 certainties in life: death and taxes.”  In a letter written by Benjamin Franklin following the creation of the United States Constitution, Franklin relayed this painful reality in 1789.  Thus, every April Americans scramble to collect paperwork to meet the filing deadline.  Yes, taxes is just another part of life.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

Modern quotes have added one more element: life, death and taxes.  Unfortunately, death is one of those topics most people shy away from talking about.  The idea of never being able to see or talk to someone for the rest of your life is scary.  This fear places future conversations on hold until accidents, illness or old age arrives unexpectedly.  Funerals force the issue as human beings return to the same dust from which God created Adam.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also, John 14:3.

The older you get, it seems like weddings are replaced by funerals, bringing the reality of death to the forefront.  Yet, if you listen to the clergy who perform these ceremonies, there is an assumption that everyone goes to heaven.  I guess celebrating eternal damnation doesn’t draw a large crowd so the other choice is a better option.  While death is a certainty, heaven is not guaranteed.  Therefore, before you leave this earth, make sure your reservation is secured, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fear Tactics

Angst, dread and panic are words synonomous with fear.  When some individuals are about to lose control or power, fear tactics are employed to manipulated others.  This process can get ugly, exposing evil intentions from within.  Unfortunately, this scene is replayed daily across the country resulting in concern, distress and horror.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

When teaching the first century about the Devil, Jesus refers to this fallen angel as a thief.  This spiritual bully has a playbook of fear tactics attempting steal, kill and destroy souls.  Unfortunately, this attack is invisible, enticing, luring and tempting unknowing accomplishes to do his own dirty work.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies, John 8:44.

Sometimes I read too much into someone’s actions.  Yet, I have experienced moments where Satan used a stranger to verbally assault me.  This happened a few times when I was in youth ministry and teaching.  My initial thought was “what the hell is going on?”  Yet, after a few days of reflecting and seeking discernment from others, I realized these events were merely fear tactics inspired by demonic powers seeking to steal my joy in life.  When the father of lies comes knocking at your door, guard yourself with a hedge of protection through prayer.

by Jay Mankus