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Tag Archives: fear

It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It

It doesn’t take much for a coach, parent or teacher to get under a teenager’s skin.  Sometimes the tone chosen is demeaning.  Others come across as pompous or smug, alienating the individual they are talking to.  Meanwhile, impatient adults have a tendency to take out their frustrations upon young people, creating an even greater generational gap.  This disconnect proves that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When you are reading a book, sometimes the context of previous events isn’t a hundred percent clear.  Thus, you are forced to go back to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.  In the passage above, you have to understand who Saul was before he changed his name to Paul.  This former Pharisee was a perfectionist, critical by nature, eager to point out flaws.  Therefore, the words Paul choses serves as a reminder to himself and his leaders within the church at Ephesus to focus on the positive, not the negative.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While writing a letter to a teenager, Paul reveals an important truth about the Holy Spirit.  Although the world tends to emphasize imperfections, staying optimistic isn’t impossible.  Rather, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is self-control, the discipline to control your own tongue.  The language you choose to express daily is a conscious decision.  Unfortunately, many don’t realize the power of words.  Every coarse joke, put down and sarcastic remark influences others in a negative manner.  Therefore, make sure the next time you open your mouth, you think before speaking for it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

by Jay Mankus

 

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The Fight for the Family

I heard an interesting saying last weekend while listening to a sermon on television.  During a conversation about parenting at church an elder replied, “when children stop listening to parents, they begin following what adults practice.”  These habits develop, form and shape what young people become.  When adults become hypocritical in the eyes of their children, the ability to have a lasting influence is lost.  This is where the fight for your family often begins.

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows, Nehemiah 4:13.

In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Nehemiah received news that the walls surrounding Jerusalem were broken down, leaving the people of Judah in danger.  Serving as a cupbearer to the king, similar to the secret service today, Nehemiah got approval to take some time away to oversee the rebuilding of the wall.  While fasting and praying, Nehemiah received a vision that enabled the construction to be completed in less than two months.  This job was completed so fast due to motivation, fixing the portion of wall closest to your home.  This concept inspired families to take ownership of their portion of the wall, eager to fight for and protect their neighbors.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

In modern times, the fight for your family is becoming more complicated.  Recently, parents of Charlie Gard were not allowed to leave the country to receive experimental medical attention.  Subsequently, Charlie was left to die in the hospital.  Depending upon the laws of your country, state or city, government regulations in some cases are taking away the rights of parents.  Meanwhile, progressive political views are slowly eradicating Judeo Christian values from American culture.  Those who stand up for the Bible are regularly maligned, ridiculed and shunned by the mainstream media.  If Christian continue to cave and fold to public pressure, traditional families will be a thing of the past.  In view of this fear, apply the words of the apostle Paul by fighting the good fight of faith. in changing times to fight for your family.

by Jay Mankus

 

I Never Knew You

There are various classifications of friendship which exist.  Work related individuals whom you share a relationship with based upon your occupation is one category.  You may have social friends who you share a common interest in or with like dancing, karaoke or sports.  However, most people usually only have a small handful of individuals who actually know you.  Yet, even within this closely knitted network, there is a hesitancy to withhold information.  This fear keeps scars from the past unspoken, secrets locked deep within your soul.  This lack of trust keeps many friendships at a distance, never knowing the true you.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 7:21.

This same concept applies to relationships with God.  Whether you were introduced to church as an infant, youth or adult, it takes time to grasp and understand the nature of God.  Those who attempt to make up for lost time often become overwhelmed by all the mysteries in life that go unanswered.  During a high school youth group, I was introduced to the trust illustration.  You stand up on a chair or stage, then fall back hoping your peers will catch you before you hit the ground.  This exercise helped me realize that I wasn’t trusting God completely.  Rather, I was doing everything in my power to maintain control, yielding to God only when I wasn’t strong enough.  If I continued on this path, I would end up like the people Jesus refers to in Matthew 7.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ – Matthew 7:22

Despite from wanting to exempt myself from the scenario above, I can’t say for sure that I don’t fit into this category.  I have back tracked, slipped and fallen from my spiritual high as a high school Bible teacher for a decade.  Yet, somehow I have lost my way, unable to find the support system that I need to regain that faith I once possessed.  I guess the passage above serves as a warning, not to be complacent, thinking you have arrived spiritually.  Rather, Jesus’ words humbled me, a reminder to get back to discovering and following God’s will in my living years.  If not, we all might hear the chilling voice of Jesus say, “away from me, for I never knew you.”

by Jay Mankus

 

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