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Tag Archives: love

When Did You Stop Living?

As an adult, there are moments in life when I miss the simplicity of my childhood years.  The innocence of youth shielded me from the concerns of my parents.  When I was free from major responsibilities, I never really appreciated the numerous blessings God showered my life.  As I have traded places from child to parent and guardian of three children, I have stopped living somewhere along the way during this transitional period.

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God, Mark 10:14.

This overwhelming sense of conviction consumed me after listening to a song from my past.  When a high school friend introduced me to Christian music. I began a life long journey to uncover hidden gems that express an uplifting message.  This quest led me to Plankeye, a group which began as metal, moved toward classic rock and produced a dance album as well.  After listening to a single from the 1996 Commonwealth album, the lyrics of Bicycle inspired this blog.

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, Philippians 4:8.

This song refers to the dialogue between a son and his parents.  Apparently, his parents believed their son got married way too early in life.  Despite this young man’s initial struggles, he is living out his dream with the woman he loves.  In response to this criticism, the son replies, “when did you stop living anyway?”  At some point, parents give up on ever fulfilling the dreams of their childhood.  When doubt creeps into minds, a lack of faith prevent adults from taking chances, risking failure.  May these words inspire you to get on with your life, to face your fears and conquer the mountains currently blocking you from fulfilling God’s will on earth.

by Jay Mankus

A Father’s Love

Dr. John Gray refers to men being from Mars and women from Venus.  The distinctions Gray makes in his famous book Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus provides insight into understanding the opposite sex.  Thus, the manner in which women express love is far different from men.  This fact must be considered as Father’s Day arrives since a father’s love takes time to comprehend.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16.

As a son of an immigrant, my dad came to this country with the clothes on his back.  Dedication to his work as a chemical engineer prevented me from spending time with my father early on as a child.  Living the American dream requires sacrifice, something I didn’t understand then but I do now.  The resolve my father demonstrated to provide a better life for his family was his way of displaying a father’s love.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him, 1 John 4:16.

In 1989, Billy Crocket released an album entitled Basic Stuff.  There was nothing basic about the lyrics of A Father’s Love, the hit ballad from this project.  The image this song paints highlight’s the father in the parable of the prodigal.  After exercising freewill, taking his inheritance, this curious son squandered everything his dad had accumulated for him.  Instead of remaining bitter, this father sat on a front porch, hoping and waiting for his son to come home.  May this classic song and blog help you appreciate the various ways earthly dad’s express a father’s love.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

How to Recover From a Demoralized Soul

Every time I hear, read and see a news story about suicide, part of me wonders how bad were things in someone’s life to follow through with killing themselves?  Breaking news of the latest victims to suicide, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade is a daily reminder of a growing number of demoralized souls that exist within society.  According to Matthew 27:3, guilt and remorse convinced Judas Iscariot to take his own life.  With most of the disciples hiding to escape the same fate of Jesus, there was no one to talk Judas out of this ill fated decision.

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4.

Besides suicide, other demoralized souls tend to follow in the footsteps of the woman mentioned in John’s gospel.  When broken hearts, jaded minds and fragile souls stop caring, some go looking for love in all the wrong places.  During a conversation within John 4:15-18, Jesus talks to a woman who had gone through five failed marriages.  To avoid another divorce, she decided to live with her latest boyfriend, afraid of what the future may hold.  Whether you are currently in a relationship or not, the Bible does provide solutions to recover from a demoralized soul.

Blessed [happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God] is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the [victor’s] crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). James 1:12-14.

If you listen to certain television evangelists, their messages paint a rosy colored perspective on life, emphasizing only the positive.  Unfortunately, this is far from reality, something Jesus’ earthly brother addresses in the passages above.  Trials should not only be expected, but embraced by believers.  These unsettling events provide opportunities for growth, to cope, deal with and develop maturity.  Each day offers teachable moments, like a pass fail test to let you know your strengths and weaknesses.  The key is refusing to give up or quit, despite how you may feel.  The ultimate goal is to remain steadfast, leaning on friends, family and faith to get you through trials and tribulations.  As long as you understand what you are up against, joy and peace is attainable via the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  The next time you are demoralized, cry out to Jesus in prayer to find comfort for your soul, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus

Forgiveness Opens the Door for Love

One of the barriers standing between forgiveness is stubborn hearts as certain individuals are unable to forgive or forget a previous transgression.  This unwillingness to let go of the pain inflicted shuts the door on the potential for love.  This reluctance sets the stage for bitterness, like an invisible poison that slowly kills relationships.  Unless there is a willingness to let God in to mend and repair fences, reconciliation is merely a dream.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will], Revelation 3:19.

In the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, John gives an honest assessment of seven churches.  While a few receive compliments, several are exposed for previous actions, beliefs and deeds.  Despite this list of flaws, John uses an analogy of a door to illustrate free will.  God is willing to offer forgiveness, yet souls must demonstrate an enthusiastic spirit of repentance.  Every day God is like an eager visitor, knocking on the door of your heart, but the Lord waits for your invitation.  There is no forced entry.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant to him [the privilege] to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:20-21.

At the end of this passage, God reveals another obstacle in the way of forgiveness.  Overcoming the world involves mindsets, philosophies and traditions that have become embraced by most of society.  This makes following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts that much more difficult.  Peer pressure only complicates any desires to seek God’s ways.  Free will is a daily exercise full of choices with the hope that you stay near enough so that you can hear God’s voice.  For those who fulfill this call, motivation comes as God forgives you.  Thus, as believers pay it forward, forgiveness opens the door for love to flow out of your heart, passed on to others.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Invasion of the Mind

The Invasion of the Body Snatches debuted in 1956.  This science fiction film introduced the thought that normal human beings could be replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.  In the original movie, a doctor discovers that the population of his small town is secretly being replaced.  Twenty two years later, a remake features a scene change as San Francisco is under attack by clones who are swapping out bodies.  While this classic horror flick put fear into the audience, Satan has his own ongoing scheme known as the invasion of the mind.

Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil,” Genesis 3:1-5.

Based upon the passage above, the invasion of the mind begins by planting seeds of doubt.  If your belief system begins to crumble, develop holes or fall apart, the boundaries that once kept you safe and out of trouble can disappear.  When prodigal spirits are conceived within human minds, individuals will push the limits, exploring areas once forbidden by God.  Every day there are reports of strange news stories, mostly embarrassing, a sign of souls looking for love in the all the wrong places.  Despite this decline of morality, Satan is convincing modern people to rely on justification as a means to rationalize what the Bible calls sin.

For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.

Evidently, the apostle Paul saw disconcerting signs from a first century city.  While its unclear how many people were infected, the invasion of the mind was under way within Corinth.  New Christians trying to break free from previous addictions, habits and unhealthy patterns were failing, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  To address this concern, Paul introduces a plan to fight back against this invisible attack.  Like the modern phrase “fight fire with fire,” the only way to defeat Satan is by using spiritual weapons.  Fasting, prayer and worship are key to reclaiming minds poisoned by the world.  Yet, the greatest asset is the Sword of the Spirit, the Bible which can be used for defense and offense.  Like a spiritual fast break, good defensive praying can lead to regaining lost ground.  May the reality of this invasion of the mind keep you spiritual sharp, putting of the armor of God daily to ward off evil spirits.

by Jay Mankus

 

Praying for the President

Thursday was the National Day of Prayer.  On April 17th, 1952 Harry S. Truman signed a  bill into law declaring this day as the National Day of Prayer for the United States of America.  However, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan ammended this law.  Part of a simplification process, Reagan decreed the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way, 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Anyone with a busy schedule may be caught off guard by this special day.  I didn’t realize this until late last night.  Thus, I was compelled to ascertain what could I do with the little time that was left.  In a letter to a young pastor, who happened to be a teenager, the apostle Paul encouraged his pupil to pray for everyone.  Since America does not have a king, the president and civil servants in high positions should be included within your daily prayers.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44.

However, skeptics may reply, “what if I don’t like the president?”  Political enemies may come to the conclusion, “surely I can’t pray for someone that I detest.”  Perhaps this explains Jesus’ words above, urging his followers during the Sermon on the Mount to love and pray for your enemies.  Granted, democrats, liberals and progressives will have a tougher time adhering to this call.  Nonetheless, if you want to be a doer of God’s Word, pray for president Trump no matter what your political leanings may be.  As you pray, the Holy Spirit will either change your heart or his.  Regardless, a simply prayer can make a difference.  May the National Day of Prayer become a 365 day practice.

by Jay Mankus

When Religion is Too Much Work

Within any religion, there is a set of beliefs, doctrines and rules that appeal to certain individuals.  You have to weigh the good with the bad as no perfect church exists.  Thus, denominations offer a wide range of options for families to select from before joining a church.  However, if your connection with God is based upon a religion rather than a relationship, some have come to the conclusion that religion is too much work.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

As someone who was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church,  I understand the amount of energy a religion based faith requires.  I memorized the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, partook in my first communion, spent six years taking religion classes in CCD and completed my confirmation by taking ownership of my faith.  Fortunately, I was introduced to a Methodist youth group during my sophomore year in high school.  While the church services were similar in some ways, there was a climate of genuine love that was passed on to everyone, even strangers like me.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ, Galatians 1:10.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes about his struggle between letting go of his zeal for Judaism and his new relationship with Christ.  When you follow a rigid set of rules, there is a tendency to seek the approval of others.  Yet, when anyone makes a decision to devote their life to Jesus, the religious may resent you.  Meanwhile, others reject you from deviating from the defined path within your church doctrine.  If you want to be free from this rigid course, a line from the Shack provides the answer.  During a conversation the main character Mack is talking with Jesus about stereotypes.  Jesus replies, “religion is too much work.  God doesn’t want slaves; He wants you to be part of his family.”

by Jay Mankus