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Tag Archives: peace

Where Did My Joy Go?

At the beginning of any relationship, there is an anticipation that consumes your body.  Similar to adrenaline, there is a rush each time you hold hands, embrace or hear the sound of this significant other’s voice on the phone.  As you experience this initial stage of courtship, your mind can’t keep thinking about the person you love.  Joy abounds every moment you spend together.  Then, little by little over time, joy disappears.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.

This pattern also affects individuals who enter into a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Introductions to faith occur in various places, from Bible studies, one on one conversations, spiritual retreats and revivals.  When you begin to connect with God through prayer, study and worship, a peace that surpasses all understanding begins to emerge.  As you interact with other believers, this spiritual bond deepens, filling souls with the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, hardship, temptations and worries in life suffocate the joy most people have for the Lord.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full, John 16:24.

Within a letter to the church of Rome, the apostle Paul urges individuals who are single to avoid marriage unless called to do so.  The context of these words refer to the struggle to keep Christ first when married.  No matter how disciplined, focused and strong you are, the weight of the world can easily erode joy for life.  Thus, while you may not have the feelings you once possessed, faith is designed to carry you through the rough stretches in life.  If faith without deeds is dead, the same concept applies to joy.  This explains why my joy for life has vanished.  In view of this, make sure you rely on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, so that joy will return and live again.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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Is It Really That Big of a Deal?

Back in the days of my youth, puberty influenced the behavior of junior high students.  In the transition from Elementary to High School, students bodies drastically changed as each slowly became a man or woman.  This change was on full display at lunch everyday in the cafeteria.  Chatting, gossiping and staring was a common practice.  As estrogen and testosterone collided, fights would flare up weekly.  Meanwhile, rumors often spread like wildfires, creating tension between friends.  This atmosphere set the stage for normal events to be completely blown out of proportion.  Looking back at these spats,  I should have been more level headed by reflecting, “is it really that big of a deal?”

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you, Proverbs 25:21-22.

One of my break rooms at work has ESPN on one side of the room with CNN on the other.  The only problem is ESPN is muted and CNN’s volume is pretty loud.  A day doesn’t go by without a host or panelist flipping out about something President Trump did, said or tweeted.  While I am trying to eat my dinner, I feel as if I have been transported back in time to junior high.  Instead of participating, I am people watching, observing how much adults are getting worked up about comments, criticism and policies signed via presidential orders.  To a certain extent this is funny and sad at the same time.  Perhaps, these media members need to relax, not take everything so seriously and began to ponder, “is it really that big of a deal?”

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” Romans 12:19.

When I was in high school, my father had a horrible temper.  I contribute this to his drill instructor in the Army since this is how he acted for several years.  Early on as a parent, I had my own regrettable movements, flipping out and ultimately having a negative influence on my children at times.  While I am far from perfect, the Lord has calmed me down except driving for now.  I guess you can say I am work in progress with a long way to go.  Nonetheless, it’s essential to apply the advice the apostle Paul provides in the verse above.  Instead of letting things beyond your control to get you riled up, allow the Lord to fight for you.  If you do, you may come to the conclusion, it’s not that big of a deal.

by Jay Mankus

 

Running Out of Safe Places

When I was younger, a parents mentality was much different.  Summers were spent outside exploring the woods in the neighborhood with other boys.  The concept of terrorism wasn’t even a thought.  Sure, there were boundaries, areas or places to avoid, but the friends in my development had plenty of safe places to play.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go, Joshua 1:9.

When you fast forward to modern times, parents don’t have the luxury of a generation ago.  Today, concerts, malls and schools have been targets of terrorism.  Some are motivated by a chance for 15 minutes of fame.  Meanwhile, others have been deceived by evil to attack areas once thought to be safe.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety, Psalm 4:8.

In the midst of terror, God is the only one who can restore peace.  The element of freewill has ushered in a new era of turmoil, not knowing the next safe space to be targeted.  Yet, when chaos subsides the only source of hope is Jesus.  Therefore, don’t allow the frenzy stirred up by the media to dictate your mood.  Rather, cry out to the Lord in prayer so that you may dwell in safety.

by Jay Mankus

 

Over Playing the Victim Card

Over the past year, cable news networks have reported about the transformation occurring on college and university campuses throughout the United States.  Some of these exclusives have addressed the transition from education and knowledge based curriculum toward political and social activism.  One college professor recently gave students the option to either take a final exam or participate in a group project.  The class chose to protest Trump at a nearby rally.

“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,” Job 27:2.

One of the angles disgruntled voters are taking is victimology.  Instead of fighting through adversity, battling disappointment and overcoming failures, the victim card is being played over and over again.  Sure, many individuals are dealt an unfair hand in life.  This is a painful reality in this life.  Yet, God is not pleased when his own followers join the crowd of the disenfranchised.  Seeking pity from the privileged isn’t the right course of action.  Rather, the Lord has a better choice for those unable to grasp why bad things happen to good people.

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 his friends began to hint that recent trials were self-inflicted, part of some secret sin, Job began to play the victim card.  Within Job 27, this man of integrity begins to blame God for his problems.  This was Job’s fatal flaw, an inappropriate response to his hardship.  The apostle Paul introduces a more appropriate course of action.  Despite how you really feel inside, negative comments, harsh criticism and demoralizing words doesn’t solve your situation.  Rather, ask the Lord for rays of hope, signs of progress and a spirit of optimism.  In doing this, you will turn your victim card in for a peace that surpasses understanding.

by Jay Mankus

Be Grateful For What You Have; Not What You’ve Lost

In my first year as a high school teacher, I stayed up well past midnight preparing for the next day.  While attempting to create challenging lesson plans, I overlooked one important truth.  This quest for perfection often left me feeling empty as the good was overshadowed by negative reactions by parents and students.  Instead of being grateful for what I had accomplished, my heart, soul and mind spent most of the time focusing on what I had lost.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

A little more older and wise now, writing this blog has helped transform my perspective.  Rather than worry about the next issue, subject and topic I am going to address, the Lord has given me a sense of peace, knowing that somehow, someway God will provide new ideas.  Whether I’m reading an article waiting for my next eye doctor appointment, listening to talk radio or watching television, interesting concepts continue to flow.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 20:35.

After not being able to sleep on Christmas Eve, I stumbled upon a documentary aired on the Golf Channel about former British Open Champion Darren Clarke.  Labeled as one of the best tour players not to win a major, Clarke faced something more important winning a golf tournament.  When Darren’s wife Heather was diagnosed with Breast Cancer for the second time, she succumb to this disease in 2006.  Always staying positive to the end, Heather left behind a message to visitor’s of her tombstone.  “Be Grateful For What You Have; Not What You’ve Lost.”  May these words inspire you to apply this mindset in 2017.

by Jay Mankus

 

Words from Heaven and Hell

Greetings like good morning, how are you, how was your weekend and hey are everyday expressions which promote conversation.  The Bible suggests that words can represent heaven or hell depending upon the context, manner and tone which is spoken.  Thus, before you begin another work week, be careful in the words that you choose.

The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream, Proverbs 18:4.

The apostle Paul uses the analogy known as fruits of the spirit to identify words from heaven.  Anything that reflects love, joy and peace uplift those who hear these traces of heaven.  The remaining characteristics mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 encourage action, not just words.  Coaches, parents and teacher who adorn children within a loving environment promote a fountain of wisdom as described by Solomon.

The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating, Proverbs 18:6.

Unfortunately, the words of hell are much more prevalent in today’s culture.  Whether its critics within the media, gossip or tweets filled with venom, the sinful nature is in full display weekly.  Those exposed to only the negative can become jaded, losing the will to live.  Therefore, the next time you have the opportunity to add a comment to a conversation, choose the words of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Intolerant?

Over the past eight years, anyone holding conservative or traditional beliefs have been successfully defined and labeled as intolerant.  The mainstream media has convinced progressive minds that a Trump presidency will fundamentally harm minorities.  In the last few days before election day, messages of fear were spread to ensure a desired outcome.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer, Romans 12:12.

However, after Donald Trump was announced as president elect on Wednesday morning, the tables have been turned.  Those once judging others of not willing to accept or allow opposing views are now throwing tantra tantrums.  College students have opted out of exams, high school students have been offered counseling and protesters are trashing neighborhoods in anger.  Perhaps, the accusers have now become intolerant?

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.

Whenever individuals place their trust in temporary ideas created by human beings set themselves up for failure.  Life is hard enough as it is, but those who want to remain in control will not find peace until they let go.  In times of uncertainty, faith can kick in if you cry out to the Lord in prayer.  Despite what people may label you, seek the Lord for insight so that when the final outcome doesn’t go your way fruits of righteousness will shine through.

by Jay Mankus