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Tag Archives: relationships

The Enemy of Depth

Anyone who lives in a city, endures a long commute or works in a fast paced environment understands the cramp time places on relationships.  I have allowed this barrier to prevent me from developing deep and meaningful relationships.  Distracted by where I need to go and what I need to do next often leaves me feeling distant from those that I care about.  Unfortunately, as someone who always seems to be in a hurry, impatience has become the enemy of depth.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

The opposite of depth is those who suffer from relationship fatigue.  This state occurs when associates, co-workers or friends become too intense, like a leech that sticks to you and won’t let go.  When imperfections, quirks and social warts of individuals wear on your soul, any desire for intimacy fades away.  Thus, any close ties that you might have developed in the past soon dissipate as well.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Sadly, other relationships that you may have hoped to nourish over  time never amount to anything due to fear.  Possibly thinking about prior failed friendships, there is a tendency to avoid becoming too close to someone, afraid the bond that you share will be broken.  In the passages above, the apostle Paul attempts to illustrate what love looks like.  When people begin to forgive and forget, your slate of past wrongs is wiped clean.  Yet, until you emulate the character traits of love, depth will continue to be an enemy.

by Jay Mankus

Without You I’m a Disaster

You don’t have to experience the heart break of a broken relationship to know loneliness, pain and suffering.  Busy schedules may hide your grief momentarily, but idle time will eventually reveal the hole in your heart.  Reflection often stokes emotions held in check until now.  Over the holidays some will come to the conclusion without you I’m a disaster.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful,” John 15:1-2.

My Darkest Days sings about this reality in their song Without You.  While most people will think of this in a context of a man and woman, this also applies spiritually.  Biblical scholars and theologians reference John 15:1-8 as the answer to this connection.  Jesus uses an illustration of a gardener watering his vineyard.  Jesus is symbolic of the vine, human beings are the branches and the Holy Spirit nurtures and oversees life.  Unfortunately, many individuals attempt to live without remaining connected to the vine, Jesus.  This decision usually results in disaster.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:4-5.

One of the ways Christians neglect Jesus’ instructions is by trying to go through life without any regular time attending church, praying or reading the Bible.  While you may not recognize the difference, each day without interaction with God breeds selfish tendencies.  If this pattern continues, you will likely reach a point where you think you don’t need God.  Sure, in times of desperation Jesus will be like crutches until you can walk again on your own.  As someone who went down this path in college, your mind becomes transformed by the world, believing in lies whispered to you by the Devil.  Justification and rationalization become a new religion.  As 2018 approaches, I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to help you see without accepting Jesus into your heart, Romans 10:9-10, life is a disaster waiting to happen.

by Jay Mankus

 

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

 

 

Estranged

The term estranged is usually found in the context of a broken marriage or a relationship beyond repair.  When you feel alienated, disconnected or severed from someone, estrangement is likely already underway.  This unfortunate state can result in depression, loneliness and sorrow.  However, you can also be estranged from God.

“He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me,” Job 19:13.

While the Creator of heaven and earth is invisible, subtle reminders exist in the form of a sunrise, picturesque day or the sounds of nature.  Enduring hardship, the stress of life and unforeseen trials usually distract individuals from the Lord’s presence.  Meanwhile, as bad things begin to happen to good people, God is usually the first to blame.  Without any clarity, meaning or insight, estrangement from God often continues.

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart, Ephesians 4:18.

According to the apostle Paul, the process of becoming estranged can be self inflicted.  People bitter from the hand they have been dealt, ignorant of God’s nature and set in their ways develop harden hearts.  This stubbornness leads to break ups, divorce and splitting close ties with people you once cared about.  If you find yourself somewhere within the estranged process, may the power of the Holy Spirit ease your pain by reuniting you with the people you love.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Point of the Cross

In the Old Testament, initial commandments, laws and principles were passed down through word of mouth from one generation to the next.  Until Moses arrived upon the scene, there was no written word of God.  As one of the forefathers of Israel, God spoke directly to Moses, usually in the mountains on either Mount Horeb and or Sinai.  One of the messages delivered to Moses is that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the early first century, Jesus built an earthly ministry using disciples.  Prior to his death of the cross, Jesus revealed the purpose for his human sacrifice.  Befuddled by Jesus words, many of his followers thought he would become an earthly king.  Thus, it wasn’t until resurrection Sunday when the disciples began to connect the dots.  The apostle Paul writes several of his epistles about the point of the cross.  Jesus who had no sin became sin for us so that in Christ, we might become the righteous of God.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2.

An entire chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to Jesus’ relationship to the cross.   According to 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus conquered sin and death with his resurrection.  In a letter to the church at Colosse, Paul talks about how Christians are buried with Christ in their baptism and raised with Him through the resurrection.  So what is the point of the cross?   Life begins at the cross, Matthew 16:24-26, as you deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus as a servant and vessel of love.

by Jay Mankus

Make My Heart Like Yours

Music can be similar to relationships.  The more open minded you are, the likelihood of you accepting and embracing someone or something increases.  Unfortunately, stereotypes about an artist, genre or musician cause individuals to give up on a certain sound after a few seconds of listening.  Subsequently, the careers of millions fail, far short of where they hoped, rejected before having a real shot to succeed.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Such is the case of Linda Elias, wife of Rick whose own career far surpassed hers.  Rick spent a decade as a member of Rich Mullins Ragamuffin band and his music was featured in the 1996 Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do.  As for Linda, following in the Belinda Carlisle genre, I thought her 1991 album The Meaning of Life would jump start her career.  However, in Christian music industry, unless you’re Amy Grant, you’re not going to get the attention you deserve.  As a result, you can’t find any of Linda’s songs on Pandora or You Tube.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Nonetheless, during my recent fast I have started listening to one hour of inspirational music a day.  While soaking in the lyrics to Make My Heart Like Yours, I was moved, touched by God.  This song is more like a prayer, wishing that one day our hearts will become more like Christ.  In this song, Linda confesses her failures and shortcomings.  Leaning on God’s grace, she yearns to be transformed.  As I am daily reminded of my own sins, I am eager, waiting for God to make my heart like his son’s, Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Linda’s album the Meaning of Life is available at Amazon.com for those willing to give a promising artist a chance.

 

The Threat of Faith

According to the scientific community life evolves.  As environments or habitats change, creatures and human beings are forced to adapt if they want to survive.  The same can be said about worldviews.  When truth is conveyed, realized or revealed, belief systems are put to the test.  This is the threat of faith.

For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us, Acts 6:14.

People will always go through periods of change.  Whether its puberty, relationships or unforeseen trials, each day provides a series of surprises.  Through the good and bad, hearts rejoice and grieve, while emotions rise and fall.  Yet, when what you have always known is challenged, faith and doubt collide.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

Through the years, time can take a toll on wounded souls.  In the case of the Jews, religious leaders thought the Jesus movement would destroy Judaism.  Thus, this threat elevated tensions, fueling resentment against Christianity.  As more and more individuals believed and were baptized, faith became a threat.  Nonetheless, when souls hear or read the words of the Bible, faith becomes a friend in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus