RSS Feed

Tag Archives: amusement parks

Finding Fulfillment in Family

Like anyone on the wrong side of 50, I find myself attending more funerals the older I get. Last weekend, I paid my last respects to two members of the Hanson family. The matriarch, Aunt Peg, who lived more than a century and her son John who passed away suddenly in January. Death is never a reason to celebrate, but it does give family members a chance to come together, mourn and find a way to press on with the rest of their lives.

Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing. 12 Now also we beseech you, brethren, get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]—your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you, 1 Thessalonians 5:11-12.

As a child, I was annoyed anytime I was forced to visit relatives at Thanksgiving and Christmas. As I became a teenager, I was skeptical about this annual tradition. Between the numbers of people cramped into one house and packed at a large dining room table, I found it hard to really get to know my cousins. Everything seemed so superficial and rushed, going through the motions without developing any permanent meaningful lasting relationships.

And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching, Hebrews 10:24-25.

Yet, this past weekend I found fulfillment in family. Instead of flying in for a funeral and flying out the next day, we spent four days in the mid-west. The first day was spent at Great America, the next golfing with lunch afterward, followed by golf and a series of meals out on the third with a relaxing final day. Each of these events provided one on one time with different individuals. Before the weekend ended, I felt like I became part of the Hanson family. This is what is possible when family time is stretched out instead of jamming everything into one or two days a year.

by Jay Mankus

A Begrudging Host

As a son of an immigrant, I learned to be frugal.  My grandmother kept all of her beds and couches in their original plastic to preserve these pieces of furniture as long as possible.  Eating out was not a regular option, only done on special occasions a few times each year.  The notion of wasting money was a foreign concept to me.

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; Proverbs 23:6.

Now as I parent, I have softened some of my childhood beliefs.  Yet, one of my biggest struggles occurs while on vacation.  After working hard to save enough money for Spring Break, a week in Florida can break the bank quickly.  Whether its taking the family to a Phillies game in Clearwater, going out to a nice restaurant or visiting an amusement park, it doesn’t take much to blow a quick $500.  When I do, I become a begrudging host.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

For the needy, poor and unemployed, knowing where the money will come from for your next bill, meal or mortgage is scary.  Any kind of uncertainty can move the unstable into a state of panic.  In view of this, its essential to remember the words of Solomon by placing your trust in a firm foundation.  Though not everyone will be blessed with riches, when you do have the opportunity to give, do so with a cheerful heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

Cures for the Cold

As a former resident of the Twin Cities during the winter, even if it was for just 3 months, I know the bone chilling effects of cold weather.  Each evening, I ran 3-5 miles when thermometers dipped below zero.  On a night in February, it was close to -20 without the wind chill as I started my jog.  A couple of blocks down the road, my hair grew icicles.  After a quarter mile, I felt my body beginning to shut down.  Without a thought, I made a quick u-turn to head for home.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19.

One of the most obvious cures for the cold is the creation of shopping malls.  Beside Woodfield Mall in Chicago, nothing compares to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Built on the old site of Metropolitan Stadium, former home to the Vikings of the NFL and Twins of MLB, this mall contains an amusement park, movie cinema and 400 stores.  In this wasn’t enough, an expansion project looks to add an ice rink, dinner theater, hotels and waterpark.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me, Psalm 51:10.

However, there is another cure for the cold that is often overlooked.  This one focuses on warming up a cold and weary heart.  Sure, a hot cup of chocolate, warm fire or steaming bath will provide a temporary fix.  Yet, what can you do to re-energize your soul?  When I come inside to a numb heart, the best remedy I can recommend is a quiet time with God.   Opening the Bible, you will find nourishing words of encouragement.  May the promises within get you through the dreary months of winter.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord, Psalm 112:7.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Thrills That Kill

One of my favorite summer pastimes is visiting amusement parks across the country.  Whether its  Cedar Point, Kings Island or one of the 6 Flags venues, there is nothing like the thrill of riding on a roller coaster.  This rush of adrenaline creates a sensation that makes you feel like you’re flying through the air.  However, for the paranoid, history serves as a notice that some rides can kill.

According to an NBC News report from July of 2014, most amusement accidents occur to children, roughly 4,400 per year or 20 per week during the peak season.  The most recent investigation on amusement park death found 52 individuals died over a 15 year people, with the latest victim a woman from Texas who fell out of a 14 story wooden coaster.  Despite strict safety regulations, there is no guarantee when the next malfunction will end in disaster.

From a spiritual perspective, there is a reason why God includes guidelines for life in the Bible.  If ignored, its easy to wander into trouble, just ask Eve.  Meanwhile, the acts of the sinful nature have been added for New Testament readers, warning people of the dangers of indulging in Turkish delights, Galatians 5:19-21.  Just as Peter explored Narnia, attractive to the promises of the White Witch, most human beings can’t resist the pleasures of earth.  Thus, if you’re not careful, you might develop a taste for thrills that can kill.

by Jay Mankus

A Life Void of Passion

My earliest recollection of passion began in Junior High as friends debated the best music video on MTV, the greatest rock band and favorite sports teams.  In High School, I began to live by the 3 G’s: Girls, Golf and God, fluctuating in order depending upon the timing or season.  By the time college arrived, my interests shifted toward amusement parks, intramural sports and sand volleyball, with the latter dominating most of my summer nights.  When I began my career as a youth pastor, interacting with families, karaoke and water sports consumed most of my time.  As a family man, I have mellowed, spending time listening to music, working on my golf green out back and writing on a daily basis.

Passion is embodied in enthusiasm, excitement and feelings.  Although I still possess hot button issues inside my heart, most of the things I once held dear don’t illicit much of a response any more.  Sure, it would be nice for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl or witness another local team win a championship, but I refuse to place my hope in someone or something that disappoints you 99% of the time.  Likewise, I find it futile to debate music, politics and television shows.  As Solomon once said, “everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 2:11, in reference to pleasures on earth.  Perhaps, this may explain why I am currently living a life void of passion.

If you have ever reached this point, emptiness tends to cause you to lose your voice, bored by most of the conversations you hear.  However, when you find a cause worth living for, passion can and will return.  In Acts 4:29, the passion of Jesus Christ prevented the disciples from being shut down.  Rather, the power of the Holy Spirit consumed their souls, not able to forget about the risen Savior who suffered, died and rose again 3 days later.  This is the passion I am missing, lost in translation between the pages of the Bible and putting faith into action.  May the fire of Christ followers burn bright in your region so that lives void of passion will be invigorated by the power of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: