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Where Did I Go Wrong?

Life tends to be a series of choices which lead you to the place where you end up.  Sure, accidents, illness and tragedy may be the exception to this rule, but it doesn’t take much to take the wrong path.  Compromise starts off subtle, lulling souls to sleep spiritually.  Before you know you have a problem, its often too late as people are left to ponder, “where did I go wrong?”

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot, Romans 8:7.

Some might argue that its impossible to know if you are exactly where God wants you to be.  Meanwhile, others claim the conscience was designed into every human being to regulate your soul.  Yet, if your mind isn’t right, thoughts can become hostile to God.  Whenever anyone drifts off course from the path God desires you to take, Satan can use your own mind against you to justify false actions and behaviors.  Thus, determining where you went astray can be more difficult than it seems.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua 24:15.

As Joshua leads a new generation into God’s promised land, it was fitting to urge Israel to consider who they are willing to serve.  The blessings are out there, fruits for those who remain on the straight and narrow.  Yet, the sooner you recognize where you went wrong, the quicker you will find reconciliation.  Therefore, I’m calling all prodigals to come to their senses to find forgiveness, hope and the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

Making the Call to the Bullpen

After coaching my son’s baseball team the last several seasons, I decided to take this year off due to a busy work schedule.  Thus, when a pitcher starts to struggle, someone else has to make the call to the bullpen.  However, if they are too impatient, the coach might just remove their best player from the game.

For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:16.

The game of baseball has several rules that you must know before you begin.  For example, you are only allowed to visit your pitcher once per inning.  If you’re not paying attention, you will be forced to change pitchers upon your second visit in the same inning.  Therefore, any manager must demonstrate prudence or else a quick hook could result in a loss.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, Ephesians 5:1-2.

For those of you who don’t care about the game of baseball, you still have to make important decisions.  While these choices may not impact a team of kids, your friends, family and co-workers will be influenced by what you say or do.  In view of this, make sure you are slow to speak and think wisely before you make any decision in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

Does Saving Your Life Mean Forfeiting Your Soul?

Rarely do you hear the terms forfeit and save in the same sentence.  Perhaps, you could be referring to a Little League team that may have to forfeit a game, unable to field enough players.  Thus, this forfeit could save a pitcher for an opponent’s next game or start a win streak that saves their season.  However, this isn’t the context of Jesus’ conversation with his twelve disciples in Mark 8.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it, Mark 8:35.

Speaking to future apostles of Acts, Jesus’ words could be limited to anyone seeking to devote their lives to full time ministry.  However, the choice of vocabulary suggests something similar to closing remarks made by Moses during his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30.  Life is like a series of choices, each leading you either in the right or wrong directions.  Therefore, when anyone decides to follow the path of saving your own life, with each step, people are approaching the unfortunate reality of forfeiting their soul.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.

From a personal perspective, obedience either illustrates one’s investment in storing up heavenly treasures on earth or proves their divestment, clinging to the ways of this world.  If your heart is where your treasure is, Matthew 6:21, then how you spend your time reveals who you are living for.   Like the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, people can’t handle the truth.  Since life is a marathon and not a sprint, there is time to change your course.  Whatever you decide, be careful not to save yourself or else you will be in danger of forfeiting your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Overwhelmed by Priorities

Every day when I arise from sleep, my mind is overwhelmed by the choices at hand.  Do I read?  Should I write?  Perhaps I need to work out?  Maybe hitting the snooze button and rolling over is my best option.  Either way, the choices you make will dictate the path your life takes.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:34

Like most years, my New Years Resolutions are being modified as desires to lose weight, eat healthy and draw closer to God have fallen short.  Sometimes I feel as if I am in a tug of war, pulled in a direction I don’t want to go, yet over time I submit, dragged to a new low.  By enduring these trials, I am beginning to comprehend the words of the apostle Paul as he explains how the sinful nature can influence one’s priorities.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15

When Jeremiah opened his mouth to Israel, negative messages usually came forth.  Thus, this servant of God was nicknamed the weeping prophet.  If you too feel depressed, frustrated or lost, there are some promises in the Bible to cling to.  Lamentations 3:20-24 suggests God’s forgiveness is new every morning.  Therefore, if you fail to keep the priorities that you hold dear, may God’s grace lift you up each time you fall.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Sitting Duck for Stupid Decisions

An individual who is an easy prey, out in the open or vulnerable to an attack is considered a sitting duck.  Finding yourself in this predicament could be an accident, by chance or self induced.  Yet, anyone who speaks without filtering their thoughts is like a sitting duck for stupid decisions.

In this politically correct climate, the slightest slip of the tongue can be costly.  Unless you are a liberal comedian, no one else is exempt from public scrutiny.  Hank Williams Jr. spoke out against president Obama, Jimmy the Greek made an off-color remark and Mississippi State beat writer Matthew Stevens is the latest to lose their job for expressing their opinion.  Loose lips ship ships as well as open the door for becoming a sitting duck for the media to shoot down.

For those who fly under the radar, stupid decisions are a by product of the choices you make.  Words such as “trust me, I know what I’m doing or so and so said” often set the stage for humiliation.  As for me, the further I drift apart from the words of the Bible, the stupider I become.  Pride comes before the fall, Proverbs 16:18, is one of the most profound sayings of Solomon.  Thus, if anyone boasts, holds their nose up in the air or pumps out their chest, sooner or later the confident will become a sitting duck for stupid decisions, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

by Jay Mankus

 

Not Without A Price

Novelist Orson Scott Card made a interesting observation in regards to sacrifice.  “Happiness is not a life without pain, but rather is life in which pain is traded for a worthy price.”  Whether you are referring to freedom of speech, defending a just cause or standing up for what you believe, nothing is accomplished with a cost.

Perhaps, your reputation takes a hit, attacked by those with opposing views.  Or friendships are estranged as your worldview comes in direct conflict with a person you care about.  Either way, actions, choices and decisions will create enemies, hatred or jealousy.  What you need to determine is… is it worth the price?

When becoming of disciple of Jesus became popular, motives for following were mixed.  Some wanted to join because it was cool, others for the fame and a few for the right reasons.  Thus, Jesus set the bar high in Luke 9:57-62, causing many to quit, unable to pay the price.  Whether you are excelling as an athlete, student or servant, to become the greatest in anything takes unswerving devotion.  May you consider the costs, make up your mind and take a leap of faith, paying the price today to achieve a better tomorrow.

by Jay Mankus

To Enjoy, Invest or Waste?

If each day on earth is considered a gift, then individuals have 3 choices.  You can enjoy each moment, soaking in the world around you.  Another option is  investing your energy, talents and time into hobbies, interests or passions.  Finally, the self-absorbed might follow the path of the prodigal son, wasting life savings to satisfy their fantasies.

While reflecting on my own life, I wish I could say that my time has been well spent.  Unfortunately, transitioning to my new work schedule has resulted in countless unproductive hours.  Although I hope to develop healthier patterns, I can’t replace the time that I’ve lost.  In view of this, I need to hit the reset button to begin again, Lamentations 3:22-23.

When you go through patterns of disappointment, keep your head up, Galatians 6:9-10.  With Christ’s help, Philippians 4:13, you can stop negative momentum.  If you want to turn the pages of your past toward love, joy and peace, emulate the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.  By doing this, you will find enjoyment while investing in kingdom activities during your days on the earth, Matthew 6:19-22.

by Jay Mankus

 

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