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Failure is Part of the Process

As the sun rises on a new day, human beings typically have one of three decisions to make. Do you play it safe to avoid embarrassing yourself? Is today the day you take a chance by risking failure? Or will you decide to embrace the status quo by holding off on making a decision until tomorrow? Whatever choice you finally make, just remember that failure is part of the process in life.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

If you are fortunate enough to have success early on in life, human nature has a tendency to relax, to rest upon past victories. When no one else challenges, threatens or usurps you as the best, you’re probably not around stiff competition. If you have never tasted defeat by winning over and over again, you’re either amazing, blessed or hardship has yet to introduce itself to you.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

In the two passages above, the apostle Paul suggests that failure is part of the process in life. Failure has a way of exposing all of your weaknesses. If you’re an athlete, being humiliated in front of family and friends can be demoralizing. Whether you’re a pitcher who is being shelled, a golfer who can’t hit it straight or a runner that finishes in last place, failure triggers that internal spark to drive competitive souls to learn and move on to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

The Hidden Blessing of Losing

Over the last few decades, there has been a movement to shield young people from losing.  Whether its schools moving toward pass fail grading, youth sports attempting to not keep score or the idea that everyone should get a participation award, this notion is actually hurting children in the long run.  Whatever the reason for this trend, teenagers need to experience the hidden blessing of losing.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2.

Losing often serves as a barometer, highlighting deficiencies that you possess.  Perhaps, you are not good enough.  Maybe, others wanted it more, worked harder than you or are simply more talented.  Either way, any type of loses provide life lessons to strengthen your character.  Some where between your last defeat and the next competition, time has a way of revealing what led to a loss and what you could do in the future to insure victory.

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, James 1:3.

One year ago, my son James was heart broken after finishing 4th in the state in the pole vault.  Six months later, that pain reappeared, missing the medal stand once again by one place at the winter track state meet.  However, these loses fueled a desire to not let this happen again.  Thus, one week ago James not only reached the summit, winning the state pole vault title, he also led his track team to a state championship.  In the disappointment of defeat, individuals will find the hidden blessings of losing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Relationship between Emotions and Worship

Mood swings are common, swayed by victories or defeat throughout life.  Yet, the pulse of emotions can be directly tied to your degree of worship.  Huh?  Are you sure about that?  Well, after examining the lives of Cain and Abel, God honors those whose heart is in the right place.  However, anyone who holds back, offering a lame attempt at worship will not receive what they desire.

And Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.  And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. – Genesis 4:4-5

Despite one’s shortcomings in life, God can see right through the fake, phony and superficial.  While the world places an emphasis on appearance, height or stature, the Lord looks at the heart of mankind, 1 Samuel 16:7.  Known as the well spring of life, Proverbs 4:23, this organ regulates the human body.  Thus, the greater an individual pours out their soul in worship, the more likely God will be inclined to accept and bless their gifts.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

Those who sense God’s favor and or presence tend to control their emotions.  Meanwhile, anyone who feels rejected by God may turn sour, opening the door for anger to influence their behavior.  Depressed and jealous, Cain sought revenge instead of repentance.  Losing control of his emotions, Cain did the unthinkable, killing his baby brother.  Before you do something you might regret, take your spiritual pulse by evaluating your commitment to worship.  God willing, one day you will develop a Matthew 6:33 mentality, by placing your trust in an invisible God who continues to provide daily bread.

by Jay Mankus

 

Imprints on Heaven

While listening to a sermon over the weekend, I was challenged to reflect on what if any impact I’ve had during my days on this planet.  Jesus and the apostle Paul, shared a similar message, urging their listeners to begin to store up treasures on earth, Matthew 6:19-21 and Colossians 3:1-4.  If heaven does exist and Jesus went ahead to prepare the way, John 14:2, then its time you and I begin the imprinting process.

Although minor in many ways, my first mark involved music.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I felt compelled  to inform people of God’s love.  Sorting through a vast collection of Christian music in college, I created a mix that I began to give to individuals, just as a high school friend did for me.   Trying to introduce people to contemporary artists, one particular creation entitled A Father”s Love struck a cord with several friends and strangers.  In the days of writing letters, words of encouragement appeared in the mail box, confirming that I was on the right track.

My greatest inscription occurred during a Lay Witness Mission, a fancy name for a retreat geared toward reviving souls for a  spiritually dead or dying congregation.  Beside being an active participant during youth group activities, my main responsibility was to share a brief testimony, what God was teaching me or doing in my life.  At a moment’s notice, I was suppose to be ready.  Well, I waited and waited and waited.  Finally, on Saturday night, I was told I would be talking to the entire congregation.  After praying with my roommate that night, the Lord took over so when the appointed time came, I opened my mouth and the Holy Spirit spoke.  Before finishing, I offered up a call for action, then played a song.  As I looked up, some were actually running to the altar, dedicating their lives to Jesus.

Since this day, I guess I can include my wife, kids and a decade as a Bible teacher.  However, in between the victories, there have been plenty of moments of failure, idleness and periods of self-indulgence.   When you taste defeat, the best pill to swallow is humility, an important practice to keep you on the narrow path to heaven, Matthew 7:13-15.  As the second coming of Jesus draws near, don’t forget to leave your imprints on earth while heaven awaits for those who call on the name of the Lord, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

 

Rocky Road

On the way to see the wizard, Dorothy, Toto and the cast of misfits she picked up on the way to Oz didn’t always have a smooth journey.  The scarecrow, tinman and lion all had major flaws, but the company they provided on the yellow brick road was worth the risk.  Alone, Dorothy would have not been able to overcome the rocky road that the wicked witch brought forth.  Together, working as a team this motley crew, defeated the enemy, setting the witches servants free.

In life, I wish you could travel from point A to point B without any obstacles.  However, each day has its own set of detours, pot holes and road blocks.  One day you have a teaching job, the next day you don’t.  Others have seen marriage vanish before their eyes.  Meanwhile,  accidents, tragedy and illness ends the life of some way too soon.  Essentially, life is a rocky road with twists and turns that no one other than God can foresee.

Subsequently, the Bible warns its readers of the nightmares that greet individuals, James 1:2-4.  Although some suffer more than others, trials come in various shape and sizes.  Perhaps, as unfortunate events enter one’s life, faith and trust increases, forcing believers to climb, crawl or walk along a narrowing path, Matthew 7:14.  Looking back over the past 5 years, I thank God for the rocky road that I’ve endured.  As a disciple once said, “sometimes you have to go through fire to be refined for future endeavors,” 1 Peter 1:6-7.  May the rocky roads that you’ve encountered prepare you for future blessings in God’s time, Ecclesiastes 3:11

by Jay Mankus

Let’s Plow the Road

In the final fight scene within Independence Day over the skies of a California desert, Bill Pullman plays president Thomas Whitmore.  America’s last hope, this former fighter pilot leads a cast of misfits to plow the road for the last jet with a missile hoping to bring down an alien ship about to destroy their underground hide out.  Without this cover, defeat was inevitable.  Who will risk their life today to plow the road for future generations?

Looking to politicians won’t find you much inspiration.  Nor do most professional athletics provide the type of consistent leadership the youth of this country need.  Unfortunately, the frozen chosen, church going believers often behave more like Pharisees than the body of Christ.  As a result, people of faith are putting up road blocks to God instead of demonstrating the love of Jesus.

In Luke 9:57-63, Jesus is trying to separate the lukewarm from truly devoted followers.  Setting the bar high, one by one, the wishy washy walk away, unable to met the standards set by God, disqualifying themselves.  Not much has changed today as individuals still struggle to live in the world without losing faith, Matthew 19:16-24.  Instead of plowing the road, storms have blocked the path Jesus blazed. 1 John 2:6.  Despite this reality, its never too late to change.  Therefore, one light at a time, Matthew 5:13-16, let’s plow the road for others to follow.

by Jay Mankus

 

When the Lord Turns His Face

Sometimes in life, you don’t achieve the results you’re looking for.  Instead, you begin to search for answers to explain why you were defeated, failed and were unsuccessful.   As you wrestle for the truth, some may be tempted to blame God.  Although you may never discover the source of life’s failure, there are times when the Lord turns His face.

According to the director of music, God does not listen to those who cherish sin in their hearts, Psalm 66:18.  As individuals begin to entertain, harbor, foster and nurture sinful desires, it becomes impossible to please God, Romans 8:5-8.  Once minds are set on self indulgence, the Lord will wait to act until you’re willing to come back to your senses, Isaiah 1:15-16.

The next time disappointment knocks on your door, may be its time to search your heart, to see if you’re to blame, Psalm 139:23-24.  If no one is clearly at fault, perhaps you’re experiencing growing pains, 1 Peter 1:5-7, as the Lord is preparing you for the future.  Whatever obstacle you are currently facing, don’t forget that the Lord will turn His face and if God does remember what you need to do to regain His attention, Romans 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Tell Em’… Show Them

On Sunday evening following the Masters coverage, the Golf Channel debuted a 3 part documentary on the Relationships, Major Accomplishments and Legacy of Arnold Palmer.  Although I didn’t catch every second of the 3  one hour special presentations entitled Arnie, I was struck by one life lesson Arnold learned from his father.  Like a shrewd man unveiling a secret to life, “don’t tell people how good you are; show them.”  If you watched any of this program or you were one of Arnie’s Army, then you know this is exactly how he lived his life.

Modern politicians could learn from from Arnold Palmer’s actions during his professional career and retirement.  Fans were always acknowledged, the press was never dodged and this man gave back more to the game and community than anyone.  Perhaps, this is why Arnold was called the King, showing the crowds, his opponents and the television audience the proper way to carry oneself whether in victory or defeat.  Despite Arnold’s fame and fortune, he remains humble, remembering where he came from, who he is and what his father taught him about being a good man.

Though Arnold tries to be good daily, he learned the same truth that we all have to come to grips with, no one is perfect, Romans 3:23.  According to the Bible, there is only One who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin, Hebrews 4:14-15.  Today, on Maundy Thursday, we celebrate the man called Jesus.  On his way to the cross, He refused to tell others about his goodness.  Rather, he set the example, shining his light in a dark and dying world.  Before you go to sleep tonight, read Jesus’ words in John 3:16-17 so that you too may be inspired to let the light of Christ shine through you, Matthew 5:13-16.  Don’t tell em’ about Jesus; show them God’s love!

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Sound of Defeat

Silence, groans and hushed voices are just a few signs of losing.  Meanwhile, body language slumps, slows down and expresses defeat without a word.  On Sunday evening, around 9:45 pm Eastern Standard Time, the sound of defeat will visit one sideline after the final seconds tick off the clock in Super Bowl XLVIII.  As confetti falls, cameras flash and reporters get their microphones ready to interview the champions, the loser will slip away in obscurity, pondering what might have been.

In the arena of life, the sound of defeat is less subtle.  Sure, there will always be Debbie downers and depressed Davids, yet most will hide their emotions until no one is around or only their family is in view.  However, in sports, the agony of defeat occurs under a microscope, often with life shattering results.  Skip Dillard went to prison because he missed 1 free throw in an NCAA Basketball Tournament Game as a star for the Depaul Blue Demons.  Tonya Harding turned to thuggery in an attempt to win an Olympic Gold medal in figure skating.  Finally, Donavon McNabb, upchucked as the closing moments of the Super Bowl got too big for him, beyond what he could handle.

In biblical times, there was a different sound heard by Joshua and Moses as each had their own suspicion.  From afar, Joshua heard what sounded like the sound of war in Exodus 32:17.  Stepping in like a Jedi Knight, playing a similar role to Yoda, Moses corrects this young rising star, “It’s not the sound of victory, it’s the sound of defeat;” Exodus 32:18.”  Perhaps Moses understood the concept of 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, with 1 winner and multiple losers.  Therefore, instead of resting in a pit of despair, pick your head up out of the gutter and focus on a crown that will last forever so that the sound of defeat doesn’t cripple your soul for a lifetime.

by Jay Mankus

Broken Pottery

With the recent success of modern art, beauty is often in the eye of the beholder.  This same logic can be applied to self-esteem.  If an individual attains success in academics, athletics or socially, this person may feel like a bouquet of roses.  On the other hand, if one experiences a regular dose of defeat, failure and setbacks, they might feel like shattered glass, trying to pick up the pieces of their life one day at a time.

While most people think of David as the second king of Israel, he spent several years in isolation, warned by his best friend Jonathon to flee from his jealous father, King Saul.  In the psalms, David  pours out his heart to God, trying to make sense of the pain he was enduring.  This is where we feel David’s  raw emotion, “I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery,” Psalm 31:12.

Depression is an unfortunate circumstance of life.  God allows people to experience trials in life so that they may become mature and complete, James 1:2-4.  However, this process includes mess ups, mistakes and unfulfilled expectations.  Though you may currently feel like a piece of broken pottery, the Great Potter, Abba Father, has eternal plans to hold you together, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  May the power of Holy Spirit be the spiritual glue to fix our bodies comprised of broken pottery.

by. Jay Mankus

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