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Understanding the Seasons of Change

According to Genesis 2:4-6, the earth’s atmosphere was initially like an open canopy. According to Moses, underground springs bubbled up from beneath the surface to water the earth. Prior to the flood, there was only one season with a tropical climate similar to a greenhouse effect. Before the heavens opened up to bring rain for the first time, the springs of the earth burst forth, Genesis 7:11. This passage suggests some sort of enormous volcanic eruption like the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park. As massive clouds of volcanic ash blocked out the sun, the first age began, setting in motion the four seasons that exist today.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

King Solomon provides a famous analogy about seasons of change in the passage above. Just as winter gives way to spring, spring introduces summer before summer fades to fall, the cycle is completed by a return to winter. Solomon refers to specific events that take place every year and throughout your life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 suggests that there is a time and place for everything. According to Solomon, God makes everything beautiful in His time as healing allows broken souls to mend and recover. Yet, for anyone undergoing an extremely difficult period in their life, understanding the seasons of change takes time.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

If discovering God’s will for your life can take a couple of decades, discerning the seasons of change involves deep thought and reflection. You may want to pursue a specific career or dream, but when failure causes you to change course, figuring out where to go next takes time. I still remember when I felt God calling me to become a golf professional, then a youth pastor followed by a Bible teacher and golf coach. Each time I thought, surely this is God’s will for my life until the seasons of change left me unemployed. One New Testament author gives great advice for understanding the seasons of change in Hebrews 12:1. If you treat life like a marathon, you have to push through the pain to run with perseverance so when the seasons do change, you’ll be ready to adjust and move on.

by Jay Mankus

Standing at the Edge of a Breakthrough

A breakthrough is defined as a dramatic, sudden, and important discovery or development. This may include advancements in technology, cures for infectious diseases, innovations, inventions and quantum leaps in science. I stumbled upon to a spontaneous worship clip on You Tube the other night. Kari Jobe was leading worship for her church when the Holy Spirit led her to sing “standing at the edge of breakthrough.” This montage moved me, opening my eyes to my current situation.

And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid! – Matthew 14:25-27

Over the past 8 years, I’ve spent January through April working on screen plays for the annual Nicholls Fellowship Screenwriting Contest. Over this time frame I have now completed and currently in the process of perfecting three movies. Meanwhile, I have an outlines for two more projects that I hope to start working on in May. If this wasn’t enough, I received a vision for a Sitcom with the initial season having 10 episodes. Essentially, I find myself standing at the edge of a breakthrough, waiting and trusting God to have and see this dream be fulfilled soon.

And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. 29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. 30 But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]! 31 Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? – Matthew 14:28-31

One of Jesus’ disciples experienced an impressive spiritual breakthrough. When the disciples left Jesus behind to finish ministering to others, they got in a boat to cross of Sea of Galilee. The initial plan was for Jesus to meet up with the disciples the next day. Instead, Jesus took a short cut, walking across this body of water late at night. At first, those who were awake thought Jesus was a ghost. However, after identifying himself, Peter dared Jesus, “if it’s really you, let me walk on water as well.” This is exactly what Peter did until he took his eyes off of Jesus. Whenever you are standing at the edge of breakthrough, trusting God is the final piece to ensure success.

by Jay Mankus

Forgiveness Opens the Door for Love

One of the barriers standing between forgiveness is stubborn hearts as certain individuals are unable to forgive or forget a previous transgression.  This unwillingness to let go of the pain inflicted shuts the door on the potential for love.  This reluctance sets the stage for bitterness, like an invisible poison that slowly kills relationships.  Unless there is a willingness to let God in to mend and repair fences, reconciliation is merely a dream.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will], Revelation 3:19.

In the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, John gives an honest assessment of seven churches.  While a few receive compliments, several are exposed for previous actions, beliefs and deeds.  Despite this list of flaws, John uses an analogy of a door to illustrate free will.  God is willing to offer forgiveness, yet souls must demonstrate an enthusiastic spirit of repentance.  Every day God is like an eager visitor, knocking on the door of your heart, but the Lord waits for your invitation.  There is no forced entry.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant to him [the privilege] to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:20-21.

At the end of this passage, God reveals another obstacle in the way of forgiveness.  Overcoming the world involves mindsets, philosophies and traditions that have become embraced by most of society.  This makes following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts that much more difficult.  Peer pressure only complicates any desires to seek God’s ways.  Free will is a daily exercise full of choices with the hope that you stay near enough so that you can hear God’s voice.  For those who fulfill this call, motivation comes as God forgives you.  Thus, as believers pay it forward, forgiveness opens the door for love to flow out of your heart, passed on to others.

by Jay Mankus

 

What If Herod Got His Wish

The older I become, the more I find myself playing the What if Game.  What if this happened instead of that?  If this went my way or if I waited a little longer, would the outcome have changed?  While I was pondering several possibilities, a thought popped into my mind.  What if King Herod got his wish, finding the Messiah; then killing Jesus to remain in power?

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him,” Matthew 2:7-8.

While churches across the country and throughout the world will sing about a Silent Night, this great event could have been marred by tragedy.  The Magi could have sought to please King Herod, returning to his palace, directing him to the exact location of this child.  Yet, divine intervention persuaded these wise men to do what was right, taking an alternate route back home.  Meanwhile, the Lord spoke to Joseph in a vivid dream, prompting an immediate departure for Egypt, to escape Herod’s sword.  If not for these actions, the Messiah would be no more.

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,   where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son,” Matthew 2:13-15.

If Herod got his wish, the world would be doomed.  Sure, depending upon where you live, there are some safe places that exist.  Yet, without the completion of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, there would be no hope.  The last 2000 years would have been like The Game of Thrones with one person after another doing whatever it takes to reach the throne.  Thankfully, this what if scenario was stopped in it’s tracks by the power of the Holy Spirit.  If God has the power to intervene like this past historical event, imagine what the Lord can do today within hearts and souls eager to serve God.  I’m not sure what will happen next, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

by Jay Mankus

 

God of the Impossible

If you follow, read or watch the news, it’s hard to remain positive.  Like the down trodden in this life, hope can disappear for extended periods of time.  Thus, many are left alone, stuck in an impossible situation praying for a miracle.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you,” Matthew 17:20.

For some the story of David and Goliath is nothing more than a fairy tale, a figment of one’s imagination.  Yet, history conveys the truth found in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 17.  While David’s size was an obstacle, a midget compared to the giant mocking God on a daily basis, his experience as a shepherd prepared him for this battle.  Against all odds, David shot down Goliath with his sling shot opening the door to become king of Israel.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father,” John 14:12.

When Jesus traveled throughout the Middle East during the first century, doubt was prevalent.  Doing the impossible was a dream blocked by the mountain known as reality.  Thus, Jesus found it necessary to regularly talk about the power of faith and belief.  As Jesus began to cure, heal and perform miracles, the impossible seemed to be within reach.  Therefore, don’t let doubt keep you trapped.  Rather, cry out of Jesus so that the God of the impossible will return to perform another miracle.

by Jay Mankus

 

Turn It Up

In a contest, the best players and teams have a tendency to coast at points during the regular season.  Falling into this trap often leads to disappointing loses and major upsets.  At some point you have to respond, by raising your level of competition.  If you are dedicated, gifted and talented, when you turn it up success usually follows.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

According to one of the Old Testament prophets, vision requires patience, resolve and timing.  If you are impatient, you may quit before seeing and tasting the fruits of your labor.  Therefore, when others are on the verge of giving up on a shared dream, remain steadfast by turning up the intensity.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Perhaps the apostle Paul is referencing Habakkuk in the verse above.  The notion of delayed gratification is a foreign to this generation.  In life you can’t just put a prayer request on a credit card, then wait for it the mail to be delivered.  Although some prayers do get answered instantaneously and or quickly, this is not the norm.  Rather, in times of doubt, turn up your faith, waiting for a spiritual harvest to arrive.

by Jay Mankus

A Man of Broken Promises

Sometimes you have to listen closely to what you say.  If you don’t, you could end up blowing smoke, carelessly throwing out words void of meaning.  As I reflected upon recent conversations with my children on my days off, its sad to say that I’ve become a man of broken promises.

A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool, Ecclesiastes 5:3.

Just because someone is intelligent, does not make them immune from making foolish decisions.  The context of the passage above likely refers to Solomon’s struggles to please his wife.  Like any good husband, there is a desire satisfy the needs of those whom you love.  Unfortunately, Solomon acquired 700 wives and 300 concubines as king of Israel, making it extremely difficult for him to be a man of his word.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow, Ecclesiastes 5:4.

As I try to pick up the pieces of my tattered reputation, the words of Ecclesiastes serve as a good place to start.  Whether you are talking to friends, family or neighbors, don’t promise anything you can’t keep.  If anything, limit your commitments and over deliver.  For if you don’t heed this message, you may wake up one morning like me and realize that you’ve become a man of broken promises.

by Jay Mankus

 

Discovering Your Future Through Past Failures

Prior to computers and type writers, when individuals felt like they had something important to remember, a diary or journal would be pulled out of a drawer to record these thoughts.  Unfortunately, many of these ideas weren’t discovered until someone dies, found by family members while sorting through personal belongings.  Some of the greatest poets of all time did not become famous until after their death, as their pieces were found, gathered and put together into a collection.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

Today, I keep a journal next to by bed.  In the past, I’ve allowed great ideas to drift away, lost in my mind before I could write them down.  In the morning, my memory vanished, forgetting an analogy, dream or vision.  One of the draw backs to this is when ideas flow, I don’t sleep, diligently creating an outline or taking notes on the direction of my next blog or movie script.  Despite the weariness that follows, my future becomes clearer as I learn from past failures.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:6.

In a recent interview on the Ellen Show, Ronda Rousey told an audience she considered suicide after losing her first ever UFC fight late last year.  I’m sure we have all experienced disappointment at one point in life, some more than others.  Yet, before you can go forward, you have to dwell of the reality of the matter.  Some individuals aren’t good enough, others are better, more determined than you or you just haven’t fine tuned your talents to get noticed.  Once you reach a conclusion, its time to regroup and move on.  Thus, as I attempt to complete my third movie script and submit it to the 2016 Academy Nicholl Fellowships Competition, I’m hopeful that previous failures over the last 5 years will lead to my big break in Hollywood.

by Jay Mankus

 

Earnest Prayers

Grave, serious and solemn describe the emotions connected to the term earnest.  Tragic events like the San Bernardino terrorist attack on a company Christmas party sent shock waves across the United States last week.  Like the nation of France following their own recent encounter, the news of death tends to bring people to their knees.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him, Acts 12:5.

Although less and less people annually consider themselves to be born again Christians, crying out to God is like a natural response in the face of desperation.  Unfortunately, earnest prayers usually arrive after disaster occurs.  Thus, for God to answer most prayers miracles are necessary or else people will go home disappointed and disenfranchised.  This wasn’t always the case, especially during the first century.

When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”  “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel,” Acts 12:14-15.

Persecution was a way of life for early Christian as many leaders were martyred for their faith.  Hopeful that Peter didn’t face the same fate of James of Zebedee in Acts 12:2, a spirit of earnest prayer spread.  This sober mood spawned an angel into action.  The ultimate goal of any prayer to receive the answer that you’re hoping for.  However, sometimes God answers quicker than you expect.  Thus, before the morning sunrise, Peter was set free, arriving at their front door.  Initially shocked like a dream too good to be true, this earnest prayer was blessed immediately.  In view of this account, be proactive to form a hedge of protection as you participate in a modern example of earnest prayer.

by Jay Mankus

I Can’t Believe This Is Happening to Me

Action scenes from modern movies can be far fetched, unrealistic and unimaginable.  However, every so often individuals experience something bizarre, emulating a page from a Hollywood script.  Perhaps someone sees an unidentified flying object, Bigfoot or has a supernatural encounter.  These events can produce mixed emotions, amazement and fear, making eyewitnesses cry out, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid, Mark 16:8.

During the first century, a group of women came face to face with an angel.  Initially, afraid and perplexed, they did not know how to respond.  Most likely, each was quietly thinking, “is this a dream?  Did I see what I thought I saw?  People are going to think I’m crazy if I tell anyone?”  Nonetheless, as this entity vanished, the instructions communicated made sense.  Thus, despite what others thought, these women obeyed the voice of God.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, 1 Kings 19:12.

In the first season of Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn plays a junior in high school who begins to hear God speak to her.  At first, Joan Girardi thinks she’s losing it, yet each time she follows the Lord’s advice, things go well.  Despite this success, Joan never tells anyone of these encounters until the final episode.  Unfortunately, a bout with lyme disease causes doctors to suggests these interactions were simply hallucinations.  When others question your own faith, may the Holy Spirit give you the strength to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

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