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Mind Games

As a teenage boy, I wasn’t charismatic or eloquent. I struggled to maintain a B average and entered high school at 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. While competing in sports was my first love, attractive females began to get my attention. Unfortunately, I was so small and quiet, that I was invisible when other guys were around. Subsequently, dating was something that I longed for, but was unable find someone that liked me more than a friend.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

What made matters worse was a severe speech impediment. When I opened my mouth, I never knew if I was going to embarrass myself in class or actually spit something out. I could visualize what I wanted to say, but my mind would play tricks on me. The longer this condition persisted, I began to develop an ungodly belief that I would never be able to share what was in my heart and on my mind.

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.

After entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the promises of the Bible. When I learned about my own internal struggles in Galatians 5:16-18, the miracles of Jesus gave me hope. My prayers began to focus on healing my stuttering so that this mind game would end. Twenty years after my condition was first diagnosed, the power of the Holy Spirit finally broke through. While the Devil still tries to remind me of my past, the Bible has steadied my faith as this spiritual mind game continues today.

by Jay Mankus

How Relevant are You?

I spent the majority of my years as a student in obscurity, afraid my stuttering would embarrass me in some way.  It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I began to become relevant, serving on student council, volunteering to help build the class float for homecoming and reaching out to individuals throughout the school.  Whether popularity makes you relevant or not, I came into my own as a human being, with the highlight turning my parents basement into a nightclub for one Christmas evening during my freshmen year of college.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? – James 2:14

In the years that followed, inconsistency is the best term that describes my life.  I had my moments in the spot light, playing sand volleyball at Geauga Lake in its hey day, serving as a journalist for Travel Golf Media and store manager of Michael Jordan Golf at O’Hare International Airport.  However, I consider these personal accomplishments, not something that makes you relevant.  The best way to explain relevance is by quoting Larry the Cable Guy, ” get ur done!”  Yet, what if you invest your time and energy into things that are trivial?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead, James 2:17.

From an eternal perspective, my most relevant year was 1993.  I spent the first portion at a youth ministry trade school called Tentmaker’s, fine tuning my spiritual gifts.  The next three months involved applying this new found knowledge as a counselor and teacher at a boarding school for career underachieving junior high students.  The final six months of 93 were my finest, serving as a youth pastor in Columbus, Indiana.  These days were the epitome of relevance, meeting my wife to be in the final month of this year.  Yet, for now, I struggle to find relevance, distracted by the stress of life.  Although its nice to reminisce from time to time, its never to late to become relevant again.  May we all strive to find our place in this world so that our deeds, faith and work will not be done in vain.

by Jay Mankus

Stuck on the Sidelines

When I competed in sports, I never realized what a parent goes through until I became one.  Sure, I remember having butterflies on the first tee, throwing the first pitch or standing on the starting block, but after a while these nervous feelings become part of the game.  From the sidelines, I’m helpless, just a voice of encouragement, biting my nails, pacing around and hoping my child doesn’t embarrass themselves.

As my oldest son James sets out to play in his second consecutive state golf tournament, there isn’t anyone else to blame.  There are no umpires who can miss a call.  No referees to influence the outcome of the game.  In golf, you are the team and when you mess up its obvious.  Well, let’s see…  You can hit a house, a spectator, visit the beach or take a dive in an adjacent waterway.  When you’re stuck on the sidelines as a golf parent, every shot is a gut wrenching adventure.

During the game of life, the Lord doesn’t abandon you.  According to Hebrews 12:1, a great crowd of witnesses is sitting in the grandstands called heaven.  Saints, past and present are sending out prayers to help each participant to cross the finish line.  Although you may be lost in the woods or stuck in a hazard, God sends angels to set you free from these precarious situations, Psalm 30:1-3.  If you’re stuck on the sidelines like me, remember the promise of Philippians 4:6-7 to get you through each day.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back

Super balls, the toy, not the lottery game were always fascinating to me.  If you were in a gym or parking lot, it didn’t take much effort on one bounce to get a super ball to reach 50 feet high.  The rubber inside was perfectly designed to vault into the air, springing up and down for several seconds.  If only human beings could bounce back as quick as these specially designed balls.

The term bounce can either be a noun or verb depending upon your use.  Webster uses a noun when referencing jumping, moving up and down or rebounding an object that has taken a bad bounce.  Meanwhile, a verb is the actually act like bouncing a basketball or rebounding from a fall.  The greatest Olympic example of this is a ski jumper who falls at the end of the ramp, wiping out, falling end over end down a steep hill, crashing and sliding into several different objects along the way.  ABC Sports titled this moment, “the Agony of Defeat,” replaying it each week as a promotional for The Wide World of Sports.

If my kids could have created a video of my 5 second fall during my tubing accident, I might have over 1 million hits on my you tube channel.  However, my initial concern is trying to swallow my pride, get healthy and make a quick recovery.  I am more embarrassed than anything, kicking myself for wasting my personal time from work during this 2 week period.  Despite everything that happened, I still have my life, the ability to walk and my breathing improves daily.  If you’re feeling down today, use the prayer in Colossians 3:23 to bounce back as you rebound from a fall in life.

by Jay Mankus

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