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Get A Little Closer

In 1983, Arrid Extra Dry debuted this “Get a Little Closer ad” to promote their deodorant.  Like any corrupt mind, the context of this commercial can be perverted.  To avoid controversy Arrid’s marketing campaign promised consumers a long lasting product.  By applying deodorant, body odor would be hidden protecting individuals from embarrassment as you draw near the one you love.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The biblical context of the expression “get a little closer” does not require any deodorant.  Smell does not derive from exercise or working out.  Rather, the presence of sin is passed down through generations and from within due to a sinful nature which creates a fowl stench.  Subsequently, human beings are in desperate need of a cleansing which can only be achieved when you get closer to God than you ever have before.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool, Isaiah 1:18.

This special deodorant does not have a price tag.  Nor does this need to be applied over and over again.  As individuals draw near to God with a humbled heart, sincere confession activates this spiritual cleansing.  Although future mistakes will bring you back to your knees, a graceful God longs to settle this matter quickly.  Therefore, don’t let another day go by without getting a little closer to the Only one who can purify your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

You’ll Never Know Unless You Try

When I was younger, I thought I was better than I actually was.  I would talk smack, emotionally annoy opponents and wouldn’t back down from a confrontation.  Over time I have mellowed, learned the importance of humility and found contentment in my retirement from sports.  Yet, I’m thankful that I wasn’t afraid to fail as a professional golfer.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

As I step away from competition, my son James faces a similar dilemma.  Despite being a state champion pole vaulter and 3 time all conference golfer, playing division one sports in college is a whole new ball game.  Thus, he has to decide do I risk embarrassment, humiliation or do I play it safe by avoiding disappointment?  My message to him is you’ll never know unless you try.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

In my first golf mini-tour event, I shot 48 on the front nine, shaking so badly it was hard to swing a club.  I could have hung my head, quit or withdrawn from this competition.  Yet, I battled, birdieing the 10th, finding my rhythm on the back nine.  I never made any money nor did I reach the P.G.A. tour, but I walked away from this game knowing I did everything in my power to succeed.  Thus, whether you are my son, a friend or a stranger I meet along the road called life, you’ll never know your ultimate destiny unless you try by utilizing your God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Mercy Rule

The Mercy Rule was developed for youth sports to prevent a competitive team from further humiliating a less talented group of athletes.  This phrase is often used in baseball when a team is losing by 10 after 4 innings or 20 when the 3rd is completed.  Essentially, this is like waving the white flag, throwing in the towel or surrendering to a far superior team.  Thus, to save time and further embarrassment for the losing side, umpires invoke the mercy rule.

And David said to Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man, 2 Samuel 24:14.

This weekend I endured the worst inning ever as a player or coach.  Although I once lost an opening day baseball game 31-19, at least my team fought back from a 20 run deficit.  Unfortunately, this night to forget involved double digit walks, errors and mental mistakes, enhanced by a shrinking strike zone leading to a two hour and thirty minute 4 inning game.  As I watched several self-inflicted blunders, I wanted someone to put me out of my misery.

For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you, Psalm 86:5.

In 2014, the film Mercy Rule debuted starring Kirk Cameron.  Using lessons from baseball, family and life, Cameron has produced a film which attempts to build character for those who endure helpless moments.  Whether its coping with issues at work, struggling to watch a child’s less talented team or coming to grips with your own fatal flaws, there are always life lessons waiting to be revealed.  When you’re pushed to the brink, unable to take anymore pain, God has a way of showing you mercy.  In return, may you forgive and show mercy upon deserving and undeserving souls.

by Jay Mankus

 

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Don’t Be So Koi; Unleash Your Potential

Koi fish, also known as nishikigoi in Japan, are domesticated carp kept for decorative purposes, usually in water gardens.  However, koi have an unique characteristic, growing only as large as their environment allows.  Thus, if you have a small fish tank, their size will be stunted to a few inches.  When given the opportunity, koi can grow to nearly 4 feet in size, but only in the right conditions like a large pond or lake.

In life, many individuals are afraid of the unknown, the areas beyond their comfort zones.  Subsequently, most people limit their potential, scared to take a chance or risk embarrassment outside in the big sea.  Instead of blossoming, souls tend to settle for mediocre lives, secure in the safety of their normal surroundings.  Unfortunately, this is not the plan God called his disciples to follow, Mark 16:15-18.

Today, Christians leave this responsibility for pastors, preachers and teachers, excluding themselves from Jesus’ command.  Although the harvest is still ripe for the picking, Matthew 9:35-38, the sidelines are flooded, me included, with believers too self-absorbed with life to get into the game.  In view of this unsettling truth, break away from patterns of idleness.  Don’t be so koi; rather unleash your potential by fanning into flame the gifts you have t offer, Romans 12:3-8.

by Jay Mankus

You Should Have Kept Your Mouth Shut!

 

The phrase “Timing is everything” is a staple within the Hollywood culture.  Even if you do the right thing or say exactly what is necessary, sometimes people aren’t ready for your message or in some cases, its too late.  Planning the perfect words to say is important, yet without the exact moment when the stars are aligned, the desired response you are seeking slips away, unable to make the perfect delivery.

 

Moses experiences a similar feeling within Exodus 5:17-21 as God’s plan appears to have back fired in his face.  When the Hebrew foremen realize Pharaoh’s daily quota is nearly impossible to achieve, they turn their frustrations toward Moses.  “You should have kept your mouth shut!”  Look what you’ve done, making the king of Egypt despise us and likely kill us when our people don’t meet the officials expectations.

 

Whether you are married or single, everyone has tasted embarrassment, open mouth and insert foot.  Although you might have had good intentions, words can blew up in your face like a snow ball fight gone bad.  Thus, its vital to be sensitive to the emotions building up inside another individual.  Therefore, the next time you are compelled to speak out in the heat of the moment, ask God for wisdom to say the right thing when the opportunity arises.

by Jay Mankus

The Pain of Sin

Since the garden of Eden, the consequences of sin have left people in agony.  Guilt has become like a nightmare that won’t go away, often overwhelming your soul.  Meanwhile, shame isn’t far behind, leaving a trail of disappointment, embarrassment, and tattered reputations in its wake.  If this wasn’t enough, the fear of punishment and rejection bombard an individual’s mind, wishing they did not partaken in sin.

Regardless of how moral you claim to be, everyone has had a 2 Samuel 11 moment.  One second you are thinking about others, then boredom leads to idleness, from here aimless wandering leads your heart into the presence of sin.  These momentary lapses in judgments are common, except the time they last.  The sooner a person comes to their senses, the softer the blow you have to endure.  However, if you choose to go on a binge of rebellion like King David, adultery, lying and murder will flush your legacy right down the toilet.

When a man after God’s own heart sins, 1 Samuel 16:7, no one is exempt from the power of temptation.  Psalm 38:1-11 serves as a confessional for David, describing the pain sin has left behind within his soul.  This crippling state should inspire Christians to follow the words of 1 Peter 5:8-9, who also struggled with this pain, swallowing his pride after publicly denying Jesus 3 times.  Submit to God, resist the devil and the pain of sin can become a distant memory, James 4:7-8.

by Jay Mankus

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