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I’ll Be Back… Again

Terminator Dark Fate premiered on November 1st, 2019, thirty years after the first Terminator film debuted in theaters. When a cyborg is sent on a mission from the future, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the terminator sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate Sarah Conner. Actress Linda Hamilton plays Conner, a mother whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the sentient machines. The creation of Dark Fate gives Arnold Schwarzenegger’s catchphrase “I’ll Be Back” a new meaning, I’ll be back again.

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my keen and firm Strength, Who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight—Psalm 144:1.

History is filled with examples of famous comebacks. Former heavy weight boxing champion George Foreman came out of retirement to fight at age 50. Michael Jordan retired from the NBA in 1993 following his father’s death to pursue at a professional baseball career. Two years later Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls, winning another 3 National Basketball League titles. Sometimes when famous athletes retire, the desire to compete doesn’t disappear or fade away. These aspirations elicit and ignite a desire to try one more time before bodies can no longer compete at the highest level.

For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked are overthrown by calamity, Proverbs 24:16.

Exposure to failure often reveals the character of a person. The earthly brother of Jesus writes about how hardships are designed to produce endurance, faith and a steadfast nature, James 1:2-4. While everyone wants to stay on top, eventually you will fall, humbled by your own limitations. How you respond to defeat will ultimately dictate your future. According to Solomon, the righteous rise up again and again. Therefore, you don’t have to be a famous movie star to proclaim “I’ll be back again!”

by Jay Mankus

When You Are Unable to Make the Best of a Difficult Situation

Whenever people pray for patience, God tends to have a sense of humor placing individuals into extreme circumstances.  These scenarios put patience to the test, seeing whether you will pass or fail.  Well, a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about making the best of difficult situations at work.  Apparently, the Lord has given my faith a pop quiz to see if I am practicing what I have preached about recently.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

The apostle Paul points to endurance as a key element to get you through troubling times in life.  Endurance includes acceptance, bearing with, fortitude, persistence and tenacity to withstand curve balls that interrupt your life.  According to the passage above, Christians undergoing trials should seek guidance from the Bible.  As you receive encouragement from God’s promises, it is possible to make the best of a difficult situation.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

However, there is an invisible force that you must be cautious of to avoid acting out impulsively without any regard for God and his precepts.  When push comes to shove, childish ways inside of me are about to erupt, wanting to throw a tantrum like the days of my youth.  Unless you habitually keep in step with the Holy Spirit, ungodly words will come out of your mouth.  Thus, until I get this area of my life under control, I won’t be able to make the best of a difficult situation.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Amazing the Difference One Day Makes

If you do a search of “what a difference a day makes,” you will find a series of sermons on this topic.  Some use examples of extreme events such as the dropping of the first atomic bomb, experiencing a natural disaster or witnessing a terrorist attack like September 11th, 2001.  These devastating days are compared to the silence of an aftermath, where time seems to stand still.  Whenever trials arise, individuals are forced to confront change, trusting God one day at a time.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

For any of you who have played golf before, a typical round is similar to the quote from Forrest Gump, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you will get.”  Unlike any other sport, practicing doesn’t mean you will improve.  The more you play golf, the easier it becomes to pick up bad habits.  Thus, a bad swing, chip or putt can unlock demons of doubt that will haunt you throughout the rest of your round.  This is what my daughter Lydia endured during his first round of this years Girls Delaware Junior Golf Championship.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

Following the first round, my daughter wanted to quit golf.  Twenty four hours later, Lydia figured something out on the range prior to her round and everything clicked.  Beside a few holes, she was either chipping or putting for birdie.  Despite a few three putts, Lydia played the round of her life consistently hitting her driver over 200 yards.  There are certain things in life that don’t make any sense.  Yet, when attitudes awake to a new day and confidence returns, it’s amazing the difference one day makes.

by Jay Mankus

A Win for the Ages

When fairy tale stories come true, sometimes Hollywood is criticized for an unbelievable ending.  Yet, what Nate Lashley accomplished last weekend can only be described as a win for the ages.  Lashley’s wire to wire victory at the Rocket Mortgage PGA Tour event in Detroit, Michigan seemed surreal.  Entering the final round with a six shot lead, commentators suggested that a collapse might come, causing Nate to fold under the pressure.  Instead, a Tiger Woods esc domination ensued as Lashley finished 25 under par, breezing to win this PGA event.  The context of what happened leading up to this victory makes Lashley’s accomplishment a real life Cinderella story and likely Disney movie in the making.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Fifteen years ago, Nate Lashley was a rising college star playing for the Arizona Wildcats.  While competing in an NCAA qualifying tournament, his parents and girl-friend flew out to watch Nate play in the west regionals.  On the return flight, the plane piloted by Nate’s father crashed during a storm killing all three aboard.  This tragedy eventually caused Nate to leave golf, making a career as a real estate agent.  When Nate’s love for golf returned, nagging injuries prevented Lashley for reaching his full potential.  Playing on what is called a major medical exemption, Nate was running out of time to make enough money to keep his PGA tour card.  Thus, Nate attempted to Monday qualify for 4 spots in the Rocket Mortgage Tournament.  Lashley finished two shots out of a playoff, but a last second withdraw opened the door for Nate to become the last player in the field.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

As a viewer of this amazing feat, Lashley’s rise to the top is a story of courage, faith and perseverance.  In the back of any mind, doubts whisper “you’ll never amount to anything; you’re not good enough or you don’t have what it takes.”  These inner demons prevent most people from fulfilling their dreams and purpose in life.  Yet, Nate Lashley’s win for the ages inspires me to not give up hope on accomplishing my own dreams in life.  Just as Jesus’ earthly brother writes about how trials strengthen faith, may God fill you will perseverance to fear any face and climb any mountain, no matter how high, in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Upset: Dejection or Motivation?

When individuals do not experience a desired outcome, a wave of emotions come forth. As reality sets in, the finality of failure can be unsettling. In the context of sports, when the better team on paper with more talent loses, this is considered an upset. When players walk off a court or field staring defeat in the face, there are two logical options: dejection or motivation.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Like any grieving process, souls initially become dejected. Depression, despair and unhappiness are like bumps in the road toward healing. However, if you don’t experience a moral victory or taste success soon, hearts can become heavy. Glimmers of hope are like rays of sunshine to help people realize that they are going to make it through another storm.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

Anyone who hates to lose will find some sort of motivation to avoid a similar fate. After getting cut from his high school basketball team, Michael Jordan went on to earn a college scholarship, make the NBA and become one of the greatest players of all time. Instead of dwelling on self pity fueled by dejection, motivation can bring you out of desolation. Like Jesus said while talking to his disciples, “anything is possible with God.”

by Jay Mankus

When God Allows Your Life to be Turned Upside Down

After two weeks of tests, everything was set for my cataract surgery this morning.   While a routine physical revealed high blood pressure, two days ago my latest reading was 130 over 80.  Perhaps, I became a little complacent, throwing a pizza party for my department Wednesday night.  When I reached preop, the nurse was unsettled by my blood pressure, most likely due to the sodium in the 4 slices of pizza I eat the night before.  Additional tests didn’t improve, only escalating my stress level.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

I spent the next 30 minutes waiting as physicians came in and out of my room.  For a few moments, I felt like I was part of a drama on television, the patient who passes away.  I should have seen this coming as the woman at the front desk asked, “do you have a living will and testament with you?”  To make matters worse one nurse began to lecture me, interrupting me each time I tried to respond.  “You need to eat better, take this serious, see a cardiologist.”  This exchange only worsened my condition.  Thus, my surgery was cancelled, recommending that I go directly to the emergency room.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Working on 8 hours of sleep over the past 4 days, 72 hours, I opted to go home and sleep.  Meanwhile, my wife stayed home from work in case I needed to be rushed to the hospital.  As for now, I have been put back on high blood pressure medication until further notice.  The surgery has been postponed until January, requiring visits to my primary doctor and cardiologist before my surgeon will give the thumbs up.  As for now, carbs, soda and unhealthy foods are out.  I’m not sure how my body is going to adjust, but if I want to see my children grow up changes must be made now.  I’m not sure why I have to endure this trial now, bot God allows lives to be turned upside down to prepare individuals for the future.

by Jay Mankus

The Crucial Role of Patience

Composure, endurance and fortitude are words synonymous with patience.  Of all the requests offered up to God in the form of prayers, patience is often skipped.  Those who have prayed for patience are immediately thrown into situations that require patience.  Unless you are ready to be challenged spiritually, you may want to focus on other areas of your life that need attention.

The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, but as they go on their way they are suffocated with the anxieties and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity, Luke 8:14.

Following the parable of the sower, Jesus’ disciples took him aside, yearning to grasp and understand the spiritual meaning of this analogy.  Three of the four seeds sown fell upon soil with different limitations.  One was too compacted, another shallow and the third was surrounded by aggressive growing weeds.  In the passage above, those individuals who reside within these environments struggle to develop maturity.  When faith fails to become grounded, rooted in Christ, patience is just a word, rarely practiced or seen in public.

But as for that seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word with a good and noble heart, and hold on to it tightly, and bear fruit with patience, Luke 8:15.

However, for diligent caretakers, fertilizing, maintaining and weeding regularly, good soil is attainable.  According to Jesus, this is achieved spiritually by receiving God’s Word with a good and noble heart.  Yet, it doesn’t stop here.  The spiritually mature hold on to the promises of the Bible through trials and tribulations.  Those who stand firm through the storms of life, bear fruit with patience as a demonstration of the Holy Spirit.  May this blog help you realize the crucial role of patience, a trait that allows spiritual fruit to blossom.

by Jay Mankus

If You Look Down… That’s Where You Will Go

Growing up two hours south of the Pocono Mountains, a neighbor introduced me to skiing while in junior high school.  One of the greatest obstacles I had to overcome was my fear of heights, some thing a chair lift ride to the top of Camelback Mountain only exasperated.  Gradually, I learned to look down, seeing which trails to explore and those to avoid.  Yet, as you exit chair lifts, you must keep your head up, fixed on what lurks ahead.  This prevents novices from making a wrong turn or venturing down a trail your not qualified to ski.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

A freak skiing accident ruined Molly Bloom’s chances of qualifying for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.  This crash in her final run of Olympic qualifying for woman’s moguls, a combination of free style jumps and moguls, is depicted in the 2017 film Molly’s Game.  After this vicious wipeout, there are a series of flashbacks from Molly’s childhood.  One clip depicts Molly’s father played by Kevin Costner, pushing her to the limits as a teenager.  Costner’s character stresses one crucial point about skiing,”If you look down, that’s where you will go.”

[Looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross,]disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work], Hebrews 12:2.

This same concept applies to the spiritual realm.  The moment you begin to look at the obstacles in your path, anxiety, fear and worry can consume human souls.  Just as moguls, steep slopes and icy conditions affects how you ski, a lack of faith leads to poor decisions.  Thus, the Bible urges believers to fix your eyes on Jesus.  While everyone faces scary slopes in their future, God wants to be your trail guide, to navigate you through uncharted territories.  May this blog inspire you to look ahead, trusting God so that the thought of falling won’t paralyze you with fear.

by Jay Mankus

Period

In the context of history, a period is a length or portion of time.  Physics refers to the interval of time between successive occurrences of the same state.  Woman experience a flow of blood and other material from the lining of the uterus, lasting for several days each month.  Meanwhile, English uses a period as a punctuation mark to clearly define the end of a sentence.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

Punctuation enables writers to separate sentences and their elements to clarify meaning.  In my early years,  I was an expert at crafting run on sentences, confusing my teachers and lowering my grade.  To make matters worse, I battled periods of stammering and stuttering throughout high school.  One of the only ways I could clearly communicate was with a pen and paper.  Thus, poor grammar hindered my ability to express myself.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

Oddly enough, I have spent the last 25 years in one form of writing or another.  This began as a poetry teacher in West Virginia, offering nightly active learning workshops for students.  From here I dabbled with song writing, climaxing with an album.  After exploring short stories, I ventured into a monthly news letter called Soul Improvements as an editor.  Serving as a staff writer for Travel Golf Media, developing high school Bible Curriculum and now writing movie scripts is all part of the journey I am on.  I’m not sure where this gift will take me, but I will continue to pursue this quest until God punctuates the end of my life with a period.

by Jay Mankus

Excuse Me

A generation ago, respect was demanded, encouraged and reinforced by most suburban neighborhoods.  Whenever someone burped, farted or responded in a rude manner in public, this act was addressed immediately.  Local communities looked out for the best interest of adolescents as adults weren’t afraid to correct inappropriate behavior.  This era reflected a time when the majority ruled.

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.

Following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, there is a growing movement in America to remove any monument or statue linked to slavery.  During an interview with the media last week, President Donald Trump addressed this issue.  Using George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as examples, Trump replied “where are you going to stop?”  If this trend is allowed to continue, the offended will expand their sights to erase remaining traces of Christianity within America.  Today, the minority find ways to rule.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! – 1 Corinthians 10:12.

If this removal of American history doesn’t disturb you, let me remind you of Kryziukalnas, Lithuania.  When the former Soviet Union invaded the Baltic States in June of 1940, Soviet officials removed all resembles of faith.  This meant removing all religious symbols.  When the iron curtain fell in the 1980’s, crosses that were found were placed on a hill in northern Lithuania.  This site ensures that future generations won’t forget what happened in the past.  Today, this area is known as the hill of crosses, a symbol of religious freedom.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

In recent days, traces of America’s Civil War are being destroyed.  Fueled by a media frenzy, any monument or statue that suggests racism is under consideration for removal.  However, if local, state and government officials allow this excuse me mentally to reign, any landmark could be in jeopardy.  Do Americans really want to follow in the footsteps of communism?  Who will learn from history if it’s completely obliterated?  May the city of crosses serve as a living example to learn from past mistakes.  Instead of saying excuse me, use any offensive historic symbol as teachable moments to educate those who were not alive.

by Jay Mankus

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