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Opportunities

A set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. The world is full of opportunities, when moments, occasions and time align. When you add this to Carpe diem, a Latin aphorism for to seize the day, what you once thought to be impossible can become a reality. As Christians add prayer to begin each day, the probability for success increases.

Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), 16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:15-16.

While watching Evan Almighty over the weekend, I was reminded of the power of opportunities. In a scene at a restaurant, Evan’s wife played by Lauren Graham has a talk with God, Morgan Freeman. Thinking Evan was going through a mid life crisis, God sets the record straight. Using an analogy about praying for patience, God doesn’t provide this quality. Rather, the Lord gives you opportunities to demonstrate patience.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Opportunities are like playing a video game. While each game is going on, you have a chance to improve, reach a new level or high score. However, when the game is over, you have to move on, live and learn. As the sunrises, a new day awaits, full of opportunities. The key is making sure you don’t allow past errors, mistakes and sins to discourage you. Those who don’t grow weary or lose heart, press on to seize new opportunities as they unfold. May this blog inspire you to make the most of each God given opportunity that you have today.

by Jay Mankus

I Could Use a Little Help Down Here

Newscaster Evan Baxter played by comedian Steve Carell leaves Buffalo, New York behind when he wins a seat in Congress. Yet, as Evan moves to Washington D.C. with his family, no one could imagine God’s request, played by Morgan Freeman, for this rising star. This is the background for the 2007 film Evan Almighty where a series of God instances leaves this amateur to commit political suicide, confessing God’s calling to build an ark. My favorite scene occurs when Baxter initially struggles to get his new project going, crying out to God, ” I could use a little help down here.”

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple, Luke 14:25-27.

I usually don’t agree with Hollywood’s portrayal of a biblical truths, especially after their epic flop of Noah in 2014. However, the Almighty films beginning with Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carrey in 2003 and the most recent Evan Almighty, provide a more accurate view of God’s character. After God purchases additional lots and provides all of the supplies to build an ark, Evan agrees to complete this task, unaware of why or when this boat will be needed. This is where many Americans find themselves, unsure if what they are currently doing is worth completing. “Should I move on or keep my word by finishing what I started?”

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples, Luke 14:28-33.

The gospel of Luke refers to 72 other disciples, servants of God, but not part of Jesus’ inner circle. At some point, Jesus challenged those who were eager to become followers. Combining common sense, tough love and wisdom from heaven, Jesus doesn’t want people to regret making a decision. Luke 9:57-62 highlights three different conversations that Jesus had with individuals who weren’t fully committed. Thus, each turned back, going on with the rest of their life. As 2020 quickly heads toward February, maybe it’s time for you take a moment to reflect. Are you doing God’s will? Are you uncertain about your career, college or future plans? Before you feel overwhelmed by life, don’t forget to ask God daily like Evan, ” I could use a little help down here.”

by Jay Mankus

Side by Side

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=you+tube+of+side+by+side+scene+in+evan+almighty&qpvt=you+tube+of+side+by+side+scene+in+evan+almighty&view=detail&mid=48CD7DEF805AAABCA2D048CD7DEF805AAABCA2D0&FORM=VRDGAR

When you watch a movie for the first time, there will be things that you miss.  Perhaps, you went to the bathroom, got something to drink or ran out for a refill of popcorn.  Either way, watching a second time will reveal a catchy phrase, funny line or memorable moment that slipped by you the first time.  As I caught a rerun of Evan Almighty over the weekend, I was touched by a conversation between Morgan Freeman and Lauren Graham.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.  And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.  Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, Genesis 7:6-8. 

Freeman who plays God is serving as a waiter at a restaurant where Graham, Evan Baxter’s wife looks depressed.  Leaving her husband behind, she thinks Evan played by Steve Carell is in need of intervention for mental health issues.  In this time of crisis, she abandons her husband afraid of what might happen in the future.  Before severing this relationship completely, God provides a word of advice to persuade Mrs. Baxter to return.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone? – Ecclesiastes 4:9-11

The key to any marriage is standing side by side.  Most wedding vows include “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, til death due us part.”  According to an article from Marriage Today, one out of three marriages in America end in divorce.  Yet, this doesn’t tell the whole story as some states and regions have a much lower rate than the national average.  Although the data is not available, it’s safe to say that those couples who have remained married have stood side by side through thick and thin.  No matter how hard it may be at times, those who endure trials together, stay together.  May thewords, “side by side,” renew and revive the covenant of marriage.

by Jay Mankus

 

Random Acts of Goodness

In the movie Evan Almighty, a weatherman feels led to run for congress.  After winning the election, Evan Baxter moves to Washington D.C. with a lofty goal, to change the world.  Through a series of unusual events, God calls Evan to leave his office temporary to build an ark.  In the end, God was teaching Evan a life lesson, taking time out of his busy schedule for a random act of kindness.

Micah 6:8 has a similar theme: to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.  If you follow the golden rule, do unto others as you want others to do unto you, you are acting justly.  When you forgive a co-worker, friend or family member for something they have done, you understand what it means to be merciful.  Finally, when your life takes a u-turn in an unexpected direction, but you remain faithful to the Lord, you are beginning to walk humbly with God.

Yesterday was one of the most rewarding days I have experienced this year.  As I laid in bed last night, the reason was simple, random acts of goodness.  I talked to the manager of a local 7-Eleven, who was struggling to get one of her workers to show up for her shift.  I mentioned I was a teacher for 10 years, opening up a great conversation about young people today, setting goals in life and taking responsibility for your actions.

Later on, at a Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball game, I scrambled to get a foul ball that came near where I was sitting.  As soon as I caught the ball, my daughter ran up the steps, I gave her the ball and she hugged me.  Like a scene from a movie, I was blessed by the feeling that I received for a random act of goodness.  Seize the day by living out Micah 6:8 today!

by Jay Mankus

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