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Stupid Is as Stupid Does

In the summer of 1994, the world was introduced to Forrest Gump. This unlikely hero played by Tom Hanks follows the advice and wisdom of his mother throughout this film. Expressions known as Gump-isms simplify life similar to the parables of Jesus. While sitting on a bench waiting for his bus to arrive, Forrest says “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Or while addressing his drill sergeant, Gump replies “stupid is as stupid does sir.”

He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others, Proverbs 10:17.

While Forrest is credited for coining this phrase, a biblical author hints about this in the book of Proverbs. Stupid is used 36 times in the Bible. Several of these are written by King Solomon who is trying the pass on his wisdom to his children. In the passage above, Solomon compares stupidity with stubbornness. If someone is trying to help you by revealing an error, flaw or imperfection, it’s in your best interest to listen and adjust what you’re doing wrong.

Whoever loves instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating, Proverbs 12:1.

Unfortunately, if the timing of a correction, rebuke or reproof catches you off guard, a defensive spirit may cause you to disregard this information. Using the modern saying “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcome” is the epitome of stupid. Unless individuals develop a teachable spirit, stupidity becomes a self fulfilled prophecy by not learning from past mistakes. May this blog help you to break free from a stubborn spirit.

by Jay Mankus

An Unlikely War Hero

The 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge was based upon a World War II American Army Medic named Desmond Doss. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Desmond was a hillbilly from Lynchburg, Virginia. While donating blood at a nearby hospital, Desmond met a cute nurse who became the love of his life. Despite his desire to get married, as lines at local recruiting centers continued to form, Desmond followed his calling to enlist.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

While Desmond thought he was signing up to become an Army medic, he was placed in an infantry with the expectation of becoming a soldier. As a devout Seventh Day Adventist, who was raised to keep the Sabbath and keep his vow to never kill, Desmond found himself in the middle of a moral dilemma. When Desmond verbalized his convictions to his commanding officer, this didn’t go over to well with the rest of his squadron.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:13.

Until the Battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss was considered the weak link. However, as his fellow soldiers fell to the ground, wounded one after the other, Desmond’s instincts kicked in. Before this battle was over, Desmond became a real life Forrest Gump, retrieving and saving the lives of 75 injured soldiers. Desmond’s act of bravery was rewarded by becoming the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. May Desmond’s story inspire you to hold fast to your convictions so that you’ll be prepared to follow God’s calling.

by Jay Mankus

When You are Going Through a Phase in Life

As children begin to experience and go through puberty, this period initializes a series of phases in life. Depending upon maturity, support systems, and upbringing, most teenagers don’t respond well to change. Each phase could last as short as a week, extend for months or stretch beyond a year. As a former teacher, I recognize the obvious signs and signals. Yet, some are like poker players who hide their cards well.

But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior to man [as man] appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:4-5.

If I had to point to my own life, the junior high years were the hardest for me. At five feet tall and ninety pounds for 2 years, I was an easy target for bullies. One of the only positives for me was my speed, able to outrun most of my attackers like Forrest Gump. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Jenny who attended the same school. My neighbor Jeanette went to a private school so I was forced to fend for myself like the social misfits in the classic film Outsiders.

Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. [And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope, Titus 3:6-7.

I thought joining the Boy Scouts might help me overcome the fitting in phase. Looking back, I found just as many bullies there as in school. What I really needed was a personal relationship with Jesus, but this didn’t happen until 10th grade. As I put God on hold for a few more years, a couple of friends were sent to help me while God was waiting. Thus, as some of you may be struggling with a new phase in life, don’t forget to call on the name of the Lord to get you through the challenges that you’re currently facing.

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

Making Peace with God

Hollywood usually falls short when attempting to accurately illustrate a biblical principle.  Yet, in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, the evolution of Gary Sinise’ character helps viewers understand what is means to make peace with God.  Lieutentant Dan is born into a long lineage of military officers.  In his mind, Lieutentant Dan believed he was destined to die on a battlefield in Vietnam along with his battalion.  However, Forrest Gump’s act of bravery forced Lieutentant Dan to live the rest of his life on earth without legs.  As Forrest ran off to pursue other aspirations in life, Lieutentant Dan was bound to a wheel chair.  Bitterness grew within Lieutentant Dan’s heart until Gump became a shrimp boat captain.  Volunteering as Gump’s second mate, Lieutentant Dan wrestles with his purpose on earth.  During a major hurricane, Lieutentant Dan verbalizes his frustrations, welcoming the wrath of nature head on as if to seek a duel with God.  After this storm passes, Lieutentant Dan makes peace with God.

One of the criminals who had been hanged [on a cross beside Him] kept hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us [from death]!” 40 But the other one rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?-Luke 23:39-40

A first century doctor, no stranger to death, shares a story about Jesus just before his death on a cross.  For some reason, this encounter is glanced over by the other 3 gospel authors, skipped to cover other healings, miracles and stories.  In the passage below, Luke reveals steps toward making peace with God.  The first involves acknowledging your imperfections or as the apostle Paul once said, “falling short of God’s glory,” Romans 3:23.  Once individuals confess their sins to God, step two is geared toward securing an eternal destiny.  The disciple whom Jesus loved once proclaimed, “you don’t have to hope for an answer; you can know for certain,” 1 John 5:13.  On their death bed, hanging from a cross, one criminal went to hell and other was promised to be with Jesus in paradise, heaven.  This is one of the best biblical examples of making peace with God.

We are suffering justly, because we are getting what we deserve for what we have done; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, [please] remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43 Jesus said to him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” Luke 23:41-43.

Whenever I attend a funeral, enter an emergency room or take off in an airplane, making peace with God is brought to the forefront.  Instead of reading a book or watching a movie, the fragility of life flashes through my mind.  Sadly, most people don’t consider making peace with God until its too late.  As my blood pressure sky rocketed yesterday while sitting in preop, I was powerless, unable to control my breathing.  When my eye surgery was cancelled, too dangerous to perform due to my elevated blood pressure, my perspective on life changed like Lieutentant Dan in Forrest Gump.  Maybe I won’t be the person I hoped for or be able to achieve the dreams that I aspire, but at some point I have to make peace with God.  I guess it’s time to surrender my goals by yielding to God’s ultimate plan for my life on earth.  Although I still don’t know exactly what that is, my recent health scare has provided me the opportunity to make peace with God where I am.

by Jay Mankus

A Thornbush in a Drunkard’s Hand

Forrest Gump gave America the notion that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”  This imagery reminds individuals of the days of generic Valentine Day boxes filled with an unlabeled variety of flavors.  Unfortunately, few movies address delicate issues like alcoholism in When a Man Loves a Woman.

Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool, Proverbs 26:9.

According to King Solomon, drunkenness is nothing new.  Jewish wedding receptions often lasted several days with some extended for a week.  It was common for hosts to bring out cheap wine once most of the guests were hammered, unable to tell the difference anymore.  Whether Solomon is referring to an actual event following a party or using hyperbole, drinking numbs the pain of individuals.  The physical affects with a thornbush will be felt after the alcohol wears off.

But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap, Luke 21:34.

One of the hardest transitions facing young people is learning to have fun in life without alcohol.  When my father was transferred to Cleveland while I was in college, making new friends was tough.  After meeting some people my own age, I became their designated driver whenever this group went clubbing on the Flats in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  Unfortunately, most of them could not dance without getting drunk.  Not wanting to wait one evening, I traded places with a girl friend, helping the crew down 3 pitchers of beer.  While I was the life of the party for a few hours, the lingering affects of this spree lasted 2 days.  Thus, I know what its like to be a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand and its not a place where you’ll ever want to visit.  Heed the passage above to avoid the pain I endured.

by Jay Mankus

A Fool’s Eyes

One of my favorite quotes from Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks is “stupid is as stupid does.”  Sometimes its easier to recognize stupidity rather than go into specific details.  A common synonym for stupid is foolish.  This label is earned when an ill-advised act, choice or word is made.

A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth, Proverbs 17:24.

According to King Solomon, fools tend to get distracted.  Instead of thinking before you act, the world provides ample temptations to lose your way.  While the discerning keep wisdom in sight, fools wander off the straight and narrow.  The longer an individual indulges in the pleasures in life, the hardest it becomes to leave this wayward road.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world, 1 John 2:16.

People don’t wake up and decide I’m going to do something foolish.  Rather, a series of compromises places souls on a path toward destruction.  The naive believe they will be able to turn back whenever they want.  Unfortunately, the fool’s eyes often wait until they are on verge on death before coming to their senses.  May those struggling at this moment heed the verses in scriptures above to escape a fool’s eyes before its too late.

by Jay Mankus

 

Sinning, Stupidity and a Slippery Slope

You don’t have to be Forrest Gump to say something that you regret.  It only takes a careless word, foolish act or fopa caught on film to ruin one’s reputation.  Perhaps, this is the difficult lesson Donald Trump is learning following his generalization of Mexican immigrants.  Whether you are blatantly sinning or do something stupid, is the media ready for the slippery slope for those who are politically incorrect?

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” Matthew 7:12.

I wouldn’t call the band Ratt prophetic, yet their classic song Round and Round reveals a simple truth, “what comes around goes around.”  Or as the apostle Paul proclaims, “you reap what you sow,” Galatians 6:7.  Taking this one step farther, Jesus makes the finger pointers aware of their actions, “you will be judged in the same manners that you judge others,” Matthew 7:2.  Therefore, before you pick up a stone to throw, jump on the pile of bashers or incite a mob, be careful what you wish for.

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 22:39.

Currently, Donald Trump is the media’s whipping boy.  However, tomorrow it could be you.  Sure, the elite do control the bully pulpit, yet the Lord controls the universe.  Subsequently, no one is perfect and stupidity is not immune to the wise.  I’m not sure what source or standard cultural leaders are following today, but when the shoe is on the other foot, a ground swell of forgiveness will likely emerge.  Therefore, follow the golden rule by treating others as you want to be treated.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s Time to Straighten Up

In the 1994 classic film Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks plays a boy with a crooked back.  To fix this problem, a doctor places metal rods on his legs to address this physical ailment.  While running from a few enemies, Forrest is miraculously healed as he straightens up to flee from those throwing rocks at him.

Another doctor recounts a back problem that he was unable to treat in Luke 13:10-17.   Outside of Hollywood, pain doesn’t always vanish.  According to Luke, this woman had been like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for 18 years.  However, Jesus reveals the root of this condition, a crippling demon, Luke 13:12, sent by the devil to bind her during this time, Luke 13:16.  In the middle of a worship service, Jesus makes an altar call to release this woman from the grips of the enemy.

Today, similar dilemmas exist in the lives of children, adults and the elderly.  When specialists can’t diagnose illnesses, most fail to examine the spiritual side of this matter.  If you’re feeling bound and tied up by the stress and worries of life, perhaps an unknown enemy has entered your life, Ephesians 4:26-27.  The Lord’s altar is always open, Matthew 11:28-30, waiting to straighten up your life by the healing power of Jesus, Colossians 2:13-15.

Please share how you have been healed, touched or straightened up by Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

Not The Ending I Envisioned

Gary Sinise played Lieutenant Dan, a Vietnam squadron leader who holds a grudge against Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, feeling that his destiny was stolen by Gump’s heroic efforts.   Lieutenant Dan believed he was meant to die with his army on the battle field.  Thus, he confronts Forrest, turns to alcohol to drown his sorrow, spending the rest of his life bound to a wheelchair, at least in his mind.

Meanwhile, all Forrest wanted was to be Jenny’s girl, his only friend growing up.  Wherever Forrest was, he thought of Jenny, writing letter after letter, hoping for a storybook ending.  Unfortunately, Forrest received these letters back, returned unopened.  After momma died, Forrest turned to running to clear his mind, tracking thousands of miles across the country.  Despite getting his girl, she dies of H.I.V. before they can grow old together.

Whether you are reading a book, watching a movie or living an act from your life, often the scene doesn’t conclude as you wish.  Instead, the curse of Genesis 3:16-19 provides an alternate ending such as death, paralysis or suicide.  Today, I feel like Lieutenant Dan in the shrimp boat during Hurricane Camille.  However, I’m not telling God “is that all you’ve got?”  Rather, I’ve surrendered, whispering “I can’t take anymore disappointment!”

Psalm 33:10-11 provides the answer to those befuddled by the direction their life has turned.  The Lord foils the plans of nation and thwarts the purposes of people.  I have become a causality of this truth, unable to comprehend the logic of God’s ways.  Yet, somewhere in the pages the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 exists.  Getting to this scene and waiting is the hardest part.  May God’s unfailing love rest on you as you trust the Lord to complete the work that He has begun in you, Philippians 1:6.

by Jay Mankus

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