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Savor the Moments

As a parent, I have a tendency to fast forward to the future.  It’s natural to want to skip diapers, the terrible twos and questioning stage.  Yet, if you avoid these difficult phases, its hard to appreciate the little things in life.  Thus, as my oldest son James starts his freshman year of college at Liberty University in the fall, all I can do is savor the moments.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” – Luke 10:40

Most people fall into one of two categories, possessing a personality like Mary or Martha.  Martha’s tend to be worry warts, usually serious, struggling to slow down.  Thus, in the passage above, Martha’s tunnel vision prevents her from enjoying Jesus’ visit.  Frustrated by the lack of concern by her sister, Martha’s words are played out in countless households daily.  Unfortunately, this character flaw steals the joy Martha should possess at this moment.

But few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:42.

Those of you who are carefree tend to fall into the Mary category.  Sure, she might not be task oriented like her sister, but she longs for conversations.  Eager to find out where Jesus has been, the people he’s met and progress the ministry has made, this explains the compliment Mary receives.  Although it may be difficult to alter your personalty, you don’t want to miss out on the blessings God has in store for you.  Therefore, with the help of the Holy Spirit, may you learn to savor the moments.

by Jay Mankus

 

I Thought They Had It All Together

Whether its in church, your own community or traveling on vacation, you’re bound to come into contact with an exceptional individual.  On the surface, this person possesses character, personality and wisdom.  Adorned by everyone, they seem too good to be true.

While on a week long mission trip in Jackson, Tennessee, I was introduced to one of the largest youth groups in the country.  Based out of Rochester, Michigan, this church took several buses across the country each summer to serve needy communities.  The president of this youth group appeared like he had it all together.  As I began to develop friendships in the area, only one person saw through his phony witness.  One year after losing touch, I  heard through the grapevine that this saint fell from grace, arrested for running an under age gambling ring.

Call it jaded or desensitized, but I am usually not surprised by people who live double lives.  Whenever you put others up on a pedestal, disappointment is a likely outcome.  Therefore, if you think someone has it all together,don’t worship one of God’s creations.  Rather, say a prayer for these individuals, hope for the best and trust in the Lord for a bright future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Is That All I Needed?

After spending 3 seasons as an assistant golf professional and another 10 coaching high school boys and girls, I’ve seen my share of bad golf swings.  While many were beyond help, I did have a few success stories.  The most recent involved a player who had a decent short game, but their swing produced a slice like an out of control boomerang.  Observing from behind the range, I discovered a major glitch.  With one slight adjustment, this senior went from struggling to break 60 consistently for 9 holes to shooting 94 for 18 in his last conference tournament.

The other day, I left my house without my Bible and journal before leaving for work.  My daily routine involves getting to work 30 minutes early, listening to music, read and journal my prayers and thoughts before each shift.  Unprepared, I had to wing it, quietly preparing myself for another 40 hour week.  Since I was running late, I only had a few minutes before exiting my car.  Void of any earth shattering content, I yielded my future over to the Lord, placing it solely in His hands.  Twenty minutes later I was called back to my seasonal management position leading me to ponder, “is that all I needed?  Is this what God was waiting for me to do?”

Whether you’re trying to improve your golf game or follow God, sometimes the slightest adjustment produces amazing results.  Perhaps, this was the message Moses was trying to relay to Israel before his retirement, Deuteronomy 28:1-14.    Either way, the next time you experience periods of inconsistency, invite the Lord to become your Rock during the trying times in life, Psalm 28:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

Around the Next Corner

I’ve never been known as a quitter, but the mystery of the future is hard to endure when life isn’t playing out as you expected.  Influenced by instant success early on, I assumed there wouldn’t be surprises around the next corner, causing you to want to turn around or head off in a different direction.  Saturday was one of those days, as impatience brought me to a ledge of despair.  Just as I was about to give up, a glimmer of hope appeared in the distance.

Galatians 6:9-10 contains a similar message to those who begin to think, “what’s the point; why should I waste my time doing good when nothing seems to change?”  This mindset is like the parable of weeds, Matthew 13:24-30, sowed by the devil, trying to convince souls their short term effort isn’t worth the long term gains.  This explains why so many so called Christians fall away from God during their college years, illustrated by the 2014 movie God is Not Dead, with one foot in the world and the other trying to remember what the Bible says.  Perhaps, Jesus’ younger brother was right, writing, “nobody knows what’s around the next corner in life,” James 4:14.

As for me, I was frustrated by a lack of progress at work.  Like Charles Dutton, the janitor at Irish Stadium in the movie Rudy, I allowed bitterness get the best of me.  These negative thoughts prevented me from seeing around the next corner, a compliment and reward for my hard work.  Thus, what started off as a bad day in my view, changed in an instance.  Therefore, don’t let your mind blind you from the gifts from above waiting for you in the future, James 1:17-18.  I look forward to hearing what the Lord is doing in the lives of his children around the next corner.

by Jay Mankus

Lesson’s From God’s Classroom

Synonyms for perspective include angle, outlook and position.  As a former teacher, I tend to approach information as a student trying to make sense of each topic that I read and study.  This morning I stumbled upon an interesting Psalm David wrote while pretending to be insane.  Despite being successful in his efforts, the Holy Spirit speaks to David like a lesson from God’s classroom, Psalm 34:11-14.

Apparently, the Lord is convicting David of his fear of Abimelech and subsequent trust in himself.  God uses his misjudgment as a teachable moment, encouraging children to listen how one can and should be able to fear the Lord.  Getting the classes attention by painting a vivid picture of success, God asks his students, “how many of you desire to see many great days in your future?”  Gaining my interest, the main lesson is found in Psalm 34:13-14.

1. Keep your tongue from evil.

2. Prevent your lips from speaking lies.

3. Turn from the evil desires in this world.

4. Do good to everyone you encounter.

5. Seek peace and pursue any broken relationship that you may have.

The author of Hebrews includes 2 hints to bring this lesson from the classroom into daily living.  First, faith in an invisible God is crucial to applying the words of Psalm 34:13-14.  One must possess hope and certainty of a living God, Hebrews 11:1.  Finally, genuine faith believes God rewards those who earnest seek the Lord, Hebrews 11:6.  Therefore, when you’re struggling to see the fruits of your labor by fearing God, remember this lesson from God’s classroom.

by Jay Mankus

The Fraility of the Human Heart

Since Thursday afternoon at 5pm, my life has been a whirlwind of emotions.  After a successful second interview at Amazon on Wednesday, I sensed a promotion in the near future, trying to stayed reserved until I hear the news.   A little more than 24 hours later, my focus switched toward a battle to live, unable to stand or breath on my own.   One second I felt like I was having a heart attack, the next a CAT Scan revealed a pocket of blood around my lungs and liver.

For the past 3 days, I have had a tube sucking the blood out of these 2 areas trying to prevent infection.  Until this improves, I am in limbo, getting stronger, but still waiting on my internal bleeding to stop.  Unfortunately, my body is not healing as quick as it use to in the days of my youth.  Thus, life has been put on hold temporarily, in God’s hand and in His time as I wrestle with the Fraility of the human heart.

God has taught me a subtle lesson these past few days, He’s in control no matter what I try to do.   Though I usually try to speculate about the future, I am helpless, trusting in God’s grace to get me through this ordeal.  Sooner or later, my odds of improvement increase, yet the Lord knows the next steps that I will take.  As for now, time is the enemy, placing me behind where I want to be as the reality of life’s fraility has come crashing through the front door of my heart.

by Jay Mankus

Touching, Moving and Praying

In the game of chess, there is the Touch-Move Rule which states a player must move any piece once they touch it.  Despite any miscalculation or mistake, a player must finish their move with this piece regardless of their initial motives.  This rule is strictly enforced and maintains a sense of integrity during each game of chess.

In the game of life, a similar rule applies, known as Cause and Effect.  For any action take, there are consequences that follow.  Good decisions often lead to blessings and or rewards.  On the other hand, ill-advised decisions tend to result in harm, punishment and trials.  Like the apostle Paul points out in his letter to the church at Galatia, you reap what you sow, Galatians 6:7-8.

Touching things of righteousness moves individuals closer to eternity.  Yet, immaturity can lure people away from faith, essentially crucifying Jesus over and over again, Hebrews 6:1-6.  One touch of an apple by Eve moved mankind into a fallen world, now filled with Turkish Delights, James 1:14-15.  If there is any hope for the future, one must learn from the past, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, to flee from modern temptations, 1 Peter 2:11.  Keep in touch with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25 and you will move beyond the game of chess, by entering into eternity.

by Jay Mankus

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