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Στόχο: Finding a New Target in 2020

Στόχο is the Greek word for target. When translated into English, this term could apply to aim, destination, goal or landing place. As individuals celebrate New Year’s Eve, minds and thoughts will begin to turn their attention toward a new year. Once all of the celebrations have ended, determined souls will search for a new target in 2020.

And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:3-4.

Unfortunately, sometimes your future may be blurred, clouded or uncertain due to unforeseen events. Accidents, failing health or trials can prove to be too much for one person to bear. Whenever you experience a devastating, horrific or troubling circumstance, follow in the footsteps of Nehemiah. After receiving news of Jerusalem vulnerability, this man fell to his knees, fasting and praying for a plan to rebuild this wall.

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses, Nehemiah 1:6-7.

Before focusing on a solution, Nehemiah acknowledges the sins of Israel which brought this fate upon Jerusalem. Before any new target can be discovered in 2020, everyone needs to get right with God. As prayers are lifted up, hearts unload their pain and minds begin to think clear again, conditions will improve for a new vision to be seen. May the beginning of this year inspire you to pave the way for a new target to be located.

by Jay Mankus

Are We Almost There?

As an aspiring screen writer, I know the pain of being close, but not quite there.  Every spring thousands of like minded individuals register one to three scripts in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screening Contest.  This international competition brings the best and brightest amateur writers hoping for their big break each year.  Depending upon how my current edit goes of my first film, Express Yourself, I should find out in July if I have arrived or I’m not quite there yet.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13.

In the mean time, the best path to take toward achieving your goals and dreams in life is through a steady grind.  Sure, most people wake up tired, weary and uninspired.  Yet, the ones who fight through the temptation to become lazy to stay focused pass those who are more talented but less committed.  Like anything in life, you have to really want it and be willing to overcome countless failures to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, some never make the compromises necessary to reach their full potential.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:14.

There is an old expression, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”  Well, this may be true to some extent, pressing on toward your goal in life will ultimately shape the final outcome.  While I do know my current limitations, I do believe writing is part of God’s plan for my life.  Although I’m not sure if I’m currently on the right track, I press on in faith so that almost home will become finally there in the near future.

by Jay Mankus


A Mind Preventing You From Greatness

Counselors, discerning parents and teachers tend to pick up things that most people miss.  Body language, tone and words are like warning signals.  Unless someone intervenes, a doubting mind can prevent you from greatness.

While the heart is a wellspring for life, Proverbs 4:23, the mind serves as a compass.  Though the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart, Luke 6:45, the mind provides discipline to zip your lips or just blurt out whatever you think.  If you allow emotions to get the best of you, a weak mind can alienate you from others.

The greatest assault anyone faces is often invisible.  The devil is similar to a creature searching for a vulnerable mind to attack, 1 Peter 5:8  Lucifer’s ultimate goal is to steal, kill and destroy psyches, John 10:10.  Preying on fears, anxieties and past mistakes, its easy to become unraveled.  In view of this reality, guard your mind with the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, so that the next time you are under siege, you will be armed with weapons to achieve greatness, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

by Jay Mankus


Giving a Voice to Your God Given Talent

Francis Ouimet was like any other young athlete, aspiring to become like his mentor Harry Vardon.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t born into the right family, a second class citizen.  Golf was considered a gentleman’s game, a place for the rich and wealthy, not for the poor like Francis.  Thus, class boundaries stood in the way of Ouimet from fulfilling his dreams.

As a 20 year, forced to quit golf after losing a bet with his father, Francis attempts to find a career working for a sporting goods store.  When the 1913 U.S. Open comes to Brookline Country Club, across the street from his house, Francis has a change of heart.  Receiving an invitation to the local qualifier, fate allows Francis to compete against his childhood hero.  However, a feud develops between his mom and dad.  Only a mother’s discernment can see that this competition is giving a voice to her son’s God given talent.

Today, disappointment, failure and setbacks cause many to give up on their aspirations before tasting success.  Subsequently, heart broken souls settle for their second, third or forth choice in life.  Wondering what it would be like, some swing for the fences, not giving up until the final out is recorded.  Before the hourglass of time runs out on you, don’t give up on the lofty goals you have set.  Find an avenue to voice your gifts, 2 Timothy 1:6, so that whether you win or lose, you go down knowing you gave everything you had.

by Jay Mankus




Creative, innovative and stimulated, words synonymous with inspiration.  Normally, words flow for me, like water trickling over a majestic waterfall.  Yet, today is one of those days where silence reigns.  Although my mind is enduring writer’s block, my heart still dreams of a time writing pays the bills.  Uninspired, I press on to take hold of that which Christ has called me to do, Philippians 3:12-14.

In life, there are 5 basic stages of motivation: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.  Achieving goals require discipline, inspiration and reflection.  If you fail to set aside time for the things that you love, don’t be surprised if you lose joy for living.  Its no wonder that misery loves company as the uninspired spend more time breaking dreams and dashing hopes than casting vision for others to follow.

If the stages of motivation aren’t nourished, boredom, depression and displeasure will move in.  One of the keys to life is establishing, maintaining and nurturing balance in one’s life.  If you miss a beat like me, you’ll find yourself uninspired, struggling to find a reason to get up in the morning.  Depending upon the mood this blog finds you in, don’t forget the promise of Galatians 6:9-10.  When a spirit of depression tries to invade your soul, fight back with prayer.

by Jay Mankus


It’s Never Too Late for a Failure

A failure reaches this status when one does not attain success, failing to meet their goal or objective.  Once expectations go unfilled, disappointment consumes individuals, often leaving souls in a state of depression.  Effort is good, but sooner or later a team has to win, proving they have what it takes.  If not achieved, coaches and individuals will begin to doubt their God given abilities.  Like a lowly carp, bottom dwellers are left to feed on the scraps, the leftovers other fish don’t find appealing.

In Luke 23:32-43, Jesus finds himself stuck between 2 failures.  Placed in the middle of 2 criminals, subject to a cross due to evil deeds such as being a murderer or robber, Jesus couldn’t leave, nailed to a cross listening to their insults, Matthew 27:38-40.  However, one of these wicked man had a change of heart after Jesus’ words of forgiveness, Luke 23:34.  While one failure continued to hurl hurtful comments Jesus’ way, the other began to contemplate his life, Luke 23:40.  The more this man thinks about his life, God begins to work a miracle in his life, Luke 23:41.  With time ticking away on his life, this humble failure throws up one final request to Jesus, Luke 23:42, hoping for the best, with nothing to lose.

The words of Luke 23:43 should give hope to any failure who still has time on their side.  “Today you will be with me in paradise” is proof that someone about to die can receive Jesus into their heart, obtaining eternal life despite living a life full of sin.  Hebrews 10:26-27 indirectly suggests someone who fears the judgment of God can be swayed from hell to heaven like the criminal mentioned in Luke.  Therefore, if you’ve been deceived by the devil to believe that you’re damned, remember the promise of Luke 23:40-43.  In Jesus’ eyes, it’s never too late for a failure to receive eternal life, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

A Different Kind of Paparazzi

Prior to Princess Diana’s death in 1997, I never knew what the term paparazzi meant.  I had heard of the term through shows like Entertainment Tonight, but paparazzi didn’t enter my world so I never gave them much thought.  According to modern dictionary’s, a paparazzi is a freelance photographer who doggedly pursues celebrities to take candid pictures for sale to magazines and newspapers.  In the case of Princess Diana, she fled from paparazzi in a limo with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed on August 31st, 1997.  Unfortunately, while trying to evade a media feeding frenzy, the chauffeur lost control of their vehicle in the Pont de l’Alma Tunnel resulting in her tragic death.

In Mark 2:1-11, there was a different kind of paparazzi.  These paparazzi’s were intrigued by life, not death, hovering around a home trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus.  Though modern crowds would be disbursed by Fire Marshals, the residents of Capernaum did whatever they could think of to gain access into this house.  While modern paparazzi likely don’t have the balls to cut a hole in the roof of a celebrity, 4 friends of a paralytic  astonished even Jesus, Mark 2:5.  As a result of the faith of these friends, thinking “if we can only get him to Jesus, some how he will be healed,” their prayer was answered in Mark 2:11-12.

After reading this passage, I thought, “to what extremes am I willing to go to receive answers to my prayers?’  Am I willing to become a fool for Christ like paparazzi who risk embarrassment daily?  Do I have the faith to lay everything on the line to achieve my end goal?  May this blog challenge you as we both contemplate our motivation in life.  May the words of Galatians 5:6 become a priority as you strive to become a different kind of paparazzi!

by Jay Mankus

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