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Tag Archives: goals

When Jesus Slides Down Your Top 10 List

Despite all of the new technological advancements, I still like to write down a to do list. While my priorities change from week to week, the satisfaction of checking off a goal makes me feel like I have actually accomplished something. When I don’t take the time to jot down my priorities, I make a mental note in my mind so when the weekend arrives, I can begin my list.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you., Matthew 6:33.

During the week, I have a set routine until my children’s sports schedules commences. To attend as my games and meets as possible, I am forced to alter my to do list. In the process, sometimes Jesus slides down a few notches from the top down toward the middle. When I delay my time to read the Bible, journal my thoughts and pray, it’s not uncommon to skip this spiritual discipline, forgetting about it completely.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Luke 12:34.

Jesus warns individuals like me to guard your heart. If you are not careful, temporary pleasures will influence your heart to change what you treasure. The more Jesus slides down your top 10 to do list, it’s likely that you will slowly grow apart from God. To prevent this slide from becoming a trend, Jesus urges believers to seek first God’s kingdom and righteous. When you do, God promises to bless and restore your life.

by Jay Mankus

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God Only Knows

Since the United States government shut down in late December 2018, there has been ongoing debates about border security.  Democratic leaders have suggested that building a wall to keep refuges out is immoral.  Meanwhile, Republican supporters claim that a nation without defined borders will not survive.  While this war of words goes back and forth, one voice has been ignored.  Every day, the broken, depressed and hopeless build invisible walls to hide the pain deep within their hearts.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

When individuals begin to see their dreams, goals and hope for success slip away, staying optimistic seems impossible.  Although some may muster up the strength to fake how you feel, most people withdraw from society.  If you don’t have anyone to lean on or share your anguish, walls begin to be erected.  Desperate souls may risk becoming vulnerable, pouring out their heart and soul, but if you reveal this information to the wrong person your situation may get worse.  Thus, where do you go when no one seems to care?

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

In 1954, the Philadelphia doo wop group the Capris released the song God Only Knows.  Written by Ruben Wright, this single had a dramatic impact on Motown singer Marvin Gaye.  Perhaps, this original piece inspired the 2018 version from For King & Country.  God Only Knows can be found on the newly released Burn the Ships album.  The chorus of this song reflects upon daily struggles that human being endure.  “God only knows what you’ve been through; God only knows what they say about you.  God only knows that it’s killing you but there’s a kind of love that God only knows.”  May the lyrics of this attached song encourage you to draw near to God as you experience disappointment and heartache in life.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Touch with Reality

There are moments in life where you will be in high demand.  Depending upon the emergency, project or situation, people will turn to you for advice.  To avoid any impure motives, pride or selfish ambitions, Jesus developed a morning routine.  This spiritual discipline involved getting up early, withdrawing to a quiet place and praying to God.  As a way to clear his mind, Jesus meditated, listened in silence and poured out his heart to God.  This daily exercise prevented Jesus from losing touch with reality.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Jesus’ disciples.  Caught up in the instant rock star status of their leader, it appears the disciples were afraid to tell fans no.  After Jesus healed his mother in law, Peter sought to please people, hoping everyone could experience the joy his own family felt.  Subsequently, Peter became like Jesus’ agent, booking appointments for future healings and miracles.  When Jesus was located the next day, Peter had to scrap his plan as God gave Jesus a clear vision for the future.

Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father].” Mark 1:36-38.

Recently, I have been so consumed with my own dreams, goals and objectives that I have lost touch with reality.  I guess I became so focused, fixated on what I wanted that I haven’t taken the time to be still and meet with God.  Sure, I’ve had my morning devotions and prayer, but as soon as I was finished its back to what I want to do.  This is a dangerous place to find yourself, blinded by selfish ambition.  If you want to avoid making the same mistake that Peter and I have made, take a step back, find and quiet place and listen to the Lord.  If you make this a weekly practice, you will be less likely to lose touch with reality.

by Jay Mankus

Under Further Review

Beginning in 1986, the National Football League adopted a limited instant replay review for close calls made by officials during the course of a game.  The current policy was made permanent in 1999, giving coaches two challenges per game.  If both challenges are won, a third challenge is awarded to this team.  Initially, referees stared into a camera with something like a voting booth curtain for privacy.  Today, officials are given tablets to speed up this process.  Once a determination is reached, the head official begins with the phrase “upon further review.”

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

This expression can also be applied to evaluating your life.  The end of one year and beginning of new one serves as a great time to take the time to reflect.  You may even ask yourself some of the following questions.  Did I attain any of the dreams, goals or objectives I laid out?  How did the circumstances of the year influence me for the better or worse?  Am I closer to fulfilling my aspirations in life or do I need to change course quickly so that hope does not drown?  While this may not help you initially, it’s a good starting point to see what needs to change in 2018.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

At first glance, 2017 was a painful year, saying good bye to my cousin Billy and father in law Jim.  These events led my wife and I to sit down to create a will just in case death comes knocking.  Another setback was receiving a rejection letter from Hollywood for my screen play Express Yourself.  This news crushed my spirits initially, but has led me to begin working on Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door in 2018, a script that was rejected by Hollywood in 2016 but did receive favorable comments by judges.  Perhaps, I am on a wild goose chase, wasting countless hours reflecting, studying and writing.  Yet, as a former professional athlete, I’m swinging for the fences hoping that I will eventually connect.  Right now my batting average is 000, but upon further review I serve a God who makes the impossible possible.

by Jay Mankus

 

How I Feel Verse What I Should Do?

There are some mornings when my alarm goes off that I feel like staying in bed.  Whatever plans I made in my mind the night before are cast aside as I hit snooze numerous times.  When my life is void of dreams, goals or vision, feelings dictate what I actually do.  At the end of the week as this cycle resets, I often discover little accomplishments on my to do list.  Thus, how I feel is currently winning this endless tug of war against what God wants me to do.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, Romans 7:18.

During a trip to Rome, the apostle Paul appears to have developed some bad habits.  The text above doesn’t specify the issue except for implying Paul wasn’t able to follow through with God’s plan while visiting Rome.  Earthly desires were either distracting or preventing Paul from making the progress he hoped and prayed for.  You don’t have to be a missionary or pastor to experience these feelings.  In fact, the average Christian understands failure more than success.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing, Romans 7:19.

When other people that you know live according to another set of rules, it’s hard not to lower your own standards through subtle compromises.  Unfortunately, by doing so you allow feelings to trump faith.  The earthly brother of Jesus once wrote “faith without deeds is dead.”  Thus, every time I slip, giving into the sinful nature, my faith drifts closer to death’s door.  To avoid the inevitable, I need a spiritual heart transplant, injected with new life by the Holy Spirit so that how I feel will yield to what God wants me to do.

by Jay Mankus

For Those Who Wait It Out

As I look back on my life, one disturbing pattern exists.  When I failed to reach a goal, rejected by a company or cut by a sports team, I changed course.  Trying to rebound quickly, I altered my dreams in life to avoid further disappointment  Sure, this made me feel better momentarily, yet I regret not sticking it out longer to see if I could have achieved my desired destination.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

The group Firefight sings about this topic in the song For Those Who Wait.  The attached video illustrates a natural response to failure, quitting.  Yet, the lyrics point to the reward for those who hang in there despite not succeeding on your first attempt.  This is where rationale thoughts wrestle with faith.  While some may never taste success, perseverance shapes character and will prepare you for future opportunities in this life.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

If you are like me, sharing dreams with family and friends can be frustrating.  Responses like don’t quit your day job and don’t get your hopes up are typical.  Meanwhile, those who don’t comment roll their eyes or mutter “yeah right.”  This vision that you paint for others doesn’t fit their current perception of you.  Thus, you have one of two options.  Think about what might have been or step out in faith by toughing it out like those who wait?  I pray that you choose the latter.  Take courage as you wait on the Lord to open the next door in your life.

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

 

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