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Tag Archives: growing up

More Than Just a Strange Thing

Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror show which is currently in the middle of its third season on Netflix.  This television series was created, written and directed by two brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer.  The setting of this show takes place back in the 1980’s, an era where it was common for teenager boys to binge on playing video games.  This passion or should I say addiction causes many boys to lose touch with reality.  Today, this obsession continues as many boys and girls are consumed by modern online games like Fort Nite.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?  Who has strife? Who has complaining?  Who has wounds without cause?  Whose eyes are red and dim? – Proverbs 23:29

In a recent episode of Stranger Things, social media exploded over their reaction between a scene with two teenage boys.  To avoid a spoiler alert, two characters get into an argument about girls.  One boy wants to pursue a girl that he likes while the other is not ready to grow up, clinging to his love for video games.  Unfortunately, this innocent scene has led a number of people on twitter to question the gender of this boy who doesn’t like girls at this time.  This is just another example of individuals reading way too much into a fictional show.

Your [drunken] eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things [untrue things, twisted things], Proverbs 23:33.

In 1997, the band Common Children released the song Strange Rain on their Delicate Fade album.  The lyrics of Strange Rain refers to the washing away of innocence.  The more children are exposed to adult content, growing up is accelerated.  In the second stanza of Strange Rain one line strikes a cord with me “when wonder fades in time forgive us for this crime.”  The more young children experience, hear or see things that they shouldn’t, innocence is stolen and wonder for life fades away.  While parents try to shield their children from danger, strangers things lurk around every corner.  This is where trusting God becomes essential.

by Jay Mankus

Shutting the Door in People’s Faces

In the days of my youth, I can recall several emotional outbursts I displayed at home.  Whether I was throwing a tantrum or simply in a bad mood, anger influenced me to occasionally slam my bedroom door.  Without saying a word, this action was symbolic of telling whoever I was upset with to shut up.  Once inside, I cried my eyes out, stewed or played music to calm me down.  One thing I quickly learned as I child is that shutting the door doesn’t make your problems go away.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to,” Matthew 23:13.

The expression shutting the door has various meanings.  One prelude to this refers to showing someone the door.  In other words, you are no longer welcome.  Prior to the internet, door to door salesmen were a weekly occurrence.  Anyone without a peek hole on the front door would open their door, make a quick assessment and when annoyed, shut the door in these people’s faces.  Today, telemarketers don’t literally have the door shut in their faces.  Rather, a click abruptly ends any chance for making a sale.

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name, ” Revelation 3:8.

On one occasion, Jesus rebuked spiritual leaders of his day for caring more about being religious than introducing the lost to the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus didn’t hold back his feelings, accusing the Pharisees of shutting the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.  Sometimes the elite develop a perfectionist mindset.  If this attitude goes unchecked, people can lose sight of what’s important in life.  Therefore, as Christmas approaches, make sure you don’t shut the door in the face of people in need.

by Jay Mankus

Graduating on to the Next Phase in Life

Commencement refers to the time when something begins.  Thus, every spring colleges and high schools hand out degrees and diplomas for completing a required set of courses.  After these ceremonies end, its time for individuals to begin their next phase in life.  Subsequently, as my oldest son graduates today its time for James to prepare himself for Liberty University and possibly a spot as a pole vaulter at the Division 1 level.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom, Luke 2:42.

One of the 4 gospels suggests Jesus celebrated a bar-mitzvah after becoming a teenager.  The Jewish faith continues this tradition today, giving young men and women an opportunity to publicly share what they have learned about the Torah.  Thus, Jesus was able to teach about the Word of God at the synagogue for the first time in Luke 2.  However, Jesus waited 17 more years before beginning his three year ministry on earth.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Perhaps, the apostle Paul was reflecting upon his own bar-mitzvah in the passage above.  Regardless of the context, modern churches offer those who seek the Lord a chance to complete their confirmation.  Essentially, this year long process or longer in some denominations, encourages boys and girls to take ownership of their faith.  At the end of this process, like graduation, its time keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  Whether someone is going off to college, participating in a mission trip or starting a new career, the time has arrived to graduate on to the next phase in life.

by Jay Mankus



Nearing Danger

In the 1960’s science fiction television series Lost in Space which ran for 3 seasons, the dangers of outer space was a regular theme of each episode.  Whenever Will Robinson, the youngest child, approached a precarious situation, his robot would intervene.  Like a modern day drama queen, each time Will was nearing danger, the robot erupted, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger; no Will Robinson danger!”

As Saul neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, Acts 9:3.

Since most people don’t have a robot, God gave each human being on the planet earth a conscience.  During the innocence of youth, the radar senses of this invisible force is strong.  Unfortunately, over time the conscience can become corrupted, polluted and unplugged by bad choices, thoughtless decisions and swayed by negative influences.  I guess my parents were right when they said, “if you play with fire enough, sooner or later you will be burned.”

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

For the defiant, ignorant and stubborn, sometimes God intervenes directly.  History reveals angelic encounters, events that defy science and voices from heaven that made bystanders speechless.  Yet, when you become an adult, divine intervention is rare.  Perhaps God expects individuals to mature.  This may explain the apostle Paul’s words to the church of Corinth about becoming a man.  Therefore, whether you are young, old or somewhere in between, as you near danger, learn to become self-sufficient.  By doing this you will serve as an example for those struggling to survive, Matthew 9:12.

by Jay Mankus


When the Game Stands Tall

Sometimes you catch a preview of a movie and put it on your must watch list.  Unfortunately, a busy schedule, distractions and time constraints cause you to forget.  After a sleepless night, channel surfing led me to watch the last half of this film.  If there was an alternate title it would be When the Game Stands Tall despite Selfish Parents Who Try to Live Their Lives through Their Children.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Depending upon what sports you follow or play, each teach important life lessons.  Subsequently, the overriding theme within When the Game Stands Tall focuses on how a football coach can mold boys into men.  Sometimes, one of the major obstacles to completing this maturation is self seeking parents who focus on individual stats instead of embracing a team concept.  When the team is put first, the game stands tall.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, Romans 5:3-4.

As a coach in youth, junior high and high school for nearly 20 years, parents are either extremely helpful or your worst critic.  Looking back from the field into the stands, sometimes I feel like parents care more about winning than their children.  In certain cases, parents force their kids to play so that they have something to do and watch.  Thus, its essential for all coaches to focus on the big picture, developing players and teach players its not if you win or lose, but how you play the game.

by Jay Mankus



When Things Don’t Add Up

Parents who have grown up in the same area or town where their children attend school develop perspective.  Depending upon their memory, adults can compare their education with the current system.  Taking time to read modern textbooks may shock some, yet the informed aren’t surprised.  The dumbing down of information attempts to sway young minds full of mush to buy into the liberal agenda being dished out daily.  However, when things don’t add up like recently implemented Common Core curriculum, even public school teachers are waking up to this debauchery of education.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. – Ephesians 5:3

Back in my day, several teachers were like personal trainers, pushing you beyond what you could handle.  A few were like drill sergeants, mean S.O.B.’s until you graduated, when you saw the logic behind their madness.  These adults instilled in me a discipline, life skills and a work ethic I have exchanged for monthly pay checks.  Although, I wish it was larger, being challenged has made me a better person.  I only wish my children could escape the coddling that exists today for a taste of what I endured in school.  Nonetheless, when things don’t add up, a parent must intervene to steer their kids in the right direction.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. – Ephesians 5:4

Whether you are watching a commercial, public service announcement or some new television show, it doesn’t take long to notice flaws.  Though the world view you possess may alter or blind you in same ways, consciences scream out the truth, pointing you in the way you should go.  However, if you begin to buy into the lies sold daily, your logic may not begin to add up.  This is where rationalization takes over, trying to justify your error in judgment with thoughts like “everybody does it.”  As you make your way through life, don’t forget to stop and think about the choices you are making.  Or else you may wake up one morning to a soul that doesn’t add up to the will God wanted for your life, Romans 12:2.

by Jay Mankus


Words of Healing

When someone is down in the dumps, its hard to break through the shell holding in their misery.  Good intentions, kind words and loving attempts don’t always work to uplift downcast spirits.  Nonetheless, when all else fails, there is one source that provides words of healing, Psalm 107:20.

Growing up, I often experienced a wide range of emotions.  On the good days, I could lift others up, elevating their moods to my level.  Meanwhile, if depressed, I made sure no one had a smile on their face, bringing whoever I could down into my pit of despair.  Only a couple friends developed a few tricks to snap me out of these gloomy states.

Today, I have learned to become more self-reliant.  Not in my own abilities.  Rather, I trust in the power of God’s Word to infuse my soul with the strength to carry on, Isaiah 40:31.   Therefore, if you’re having a bad day, feeling hopeless or stuck in a rut, open up the Bible today to find words of healing, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus





When Dreams Fade Away

Children tend to grow up with wild imaginations, dreaming of becoming a doctor, professional athlete or a wealthy entrepreneur.  However, as time ticks away, ambition is often replaced by more realistic goals.  Sure, dreams still exist in your mind, but negativity, pessimism and tough luck cause dreams to fade away from your memory.

A few years ago, I was passionate about completing my first novel.  Before I typed a word, vivid ideas rushed into my head, inspiring my will to complete this May 15th, a deadline for a major contest in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, a long cold spring, filled with racing to see all 3 of my children play sports has drained my desire to do anything.   With May in the rear view mirror, a spark for finishing this book needs to be rekindled before my thoughts vanish.

Sometimes, the Bible seems too good to be true, as readers silently murmur, “yeah right?”  Nonetheless, a weeping prophet writes of a special day in Jeremiah 29:11.  When the day of doubt sets, there is hope of prosperity.  If you’ve lost the will to carry on, don’t quit yet.  Cling to the promise of Galatians 6:9-10 so that like Walt Disney once said, “one day your dreams will come true!”

by Jay Mankus

How Do You Measure Up?

Whether you’re daddy’s little girl or the son of Mr. so and so, its hard to live up to a parents lofty expectation.  Sure, most kids have their own aspirations and dreams, but with expectations comes the pressure to succeed.  Thus, every day at a concert, musical or sports complex across the fruited plains, fans are cheering their children on, hoping for the best.

A growing number of adults and guardians are precariously living their lives through their children.  Subsequently, parents have become like sports agents pushing youth into joining clubs and travel teams to fine tune their skills.  If successful, teenage prodigy’s are formed, dedicated to pleasing their moms and dads.  However, will these fragile souls continue or surpass expectations for greatness?

One of the greatest things I did in college was to opt to play intramural sports rather than play at the division 1 level.  Although winning was important, the thrill of competition and friendships surpassed my own expectations.  Sooner or later, you have to take ownership of your life, separating yourself from your parents goals.  Therefore, whatever you do in life, live out Colossians 3:17 and Colossians 3:23 so that God will be glorified by your life.

by Jay Mankus

Finding The Real You

Whether you enter a high school as a parent, visit a college with your child or observe your own workplace, people are trying so hard to fit in that it is easy to forget the real you.  Thinking they aren’t good enough on their own to be accepted by their peers, individuals seek to emulate Hollywood stars and pop culture to find approval.  Behind this mask, a heart, soul and mind wrestle between reality and the facade you are living.  This suppression blinds many youth from discovering the real you, often leaving a trail of remorse, regret and shame.

History isn’t exempt from this dilemma as one of the Bible’s greatest characters struggled with his own self image.  According to Genesis 25:27-28, Jacob was a mama’s boy early on.  Not blessed with the physical talents of his twin brother, Jacob was quiet, staying at home afraid to compete against the other boys his age.  Fearful of being exposed as a wimp, Jacob became a humble servant around the house, doing whatever his mother told him.  When the time came from receiving the birthrate from his father Isaac, Genesis 27, Jacob felt like he had to dress, look and smell like Esau to earn dad’s blessing.  Several thousand years later, teenagers across the country find themselves in Jacob’s shoes.

While speaking to Jesus in the dark, John 3:1-9, Nicodemus was searching for the meaning of life, knowing deep down in his heart that following the laws of the Pharisees wasn’t the answer.  Privy to the truth, the disciples of Jesus receive greater insight in Matthew 16:24-27 to eternal life.  The secret to finding the real you is through surrender.  As Michael W. Smith once sang about, “Love isn’t love until you give it away!”  Despite being a paraphrased version of Jesus’ words, the moment you yield your body as a life offering to the Lord of Creation, Romans 12:1-2, the Holy Spirit unveils the real you in the form of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.  Let the words of scripture guide you toward the path of righteousness, Psalm 119:105.

by Jay Mankus

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