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Tag Archives: Hail Mary

It’s Not Over Until You Quit

If you have ever coached, played or watched a little league baseball game, you know that no lead in safe.  My oldest son James played in the 11-12 year old championship game two years in a row.  The first game went into extra innings as each team went ahead, lost the lead only to tie the game in their last at bats.  Running out of pitchers, James came on in relief, pitching the 7th and 8th.  Needing one out to close out the game, an error let in the tying run.  In the bottom of the 8th, James was left on the mound while the opposing team celebrated.  One year later, the championship game went into the 9th, but this time his team walked off champions.  I hope these 2 games helped teach my son that it’s not over until you quit.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

During my sophomore year of college, my ultimate frisbee team reached the finals.  From a talent stand point, my team didn’t deserve to win based upon merit.  Down the entire game, I threw a Hail Mary pass as time was about to expire.  Laying on my back, I watched as my throw sailed over two teammates in the end zone.  However, a gust of wind miraculously keep the frisbee in the air long enough for our fastest player to make a game tying catch.  In overtime, a defensive stop gave us a chance to take our first lead of the game.  While making a catch in the end zone, a 6 foot 3 inch 200 pound defender landed on my arm.  Somehow by the grace of God, I held on seal the victory.  This experience taught me to never give up.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

After the crucifixion of Jesus on a cross, one disciple committed suicide, others went into hiding and a few returned to their former trades.  On the eve of Easter Sunday, Jesus’ mother,  Mary Magdalene and other women went to ceremonially prepare Jesus’ body.  Perhaps, some of them went to this cave, tomb hoping for a miracle.  Upon their arrival, an angel of the Lord delivered incredible news.  If someone can rise from the dead, then nothing is impossible.  Thus, these godly women learned a valuable life lesson, its not over until you quit.  Therefore, despite whatever trials you may endure, don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

by Jay Mankus

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Believing in a Move of God

When I am depressed, frustrated or find myself falling into bad habits, I cry out to God.  This prayer in the form of a Hail Mary, a sports related phrase, doesn’t always work.  The best way to explain this lack of response from God is that I have already made up my mind, not open to applying God’s advice.  Until I reach the point of a contrite heart, turning 180 degrees from sin toward God, the Lord isn’t ready to take me serious.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! – Psalm 80:19

During periods of the Old Testament, Israel was waiting on a movement of God.  The Bible refers to this process as a revival, where God resuscitates, restores and relaunches souls back on track toward God’s will for your life.   However, Individuals must display acts of contrition before a move of God will commence.  An Old Testament prophet eludes to this principle in Isaiah 1:15-20.  Isaiah talks about a time when God will not answer your prayers.  According to Isaiah, until you wash yourself by purging evil from your life, God will not bless your life or move in a mighty way.

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6

The author of Hebrews adds one key step to jump starting a move of God, belief must come first.  This first century apostle states that you can’t please God unless faith in God is acted upon.  This is why many Christians end up falling short of experiencing the abundant life of Christ, John 10:10.  Hebrews 11 serves as the Bible Hall of Fame as each candidate is recognized by the faith they displayed.  If this blog finds you like me, frustrated and hopeless, may these promises in the Bible revive you so that a move of God will uplift your soul and re-energize your life.

by Jay Mankus

When Religion is Too Much Work

Within any religion, there is a set of beliefs, doctrines and rules that appeal to certain individuals.  You have to weigh the good with the bad as no perfect church exists.  Thus, denominations offer a wide range of options for families to select from before joining a church.  However, if your connection with God is based upon a religion rather than a relationship, some have come to the conclusion that religion is too much work.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

As someone who was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church,  I understand the amount of energy a religion based faith requires.  I memorized the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, partook in my first communion, spent six years taking religion classes in CCD and completed my confirmation by taking ownership of my faith.  Fortunately, I was introduced to a Methodist youth group during my sophomore year in high school.  While the church services were similar in some ways, there was a climate of genuine love that was passed on to everyone, even strangers like me.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ, Galatians 1:10.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes about his struggle between letting go of his zeal for Judaism and his new relationship with Christ.  When you follow a rigid set of rules, there is a tendency to seek the approval of others.  Yet, when anyone makes a decision to devote their life to Jesus, the religious may resent you.  Meanwhile, others reject you from deviating from the defined path within your church doctrine.  If you want to be free from this rigid course, a line from the Shack provides the answer.  During a conversation the main character Mack is talking with Jesus about stereotypes.  Jesus replies, “religion is too much work.  God doesn’t want slaves; He wants you to be part of his family.”

by Jay Mankus

Actions Affect Access

Since I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to go confession whenever I made a mistake, messed up or sinned.  Initially, this meant going to a confessional booth.  However, as I got older I meet face to face with a priest.  After bearing my soul, I was usually told to say x amount of Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s, then I would be forgiven.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! – Isaiah 1:15

Looking back, this practice doesn’t make sense.  Then again, I was also encouraged not to challenge authority so I conformed until college.  Through Bible studies, conferences and retreats, I learned that my actions affect access to God.  While you have to be careful not to fall into an Old Testament view of God, acts of contrition following confession is a essential.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The prophet Isaiah first informed the Jews that there are conditions when God will not listen to your prayers.  Unconfessed sin is like a barrier that blocks your connection with God.  Without genuine repentance people will experience periods of mundane prayer where the Holy Spirit is absent.  Following the model displayed in James 5:16 can awaken the Spirit of God.  If you want to improve your spiritual Wi-Fi connection with God, think twice before giving into temptation since actions affect access.

by Jay Mankus

Extraordinary Faith

One day, Jesus’ disciples were ease dropping, listening to him talk to a rich young ruler, Matthew 19:16-22.  Although books don’t often mention facial expressions like the movies or television, I get the feeling Peter was shaking his head in disbelief as this righteous man went home disappointed by Jesus’ response.  In fact, Matthew tells us that all 12 disciples began to question their own faith, wondering if they could be saved? – Matthew 19:25

Based upon this passage, without Jesus, everyone is ordinary.  The apostle Paul is even more blunt in Romans 3:9-12.  Yet, one verse changes the mood of all of those in attendance, Matthew 19:26.  According to Philippians 4:13, what was once thought improbable is now possible through Jesus, God’s son.  This sudden change or “Hail Mary,” a football term for last ditch effort at victory is illustrated by the song, When God Ran.

Tomorrow night, I am beginning a 12 week adventure, a Bible Study series called Extraordinary Faith.  I am not sure who is going to show up at my house from 8-9 pm, but I am trusting God to bring those individuals He has called.  This reinvention or revolutionary glimpse at discipleship will transform hearts ready to serve.  While demons of doubt are likely already at work, trying to spoil this event, I believe in an extraordinary faith that can and will demolish strongholds in the end, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  This Study will be made available through Google Docs for those interested in bringing it to your home town.  Contact me on Facebook if the Holy Spirit places on burden on your heart to lead or host this study.

by Jay Mankus

Resisting the Holy Spirit

As far as I can remember, I grew up in a strict Roman Catholic Church: taking my first communion there, going to C.C.D. and finally completing the confirmation process.  In my early years, nuns would strike you with a yard stick if you couldn’t quote the Our Father or Hail Mary when put on the spot.  When I got older, it bothered me  that the priest had the final  say, only his interpretation of scripture was valid.  Thus, in high school, I began a quest to find out more about the Bible, looking beyond just the Catholic faith for answers.

This journey has lead me to passages like Acts 7:51.  Whether you are a Catholic, Protestant , Jew or some other religion, sometimes its hard to break the traditions that have been engraved within your mind.  When your priest, pastor or rabbi says something, most assume, this must be true.  However, religious practices often enable leaders to usurp power over their flock, holding them captive to traditions.  Similar patterns exist today, as seminary teaches future shepherds to follow theological practices, often overlooking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.  The apostle Paul furthers this concept in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, day by day, not just when we feel like or want to follow.  I am afraid that many Christians are so busy following orders and pursuing practices, they have been oblivious to the fact they are actually resisting the Holy Spirit.  Wherever you are in life, make room for the Counselor, John 14:16-17.  Resist the urge to follow human traditions, test everything you hear with the Bible and when God’s whisper appears, follow!

by Jay Mankus

Inside the Heart of God


As a child, I had a flawed view of God.  May be it was because I was raised in a strict Roman Catholic home or due to the fact I was afraid of being struck with a yard stick by nuns when I couldn’t recite the Our Father or Hail Mary?  Either way, these experiences led me to develop an Old Testament perspective of God, one of judgment and wrath.  Like C.S. Lewis’ opening paragraph of Book 3 in Mere Christianity, I felt as if God was waiting to punish me each time I sinned.  This sense that God was going to strike me with lightning every time I made a bad decision blinded me from seeing inside the heart of God.

Thankfully, God allowed me to study under some of the greatest Bible teachers in the country to help dissolve these false assumptions.  Pastors like Alistar Begg of Truth for Life in Ohio, Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel at Willow Creek in Chicago and Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church at several college retreats laid a solid foundation which I have been able to build upon since getting married.  On Friday night, while listening to Christian music for 3 hours, God gave me a brief glimpse into the heart of God.

Since I have a tendency to get impatient with people, especially non-believers, God reminded me of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Jesus spent 3 years serving others, reaching out to the needy and re-educating the disciples to prepare them for life after his ascension.  The only people Jesus ever got angry at were religious leaders, teachers of the law, his own disciples at times, those who didn’t welcome his own disciples in Matthew 10 and anyone who tried to turn the House of God into a den of robbers.  Jesus knew that most people are blinded by Satan in their minds, 2 Corinthians 4:4, unable to grasp the gospel like the parable of the weeds, Matthew 13:24-30.

When you begin to discern the spiritual elements behind a person’s actions, Ephesians 6:12, you are able to overlook their sin to love and pray for people.  Knowing the heart of God is one thing, carrying out God’s love is entirely different.  This is why the apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.  If you have tried to love, then you know how hard it is to do, day in and day out.  However, if you follow the blue print in Colossians 3:12-17, you just might be able to display the heart of God to those people you cross paths with daily.  The next time you become impatient like me, remember Jesus’ perspective in Luke 19:42 by having compassion on sinners like a shepherd reaching out to his lost sheep!

by Jay Mankus

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