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How Did I Get This Way?

When puberty begins in junior high, teenagers undergo a series of changes.  Depending upon the choices made and friendships established, this will shape the path individuals take in high school.  For those who are able to continue their education in college, majors, professors and relationships will further dictate who you become.  Despite this journey, many adults awake to an epiphany “how get I get this way?”

Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers), Psalm 1:1.

Skarlett Riot sings about this in the song Voices.  The opening stanza refers to whispers which restrict what you hear.  The next stanza refers to being paralyzed, unable to control your mind.  Finally, this British rock band uses imagery of Cain’s conversation with God in Genesis 4:6-7 to suggest demons can get into your head.  The moment individuals begin to listen to these demonic influences, souls can relate to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 7:13-20, doing the opposite of you want.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity], Psalm 1:2-3.

The Psalmist has a much easier explanation for how did I get this way.  The author lists three basic distractions in life: following the crowd, hanging around those who bend the rules and joining this behavior by lowering your standards.  The best way to avoid giving into temptation is by embracing the Bible.  Those who make a habit of following biblical teaching will be to endure spiritual droughts that cause faith to waver.  Thus, if you are shocked by the person that you have become, follow the Psalmist advice to flee any voices in your head.

by Jay Mankus

Friends Along the Way

As a child, there was nothing like a sleep over, especially if it meant going away with a friend or neighbor’s family.  High school brought class trips, spending a day or weekend on a field trip.  College introduced the concept of road trips, going some where at the spur of a moment, chilling and hanging with buddies.  For those who marry, weddings result in Honeymoons and if kids arrive, family vacations in the future.  Ultimately, as you go through life alone or with a significant other, each day serves as an opportunity to become friends along the way.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, Luke 8:1.

If you use the Bible as a source, Jesus lived in relative obscurity, serving as a carpenter in Nazareth.  Single and living with his mother, Jesus wasn’t searching for a woman or seeking to build his business.  Rather, Jesus was waiting until the Holy Spirit revealed the ideal time to begin his earthly ministry.  When this moment arrived, Jesus spent a majority of his time on the road, traveling from town to town with his twelve disciples.  As people began to receive healing, experience miracles and transform their lives, a bond developed between Jesus and his followers.  I guess you can say Jesus was a model for finding friends along the way in life.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told the parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4.

As I look back on the past 6 years of my writing, there is only one earthly person I can credit for my progress.  Spencer Saints who has his own travel blog entitled Friends Along the Way, Friendsalongtheway.org, is the person who encouraged me to pursue a writing career.  Through the years, Spencer introduced me to a writer’s group, started his own and steered me in the right direction as I began to write movie scripts.  We all meet friends along the way in life, but few express how they feel before they are gone.  May this blog inspire you to reach out to those who have helped you along the way, especially during the bleak moments in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Someone Else Needs This More Than You

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I received new insight about the hand of God in adversity.  I caught a glimpse of a woman reflecting upon her childhood.  After making the cheer leading squad as a 7th grader, she was cut in 8th grade.  Sobbing in her room that night, the words her father shared transformed her perspective about life.  “Honey, you had a great time last year and you’re a confident person.  Perhaps, there is another girl who is struggling with her self esteem and needs to be a cheer leader more than you.”

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24

A former colleague of mine were reminiscing yesterday at Starbucks about our years in teaching.  Some days were good, others bad and there were many that didn’t make much sense at all.  Maybe this is what Solomon is implying in the passage above.  While individuals may think they are in control,  the Lord throws the occasional curve ball in to mix things up, directing people closer to where God wants you to be.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that,” James 4:14-15.

From the time I entered high school to my days in graduate school, every job that I applied for I got.  For some reason, God blessed me over and over again like the favor of Joseph in the Old Testament.  Yet, when I moved back to Delaware, God has sprinkled in failure more than once.  While this could be due to my age, a lack of dedication or a faith that is slipping, there is one good logical explanation for all the pain that I have endured.  Someone else needed what I wanted more than me.

by Jay Mankus

 

Take Out the Trash… so that You Don’t Stink

Up until my senior year of high school, I spent the month of August in Maine.  After working countless hours throughout the year, my dad felt compelled to spent time with the family each summer fishing, golfing and swimming.  However, there wasn’t trash pick up so whenever the can was full its was time to go to the local dump.  Leaving any trash outside attracted bears, so each week I endured the gagging odor of the county’s waste center.

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you,” Joshua 3:5.

Although technological has come along way, it still doesn’t take long to stink up a kitchen.  Whether you’ve enjoying crabs, fish or some other messy meal, the discarded pieces can create an offensive smell in a matter of hours.  One careless, forgetful or lazy act will leave a stench behind throughout an entire house.  Therefore, the sooner you take out the trash, the less likely you will be from needing an entire household of air fresheners.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account, Hebrews 4:13.

In real life, you don’t have to be labeled trailer trash to stink.  Rather, anyone who allows sin to linger in their lives will eventually give off a foul spiritual odor.  While some will hide addictions and bad habits better than others, God lays bear every sinful act.  Subsequently, the only way to come clean is through confession and prayer, Jude 1:20.  Consecrate yourself today for God is waiting to do amazing things through you, but only after you acknowledge your shortcomings.

by Jay Mankus

 

Culture Wars: The Sifting of the Human Mind

According to government experts, every child should graduate from high school.  Once complete, pursuing higher education in the form of college, graduate school or a doctorate is the next logical step toward achieving the American Dream.  Despite this notion, entrepreneurs are like a piece of a puzzle that doesn’t fit, opting to create a business, develop an app or find their way by working up the corporate ladder.  Whatever path you choose, you will find a culture at war, battling to win the hearts and minds of the next generation.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. – Daniel 1:8

In recent years as displayed in the film God is Not Dead, more and more institutions are sifting through minds to indoctrinate students to embrace a secular worldview.  This process commences by isolating individuals from their home, attempting to strip each of the values in which they were raised.  Staking their claim, often on the first day of class, Atheists, Marxists and Socialist professors make bold pronouncements, challenging pupils to defend their faith.  This re-education process threatens those who deviate, lowering grades if necessary to prove a point.  Finally, entertainment is used as a distraction to help young minds feel good about what they are learning.

“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” – Daniel 1:12-13

The Old Testament book of Daniel provides a blue print for students who are enduring a similar fate.  When forced to submit to new standards, Daniel refused to go beyond outside the boundaries set by God.  This act of faith led to the Lord’s favor, making a positive impression on the chief official, opening the door for a middle ground.  Keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, Daniel devises a plan, a ten day test.  By taking a stand, demonstrating their faith, Daniel and his 3 Jewish friends pass with flying colors, Daniel 1:15-16.  May the example of these young men serve as a standard for modern believers to follow as they enter the Lion’s Den known as college.

by Jay Mankus

 

Unusual Displays of Faith

One of my college roommates was a highly touted  football player coming out of high school.  Chiseled like a rock, Mike had the physique to play in college and possibly the pros.  However, when the Lord got a hold of his heart, a new passion blossomed.  Ditching the party scene, faith turned this giant into a man of praise.  Thus, weekend nights offered up a chance to relax, sit on a beach chair in the front yard and listen to worship music, interacting with strangers walking by.

This unusual display of faith inspired me to become more bold in my faith.  Although I don’t remember how it started, another Mike, Michael Mestern and I began a weekly tradition on Main Street.  Before each session, Mike and I prayed on the steps of the mall at the University of Delaware’s Campus in Newark.  Following this, we were moved to sing, like a street evangelist, walking back and forth, up and down Main Street, making a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Whether it was singing Christmas carols or songs from Chrysalis, the Holy Spirit guided us each evening like Galatians 5:25.  Sometimes we hummed, on certain occasions we raised our voices and most of the time we responded to conversations with praise.

The point of today’s blog is that you don’t have to be extremely gifted to be used by God, you just need to make yourself available.  Rollen Stewart displayed his faith by studying where cameras were set up during professional sporting telecasts.  Then, he used his wealth to purchase tickets, find the best place to stand out and hold up John 3:16 signs.  The question is: what are you waiting for or who are you trying to please?  May the words of 2 Timothy 1:6-7 inspire you to fan into flame your God given talents so that through usual or unusual means, the light of Christ will continue to shine, Colossians 4:2-6.

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

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