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Tag Archives: Kevin Costner

The X Factor of Growth

The term X factor refers to a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.  In the context of a sporting event, the X factor could be a replacement, substitute or specific play that changes the momentum of a game.  This may be an unlikely hero or a star who seizes the moment by coming up clutch.  In the 1996 film Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays Roy McAvoy, a driving range golf professional who qualifies for the United States Open.  This reckless golfer takes unnecessary chances, following the motto, “each shot is a defining moment.  Either you define the moment or the moment defines you.”

They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to]eating meals together and to prayers. 43 A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles, Acts 2:42-43.

During the first century, few churches had a physical building.  Some met in local synagogues, others met outdoors on the outskirts of town, but most gathered in homes.  According to Luke, this decision was the X factor in promoting spiritual growth.  As people from different ethnic backgrounds began to meet for fellowship, prayer and spiritual discussions, a special bond formed.  This spiritual climate set the stage for a revival, the first Great Awakening in history.  Outsiders were curious, hungry for what these followers of Christ demonstrated and possessed.

And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. 45 And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need, Acts 2:44-45.

Based upon the passage above, poverty was eliminated by this generous group of believers.  Whenever a member of the church had an emergency, problem or need, wealthy members sold their possessions to cover any cost or expense.  Ultimately, the X factor for any congregation is when people become the hands and feet of Christ.  This isn’t done out of a desire to be recognized.  Rather, genuine love keeps no record of wrongs, giving out of the goodness of your heart.  May the Holy Spirit inspire you to be the X factor in your community.

by Jay Mankus

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If You Look Down… That’s Where You Will Go

Growing up two hours south of the Pocono Mountains, a neighbor introduced me to skiing while in junior high school.  One of the greatest obstacles I had to overcome was my fear of heights, some thing a chair lift ride to the top of Camelback Mountain only exasperated.  Gradually, I learned to look down, seeing which trails to explore and those to avoid.  Yet, as you exit chair lifts, you must keep your head up, fixed on what lurks ahead.  This prevents novices from making a wrong turn or venturing down a trail your not qualified to ski.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

A freak skiing accident ruined Molly Bloom’s chances of qualifying for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.  This crash in her final run of Olympic qualifying for woman’s moguls, a combination of free style jumps and moguls, is depicted in the 2017 film Molly’s Game.  After this vicious wipeout, there are a series of flashbacks from Molly’s childhood.  One clip depicts Molly’s father played by Kevin Costner, pushing her to the limits as a teenager.  Costner’s character stresses one crucial point about skiing,”If you look down, that’s where you will go.”

[Looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross,]disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work], Hebrews 12:2.

This same concept applies to the spiritual realm.  The moment you begin to look at the obstacles in your path, anxiety, fear and worry can consume human souls.  Just as moguls, steep slopes and icy conditions affects how you ski, a lack of faith leads to poor decisions.  Thus, the Bible urges believers to fix your eyes on Jesus.  While everyone faces scary slopes in their future, God wants to be your trail guide, to navigate you through uncharted territories.  May this blog inspire you to look ahead, trusting God so that the thought of falling won’t paralyze you with fear.

by Jay Mankus

Longing for a Sense of Community

While driving home from work today, I was overwhelmed by a feeling within my heart.  My fear is that my youngest two children will graduate from high school before my wife and I find a true sense of community.  Thus, my prayer, hope and wish for 2017 is find a place where I feel right at home, able to openly share my life with others.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ, Galatians 6:2.

Although it bombed at the box office, the 2015 film McFarland presents an interesting topic for discussion.  After getting fired as a football coach, Jim White played by Kevin Costner is forced to take the only job he can find within the city of McFarland, California.  The moment Coach White begins to become accepted by the locals, he is offered the position of his dreams.  The question is will Jim White exchange a sense of community for financial security?  To avoid spoiling the ending, I will let you find out what happens for yourself.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near, Hebrews 10:24-25.

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to ascertain where you fit in.  Unfortunately, a spirit of perfectionism causes many individuals to reject co-workers or neighbors who are searching for a friend.  If I knew the answer I would tell you how to connect with a local community.  As for now, I am asking the Lord for guidance, insight and a heart willing to embrace where God wants me to be for the next decade.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Feel Good Story, No Matter What the Outcome

If you are sports fan, then you understand the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.  However, some cities tend to be tough luck losers, as if a curse is preventing their team from becoming champions.  The nice thing above the 2016 Major League Baseball World Series is that one of two lovable losers will be victorious.  Over the next 5 days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will break droughts that have lasted a generation or two.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

On the road to becoming champions, those who finish second are scorned, often labeled as chokers, failures or second losers.  Instead of enjoying the journey like the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, who is the only team to make it to 4 consecutive Super Bowls, the final score devalue their achievement.  Unfortunately, professional sports is a results driven industry causing feel good stories to be ruined by impatient fans, managers and owners.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

As I look back at my own athletic career, one of my most memorable moments occurred in the least likely of venues.  This didn’t occur during my brief professional golf career or playing Ultimate Frisbee in college.  Rather, my most gratifying experience came in a competitive men’s softball league.  Similar to the character played by Kevin Costner in For the Love of the Game, I played every out like it was my last game.  Whether you call this playing the game the right way or not, I found contentment no matter what the outcome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid… Just Believe

A little over a year ago, I laid in an emergency room, surrounded by doctors, interns and nurses ready to perform an unusual surgery.  Before receiving drugs to kill the pain and put me asleep, a part of me thought, this could be the end.  Gasping for breath with two broken ribs, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding, my faith was waning.

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” – Mark 5:36

When in the presence of doubt, pessimism and unbelief, Jesus remained positive.  Instead of accepting the inevitable, Jesus took faith to a new level.  As a twelve year old girl passed away, Jesus removed everyone from the house except for the girl’s parents and his inner circle, Peter, James and John.  This set the scene for an environment for healing.

He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”) – Mark 5:41

Depending upon your current situation, complainers, whiners and skeptics abound.  If you’re not careful, these opinions can spoil your mood or poison your mind.  As Tin Cup, played by Kevin Costner once said, “everyone will face defining moments where you can define the moment or the moment will define you”  When these days and situations arise, follow in the footsteps of Jesus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe!”

by Jay Mankus

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