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A Few Wrong Notes

As a former alto saxophone player, it doesn’t take much to ruin a concert.  One wrong note, breathe or mistake can lead to humiliation.  However, sometimes a musician might deviate from the script, experimenting with a certain song or sound.  For Neil Young, a few wrong notes at a cafe in Ontario opened the door for this 18 year old aspiring artist.  As Paul Harvey famously stated, “and now you know the rest of the story.”

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens, Psalm 150:1.

Hollywood’s version of a few wrong notes is illustrated by the Tom Hanks movie That Thing You Do.  When Guy Patterson, a back up drummer called into action after the regular drummer breaks his arm, he speeds up the song with a faster, hipper tempo.  Subsequently, lead vocalist and song writer Jimmy Mattingly is forced to follow this beat.  When this version of the song That Thing You Do hits the air waves, the Wonders become an overnight sensation.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, Psalm 150:6.

In the book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis uses a piano analogy to introduce the Law of Human Nature.  Without knowledge of notes or reading a music sheet, chaos usually ensues.  However, when basic principles are introduced, people develop an ear for what’s right and wrong.  In this life, God has given every individual a conscience to guide us.  The more individuals become in tune with God, a few wrong notes are easily recognizable.  Unfortunately, for those who wander down the wrong path, justification and realization take over blinding people from the truth.  Before arrogance or pride take over, may the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the few wrong notes you are playing so your final song will end in eternity.

by Jay Mankus

Powerless

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Last night, my favorite lamp (if there is such a thing) and the only light source in our family room went out just before Bible Study.  After investigating for a few minutes, I discovered the main plug had begun to tear away from the cord creating a fire hazard.  Thus, I was forced to improvise, bringing a lamp from upstairs as a temporary solution.  Without an electrician at my immediate disposal, I was powerless, left in the dark contemplating another annoying hassle thrown into the equation called life.

On August 14th, 2003, 50 million residents of the Northeastern portion of the United States were powerless, forced to resume life without power during the largest power outage in U.S. history.  An aging electrical grid left residents from Ohio,  across to New York City and up as far as Ontario, Canada without power.  Like a bad practical joke, America didn’t have a choice except slow down, go back in time and make the best of life for 24 hours.  Fortunately, I had moved to southern Indiana in June or I would have spent my birthday in the dark.

Enslaved by technology 10 years later, this generation might have a hissy fit if a similar outage occurs, crying out for 4G, their favorite game systems and high definition television.  Blinded by the delicacies of life, many adults still act like spoiled children, complaining until they get their way.  Romans 8:3 refers to a spiritual blackout, where people are powerless, unable to save themselves from sin and its powerful grip.  In a pit of despair, Psalm 30:1-3, helpless to turn life around, God sent his son Jesus to be a sin offering, cancelling the debts we have accrued .  Therefore, the next time the lights go out for an extended time, grab a flashlight and find a Bible.  While you may be powerless, God provides the juice in Romans 5:8 to flip your life around for good.

by Jay Mankus

A Week In Paradise


In this economy, its hard to imagine anyone having enough time or money to afford a week long trip to the West Coast during the school year.  With a summer vacation road trip traveling across the country to the Grand Canyon and back already etched in my families distant memory, I didn’t think anything could compare.  However, thanks to my extended family, most of our expenses were covered, opening the door for a memorable week in paradise.

This journey began in Ontario, not Canada, at the John Wayne International Airport in California.  After a night in Corona, not the beer, rather staying with a cousin playing pool and embracing palm trees surrounded by mountains, it was off to the Pacific Ocean.  Following my first In and Out Burger, without knowing about the secret menu, my feet first touched the chilly waters at New Port Beach before my daughter found a sand dollar adjacent to the Huntington Beach pier.  An amazing meal at Ruby’s Diner even made the pelican poses for pictures before another scenic drive through the mountains toward Palm Springs.

Even getting lost and paying the same toll twice on 2 different scenic toll roads couldn’t damper my spirits, uplifted by the view of the Pacific in the background and the pictures engraved in my mind of the Coachella Valley from my honeymoon 17 years ago.  A trip to Indian Canyons, the largest oasis in the world, was like going back in time to the days of Adam and Eve walking in the Garden of Eden.  Hiking on these trails and similar vistas on the Lykkan Trail above Palm Springs was like re-enacting Moses’ voyage up Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land before his death.

My first trip to the Salton Sea, playing disc golf in Palm Desert and experiencing Monterey Country Club from the fairway, yes I did hit it straight, was like the icing on top of a birthday cake.  However, like the classic line from Jerry Maguire, my vacation wasn’t complete until family arrived.  As nearly 100 relatives came to La Quinta to honor Uncle Tom’s 80th birthday, the conversations I had, interactions with others and time spent with my own family completed me.  Simply put, this trip was like a tiny glimpse of heaven, a week of paradise in sunny California.

by Jay Mankus

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