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Tag Archives: overcoming fear

A Win for the Ages

When fairy tale stories come true, sometimes Hollywood is criticized for an unbelievable ending.  Yet, what Nate Lashley accomplished last weekend can only be described as a win for the ages.  Lashley’s wire to wire victory at the Rocket Mortgage PGA Tour event in Detroit, Michigan seemed surreal.  Entering the final round with a six shot lead, commentators suggested that a collapse might come, causing Nate to fold under the pressure.  Instead, a Tiger Woods esc domination ensued as Lashley finished 25 under par, breezing to win this PGA event.  The context of what happened leading up to this victory makes Lashley’s accomplishment a real life Cinderella story and likely Disney movie in the making.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Fifteen years ago, Nate Lashley was a rising college star playing for the Arizona Wildcats.  While competing in an NCAA qualifying tournament, his parents and girl-friend flew out to watch Nate play in the west regionals.  On the return flight, the plane piloted by Nate’s father crashed during a storm killing all three aboard.  This tragedy eventually caused Nate to leave golf, making a career as a real estate agent.  When Nate’s love for golf returned, nagging injuries prevented Lashley for reaching his full potential.  Playing on what is called a major medical exemption, Nate was running out of time to make enough money to keep his PGA tour card.  Thus, Nate attempted to Monday qualify for 4 spots in the Rocket Mortgage Tournament.  Lashley finished two shots out of a playoff, but a last second withdraw opened the door for Nate to become the last player in the field.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

As a viewer of this amazing feat, Lashley’s rise to the top is a story of courage, faith and perseverance.  In the back of any mind, doubts whisper “you’ll never amount to anything; you’re not good enough or you don’t have what it takes.”  These inner demons prevent most people from fulfilling their dreams and purpose in life.  Yet, Nate Lashley’s win for the ages inspires me to not give up hope on accomplishing my own dreams in life.  Just as Jesus’ earthly brother writes about how trials strengthen faith, may God fill you will perseverance to fear any face and climb any mountain, no matter how high, in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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Is Hindsight 20/20?

Hindsight is defined as the understanding of a situation or event only after it has developed or happened.  For the past two years, a large cataract hindered my ability to see out of my right eye.  While I experienced periods of improvement, last summer my eye doctor suggested it’s time to deal with this situation.  As I struggled to read fine print, I came to the same conclusion, scheduling a surgery for late November.  A series of unforeseen events forced this operation to be postponed until last Thursday.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

Like any procedure, I was afraid, not knowing the ultimate outcome.  Before I was given drugs to numb the pain, I made my peace with God.  When the nurse at the front desk asked me for my will and testament prior to being admitted, worst case scenarios raced through my mind.  This request likely elevated my blood pressure so high that my first operation was cancelled.  As a person of faith, I wrestle with relying on medicine to resolve health problems.  However, when changes in diet, fasting and prayer does not improve your condition, my operation served as a last resort.  While the healing process takes roughly two weeks, only time will tell if my sight will be fully restored.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

I feel like the prophet Isaiah is speaking to me in the passage above.  I have no control over how well eye will recover.  Sure, I can listen to my doctor’s directions by taking my daily prescriptions, but the degree of healing is in God’s hand.  My dream of writing screen plays is dependent upon the final outcome of my cataract surgery.  Thus, all I can do is place my trust in the Lord,  believing that God will help improve my condition.  Although I am not considering this trial a pure joy as James 1:2-4 suggests, I am relying on hindsight, remembering how God has provided for me in the past.

by Jay Mankus

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

The Enemy of Depth

Anyone who lives in a city, endures a long commute or works in a fast paced environment understands the cramp time places on relationships.  I have allowed this barrier to prevent me from developing deep and meaningful relationships.  Distracted by where I need to go and what I need to do next often leaves me feeling distant from those that I care about.  Unfortunately, as someone who always seems to be in a hurry, impatience has become the enemy of depth.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

The opposite of depth is those who suffer from relationship fatigue.  This state occurs when associates, co-workers or friends become too intense, like a leech that sticks to you and won’t let go.  When imperfections, quirks and social warts of individuals wear on your soul, any desire for intimacy fades away.  Thus, any close ties that you might have developed in the past soon dissipate as well.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Sadly, other relationships that you may have hoped to nourish over  time never amount to anything due to fear.  Possibly thinking about prior failed friendships, there is a tendency to avoid becoming too close to someone, afraid the bond that you share will be broken.  In the passages above, the apostle Paul attempts to illustrate what love looks like.  When people begin to forgive and forget, your slate of past wrongs is wiped clean.  Yet, until you emulate the character traits of love, depth will continue to be an enemy.

by Jay Mankus

When Fear Causes Your Dreams to Begin to Sink

When you are young, minds aren’t afraid to dream big.  Summit Ministries refers to this as BHAG’s, short for big hairy audacious goals.  Innocent minds don’t think of common obstacles that stand in the way of adults.  Rather, a child like faith exists which sets the stage for great things in the future.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus, Matthew 14:27-29.

Unfortunately, at some point in life, doubt creeps into confident individuals.  Such is the case of Peter, a bold disciple not afraid to take chances.  Thus, when Jesus asked him to join him on the water, Peter jumped at this opportunity.  Initially, Peter was defying gravity as he was actually walking on water just like Jesus.  Then, a gust of wind caught Peter by surprise.  This act of nature led to a chain of events as fear caused Peter to begin to sink into the middle of the lake.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:30-31

This story is symbolic of people who allow fear to interfere with accomplishing their dreams in life.  Determination, focus and vision enable individuals to get off to a good start in life.  Yet, at some point we take our eyes off of Jesus.  The moment this occurs people begin to think about the reasons why you can’t fulfills dreams and goals.  The next time this doubt creeps into your mind, shift your attention toward the power of God so that fear doesn’t cause your dreams to sink.

by Jay Mankus

Becoming Vulnerable Again

Ten years ago I was at a good place in my life.  At this time, I felt like I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.  I was in the prime of my teaching career, mentoring students on and off the golf course as a coach and serving on the board of my church as an elder.  Then, a series of trials left deep wounds to my soul.  When the dust settled, I lost my job, several friendships and the desire to become vulnerable.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

Whenever I endure hardship, it becomes difficult for me to allow strangers back into my life.  Whether this is a defense mechanism, fear of being disappointed again or signs of depression, I tend to withdraw.  Part of me is jaded, hesitant to invest time and energy without knowing what the future holds.  Yet after years of being in some sort of spiritual fog, a moving worship experience a few Sunday’s ago has led me to realize it’s time to open up.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working, James 5:16.

During one of these songs, I had a vision of clay being molded and fashioned by a potter.  This imagery was a subtle reminder of God’s nature as a heavenly Potter.  All of my heartache over the last decade is symbolic of the imperfections within clay.  If I can only trust God while I go through the furnace called life, I will become whole.  May the message that I am learning inspire others to become vulnerable to others again.

by Jay Mankus

Developing a Peak Vision

Last Sunday, I made my way toward Sharp Top Mountain, the second highest point in the state of Virginia.  After church my family took the 30 minute ride toward the summit.  The closer I drove to the mountain, the more challenging this climb became.  The longer I gazed at the peak, the less confident I grew, doubting if I had the strength to make it to the top.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path, Matthew 13:19.

The parable of the weeds relates to my 1.6 mile hike.  Around every corner, above each rise and over the various hairpin turns, distractions lurk.  Fear, pain and time whisper ideas of stopping or quitting before you reach your desired destination.  Unless you possess a peak vision, the human mind will allow temptation to steal your joy of accomplishment in life.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful, Matthew 13:22.

My younger son Daniel set the pace on the trail, filled with excitement the closer we got.  His energy keep me going, placing any temporary aches and pain on hold until we arrived.  Meanwhile, an hour behind, my oldest son James and niece Rachael prodded my wife, unwilling to let her quit before reaching the summit.  While this journey made me aware of my poor condition and overall shape of my body, the moral of this blog is that sometimes you need others to push you along the way until your peak vision is fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

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