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A Conscious Decision

As an adult, there will be many memorable moments in your life. When things are going good, you may be having such a great time that you forget your responsibility as a parent. While coaching and teaching at Red Lion, I neglected my family, spending countless hours each week grading papers, preparing lesson plans and overseeing my golf team. In my free time, I played on a church softball team every Friday night. About 10 years ago, I was so consumed with my own life that I had become an absent father.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

One night I was able to watch James play in a Little League baseball game. His team lost 2-1, but James hit an inside the park home run. The only other time James got up he doubled, but go stranded on base as the game ended. I was surprised to see James batting 10th. Sure, every parent believes that their child is better they actually are, but batting at the bottom of the lineup didn’t make sense. After a conversation with a neighbor, I discovered James used the coaches son’s bat without asking. Thus, James was punished by his coach. This petty act led me to make a conscious decision to become more involved in the lives of my children. The following year I became one of James’ coach, the first of 7 straight years coaching or managing a team for Greater Newark Baseball.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

Like I have mentioned in previous blogs, I do everything to the extreme. I’m either all in or mentally unattached. This conscious decision has made me spend most of my free time in the last decade attending activities, competitions and sporting events. Although I don’t have the friendships that I once did outside my home, I am seizing every moment left that I have with Daniel and Lydia before they graduate high school. I definitely don’t have the energy that I once did, but I am doing my best to be an active and supportive father. Looking back, maybe I could have done things differently, but I don’t regret my conscious decision to make my children and family a major priority.

by Jay Mankus

Where Has the Time Gone?

As I was writing my next screen play at a local McDonald’s, I watched a woman struggling to corral two out of control boys. Each time she turned away, both boys would launch their new Happy Meal toy into the air. One of these cars ended up under my table, reaching down to hand it to one of the boys. This encounter led to a flashback, turning back the clock to when Leanne and I would take James and Daniel to McDonald’s. A little whisper inside of me asked, “where has the time gone?”

Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse], James 1:17.

As a former teacher, I know what it’s like to lose control of an entire class. In my initial years, I would give out busy work to fill up any extra time remaining at the end of a period. These exercises gave the disciplined and focused students something to do, but there are always individuals who seek to extend and push the defined boundaries. As a parent, I understand why computers, television and videos are relied upon to entertain children. Yet, if you use this technique too often, it’s like trying a bribe kids with chocolate.

And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself], James 1:18.

Thus, there is a tendency to want to speed up time as a parent. To skip the terrible two’s for a more pleasant period in a child’s life. What parents and teachers fail to recognize is that life is about trial and error. When you fail miserably, you try something else to see if it works. One boy may hate being sent to time out while another enjoys being left alone in silent. Each day is a learning experience, an opportunity to improve and perfect the parenting process. Instead of wanting to fast forward to a more enjoyable age, seize each day that you have with your little boy or girl. When you do, you won’t have to wonder where has the time gone?

by Jay Mankus

What Could Have Been and Has Come to Be

Eight teen years ago today, my wife and I welcomed our second child Daniel into this world.  As time passed, it became clear that our oldest James would be the student and that Daniel would become the athlete.  While James has been blessed with more God given talent, Daniel is more passionate about sports.  Whether it was baseball, golf or ultimate frisbee, Daniel always stood out, eventually becoming the best.  With one year left of high school, only God knows the chapters left to be written.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope, Jeremiah 29:11.

However, as Paul Harvey shared on the radio for years, the rest of the story reveals what could have been.  At the height of his popularity, Daniel’s world came to a halt, almost losing his life to diabetes the summer before his freshman year of high school.  There were subtle signs looking back, but I ignored these as needing to hydrate during a hot humid summer.  The news of this diagnosis was shocking, especially for a young teenager.  As a parent, there is a helpless feeling, unable to undo these events or heal my son to ease his pain.  Despite the doctor’s visits, expensive treatments and uncertainty, I am thankful Daniel is alive and well today.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Unless you are diabetic, you can’t relate to the daily shots of insulin needed to stay alive.  As technology advances, perhaps someone will create a new device to help ease this burden.  Nonetheless, you can’t dwell on what could have been.  Rather, for now God is teaching me to focus on what has come to be, a man who is seeking to pursue higher education.  Exactly where is still a question mark, but if things proceed as planned, hopefully golf is part of God’s plan.  You see, Daniel’s middle name is Payne, in honor of my favorite golfer Payne Stewart.  Like a wise king once wrote, “many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose previals.”

by Jay Mankus

Starting a New Life

Perspective gives parents the right impression of what to expect in the future.  Unfortunately, the early years of any marriage is filled with trial and error.  As I look back on the first few years of raising my oldest son James, I was out of my element.  I don’t do well around crying babies.  After screaming for an hour or so in his crib, Leanne or I would drive around the block a few times until James fell back to sleep.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed or embarrassed, Genesis 2:24-25.

As the years passed, sports filled up much of out time, going to baseball games, cross country races, golf matches and track meets.  Through the years, I learned that James was motivated by awards, food and money.  After achieving an agreed upon goal, the entire family went out to dinner to celebrate this accomplishment.  This tradition continues today, often going to Buffalo Wild Wings and our favorite Chinese restaurant.  However, after tonight, James will start a new life with his wife to be Emma.

Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], 27 so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless. 28 Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, Ephesians 5:25-28.

The covenant of marriage was first introduced to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the church at Ephesus.  Men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  In a letter to Corinth, Paul uses the term charity.  The only way human beings can love one another is through the Holy Spirit.  This spiritual presence is only available to those who enter into a personal relationship with God.  Thus, if any of you are considering starting a new life, don’t forget to invite Jesus along the way.

by Jay Mankus

The Circle of Life

Twenty two years ago, my wife Leanne received confirmation that she was pregnant with our first child.  While I was able to share this good news in person with my mom, my father was away on a business trip.  This good news was replaced by sorrow as my grandmother passed away on this same day.  Following the funeral of my dad’s mother, new parenting classes attempted to prepare us for raising a child.  Twenty one years ago over Memorial Day Weekend, Leanne endured 29 hours of labor to give birth to James.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest, John 12:24.

Fast forwarding 19 years, another tragedy illustrates the circle of life.  Leanne’s father was in a bad car accident, battling to stay a live for a couple of weeks.  Away at college, James wasn’t able to be there as his grandfather passed away.  However, James did call the hospital, breaking the news over the phone of a new girl friend.  Jim’s funeral introduced Emma to our family, fitting in naturally.  One year later, James shared he proposed to Emma, setting the date of his own wedding this Memorial Day Weekend.  As death takes one soul away, the birth of a new relationship sets the stage for the circle of life to be completed.

The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal, John 12:25.

As I experience hosting my first rehearsal dinner tonight, I am passing the torch to my oldest son.  After tonight, James is on his own, starting a new journey with his soul mate Emma.  I’m not sure exactly what to say, but all I know is to pass on words of wisdom from the Bible.  As I think of the perfect thing to say, I am reminded of Jesus’ comments in the passage above.  In the context of marriage, two will become one.  Just as individuals must die to self so that Christ might live, couples must yield to God to take the wheel, direction in life.  As my wife and I complete one task, raising James, we look forward to becoming supportive parents in Emma and James’ future endeavors.

by Jay Mankus

Provoked by Bitterness and Bound by Sin

If you blessed to be around a newborn baby or infant eager to start crawling, you will witness periodical tantrums.  Some will signal moms that it’s time to breast feed or change a dirty diaper.  Prior to being able to speak, crying, fussing and screaming are signs of displeasure and unhappiness.  When you examine these fits of rage from a biblical perspective, knee jerk reactions from any human being are often provoked by bitterness.

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this authority and power too, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit,” Acts 8:18-19.

There is where parenting will influence and shape the character of a child.  If parents allow children to get everything they want as soon as he or she cries, the more spoiled this individual will become over time.  This display of bitterness is a sign that the human flesh, known as the sinful nature is alive and well.  Anyone not trained or taught to resist this urge, will be provoked by bitterness and bound to sin.

But Peter said to him, “May your money be destroyed along with you, because you thought you could buy the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart (motive, purpose) is not right before God. 22 So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are provoked by bitterness and bound by sin,” Acts 8:20-23.

During a trip to Samaria, Luke records an interesting conversation between Peter and a magician called Simon.  Based upon the passage above, Simon appears to have been spoiled in his younger years, normally getting whatever he wants.  Subsequently, Simon offers Peter a bribe, attempting to receive the Holy Spirit through a cash exchange.  However, this isn’t how God works.  When motives are impure, prayer is necessary to get yourself right before God.  Yet, unless you deal with bitterness and sin in a biblical manner, healing won’t occur.  Fasting, prayer and seeking godly counsel are steps on the road to recovery.  The best therapy to overcome the root of bitterness is meditating on the Word of God.  Exercising spiritual disciplines will release you from the bondage of sin.

by Jay Mankus

Grounded

During my years as a teenager, grounding was a common form of discipline. When a child became as tall as their parent or guardian, grounding replaced spanking for inappropriate, rebellious or wrong behavior. If you received bad grades on a report card, the punishment would range from grounded for a weekend, month or marking period depending upon how bad or the strictness of your parents.

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves, And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].” You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? – Hebrews 12:6-7

Grounded also refers to a pilot who is prohibited or prevented from flying. In the 2012 film Flight starring Denzel Washington, pilot Whip Whittaker is on a routine flight from Orlando to Atlanta. When the plane suffers a
severe mechanical breakdown in midair, Whittaker played by Washington
does a miraculous job crash-landing this plane. Initially, Whip is treated like a hero until a toxicology test reveals traces of alcohol and cocaine in his blood stream. Thus, Whittaker is grounded until the investigation into this crash is complete.

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose], Hebrews 12:11.

When I was young, I remember my initial spankings. This isn’t because of any emotional scars. Rather, it’s the words my parents shared prior to being spanked, “this is going to hurt me more than you.” My sarcastic mind didn’t understand what they were trying to say until I read Hebrews 12. Discipline is a form a love, extreme intervention at times to alter the steps of a wayward child. While grounding didn’t seem like a good idea when I was a teenager, now as a parent grounding has a new meaning. Although the PC police frowns upon biblical discipline, may the Lord give you insight and wisdom to discipline you own or future children properly.

by Jay Mankus

One Down,Two to Go

My oldest son James will be leaving on Saturday to begin his junior year of college.  Yet, as I began to think about his departure, this will likely be his last summer in our home.  Required to do an internship before his senior year, James will likely spend his final summer in Lynchburg, Virginia.  When you consider a seriously relationship with his girl friend Emma, marriage is not out of the realm of possibility.  Thus, as a parent, I guess its one down and two to go.

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

If anyone could provide insight on the do’s and don’ts on parenting, its Solomon.  A husband of 700 wives and an additional 300 concubines, this former king of Israel was a father to over one thousand children.  Reflecting upon his role as a dad, Solomon uses Proverbs as a guide to help raise godly children.  This Old Testament book urges children to listen to their parents.  The key principle to pass on to daughters and sons is the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

The apostle Paul adds further advice to fathers hoping to raise godly children in the New Testament.  During his visit with members of the church at Ephesus, Paul noticed that some dads were being too tough on their kids.  This observation inspired Paul to encourage parents to avoid exasperating youth.  Instead, Paul reminds future parents to display (TLC) tender, love and care while exercising discipline.  Whether you are a former, current or want to be a parent, apply the principles of the Bible so that children will not depart from God’s will for their life.

by Jay Mankus

Doing Whatever It Takes

As a parent, I can anticipate failure before a grade is given or the final score is relayed.  The secret to this insight is simple, hard work is often rewarded and laziness is penalized.  For me, the most painful aspect of parenting is seeing the potential your child has yet being unable to convince them to do whatever it takes to ensure success.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

For those of you who coach or teach, this same dilemma exists.  How do you express someone’s gifts or talents without trying to live your life through them?  In the film Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays a psychologist who is introduced to a genius played by Matt Damon with a troubled past.  These secret scars, hidden from plain view prevent Will from doing whatever it took to apply his knowledge in a positive manner.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” John 14:15.

Today, the future is bright, but too many young people don’t have the resolve necessary to see their dreams come true.  Sure, the average teenager wants to have a great life, but this doesn’t happen with a snap of your finger.  Only the disciplined, driven and hungry will begin to see the fruits of their labor.  Thus, a parent can encourage, inspire or motivate their offspring.  In the end, a parent can only pray that their child develops a zeal to follow God’s will on earth.  The key to this fulfillment is doing whatever it takes.

by Jay Mankus

 

Folding Under Pressure

As a parent with three teenagers, I am introduced to the latest usage of sayings.  From time to time, I may question my children about their culture expressions.  For those that make sense, I add to my reputare when the timing is right.  One such term is folding, referring to someone who caves under pressure.

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left, Ecclesiastes 10:2.

One of the common news stories of 2017 are the various reports of whistle blowers.  When administrators, co-workers or research uncovers wrong doing, many people remain quiet, afraid to get someone in trouble.  Solomon categorizes this type of behavior as foolish, folding under peer pressure to not do that which is right.

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, 1 Peter 3:17.

Being a whistle blower takes guts.   Sometimes this may result in losing your job.  The courageous won’t care if friends are lost or relationships severed.  As Peter encourages individuals in the passage above, it’s better to suffer for doing good.  Therefore, if you find yourself in a compromising situation in the future, take this advice from the Bible so that you don’t find yourself folding under pressure.

by Jay Mankus

 

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