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Tag Archives: persistence

Bring Me Back

Sometimes life is like being placed into a giant maze without a map.  Whenever you make the wrong turn, its like one step forward, two steps back.  As soon as you hit a dead end, you have to go back to where you started, retracing your steps to find a way out.  If you don’t have any helper, guide or visible signs, this journey will last much longer than expected.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

The Bible serves as a road map to bring you back to God’s desired destination.  During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares life to a series of roads.  The most popular ones are like interstate highways, well defined and marked.  However, Jesus uses the analogy of a small path to illustrate the road to heaven.  Somebody has cleared the path, but if you stray off to the left or right, its easy to lose your way.

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.

The author of Hebrews refers to a great Hall of Faith, saints who have showed people the way to heaven.  Comparing life to a marathon, completing this race requires endurance and persistence.  When I get up each morning, I don’t always feel like doing the right thing.  There are plenty of days when I am exhausted, tired and worn down with little motivation to stay on track.  The group Evanescence sings about this state in their song Bring Me Back to Life.  This blog and song are dedicated to those who need to be brought back into God’s presence.

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

Is There Anybody Out There?

I heard a depressing conversation this week.  A woman called into a talk show to discuss her nightmare experience with healthcare.  This woman talked about a company who promised her full coverage if she was willing to move to the west coast.  After believing every spoken word and following through with this relocation, promises began to be broken.  Formerly a religious woman, she cried out to God hoping to be saved from further disappointment.  Day after day these prayers went unanswered, wondering “what’s the point if there’s nobody out there?”

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly, Psalm 5:3.

At the end of this phone call, this woman revealed that she stopped praying, giving up hope that God could change her situation,  Unfortunately, too many people know the pain of unfulfilled prayer requests.  When heaven is silent or signs of help do not arise, it’s hard to press on.  Talking to an invisible God requires faith, persistence and a strong will to carry on.  Yet, there will always be those who give up before a miracle is delivered.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer, Psalm 4:1.

The Psalmist had his own struggles with waiting on God to intervene.  Based upon the words chosen. it appears Solomon throw his hands up in frustration wondering, “is there anyone out there?”  While technology continues to advance, waiting on God remains the same, a long and trying road.  Therefore, the next time you begin to panic when a prayer goes unanswered, let go and trust the Holy Spirit to lead you where God wants you to go.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Does My Help Come From?

The term apologetics in the context of theology (the science of God) is derived from expressing what you believe and why.  This process takes time to reflect, meditate and verbalize the rationale behind the beliefs you hold dear.  Thus, one of the areas a person may contemplate over the course of their life is this: where does my help come from?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? – Psalm 121:1

Those who claim to be rugged individuals, consisting of discipline, hard work and persistence, often give the credit of their success to how they were raised, trial and error and earning most of what they have received in life.  Meanwhile, victims are on the opposite side of the spectrum, learning to pass the blame for their failures on everyone or anything possible, creating an excuse for each loss, setback and unreached dream.  As for those somewhere in between, the divine, luck the family you are born into usually help to explain why help arrived or never came to the rescue.

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; Psalm 121:2-3.

Looking back on my own personal experiences, there have been too many occasions in the past to write off as mere coincidences.  During my sophomore year of high school, I first sensed the hand of God leading me.  Although I have endured periods where I felt abandoned by God, help eventually was provided by angels, conversations, letters, unusual encounters and whispers from the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, as for me and my household, our help comes from the Lord!

by Jay Mankus

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