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When Days Don’t End Like You Hoped

The endings of Hollywood movies have ingrained in American minds that life should conclude in a certain way.  Unfortunately, film and reality are miles apart.  Subsequently, more and more individuals feel the crippling effects of sleepless nights caused by days which end far from what each expected.

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

After losing my teaching position 5 years ago, I transitioned into screen writing based upon the advice of a former co-worker.  Three complete scripts later my initial goal is to sell one my these scripts before I reach 55; then write a script a year in retirement.  Despite my desires, an unexpected eye condition may put my own plan on hold or cancel it completely.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

When things don’t go your way or days end in heart break, there’s only one place to turn.  Carrying around all your burdens, pain and worry will wear you out.  Therefore, do let trials suck out your joy for life.  Instead, go to the Lord in prayer so that Jesus will replace your burden with peace.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

How Long Must We Wait O Lord?

Waiting for anything isn’t natural.  The idea you have to remain inactive, stationary and pause until expectations are fulfilled can be agonizing.  The longer one waits, the greater doubts grow, wondering if prayers will be answered.

How long must your servant wait?  When will you punish my persecutors? – Psalm 119:84

Several Psalmists describe their anguish waiting to experience God’s promises.  As the wicked prosper without any penalties, cries for justice may go unnoticed for years.  Thus, screams of frustrations point toward heaven hoping for action to occur soon.

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

In this silence, impatience often boils over.  This is when most turn their back on God.   For those clinging on to hope, only time will dictate whether or not faith will be reignited.  How long must we wait O Lord?  Keep praying til your requests become reality, following in the footsteps of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Substitute for Reality

As a student, whenever a substitute was standing up front or sitting in a chair, it was like a holiday.  Although plans were passed on, most periods turned into a study hall, a break from the normal routine.  Whether this lasts for a day, week or longer, this individual serves as a substitute for reality.

Stressed out by the events of a week, human beings often turn to their televisions to escape.  Whether its a favorite channel, show or sporting event, this time mends the broken and heals wounded souls temporary.  However, if this habit becomes a life style, entertainment can become a substitute for reality.

Perhaps  the breakdown of the American family started with different viewing interests.  Once on, there isn’t a need for communication as the big screen turns into an alternate reality.  If this pattern continues, minds zone out, numb to deadening relationships inside their home.  As soon as the number of televisions increase to multiple rooms, the stage is set for a divided house.  May those on the verge of falling into this trap, awaken before this idol becomes a permanent substitute for reality.

by Jay Mankus

I Can’t Wait Another Day to Act

Whether you’re brushing your teeth, combing your hair or shaving, mirrors reflect the grim reality of physical features.  Every minor imperfection is magnified, leaving a spirit of disappointment hovering over hearts, minds and souls who have let their bodies go.  As I looked at my expanding waist line the other night, one thought reverberated in my head, “I can’t wait another day to act!”

Gone are the days of high metabolisms as bad eating habits show up quickly.  In the meantime, the freshman 15 has led to the married 25, resulting in the lazy 50.  When your eyes are opened to a crisis of weight, you have 3 options: accept it, continue in a state of deny or be motivated to make drastic changes.  As for me, I’m somewhere between accepting and action, praying for the discipline for success.

Luke 14L28 suggests that everyone should consider the cost before making any decision.  Whether you’re contemplating a career change, diet or move, you have to weigh the pros and cons.  Although I haven’t developed a concrete plan, exercise and giving up soda is a good place to start.  Regardless of the obstacle standing in your way, don’t wait another day or else the additional calories may be too much to overcome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Living in a State of Disrepair

After breaking 2 ribs back in February, I wasn’t able to do some of the things around my house that I take pride in, mowing the grass and manicuring my golf green.  Thus, in the spring I handed over these responsibilities over to my 2 sons, assuming we were on the same page.  Unfortunately, as I glanced around my yard this afternoon, one thing is clear, “I’m living in a state of disrepair.”

Although not everyone is prone to become a hoarder, I guess we all have some sort of collection or fetish which blinds us from reality.  For some its clothes, others relish in shoes and for me, I have a weakness for golf clubs.  Somewhere in the past 6 months, I’ve stopped caring about minor details.  Little did I know that these routine chores would snowball out of control, leaving me paralyzed pondering, “where do I start?”

The words of Luke 12:48 have hit home for me today.  According to Jesus, “to whom much is given, much is required.”  When you are a parent, spouse and homeowner, work never stops, at least there is always something that needs to be done to be a good steward of the possessions God has given you.  Yet, if you forget, ignore or neglect this responsibility, you too will know what it feels like to be living in a state of disrepair.  May God awaken you and I from this stupor so that day by day, we will rise to meet future challenges.

by Jay Mankus

Why the World is Falling Apart

Gone are the days of Wilbur Wilberforce, when politicians did the right thing without taking a poll, trying to get re-elected or win public approval.  In an attempt to get ahead, integrity has been swept under the rug, trampled by greed, power and souls seeking victory whatever the cost.  Lurking in the darkness, the reason for this decline lies in John 8:34.

Slavery, a grave reminder of the past, is alive and well inside the heart’s of human beings.  Although mankind think they are in control, sin is large and in charge, holding individuals captive, Romans 7:14-20.  Perhaps this truth led the apostle Paul, one of the godliest men to ever live to claim he was one of the greatest sinners ever, 1 Timothy 1:15.  If you had to diagnosis why the world is falling apart, sin is a prime suspect.

Discipline, good intentions and self-control may appear to be full proof, but in the end its like fool’s gold.  Subsequently, the grasp of sin prevents countless from doing the right thing, Romans 8:5-8, something Paul knew from personal experience.  Until people acknowledge the reality of their soul, a sinner in desperate need of a Savior, John 3:3-5, the world will continue its downward spiral.  May the Lord help put people back together, one soul at a time, Luke 15:7.

by Jay Mankus

The Sounds of Violence

Yesterday, I was taking a walk on a cart path just north of down town Wilmington.  With a fence separating this golf course from nearby neighborhoods, I began to hear some commotion a few blocks away.  Voices gradually increased in volume, leading to a fervent disagreement between 2 individuals.  Others joined in yelling back and forth.  Memories of school yard fights flashed before my mind.  However, on this day, no fists, knives or guns were raised, just the sound of violence.

A few years ago in Newark, while having practice with my sons baseball team, I wasn’t as fortunate.  When a suspicious car rolled slowly through an adjacent street, several rounds of bullets were fired.  Before I knew it, I experienced my first drive by shooting, pulling the team quickly off the field into the building behind home plate.  The gunman proceeded to cross a creek behind the left field foul line, run across a field and hid near the University of Delaware until a police helicopter found him about a half hour later.  This time the sound of violence was too close for comfort.

The apostle Paul warned first century Christian’s that this day would come, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  His words were prophetic as children are regularly disobedient to adults and their parents.  Junior high and senior high teachers are now front row witnesses since the sound of violence has entered the classroom, especially in public education.  The consequence of this reality is persecution, with Christ absorbing this anger and hatred on the cross, Isaiah 53:3-11.  May the hope of this fulfilled prophecy help you overcome the sound of violence.

Please comment on how God has helped you rise above the violence in our world.

by Jay Mankus

 

Why Losses Outweigh the Victories in Life

Earlier today, I began to feel like Job, pondering when my recent streak of trials will end.  While attending a friend’s concert this evening, enjoying the Raymond Lee Band, I sensed an answer coming from the Holy Spirit.  If victories out numbered losses, individuals would not learn essential life lessons.  Therefore, God allows losses to outweigh victories in life so that humility produces teachable moments.

As I read the book of Psalms, it appears King David does more complaining than celebrating.  In the tough times. people are forced into a corner, revealing their true character.  Behind the sadness and tears, rough circumstances leads troubled souls to trust in the Lord.  Without failure. you don’t truly appreciate the good things in life.

Perhaps, this is the main message of James 1:2-4.  After the storms of life fade from the horizon, souls are left to pick up the pieces.   Subsequently, wisdom is gained through maturity and perseverance.  Winning is nice, but sometimes victory hides flaws and imperfections.  Thus, the Lord places losses in life more than victories so that Jesus’ power might be displayed in our weaknesses, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

by Jay Mankus

Why is God Taking so… Long?

In this day and age, waiting is like praying for patience, nobody wants to do it.  The essence of waiting involves one of two options: either stay where you are or delay your plans until something happens.  However, if you’re not in a safe place common sense will urge you to move.  Meanwhile, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might overlook the obvious sign God has provided.

In Psalm 22:1, David’s prayer mirrors Jesus’ words in Matthew 27:46.  David went from the out house as a lonely shepherd, living in country fields under the stars to the penthouse, anointed as the next king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16:13.  However, the catch was David had to wait until Saul’s death until this dream became a reality.  A whirl wind took David to the king’s palace as a servant to the king, playing his harp, to a battle field, defeating Goliath and to a cave fleeing the wrath a jealous king, literally running for his life.  This is the context in which David felt forsaken and forgotten, unable to wait any longer.

Meanwhile, Jesus spent 6 hours hanging from a cross before his death.  Without any pain killers, Jesus endured excruciating  pain as 3 modern railroad sized spikes went through each hand and both ankles.  If this wasn’t bad enough, insults and mocking followed, carrying on for hours.  Grasping for air to breath, having a conversation to share his final words was exhausting.  Thus, God the Father went silent, allowing His Son to finish the task that Jesus was sent to earth to complete, Luke 19:10.  Not able to wait any longer, Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to the natural forces of life.

Perhaps, Hebrews 12:4 was placed into the pages of the Bible for impatient people on earth.  Despite the trials you encounter in life, God reminds mankind that at least you didn’t have to shed your blood on a cross.  With this subtle reminder, may God fill you with the spirit of Isaiah 40:28-31.  If you find yourself tired, weary and lacking understanding, may the wings of eagles lift you up as wait on God.  In your weakness of impatience, God is strong, carrying you periodically when you can’t tarry on, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  Although I don’t know why God is taking so long to reveal His plan to me, I am clinging to His promise of a brighter future, Jeremiah 29:11.

by Jay Mankus

A Place That Will Change Your Life Forever

On earth, travel agencies will try to convince clients of a sweet deal, hidden gem or destination that will change your life.  As spring approaches, television commercials will display eye popping images as states hope your summer plans include a family vacation to one their resorts.  While memories can be forever etched into your mind, the thought of work quickly snaps individuals back to reality, ending any memorable getaway.

From a spiritual perspective, people may recall the place they got baptized, the church they were married in or a retreat center where they met God for the first time.  Inside a sanctuary, family’s tend to gravitate toward their favorite pew, stare at magnificent stain glass windows or recall taking their first communion.  According to Exodus 29:37, the altar made for the Tent of Meeting possessed supernatural powers, making those priests who touched it holy.  While not the Tent of Meeting, the altar at a church in Friendship, Maryland changed my life forever.

During my senior year of college, I was asked to serve on a Lay Witness Mission team for a church seeking to revive its congregation.  My role was to be a small group leader for the youth group and its college students, sharing how God had made a difference in my life.  Usually, one of the leaders was asked to share part of their faith journey, a snapshot of their life.  On Saturday night, our leader Ken told me that I would be speaking to the entire congregation Sunday morning.  Caught off guard, my initial instinct was fear, pondering, “how can someone who stutters speak for 15 minutes?”

Subsequently, I was led to pray, asking the Holy Spirit and my roommate to clue me in on what God wanted me to say to several hundred strangers.  Tossing and turning, I was reminded of a song that I brought, called The Altar.  Studying the lyrics in my mind, a vision for my first sermon was conceived, drifting me off into a peaceful sleep.  As I made my closing remarks, I gave an altar call, inviting anyone who was touched by the Holy Spirit to come to the altar while I played Ray Boltz’s song.

To my amazement, one college student literally ran to the altar as soon as the song began.  Others quickly, followed, filling up the semi-circle shaped altar in front of the pulpit.  When the music ended, people were standing in line, waiting to kneel at the altar.  Elders and leaders of the church began to lay hands on those crying, quietly whispering words up to heaven on their behalf.  As I joined the congregation following my message, the senior pastor shared a few words, summarizing these amazing events of this 3 day event, encouraging people to continue lay their burdens up to Jesus at the altar, Matthew 11:28.  On earth, there are countless wonders of the world, but for me, I will never forget this day when lives were changed forever at the altar.

by Jay Mankus

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