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Tag Archives: reflecting

As Times Change… Don’t Get Left Behind

My first stereo was a record player with an eight track built in below.  I typed my high school research paper on a type writer.  The most advanced computer classes available for me in college was CAD and Word Perfect 2.1.  I didn’t join social media until 2012 and my children mock me each time I pull out my ancient cell phone.  As times have changed, I’m afraid that I have been left behind, now struggling to catch up.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12.

In the Old Testament, the average life expectancy was much lower than today.  While royalty and the wealthy possessed the resources to extend life, dying in your twenties and thirties wasn’t uncommon.  Thus, the Psalmist urged individuals to seize the day, making the most of the years God provides.  Subsequently, the Bible details genealogies that include teenage marriages and pregnancies.  Young women gave birth to most of their children before the age of thirty.  As times changed, ancient believers sought a heart of wisdom to prevent being left behind.

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

As I approach my 49th birthday next week, I have spent the last week reflecting on what I have done, where I have been and what I would like to do in the future.  Yet, as I hold on to the things I have treasured from my past, time has passed me by.  Resistant to change, I haven’t made the effort to keep up with technological advances.  This oversight on my part has caused me to be left behind.  As I open my mind to this painful reality, I pray that God gives me the energy and perseverance to make up for lost time.  May the Lord direct your steps so that you obtain a heart of wisdom in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Under Further Review

Beginning in 1986, the National Football League adopted a limited instant replay review for close calls made by officials during the course of a game.  The current policy was made permanent in 1999, giving coaches two challenges per game.  If both challenges are won, a third challenge is awarded to this team.  Initially, referees stared into a camera with something like a voting booth curtain for privacy.  Today, officials are given tablets to speed up this process.  Once a determination is reached, the head official begins with the phrase “upon further review.”

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

This expression can also be applied to evaluating your life.  The end of one year and beginning of new one serves as a great time to take the time to reflect.  You may even ask yourself some of the following questions.  Did I attain any of the dreams, goals or objectives I laid out?  How did the circumstances of the year influence me for the better or worse?  Am I closer to fulfilling my aspirations in life or do I need to change course quickly so that hope does not drown?  While this may not help you initially, it’s a good starting point to see what needs to change in 2018.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

At first glance, 2017 was a painful year, saying good bye to my cousin Billy and father in law Jim.  These events led my wife and I to sit down to create a will just in case death comes knocking.  Another setback was receiving a rejection letter from Hollywood for my screen play Express Yourself.  This news crushed my spirits initially, but has led me to begin working on Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door in 2018, a script that was rejected by Hollywood in 2016 but did receive favorable comments by judges.  Perhaps, I am on a wild goose chase, wasting countless hours reflecting, studying and writing.  Yet, as a former professional athlete, I’m swinging for the fences hoping that I will eventually connect.  Right now my batting average is 000, but upon further review I serve a God who makes the impossible possible.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Marriage Makeover

In the beginning of this year, the Lord opened up my eyes to several areas in my life that I have neglected.  Unfortunately, my marriage of one of these, taking it for granted without putting the energy and time God desires for a Christian husband.  Thus, I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting and praying about the best solution to revitalize my marriage.  The answer has come in the form of a marriage makeover.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25.

After having three kids, one of our favorite television shows to watch as a family was Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with Ty Pennington.  ABC and corporate sponsors gave families who were down on their luck or recovering from a loss to have a fresh start.  Movies like The Ultimate Gift and Fire Proof have added practical ideas to apply daily which individuals can alter their perspective on life and enhance their ability to love.  These influences have inspired me to put a formula for a marriage makeover into my movie script.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord, Proverbs 19:14.

In the last two weeks, I’ve heard two sermons which have convinced me that I am on the right track.  Since a portion of my current script has a couple going through marriage counseling, I hope that I am able to communicate and portray a useful tool for struggling couples.  In a society that is trading in marriages like a used car, I pray that the final edit of Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door will be the next film to impact America in a positive manner.  Below are the themes I have woven into my script.

  1. Turn the television off and begin to create your own reality show.
  2. Invest time weekly in an activity of the others choice, talking about it over dinner or a walk so you don’t stop getting to know one another.
  3. Serve one another by stopping what you are doing to listen, love and pray together.
  4. Display unexpected acts of kindness to ignite passion and physical intimacy.

by Jay Mankus

What Do Strangers See in Me?

 

Spending the past week in the south has allowed me to slow down, catch my breath and reflect.  Stressed out, rushed and unhappy isn’t a vibe that I enjoy giving off.  Subsequently, I am only left to ponder, what do strangers see in me when they look my way?

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts, Psalm 145:4.

I wish I could say that I stick out as a positive influence in a negative world.  On a good day maybe, yet life is a marathon not a sprint.  Thus, I tend to suck wind, not always finishing each day strong.  Some days I may even crawl past the finish line, wishing I can press a reset button.

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works, Psalm 145:5.

The Psalmist suggests the faith of one generation is passed on to the next.  However, what if the lives of believers don’t reflect a biblical love?  Will a hopeless generation come to the conclusion that God is dead?  While God does promise a remnant will always exist, whether small or large, I’m fearful saints aren’t recognizing the sense of urgency at hand.  What do strangers see in you?  God willing, deep inside your heart exists grace, love and forgiveness that today’s generation will pass on to the next.

by Jay Mankus

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then my first full time teaching position after college was a blessing in disguise.  Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest, I spent the Spring Semester of 1993 counseling, teaching and tutoring junior high students who were considered career underachievers.  The learning never stopped, continuing through breakfast, lunch and dinner.  My only true break was for 40 minutes, from 12:20-1:00 pm, Monday thru Friday.  Titled 20/20 Time, students and teachers spent 40 minutes in solitude either on a hillside, in the valley or along the banks of a stream.  The goal of this exercise was to spend 20 minutes reflecting and 20 writing.  To my amazement, I developed a love for journaling; eventually inspiring 12 songs that formed my first album, A Simple Confession.

For those of us who love food, eating is like a race to see who can devour a meal the fastest.  Yet, for businessmen, savvy entrepreneurs and relational individuals, meals are maximized to get work done, explore new opportunities or develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Prior to the rise in youth sports, families spent 30-60 minutes a day at their kitchen table talking .  Now, some households eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, working meals around busy schedules.  Although hunger is a natural part of the body, appetites can vary from delicacies to worldly obsessions.  Realizing this truth, Jesus introduced a new concept for his listeners to digest, “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6.

The Psalms of the Bible illuminate how to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Beginning in Psalm 1:1-3, the author compares this type of individual with an evergreen, a tree that stays green throughout the year.  Known as conifers, the key to this tree is its root system.  When planted near a creek, river or stream, daily nutrients are widely available.  The spiritual dimension to this analogy can be found in Joshua 1:8, where meditating on the Bible day and night results in a similar outcome.  Therefore, if you want to maximize your own meals, start by consuming the Word of God before every breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If this concept takes ahold of your heart, soul and mind, then will resemble the tree in Psalm 1.  This leads me to the chorus from one of the first songs the Holy Spirit inspired me to write, Psalm 1.

“I want to be the tree, down by the river”

“I want to be the tree, down by the bank”

“I want to be the tree, that walks and talks like Jesus”

“Reaching out for nourishment by staying in God’s Word.”

by Jay Mankus

 

To Enjoy, Invest or Waste?

If each day on earth is considered a gift, then individuals have 3 choices.  You can enjoy each moment, soaking in the world around you.  Another option is  investing your energy, talents and time into hobbies, interests or passions.  Finally, the self-absorbed might follow the path of the prodigal son, wasting life savings to satisfy their fantasies.

While reflecting on my own life, I wish I could say that my time has been well spent.  Unfortunately, transitioning to my new work schedule has resulted in countless unproductive hours.  Although I hope to develop healthier patterns, I can’t replace the time that I’ve lost.  In view of this, I need to hit the reset button to begin again, Lamentations 3:22-23.

When you go through patterns of disappointment, keep your head up, Galatians 6:9-10.  With Christ’s help, Philippians 4:13, you can stop negative momentum.  If you want to turn the pages of your past toward love, joy and peace, emulate the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.  By doing this, you will find enjoyment while investing in kingdom activities during your days on the earth, Matthew 6:19-22.

by Jay Mankus

 

Situational Ethics

When you stop for a moment and take a look at what’s really going on in the world around us, its head scratching.  Students killing or sleeping with teachers?  The glorification of abortion, giving woman who are pregnant the legal right to destroy human life?    Lying as a religious practice to deceive curious minds about to realize the truth?  Copy cat school shootings, seeking 15 minutes of fame?  Nudity on public television and in prime time?

The only logical explanation for these bizarre acts is a growing phenomena, known as situational ethics.  Instead of maintaining a set of moral absolutes, where there is a clear distinction between right and wrong, situations are now giving individuals other rational choices.  Thus, in the heat of the moment or deep within the context of your trial, good excuses for sin can be made.  Dictionary’s refer to situational ethics as a system that evaluates acts in the context of their circumstances rather than by a set of moral standards.

This concept is nothing new as Jesus indirectly mentions it during a famous sermon found in Matthew 5:21-26.  Referencing the 6th commandment, the Lord chooses the word murder, not kill.  Thus, in war, killing is acceptable since the situation dictates a kill or be killed mentality.  When war breaks out between nations, right and wrong is turned upside down.  How then can someone know what is right or what can individuals rely on for a moral compass?

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis devotes an entire chapter entitled Some Objections.  Lewis talks about the Law of Human Nature which states “human beings have a curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain manner guided by their conscience, but despite these inclinations to do the right thing, they do not follow this law, breaking it through deviating behavior.  Beside war, the herd instinct, self-preservation  and motherly love steers people to take drastic measures based upon the extant of the storm or situation.

Today, these factors have blinded innocent hearts, naive minds and desperate souls from looking beyond the here and now.  With tomorrow hard to reach for many, ethics don’t seem that important as surviving today is the goal.  In John 18:33-38, a governor called Pilate called for a private meeting with Jesus.  In his heart, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent.  In fact, his own wife had a dream telling her to warn her husband about Jesus.  Although the clear response was in view, the situation urged Pilate’s own sinful nature to do the wrong thing.

Life is like years of trial and error.  I’ve spent 44 years getting it wrong day after day.  Yeah, the easy thing to do is blame the situation or the hand you’ve been dealt by God.  However, the temple within you expects more, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.  May the God above your situation take you to a better place this Christmas season.  Reach out to the One who can so you the way, John 14:6.

by Jay Mankus

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