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Tag Archives: seize the moment

When the House of Your Dreams Fades Away

If you are not careful, you can allow life to get away from you. Distractions, the gruel of work and unguided years have caused me to lose track of time. It seems like only a few years ago that my three kids all attended the same school where I taught. At this moment in time, everything seemed so clear as I was on the way to building the house of my dreams.

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

Nearly a decade later, our house is nearly empty, two years away from having all of my children in college. After hearing Casting Crowns’ song House of Their Dreams the other night, conviction filled my soul. The words of these lyrics ring true as I find my family trapped in our own worlds despite living under the same roof. Recognizing this is one thing, but coming all together as a Christ devoted family requires an act of God.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28.”

Sure, prayer and fasting will help, but I can’t expect my family to change until God changes me first. Instead of asking, correcting and urging others to take action, I need to closely evaluate and examine my own life first. During the youth ministry trade school that I attended following college, I learned that the enthusiasm of a leader never exceeds that of its audience. Therefore, if I want to restore the house of my dreams, I need to pray “Lord change me first!”

by Jay Mankus

The X Factor of Growth

The term X factor refers to a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.  In the context of a sporting event, the X factor could be a replacement, substitute or specific play that changes the momentum of a game.  This may be an unlikely hero or a star who seizes the moment by coming up clutch.  In the 1996 film Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays Roy McAvoy, a driving range golf professional who qualifies for the United States Open.  This reckless golfer takes unnecessary chances, following the motto, “each shot is a defining moment.  Either you define the moment or the moment defines you.”

They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to]eating meals together and to prayers. 43 A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles, Acts 2:42-43.

During the first century, few churches had a physical building.  Some met in local synagogues, others met outdoors on the outskirts of town, but most gathered in homes.  According to Luke, this decision was the X factor in promoting spiritual growth.  As people from different ethnic backgrounds began to meet for fellowship, prayer and spiritual discussions, a special bond formed.  This spiritual climate set the stage for a revival, the first Great Awakening in history.  Outsiders were curious, hungry for what these followers of Christ demonstrated and possessed.

And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. 45 And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need, Acts 2:44-45.

Based upon the passage above, poverty was eliminated by this generous group of believers.  Whenever a member of the church had an emergency, problem or need, wealthy members sold their possessions to cover any cost or expense.  Ultimately, the X factor for any congregation is when people become the hands and feet of Christ.  This isn’t done out of a desire to be recognized.  Rather, genuine love keeps no record of wrongs, giving out of the goodness of your heart.  May the Holy Spirit inspire you to be the X factor in your community.

by Jay Mankus

The Path to Excellence

As I examine successful athletes, authors and entrepreneurs, I find a common characteristic which exists.  Beyond a drive, focus and passion, those who rise above their competitors seize the moment daily.  Vision serves as a blue print to carry out and fulfill goals set by each individual.  Although delays and timing may be off, staying the course results in a path toward excellence.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

When my two boys were much younger, each qualified for the Yes Athletics National Cross Country Championships for 3 consecutive years.  As an 8 year old, Daniel was the East Regional Champion.  However, when you compete against the best in the country, breaking the top 100 is an accomplishment.  After talking to other coaches, parents and runners, I realized my kids hadn’t put in the miles or training to have a chance to contend.

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

If you want to be considered elite, dedication, sacrifice and an unswerving concentration is a must.  Despite whatever talent you possess, the hungrier will creep up on anyone who isn’t willing to put in the time to improve.  Everyone will reach their limit at some point, but God will honor those who grind it out daily no matter how they are feeling.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my own aspirations, but I must fight with everything I have to keep my dreams alive by walking on the path to excellence.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fulfilling My Duty

In the film 1992 drama A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise uses a unique defense to acquit his clients, two marines charged with murder.  Cruise convinces the jury members that these men were given an order, to perform a code red on a sub-standard private.  The defense claimed that Harold Dawson and Louden Downey are on trial for doing their job.  Beyond the realm of Hollywood, what does it mean to fulfill your duty today?

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day,” Acts 23:1.

Depending upon your calling, fulfilling your duty first begins as an individual.  What gifts or resources do you possess?  In the parable of the talents, the master goes away for an undisclosed amount of time, trusting his servants to be good stewards of what each was given.  Thus, God expects people to maximum their time and talent, seizing each day as a new opportunity to serve the Lord.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:23

In addition, you have to consider your role.  Are you a parent, spouse or teacher?  How are you influencing those around you?  Are you drawing people closer to God or do your actions serve as a stumbling block, causing children to question a life of faith.  If you’re like me, it becomes painfully obvious on a weekly daily that I have a long way to go.  Though I have days of being good and faithful, these are overshadowed by periods of disobedience, laziness and neglect.  Therefore, before Jesus returns make sure you get your house in order by fulfilling your duty to the Creator and Giver of Life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Living in First Class for a Day

As a son of an immigrant to this country, I understand the concept of hard work.  Although I never saw my dad much as a kid, I knew he was trying to provide a better life for our family.  Subsequently, I didn’t become obsessed with fashion or style in my teenage years.  Rather, I learned to appreciate what I had despite being jealous at times by peers who flashed their wealth.

However, I haven’t been excluded from certain luxuries in life.  Every so often, I have been privileged to be a guest of first class.  When the opportunity presents itself, I’ve been blessed by attending the Stanley Cups Finals, Monday Night Football games and double header of a Cleveland Indians in a Luxury Suite.  While each experience has special memories, nothing compares to this past weekend’s NASCAR Race at the Monster Mile.

My wife’s company was given Infield Passes for Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover Downs.  These tickets included a Meet and Greet with Ryan Newman, tour of the garage area and access to the Quick and Loans Hospitality RV all day long.  With my kids tagging alone, my family was spoiled, living in first class for a day.  This event gives me a new appreciation for NASCAR as well as everything that goes on behind the scenes at a race.  Whenever you have a special invite in the future, seize the moment and thank God for the special chances you get to live in first class for a day.

by Jay Mankus

Use It or Lose It

These are words a coach, parent or teacher may express to someone they care about.  The basis for this expression, “use it or lose it,” serves as a warning to anyone who fails to practice a newly acquired ability.  The longer individuals wait before they apply information, the greater the probability someone will forget this skill.  Fearful leaders encourage their pupils to seize the moment or risk losing their lesson until next week, month or year.

One of the first students, Adam, was given a few simple commands from the Lord in Genesis 2:15-17.  First, Adam was promoted to become the caretaker of Eden’s Garden.  Secondly, Adam was given clear boundaries defined by God, “you can eat from every tree except for one,” this is off limits.  In other words, God told Adam, use it or lose it.  After a long day of work, Adam was tired, not having the strength to contain his wife’s curiosity in Genesis 3:6.  By not using his God given authority, the first family loses it all, kicked out of their home, Genesis 3:23.

Today, father’s are suppose to be the head of their family, 1 Peter 3:1-7.  Unfortunately, children born out of wedlock, divorce and absentee dad’s are signs of wasted authority.  If these trends continue, fathers will suffer the same fate of Adam, a man without a place to call home.  I can hear the following words being shouted from heaven to dad’s on the verge of disaster, “use your God given authority or lose it!”  Like the movie Courageous, may today’s blog inspire parents to leave a legacy of integrity for their children to follow.  Or else you may lose your children to a similar fate.

by Jay Mankus

 

Last Call

Every classic movie or sitcom filmed in a bar has at least one scene based upon the notion, last call for one more round of drinks.  In the 1996 film Invincible, Mark Wahlberg plays Vince Papale, a bartender who fulfills a life long dream of trying out for Philadelphia Eagles, his local NFL team.  As the plot develops, several of the beginning scenes take place at the establishment where Vince hangs out and takes a part time job after losing his teaching position.  Like the closing bell on Wall Street, the last call serves as a two minute warning before closing up for the night.

In life, few people receive a clear indication that their time on earth is up.  Sure, those stricken by an incurable disease have an inclination that the end is near, yet countless are cut down, killed in accidents or murdered without any signs or notice.  These individuals don’t have any time to prepare for eternity.  Instead, their destination is determined by the life they have lived.  Unfortunately, no one is perfect, Romans 3:9-12, falling short of God’s expectations, Matthew 5:48.

In Luke 23:32-43, three man were sentenced to death.   As curious spectators got their kicks, watching 3 men die on a cross, one man took advantage of this last call on life.  Acknowledging his crime publicly and worried about his future, one criminal pleaded with Jesus, Luke 23:41-42.  As a result, this fortunate soul received something better than a last drink, the gift of eternal life, Luke 23:43.  May you seize the moments God gives you during the living years so that you will enter the place Jesus calls paradise, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Life is Just a Blip on the Radar Screen

Modern television is filled with episodes or series devoted to UFO’s, unidentified flying objects.  Several shows claim unidentified “bogeys” entering foreign air space. They are not from this world, far more technologically advanced than our planet.  These blips on radar screens don’t belong, creating tension for pilots who encounter the unexplainable.  As theories continue to fester about the existence of aliens, one thing is certain: life is just a blip on the radar screen.

Depending upon the career you choose, hand you’ve been dealt or how you were raised, life seems to go faster the older you become.  While talking to former students at a going away party over the weekend, my teaching career seems eons ago.  Before you know it, 7th graders are graduating from high school, accelerating this blip, like the USS Enterprise at warp speed.  On this journey through life, unless you take time to slow down, Psalm 46:10, your life will be void of permanent meaningful lasting relationships.

King David eludes to this blip in Psalm 49:10, where no one is exempt as the foolish and wise perish together.  Perhaps this may explain Solomon’s comments in Proverbs about using wealth to earn and entertain friends, taking his father’s words to heart.  The younger brother of Jesus learned a similar lesson, comparing life to a mist that vanishes into thin air, James 4:14.  In view of this truth, seize the moments you have today, Ephesians 5:15-18, making the most of the opportunities God provides.  Make your blip count before it disappears on life’s radar screen.

What legacy are you leaving behind for friends, family or neighbors? Who has been the greatest blip on your radar screen?

by Jay Mankus

The Final Out

As Spring Training games began last week in Arizona and Florida, it won’t be long before sports enthusiasts celebrate Opening Day baseball in the Major Leagues.  While winter continues to interrupt spring sports, those trapped inside are getting anxious for dryer and greener pastures.  Nicknamed America’s favorite pastime, baseball seasons coincide with the start of warmer weather and conclude as fall descends upon this country.  Before the final out is recorded, individuals will experience the smell of freshly cut grass, longer hours of daylight and blooming flowers that brighten up neighborhood landscapes.

I’ve spent more than 1/3 of my life playing and or coaching ball.  In the days of my youth, I never fully enjoyed this game.  Perfection, success and winning stifled my ability to appreciate 9 years of playing baseball.  However, when I got a second chance through 7 years of highly competitive softball, I savored every moment on the field.  I treated each at bat and play as if it was my last, flying, diving and sprinting around the bases.  Although I still haven’t achieved the promise in John 10:10, I discovered the abundant life on a softball field, considering each obstacle a pure joy, James 1:2-4.

My last game on a baseball and softball diamond were nearly identical, reaching the championship.  Despite playing a different position, a pop fly came my way, giving me an opportunity to secure the final out.  I blew my first chance, getting lazy as the ball glanced off the edge of my glove.  A comfortable margin postponed the inevitable victory, ending my baseball career on a good note.  However, the second time I seized the moment, using 2 hands, squeezing my glove and embracing my teammates as God had chosen me to record the final out.

by Jay Mankus

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