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A Key Ingredient for Success

During my interactions with family over Thanksgiving, the best tasting dishes elicited desires to ascertain the recipe. Some were provided from memory while others were derived from cookbooks and homemade recipes past down for a generation. This topic of conversation made me ponder, what is a key ingredient for success beyond cooking?

Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass, Psalm 37:5.

As I Stopped to listen to an interview while channel surfing, I heard a guest speaker talk about the important of desire. When experience and talent is limited, desire is the one thing that will propel individuals forward, striving to overcome failure after failure. Desire provides inspiration when hope and progress begin to diminish. Yet, if desire persists and breeds perseverance, desire becomes a key ingredient for success.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall will be filled, Matthew 5:6,”.

Whether you are referring to chasing dreams. fulfilling goals or losing weight, desire is one of the few aspects in life that you can control. Desire can ignite conviction, instill discipline and inspire change when progress doesn’t occur right away. Thus, if you want to start your 2020 New Year’s resolutions early or make good on vows from 2019 or earlier, desire is a key ingredient for future success.

by Jay Mankus

Again and Again

Again is an adverb, the act of returning to a previous condition or position.  Synonyms include also, besides, furthermore and moreover.  Again could be a sign of consistency, a positive trait for those who are diligent, focused and poised for success.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, again may refer to addiction, bad habits or downward spirals which ensnare troubled souls.

This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:22-23.

If you examine life from a spiritual perspective, again and again highlights the inability of human beings to continually do that which is right.  The apostle Paul declares in the passage above that no one in the world is righteous.  Although you may possess good intentions and seek to do the right thing, sooner or later you will gratify the desires of your flesh.  This natural inclination convinces minds using justification and rationalization to bend the rules every now and then.

For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, beguiled and completely deceived me, and using it as a weapon killed me [separating me from God], Romans 7:11.

If you ask any drug addict, breaking free from using a specific substance requires extreme measures.  You have to purge yourself from the atmosphere, climate and any traces that will tempt you to give in.  Unfortunately, only a small portion of addicts are able to remain clean.  Appetites, cravings and dependence is so strong, few have the will power to resist.  Subsequently, again and again, lines are crossed to indulge in forbidden fruit.  If this blog finds you held hostage to sin, may the Holy Spirit send godly mentors into your life to hold you accountable and escape the unhealthy patterns of your past.

by Jay Mankus

 

Enduring a Spiritual Identity Crisis

If you enjoy or follow sports, success is defined by winning and losing.  Despite how many victories a team earns over the course of a season, if a championship is not won, fans lose hope.  In the meantime, coaches, players and stars who endure humiliating loses in the playoffs are labeled as chokers, overrated and trashed throughout social media.  Those who seek to self identify themselves using these standards will experience disappointment, failure and shame unless titles are won.  Thus, its not uncommon for people to go through some sort of identity crisis.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4.

Non-athletes tend to use a different set of standards.  Depending upon your career choice, degrees earned and annual salary, value is placed upon your life.  Intelligence, social status and wisdom add or subtract to how the world views your importance.  Anyone called into the ministry, social work or has a low paying jobs are looked down upon by the upper class.  If you let this bother you, then you may be tempted to adopt worldly standards.  The longer you allow yourself to be defined by rich or poor, wins or losses and success or failure, the more likely you will go through a spiritual identity crisis.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening], 1 Corinthians 13:5-7.

When I moved to Chicago after getting married, living among millionaire neighbors, I tried to fit in initially.  Unfortunately, the best job I could find was making thirty thousand dollars a year, chump change to everyone around me.  Attending Willow Creek Community Church on Wednesday nights helped alter my perspective.  As I began to hear, read and meditate upon God’s standards in the Bible, my soul was comforted by the fact God keeps no records of wrong.  Therefore, if you ever feel like your life doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards, use biblical principals to overcome any spiritual identity crisis that you may endure.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Life is Cruel and Unfair

The title of Clint Eastwood’s classic western film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly provides a much more accurate assessment of life than I initially thought.  In this context, the good symbolizes blessings, fruits of hard work, rewards, success and victories in life.  Meanwhile, the bad includes accidents, disappointment, failure, injuries, setbacks and unforeseen events.  Ugly represents examples of when life is cruel and unfair, taking the forms of curses, demonic influences and generational sins.

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.

On my first day back to work following bereavement for my father in law’s funeral, I received more bad news.  One of my co-workers Dominic, suffered a brain aneurism on one of his day’s off.  Dominic is one of those people you enjoy interacting with, engaging, friendly, kind and at times longwinded.  Nonetheless, Dominic had just received a promotion, relocating to a new building in Maryland.  His future looked bright until a severe brain aneurism has left Dominic on the verge of death.  For a young man with a girl friend and the rest of his life in front of him, this fate doesn’t seem fair.

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:  Deuteronomy 28:15.

The only way to explain this tragedy and similar heart breaking stories can be found in the ten commandments, specifically Exodus 20:5.  Moses reflects upon this biblical truth within an entire chapter in Deuteronomy.  Moses spends the first 14 verses of chapter 28 highlighting signs of God’s blessings.  The remaining 54 verses uncover hints of curses and or consequences of generational sins.  Due to the extent of details shared within this chapter of the Bible, it’s safe to say more curses exist than blessings.  Subsequently, people shouldn’t be surprised by examples of when life is cruel and unfair.  In view of this harsh reality, it’s essential to live each day on earth like it’s your last, assuring and preparing yourself for life beyond this world, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

For Those Who Wait It Out

As I look back on my life, one disturbing pattern exists.  When I failed to reach a goal, rejected by a company or cut by a sports team, I changed course.  Trying to rebound quickly, I altered my dreams in life to avoid further disappointment  Sure, this made me feel better momentarily, yet I regret not sticking it out longer to see if I could have achieved my desired destination.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

The group Firefight sings about this topic in the song For Those Who Wait.  The attached video illustrates a natural response to failure, quitting.  Yet, the lyrics point to the reward for those who hang in there despite not succeeding on your first attempt.  This is where rationale thoughts wrestle with faith.  While some may never taste success, perseverance shapes character and will prepare you for future opportunities in this life.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

If you are like me, sharing dreams with family and friends can be frustrating.  Responses like don’t quit your day job and don’t get your hopes up are typical.  Meanwhile, those who don’t comment roll their eyes or mutter “yeah right.”  This vision that you paint for others doesn’t fit their current perception of you.  Thus, you have one of two options.  Think about what might have been or step out in faith by toughing it out like those who wait?  I pray that you choose the latter.  Take courage as you wait on the Lord to open the next door in your life.

by Jay Mankus

Remember Where You Came From

Whether your life has turned out to be a success, disappointment or some where in between, its always important to remember where you came from.  Depending upon how you were raised, you’ve likely developed stereotypes about certain occupations, places or people.  Over time these views will either be reinforced or shattered.  Whatever happens make sure you remain humble so you don’t miss out on meeting special people.

For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; Galatians 1:13.

Paul was a religious zealot who initially persecuted and gave the order to kill the apostle Stephen.  Thus, after his conversion to Christ many were hesitant to believe his faith was real.  This backlash inspired Galatians 1, a summary of his testimony.  It wasn’t until Paul began his missionary journeys when fellow Christians began to accept and embrace him as a genuine believer.

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, Galatians 1:15.

While my past isn’t as radical as Paul, I still have issues to overcome.  Years of stuttering stunted my communication skills and ability to draw close to others.  Periods of depression still cause me to withdraw at times, wandering away from the people I love.  Yet, because of God’s grace, I have hope for the future.  Despite my own imperfections, God sent His one and only Son to die for my sins.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down without accepting God’s free gift of eternal life.  When you remember where you came from, you will likely find a sinner saved by God’s grace.

by Jay Mankus

As Is Verse Could Be; Should Be

During my time attending a youth ministry trade school known as Tentmakers, a specific mindset was ingrained within me.  Instead of being task oriented, the curriculum stressed the importance of developing vision.  Subsequently, individuals must be realistic with their current position, the As/Is before reaching a desired destination, the Could Be/Should Be.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

According to C.S. Lewis, success is the process of arriving.  Unfortunately, many people go through life thinking if I only achieve this position, salary or status, then happiness will be achieved.  This belief sets people up for failure, rarely taking time to celebrate the little accomplishments in life.  Those few who actually reach the summit, mountain top, may be unfulfilled pondering, “is this it?”

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

To insure disappointment does not come knocking at the door, perhaps it may be beneficial to begin thinking about life in terms of As/Is, Could Be/Should Be.  While any type of change will take time to adopt and conform to, motivation in 2017 is still fresh.  Therefore, don’t waste the opportunity to transform your ways in the New Year.  Enjoy the journey with vision as your guiding light and the Lord the wind beneath your wings.

by Jay Mankus

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