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The Spark that Ignited My Passion to Write

It was the Spring of 1992, my final semester of college. I was sitting in the education building at the University of Delaware, surrounded by soon to be teachers. As my professor of Life Span Development began to share stories of her interactions with Mister Rogers, my interest was peaked. These vivid encounters continued for several minutes before introducing our next assignment. On the surface, interviewing one of your parents about your own childhood seemed like an easy paper to write. Yet, these conversations were the spark that ignited my passion to write the screenplay Express Yourself and this blog.

And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue, Exodus 4:10.

Since my father was often traveling the country on business trips, I asked my mom if she could help remember my childhood. What I soon discovered was shocking. I completely repressed any memories of second grade out of my mind. Due to my severe speech impediment, I was told in a parent teacher conference that I wouldn’t be able to handle second grade at a normal school. When I wasn’t able to read out loud, consumed by a stammering spirit, passing English and Grammar seemed impossible. I wish I could say that I stayed optimistic during this trying year, but my mother recounted numerous tantrums triggered by my inability to speak like a normal child.

And the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say, Exodus 4:11-12.

While going through my attic today, I found the paper that I wrote for this class 29 years ago. Quoting a portion of this paper reminds me of the words of Moses listed above. “I was born with a speech impediment. You can call it stuttering or stammering. Either way, every time I opened my mouth I never knew if what I wanted to say would come out right.” This is the pain that Moses and I share. Yet, we each experienced a similar triumph of healing. If you read Moses’ encounters with Pharaoh, he reaches a point that he no longer needs his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. Little did I know at the time, this one paper became the spark that ignited my passion for writing.

by Jay Mankus

Huh?

If you are like me, you have encountered conversations where you thought you were making a good point.  Unfortunately, at some point you realize the person you were engaging was not listening.  Subsequently, your words fall upon deaf ears as a friend replies, “huh, what did you say?”

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand, Hebrews 5:11.

In recent years, the concept of selective hearing has become a common practice.  Whether individuals are listening, talking or watching a person of interest, minds process only those things they like or relate to.  All other topics are discarded, forgotten as if they were never spoken.  A previous generation referred to this bad habit as being hard of hearing.

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! – Hebrews 5:12

From a spiritual context, any person of faith that becomes comfortable with who or where they are has a tendency to reject certain passages of the Bible.  This behavior stunts any type of consistent growth, resulting in wandering souls who experience emotional highs and lows.  If only these people could sharpen their hearing, perhaps lives would be transformed.  Yet, until Christians begin to feed themselves spiritually through daily Bible reading and prayer, you will continue to hear the lost proclaim,”huh, what did you just say.”

by Jay Mankus

A Mind Preventing You From Greatness

Counselors, discerning parents and teachers tend to pick up things that most people miss.  Body language, tone and words are like warning signals.  Unless someone intervenes, a doubting mind can prevent you from greatness.

While the heart is a wellspring for life, Proverbs 4:23, the mind serves as a compass.  Though the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart, Luke 6:45, the mind provides discipline to zip your lips or just blurt out whatever you think.  If you allow emotions to get the best of you, a weak mind can alienate you from others.

The greatest assault anyone faces is often invisible.  The devil is similar to a creature searching for a vulnerable mind to attack, 1 Peter 5:8  Lucifer’s ultimate goal is to steal, kill and destroy psyches, John 10:10.  Preying on fears, anxieties and past mistakes, its easy to become unraveled.  In view of this reality, guard your mind with the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, so that the next time you are under siege, you will be armed with weapons to achieve greatness, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

by Jay Mankus

 

Who Will Be Your Eternal Guide?

One of the most intriguing jobs to me is being a tour guide.  Whether you’re on a college campus, in a historical area or museum, you are an ambassador for this institution, pointing out key attractions like a walking encyclopedia.  The overall impression of visitors lies in your hands, based upon the knowledge you communicate and entertainment you provide, engaging your group.

Outside of vocations, life is filled with individuals who lead you in the right direction.  Coaches introduce important skills to help young people master a sport.  Mentors demonstrate character, integrity and wisdom, blazing a path for others to follow.  Meanwhile, teachers often mold future leaders, inspiring curious souls to chase after their dreams.

The Psalmist takes this one step further, suggesting one guide will be with you to the end, Psalm 48:14.  The apostle Paul encourages his audience to look toward an altar in Athens, dedicated to an unknown God, Acts 17:22-23.  Jesus discloses the identity of this eternal guide in John 16:7-13 as the Holy Spirit.  As Moses once said in his farewell address, the choice is yours, Deuteronomy 30:15.  Who will be your eternal guide through life?  May Jesus lead you to life everlasting, 1 Timothy 2:5.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Jesus Got Ticked Off

There is a misnomer held by many circles which suggests anger is a sin.  While someone’s tone of voice may reflect a degree of anger, the words an individual choose to verbalize ultimately reveal what is in their heart, Luke 6:45.  According to Ephesians 4:26, anger is a natural emotion people experience.  How you respond when you’re angry determines whether or not you sin.  Thus, when you read a book, it’s hard to detect if someone is mad, if that is their normal demeanor or they are upset.

When I read Mark 12:1-11 the other day I got the sense Jesus was ticked off by the chief priests, teachers of the law and elders.  The day before this encounter, Jesus cleared the temple of rift raft, over turning the tables of those who tried to turn the temple into a flea market.  Although I am not claiming Jesus sinned, I do believe the religious leaders had become a thorn in Jesus’ flesh, frustrated by their pig headed mindset.  Therefore, following their lack of cooperation in Mark 11:27-33, Jesus shares the parable of the Tenants to vent his anger.

When the truth hurts, people respond in various ways.  Some may publicly confess their error immediately.  Others may walk away humbled, contemplating how to handle their embarrassment.  In the case of the religious leaders, they were furious, realizing this unflattering parable was about them.  If Romans 8:28 is true, God allowed his Son to get ticked off, pushing the religious leaders beyond their limits so that the Father’s will would be done fulfilled through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus, Matthew 26:39-42.

A rhema, a word from the Lord received by Jay Mankus

Go a Little Further

When I was growing up, it wasn’t cool to be smart or raise your hand to answer questions in class.  Students who strove to go a little further became labeled brown nosers and teacher’s pets.  As a high school teacher for 10 years, this mentality still exists, present in 90% of the classes I taught.  Unfortunately, this negative peer pressure steers some individuals away from over-achieving, leaving it behind for fame, popularity and social status.  The end result of this cultural phenomena is a society which does just enough to get by.

In the book of Genesis, there is a boy who fits the brown noser, teacher’s pet stereotype.  However, this boy refused to lower his personal standards.  Instead, Joseph went above and beyond the expectations of others.  Although, his brothers wanted to kill him, despite being sold into slavery and falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Joseph went a little further, Genesis 39:21-23.  Inspired by God, Joseph’s work ethic led him to run an estate, prison and eventually the nation of Egypt, Genesis 41:29-30.

During his sermon on the mount, Jesus took this concept one step further in Matthew 5:41-42.  When you go the extra mile, you exceed and surpass what a typically person would do.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, Jesus demonstrates what going a little further resembles: a model of care, compassion and consideration.  Furthermore, Matthew 25:35-36 breaks down what an individual can specifically do.  Finally, the apostle Paul encloses a prayer within Colossians 3:17, 3:23 to remind Christians of their motivation for going a little further.  Pay it forward today!

by Jay Mankus

Belittling

A pet peeve is an annoyance, infers complaining or results in an irritating experience caused by someone else’ actions, habits or mannerisms.  To belittle means to deride, disparage or put down another person in order to make your point or to build up your own self esteem.  Since a series of demeaning events led to infuriation within me last week, I have added belittling to my personal list of pet peeves.

One of Jesus’ pet peeves while on earth was also belittling.  Let’s just say that Jesus didn’t take too kindly to seeing adults belittle others, especially children.  In Matthew 19:13-15, Jesus even corrected his own disciples for their lack of concern for the human psyche of young people.  Meanwhile, Jesus didn’t hold back his true feelings, publicly exposing the legalism of the Pharisees in Luke 6:1-11 by healing and helping others on the Sabbath.

When I taught high school, students complained to me from time to time, upset how other teachers had treated them earlier in the day or week.  At the time, I could not relate, see or understand their point of view.  However, now that I too am undergoing what they went through as a student in a new position, I see the light.  I recognize now that no one, teachers included like to be belittled by another individual.  Therefore, I refuse to sit back, allowing others to be talked down to.  I won’t turn over the tables like Jesus in Mark 11:12-17, but I will rebuke and reveal to these people how you should talk to others, Matthew 19:14.  Follow the golden rule and things will go well for you, Matthew 22:39.

by Jay Mankus

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