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Failure is Part of the Process

As the sun rises on a new day, human beings typically have one of three decisions to make. Do you play it safe to avoid embarrassing yourself? Is today the day you take a chance by risking failure? Or will you decide to embrace the status quo by holding off on making a decision until tomorrow? Whatever choice you finally make, just remember that failure is part of the process in life.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

If you are fortunate enough to have success early on in life, human nature has a tendency to relax, to rest upon past victories. When no one else challenges, threatens or usurps you as the best, you’re probably not around stiff competition. If you have never tasted defeat by winning over and over again, you’re either amazing, blessed or hardship has yet to introduce itself to you.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

In the two passages above, the apostle Paul suggests that failure is part of the process in life. Failure has a way of exposing all of your weaknesses. If you’re an athlete, being humiliated in front of family and friends can be demoralizing. Whether you’re a pitcher who is being shelled, a golfer who can’t hit it straight or a runner that finishes in last place, failure triggers that internal spark to drive competitive souls to learn and move on to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

Euphoria and Misfortune

Whether you’re participating in a competition, watching a game or witnessing an accident, emotions vary depending upon the outcome.  Winning elicits smiles, encourages applause and promotes praise from those in the attendance.  Meanwhile, losing can trigger tears to flow, depression to linger and disappointment to reside within heartbroken souls.  Thus, anytime someone experiences euphoria, misfortune will visit those on the opposing side.

So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed, Mark 5:20.

The gospel of Mark contains one of the first exorcisms ever recorded.  Although there isn’t any evidence of this man’s head twisting around like Hollywood’s version, the demon possessed man exhibited super human strength.  Nonetheless, as Jesus performed another miracle, John 21:25, few people recognize the misfortune of this pig farmer.  Two thousands pigs is a lot of bacon, pork and income lost.  Without any warning, an entire life’s savings was gone, floating away like the devastation citizens of Texas are coping with following historic flooding.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened, Mark 5:14.

As the summer approaches, the weather will cause business owners to either praise God or curse Him.  Beach resorts are hoping for sunny and warm weekends while farmers pray for rain to water their arid fields.  Though car washes and golf courses long for dry skies, shopping malls wouldn’t mind an afternoon shower to fill up their stores.  Whatever happens, euphoria will come to the victors and misfortune to the defeated as this roller coaster of emotions will continue until your time on earth comes to an end.  Therefore, prepare yourself for every situation with the calming force of prayer, Philippians 4:6-7.

by Jay Mankus

Life Could Be Worse…You Could Be a 76er Fan

Nobody likes to lose.  Although, some players and teams don’t have the talent to compete with the rest of their competitors, sooner or later a victory will arrive.  Unfortunately, fans of the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA might not see a win in 2014, 0-17 with little hope in sight.

The unemployed likely experience a similar feeling.  Despite perfecting resumes, nailing job interviews and becoming a finalist for a position, heart breaks come way too often.  The sad thing is when the offers do arrive, the pay is like a slap in the face.  In the end, job seekers wonder if they will ever get another job.

When things aren’t going your way, there needs to be something firm that you can trust in.  A refuge where you can find a peace that surpasses all understanding.  James 1:2-4 suggests losing builds character, leading to maturity over time.  If you can develop this mindset, perseverance can carry you until you taste success.  Therefore, whether you win, lose or draw, the Holy Spirit can transform your perspective to become a complete person in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

When Winning Isn’t As Important

In the days following 9/11/01, many Americans used professional sporting events as a vehicle for healing.  In Major League Baseball, the singing of Talk Me Out to the Ball Game was replaced with God Bless America.  At the first Monday Night Football Game in the NFL, a sense of patriotism swept through the crowd, causing tears to flow from my eyes as a giant flag, shaped like the United States of America was stretched across the entire field.  During this period in time, winning wasn’t the only thing.  Rather, playing these games symbolized a sense of normalcy to proclaim to the world, “America will carry on.”

Meanwhile, another community experienced a similar tragedy, placing sports into its proper perspective.  The 2006 film We Are Marshall is based upon the death of 37 football players, 5 coaches, 25 boosters and other staff who perished in a plane crash near Huntington, West Virginia.  Despite wanting to remain competitive, winning had to be placed on the back burner.  To honor the memory of these people, the school president was nudged by students to field a team to fill the void left behind.  In a stirring scene, Matthew McConaughey, who plays head coach Jack Lengyel, redefines winning to include playing with all your heart for 60 minutes.  “If you do this, we can not lose!”

Today, competition has a wide scope from school districts who have banned keeping score to the hard core who keep score in everything they do.  For me, sports was a refuge, a place where I excelled.  The more success I tasted, the cockier I became.  Yet, like many things in life, athletic competition has a way of humbling the proud, bringing each star back down to earth.  However, when I finally gave up my pursuit of playing professional golf, only then did I understand winning isn;t everything.  Whether you have the talent or not, give your dream a shot and let the chips fall where they may.  In the end, winning isn’t as important as knowing that you did everything you could to maximize your God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

How Do You Measure Up?

Whether you’re daddy’s little girl or the son of Mr. so and so, its hard to live up to a parents lofty expectation.  Sure, most kids have their own aspirations and dreams, but with expectations comes the pressure to succeed.  Thus, every day at a concert, musical or sports complex across the fruited plains, fans are cheering their children on, hoping for the best.

A growing number of adults and guardians are precariously living their lives through their children.  Subsequently, parents have become like sports agents pushing youth into joining clubs and travel teams to fine tune their skills.  If successful, teenage prodigy’s are formed, dedicated to pleasing their moms and dads.  However, will these fragile souls continue or surpass expectations for greatness?

One of the greatest things I did in college was to opt to play intramural sports rather than play at the division 1 level.  Although winning was important, the thrill of competition and friendships surpassed my own expectations.  Sooner or later, you have to take ownership of your life, separating yourself from your parents goals.  Therefore, whatever you do in life, live out Colossians 3:17 and Colossians 3:23 so that God will be glorified by your life.

by Jay Mankus

A Team Without Players

The competitor inside of me yearns to win, doing what it takes to bring a team into the winners circle.  Yet, what do you do when you find yourself a part of a team without any players?  Sure, you might have some individuals who can make a play or two, but you can’t expect each teammate to be perfect when they don’t possess essential skills to succeed.  This is where I find myself this baseball season.

Like a high school student who can’t add, read or write, some where along the way young people get neglected, promoted and pushed ahead without meeting appropriate standards.  Currently, the NBA is seeing a similar dilemma as phenoms are great one on one players, but most don’t know how to move, set picks or space the floor when they don’t have the ball.  Whether this is rooted in a lack of discipline, poor coaching or selfishness, every sport is in jeopardy of becoming a team without players.

Patience is a vital attribute while you wait to experience victory for the first time all season.  Teachable pupils is also important to keep morale from slipping toward doubt, constantly correcting errors, mistakes and poor habits as they occur.  The best thing you can do is live out Colossians 3:17, maintaining a positive attitude like a beacon of hope for sad faces.  Until you taste the joy of victory, keep your head up as you make strides to develop players for the future.

What advice do you have for coaches who have inherited a team without players?

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

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

When You’ve Got Nothing Left to Give

In the film National Treasure, Nicolas Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a treasure hunter with a tarnished reputation.  Despite trying to warn authorities, no one takes his threat serious, that the Declaration of Independence is in danger.  In life, there are times when you reach a similar fate, when you’ve done everything you can think of, with nothing else to give.

The apostle Paul refers to these moments in life as periods of humility, 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.  When you’re successful most of the time, individuals have a tendency to steal the spotlight from God by saying, “look at me!”  Whether you’re watching the Olympics, professional sports and a high school game, the victor receives the spoils.  However, behind the cameras, the losers are forced to face the fact they’re got good enough, with nothing left to give except reflecting on what went wrong.

Today, I find myself at the bottom of the barrel, leaning on the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  As much as I want to be magically healed and return to work now, I am stuck with an aging imperfect body which need times to be restored.  Thus, I have nothing else to give except time.  In my weakness, Christ needs to be strong, to carry me through the frustration of being helpless.  When you’ve got nothing left to give, lean on God’s power to lift you up each time you fall!

by Jay Mankus

Check Mate

I always was more of a checkers kind of guy, but chess was something I attempted on my computer.  As a novice and mere amateur, I often made illegal moves, getting beeped at by the game, reset to my initial position.  Losing most of the times, I approved to the point of being respectable.  However, from a coaching perspective, I have embraced the chess like concept of putting your pieces, (players) in the right position to win or force an opponent to say, “check mate.”

Psalm 149:4 unlocks a secret to success in life.   According to the Psalmist, God delights in his people.  In fact, the Lord crowns those who are humble with salvation.  Instead of boasting or trash talking in the middle of a contest, God wants individuals to just play the game of life, whether you win or lose.  While the devil may back you into a corner or take out several of your pawns, God has the final move.  Just when Lucifer thought he was about to taste victory, Jesus rose from the grave, Colossians 2:13-15, pronouncing “Check Mate” on his former angel.

Beyond this world lies a spiritual dimension where angels and demons perform a battle for eternity.  Prayer fuels angelic beings while idleness empowers satanic strongholds.  This chess match will continue until Jesus returns, Matthew 24:42-44 or you breathe your last breath.  Despite how bad your board looks, fight until the very end, 1 Timothy 6:12.  Place your trust in the promise of Psalm 149:4, crowned by the Lord with eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

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