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Life’s Ransom

Director Ron Howard used a 1954 episode of The United States Steel Hour from the series Fearful Decision to produce the 1996 film Ransom starring Mel Gibson and Rene Russo.  Author Ed McBain’s novel King’s Ransom also influenced Howard’s portrayal of police procedure in this movie.  When a millionaire’s son is kidnapped, the ransom is set for $2 million for his safe return.

The Bible refers to another ransom in Psalm 49:7-9.  However, this amount is like the entertaining Master Card commercials, priceless.  Whether you’re rich or poor, white or blue collar, no payment is sufficient enough to receive eternal life.  Helpless, life a parent held hostage, Jesus intervenes, going to the bank called Calvary, Matthew 20:28.

The apostle Paul describes life’s ransom in Romans 6:23.  The wages, payment due for the errors, mistakes and sin you’ve committed in life is death, separated from God.  Despite your dire condition, Jesus decided to pay the ransom for your life on Good Friday, 30 AD, Romans 5:8.  Thus, the gift of God is in the mail, waiting for you to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  May the power of the Easter message come alive in your soul, resurrecting faith, hope and love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Tell Em’… Show Them

On Sunday evening following the Masters coverage, the Golf Channel debuted a 3 part documentary on the Relationships, Major Accomplishments and Legacy of Arnold Palmer.  Although I didn’t catch every second of the 3  one hour special presentations entitled Arnie, I was struck by one life lesson Arnold learned from his father.  Like a shrewd man unveiling a secret to life, “don’t tell people how good you are; show them.”  If you watched any of this program or you were one of Arnie’s Army, then you know this is exactly how he lived his life.

Modern politicians could learn from from Arnold Palmer’s actions during his professional career and retirement.  Fans were always acknowledged, the press was never dodged and this man gave back more to the game and community than anyone.  Perhaps, this is why Arnold was called the King, showing the crowds, his opponents and the television audience the proper way to carry oneself whether in victory or defeat.  Despite Arnold’s fame and fortune, he remains humble, remembering where he came from, who he is and what his father taught him about being a good man.

Though Arnold tries to be good daily, he learned the same truth that we all have to come to grips with, no one is perfect, Romans 3:23.  According to the Bible, there is only One who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin, Hebrews 4:14-15.  Today, on Maundy Thursday, we celebrate the man called Jesus.  On his way to the cross, He refused to tell others about his goodness.  Rather, he set the example, shining his light in a dark and dying world.  Before you go to sleep tonight, read Jesus’ words in John 3:16-17 so that you too may be inspired to let the light of Christ shine through you, Matthew 5:13-16.  Don’t tell em’ about Jesus; show them God’s love!

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

 

Not Immune

When the next mind boggling event occurs in America, I’m not afraid to question God, searching for answers to stabbings, shootings and tragedy in public places.  Sometimes I feel like God has removed his presence, moving on to another nation, where hearts are open to truth.  Yet, as soon as trials enter my own life, the Holy Spirit has reminded me this week that Jesus was not immune from heartache.

According to John 11:14, God reveals to Jesus that his friend Lazarus has died.  As He makes his way to the tomb, Jesus is met with a distraught sister, blaming him for her brother’s death, John 11:21.  A second family member has similar feelings, bringing Jesus to tears, John 11:32-35.  While using God’s healing power to raise Lazarus from the dead, John 11:38-44, Jesus’ grief continued.  One of his disciples betrayed him, another publicly denied knowing Jesus and finally the Jews convinced the public leaders to have him crucified.

Unlike the Curse of the Bambino for Boston Red Sox fans, the events of original sin can not be reversed, Genesis 3:16-24.  Perhaps, this may explain Hebrews 12:4, putting life into its proper perspective.  With the circumstances in life continuing to decay, no one is immune from pain.  Therefore, as you fight the good fight, 1 Timothy 6:12, hang in there, encourage the depressed around you and place your trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Share how you have been helped or reached out to lend a loving hand.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Fan or Follower?

As a person who enjoys watching sports, I’ve met several fare weather fans in life.  When the local team is winning, there isn’t enough room on the bandwagon.  However, as the years pass without a Superbowl win, Stanley Cup, NBA championship or World Series title, a mass exodus occurs.  This trend causes individuals to adopt other teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Heat or New York Yankees to raise their self esteem.  Time will distinguish the casual fan from the avid follower, living and dying with their team despite the anguish or pain.

Jesus used another method to disclose fans from genuine followers.  One day, a first century doctor, watched in awe as Jesus began to ask a few people some questions, Luke 9:57-63.  Like a coach pushing his players to see who will rise to the top or quit, Jesus’ words pierce the hearts of these lukewarm fans.  Despite their good intentions, one by one, each fell by the wayside, unable to meet the conditions Jesus was searching for in a follower.

Whether I’m shaking my head at another Phillies loss, Eagles meltdown, Flyers defensive breakdown or 76er’s losing streak, being a fan in the greater Philadelphia area isn’t easy.  On the other hand, being a followers of Jesus is even harder, Matthew 10:32-39.  Sometimes I find myself in the shoes of the ruler in Matthew 19:16-25, wondering if I have the moxie to endure life’s trials.  Unfortunately, my actions don’t always express what I believe.  In the end, I’m at the mercy of God, relying on Him to make the impossible a possibility, Matthew 19:26.

Where do you find yourself on the spectrum of fan or follower?

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

 

The Emotions of Praise

Depending upon what church, temple or mosque you attend, an increasing number of people are reserved, afraid of letting others know what’s inside of them.  Meanwhile, Pharisees still exist in most places of worship, putting on a show for others to see, Matthew 6:5.  Therefore, when you enter a house of praise where emotions are on display as a genuine act of worship, outsiders struggle to accept or embrace this movement.

Music causes unique styles of expression like individuals moved to toe tap, gradually turning their bodies into human tambourines.  Others begin to snap their fingers and clap their hands.  Those with rhythm may follow the beat, dancing and swaying side to side.  When touched by the lyrics, one might lift their hands high, closing their eyes to heighten their focus on God.  Tears often fall as you reach this stage of worship, moving some to fall to their knees or bow at the altar.

While numerous churches are spiritually dead today, void of these emotions of praise, a remnant remains alive and well.  The sons of Korah highlight acts of praise in Psalm 47 including clapping hands, shouts of praise and cries of joy.  The moment the human soul approaches the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16, with a humble heart, the emotions of praise break out.  This act of worship is what you offer up to God on the Sabbath.  You may bring a tithe or appreciate the biblical message, yet the emotions of praise is where you meet and experience the presence of God.

Have you ever been moved by the Holy Spirit to let your guard down?  Please share a story of your own emotions of praise.

by Jay Mankus

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