RSS Feed

Handing off the Baton

In a track relay race, participants need to hand off a baton between a set distance.  Individuals may drop this and still continue, but if anyone wander outside of their lane judges can disqualify an entire team.  During the 2016 Rio Olympics, the United States woman’s 400 x 100 team failed to finish after dropping their baton.  However, after a video review, a replay revealed another woman in an adjacent lane caused this drop to occur.  Thus, the woman were allowed to re-qualify following an appeal, going on to win the gold medal.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

In life, some compare passing off a baton to raising children like Dr. Jeff Myers in his book Passing the Baton.  At some point, parents have to let go, knowing they have done all they could do with the time given.  Yet, if you are like me, there are some regrets.  There were conversations I didn’t have, issues I didn’t properly address and life lessons I didn’t impart.  Nonetheless, what’s done is done.  I can’t change the past.  All I can do is learn from my mistakes and do a better job with my last 2 kids before they leave for college.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart, Proverbs 29:17.

Upon dropping my son James off to college, I thought came to my mind, “its time to trust the Lord.”  Sure, as long my oldest resides in my home, I’m still responsible to encourage and nurture his faith.  Yet, the best thing I can do is pray that the faculty and staff of Liberty University challenges James and pushes him to new heights.  While nothing in life is guaranteed, I am holding out hope that the Christian influences at this institution will lead James to discover his calling on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Deep Darkness

The title deep darkness suggests a place exists that is so dark, pitch black, that no one can see.  Typically, an evening sky provides moon light or stars in the country to help the human eye to adjust to the night.  On the other hand, Solomon who coins this term may be referring to a spiritual condition.

But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble, Proverbs 4:19.

A narcissist is defined as an individual who is excessive in their self-absorption.  This character trait tends to be egocentric, extremely independent and wrapped up with one’s self.  Perhaps the passage above inspired C.S. Lewis to create a state known as diabolical pride.  Those who reach this phase in life are blinded from reality, unable to recognize that which is causing them to stumble.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it, Proverbs 4:23.

According to Solomon, the key to escaping deep darkness involves placing a shield of faith around your heart.  The apostle Paul takes a different approach, calling for the breastplate of righteousness in Ephesians 6.  In view of the powers of darkness that are a clear and present danger, the human heart is the last line of defense.  Once poisoned, souls begin to embrace evil.  Thus, the only way to overcome deep darkness is through the light of Christ.  Take measures today to safe guard yourself with the Sword of the Spirit to ward off future attacks and temptations that seek to lure you back into deep darkness.

by Jay Mankus

 

Faith vs. Science

When my son was admitted to A.I. Dupont Children’s Hospital in early August, my faith was put to the test.  After Daniel’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, there is a set of requirements made by doctors and staff for parents which must be met prior to releasing your child.  Beside viewing a series of videos, parents must meet with a nutritionist, psychologist and social worker.  During my final conversation, I was asked about how I was doing.  My response,”it is what it is.”

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

What I meant is that my heart is holding out hope that Daniel’s pancreas will be supernaturally restored to its previous working condition.  Yet, statistics suggest there is only a three percent chance of this miracle occurring.  Subsequently, I am wrestling with what could be through the power of prayer and what is based upon science.  As a believer I don’t want to ignore past answered prayers, but I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment with the odds of healing stacked against me.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1.

One of Hollywood’s best examples of this dilemma can be found in an episode from Lost entitled Man of Science, Man of Faith.  In the season 2 debut, Dr. Jack Shepherd has a flash back of a previous surgery.  A woman named Claire is being prepped for major back surgery following a car accident.  Talking with her fiancee, Jack is bluntly honest suggesting there is little hope of ever being able to walk again, likely paralyzed for the rest of her life.  However, upon examination of Claire after the surgery, Jack realizes that science lost and faith won.  Whatever trial stands in your way, may the power of the Holy Spirit lift you up as you await answers to your concerns and troubles in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

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.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Heroes Journey

In 1949, the concept of the Heroes Journey was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  While this narrative pattern commonly appears in films, this outline can also be found in mythology, psychology and religion.  Campbell’s outline involves 12 stages which takes a character from the ordinary world to the special world and back.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things, Hebrews 13:8.

The reason why people watch the same movies year after year is that the heroes journey enables individuals to identify with certain actors and actresses.  As fictional characters reveal their flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, people can relate to similar trials in their own life.  Subsequently, deep down inside viewers root for their favorites to reach to top of the mountain after facing adversity.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness, Romans 12:6-8.

For someone who struggled with stuttering the first 20 years of my life, I always knew what I wanted to say, but rarely expressed what was in my heart and mind.  As an amateur screen writer, the Heroes Journey provides a valuable resource to make my aspirations come true.  However, before I proceed, I must study these 12 stages like trying to ace a test.  Once I fully grasp the Heroes Journey, I can begin to craft films that may one day end up on your favorites list.  Until then, I need to keep plugging away with an unyielding resolve to make my dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Mistakes Last a Life Time

In the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss entitled Rand University, this feature focuses on how hard it is for minorities to make it in professional sports.  Two high school teammates of Moss, Sam Singleton Jr. and Bobbie Howard refer to a generation curse, causing most talented athletes from Rand, West Virginia to end up drinking in the 7 Eleven parking lot every weekend wondering what might have been.  Whether its drugs, poverty or giving into temptation, sometimes poor choices result in mistakes that last a life time.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire, James 1:14.

While Sam Singleton Jr. received a football scholarship to Notre Dame and later went on to play a few seasons for the Chicago Bears, Sam is one of the exceptions to this Rand rule.  Bobbie Howard is more like the norm, unable to ditch his addiction to alcohol and pot.  After being drafted by a Major League Ball club, Bobbie was on his way to becoming a professional baseball player.  Unfortunately, despite showing great promise, one failed drug test sent him packing, released by an unnamed team.  At the conclusion of this film, Bobbie breaks down in tears, claiming his life is an example of when a mistake lasts a lifetime.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

What people seek and what individuals often receive are usually 2 different things.  At some point, people can become their own worst enemy.  Like a prodigal in denial, life often takes a downward spiral, reaching a new bottom floor with each passing year.  Most don’t get a second chance like a teenage I knew at my first church as a youth pastor.  The first time he ever drove drunk was his last, dying instantly after colliding with a tree.  If only souls could break out of their spiritual funk before its too late?  Perhaps, the sad story of Bobbie Howard may serve as a wake up call or reality check before one more mistake lasts a lifetime.

by Jay Mankus

Accusations Without Reason

Over the last 23 years, more than 2000 inmates have been exonerated after being falsely accused of a crime.  Unfortunately, these individuals spent more than 10,000 years combined before the truth set them free.  This time away from family, friends and void of freedom can never be returned.  Yet, this statistic serves as a remainder to never make accusations without reason.

Do not accuse anyone for no reason— when they have done you no harm, Proverbs 3:30.

Exaggerations, lies and untruths are nothing new.  Perhaps, Solomon came to the conclusion that the sinful nature serves as a defense mechanism.  Whenever accusations, blame or indictments come your way, human nature’s first reply is usually “I didn’t do it!”  Nonetheless, DNA tests, lie detectors and modern scientific devices have been created to prevent further injustices from occurring.

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers, Proverbs 21:15.

Following their exoneration of rape charges, Duke Lacrosse players David Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty have joined the Innocence Project.  This organization files appeals on behalf of individuals wrongfully punished for crimes they never committed.  When an innocent poor person can’t afford a good defense team, this group and others like it fight for the little guy.  May this blog inspire you to defend and stand up for those falsely accused in your spheres of influence.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 86 other followers