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Putting the AWE in Awesome

According to a recent study, awesome is one of the most popular words to express something which is considered amazing.  Due to the overuse of this term, awesome has lost some of it’s luster.  This bastardization of the English language has prevented a clear depiction, watered down by too many comparisons with less descriptive words.  Perhaps, it’s time to restore order by putting the awe back in awesome.

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! – Psalm 33:8

One of the barriers to appreciating awesome is the recent trend of public displays of disrespect by athletes, leaders and politicians.  In some cases, celebrities, journalists and members of the media are encouraging these acts, considered acceptable behavior as long as it’s done to those individuals who possess politically incorrect views.  When disrespect reigns, honor and reverence disappear.  Awe can not be experienced unless a healthy fear and respect for high offices are restored.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came to earth to seek and restore that which was lost.  This was accomplished by demonstrating a love that has transformed cultures since the first century.  This agape love is so powerful that souls are overwhelmed, brought to tears by the grace and mercy of God.  Incomprehensible to the average person, perfect love casts out the fear of God’s wrath depicted in the Old Testament.  One prodigal life at a time, Jesus came to earth to mend broken hearts.  Dying on a cross, serving as a perfect lamb, Jesus’ resurrection conquered death, putting the AWE in awesome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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You Have to Experience the Bad Days Before You Can Appreciate the Good Ones

Today, I had another visit to my eye doctor.  This is my tenth appointment in the past 12 months.  The file on both of my eyes could be made into a book, going back more than twenty years.  While this monthly adventure has taken me on a wild ride of emotions, I have learned a valuable lesson along the way.  You have to experience the bad days before you can appreciate the good ones.

“He feels only the pain of his own body, and he mourns only for himself,” Job 14:22.

For someone hoping to turn a hobby into a full time screen writing career, vision is essential.  Yet, some days I wake up to blurred and watery eyes.  This usually puts a halt to any thoughts of writing a blog or reading books on character development to enhance my latest project.  These fruitless days make me appreciate the gift of sight, something that I have taken for granted for most of my life.

Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? – Jeremiah 15:18

My most recent diagnosis includes cataracts in each eye.  The new one in my left eye is a minor concern.  Yet, the one in my surgically repaired eye has clouded my vision, unable to see anything at the moment.  Thus, another surgery will be eminent in the next year or so.  Despite this obvious obstacle, the Lord has given me peace of mind.  I haven’t suffered like Job nor have I been given the bad news Jeremiah regularly received.  All I can do is take things one day at a time, appreciating the good things in life that God has allowed me to see.

by Jay Mankus

Amplify, Clarify and Don’t Intrude

America lost one of their greatest sports broadcasters of all time last week.  Keith Jackson spent 40 years with ABC television before retiring in 2006.  The voice of Jackson allowed him to cross over into a plethora of events from the Wide World of Sports, Major League Baseball, College Football, Monday Night Football, Nascar and the Olympics.  In one of his final interviews, Jackson revealed the secret to his longevity: amplify, clarify and don’t intrude.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 1 John 5:3.

The first two words of advice go hand in hand.  Amplify refers to developing, elaborating upon and fleshing out what you are watching for the average fan.  The latter, clarify, is the act of clearing up any confusion, filtering out what’s really happening so that the televised game can be enjoyed in it’s purest form.  At the end of his career, Keith Jackson focused on college football, broadcasting PAC 10 on the west coast where he lived.  Catch phrases like Whoa Nellie will be forever tied to Keith’s voice.

And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

One of the things I notice today is that modern commentators, journalists and media pundits do the opposite of Jackson.  Instead of avoiding intrusion, ideas of fame and fortune have inspired self seeking individuals to become a part of the story rather than just report it.  These impure motives are ruining entertainment as celebrities, the elite and hosts now feel like anyone needs to hear their opinions and political beliefs.  If these trends advance, ratings will continue to plummet.  Perhaps, it’s time to listen to an expert, a legend who lived by 3 simple mottos: amplify, clarify and don’t intrude.

by Jay Mankus

 

Forgiveness is a Lovely Idea Until You Have to Forgive

Happy Days was one of my favorite shows as a child, running for a decade on ABC.  Like any boy, Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham and Henry Winkler, the Fonz, were my two favorite characters.  This show about the life of teenagers at their favorite hangout, Arnolds, captivated my attention.  However, one of the things I remember the most is Fonzie’s inability to say sorry or admit he was wrong as depicted in the attached you tube.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses,” Mark 11:25.

Not much has changed in the past 25 years since this show went off the air.  Following in the footsteps of Adam and Eve, people prefer to play the blame game rather than take responsibility for wrong actions.  Meanwhile, justification, rationalization or playing the victim card has become normal behavior.  While everyone demands justice when you have been wronged, “forgiveness is a lovely idea until you have to forgive someone else.”  This quote by C.S. Lewis applies today, especially in the context of relationships.

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive, Colossians 3:13.

The apostle Paul calls individuals to bear with one another.  This urging involves patience, a quality that few adults possess.  Thus, forgiveness can get messy, full of emotion, frustration and tears.  Yet, if you want forgiveness to flow back to you, God demands that you forgive others as Jesus forgave you.  Therefore, despite how unpleasant it may be for you to care for, forgive and love, the act of forgiveness is essential toward securing your eternal destiny, Matthew 6:14-15.  May this blog inspire you to emulate Christ as you strive to forgive and forget.

by Jay Mankus

Stronger Than You Think

Like any start to a new year, the longer you make it in fulfilling resolutions on the calendar, confidence and optimism grows.  Those who use hope as a catalyst for change begin to see the fruits of their rededication toward accomplishing goals in life.  Signs of progress make successful individuals appear stronger than you think.

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

Unfortunately, most people don’t make it through the first week before breaking one of their vows.  Diets are ruined by leftover treats from Christmas and New Years.  Exercise programs are put on hold after you pull a muscle, over doing it after your first few work outs.  Meanwhile, those attempting to cease bad habits from their past are lulled back, unable to escape addictive behavior.  These poor souls seem weaker than the rest, plagued by one bad decision after the other.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

According to the apostle Paul, there is a solution for those of us who have already failed miserably in fulfilling New Year Resolutions.  In your time of need or moment of weakness, pray.  As you slow down by crying out to God, ask for the Holy Spirit’s intervention.  When you do, the Lord will replace blank ideas with the right course of action.  This is where blind faith pays off, trusting in God to guide you through failure so that victory becomes a certainty.

by Jay Mankus

 

Battle Scars

In 1998, a film brought the battlefields of war into movie theaters across the country.  Using the invasion on the beaches of Normandy during World War II as a backdrop, Saving Private Ryan graphically depicts the brutal nature of war during an extended battle scene.  Those who survived were haunted by images of splattered blood, cries for help and the silence of death.  Some of these individuals returned home with visible signs of this violent venture.  Others possessed emotional and mental scars, like a part of their soul was ripped out and left behind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

More than eighty years later, descendants have their own battle scars.  Survivors of the Holocaust have to live with the knowledge of what happened to innocent Jews.  Immigrants have the memories of the hell they went through just to make it to America.  Meanwhile, those living in crime infested areas stay awake at night wondering, who is going to be next?  There are many that express how unfair life is or could be.  Yet, blaming, complaining and denigrating others didn’t save the world from Nazi Germany.  Rather, victory is achieved by forgetting your own battle scars by coming together for a greater purpose and cause.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

Instead of making situations better, divisiveness by modern politicians is only adding scars, one soul at a time.  Words are cheap, a campaign slogan to help get elected.  Yet, what this world needs are leaders who inspire others to rise above their own battle scars to make the most of life.  My largest scar is three inches long, what’s left of an ankle surgery from high school.  Prior to this procedure, I was told by doctors that I would never run again.  My Christian friends refused to believe this fate, offering up prayers to the Most High.  In the end, these prayers of intervention proved science wrong, healing me to be able to compete in athletic competitions throughout my life.  While not every story has a happen ending, come to Jesus with the battle scars from your past so that you will find rest for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Friends Along the Way

As a child, there was nothing like a sleep over, especially if it meant going away with a friend or neighbor’s family.  High school brought class trips, spending a day or weekend on a field trip.  College introduced the concept of road trips, going some where at the spur of a moment, chilling and hanging with buddies.  For those who marry, weddings result in Honeymoons and if kids arrive, family vacations in the future.  Ultimately, as you go through life alone or with a significant other, each day serves as an opportunity to become friends along the way.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, Luke 8:1.

If you use the Bible as a source, Jesus lived in relative obscurity, serving as a carpenter in Nazareth.  Single and living with his mother, Jesus wasn’t searching for a woman or seeking to build his business.  Rather, Jesus was waiting until the Holy Spirit revealed the ideal time to begin his earthly ministry.  When this moment arrived, Jesus spent a majority of his time on the road, traveling from town to town with his twelve disciples.  As people began to receive healing, experience miracles and transform their lives, a bond developed between Jesus and his followers.  I guess you can say Jesus was a model for finding friends along the way in life.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told the parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4.

As I look back on the past 6 years of my writing, there is only one earthly person I can credit for my progress.  Spencer Saints who has his own travel blog entitled Friends Along the Way, Friendsalongtheway.org, is the person who encouraged me to pursue a writing career.  Through the years, Spencer introduced me to a writer’s group, started his own and steered me in the right direction as I began to write movie scripts.  We all meet friends along the way in life, but few express how they feel before they are gone.  May this blog inspire you to reach out to those who have helped you along the way, especially during the bleak moments in life.

by Jay Mankus