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A Man of Broken Promises

Sometimes you have to listen closely to what you say.  If you don’t, you could end up blowing smoke, carelessly throwing out words void of meaning.  As I reflected upon recent conversations with my children on my days off, its sad to say that I’ve become a man of broken promises.

A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool, Ecclesiastes 5:3.

Just because someone is intelligent, does not make them immune from making foolish decisions.  The context of the passage above likely refers to Solomon’s struggles to please his wife.  Like any good husband, there is a desire satisfy the needs of those whom you love.  Unfortunately, Solomon acquired 700 wives and 300 concubines as king of Israel, making it extremely difficult for him to be a man of his word.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow, Ecclesiastes 5:4.

As I try to pick up the pieces of my tattered reputation, the words of Ecclesiastes serve as a good place to start.  Whether you are talking to friends, family or neighbors, don’t promise anything you can’t keep.  If anything, limit your commitments and over deliver.  For if you don’t heed this message, you may wake up one morning like me and realize that you’ve become a man of broken promises.

by Jay Mankus

 

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A Day of Laziness

While some individuals will be making last second New Year’s resolutions, there is an invisible obstacle that tends to sneak up on the unassuming.  Commercials such as “you deserve a break today” feed into this mindset.  Thus, if you let your guard down, become complacent or careless, a day of laziness can be the beginning of the end of your dreams.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied, Proverbs 13:4.

As I reflect upon what is left of 2015, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been a victim of days of laziness.  Somewhere along the way, a laissez-faire spirit entered my body.  Sleeping in here and a lack of discipline there has resulted in a luck luster year.  Before I could mount a comeback, compromise has stalled my momentum, leaving sorrow and pain in my heart.

The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor, Proverbs 21:25.

Unfortunately, my spiritual state is like a lukewarm bottle of water on a sunny spring day.  Poor decisions on days of laziness have led me to a tattered soul.  There is no one else to blame but me.  The only blessing is that tomorrow is another day filled with God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace.  Therefore, I press on, hoping to avoid days of laziness in 2016 so I can begin to take hold of that which God has prepared for me in advance to do.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Do Certain Thoughts Come From?

At age 10, I began to experience a reoccurring nightmare.  Maybe I watched one too many scary movies, but each night I was awaken in the same manner.  Whether I was restless or enjoying a peaceful sleep, an image appeared out of no where.  First, I felt the sensation of slipping off a cliff.  Once I reached a free fall mode, I was at ease until the ground came into view.  Just before striking the canyon floor, my body shook, waking me up.  This went on for nearly 2 years.  Why, I’m not sure.  Perhaps, God allowed these thoughts to enter my mind to lead me toward the meaning of life.

A couple of years ago, I was driving my family home after vacationing in Chicago for a week.  It was getting late, the sun had set and everyone in the car was asleep.  I was traveling on the Ohio Turnpike, heading east toward the Maumee River.  As I was approaching the river valley, a whisper entered my mind, “drive off the bridge.”  Shocked initially, it didn’t take long to determine the origin of this thought.  Similar to the Dana Carvey’s Church Lady skit on Saturday Night Live, “could it be Satan?”

Over the course of a lifetime, the mind will become weary, bombarded with a plethora thoughts.  If individuals are careless, lazy or tempted, souls are vulnerable.  When you try to fight a spiritual battle with mental discipline, sooner or later you will lose.  Therefore, its essential to practice 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, by taking your thoughts captive.  Whether thoughts are from God, Satan or your own sinful desires, how you respond to them will dictate the path that you choose.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Access Denied

Whether you are at home, school or work, if you’re careless when you enter your password into a computer, access will be denied.  Perhaps, you accidentally hit the caps button.  Or maybe your finger touched two keys at the same time.  Regardless of your mistake, black dots prevent you from seeing where you went wrong.  Instead, you are rejected, having to repeat the same process without a flaw to gain the access you desire.

When it comes to talking to God, many share a similar frustration, desperately seeking answers to their prayers.  Nonetheless, countless individuals are given the silent treatment, left in the dark by a God unwilling to tell you why at least for the moment.  Whether your situation is sin related or not, Isaiah 1:15, being shut out of the conversation has caused some to abandon God.

Paul likely endured periods of doubt during his years of ministry as an apostle.  However, while in Rome, the Holy Spirit brought Paul a clear message in Romans 5:1-4.  If access is denied, faith carries you until God opens the next door for you to walk through.  When you do sin, grace is provided to allow you to enter God’s presence.  Therefore, if you are struggling to connect with God, remember the words of Hebrews 11:1-6 until your access is reinstated.

by Jay Mankus

 

Blocking Yourself

On November 26th, 2013 something unusual was caught on film during an NCAA college football game between the University of Florida and Georgia Southern.  If it wasn’t bad enough losing to a I-AA football team, a replay revealed 2 Gator offensive lineman were actually blocking each other as if their eyes were closed on one play.  When the national media got a hold of this clip, these 2 players were further embarrassed, weekly making ESPN’s Not Top 10 low lights.  Blocking yourself or in this case you own teammate ranks up their with Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble, returned by the New England Patriots for a touchdown during the 2012 NFL regular season, a legendary not top 10 moment in sports.

In basketball, players are allowed to set picks, also known as screens to help others get open.  As long as an individual has set their feet without moving, the play is legal.  However, when someone get’s careless or sloppy with their body position, the play is deemed illegal as a foul is called resulting in a turnover or foul shots.  Unfortunately, life is filled with examples of blocking yourself.  The loud mouth often talks too much, ruining their reputation with uncalled for remarks.  The gossiper can’t resist the temptation of distorting the truth, caught up in a web of lies that will one day explode in their face.  Meanwhile, negative people will lose favor among co-workers, family and neighbors limiting their full potential on earth.

From a spiritual perspective, Christians and non-Christians alike regularly block God from pouring out his blessings.  According to Jesus’ earthly brother, complaining, grumbling and impatience serve as a barrier between God and mankind, James 5:8-9.  Furthermore, any unwholesome comment that comes out of your mouth grieves the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:29.  Instead of blaming God for your misfortune, get out of the way or you will continue blocking yourself from obtaining God’s promises in the Bible, Jeremiah 29:10.  Although its hard to admit, often I’m my worst enemy, getting in the Holy Spirit’s way with self conceit, Galatians 5:25-26.  May this blog inspire you to reflect, pondering if anything is causing you to block yourself from God?  Whenever something comes to mind, please leave a comment below to help others in life’s journey.

by Jay Mankus

       

Missing the Mark

During my first year attending Boy Scout Camp, I was introduced to the rifle range.  Although I had uncles who were hunters, I was never exposed to shooting a weapon until high school.  Since I was right handed, I assumed that the same would be true for hitting the target.  Unfortunately, I failed miserably, missing the mark with every shot.  After 2 identical results, the instructor informed me that I was left handed, identifying a dominant left eye.  This was the piece of information I needed to finally start hitting the target on a consistent basis.

In life, another way of expressing missing the mark is to say you have sinned.  Whenever someone makes a mistake, you essentially fail to meet your goal or objective.  These errors can be explained by a careless, clumsy or freakish occurrence.  Sometimes people don’t follow the instructions while others were never trained or told how to do a certain task.  When this happens, citizens need instructors to enter their lives to provide the guidance required to begin hitting the mark, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Instead of having a bulls’ eye with point totals for each circle, the target I am referring to is located on a less traveled road, Matthew 7:14.  Once you reach this area, the rules change as described by Jesus, Matthew 16:24-27.

Mark 1: Deny yourself, becoming a servant to others, Matthew 20:27-28.

Mark 2: Keep your eyes on the cross, the symbol of Jesus’ victory over death, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

Mark 3: Follow God where the Holy Spirit leads you, John 21:18.

Once you’re able to narrow in and begin to focus on this spiritual target, success will follow.  Though you will not obtain a perfect score, the fruits of your labor will appear, Galatians 5:22.  Don’t be discouraged like I was when I first started this journey.  Rather, develop the right mindset to persevere for the long haul, 1 Timothy 6:11-12.  Despite how many times you fail, keep practicing until the Instructor calls you home.

by Jay Mankus

Quiet Waters

Words like silent, tranquil and undisturbed seem so far away from reality.  While America was sleeping, peace has been replaced by violence, slipped into minds full of mush through video games.  Those who are too busy to care, indulge or play, find their amusement is movies, pop culture and the latest car chase on television.  A life full of distractions, interruptions and noise drowns out the serenity of God’s quiet waters.

This promise of Psalm 23:2 may be a flashback from the image portrayed in Psalm 1:1-3.  Those blessed souls who are able to outran the wicked, flee from the presence of careless sinners and avoid joining a crowd full of mockers find their way through the jungle of life.  Beyond the temptations, lies a bubbling brook, full of love, joy and peace.  This living water offered by Jesus in John 4:10 produces conifers, trees that stay green 365 days a year.  Prosperity is like the morning dew, a subtle reminder of God’s presence in this sacred place.

Once you experience this hidden spring, its hard to find enjoyment in the ways of the world.  Sure, temporary pleasures abound, yet nothing satisfies, quickly losing its allure.  The old Southwest Airlines’ commercials have it partially right.  Yes, you’ve got to get away.  However, where you need to arrive is upon the shores of God’s quiet waters.  Like Kokomo, its a mythical destination that only a few find, Matthew 7:13-14.  May the spirit of God, guide you, step by step, until you reach the healing pool, John 5:1-7.  It doesn’t matter why you came or what state you’re in, as long as you believe entering quiet waters will leave you transformed, once and for all.  Get fulfilled today, Matthew 5:6.

by Jay Mankus