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Images of God

My only attempts at having a pet as a child were failures.  Inspired by the movie Lassie, my parents bought a collie.  Unfortunately, I treated our dog like a horse, regularly jumping on her back and riding her like a pony.  It wasn’t long before my parents found Trickxie a new home.  Another endeavor involved fish, but their life expectancy did not last long in my tank.

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he, Deuteronomy 32:4.

When I got married, I gave pets another chance, taking care of cats and horses on a farm.  After moving to Delaware, my wife convinced me to purchase a cat and dog.  Although each pet has its own pros and cons, I’m beginning to see the value of sharing a house with animals.  Ultimately, the majority of pets what to be with you.

That they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth, Psalm 83:18.

Today, while doing yard work, my dog Autumn cried when I wasn’t in the backyard.  Although she can’t talk, her howls is a subtle way of saying, “I want to be with you.”  In the same way, Jesus is yearning for individuals to spend time with Him.  However, the Lord doesn’t force, prod or push us to set aside this time.  Nonetheless, one of the images of God that I learned today is for human beings to draw near to God through prayer, worship and Bible study.

by Jay Mankus

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Which Way Should I Go Now?

Bugs Bunny is a cartoon character I grew up watching as a kid.  However, Bugs first appeared in 1940 in the film A Wild Hare.  Despite coming out on top in most episodes, Bugs was directionally challenged.  Perhaps, this characteristic spawned the famous saying, “which way should I go Doc, which way should I go?”

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

The average individual has to ask a similar question annually.  What do I what to do for the rest of my life?  Where do I need to live to make this a reality?  Beyond the daily choices people make, two opposing forces exist in the world: the sinful nature and spirit.  One feeds on self indulgence while the other exists to fulfill a higher calling.  Since both are invisible, its hard for the average citizen to know which one to follow.

The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus, Acts 13:4.

Perhaps, the person with the best credentials in this area was the apostle Paul.  In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul paints a vivid picture to help distinguish fleshly desires from the spirit.  These acts can serve as a monitor, revealing where you are heading based upon current actions.  Like a disciplined athlete, Paul began to fine tune the presence of Spirit, learning to keep in step with God.  However, 1 Timothy 1:15 reveals Paul’s failures when he chose the flesh over the Spirit, making progress through trials and errors.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path, Psalm 119:105.

Modern society has something Paul never had a copy of, the complete Bible.  According to the Psalmist, the Bible can serve as a spiritual flash light, pointing individuals in the right direction.  While you may encounter moments when you struggle to discern a clear cut decision on what to do, God has given everyone a conscience to help along the way.  My best advice to those uncertain about the next path to choose comes from Solomon.  “Many are the plan’s in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails.”  May the wisdom of the Bible serve as a key ingredient to help you get where you want to go.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming the Doubts of Yesteryears

In my own life, hope and confidence tend to go hand in hand.  When things are going well, I trust God will provide and in most cases the Lord does.  However, as soon as my confidence is shaken, I experience arid periods, where doubts of yesteryears creep into my mind causing me to wonder, “will anything good ever happen to me again?”

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

At the beginning of 2014, my wife and I endured similar struggles, hoping to find a good paying full time job, yet feeling abandoned by God for half of last year.  In the darkest of debt and despair, the Lord heard our cries, offering positions for Leanne in May and me in June.  Although every month has its ups and down, these two blessings from above, James 1:18, has strengthen our faith and is slowly erasing doubts planted by the Devil.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 4:1

As time flies by, I have come to believe that each person created by God has a lottery ticket deep inside their heart, soul and mind.  For some, a gift leads individuals to a career, doing what they were born to do, one day leading to financial wealth.  Others may have hidden talents uncovered, resulting in an amazing personality, cherished friendships and life long memories with those whom they love.  Meanwhile, most people allow circumstances, past failures and unforeseen events to interfere with success as the doubts of yesteryears block lifelong dreams from coming true.

 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; James 1:6-7.

Looking ahead in 2015, I believe writing is my lottery ticket.  Starting this venture 3 years ago, my passion has spawned 1 complete movie script and another nearing completion.  Although initial rejections of the film Express Yourself has left scars on my soul, only 38 pages separate me from cashing in my next lottery ticket, Behind the Devil’s Door.  While only God knows the ultimate outcome, I press on the take hold of that which Christ Jesus has called me to do, Philippians 3:12-14.  May faith in Jesus elevate you to leave the doubts of yesteryears for the promises of Ephesians 2:10.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

by Jay Mankus

 

Up the Down Staircase

Bel Kaufman’s novel Up the Down Staircase spent more than a year on the New York Times Best Seller’s List in the late 1960’s.  This success evolved into a movie and a play, the first one I ever saw in person.  However, as I try to bob and weave my way  through life, I often find myself going up the down staircase.

Humility and pride serve as ebb and flow, bringing me back to earth from past successes while lifting me up when I  fall.  On the days I leave my house thinking, “now I’ve got it all figured out,” trials flare up, knocking me off my feet.  Meanwhile, on the days I don’t want to get out of bed, with little strength to tarry on, a mysterious force carries me to places I never thought I could go.

From a spiritual perspective, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 illustrates what its like to go up the down staircase.  Ignorance causes individuals to repeat past failures daily.  A surely that won’t happen to me mentality breeds overconfidence, leading souls toward a moment of decision, 1 Corinthians 10:12.  In the end, there are only 2 logical choices: trusting God or yourself.  As you contemplate your current footing, may you place your feet on the solid rock of Christ, Psalm 30:1-3.  By doing so you will avoid of pain of going up the down staircase.

by Jay Mankus

There is No But

Since I spend over an hour in my car commuting back and forth from work, I rely on a variety of sources of entertainment.  When I grow tired of my CD collection, I cross over to talk radio to pass the time in traffic.  Whether its politics or sports, I scan the dial searching for a fresh approach.  My experience today has to be one of the best in recent memory.

While listening to WIP, a Philly Sports Station, an African American caller was trying to accuse Eagles head coach Chip Kelly of botching the Desean Jackson release, a wide receiver who signed with the Washington Redskins.  Former DT Hollis Thomas, stopped this man in his tracks with the expression, “there is no but!”  Excuse after excuse was swatted away by Hollis like Manute Bol toying with a kid trying to make a lay up.  Hollis’ co-host had to throw in the towel before this caller lost his dignity.

The next try you try to pass the blame by making up a lame excuse, remember there is not but in the Bible.   Unfortunately, most people are on spiritual life support, Romans 3:9-12, unable to escape the grasp of sin.  If Adam and Eve weren’t able to convince God of their reason for eating the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:7-19, then don’t waste your time today.  In view of this reality, pour out your heart to God, confessing your sins so that despite your failures in life, the Lord will extend his grace to you through forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

Missed Opportunities

There are moments in life when you are at the right time and place.  However, if you are on the verge of doing something special, obstacles such as awareness, discernment and time can be hindrances.  Depending upon the state of your emotions, you might just miss a golden opportunity to accomplish God’s will.

I can recall several encounters with people over the course of my life.  Some of these friendships never developed because I did not make a good first impression.  On other occasions I sensed the leading of the Holy Spirit, yet an individual or stranger was distracted by trials in life.  If I was more prepared or they were spiritually sober, perhaps my life would be much more engaging, full of conversational experiences.

Despite my past failures, I did make the most of one opportunity.  While attending a youth ministry conference in Chicago, I happened to meet my future wife.  The atmosphere at this facility made it conducive to slowing down to meet, interact and develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Little did I know that one of the girls in my small group would become my soul mate.  Similarly, if you have failed to cease the moment like me, apply the words of Colossians 4:2-6 so that you won’t miss the opportunities that the Lord provides.

by Jay Mankus

Act Like You’ve Been There… Or Else

As I begin my final season of coaching baseball, I have a laundry list of items I want to communicate to players and parents.  Since youth often wear their emotions on their sleeves, this game must be separated from life and death as the ebb and flow of wins and losses can be exhausting.  Thus, one must possess the proper perspective to enjoy this moment in time: play by play, inning by inning and game by game.

According to Psalm 35:15-16, poor sports have existed for thousands of years.  David recalled the times in life when his enemies reveled in his blunders, errors and missteps.  Instead of celebrating, laughing and mocking the mistakes of others, perhaps its better to act like you’ve been there.  If you reap what you sow, Galatians 6:7-8, overlooking the failures of others, this will lead to mercy in the future when you fail.

Over time, wins and losses will fade from memories, leaving one thing behind, how did you play the game?  Did you give 100% all the time, did you take plays off or was your effort based upon your feelings?  As the sand in the hour glass slowly slips away, your legacy is in the balance.  Act like you’ve been there before or else you’ll regret the reputation you earned as a poor sport, slacker or worse.  With the slate clean today, turn over a new leaf now while the season is still young.

by Jay Mankus