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Tag Archives: God given talents

The End of an Era

On February 23rd, Family Christian Bookstores announced that all 240 stores were going out of business.  The dominance of Amazon and popularity of i-tunes was too much to compete with over time.  When you add in the fact that only 3 out of 10 Christians ever visited these stores, I guess you can say they were destined to fail.  As for me, this eliminates my monthly experience of exploring, listening and purchasing new music.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being, Psalm 104:33.

Prior to college, the majority of my music collection was secular.  However, this all changed when I was introduced to the Sonshine House, a Christian music store 15 minutes from campus.  The former owner, Jackie Johnson, was a good sport, regularly listening to me sing a chorus of a song before leading me to the actual artist and album.  Jackie’s passion rubbed off on me, resulting in 3 decades of pursuing inspirational music.

Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, Ephesians 5:19.

Although I am not sure where I am going to go to keep up with cutting edge artists, I won’t allow this hobby to die.  One of my goals in life was to run my own Christian Radio Station, creating a business plan, call letters and weekly programming.  Yet. after the FCC updated the fees for playing songs to a third party, this added expense wasn’t worth the investment.  While one era comes to an end, I pray that Christians will develop another avenue to allow aspiring artists, bands and musicians to flourish by sharing their God-given talents.  In addition, I will continue to  share you tubes of these artists whose song enhances each blog title.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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The Hunger of Laborers

Part of the DNA within a man is found through their occupation.  Unfortunately, many struggle to find a job which compliments and highlights their God given talents.  Subsequently, when Christmas and holiday parties arrive in a few weeks, these conversations are often unpleasant, a constant reminder of one’s frustration of being an outcast, not where you feel like God wants you to be.

The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on, Proverbs 16:26.

If and when you find that ideal situation, you don’t need any motivation to get out of bed.  Rather, every day drives and motivates individuals, excited to pursue that path they are on.  Perhaps, this is what Solomon means by the hunger of laborers.  This state drives workers, providing a sense of purpose until their job or task is complete.  Anyone who has never experienced or tasted this sensation yearns for the day you find the perfect match.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Colossians 3:17.

For those of us who are a work in progress, the apostle Paul provides sound advice.  While on the journey called life, every deed and word count.  Therefore, dedicate your life to the Lord.  If you lose your way, remember the words of Hosea 4:6.  Since people perish without vision, set short term goals, serving as markers to lead your way.   God willing, you will one day find the hunger of laborers.

by Jay Mankus

 

You’ll Never Know Unless You Try

When I was younger, I thought I was better than I actually was.  I would talk smack, emotionally annoy opponents and wouldn’t back down from a confrontation.  Over time I have mellowed, learned the importance of humility and found contentment in my retirement from sports.  Yet, I’m thankful that I wasn’t afraid to fail as a professional golfer.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

As I step away from competition, my son James faces a similar dilemma.  Despite being a state champion pole vaulter and 3 time all conference golfer, playing division one sports in college is a whole new ball game.  Thus, he has to decide do I risk embarrassment, humiliation or do I play it safe by avoiding disappointment?  My message to him is you’ll never know unless you try.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

In my first golf mini-tour event, I shot 48 on the front nine, shaking so badly it was hard to swing a club.  I could have hung my head, quit or withdrawn from this competition.  Yet, I battled, birdieing the 10th, finding my rhythm on the back nine.  I never made any money nor did I reach the P.G.A. tour, but I walked away from this game knowing I did everything in my power to succeed.  Thus, whether you are my son, a friend or a stranger I meet along the road called life, you’ll never know your ultimate destiny unless you try by utilizing your God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

Is it Worth the Sleepless Nights?

I have a tendency to dream big, develop amazing visions that only someone who is rich and famous should possess.  Yet, I press on, taking a leap of faith, trying to maximize my time, pushing my God given talents to the limit, hoping that I will taste success one day soon.  However, a part of me still wonders, “is it worth the sleepless nights?”

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

According to one of the wisest to ever walk the face of the earth, dreaming is something you should be weary of.  I’m assuming Solomon is referring to those individuals focusing on a life outside of God’s will in the passage above.  Ultimately, God is whom you should fear.  Nonetheless, my greatest fear is living an entire life without using the unique gifts God has blessed me with.  Therefore, I will continue to endure sleepless nights until I find my place in this world.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, Jeremiah 29:11.

While some my think I’m nuts, I believe God allowed me to lose my teaching position so that I could begin to write movie scripts.  Five years later, I have completed three films, the last in record time, less than 11 months.  I’m not sure why I have received visions on a trilogy about the Devil’s invisible attacks on mankind, but I know I need to be faithful to this calling.  Where this leads me, only God knows.  For now, its off to the editing process and copy righting, before sending this script off to Hollywood.  Perhaps, this year is the one that will put me on the map.  If not, the only thing standing in my way of success is another sleepless night.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Winning Isn’t As Important

In the days following 9/11/01, many Americans used professional sporting events as a vehicle for healing.  In Major League Baseball, the singing of Talk Me Out to the Ball Game was replaced with God Bless America.  At the first Monday Night Football Game in the NFL, a sense of patriotism swept through the crowd, causing tears to flow from my eyes as a giant flag, shaped like the United States of America was stretched across the entire field.  During this period in time, winning wasn’t the only thing.  Rather, playing these games symbolized a sense of normalcy to proclaim to the world, “America will carry on.”

Meanwhile, another community experienced a similar tragedy, placing sports into its proper perspective.  The 2006 film We Are Marshall is based upon the death of 37 football players, 5 coaches, 25 boosters and other staff who perished in a plane crash near Huntington, West Virginia.  Despite wanting to remain competitive, winning had to be placed on the back burner.  To honor the memory of these people, the school president was nudged by students to field a team to fill the void left behind.  In a stirring scene, Matthew McConaughey, who plays head coach Jack Lengyel, redefines winning to include playing with all your heart for 60 minutes.  “If you do this, we can not lose!”

Today, competition has a wide scope from school districts who have banned keeping score to the hard core who keep score in everything they do.  For me, sports was a refuge, a place where I excelled.  The more success I tasted, the cockier I became.  Yet, like many things in life, athletic competition has a way of humbling the proud, bringing each star back down to earth.  However, when I finally gave up my pursuit of playing professional golf, only then did I understand winning isn;t everything.  Whether you have the talent or not, give your dream a shot and let the chips fall where they may.  In the end, winning isn’t as important as knowing that you did everything you could to maximize your God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Starving for Conversation

Everyone has their own warts, imperfections that prevent people from achieving peace and prosperity.  For me, my greatest weakness is the inability to slow down to enjoy, indulge or relax by conversing with co-workers, family and neighbors.  Thus, by the end of the day or week, I often find myself starving for conversation.

While a youth pastor in Indiana, I spent 50 hours a week minimum interacting with youth, parents and church staff.  Since my job description involved investing in relationships, I spent countless hours reclining, sharing and walking with a wide range of personalities.  Whether I was tubing in a lake, attending a sporting event or sitting on a dock having an impromptu Bible Study, these were my best years, bringing out my God given talents.

Now twenty years later, its time to reinvent myself as I hunger and thirst for meaningful conversations.  Starting with the beatitudes appears to be a logical starting place, Matthew 5:3-12, encouraging individuals to be listeners first.  From here, the apostle Paul provides good advice in Colossians 4:2-5, adding flavor to the conversations you encounter.  Perhaps, by applying these biblical principles, I will be content, satisfied by future conversations.

What advice do you have for others searching for fulfilling conversations?

by Jay Mankus

What You’ve Got Left

Aspiring athletes and students are always looking for an edge, seeking to attain new heights.  Meanwhile, coaches and teachers use motivational speeches to get the most out of their pupils, trying to maximize their God given talents.  However, sometimes you need to remember the words of Job, “the Lord gives and takes away.”  Thus, whether you’re enduring a trial in life, struggling your way through a test or trying to stop a losing streak, God only has one question for you: what do you have left?

The apostle Paul shares this sentiment, reflecting upon a physical ailment he was forced to accept, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  Paul’s health concerns led him to embrace this situation, leaning on the Lord to help him cope with daily pain.  Humbled and helpless, Paul found inner strength when he placed his trust in God with what he had left.  Once he reached this point in his life, Paul uncovered the power of Christ in human weakness.

As for me, I find myself doing just the opposite, relying on my own strengths and talents to get by.  The end result has been predictable, lacking joy, peace and unfulfilled in my current state of life.  Despite my failures, I serve a God of second chances, able to rescue me from myself, Psalm 91:14-15.  Therefore, if you find yourself in a similar predicament, swallow your pride by giving God what you’ve got left.

When has Christ shined through your weaknesses?

by Jay Mankus