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Finally A Champion

 

My father played college football at the University of Pennsylvania from 1961 to 1964.  At this time, the Philadelphia Eagles played their home games at Franklin Field, the Quakers stadium on campus.  My father got to know some of these players, fresh off the 1960 championship team led by Norm Van Brocklin on offense and Tommy McDonald on the defensive side.  Human nature suggested another championship was close, possibly just around the corner, yet none came while my dad was a college student living in Philadelphia.

Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! – Psalm 35:23

When the team that you are on or cheer for is not victorious, losing takes its toll.  If seasons lead to decades and decades to half centuries, negative thoughts turn fans into cynics.  This loser mentality causes individuals to expect the worst, turning self fulfilled prophecies into reality.  Perhaps this may explain why national sports writers labeled the city of Philadelphia, negadelphia.  As this championship drought continued for 57 years, people struggling with self-esteem issues adopted the Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers or 49ers as their team.  This front runner mentality further alienated diehard Eagles fans from those who jumped off the Wentz Wagon after Carson’s season ending injury.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.

Yet, it took a Christian head coach, Doug Peterson, a man of faith who painted a vision that his team began to embrace to lead the way.  Fellow believers, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, took turns passing the baton as quarterback, from one to the other, putting the team in front of selfish ambitions.  Thus, this group of under dogs did what the experts said was impossible, to beat the greatest coach and quarterback combination of all time.  When the clock finally struck zero after Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass feel incomplete in Super Bowl 52, what Philadelphia fans dreamed of, hoped for and prayed about came true.  By the grace of God, the Philadelphia Eagles are finally a champion.

by Jay Mankus

Turning Procrastination Into Desire

In the minutes leading up to your lunch break or end of the day bell, signs of procrastination come forth.  To pass the time, there is a temptation to remain idle, delaying or loitering as much as possible without being noticed.  Others who are forced to endure deadlines, wait until  the last possible moment to begin, relying on adrenaline to finish on time.  This pattern may be effective for some, but after any failure in life, guilt tends to prompt individuals to consider a change, turning procrastination into desire.

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

In the book Communicating with a Purpose, procrastination is the fourth barrier to effective communication.  After rejection, indifference and skepticism, the last two hurdles to clear are procrastination and fear.  The author uses dreaming as a technique to help people visualize success.  When a group or audience fails to act immediately, remind each person of the ideal outcome, what could be or should be if desire is exercised.  Once inspiration is conceived, motivated hearts can turn procrastination into desire.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:15-17.

After spending a year and a half in Corinth, the apostle Paul had a limited schedule.  Thus, his stay in Ephesus is brief, eager to maximize his time with Jewish converts to Christianity.  During his short stint, Paul reassures this new church that if you commit to the apostles teaching, following the blue print found within Acts 2:42-47, success is possible.  Seizing each day, Paul was driven to cast out any thought of procrastination with desire fueled by faith.  May this blog help you resuscitate hope, joy and the motivation to change for the better.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Prisoner of Your Own Appetite

A typical prisoner is held behind bars or in certain circumstances can be placed under house arrest.  This fate is a result of breaking the law, caught by authorities or brought in for questioning and possibly held overnight as a possible suspect of a crime.  Unfortunately, many people find themselves held hostage by an invisible force.  Beyond the physical realm, demons, powers of darkness and evil spirits are on the prowl, seeking to pounce upon weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.  Anyone who lacks self-discipline could be the next victim, a prisoner of your own appetite.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, the human flesh has a mind of it’s own.  Like a stubborn child, the sinful nature is in a constant state of want.  I can picture an infant screaming for food or toddler throwing a temper tantrum.  These fits of rage are signs of the flesh at an early stage of development.  As time goes by, outbursts only intensive, especially when lust within human hearts goes unsatisfied.  The more the average person feeds these cravings, the flesh can get out of control.  When selfishness is unleashed, even the strong may find themselves a prisoner of their own appetite.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God, Romans 8:7-8.

If you read between the lines of Romans 8, Paul is imploring burdened souls that you don’t have to do this anyone.  You don’t have to continue living in bondage to your sinful nature.  However, transformation begins within your mind.  Like any enemy, whispers of doubt consume those attempting to break free.  Thus, if you are serious about changing, you must ignore whispers from the Devil.  In this transitional period, you will likely experience withdraw, internal pressure to return to pleasing your flesh.  Yet, if you seek an accountability relationship, devote your life to prayer and submit to God, freedom is within your reach.  The journey is long, but don’t give up hope until victory arrives.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not About Deserve…It’s About What You Believe

From 1973 to 1986, the Super Friends was a popular television show on ABC geared for kids.  Based upon characters from DC Comics, this series used the Justice League as the home for super heroes who took turns each episode fighting evil in the world.  Over time, antagonists joined forces to create chaos in what became known as the Legion of Doom.  Every day, good and evil collided with battles won and lost, encouraging viewers to root for their favorite hero or foe.

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe,” Mark 5:36.

Thirty one year later, DC Comics has introduced a modern film placing Wonder Woman on the front lines during World War II.  Gal Gadot plays Diana who saves a British spy, Chris Pine, from drowning.  After being interrogated by Amazonian leaders, Diana uncovers some of her special super hero powers.  This revelation prompts Diana to leave her home with special agent Trevor.  Diana believes that if only she could kill the source of evil, the German leader, the war would come to an end.  When this doesn’t happen, Diana has a crisis of faith, doubting if the human race is worth saving.  Steve quickly intervenes, teaching Diana a valuable lesson, “It’s not about deserve, it’s about what you believe!”

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

Normally when I watch a movie, I am disappointed by the lack of depth.  Yet, the line above in this film spoke to me.  No one is perfect, as flaws exist within every living being.  These imperfections may be mild or blatantly obvious.  Nonetheless, Jesus believed everyone is worth saving.  Humanly speaking, you can’t change what the world thinks or believes, but you can change yourself.  As this subtle transformation begins, glimpses of Christ’s light appears, illuminated by the power of the Holy Spirit.  You may not possess superhuman strength like a superhero, but faith can make a difference in your life and those around you.  Thus, the next time you begin to lose hope in people, remember the words from Steve’s character, “It’s not about deserve, it’s about what you believe!”

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

 

A Brand New Day

If I didn’t put Lamentations at the end of the passage below, these words could have spoken or written by any disgruntled individual today.  Whenever anyone endures a stretch of bad breaks, failure and sadness, it feels as if God is punishing you for some unknown reason.  As a child I attended a church that over emphasized the Old Testament, painting a different picture of God from the New Testament.  Thus, I grew up without a limited perspective of God’s true character and nature, seeing the Lord as a disciplinarian, judge and punisher for those who do evil.

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.  He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long, Lamentations 3:1-3.

The book of Lamentations has one of the most interesting chapters in the Bible.  The prophet Jeremiah begins by expressing the anguish of his depression.  This remorse continues like a tirade of complaining for twenty verses.  After letting all of his emotions out in the form of recorded words, Jeremiah transitions to the positive.  Despite how bad things may look, Jeremiah recalls a message of hope from the Torah, another name for the first five books of the Bible.  This promise altered his mood, bringing to light that each new day serves as a fresh start on life.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, Lamentations 3:21-23.

While you can’t reset life like a video game without removing the consequences, altering your attitude is a good place to start.  The hardest part of any complete transformation is learning how to forgive yourself.  This is even more difficult for those who possess a quest for perfection.  While God forgives and forgets, casting your sins as far as the east is from the west, the Devil uses guilt to haunt your mind by bringing up secret scars.  For most of my life, I have fought a losing battle, overlooking God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy, distracted by past failures.  After hearing a song from the group Firefight earlier in the week, I know the course of action I must take; viewing each morning as a Brand New Day.

by Jay Mankus

Under Further Review

Beginning in 1986, the National Football League adopted a limited instant replay review for close calls made by officials during the course of a game.  The current policy was made permanent in 1999, giving coaches two challenges per game.  If both challenges are won, a third challenge is awarded to this team.  Initially, referees stared into a camera with something like a voting booth curtain for privacy.  Today, officials are given tablets to speed up this process.  Once a determination is reached, the head official begins with the phrase “upon further review.”

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.

This expression can also be applied to evaluating your life.  The end of one year and beginning of new one serves as a great time to take the time to reflect.  You may even ask yourself some of the following questions.  Did I attain any of the dreams, goals or objectives I laid out?  How did the circumstances of the year influence me for the better or worse?  Am I closer to fulfilling my aspirations in life or do I need to change course quickly so that hope does not drown?  While this may not help you initially, it’s a good starting point to see what needs to change in 2018.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

At first glance, 2017 was a painful year, saying good bye to my cousin Billy and father in law Jim.  These events led my wife and I to sit down to create a will just in case death comes knocking.  Another setback was receiving a rejection letter from Hollywood for my screen play Express Yourself.  This news crushed my spirits initially, but has led me to begin working on Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door in 2018, a script that was rejected by Hollywood in 2016 but did receive favorable comments by judges.  Perhaps, I am on a wild goose chase, wasting countless hours reflecting, studying and writing.  Yet, as a former professional athlete, I’m swinging for the fences hoping that I will eventually connect.  Right now my batting average is 000, but upon further review I serve a God who makes the impossible possible.

by Jay Mankus