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Tag Archives: perseverance

SWAG

Swag is one of those words that has evolved over time.  Initially short for swagger, swag is a personality trait which naturally flows out of confident individuals.  Professional athletes display this by playing to the crowd, swaying and strutting after successful impacts during a competition or game.  Journalists sometimes equate swag with gravitas, inner qualities that attract others to want to be around those who possess this special gift.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Recently, I stumbled upon an acronym for swag, Spiritual Wonders Anointed by God.  Although my employer refers to swag as stuff we all get, I know from experience not everyone receives the same allotment in life.  Rather, some people are more blessed than others, attaining and obtaining much more than the average person.  While a portion of success can be linked to dedication, hard work and perseverance, God’s role in swag can not be denied.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:14.

Spiritual wonders anointed by God can be explained by guardian angels or ministering spirits.  Without divine intervention, there may be some of you who would not be alive today if it wasn’t for this insight and protection.  Meanwhile, swag can be developed from a permanent meaningful lasting relationship with God.  As one begins to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord each week, the Holy Spirit living inside of you can produce swag.  As a new year approaches, may the Lord inspire you to draw near to God so that your faith will flourish in 2018.

by Jay Mankus

When Jesus Gives People a Reason to Leave

No matter when you were born, there will always be a culture, group or segment of society that is not welcome.  This perception begins through stereotypes, prejudging an entire race or nation based upon previous actions, beliefs and practices.  Such is the case of Canaan and Israel.  While Noah’s grandson gave birth to descendants who embraced evil, idolatry and wicked ways, God called Israel to be set apart from the rest of the world.  This tension continued during the first century when a needy woman approaches Jesus.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Matthew 15:23-24.

Based upon the passage above, a Canaanite woman appeared to have heard about Jesus’ healing powers.  Desperate to find help for her demon possessed daughter, this woman makes a scene in public, hoping to get Jesus’ attention.  Approaching on her knees, Jesus offers two interesting responses to this Canaanite woman’s request.  If you just read Jesus’ reply, he is blunt, initially disregarding her plea.  If you read between the lines, Jesus is giving her a reason to leave, to walk away without receiving an answer to her prayer.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table,” Matthew 15:26-27.

The underlining theme of this passage is perseverance.  This woman refused to take no for an answer, doing everything in her power to convince Jesus to extend his power beyond the Jews.  She could have walked away disappointed upon hearing that Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel.  Hanging on despite the initial response, Jesus’ second comment in the passage above would have sent most people away in tears.  Nonetheless, this woman showed resolve, coming back with a witty response to win Jesus over.  In the end, you have two choices in life: accept reality by walking away disappointed or persist until God answers your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

Keep Pounding

Sam Mills was a gritty defensive player in the National Football League.  Despite his 5 foot 9 inch frame, Mills played 12 years in the NFL, spending his time with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.  Before entering the NFL, Mills spent 3 seasons with the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars earning the nickname Field Mouse for his tenacity.  Playing along side Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White, the Stars won 2 league titles.  Through the years, Sam became a leader on and off the field, eventually serving as an assistant defensive coach for Carolina following his retirement.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

Before his untimely death, Mills was known for giving inspirational speeches.  Prior to a playoff game with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, Mills encouraged his defense to Keep Pounding for 60 minutes, referencing his battle with cancer.  This phrase became a mantra for the Carolina Panthers as the team later added a drum to drive this message home to each player.  In April of 2005, Mills succumb to his battle with cancer, dying in his home town of Charlotte.  In the following fall, the Panthers honored Mills by retiring his number 51 jersey.  The legacy of Sam Mills continues today with the theme, Keep Pounding.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

In the verse above, the apostle Paul uses a different way of expressing keep pounding.  Instead of applying this to football, these words refer to life.  Everyone will face trials in life.  Whether it’s an accident, illness or unforeseen circumstance, staying positive isn’t easy.  Yet, when you develop perseverance and a will to keep pressing on, God honors the steadfast.  Therefore, whatever obstacle is currently standing in your way, keep pounding until victory is obtained.

by Jay Mankus

 

For Those Who Wait It Out

As I look back on my life, one disturbing pattern exists.  When I failed to reach a goal, rejected by a company or cut by a sports team, I changed course.  Trying to rebound quickly, I altered my dreams in life to avoid further disappointment  Sure, this made me feel better momentarily, yet I regret not sticking it out longer to see if I could have achieved my desired destination.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

The group Firefight sings about this topic in the song For Those Who Wait.  The attached video illustrates a natural response to failure, quitting.  Yet, the lyrics point to the reward for those who hang in there despite not succeeding on your first attempt.  This is where rationale thoughts wrestle with faith.  While some may never taste success, perseverance shapes character and will prepare you for future opportunities in this life.

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

If you are like me, sharing dreams with family and friends can be frustrating.  Responses like don’t quit your day job and don’t get your hopes up are typical.  Meanwhile, those who don’t comment roll their eyes or mutter “yeah right.”  This vision that you paint for others doesn’t fit their current perception of you.  Thus, you have one of two options.  Think about what might have been or step out in faith by toughing it out like those who wait?  I pray that you choose the latter.  Take courage as you wait on the Lord to open the next door in your life.

by Jay Mankus

Removing One Obstacle at a Time

Anyone who struggles with perfectionism has a hard enjoying life.  Whenever a flaw is discovered or exposed, energy is wasted to attack, purge and rid this.  If more than one issue is uncovered at the same time, this can be devastating.  Despite anal attempts to achieve perfection, its healthier to remove one obstacle at a time.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1.

The context of the passage above occurs immediately following a chapter known as the Hall of Faith.  The author lists saints from the Old Testament who accomplished great things by stepping out in faith.  The witnesses are those believers who have finished the race called life and are now spectators cheering on those who follow God on.  To reach similar heights requires removing access baggage which weighs you down.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Hebrews 12:5.

Nobody likes to be called out, corrected or rebuked, but sometimes this message is meant for our own good.  As a former runner, if your mind is not into it, you won’t last long.  Perseverance is only achieved after barriers are removed.  To prevent yourself from having a nervous breakdown or becoming overwhelmed, strive to remove one obstacle at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Cords of Sin

Bonds, fibers, links and twines are words synonymous with cords.  These flexible long strands are usually applied in a positive manner.  Yet, this material meant for good can also serve as a web of entanglement.  Thus, the cords of sin can ensnare any wayward soul.

The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast, Proverbs 5:22.

The author of Hebrews provides a different perspective.  Comparing life to a marathon, you never know what you are going to encounter.  Along the journey you take, its essential to unload anything that is weighing you down.  The sooner you act, the smoother your travels will go.  This is where perseverance will keep many from abandoning the race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1.

Whenever you hit a bad stretch in life, its hard to recover.  To make matters worse, its doesn’t take much to become held down by the cords of sin.  Obstacles may include addiction, bad habits and poor choices.  In view of this dangerous state, cry out to the Lord, reach out to fellow believers for help and purge those things that keep you from hearing God’s voice.

by Jay Mankus

Keeping Your Heads Held High

After a fairly successful coaching career over the past 20 years in youth sports, I find myself with my greatest task to date.  After a couple of coaches bailed, I have volunteered to help a developmental baseball team at the 13-15 year old level.  Unfortunately, every opponent so far has been much more advanced, leading to lop-sided results.  Thus, at this point all I can do is encourage the players to keep their heads held high.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin, 1 Peter 4:1.

You don’t have to play sports to experienced being smeared or creamed.  Depending upon who you are, what you do or where you work, its not uncommon to come in contact with far superior individuals.  If these people carry an attitude, ego or pride, its easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed and unqualified.  Yet, even if you’re staring failure in the face, its essential to keep your head held high, knowing you gave your best effort.

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God, 1 Peter 4:2.

The latter is the most crucial element in times of failure.  Knowing you are beaten is one thing.  However, the moment you give up mentally, its not worth even competing anymore.  Sure, human nature will tempt those who have gotten use to losing.  Nonetheless, those who cling to perseverance will be rewarded in the end.  You might not see progress right away, but the Lord will honor and lift up those who keep their head held high.

by Jay Mankus