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Tag Archives: thankful

It’s Only A Car

When I was a child, I amassed a sizable collection of Hot Wheels.  Birthday and Christmas gifts brought a challenge course, race tracks and a special case to organize all my vehicles.  Before Atari and Cable television existed, I spent many rainy days racing cars inside.  Since most parents couldn’t afford a new car, Hot Wheels were a marketing tool to introduce children to sports cars.

And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator, Colossians 3:10.

Although many of my friends became obsessed with automobiles in my teenage years, my dad’s background as an immigrant to this country kept me grounded.  This upbringing ingrained in me an ability to be thankful for what I had.  However, I did have a wealthy neighbor whose parents always brought their son the latest and greatest electronic devices.  When these gifts were flaunted in front of me, I was jealous of his families wealth.  Yet, you can’t buy love as toys are just an earthly possessions.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:14-15.

During my last winter break in college, I got into an argument with my parents.  Like a typical adolescent, I stormed out of the house to blow off some steam.  On the way to my friend Dave’s house, I got into a fender bender, hitting the car in front of me.  This situation could of have been worse, but the man that I hit didn’t care about fixing his old car.  Despite receiving a ticket for reckless driving, the words of this man struck a nerve in my heart by saying, “it’s only a car.”

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

A few years later I was on my way to work in Chicago when a flock of geese starting walking across the road.  As I slowed down, the lady behind wasn’t paying attention, skidding and ramming into my back bumper.  Since my vehicle was approaching the 200,000 mile mark, I remembered the words of the good Samaritan from Delaware.  Paying it forward, I passed on the same message to this young woman, “don’t worry about it, it’s only a car.”

by Jay Mankus

 

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When Tomorrow Doesn’t Matter

The moment a student enters the work force something happens internally.  I’m not sure if its related to specific occupations, but mindsets begin to change.  As soon as individuals get comfortable, there’s a common practice to think ahead like “I’m going to do this or that.”  However, every once in a while you’re confronted with a situation that makes you realize tomorrow doesn’t matter.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,” James 4:13.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, it felt like a normal day.  I checked on my son before picking up my daughter from volleyball camp.  Upon my return, my son was in tears, insisting on wanting to go to the hospital.  Usually able to shake off pain, something inside of Daniel knew things weren’t right.  Twenty four hours later, my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes, James 4:14.

One of Jesus’ earthly brothers writes about one of his regrets in life.  For nearly thirty years, his big brother was the son of God, yet he never believed until after the resurrection.  Subsequently, James came to the conclusion that tomorrow doesn’t matter as long as today is present.  Therefore, despite the grief and uncertainty I am currently enduring, there is still plenty of time to grow, learn and be thankful before the sun sets.

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

 

The Cry of the Ungrateful

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard,” Matthew 20:1

Any time you get your hopes up, there is always the possibility for disappointment.   Expectations can be a dangerous thing, especially when this breeds impure motives.  Whenever you bring an earthly mindset into an untimely trial, the cry of the ungrateful is conceived.

So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner, Matthew 20:10-11.

In the parable of the workers in the Vineyard, Jesus addresses the cry of the ungrateful.  Human nature leads one to believe that those who work harder or longer will receive more than newcomers.  However, Jesus dismisses this comparison of those by using the analogy of heaven.  Though the apostle Paul does refer to eternal crowns, receiving  the gift of eternal life should lead to a thankful heart.

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you,” Matthew 20:13-14.

As difficult as it was for some of these workers to get over the fact that each was paid the some wage despite the amount of hours in the vineyard, there is a truth to embrace.  The solution to overcoming an ungrateful spirit is developing a heart like Barnabas.  Despite his reputation of an encourager, Acts 4:36-37, the apostle Paul possessed far greater God given talents.  Instead of blocking his way, Barnabas moved aside so that Paul’s gifts could be fanned into flame.  Therefore, don’t allow jealousy to give birth to an ungrateful heart.  Rather, in humility consider others more important than yourself.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Second Chance at Sight

In the 1988 film, Scrooged, Bill Murray is looking for a second chance in life.  Meanwhile, Alfre Woodard, playing Murray’s secretary Grace Cooley, prays for a Christmas miracle.  Inspired by visits from Christmas ghosts of the past, current and future, Murray risks his job by highjacking a live Christmas program to communicate the meaning of Christmas.  In the process, Cooley’s son who hadn’t spoken a word in years, breaks his silence at the conclusion of this live event.

As for me, I’ve received a second chance at sight.  Only a few people were aware of the pain I endured for 2 months this fall.  Unable to bear it any longer, I went to my eye doctor to see if I needed glasses.  Thinking old age was the main culprit, a set of tests revealed that my retinas were swollen, filled with fluids.  As the initial medicine made my condition worse to begin with, the nightmare of not being able to read things like the Bible was a real possibility.  However, 2 weeks later, God has given me a second chance at sight.

Therefore, as you open presents this Christmas season, don’t overlook the most precious gifts of all.  Whether its your senses, friendships or the memories of those who are no longer with you, Christmas is a time of second chances.  A season of forgiveness with the birth of a Savior, Matthew 1:21, who came to give you a new leash on life.  This Christmas, I got a second chance at sight.  As for you, may the power of the Holy Spirit reveal to you what you should be most thankful for.

by Jay Mankus

 

Do You Remember When?

Time has a way of skewing our memories.  When life is great, people expect things to continue, letting the good times roll.  On the other hand, as soon as the tide turns, individuals are shocked by unfortunate events like death, illness or trials.

Every so often, I will do something to aggravate my ribs that I broke last winter.  This soreness serves as a reminder of a scary moment in my life.  Unable to breathe, cringing in pain, I watched helplessly while a dozen Emergency Room attendants prepared for my surgery.  As the painkillers knocked me out, I wasn’t sure if I would ever wake up again.

Nine months later, I am thankful for life, a great job and wonderful family.  If it wasn’t for the cold weather, I might have forgotten this traumatic event.  Yet, the Lord brought this to my attention while reading Psalm 105.  Just as the Lord inspired Jewish leaders to remind Israel of God’s covenant to Abraham, the Holy Spirit brought to recall the healing power of the Great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

I Couldn’t Do It Justice

Once upon a time, there was a mother who gave birth to a son who was blind.  Heart-broken but not hopeless, this loving mom became the eyes to illuminate her son’s darkness.  Similar to a radio broadcast, she tried to paint a vivid picture of the world her son could not see.  Day after day, this scene repeated itself until news of a medical miracle arrived.

After saving up enough money, this woman made an appointment with an eye doctor who had success with a cutting edge operation.  Following a consultation, a surgery was schedule for this boy who had only known darkness.  Anticipation was in the air, yet to achieve maximum vision, bandages were required to remain over the boy’s eyes for a couple of days post this procedure.  Time would tell if the boy would be teased or thankful.

What happened next was like a scene from out of the Bible, John 9:6-7.  As the doctor unwrapped the cloth, rays of light penetrated the boys face.  Exuberant, the boy ran to the window to look outside for the very first time.  Speechless, a joyful mother listened as tears began to stream down her face.  “Mom, it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined!  I can’t believe how many details you left out.”  In response, wiping away tears, she replied, “I couldn’t do it justice my darling for God’s creation is beyond our understanding.”

by Jay Mankus