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Setting the Pace so that Others May Finish

On Sunday, I participated in my first alumni weekend at the University of Delaware.  In reality, I just ran in the Blue Hen 5K with my 3 children, the first with my daughter Lydia.  Out of shape, I vowed to stay with my daughter, setting a good pace to help her post her best time.  When Lydia stopped several times with a cramp, I encouraged her to keep going.

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

The same could be said about life.  Trying to do things on your own or alone is difficult.  If you reach your breaking point, who will come along to spur you on?  As Benny Hester once sang about, “You weren’t meant to live your life alone.”  In view of this, people need to seek out mentors, role models and wise counsel to find their way in life.

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.

If I wasn’t running today, I’m sure my daughter would have finished eventually, but my prompting resulted in her PR, personal record.  As a father, I need to do the same in my spiritual life, setting the pace for all my children to follow.  While spiritual aspirations may vary, godly parents should set the pace so that others may cross the finished line in heaven.

by Jay Mankus


Living in the Fastlane as Friendships Passby

Whether I like it or not, I fall into the same category as Maverick and Goose in Top Gun, ” I feel the need, the need for speed!”  Lately, I’ve been the car in the left hand lane that is going too fast, missing my exit.  As a result, my busyness has caused me to lose touch of several friendships, in a hurry to get to no where

Although Ke$ha once sang about your love is my drug, I believe living life in the fast lane possesses dangerous side effects.  Adrenaline breeds anxiety, impatience and a self-centered heart .  As discernment flies by like a blur, this lifestyle can leave you alone, distant and void of meaningful relationships.

Trying to survive on an empty tank, I pulled over to the curb this weekend.  Like a car needing to see a mechanic, my soul is longing for a spiritual diagnostic check up.  Slowing down is the first step to recovery.  Yet, change takes time, especially for anyone who has allowed their life to get out of control.  Just a David went to the Cave at Adullam for healing, 1 Samuel 22:1-5, retreating with friends can mend fences and revitalize lonely and hurting souls.

by Jay Mankus

When God Seems Dead…

In the upcoming movie  God’s Not Dead, based upon a true story, a college philosophy professor presupposes God is dead.  Not surprising by today’s standards, one student who refuses to sign a paper agreeing with his assumption, faces an uphill battle which may cost him more than just a good grade.  As a result, God is put on trial in Philosophy 150, with one defendant testifying to his existence.  The outcome will be determined this spring for those who are interested.

For the rest of us, life tends to bring periods when God seems distant, far removed from our situation, acting as if He doesn’t care or doesn’t exist.  Yet, this thought is nothing new, questioned by countless of individuals throughout history, even a famous king.  According to David, godly people had vanished from his kingdom, with no one in his sight, Psalm 12:1.  Instead, liars using flattery to get ahead in life had taken over society, frustrated David as the wicked prospered and the righteous were disappearing, Psalm 12:2-4.

Since God’s ways are not man’s ways, Proverbs 19:21, the Lord will arise from his apparent slumber.  When God does return, He and only He will judge mankind according to what they have said and done, Matthew 12:36.  For now, you have a life to live, “like sand through an hour glass, so are the Days of our Lives,” one of the few soap operas I watched.  Anyway, the closer individuals begin to experience John 10:10, the more people will realize God’s not dead, he’s alive in those who shine the love of Jesus, Matthew 5:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

A Prayer for the Bullied

Regardless of how big, strong or tall you are, one day you will face your match, being the David against a Goliath bully.  In the Back to the Future movie series, George Mcfly faced a life long battle with Biff, never having the courage to stand his ground until he came face to his with his own son Marty.  Going back to his father’s high school years, Marty played by Michael J. Fox, tries to break his father of this submissive trait.  Finally, George becomes enraged by Biff’s mistreatment of Jennifer Parker, filling his fist with supernatural strength, knocking out this bully with one powerful left hand hook to the face.

Unfortunately, this Hollywood ending is not reality for the countless of Americans daily facing bullies at their school, in the neighborhood or at their place of occupation.  Although bullies are conceived during childhood, they don’t magically disappear when you become an adult.  Power, pride and selfish greed inspires an older, less obvious and wiser type of bully.  Seeking and seizing control of others, individuals usually use their status, title and ego to boss around people low on the totem pole.  Subsequently, year and year goes by without upper management ever noticing or seeing this harsh behavior.

Based upon the words of Psalm 10, David appears to have been bullied prior to his rise to power as King of Israel.  His words describe how anyone who has faced bullying feels: helpless, weak and alone.  The youngest in his family, this scrawny boy was a mere shepherd, an insignificant member of his household.  During these days alone, an outcast in the fields, David began to communicate with God through prayer.  Psalm 10 depicts a long period of unanswered prayers from verse 1-13.  However, in the end, God answered David with a prayer for the bullied, “You hear O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more!” – Psalm 10:16-17

by Jay Mankus

Tarry With Me

In a vulnerable state, Jesus asks 3 close friends to stay with him and pray, Matthew 26:36-38.  Going a little further into the garden of Gethsemane to be alone, Jesus begins pouring out his heart to his Heavenly Father.  Returning an hour later, Jesus finds Peter, James and John sleeping instead of praying.  Disappointed by their response to his time in need, Jesus asks this question in Matthew 26:40, “could you not tarry with me for one hour?”

Jesus reveals the purpose for prayer in Matthew 26:41:

1. Prayer keeps you spiritually alert.

2. Prayer protects your mind from temptations.

3. Prayers helps you tap into the willingness of the Holy Spirit.

While the context of this passage limits the scope of prayer, God has placed an unique burden upon my heart.  During the month of March, God is leading me to prayer for an hour a day.  Now I ask you, “will you tarry with me?”

I met a young missionary before graduating from college whose testimony included not using an alarm clock to get up.  God woke up this individual at the same time every morning, 6am to begin his day in prayer, praising God.  Inspired by his account, I tried to apply this to my own life during my final semester of college.  To my surprise, God used sunlight shining directly on my pillow to arise and awaken me exactly at 6am.  Although I tend to be a night owl, God answered my prayer every day for 3 months, keeping my prayer life active, my mind sober and excited for each new day.

When it comes to prayer, I am certainty not an expert.  I tend to lean on the Psalms of David, who had a heart for God according to 1 Samuel 16:7.  Whenever I start to lose focus, I’ll rely on Jesus’ outline in Matthew 6:5-15, the words of Jesus’ brother in James 5:13-20 and of course David in Psalm 32:1-11.  You don’t have to be eloquent when you pray; all you need is a pure heart who seeks to know God.  See what God can do when you if you devote one hour per day to prayer in March.  May God perform miracles in your life!

by Jay Mankus

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