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Tag Archives: Baseball

It’s Time To Get Involved

During the first century, thousands of people followed Jesus.  Like a grass roots movement, many were eager to become a disciple.  Unfortunately, Jesus already chose 12 men to become his disciples and another 72 to serve as a ministry team to prepare towns for upcoming visits.  Thus, when a man healed by Jesus in the passages below wanted to get involved, Jesus sends him to the next logical place, his home town.

Jesus did not let him [come], but [instead] He said to him, “Go home to your family and tell them all the great things that the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you,” Mark 5:19.

In my first decade as a parent, I was too consumed by other interest outside of my home.  During these initial years, I played in a competitive men’s softball league, coached high school golf and spent a majority of my free time grading papers.  One night I was able to watch my son play baseball.  In his first at bat, James hit a homerun.  During his second at bat, he doubled, but was left on base.  His team lost 2-1.  When I saw he was batting 10th, I asked a neighbor who knew James’ coach.  I found out that James was punished for using an expensive bat without asking.  This event inspired me to finally get involved, spending the next 5 years coaching youth baseball.

So he [obeyed and] went away and began to publicly proclaim in Decapolis [the region of the ten Hellenistic cities] all the great things that Jesus had done for him; and all the people were astonished, Mark 5:20.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that you need to become great in your home before you can have an impact on your community.  As I have heard several pastors proclaim, “happy wife, happy life,” getting involved starts in your home.  When your family begins to notice a transformation within your own life, you can move outside into your community.  This is easier for a demon possessed man who is now is his right mind.  Yet, as the Holy Spirit begins to move within your heart, mind and soul, God can use you if you’re willing to get involved.

by Jay Mankus

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Bouncing Back from Defeat

Winston Churchill once defined success as going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.  I wish I was familiar with this quote during my final two seasons as a youth baseball coach.  I can’t remember how many games my team lost as defeat became of way of life.  Since these 2 teams only won 4 games, just one in my final season, celebrations were few and far between.  This likely explains Churchill’s emphasis on enthusiasm, learning from each failed attempt to ensure the same mistakes of the past aren’t repeated in future battles.

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory, Deuteronomy 20:4.

In my first and only season as a head basketball coach, my players never experienced defeat, going 13-0.  The only time this team trailed at the half was in the city championship game, down by 10 points.  Clawing back in the second half, these players fought hard to send the game into overtime.  On the final play in overtime, my sixth man collected a weak side rebound, tipping the ball in at the buzzer.  When perfection is achieved, enthusiasm comes naturally.  Yet, as a coach, sometimes failure serves as a wake up call.  If a team despises losing, the fear of defeat motivates players to do everything in their power to ensure victory.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

Last Friday I received news that Hollywood rejected my latest screen play.  While this news should have been devastating, my soul was comforted by a Winston Churchill quote I heard on the radio.  C.S. Lewis defined success as the process of arriving in Mere Christianity.  A century earlier, Thomas Edison discovered 2000 ways how not to produce electricity before finally inventing the incandescent lightbulb.  If you can learn one thing from history it is that failure is a necessary evil to spur souls on to reach their ultimate goal.  As for me, I’m not sure if I will ever write a successful movie that is bought or produced by Hollywood.  Nonetheless, if I turn to Christ who strengthens me, my enthusiasm for writing will return so that my dream of writing one screen play per year in retirement may soon become a reality.  This is how I plan to bounce back from defeat.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Enemy of Our Souls

How you ever noticed the large-scale systematic plan that is occurring worldwide?  This clever marketing scheme distracts individuals from the real problem, the enemy of our souls.  The 2017 version of the film It has recently become the top grossing horror film of all time, amassing over 300 million in sales.  I’m amazed how people can take a diversion to a theater to experience their monthly fright night, yet fail to recognize the personal demons that terrorize individuals daily.  This invisible war is crushing, destroying and wounding human souls who don’t know what to do or how to fight back.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, Ephesians 6:10-11.

Roman soldier’s were equipped with spikes on the bottom of their sandals.  Similar to techniques used during the Revolutionary War, battalions were taught to hold the line of defense so that the enemy could not come up from behind for a sneak attack.  Prior to any battle, Roman soldiers began to dig in like a baseball player entering the batter’s box.  This practice enabled warriors to secure their footing, entrenched and ready to fight.  Unfortunately, most people are caught off guard, flat footed, unable to stand up against the schemes of the Devil.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand, Ephesians 6:12-13.

As a former teacher, I made plenty of mistakes.  Some from a lack of experience, maturity or wisdom.  As I reflect upon this decade of my life, one common error that haunts me is overlooking specific details.  In the passage above, verse 12 gets most of the attention, unveiling the spiritual realm that exists in another dimension.  Yet, the end of verse 13 is the key, the solution to the enemy of our soul, making sure that you have done everything to stand.  Do you start end day with Bible Study, take time to pray, make the effort to fellowship with believers, seek out godly council and worship the Lord in song?  Depending upon your exposure to Christianity, this check list may be shorter or longer.  Nonetheless, if you truly want to live the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10, you have to prepare like a soldier gearing up for battle.  May this blog arm you with necessary resources to protect your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Passing

Time can serve as a foe or a friend.  When you are young, classes, days or months may drag on seeming endless.  Yet, special moments are portions of time that you never want to end, savoring each second while it lasts.  Unfortunately, all things in life will eventually pass.

Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah, Psalm 39:5.

Human being shouldn’t be surprised by death.  God created Adam out of dust and Job came to the realization from “ashes we were created and to dust we will return.”  As great as celebrating the birth of a new child can be, the news of death can ruin your day.  When I called my father to tell him Leanne was pregnant for the first time, he responded your grandmother is dead.

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes, James 4:14.

The worst aspect of any passing is for those who don’t get the chance to say goodbye.  My dog Autumn passed away earlier in the week after being part of the family for over ten years.  While Autumn and I had our differences, it’s strange not seeing her by our bed each morning.  Since my son Daniel was at a baseball game, he never got the chance to say a final goodbye.  Whether its a person or a pet, live each day like its your last so you take the time to say goodbye to those whom you love.

by Jay Mankus

 

Here’s What You Missed

If anyone has played baseball or watched a game as a parent, you know the impact an umpire has on this game.  One call can change the momentum or outcome of a game.  Yet, in all of the games that I have attended my favorite line from disgruntled parents is “hey ump, you’re missing a good game.”

And Eli’hu the son of Bar’achel the Buzite answered: “I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you,” Job 32:6.

In the days of the Old Testament, a young man stood back and watched Job’s friends debate Job on why bad things happen to good people.  Long into this process, Elihu can not contain himself any more.  Thus, he felt the need to share his perspective.  One translation of the Bible states, “here’s what you missed.”

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.

With the advancements in technology, most professional sports now use instant replay to challenge calls that don’t go their way.  Unfortunately, in the game of life, many things are missed.  Some are falsely accused of an act done by someone else.  Others are prematurely judged when they stand up for individuals deemed politically incorrect.  Yet, there will always be minds you can’t persuade.  Therefore, despite whatever bad calls go against, remain steadfast and God will reward those who persevere to the end.

by Jay Mankus

The Mercy Rule

The Mercy Rule was developed for youth sports to prevent a competitive team from further humiliating a less talented group of athletes.  This phrase is often used in baseball when a team is losing by 10 after 4 innings or 20 when the 3rd is completed.  Essentially, this is like waving the white flag, throwing in the towel or surrendering to a far superior team.  Thus, to save time and further embarrassment for the losing side, umpires invoke the mercy rule.

And David said to Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man, 2 Samuel 24:14.

This weekend I endured the worst inning ever as a player or coach.  Although I once lost an opening day baseball game 31-19, at least my team fought back from a 20 run deficit.  Unfortunately, this night to forget involved double digit walks, errors and mental mistakes, enhanced by a shrinking strike zone leading to a two hour and thirty minute 4 inning game.  As I watched several self-inflicted blunders, I wanted someone to put me out of my misery.

For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you, Psalm 86:5.

In 2014, the film Mercy Rule debuted starring Kirk Cameron.  Using lessons from baseball, family and life, Cameron has produced a film which attempts to build character for those who endure helpless moments.  Whether its coping with issues at work, struggling to watch a child’s less talented team or coming to grips with your own fatal flaws, there are always life lessons waiting to be revealed.  When you’re pushed to the brink, unable to take anymore pain, God has a way of showing you mercy.  In return, may you forgive and show mercy upon deserving and undeserving souls.

by Jay Mankus

 

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