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Tag Archives: dedication

The Making of a Prodigy or A Waste of Time?

Prodigy’s are especially young individuals, endowed with exceptional abilities, talents and qualities.  When coaches, parents or teachers discover this gift, young people are often pushed to see how good or great they can be.  In some cases adults use these special children as pawns, attempting to live their lives through them.  If an endeavor results in a full college scholarship after years of dedication, practice and persistent is rewarded.  Yet; if these prodigy’s get burned out, lose interest or start to hate the sport they once loved, perhaps these years were a waste of time.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established, Proverbs 16:3.

As a former coach, I have seen my share of amazing athletes.  After spending three consecutive years at cross country nationals, I began to see key ingredients in becoming an elite runner.  Through conversations with other coaches and parents, most of the national champions joined a local running club early, some starting at the age of 6.  Meanwhile, as a high school golf coach, a similar connection can be made.  Competition, dedication to practice and a swing coach has resulted in one of the strongest classes of female golfers to come out of the state of Delaware.  I won’t be surprised if a few of these young women end playing on the LPGA tour after college.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

After I moved back to Delaware two decades ago, a friend gave me the phone number of Max Lucado’s editor.  I spent nearly thirty minutes asking a series of question, wanting to know what it takes to become a professor writer.  After sharing a brief summary of his road to success, one comment stuck out during our conversation.  “If you are going to take this seriously, you need to write full time for seven years to have any chance at getting recognized.”  This year marks my 7th year as an amateur screen writer.  After I submit my two scripts for the 2019 Nicholls Contest by the May 1st deadline, I won’t hear the results until July.  Nonetheless, I have taken a chance, invested hundreds of hours and have become vulnerable to rejection to pursue another dream.  Only time will tell if my attempt at becoming a prodigy writer will result in success or failure.

by Jay Mankus

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A Baptism of Suffering?

As a former high school Bible teacher, I am familiar with the differences between a believer’s baptism, christening and dedication.  Depending upon the denomination, leadership and theology of a church, baptism can be a divisive issue.  During one conversation in college, I was told if I wasn’t immersed, then I wasn’t truly saved.  I don’t think this is what Jesus meant by a baptism of suffering.

I have a baptism [of great suffering] with which to be baptized, and how [greatly] I am distressed until it is accomplished! – Luke 12:50

In the passage above, Jesus begins to reveal the fate that he must endure in the coming weeks.  The disciples could not wrap their heads around Jesus’ comment.  Many of these men believed that Jesus would become an earthly king, rising to power as king of the Jews.  Thus, the twelve disciples ignored Jesus’ warning, focusing on their travel plans for the next day.  To a certain extent, everyone overlooks signs and warnings from friends, distracted by selfish ambition.

Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways], Romans 6:3-4.

The apostle Paul unravels what Jesus means by the statement a baptism of suffering.  At the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, bishops agreed upon the term homoousios.  This means that Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are the same substance.  This means that Jesus was perfect, not needing to be purified.  However, as the Lamb of God, without blemish, Jesus needed to fulfill God’s will by suffering and dying on a cross.  Since Jesus completed his mission on earth, modern followers are baptized into Jesus’ death and raised from spiritual death through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May this blog bring clarity to this topic.

by Jay Mankus

Focus on the Opportunities Around You

One of the difficulties in life is learning to cope with, handle and overcome criticism.  Human nature tends to cause individuals to forget the positive aspects of life by dwelling on all the negative things you hear people say about you.  I have had situations at work where I receive a critical email just before I leave for the weekend.  No matter how hard I try, these words eat away at my soul, often ruining my days off.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

According to the apostle Paul, evil is displayed in various forms every day.  Sometimes this demonstrated through corruption, immorality, sarcasm and ungodly acts.  While these events are a harsh part of reality, you have to make the best of each day God gives you.  Therefore, at some point you have to cast your cares, concerns and worries at the feet of Jesus via prayer, Matthew 11:28.  Then and only then will you be able to focus on the opportunities around you.

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in, Galatians 6:9.

Using his missionary journeys as an example, the apostle Paul didn’t always have positive encounters with an unbelieving world.  Yet, Paul realized that one trip wasn’t enough as several cities were somewhat receptive, but needed more convincing.  Thus, if you are thinking about giving up, press on so that all your dedication, prayers and service will not be deserted in vain.  The more you begin to focus on the opportunities around you, the Holy Spirit will give you the resolve necessary to reap a spiritual harvest in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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

Earning the Anointing

Sometimes the Bible doesn’t make sense when you read it.  Although, the puzzling questions can often be explained by a better understanding of the context in which a passage takes place.  If you examine famous anointings in the Old Testament, there are one of two scenarios that take place.  Either individuals had to wait an extended period prior to the fulfillment of the anointing or people earned the right to be blessed by God due to years of faithful service.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Prior to his anointing as the next king of Israel, God prepared David while serving as a shepherd in the fields.  Elisha spent a decade as a farmer and servant to Elijah before receiving a double portion of faith.  Meanwhile, Ruth endured the pain and poverty of a widow before being rescued by her kinsman redeemer.  While salvation can not be earned, faithfulness opens the door to receive a special anointing from God.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

Anointings can be like following sports.  At the beginning of any season, its hard to tell who will win the championship.  Yet, as time goes by dedication, hard work and perseverance separates contenders from pretenders.  In the same way, God sees the hearts of individuals.  Since appearances can be deceiving, God examines hearts and souls to see who has earned the right to be anointed and or blessed by the Lord.  May your faith be rewarded.

by Jay Mankus

 

Getting to Know God Through Fasting

When you are young and begin to notice the opposite sex, there are 5 things you can do to get someone’s attention.  The first three are obvious: shave and shower, put on cologne and deodorant, get dressed to impress others.  However, the final two require dedication and sacrifice.  Fully commit and submit to one person; then have the will to be faithfully compliant for the rest of your life.

Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking, Ruth 3;3.

Naomi’s mother in law provides similar advice after Naomi was done grieving the death of her husband.  Since Boaz is in line to be a kinsman redeemer, he becomes the obvious choice.  Yet, Naomi needed to take a bath, find her best perfume and replace her grieving clothes with a new attractive outfit.  The remaining two words of advice require action and an understanding of Jewish tradition.  Uncovering the feet of someone and lying at their feet is symbolic of full submission to an individual.  The last piece of advice in the verse below refers to fully committing, doing what is next.

When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do,” Ruth 3:4.

This 5 step process also applies to fasting.  The first step involves being freshly cleansed to get God’s attention, Isaiah 1:16.  When completed anoint yourself with the sweet fragrance of the word of God like the imagery within Ephesians 5:26.  Third, people need to replace a spirit of complaining by putting on the garment of praise, Isaiah 61:10.  Next, its vital to become fully committed and submissive by setting your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-3.  Finally, as you get to know God through fasting, faithfully commit to following God’s will, remembering the words of Jesus, “not my will, but yours be done,” Luke 22:42.

by Jay Mankus (inspired by a Jentezen Franklin sermon)

The Path to Excellence

As I examine successful athletes, authors and entrepreneurs, I find a common characteristic which exists.  Beyond a drive, focus and passion, those who rise above their competitors seize the moment daily.  Vision serves as a blue print to carry out and fulfill goals set by each individual.  Although delays and timing may be off, staying the course results in a path toward excellence.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

When my two boys were much younger, each qualified for the Yes Athletics National Cross Country Championships for 3 consecutive years.  As an 8 year old, Daniel was the East Regional Champion.  However, when you compete against the best in the country, breaking the top 100 is an accomplishment.  After talking to other coaches, parents and runners, I realized my kids hadn’t put in the miles or training to have a chance to contend.

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

If you want to be considered elite, dedication, sacrifice and an unswerving concentration is a must.  Despite whatever talent you possess, the hungrier will creep up on anyone who isn’t willing to put in the time to improve.  Everyone will reach their limit at some point, but God will honor those who grind it out daily no matter how they are feeling.  I’m not sure what the future holds for my own aspirations, but I must fight with everything I have to keep my dreams alive by walking on the path to excellence.

by Jay Mankus

 

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