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Tag Archives: Fellowship of Christian Athletes

When the Truth Remains Inside of You

Star Wars uses the force as a means to find the truth. Using imagery similar to that found in the Bible, light and darkness determine the side that you will choose. The apostle Paul illustrates this internal tug of war in Galatians 5:16-23. From a Christian perspective, truth is signified by acts of God’s Spirit. Any act of disobedience is considered a form of rebellion like Star Wars expression of giving into the dark side.

Because of the Truth which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever: 2 John 1:2.

Before I decided to become a Christian, I started to hang around people in high school who always seemed to be happy. These individuals attended a monthly Fellowship of Christian Athletes Bible Study. Although I didn’t attend until the midway point of high school, there was something hidden inside of them. After attending an off-campus event as a sophomore, Skip Wilkins introduced me to this Truth.

Because of the Truth which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever: 3 John 1:4.

Every human being has their own story of success and failures in life. For me, learning was never easy. As a student, I had to fight for B’s and C’s. As a new Christian, I got involved in as many church related activities that I could fit into my sports schedule. While Accountability Groups, Bible Studies, Service Projects and Retreats were great, it was the Bible that transformed me from the inside out. If you meditate on God’s Word like Joshua 1:8, the truth will remain inside of you through the living years.

by Jay Mankus

Do You Want to Enjoy Life and See Good Days?

I tend to be outspoken about issues that affect or impact my life. While teaching high school Bible for a decade, I lost my cool a couple of times. On one occasion I wrote a letter to the administration which got me in hot water with other teachers. Following this escapade, my good friend Spencer provided words of wisdom: “loose lips sink ships.” According to one of Jesus’ disciples, this is crucial to enjoying life and seeing good days ahead.

For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit), 1 Peter 3:10.

My grandmother Joana always greeted me with the same corny phrase, “you’re such a good religious boy.” As a children raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to pursue the holy sacraments. From my first communion, years of CCD (Sunday School for Catholics), and completing the Confirmation process, I thought I was well on my way toward enjoying life and seeing good days. Boy was I wrong as if God was whispering, “not so fast.”

Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze! And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna), James 3:5-6.

While I knew all the right religious answers, my life was void of a personal relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10. Subsequently, I struggled through my first two years of high school with many unanswered questions. Thanks to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at Concord High and a local Methodist youth group, I started to run the race of faith, Hebrews 12:1-2. Although I’m nowhere near graduating from this spiritual adventure, I’m on the right path to clearing up my speech. As Christian’s mature, enjoying life and good days are slices of heaven on earth before the real party in the sky commences.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Volume 3: For Annie

Today’s song was introduced to me by my spiritual mentor in high school. When I first met Ken Horne, I was a dirtbag, drifter and a loner. Just like the girl in Petra’s song, I was suicidal and didn’t think anyone would miss me if I ended my life. Yet, Ken was my science teacher for two years in a row, a positive influence and consistent source of encouragement. Ken was also the Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle leader at Concord High School, a group that changed my life.

Sing to God, sing praises to His name, cast up a highway for Him Who rides through the deserts—His name is the Lord—be in high spirits and glory before Him! – Psalm 68:4

Ken played For Annie on one of the first retreats I ever attended. Following the song, Ken spoke about the need for teenagers to reach out to friends struggling with depression. This message hit home when one of the swimmers on our swim team committed suicide. While you can’t save the people who have already taken their lives, you can become diligent to make sure no one’s pain goes unnoticed. Although some groups and music don’t age well, For Annie is a ballad that remains inspirational today.

by Jay Mankus

When Death Lost It’s Grip on Me

If you have ever walked through a Haunted House or Forest, one of the methods used to inflict fear is by being grabbed by an unseen hand. Part of this role play often involves taking and keeping a firm hold of your arm or leg without warning. Despite how scared you may be during this experience, it is only temporary. In the passage below, the apostle Paul explains why and when fear of death lost it’s grip on human beings.

For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us, this nature that is capable of dying] must put on immortality (freedom from death). 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished [h]forever) in and unto victory, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

My junior high years were the lowest in my life. Despite attending church every Sunday, I struggled with depression daily. In my darkest days, I was suicidal, thinking of ways to end my life. Little did I know that God began to send loving Christians and mentors into my life to keep me alive. These individuals encouraged me to seek God not in a religious manner, but pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [i][upon the soul] through [j][the abuse of] the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose], 1 Corinthians 15:56-58.

I resisted these offers until a nervous breakdown during a cross country practice. When a girl that I liked messed with my mind, this was the last straw before I lost complete control. Shortly after this experience, I was invited to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event. Following an inspirational speech my Skip Wilkins on December 4th, 1984, I gave my life to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. The moment I made this decision, death lost it’s grip on me, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

When Did Your Ministry Begin?

During his Sunday broadcast on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Jentezen Franklin told stories of visiting his grandfather as child. Growing up in a family of musicians and preachers enabled Jentezen to develop ministry skills prior to becoming a teenager. These experiences sowed a desire within Jentezen to become a pastor. Looking back, this is where his ministry was conceived. Shortly after listening to this sermon, I received a text informing me that my spiritual mentor Ken Horne had passed away. This news led me to ponder, when and where did my ministry begin.

And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

As an individual with an addictive personality, when I accepted Jesus into my heart in December of my sophomore year, it taken take long for me to become a Jesus freak. This spiritual pursuit began attending Fellowship of Christian Athlete huddle at Concord High, led by my swim coach Ken Horne. Afraid of stuttering, I spent the next year listening, absorbing everything that I heard. From here I started attending a Methodist youth group, experienced my first Lay Witness Mission revival weekend and went on as many Christians retreats as possible. Several of these moments involved Ken, delegating to me various leaderships roles as my faith grew.

Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent (to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins), Acts 17:30.

While in college, Ken gave me my first opportunity to preach. This weekend in Friendship, Maryland was like having all the stars align in my favor. Beside having an amazing time and connecting with several young people, my stuttering disappeared. Whenever I opened my mouth, the Holy Spirit spoke through me as a vessel for God. My friend Maureen had passed away the previous year from cancer so the message God put on my heart was “It’s Time to Stop Playing Games by Getting Right with God.” At the end of my message I played the song Feel the Nails by Ray Boltz. Before the song concluded, several members of this church ran to the altar. This one event in 1990 cemented my calling and it was here where my ministry began.

by Jay Mankus

Determined to Change the Status Quo

Status quo is a Latin phrase which refers to the existing state of affairs in regard to social or political issues. From a modern perspective, this is similar to the expression”don’t rock the boat” by maintaining the existing social structure and values. During a scene from National Treasure, Benjamin Gates’ father warns his son that unless the status quo changes, their lives will be in danger. Whenever I am pressured to conform to one ideology, mindset or worldview, my creative nature craves to go against the flow, finding a better way by thinking outside the box.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it, Matthew 7:13.

Jesus addresses the status quo during a first century sermon. Jesus uses the analogy of two roads: a super highway and a trail through the woods. The status quo is compared to a broad road, where the popular crowd resides followed by the masses and wanna be accepted. Meanwhile, the less attractive path is narrow, only accessible for one person at a time. Jesus details the eternal destination that awaits based upon the decisions each person makes on earth. Perhaps, Jesus is using fear instill a desire to change the status quo.

But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:14.

Thirty five years ago, I was a teenager who recently accepted Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. This decision didn’t sit too well with many of my non-believing friends. As I became an active member of my high school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I found comfort and support on the narrow path. Sure, being considered cool and popular by my peers would have been nice, but I was determined to change the status quo. A similar decision today could be compared with committing social suicide. Yet, in the end you have to decide who do you want to please; others or God. As for me and my house, I remain determined to change the status quo.

by Jay Mankus

What People Do to Become Accepted

Beside my accolades as an athlete, I spent most of high school living in relative obscurity. When I became a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year, a majority of my friends were members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. During a conversion with one of my coaches as a senior, I discovered that several of my peers labeled me as a freak, holy roller and loner who didn’t know how to have fun. Perhaps, this perception inspired me to become accepted once I entered college at the University of Delaware.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

During a summer vacation to Tampa, Florida, I bought a socially acceptable muscle shirt. While this tank top was white, there was a character with shades and cigarette in one hand. The caption on this shirt was Too Cool. By wearing this on the day I moved into my dorm, I received several positive comments. Although the message on this shirt contradicted everything that I believed in at this time, I cared more about being accepted than serving as a light for Christ. This is what I did to become accepted.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My plan worked as became one of the four horseman. My nickname was derived from my tank top, J.L. Cool. I guess you can say I made the most of my first semester in college, getting special invites to several parties even some to fraternities that I didn’t belong to or join. This was a wild ride, indulging in deeds of darkness while my lure and popularity spread across campus. When the second semester began, nearly half of my floor in Lane flunked out. Consumed by dread, guilt and shame, a winter retreat provided an opportunity for me to get my life right with God. While my testimony has a happy ending, only God knows the blessings that I missed out on by wanting to become socially accepted.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed to Be Alive

The half-century mark is five decades on this special planet called earth.  As the clock strikes twelve midnight, ending August 13th to commence August 14th will mean that I have reached fifty years of age in 2019.  According to numerology, the number fifty symbolizes the total man.  This favorable number marks grace, kindness and regeneration. Karl von Eckartshausen, an author, German Catholic and philosopher, who lived to see the founding of the United States of America referred to reaching fifty as the number of illumination.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” Jeremiah 1:5.

I was born the day Hurricane Camille formed as a tropical depression.  A few days later this massive storm struck the Gulf Coast, the second most intense tropical cyclone on record to hit the United States.  Perhaps, this was a foreshadowing of the life that I would live.  I have survived earthquakes, floods, a microburst and a tornado.  I escaped a head on collision, a freak boating and tubing accident to make it to what I call Hawaii 50.  Nonetheless, I have a lot to be thankful for, truly blessed to be alive.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them, Psalm 139:13-16.

My spiritual birth occurred on December 4th, 1984, during my sophomore year of high school.  My spiritual father was my high school swim coach and Science teacher.  As the leader of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Concord High, Mr. Horne coached, directed and guided new believers toward seeking God’s will for our lives.  While I didn’t always take a straight line or path, the Holy Spirit empowered me to become a Bible teacher, youth director an aspiring writer.  I’m truly blessed to be married to Leanne who gave birth to our 3 wonderful children.  I’m not sure what the Lord has planned for me in the years to come, but I pray that I keep in step with God’s Spirit so that I don’t miss my next calling.

by Jay Mankus

Relocating to a Permanent Address

Billy Graham viewed his life on earth as someone merely passing through, making the most of his ninety nine years.  I was in my car when I received the news of his death, listening to talk radio.  Upon hearing this update, Rush Limbaugh spent a few minutes of his next monologue reflecting upon Graham’s life and legacy.  Rush relayed the context of one of Billy’s famous quotes.  “When you hear reports about my death, don’t believe it.  I am not dead.  Rather, I have changed my address, relocating to a permanent destination.”

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

In a spiritual sense, I am related to Reverend Graham.  You see, my mentor in high school, Ken Horne, dedicated his life to God at a Billy Graham Rally as a teenager.  This propelled Ken to become a high school teacher, coach and Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s director at Concord High.  I was too cool for God as a nineth grader, rejecting several offers to attend this small group Bible Study.  After a nervous breakdown in tenth grade, I accepted an invitation to an event on December 4th, 1984.  Ken paid for my ticket to a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Speakout featuring members of Philadelphia’s four professional sports teams.  Yet, it was a man in a wheel chair, Skip Wilkins who God used to lead me to surrender my life to Jesus Christ.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved, Romans 10:9-10.

As the 2018 Winter Olympics come to a close this weekend, the 2020 Summer Olympics are just around the corner.  As Billy Graham officially retired Wednesday, its never too early to begin training, finding someone to pass the baton to in the name of Christ.  Reverend Graham wasn’t perfect, but as elders like Leonard Ravenhill began to offer constructive criticism to make sure new converts were being properly discipled following their conversions, Billy Graham’s ministry became a well oiled machine, producing permanent disciples.  May the legacy that Billy Graham Sr. has left behind inspire you to get moving, ready to fulfill the great commission so that those who do pass away are able to relocate to a permanent address in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Remembering Those Who Refresh Souls

Its unfortunate that most people wait until a funeral to thank someone for the imprint made of their life.  Instead of sharing an encouraging word, time has a way of distracting individuals from expressing how they really feel.  Thus, souls often perish without hearing or knowing the impact they had on others.

May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 2 Timothy 1:16.

While writing a letter to one of his ministry partners, the apostle Paul urges believers to remember those who refresh souls.  To heed this call, I feel compelled to give a shout out for those people who have helped me along my faith journey.  The first was my high school swim coach, who also served as a science teacher and spiritual mentor.  To a student who was seeking for meaning in life, Ken Horne pointed me in the right direction as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle leader at Concord High.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone, Colossians 4:6.

After helping me develop a solid foundation, several college friends inspired me to further my faith.  My roommate Mike introduced me to contemporary worship music, Phil showed me how to live life to the fullest and Dave led me to see the importance of accountability.  There are others who deserve additional credit, but there will be other blogs to address their deeds.  For now, don’t let time slip away on this July 4th before you remember those who have refreshed your soul.

by Jay Mankus

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