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Above and Beyond the Call

The backdrop of the New Testament takes place during the Roman Empire. Unless you were a Roman citizen, you had to do a little extra to get noticed. Scholarly versions of the verse below refer to a practice of impressment by the Roman law on Jews. Therefore, when Jesus urges listeners of the Sermon on the Mount to go the extra mile, this action serves as a plea to go above and beyond the call.

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two [miles], Matthew 5:41.

As a parents of 2 boys who ran cross country and a girl who does spring track, I haven’t met many teenagers who love to run. There were a few on St. Georges track team that won back to back state titles, but runners appear to be a dying breed. Running is one of those hobbies that you have to work at, requiring discipline, focus, and mental toughness. When asked to run an additional mile, few have the energy to be up for this challenge.

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. 27 But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit], 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

In the passage above, Paul is appealing to athletes and sports fans. As a home of the Isthmian Games, Corinth would host this Track and Field Event every two years. This would run opposite of the ancient Greek Olympic Games. To win at this level of competition requires commitment, dedication, and resolve. The average person is content to do what is asked of them. However, if you want to step up your game, going the extra mile will persuade Christians to go above and beyond the call.

Living in Unbroken Fellowship

Whenever you purchase or receive something that is brand new, there is a tendency to be careful and cautious to preserve and protect a pristine condition. New car owners tend to go the extra mile to clean, maintain and watch over their vehicle by parking it in such a manner to prevent the first imperfection from occurring. Meanwhile, proud owners of other high retail value items often go through a honeymoon period. As an individual or family savors the newness of advanced technology, happiness, joy and pleasure is found in unbroken fellowship.

For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him], Romans 6:10.

After saving money for a couple of years, my wife and I decided to buy a new used car over Labor Day Weekend. Despite having a little over 100,000 miles, the exterior and interior looked brand new. Unfortunately, a week after driving it, my car was side swiped during a college visit. This accident helped my realize how superficial my love affair was with this vehicle. After reading the passage above, my goal should be to live in unbroken fellowship with God. This should be my focus and priority for 2020.

[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.

Yet, enjoying fellowship with God is complicated. Human nature steers individuals toward darkness, curious and wondering what is on the other side of the boundaries clearly defined in the Bible. If you gaze too long on the other side of the fence, enticement and lust is conceived. Those who act upon these feelings, end up walking in darkness and sometimes break off their relationship with God. Nonetheless, John provides a chance for redemption through forgiveness. Therefore, if you possess a contrite heart, eager to make up with God, living in unbroken fellowship is still possible after confessing your sins daily.

by Jay Mankus

Shame on You

The origin of the expression shame on you comes from The Court and Character of King James. This book written by Anthony Weldon in 1651 refers to an Italian proverb which helped shape the saying “shame on you.” Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation. As I child, whenever I got caught by my parents doing something that I knew was wrong, shame on you was expressed to expose my sinful act.

But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your undershirt (tunic), let him have your coat also, Matthew 5:39-40.

As a former member of the print media, spending two and a half years with Travel Golf Media, I understand the power of words. On December 19, Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today made a conscience decision to write on article expressing his opinion on Donald Trump. This piece entitled Trump Should Be Removed from Office slams president Trump’s character, immoral acts and previous relationships with woman. Meanwhile, Galli quotes the founder of the magazine, Billy Graham, to give him cover to write this scathing opinion editorial.

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two [miles], Matthew 5:41.

If this piece made the argument that President Trump doesn’t Turn the Other Cheek, I would agree. As a former builder, Donald Trump is a fighter who has developed the mentality “if you attack me, I will strike back even harder.” President Trump’s responses in the form of comments, tweets or words can and have been offensive to others. Sure, this is one of many character flaws that every individual possesses. However, when you speak at press conferences daily or counter negative media reports weekly, turning the other cheek is not in Donald Trump’s DNA. Despite these weaknesses, president Trump goes the extra mile every daily to achieve his goal, Making America Great Again.

This they said to try (test) Him, hoping they might find a charge on which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger. However, when they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her, John 8:6-7.

Since this article was published last weekend, Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son has appeared on Fox News several times to defend president Trump. Franklin Graham commented on how Christianity Today has strayed from his father’s original intent. Meanwhile, liberal seminaries have fed this article’s anti-Trump narrative to curry favor with the mainstream media. I don’t know Mark Galli nor do I follow Christianity Today. However, whenever a believer casts a stone at another sinner without first looking at their own life, this doesn’t look good. Thus, I am compelled to remember the words of my mother, “shame on you” Mr. Galli for not going to President Trump privately, following the Matthew 18 priniciple, with your concerns before writing this hit piece.

by Jay Mankus

Prayers that Please God

If you admire, are fond of someone or respect them, a common response is to please these people.  Teenagers tend to court the opposite sex, trying to curry favor or earn another date.  Students will stick up for or go the extra mile for their favorite coach or teacher.  If this is true, why can’t adults begin to study prayers which please God.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 1 Timothy 2:3.

According to the apostle Paul, one such prayer involves leaders and those in authority.  Beyond lifting specific names up to the Lord, content should include godliness. holiness and peace.  However, once you leave this outline, its important to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.  Usually, I find myself drawn to passages in the Bible.  As individuals begin to claim God’s promises, power is unleashed and on occasion prayers are answered instantaneously.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

For those who need an aid to prayer, several acronyms exist.  PRAY stands for petition, requests, adoration and yourself.  ACTS refers to asking, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.  Whatever you choose, try to find a quiet place, void of distractions.  From here, open your heart, be honest to God and lean on God’s grace and mercy.  As you develop a daily routine, may you begin to verbalize prayers that please God.

by Jay Mankus

A Caddy’s Life

Having the 2013 United States Open Golf Championship come to Merion, about a 45 minute drive from my current home, brings back fond memories of caddying.  In addition, watching an American Dream, a golf channel special of the life of Lee Trevino, also led me to reflect upon the days I spent working at golf courses.  Nearly one forth of my summers have been invested in caddying in 4 different states and 2 countries.

It all began for me in Chester County, encouraged by a high school friend to introduce myself to the Caddy Master at Concord Country Club in Pennsylvania.  My initial goal was to supplement my grass cutting income.  However, before I knew it, I was working 3-4 days a week, making between $90 and $150 per week each summer.  I still recall receiving my first $100 bill following a member guest, caddying for the Vice-President of Dupont.

From here, I spent 5 seasons at Chagrin Valley Country Club, 45 minutes from downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  Depending upon the weather, I worked anywhere from 2 days a week to six.  Because of the large membership, double looping, going out once in the morning and afternoon was typical, occurring 2-3 times a week.  With Geauga Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom 15 minutes from my parent’s home, I spent nearly every day on a golf course  and most nights at this park.  A college student could not paint a better picture of fun, sun and muney.

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From a life perspective, my manners, people skills and respect for other human beings come from my days as a caddy.  Despite my feelings for the member or guest I was paired with, I was taught to work hard, go the extra mile and keep my mouth shut.  This blue collar position instilled in me a work ethic that I still possess as I start a new career with Amazon.  My prayer is that I will be able to call upon my past experiences so that the prosperity I enjoyed in college will return in the near future.  Before I say goodbye for day, I want to leave you with a parity of the James Taylor’s song Fire and Rain.

A Caddy’s Life

I’ve seen hacks and I’ve seen pain
I’ve seen rainy days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen awful rounds when I could not earn a tip
But I always long to see my pay check

I’ve seen stiffs and I’ve seen fame
I’ve seen bad holes I thought would never come to an end
I’ve seen slow play that would make a snail look good
But I always longed to see that last green

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
I need your strength to go one more nine
My body can’t stand on its own right now
My knees are aching and my head is on fire
Please send me your Spirit to complete this last nine.

by Jay Mankus

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