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Tag Archives: godliness

Fitness for the Soul

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, there were 41,370 fitness centers in the United States. Depending upon where you live, most of these local gyms are in walking distance or less than 10 miles from where your reside. Whether you prefer exercise bicycles, treadmills or lifting weights, if you want to get in shape prices often range from $10-20 per month. If you need a friend to hold you accountable, most facilities often a special rate for guests. If you can’t afford this, there are always local parks with fitness trails with detailed instructions to follow for you to remain fit.

For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

In his first letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul wanted Timothy to not get caught up in physical fitness. While exercise is needed to stay in shape, fitness for your soul is much more important in the long run. Paul ends his first letter to Timothy with an illustration of what spiritual fitness resembles, 1 Timothy 6:11. The pursuit of happiness is an honorable quest, but fitness for the soul begins by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Along the way, fight the good fight as you strive to emulate Jesus.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

The author of Hebrews adds a different dimension to fitness for the soul in the passage above. As you work out physically and spiritually, remember the advice passed on to you by former coaches, mentors and teachers. If parts of your life begin to spin out of control, unload everything that is tripping you up or weighing you down. As you do this, keep your eyes focused on the cross since when runners get tired, the first thing that occurs is that heads slouch, forcing eyes to stare at the ground. If you keep your eyes fixed on the finish line, God will give you the vision to maintain fitness for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Atrophy

Atrophy refers to the process in which body tissue or organs slowly waste away often due to the degeneration of cells.  Symptoms of atrophy include decay, deterioration, shrinking or withering away until human bodies no longer function as God designed them.  When this condition is diagnosed, aggressive physical therapy is necessary to prevent further complications.  Human beings are not the only things vulnerable to atrophy.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

Belief, faith and spiritual disciplines can be attacked.  Satan uses compromise, deceit, half-truths and lust to lull Christians into bad habits.  If these patterns persists, it doesn’t take long for a fervent faith to be persuaded into following in the footsteps of the prodigal son.  The apostle Paul uses the term bewitched in a letter to the church at Galatia.  Like atrophy within the human body, initial signs are subtle.  Yet, when minds begin to justify and rationalize wrong actions, spiritual atrophy can become aggressive.

Now before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, [perpetually] imprisoned [in preparation] for the faith that was destined to be revealed, 24 with the result that the Law has become our tutor and our disciplinarian to guide us to Christ, so that we may be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under [the control and authority of] a tutor and disciplinarian, Galatians 3:23-25.

A group known as the Judaizers had infiltrated this congregation.  Clinging to religious traditions of Judaism, these zealots began to add conditions to salvation, confusing many of the new converts to faith in Christ.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul explained the original purpose of the law.  However, Jesus came to abolish the law, opening the door for freewill.  Instead of forcing people to believe, God uses freewill to introduce grace, mercy and forgiveness to those who fully repent, turning away from sin and toward God.  This is the cure to spiritual atrophy, taking time each day to pray, thank God and yield your life to Christ alone.  Pursuing godliness is like therapy to overcome the affects of spiritual atrophy.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Keep Playing Until the Whistle Blows

In game 6 of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Nashville Predators had a goal disallowed.  Blocked by the goalie, a referee could not see a loose puck and inadvertently blew his whistle.  According to the rules, as soon as the whistle is blown the play is dead even if the puck was loose.  Unfortunately, this call prevented a 1-0 lead and ended Nashville’s chance to force a game 7.  The whistle in sports is like a supreme judge, overriding the initial call.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, John 10:10.

If you have ever participated in sports, perhaps you have played for an old school coach.  These individuals are usually hands on, going through all the hypothetical situations players will encounter over the course of a season.  Relying on a practice makes perfect mentality, teammates sometimes have to repeat a play over and over until they get it right.  At the time this may seem unpleasant, yet in the end you and your team will be ready for anything.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2 Peter 1:3.

Outside of sports, it’s also important to keep living until the whistle blows.  If you don’t, you may be tempted to goof off or become lazy which leads to an unproductive life.  The passage above suggests that after you have accepted Christ into your heart by faith, God provides everything you need for life in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, don’t come up with reasons why you can’t do this or that.  Rather, live end day until the clock strikes twelve so that you know you gave your very best each day.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Breath of the Almighty

One of my common expressions at work is “that’s a strange one.”  The context is based upon items and products that I stumble upon which I have never heard of before or seen.  Many people have the same response to the Bible, especially when you read a term that doesn’t make any sense initially.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he makes a distinction between the Sinful Nature and the Spirit.  If you read chapter five from the beginning you will find there is an internal battle going on.  What you want to do and what God desires for you to carry out.  Those who live according to the world’s standards give into self gratification.  Meanwhile, those who truly decide to follow Christ must internally die to self to allow God’s Spirit to reign.

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand, Job 32:8.

Elihu of the Old Testament is the first person to make this comparison.  Yet, Elihu is referring to signs of spiritual understanding.  When someone demonstrates or speaks words of wisdom, its not just the Spirit within mankind.  Rather, godliness comes forth through the breath of the Almighty God.  May this be your goal in life by yielding control so that the Holy Spirit will shine through you.

by Jay Mankus

You’ll Never Know Unless You Try

When I was younger, I thought I was better than I actually was.  I would talk smack, emotionally annoy opponents and wouldn’t back down from a confrontation.  Over time I have mellowed, learned the importance of humility and found contentment in my retirement from sports.  Yet, I’m thankful that I wasn’t afraid to fail as a professional golfer.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

As I step away from competition, my son James faces a similar dilemma.  Despite being a state champion pole vaulter and 3 time all conference golfer, playing division one sports in college is a whole new ball game.  Thus, he has to decide do I risk embarrassment, humiliation or do I play it safe by avoiding disappointment?  My message to him is you’ll never know unless you try.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

In my first golf mini-tour event, I shot 48 on the front nine, shaking so badly it was hard to swing a club.  I could have hung my head, quit or withdrawn from this competition.  Yet, I battled, birdieing the 10th, finding my rhythm on the back nine.  I never made any money nor did I reach the P.G.A. tour, but I walked away from this game knowing I did everything in my power to succeed.  Thus, whether you are my son, a friend or a stranger I meet along the road called life, you’ll never know your ultimate destiny unless you try by utilizing your God given talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

Constant Friction

Every day in the world friction exists.  This may take the form of an altercation, falling out or squabble.   As individuals struggle to remain in control, attitudes, egos and personalities clash.  This constant friction leaves behind a trail of alienation, enmity and strife.

And constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain, 1 Timothy 6:5.

In this age of enlightenment, minds are open to new ideologies, philosophies and teachings.  Subsequently, sometimes curious individuals seeking answers to the meaning of life will begin to cling to strange new ideas.  Desperate for logical explanations, some will even abandon former beliefs to justify or rationalize where they are spiritually.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ, Colossians 2:8.

Decisions made without thorough investigation can lead to what the apostle Paul refers to being robbed of the truth.  While visiting the city of Colossae, he realized how vulnerable young people are to being swayed by human tradition.  In view of this, before you fully develop and embrace a worldview, follow the principles of 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Test everything you hear with God’s word and cling to that which is good.

by Jay Mankus

 

Form Without Faith

As a former athlete, there was nothing like game day, warming up in front of your opponents.  Depending upon the sport, there were certain matches that over before they began.  The team with the best form, technique and talent usually won.  Yet, form without faith is a losing recipe, costing several franchises in the past a championship.

Having a form of godliness but denying its power, 2 Timothy 3:5a.

There is a saying in profession sports that says the tape never lies.  This refers to players who have a tendency to take plays off, not giving 100 percent.  As a former coach, this wasn’t as easy to see.  Some players talk a good game, but crumbled under the pressure.  Meanwhile, some slacked off during practice, yet like Allen Iverson, when the lights came on, they rose to the challenge.  However, to endure for the long haul, form and faith must go hand and hand.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead, James 2:26.

As an adult, I can’t escape imperfection.  No mater how hard I try, some days my form is good, but my faith sucks.  Or in times of weakness, my faith is strong, but energy is lacking.  However, everyone must be careful of fulfilling 2 Timothy 3:5.  Godliness does not come from human effort, but in the spiritual transformation of a human heart.  Thus, when Christians begin to go through the motions of religion, they deny God’s power.  In view of this, don’t pretend everything is fine.  Rather, in humility, let the grace and mercy of God build you up so that your faith takes the form of spiritual fruit.

by Jay Mankus

A King’s Faith

While channel surfing the other night, I stumbled across an interesting movie.  Titled King’s Faith, I was expecting to see a famous king.  Instead, this film featured a high school senior trying to break free from a turbulent past.  Only a king’s faith could rescue him from a gang who didn’t want to let go.

Long before the 2013 film, history recounts king’s whose faith transformed nations.  When citizens doubted God, feared the future or questioned why the wicked prosper, godly leaders provided a source of light during dark moments in time.  Joash, Josiah and Jehoshaphat, kings of Judah, refused to allow the memory of their God to be forgotten.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, a king’s faith enabled countries like America to exist.  Yet, who will stand in the gap today, Ezekiel 22:30, so that future generations may experience the power of a living God?

To experience a king’s faith, one must examine the common attributes shared by prominent leaders.  First, all successful kings had access to discerning individuals either through a prophet or wise council.  Second, godliness is instilled by surrounding yourself in the word of God, meditating on biblical truth.  Finally, calling on the name of the Lord through prayer is an essential ingredient to passing on faith to future generations.  For now, the world is waiting for the next person to display a king’s faith.

by Jay Mankus

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