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The Cure for a Troubled Mind

A troubled mind is like being a parent at a little league game. One error leads to another as a ground ball in the infield ends up becoming an inside the park homeroom. Great for the hitter who never stops running and gut-wrenching for the fielding team. As a former coach, I once watched my catcher not know the rule for a dropped third strike with the bases loaded. Electing to throw the ball to first rather than step on home plate, he airmailed first by 10 feet. As my right fielder loafed to the ball, all 4 runners scored.

Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come or the years draw near when you will say [of physical pleasures], I have no enjoyment in them—Ecclesiastes 12:1.

King Solomon suggests that troubled minds are a byproduct of forgetting God. I find this to be true in my own life when a go a few days without reading the Bible or praying. Rather than keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, I begin to feed my earthly desires, Romans 8:5-8. The apostle Paul goes on to explain in chapter 8 that a carnal mind can’t not please God. This points to the spiritual frustration within Cain in Genesis 4:5-8. Cain’s troubled mind made him to act out rather than submit to fruits of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness. Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:5-6.

The apostle Paul uses history as a way to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes over and over again in life. Providing a brief summary of Israel’s past failures, Paul claims that these serve as warnings to not crave, covet or indulge your sinful nature. Denzel Washington uses a nearby field in Gettysburg in the film Remember the Titans to communicate to his players, “if we don’t learn from this battle, we too will be destroyed.” Thus, the cure for a troubled mind is seeking daily reminders from the Bible on how to live.

by Jay Mankus

Contend for the Faith in 2022

The term contend suggests that you are about to enter a struggle with difficulty and or danger to overcome. This ordeal is like a battle for supremacy, similar to a hotly contested athletic competition. Jude doesn’t use hope for the best or try as if quoting a Little League motto. Rather, Jude is calling on all first century Christians to become active participants in defending the faith for Jesus Christ.

Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all [a]handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered [b]verbally to the holy people of God], Jude 1:3.

As human beings, priorities tend to shift depending upon the time of year. When a series of unexpected events throw a wrench into your schedule, you usually have to make sacrifices. You may even have to cancel several commitments that you wanted to keep. In the midst of trials and tribulations, you may lose your way for a while. Yet, as Jude states above, don’t forget about your spiritual future and salvation.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

As an adult over the age of fifty, I don’t have the energy I once possessed as a hyperactive teenager. Nonetheless, there is still something worth fighting for: the future of my children, potential grandchildren and a decaying spiritual heritage in America. This is where Christians must ascertain their spiritual gift, fine tune them and fan these gifts into flame, 2 Timothy 1:6-7. In your own weakness, may Christ be strong so that you may become an active participant in contending for the Christian faith in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

At the Intersection of Success and Failure

C.S. Lewis was a well educated atheist who sought out to prove that God does not exist. Some might say that this quest ended in failure as Lewis went on to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord. This journey to disprove God altered Lewis’ career path in life as he became a famous author and theologian. Prior to his death in 1898, Lewis left behind a series of famous quotes. My two personal favorites are “It is not your business to succeed, but to do right. When you have done so the rest lies with God.” The second comes from Mere Christianity, “success if the process of arriving.”

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

The latter quote suggests that one must fail several times before you draw near to success. For example, if you play baseball, failing to get a hit in 7 out of 10 plate appearances is considered good. The current average batting average in Major League Baseball in 2021 is 220. This means that most professional hitters are failing nearly 80% of the time. If you combine this lack of success with local weather forecasters who tend to get their daily predictions right once or twice a week, Americans are surrounded by failure.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness. Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:5-6.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to remind the Corinthian Church of Israel’s failures. These past errors, mistakes and sins serve as lessons from the past. As I drive around to various places, my photographic memory often triggers a collection of memories within my mind. Yet, as I pass a little league field and two vacated churches, the pain of a defunct baseball league and closed churches hit home. Am I failure because I wasn’t able to save these three organizations or was it God’s will for these things to come to an end? When you’re surrounded by failure, it’s hard to press on. Yet, when you are weak, Christ is strong, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, so with God I go on.

by Jay Mankus

The Cruel Reality of Sports

When the clock strikes zero at the end of any competition, their is usually a winner and loser.  Though a regular season game may result in a tie, in the playoffs, this isn’t an option.  Whether you’re talking about the National Championship, Super Bowl or Olympics, only one team or individual will walk off as the victor.

From a personal perspective, I once blew an eight shot lead during the Club Championship; then lost in an 18 hole playoff.  When things start to slip away, as momentum goes in the opponents direction, a helpless feeling grips your body.  This tide often results in the agony of defeat, something I’ve tasted on numerous occasions.  Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality of sports.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. – 1 Corinthians 9:25

Therefore, as Ohio State and Oregon fans go to sleep tonight, one will celebrate into the midnight hours while the loser will ponder what could have been.  For the senior players, several will be playing their final game, trading in their jerseys for a career in their field of study.  Perhaps, this is why the apostle Paul wrote the words of 1 Corinthians 9:25.  Like of the motto of Little League, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game!”  May these words stick with you the next time you experience the cruel reality of sports.

by Jay Mankus

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