RSS Feed

Tag Archives: mentoring

My Own Spiritual Mr. Miyagi

In 1984, I was in the middle of my freshman of high school. As the summer began, Karate Kid debuted in the theaters starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. While I don’t recall seeing this film right away, I could relate to Daniel LaRusso’s character. As a small hundred pound teenager, I was a push over, bullied on numerous occasions. Although I didn’t turn to karate to defend myself, God had another plan for me which was revealed a year later.

I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you, Psalm 32:8.

My former science teacher, Mr. Horne, started to mentor me during my sophomore year. After I joined the swim team which he coached, Ken took me under his wings. Similar to the role played by Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid, Coach Horne became like a second father. Ken was instrumental in my spiritual growth, inviting me to Concord’s Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s huddle which he led. The night I accepted Jesus into my heart as Savior, Coach Horne was there to answer the various questions that I had about faith.

Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures. 17 Let me warn you therefore, beloved, that knowing these things beforehand, you should be on your guard, lest you be carried away by the error of lawless and wicked [persons and] fall from your own [present] firm condition [your own steadfastness of mind], 2 Peter 3:16-17.

After graduating high school, my relationship with Ken only became stronger. I would regularly stop by unannounced each summer, spending hours catching up and talking about life. When Ken transitioned from a teacher to a local youth pastor, I volunteered as much as I could to support his ministry. This decision provided several memorable Lay Witness Missions, serving on the team that led revival weekends throughout the Tri-state area. These experiences prepared me to become a high school Bible teacher and youth pastor later on in life.

So, being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you not only God’s good news (the Gospel) but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us, 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

When I got engaged to Leanne in 1994, I couldn’t image my wedding without Ken. Thus, my former coach, teacher and mentor became one of my three groomsmen. During our wedding reception, Ken encouraged guests to sing Christmas carols in place of dinging glasses to see Leanne and I kiss. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I received news that Ken was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I can’t think of anything worse for a modern day apostle Paul to experience and undergo. Yet, I am thankful for all that Ken Horne has done for me as my own spiritual Mr. Miyagi. While Ken’s chances for survival are slim, there is a mansion in heaven awaiting him filled with countless blessings for his service on earth.

by Jay Mankus

The Shell Game

The Shell Game is symbolic of three stages in life: early childhood development, reaching your prime and going through a mid-life crisis.  As a child, a lack of confidence, fear and insecurities cause many young people to hide who they really are.  When afraid, frightened or threatened, most turtles seek shelter under their shell, disappearing and hiding underneath until its safe to come out.  Likewise, human beings possess a similar defense mechanism, withdrawing from society until assurance, confidence and hope is restored.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

In the early years, stuttering prevented me from ever expressing myself clearly as a child.  Being made fun of, mocked and teased was too much to endure.  These attacks against what I could not control led me to live a private life until my teenage years, participating in solitary play, imagining what it would be like for me to talk without stuttering.  After my dad was transferred from New Jersey to Delaware, a neighborhood of kids helped me come out of my proverbial shell.  Friends like Jeanette, Steven and Richie overlooked my stuttering, seeing a potential that no one else had prior.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

By the beginning of my senior year of high school, my faith in Christ, amazing friends and an unquenchable fire for life transformed me.  This one year served as a catalyst to do things I never imagined possible.  Despite periods of stammering, God inspired me to become a youth pastor, high school teacher and invest the prime of my life coaching, mentoring and sharing my faith with others.  During this fifteen year period, I was filled with unswerving faith that allowed me to experience the abundant life, witness miracles and experience a spiritual awakening within Columbus, Indiana.  Unfortunately, at some point in the last fifteen years, I have reverted back to playing the shell game, trying to hide the person that I have become.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

At some point in life, whether you call it a mid-life crisis or the painful reality that you’re not the same person that you use to be, this fact is hard to swallow.  Recently, I have tried to go back in time, to see where I went wrong.  When you don’t have the energy, drive or passion anymore, its hard to make progress or fix the flaws that are obviously present in my life.  What makes matters worse is seeing a shell of the person that you used to be and feel powerless to alter, change or repair the damage done.  If you reach this stage in life like me, Jesus is the only one who can mend your pain.  While restoration is a long process with bumps along the way, Jesus is like Med-Express, available at any time you need medical and spiritual attention.  As this endless shell games presses on, reach out to Jesus, who will hold your hand through the storms of life.  May this blog comfort your soul as you endure the good, the bad and the ugly in the shell game called life.

by Jay Mankus

Unwilling

One of my last years serving as a teacher I spent time with a mentor, playing pool in his basement once a month.  While competing in a few friendly games, our conversation turned toward more serious topics.  From time to time, a neighbor came over to join us.  On one occasion this man spoke of his battle with cancer, spending several months at a natural rehabilitation center.  This facility concentrates on altering diets to cure cancer.  Recounting an emotional story, his friend was unwilling to change his eating habits.  This decision led to his death months earlier becoming another victim of cancer,

But the man was saddened at Jesus’ words, and he left grieving, because he owned much property and had many possessions [which he treasured more than his relationship with God], Mark 10:22.

For those who go through life relatively healthy, there’s another decision to consider, what will you devote your life to?  One day a rich young ruler approached Jesus, hoping receive an answer to his spiritual question.  This man believed being good might be enough to get him into heaven.  Jesus exposed his flawed mentality with a three part action plan.  After contemplating Jesus’ words, a spirit of depression consumed this man.  In the end, he was unwilling to let go of his wealth on earth.

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 59 He said to another, “Follow Me [accepting Me as Master and Teacher].” But he said, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.” 60 But He said to him, “Allow the [spiritually] dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and spread the news about the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord [as Your disciple]; but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God,” Luke 9:57-62.

This isn’t the only account of people failing to commit to Jesus’ standards.  A first century doctor recalls a day when three different individuals approached Jesus wanting to be a disciple.  Eager to join Jesus’ ministry team, none of them had the right stuff as each was unwilling to take their faith to extreme measures.  Its easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback by placing yourself into these situations.  However, in the heat of the moment, its hard to know how you respond.  For now, the best thing you can do is mentally prepare yourself for similar situations by asking, “how willing will I be when it counts?”

by Jay Mankus

 

Stop Being Part of the Problem

As a parent trying to become a good father, the words you choose can either ease tensions within your home or you can be part of the problem.  In my earlier years as a dad, I was often quick to respond, sometimes scaring my children with harsh words.  Instead of trying to resolve an issue, I was actually making the situation worse.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

During the first century, parents had a similar problem.  One translation in the Bible uses the expression, “fathers do not exasperate your children.”  Timing, tone and words will either console or enrage young people.  Thus, when you do address a concern, interject an opinion or correct an improper behavior, be cautious that you don’t become part of the problem.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

There’s a saying, “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”  American evangelist Lorenzo Dow used this in his teachings on the theology of election in the early 1800’s.  Depending upon his audience, Dow found himself in a catch 22 situation, appeasing some while offending others.  The same applies today to parents.  Though its vital to train children to discern right from wrong, the method you choose influences the final outcome.  Therefore, be wise in your spoken words or else you will remain part of the problem.

by Jay Mankus

No More Excuses

As a parent, it doesn’t take long for children to figure you out.  Ideally, you should be an example, positive and a role model.  Yet, when you have a bad day, start to fall away from God or have a weak moment you can’t run and hide.  You have to face the truth, a sinner who has fallen short of God’s glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

The apostle Paul is one of those unlikely individuals the Lord calls out of darkness into the light to do great things for God.  Yet, despite his successful earthly ministry, mentoring of young pastors like Timothy and many miracles performed, Paul was haunted by his past.  Whether it was his guilt of giving the order to have the apostle Stephen killed or persecuting Christians prior to his conversion, Paul recognized the error of his former ways.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

Sure, Paul could have blamed his upbringing as a Jewish zealot.  Yet, like other followers of Christ the conviction of the Holy Spirit exposes human imperfections.  Other believers, pastors or words of the Bible make this point painfully clear.  There are no more excuses, rational explanations or scapegoats.  Rather, sins of inaction are just as guilty as those who commit harmful acts.  Therefore, don’t run from the truth, accept it as a prodigal child in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

Where God’s Calling is Clearest

Skeptics will tend to agree with the words of 1 Samuel 3:1, “in those days the word of the Lord was rare.”  If these conditions exist today, how can someone discern or know if it is actually God’s voice calling out?  History provides 5 examples where God’s calling  is clearest.

1. In the Temple of the Lord, 1 Samuel 3:1-18.

Although just a boy, Samuel was raised in the temple.  Since his mentor was a priest, Samuel learned how to approach God, yet had never heard his voice.  On one ordinary night, Eli the priest introduced Samuel to the voice of the Lord.

2. Reading the Word of the Lord, 2 Kings 22:11-13.

Often, God is the first thing people cut from a busy schedule, allowing their Bible to collect dust on a shelf.  Time away from this book slowly reveals a shift in one’s actions, behavior and words.  After hidden for several years, Josiah finds a copy of the Old Testament hidden in a closet.  Astonished by the words he is reading, the king of Judea is moved by God to repent for the sins of his nation.

3. Retreating to a Remote Location, Mark 1:35-39 & 1 Kings 19:9-13.

To flee distractions and interruptions, Jesus regularly began his day in solitude, talking to God the Father.  This enabled the son of God to go where the Lord wanted Him daily.  Meanwhile, most retreat destinations are located in mountains or valleys, isolated from the hectic pace of life.  This atmosphere opens the door to listen for God’s still small voice.

4. Fasting and Worship, Nehemiah 1:4-11 & Acts 13:1-4.

Fasting is the practice of going without food for a set period to seek God’s will in a specific matter.  When you add worship to this equation, the Holy Spirit often opens up doors that were previous locked.  During a worship service, Paul and Barnabas each sensed a clear calling to become missionaries, sharing the good news of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

5. Keeping in Step with the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:26-31 & Galatians 5:25.

Whether you are in God’s house, fasting, praying, reading the Bible, retreating to recharge your spiritual batteries or in a state of worship, these environments provide unfiltered access to the Holy Spirit.  Essentially, this takes faith to the next level, becoming a doer of the word, Matthew 7:24.  Believers should test every voice, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, before accepting God’s calling, Isaiah 6:8.  If you think I’ve left any place out, please let me know under the comment section.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

%d bloggers like this: