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Tag Archives: professional athletes

Determined in the Spirit

Bent on, committed to, firm about, insistent on and obsessed with are all expressions associated with determined. The actual definition is having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it. Just as professional athletes exhibit determination to become the best in the world, the apostle Paul reached a spiritual maturity that few Christians ever display. Perhaps, Paul received a message from the Lord that his time left on earth was nearing an end. Whatever the reason, the process of becoming determined in the Spirit was conceived.

Now after these events, Paul determined in the Spirit that he would travel through Macedonia and Achaia (most of the Greek mainland), and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome [and preach the good news of salvation],” Acts 19:21.

The best way to comprehend the concept of being determined in the Spirit is by examining a letter Paul wrote to the church at Colosse. This determination is derived from a heart and mind fixated on eternity. Paul didn’t harbor hate for his enemies and spiritual opponents. Rather, Paul crucified his sinful nature by habitually concentrating on things from above, heaven. Each person in the crowds that he preached to were considered lost souls in desperate need of a Savior. This mindset motivated Paul to become driven and determined in the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory, Colossians 3:1-4.

Is it possible to become determined in the Spirit today? Well, a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount provides an easy self-evaluation for you to see if you are on the right track, Matthew 6:19-24. The context of this message is addressing proper and improper attitudes and motives. Depending upon your current spiritual condition, what do you treasure? Luke 12:34 reinforces the notion that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. When hearts embrace temporary treasures, wandering eyes will empower lust to indulge the sinful nature, 1 John 2:15-17. As for me, until I begin to treasure eternal things daily, being determined in the Spirit won’t be achievable until my heart and mind align with God.

by Jay Mankus

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Serve or Be Served… The Latter is More Enticing

When professional athletes struggle to reach their full potential, videos are examined to see what bad habits or flawed fundamentals are present.  Unfortunately, in life most people don’t have film to examine.  Rather, individuals are forced to rely on friends, self reflection or therapists to turn floundering careers around.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap, Galatians 6:7.

One of the forces at work which determines positive or negative results in the Sowing Principle.  What comes around goes around is an earthly way to describe the biblical expression: you reap what you sow.  Essentially, if you serve others, the Lord will honor this decision by sending unexpected blessings in times of need.  Meanwhile, if the idea of being served by others entices you, the rewards for this choice will be temporary; resulting in a permanent void inside of your heart.

“Give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Jesus explains this concept to his followers in the verse above.  In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Jesus uses the imagery of a harvest to illustrate this principle.  Those who are planted within a fertile soil, environment, production increases.  Thus, if you reach a point in life where you are disciplined, grounded and serving others with your God given gifts, it’s possible to experience bountiful blessings.  Yet, if you feed your sinful nature, pursuing selfish desires, temporary pleasures will quickly vanish leaving a trail of heart break.  The choice is yours.

by Jay Mankus

Beware of Public Opinion

While there is usually a hint of truth in every opinion, perspectives can change in an instant.  Professional athletes can be a hero one day and a goat the next.  Politicians can be on the verge of becoming the next president one week and the next treated like road kill, kicked to the curb and buried by the media.  If this isn’t disturbing enough, just post or tweet something politically incorrect and your reputation will be ruined or severely tarnished.

When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live,” Acts 28:4.

Despite the century, jumping to conclusions and first impressions are a part of history.  Just ask the apostle Paul who endured a shipwreck only to become bit by a viper while starting a fire to keep warm.  This led the citizens of Malta to assume Paul was cursed by God, not able to escape justice.  After surviving this poisonous snake’s venom without any ill effects, the tide of public opinion changed.  Days later Paul’s legend grew, like a god.

The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god, Acts 28:6.

I guess the moral of this story is to keep a level head.  Don’t allow the gossip, opinions or rumors which spread daily to influence how you feel.  Rather, mind your own business and try to live a quiet life, pursuing what’s right.  In the end, people will know you by your actions, love and words.  Let God be in the final judge, until that day, press on to do the work that the Lord has created and called you to do on this earth.

by Jay Mankus

Making Yourself Available

In my younger days, I had a hard time saying no to those who asked a favor or needed something done.  Gullible and naive, I thought I had unlimited energy, pressing on to serve others.  When I approached 40, I reached my breaking point, crashing and burning from years of overextending myself.  Subsequently, I have gone into social hibernation, still healing and numb from my last year as a high school teacher.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ, 1 Corinthians 12:12.

By removing yourself from a community, you miss out on the blessings of relationships.  Initially, it feels good to be unattached, flexible to do or go where you want.  However, God created individuals to be in fellowship with one another, sharing burdens, concerns and joys.  Thus, I miss the interaction, joint projects and sense of belonging that friends provide.  Therefore, as I am about to end my Daniel Fast, its time to make myself available once again.

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality, Romans 12:13.

Unlike professional athletes who retire when they have lost their ability to compete, a Christian is suppose to serve for a life time.  The author of Hebrews compares life on earth to a marathon which require perseverance, pacing yourself one day at a time.  Some where along the way, I removed myself from the game of life, sitting in the bleachers ever since.  While I may not have the passion I once possessed, its time to fan into the flame my spiritual gifts.  I’m not sure where this will take me or what I will do, yet I sense the Holy Spirit’s calling, “make yourself available.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Embracing Things That Will Kill You

Every year a story surfaces about a famous athlete who’s professional career comes to an end or is put into jeopardy due to a poor decision.  Whether its being at the wrong place, usually well past midnight, committing a heinous crime or a self-inflicted addiction to a drug, its hard for outsiders to comprehend how someone set for life financially could throw it away overnight.  Unfortunately, former NFL first round draft pick Johnny Manziel may be the next contestant after a TMZ video aired during the Cleveland Browns bye week.  Following a summer in alcohol rehab, Manziel appeared to be on the road to recovery until footage of Johnny at a wild party.  Thus, even grown men embrace things that will kill their dreams.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

You don’t have to be a star athlete to become ensnared by temptations in life.  Some may struggle to control their eating, unable to put down unhealthy food.  Others tend to pursue questionable companions, often resulting in a corruption of character.  Meanwhile, a lack of discipline can allow the devil to gain a foothold in the lives of misguided individuals, going down a road that most fail to escape.  Subsequently, when day turns to night, embracing things that will kill you become a way of life.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it, Matthew 7:13.”

Life is hard enough to endure without any distractions.  However, when you add a co-dependency on a drug, a body starving for nutrition and a peers who encourage you to do whatever you feel like, danger comes a knocking.  If you study the days of Judges in Israel, this is exactly what happened, “doing what’s right in their own eyes.”  When truth becomes skewed, chaos ensues as individuals justify their decision to embrace things that will kill you gradually.  As the line between right and wrong turns to gray, may the Lord help those on the verge of disaster, make a U-Turn toward God before its too late.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Being Well Rounded or Focusing on One Thing?

As I was beginning to concentrate on specific talents that I possessed, most of the advice I received as a teenager was to become well rounded, taking a break from seasonal activities when the season concluded.  While I was experiencing a multitude of hobbies, I noticed that those individuals who focused on one sport began to surpass my own skill level.  Subsequently, I tended to excel at every sport I played except basketball, yet I never reached a great level, just very good.  Modern travel ball clubs and teams are trying to make the cream of the crop into the very best.

Today, nations across the globe are developing gifted professional athletes through a series of cutting edge schools dedicated to one specific concentration.  Although countries like China have taken this to extremes highlighted by the 2012 Summer Olympics coverage, limiting parental visitation to their sports academies, America appears to have fallen way behind the rest of the world.  Instead of indoctrinating students with a well rounded view of political correctness, education should focus on the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic.  Time will tell who is correct.

As I get down off my soap box, my role has changed from the student to the guardian.  It’s my turn to pass the torch to the next generation.  Do I allow my 3 kids to encounter various activities or do I push them toward choosing one thing to invest their time and energy?  Part of me is torn, wanting my children to be exposed to opportunities I never had the chance to participate in.  On  the other hand, you can’t teach passion, so in the end, young people will determine their future based upon the choices each makes.  The last thought I has is this: Do you want to be good at many things or do you want to be the best at one specific thing?  God’s blessings to all in 2014 as you ponder if you want to be well rounded or dedicate your time to one thing.

by Jay Mankus

Look Up; Not Within!

As a coach and teacher, the me, me, me mindset can become tiring.  Former NFL running back Ricky Watters became infamous in Philadelphia following his post game comments, “For who, for what?”  More concerned about his own health than stretching out to make a play, a generation of professional athletes have adopted this motto.  Yet, Psalm 123 provides a different philosophy, looking beyond yourself.

While professional athletes do have a shorter shelf life than blue collared workers, it is the Lord who preserves one’s life, Psalm 123:2.  Although free will does exist, the Lord is ultimately in control, ushering his angels to protect God’s people.  On the other side of the spectrum, naturalism claims truth comes from within.  The attractiveness of this worldview has led many into relying on science and knowledge.

The famous painting known as The School of Athens created by Raphael in the early 16th century articulates this internal battle.  As Plato points toward heaven, affirming the principles of the Bible, Socrates seeks gnosis, a secret wisdom from within.  Today, this debates continues, with public opinion slanting things in Socrates favor.  However, I still believe in the God above, whom calls people to look up, not within!

by Jay Mankus

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