RSS Feed

Tag Archives: running

S.A.N.S. Episode 111: Only After You

I stumbled upon Sixteen Cities a decade ago shortly after I lost my teaching position. Sixteen Cities provides a good blend of ballads with contemporary worship. While this group began in Portland, Oregon, Sixteen Cities is now based in Dallas, Texas. When I was working maintenance, cutting acres of grass weekly, Sixteen Cities kept me company. Only After You quickly became one of my favorites.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

When I recently listened to the lyrics of Only After You, the image provided by the apostle Paul in the passage above came to mind. As a former high school coach, most athletes don’t like to run. Rather than run in circles around a track, chasing after God’s will for your life provides a greater purpose. While you may not have a clue about God’s will, the more you run with God, the clearer this path will become. I hope you enjoy this classic song.

by Jay Mankus

The Walkers Prayer

From 1983 to 1986, I ran over 1,000 miles on grass and pavement. Over the summer to prepare for the upcoming Cross Country season, I averaged running 30 miles per week with 150 miles for months when I felt ambitious. After a friend from college introduced me to a section of Psalm 18, I turned this verse into a prayer before I went for a jog. Yet, the context of the passage below is based upon a shepherd approaching rocky terrain. These words serve as a prayer to avoid twisting an ankle as you walk.

For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect? – Psalm 18:31-32

Following a reconstructive surgery on my ankle during my junior year of high school, I was forced to wear a soft cast for five years. Whether I was going to school, off to practice or heading off for a run, this cast took a couple of minutes to slip on and tie the laces to secure my ankle. Before I finished tightening up this cast, I often said a silent prayer to God to protect my ankle from any major contact. If I ever overextended myself following my surgery, my left sock was soaked in blood at the end of the day.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places, Psalm 18:33.

There was a time when I took walking for granted. As a teenager and gifted athlete, I never thought about twisting my ankle unless I was going hiking on rocky terrain. Yet, my accident while running and subsequent surgery has forced me to place my faith and trust in the Lord whenever I go for a walk. If you do claim Psalm 18:33 as the Walkers Prayer before going outside, I can’t guarantee that you won’t slip. However, as you approach dangerous terrain, look down and watch each step so your feet are secure.

by Jay Mankus

Watch Your Step

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded in 1971. Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to help protect the Nation’s workers on the job. This bill led to the creation of OSHA one year later to set and regulate safety standards. OSHA is the reason why signs like Watch Your Step exist today. Unfortunately, when the government is allowed to micromanage every step you take at work, human beings aren’t able or allowed to freely exercise common sense.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[f]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same ([g]identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world, 1 Peter 5:8-9.

I don’t see myself as clumsy, but I sure do find my share of dips, holes, and roots that I trip over and fall into every month. When I was 16, falling into one particular hole altered my athletic career and changed my life. I was running cross country against the two boys that finished one two in the state meet my senior year. This hole was hidden by a pile of leaves, making it invisible to me. Just behind the lead pack with a mile to go, I twisted my ankle, kept running and ripped my ankle bone out of its socket.

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. 18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law, Galatians 5:16-18.

Following my surgery, I was forced to wear a soft cast for 4 years to protect my ankle. While I did recover physically, I never reached my full potential as an athlete. In college I stumbled upon Psalm 18:33 that I turned into a prayer every time that I went running. This one incident makes me cautious every time I visit a park. Watch your step has a new meaning to me as I have suffered the consequences of talking a bad step. If you want to avoid future holes and pitfalls in life, incorporate these verses into a daily prayer.

by Jay Mankus

What a Spiritual Journey Encompasses

While a Christian’s faith begins with a public confession, Romans 10:9-11, the journey that follows is a life-long commitment. One New Testament author compares this to running a marathon in Hebrews 12:1-2. Yet, the apostle Paul provides an accurate description in the passage below of what a spiritual journey encompasses. This comes in the form of a prayer request so that Christians in Colosse reach their full potential.

For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [[g]special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the [h]full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [[i]in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things—Colossians 1:9.

Part of this journey involves discovering your own spiritual gift, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Until these talents are manifested and or unveiled, you probably won’t know the direction or path to take in life. Perhaps, this is why the apostle Paul spent so much time praying for clarity, knowledge and understanding for God’s will in life. Unlike Dorthy who had a yellow brick road to lead her and her friends to Oz, the Holy Spirit is an invisible guide for Christians on this journey of faith.

That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and [j]desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, [k]acquaintance, and recognition]. 11 [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, Colossians 1:10-11.

Yet, when everything comes together and the stars align, God’s goal is for Christians to conduct your life in a manner worthy of the Lord. In a letter to a teenager pastor, Paul calls this leader to fan into flame his gifts. Go forth and fulfill what God has called you to do in life. While I long to become a screenwriter in Hollywood, for now God is calling me to post a blog every day so that you may know what a spiritual journey encompasses.

by Jay Mankus

An Essential Part of the Process

Part of the current defund the Police movement is based upon removing discipline from America’s Justice System. Yet, as a former high school teacher, once you remove discipline from a classroom chaos ensues. As District Attorneys in major cities across the country continue to lessen the penalties for breaking the law, this has given birth to a Smash and Grab mentality. When major retailers have given up on certain unsafe locations, this highlights that discipline is an essential part of the process in life.

You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? – Hebrews 12:7

Whether you’re a coach, friend, parent or teacher, disciplining anyone isn’t easy. Proper discipline requires consistency and an immense amount of energy. If the person you are trying to help is defiant and not teachable, you’ll find yourself emotionally drained. Yet, when you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, this will likely hinder any progress that you’ve made in helping this individual. Tough love is difficult to display, but it is an essential part of the path to recovery.

Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all], Hebrews 12:8.

The author of Hebrews compares life to running a marathon, filled with unexpected detours and obstacles along the way. Whenever you’re running, if it’s too hot, you may have to shed various layers of clothing along the way. Over the course of life, people tend to collect and gather unnecessary possessions that can weigh you down over time. Discipline may be used to help you distinguish what’s important from what you no longer need. In the end, parents resort to discipline to shape and train children into the people God wants them to become making this painful exercise an essential part of the process.

by Jay Mankus

The Desire to Become Part of a Greater Cause

I’m the youngest of three with two older sisters, four and five years apart. Because of this age difference, I wasn’t big enough to be included in our neighborhood games. I spent the first 10 years of my life sitting on the sidelines, watching everyone else have fun. When my father got transferred to Delaware, most of the new neighborhood was my age. Despite a severe speech impediment, I found solace in playing board games, sports and video games with kids who became like a second family.

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

When high school arrived, I joined a sport that I was told no one ever gets cut, Cross Country. Like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, I became a running fool. While the actual act of running was brutally hard, the friends that I made during these 4 years was unlike anything I have ever experienced. One of my favorite memories was going on a long bus ride to Killens Pond State Park to compete in my first ever running invitational. To represent Concord and run for my teammates made me feel part of a greater cause for the first time in my life.

Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, [a]extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same. And there are distinctive varieties of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [Who is served]. And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

After my sophomore year of college, I was invited to attend a church service where one of my mentors was speaking. Little did I know that joining this small service of about 20 people, I felt an instant special connection with this church body. Despite meeting inside the entrance of a local high school for 2 years, I felt called to become baptized and to start the process of joining Cornerstone Church. This wasn’t just a neighborhood or a school group, but a body of believers that allowed me to become part of a greater cause to share the love of Jesus throughout Delaware. May you find the same joy that I found in my earlier years.

by Jay Mankus

Pace Yourself

I possess one of those addictive personalities where I tend to follow an all or nothing mindset. When I become passionate about something, I develop the “eye of the tiger” fueled by an intensity to accomplish whatever I set my mind to do. Unfortunately, emotional excitement doesn’t last forever. Subsequently, when I don’t pace myself, I often crash and burn before experiencing the thrill of victory.

Be strong (confident) and of good courage, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go, Joshua 1:6-7.

As Israel began to prepare to enter into God’s promised land, Joshua provides advice for spiritually pacing yourself. Joshua suggests that courage can be conceived from reading the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible which were available to the Levitical Priests. As you begin to live in the pages of the Bible, don’t turn away, drift or stray from God’s commands. As you begin to practice keeping the Sabbath holy, pacing yourself is possible.

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success, Joshua 1:8.

Whether you’re running or trying to endure the hectic schedule of a busy work week, meditating and reflecting upon biblical principles will help your sanity. Meanwhile, Joshua suggests that those who maintain a daily time of Bible Study will become prosperous and successful. As you learn to set the spiritual pace for believers to follow, the example that you display daily will inspire others to observe and practice spiritual disciplines.

by Jay Mankus

What a Special Friend Can Do for You

Before the Coronavirus spread to the United States in the March of 2000, my daughter Lydia was thinking about ending her Pole Vaulting career. The 2020 Winter Track Season was blah; not progressing at pole vaulting or meeting any new friends. As a Field Event specialist, not part of any running events, it’s hard to experience the sense of being part of a team. This all changed when Lydia met Bree at the 2020 Winter Track State Meet.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Instead of dreading track, this instant friendship has transformed my daughter’s perspective of this sport. Bree has been like a big sister, introducing Lydia to everyone in the pole vaulting community. In her first two seasons, Lydia enjoyed pole vaulting, but she could live without it. Now that my daughter has been welcomed by the local pole vaulting community, a new desire to improve was conceived. When a special friend enters your life, these individuals take you to new heights, often pushing you closer toward self actualization.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:13.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon distinguishes the difference between having several acquaintances and a special friend. Genuine friends stick around when everyone else tends to leave during times of hardship. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to the sacrifices that friends make with the greatest being laying down their own life. We all need special friends like Bree. Looking back, if it wasn’t for Bree, Lydia probably would not have broken her school record which she now holds by herself at 9’6″.

by Jay Mankus

A Deep and Clear Knowledge of God’s Will

The only thing on earth comparable to uncovering a deep and clear knowledge of God’s will is preparing your body for a triathlon. As a former runner and swimmer, I spent two winters in high school pushing my body to it’s limits. Since my practice schedule rotated with the girl’s team, every other day I would run before swimming. As it got colder, my hair would freeze when I ran after my two hour swim practice. Meanwhile, each summer I would take my boys on long bike trip, somewhere between 10-15 miles. Trying to walk after getting off your bike is hard enough, but finishing a triathlon with a long run takes everything you have just to finish.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

In a letter to the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul suggests that discovering God’s will for your life is attainable. However, you must develop the right mindset to make this a reality. Whenever I get lost in the world, filled with countless temporary pleasures, God’s will is put on hold. As a prodigal returns back home to the Lord, rededicating your life back to the Lord isn’t easy, especially when temptations begin to bombard you. Paul compares this with rigid daily disciplines as individuals offer their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Yet, this is just the initially step before God’s will becomes clear and visible.

For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things—Colossians 1:9.

While writing to the members of the Church at Colosse, Paul shares a brief outline of his prayers. Paul doesn’t want this church to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years like Israel waiting to enter God’s Promised Land. Rather, Paul wants these leaders to begin to ascertain their spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, so that these talents can be put into action, 2 Timothy 1:6. As these God given abilities are brought to light, a glimpse of God’s will for your life comes into focus. Yet, this process often takes years, decades and a lifetime to uncover. If you want to adopt Paul’s prayer for your own life, start this journey today so that a deep and clear knowledge of God’s will is unveiled to you soon.

by Jay Mankus

Run into the Tower

As a former runner, my high school cross country coach used a series of different techniques to get our team into shape at the beginning of each season. One of my favorites is known as fartlek training. This intermixes walking, jogging, and sprinting. Depending upon the group you were placed in, the leader with a stop watch sets the pace and gives the command to switch every 2 to 5 minutes. Starting with power walking soon transitions into a steady jog until you go all out, as fast as you can go, until this cycle is repeated several times.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong, Proverbs 18:10.

King Solomon uses the Hebrew word לרוץ at the end of the passage above. Solomon could have used הליכה to command his children to walk into God’s strong tower. Another option was to זה מה שאני עושה, by elevating the sense of urgency to a jog. Rather, Solomon doesn’t want people to be apathetic or distracted. Thus, when you find yourself surrounded by a world filled with darkness, run toward to the Lord’s strong and safe tower. This level of urgency is found in those who are upright and in right standing with God.

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as a high protecting wall in his own imagination and conceit, Proverbs 18:11.

Unfortunately, the gifted, talented, and wealthy often exchange God’s tower for a high wall that they build on their own. Solomon compares this type of person with conceited individuals who possess a great imagination. The apostle Paul refers to a similar character flaw in Galatians 6:7. While things may go well for you for a while, those who trust in themselves will eventually become worn out by living outside of God’s strong tower. In view of this spiritual reality, run into God’s tower.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: