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Tag Archives: seize the day

Appointed and Destined

The term appointed refers to a time or place decided on beforehand. Mainstream education often associates appointed with “white privilege,” not fair to those excluded from this process. Yet, this allotted, designated and pre-ordained time or place is chosen by God. When individuals delay, ignore or reject God’s calling, another is selected like David in 1 Samuel 16 to take someone else’s place.

And I asked, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that is appointed and destined for you to do,’ Acts 22:10.

Sometimes this appointing requires assistance from another person or group. When Saul who became the apostle Paul was blinded by bright lights from heaven, an unidentified person led him by his hand to Damascus. God often uses extreme circumstances to awaken souls to obedience. Subsequently, Saul’s blindness persuades him to become open to accepting Jesus as Lord.

But since I could not see because of the [glorious intensity and dazzling] brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus, Acts 22:11.

The phrase destined for greatness doesn’t always amount to success. Freewill gives human beings the ability to accept, reject and wait to act upon the calling of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul was a rare exception, making the most of his faith in Christ. Sure, each generation will have a Billy Graham to carry it’s spiritual torch. Yet, the only way the appointed fulfill their destiny is daily obeying God by resisting temptation.

by Jay Mankus

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Compelled and Obligated

During a visit thirty miles south of Ephesus, the apostle Paul feels compelled to reach out to nearby church leaders. This desire pushed Paul to summon for elders in Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. Apparently, the Holy Spirit informed Paul that this would be the last time he would see these individuals. Like a sense of duty, Paul does not hold anything back, compelled to give one more inspiration speech.

And now, compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, Acts 20:22.

In the passage above, Paul communicates the connection between being compelled by the Holy Spirit and obligated to follow biblical convictions. Keeping in the step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, requires a drive and urging from God. As the Spirit prompts you to seize the day, making the most of an open door, an opportunity to use your God given talents, your degree of conviction will make the difference. When conviction is lacking, souls will bypass the Holy Spirit to indulge their sinful nature. Thus, many discard, ignore or reject their obligation to follow God’s calling.

So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but not to our flesh [our human nature, our worldliness, our sinful capacity], to live according to the [impulses of the] flesh [our nature without the Holy Spirit]— 13 for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever, Romans 8:12-13.

In a letter to Christians at the church in Rome, Paul uses tough love to reinforce the importance of being compelled and obligated to Christ. Two chapters later, Romans 10:9-10, Paul eludes to those who have believed in their hearts and confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. For those who make this commitment, this public confession requires a transformation from giving into your flesh to living in the power of the Holy Spirit. As believers daily and habitually put to death their sinful deeds, the Holy Spirit compels souls to act via an obligation fueled by biblical convictions.

by Jay Mankus

The Final Season

In 1983 I was an incoming high school freshman eager to participate in a fall sport.  At 100 pounds and five feet tall, I was too small for football.  Concord’s soccer team had just won a state title so nearly one hundred boys tried out to make this team.  Fortunately, our paper boy was a runner, making the sports section of Wilmington’s News Journal after each race.  When I found out the cross country team didn’t cut anyone, I started my first of what I thought would be four seasons.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

While running 5-8 miles a day in the heat wasn’t initially appealing, the individuals on Concord High’s cross country team welcomed me like I was joining a new family.  The aches and pains of running were soothed by loving teammates who accepted me despite my size and stuttering.  As the youngest child of three whose sisters were both in college as I entered high school, cross country quickly became my extended family, caring for one another before and after each race.  What other sport do you find complete strangers hugging one another after a race or holding someone up after collapsing at the finish line so they don’t cramp up.

Someone said to Him, “Look! Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside asking to speak to You.” 48 But Jesus replied to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples [and all His other followers], He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven [by believing in Me, and following Me] is My brother and sister and mother,” Matthew 12:48-50.

This encouraging environment has made me an advocate for cross country.  While serving as a youth pastor in Indiana, I spent Saturday’s cheering on teenagers from my church.  As a former runner, I was able to counsel the disappointed and motivate others to continue to improve.  Running distances from 2.1 to 3.1 miles requires trial and error, going out at various paces to determine the best strategy for each course.  The elite often use large invitationals as throw away races to see how fast they can go out before they die, falling way off the pace.  While watching the Corinthian Games, similar to the Olympics, the apostle Paul writes about mental toughness, pushing your body to the limit to reach your full potential in the passage below.

Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service], 1 Corinthians 9:25-27.

In my final year of teaching, I was fortunate enough to coach my two boys at Red Lion.  The previous coach set up a running club three days a week for elementary students to go along with coaching the junior high team.  This allowed Daniel to run with his older brother James., creating a competitive atmosphere.  Recognizing where I was as a runner at this age, I implemented fun days to keep the casual runner interested, giving 8th graders input to choose a fun practice each week.  Meanwhile, I pushed eager runners toward qualifying for the Yes Athletics National Championships as the East Regional was held an hour south of our school.  Over a 3 year period, I drove runners to nationals at Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.  This experience enabled students to compete against the best runners in the country.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

Over the past 7 years, I have been a cross country parent, watching my two sons run for St. George’s.  Since my daughter Lydia has fallen in love with volleyball, Daniel’s senior year will be my final season attending Cross Country races.  Before I become a volleyball groupie, the reality of saying goodbye to cross country will be sad.  However, I do have a unique opportunity to run in a 5K prior to this fall’s county race known as the Old Timers Race.  Unfortunately, this requires getting into shape and running in the heat.  I haven’t started training yet, but as Daniel’s first race approaches this week, running to various mile marks with serve as  a warm up.  There is an old saying that states “Father Time remains undefeated.”  Yet, God has given me one final season to seize each day that I am blessed to watch my son Daniel complete.

by Jay Mankus

 

Leaving God’s Footprint Behind

The Roman lyrical poet Horace first coined the Latin phrase carpe diem.  When translated into English, carpe diem loosely means to “seize the day.”  This may explain why professor John Keating, a poetry teacher played by Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society references this expression.  When applied to a Christian faith, believers should be focused on leaving God’s footprint behind.

For Barnabas was a good man [privately and publicly—his godly character benefited both himself and others] and he was full of the Holy Spirit and full of faith [in Jesus the Messiah, through whom believers have everlasting life]. And a great number of people were brought to the Lord.  And Barnabas left for Tarsus to search for Saul; Acts 11:24-25.

Luke introduces a man named Joseph in Acts 4:36-37 who developed the nick name Barnabas, “son of encouragement” for his generous donations to the church.  When Jesus’ disciples were skeptical of Saul’s conversion to Christ, it was Barnabas who defended his faith, Acts 9:27.  In the passage above, Luke reveals the secret behind Barnabas’ success, full of the Holy Spirit.  At some point, God called Barnabas to disciple Saul, investing one year of his life to nurture his faith.

And when he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For an entire year they met [with others] in the church and instructed large numbers; and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians, Acts 11:26.

By the time these men left, Antioch became a symbol of God’s footprint on earth.  As members of the church emulated the life and teachings of Jesus, community members referred to this group of believers as Christians.  Today, Professor William Rees is the father of carbon footprints, derived from a paper, Environment and Urbanization, written in 1992.  While Christians should be good stewards of the earth God created, the Holy Spirit is searching for individuals who want to leave behind God’s footprint wherever you go and whatever you do.

by Jay Mankus

The 7 Point Creed

For college basketball fans, March Madness is like Christmas. Over the next three weeks, 68 universities will compete for a national championship. Teams will be whittled down to 16 and 4 during the first 2 weeks of play before a champion is crowned at the conclusion of this event. When it comes to college basketball coaches, one of the greatest of all time is John Robert Wooden. During a 12 year period, Wooden led UCLA to 10 national championships. Behind this great man, there was a 7 point creed which served as his foundation for life.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses], Hebrews 11:1.

A creed is system of belief based upon conviction, faith and personal devotion. The creed listed below was found in an old journal. These life principles allow fans, followers and readers to understand the mindset which made Wooden a legendary coach. Three contain biblical principles: praying, serving others and studying God’s Word. Two are based upon relationships, using your spheres of influence to help others and develop permanent meaningful relationships. One is focused on making sure success doesn’t change who you are as a person. Meanwhile, another is based upon the premise to seize each day God gives you.

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

May the 7 point creed above inspire you to reach your full potential as a human being. While you may exchange, improvise or replace some of these with your own language, putting your faith into action will enable you to ascend to new heights. You may not win a national championship, but with God anything is possible.

by Jay Mankus

Focus on the Opportunities Around You

One of the difficulties in life is learning to cope with, handle and overcome criticism.  Human nature tends to cause individuals to forget the positive aspects of life by dwelling on all the negative things you hear people say about you.  I have had situations at work where I receive a critical email just before I leave for the weekend.  No matter how hard I try, these words eat away at my soul, often ruining my days off.

Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:16.

According to the apostle Paul, evil is displayed in various forms every day.  Sometimes this demonstrated through corruption, immorality, sarcasm and ungodly acts.  While these events are a harsh part of reality, you have to make the best of each day God gives you.  Therefore, at some point you have to cast your cares, concerns and worries at the feet of Jesus via prayer, Matthew 11:28.  Then and only then will you be able to focus on the opportunities around you.

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in, Galatians 6:9.

Using his missionary journeys as an example, the apostle Paul didn’t always have positive encounters with an unbelieving world.  Yet, Paul realized that one trip wasn’t enough as several cities were somewhat receptive, but needed more convincing.  Thus, if you are thinking about giving up, press on so that all your dedication, prayers and service will not be deserted in vain.  The more you begin to focus on the opportunities around you, the Holy Spirit will give you the resolve necessary to reap a spiritual harvest in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Maximizing the Moment

Time can be a friend or a foe.  Timing can be on your side or about to run out on the next Cinderella.  As a new year approaches, I have been pondering the best strategy to maximize each moment.  The apostle Paul provides advice to take advantage of the days you are given on this earth.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:15-16.

If you want to practice Carpe Diem, “seize the day,” a careful examination is necessary.  Reflecting each night before you go to sleep can help individuals determine how well or poorly your time was spent.  Paul uses the word walk, referring to how you invested your time.  What did you do, say or which opportunities did you let slip away?  This daily self evaluation serves as a method to improve your use of time in the future.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:17.

The second aspect you must consider is God’s will for your life.  Are you doing what God created you to do or have you been wandering in the wilderness, not sure what to do or where to go next?  Ascertaining God’s will brings purpose and meaning to life, enabling you to begin to maximize each moment.  Sure, there will be detours, dead ends and rock blocks that you will face, but those who discover God’s will often press on to the end.  May 2018 be the year God’s Holy Spirit opens your eyes, Galatians 5:25, to find your place in this world so that maximizing the moment becomes reality.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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