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Opening Day 2013

About a month ago, I began to ponder in my mind the message I wanted to communicate to my 11-12 year old baseball team and their parents on opening day.  Since I believe brevity is clarity, I try to say as little as possible, maximizing the power of each word.  Unsuccessful in my initial attempts, the novel idea of praying for wisdom led to form the  invocation I shared today for Greater Newark’s Baseball League’s Opening Day Ceremony.

Not shy about public speaking, last year I was put on the spot after the reverend who was scheduled could not attend, called in from the bullpen to relieve the starter.  With  3 words on my heart, today’s last second notice was not as shocking.  Thus, the theme I wanted to share with just my team, was broadcast to all in attendance, in accordance with God’s will!

The first word God gave me was memories.  Whether a ball player hits a home run, assists in making a double and triple play or makes a game winning catch, these moments in time will be forever etched in a youth’s mind.  No one can take these memories away, brought to recall each time they pass a ball field in life.

This second word has had a much deeper meaning in my life, friendship.  After my 3 children spent 10 years at the same private school, a lost job thrust each into the public school system, scary for any parent, especially in Delaware.  On the first day of his new school, my middle child Daniel came home estatic.  In homeroom, one of his best friends from baseball, Xavier, introduced him several students, making him feel at home.

Finally, the last word the Holy Spirit gave me was legacy.  The game of baseball provides a series of tests, blown calls from umpires to name of few.  Yet, this game teaches great life lessons which can develop character within a child’s life, James 1:4.  Therefore, how you respond to these circumstances dictates the legacy you leave behind: good, bad or ugly.  At the conclusion of the game, when the scoreboard is turned off and the crowds part ways, how will people remember you?  Until this day, play ball!

by Jay Mankus

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The Fireproof Test

Part of any firefighting school involves a basic review of the 4 stages of fire.  Beginning with incipient, fires grow until fully developed, eventually decaying over time due to a lack of energy.  A fire needs 3 components to form: an ignition source, oxygen and a fuel source.  Sparks trigger the initial flame, but the classification of each fire depends upon the amount of fuel which is available and degree of oxygen inside.

From a spiritual point of view, Christians have another test to determine their condition.  As kindling begins to catch, a lukewarm fire is born.  If consistently maintained, a fire can blossom into poppers, bursting out of comfort zones, consuming any liquid or sap within wood.  Once mature, raging fires blaze, spreading from person to person, as new logs are added.  However, if not properly supervised, fires can burn outsiders and lead to flickering embers, prior to dying out.

The Bible contains 3 elements which magnify the amount of spiritual heat a person gives off.  First, one must ask, have you seen the light of God’s Word, Acts 9:1-2, while hearing or reading the Bible?  Second, have you received the life of God’s Spirit, Acts 9:17, ignited and filled by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Finally, have you been compelled to display the love of Jesus, Acts 9:20-22, by sharing your testimony with a person?  This assessment, The Fireproof Test, seeks to ascertain whether or not your faith is on fire.  If your soul is not consumed by a raging fire, may you see the light, rise to new heights and flourish with God’s might!

by Jay Mankus

ps – The inspiration for this blog came after listening to a sermon from James Merritt, founder of Touching Lives, a ministry on TBN.  For music lovers, U2’s The Unforgettable Fire album contains several songs to ignite your journey.

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