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Tag Archives: the pursuit of happiness

Fitness for the Soul

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, there were 41,370 fitness centers in the United States. Depending upon where you live, most of these local gyms are in walking distance or less than 10 miles from where your reside. Whether you prefer exercise bicycles, treadmills or lifting weights, if you want to get in shape prices often range from $10-20 per month. If you need a friend to hold you accountable, most facilities often a special rate for guests. If you can’t afford this, there are always local parks with fitness trails with detailed instructions to follow for you to remain fit.

For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

In his first letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul wanted Timothy to not get caught up in physical fitness. While exercise is needed to stay in shape, fitness for your soul is much more important in the long run. Paul ends his first letter to Timothy with an illustration of what spiritual fitness resembles, 1 Timothy 6:11. The pursuit of happiness is an honorable quest, but fitness for the soul begins by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Along the way, fight the good fight as you strive to emulate Jesus.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

The author of Hebrews adds a different dimension to fitness for the soul in the passage above. As you work out physically and spiritually, remember the advice passed on to you by former coaches, mentors and teachers. If parts of your life begin to spin out of control, unload everything that is tripping you up or weighing you down. As you do this, keep your eyes focused on the cross since when runners get tired, the first thing that occurs is that heads slouch, forcing eyes to stare at the ground. If you keep your eyes fixed on the finish line, God will give you the vision to maintain fitness for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

As Is Verse Could Be; Should Be

During my time attending a youth ministry trade school known as Tentmakers, a specific mindset was ingrained within me.  Instead of being task oriented, the curriculum stressed the importance of developing vision.  Subsequently, individuals must be realistic with their current position, the As/Is before reaching a desired destination, the Could Be/Should Be.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

According to C.S. Lewis, success is the process of arriving.  Unfortunately, many people go through life thinking if I only achieve this position, salary or status, then happiness will be achieved.  This belief sets people up for failure, rarely taking time to celebrate the little accomplishments in life.  Those few who actually reach the summit, mountain top, may be unfulfilled pondering, “is this it?”

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

To insure disappointment does not come knocking at the door, perhaps it may be beneficial to begin thinking about life in terms of As/Is, Could Be/Should Be.  While any type of change will take time to adopt and conform to, motivation in 2017 is still fresh.  Therefore, don’t waste the opportunity to transform your ways in the New Year.  Enjoy the journey with vision as your guiding light and the Lord the wind beneath your wings.

by Jay Mankus

The Human Spirit

When someone refers to the human spirit, they are usually talking about a combination of the heart, soul and mind.  While the heart is the life source of the body, the mind regulates our mental state.  Yet, the soul is the essence of human beings, setting one person apart from the next.

The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being, Proverbs 20:27.

According to Solomon, the human spirit is like an internal light that highlights who you are.  This lamp reveals what is in your heart.  This reflection comes out in the form of words.  If you are wounded by individuals in your past, your vocabulary will reflect this.  Subsequently, hurt people will hurt other people.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them, Matthew 15:18.

This built up angst is what defiles people according to Jesus.  Its no wonder that King Solomon urges Israel to guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.  The apostle Paul takes this concept one step further in Colossians 3:1-3, to set your heart and mind on things above.  If you want to preserve the human spirit, these instructions are vital to maintain health, life and the pursuit of happiness.

by Jay Mankus

Who Should I Believe?

Technology may enhance some aspects of life while destroying others.  Prior to personal computers, the media held the news in its own hands.  Today, blogs, cell phone cameras/videos and you tubes allow the public make the news or go back in time to see if what is being presented is accurate.  Thus, this cultural shift is making the nightly news and print journalism obsolete.  However, you still have to decide, “who should I believe?”

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me,” John 14:1.

A good friend recently visited the church in Charleston, South Carolina where nine Christians were shot to death during a Bible Study.  This up close and personal view gave a different perspective than media’s typical spin cycle.  The congregation was welcoming, full of love and yet still hurting, struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones.  This unique access confirms that I am more likely to believe a friend than a stranger on television.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” John 20:29.

Nonetheless, often you don’t have an option, relying on second and third hand information.  During the Dark Ages, Christians didn’t own a Bible of their own, forced to trust the interpretation of a local priest.  Today, doubting souls can open this book for themselves, investigating matters on their own.  While commentaries, religious leaders and scholars provide their own beliefs, eventually everyone will have to make up their own minds.  May the Holy Spirit guide you as you make this important decision about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

by Jay Mankus

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