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Tag Archives: track and field

Act as An Umpire to Regain Control

The expression umpire is found 5 times in the Bible. One is used by Job in the Old Testament; the other 4 are found in the New Testament. The apostle Paul uses umpire in back to back chapters in Colossians. The first references an individual who abuses their power like a modern day Major League Baseball ump on a power trip seeking to throw out as many players and managers as possible.

Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, Colossians 2:18.

Less than a chapter later, Paul compares an umpire to a first century official at a Track and Field competition. In the off years of the original Greek Olympics, the Corinthian Games gave world class athletes a chance to compete. The context of the passage below refers to someone who maintains control by properly officiating each event. Any judgment call that is made must be backed up by a clear understanding to settle any disputes from a competitor.

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always], Colossians 3:15.

According to the apostle Paul, the ideal umpire is one that allows the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts. When souls are in perfect harmony with the Holy Spirit, Christians will be able to maintain control in a world that tends to spin out of control. When believers think of and see the big picture of the body of Christ, you can stabilize any circumstances and situations that you encounter. Therefore, the next time tempers begin to flare, act as an umpire to regain control of a highly contested situation.

by Jay Mankus

Above and Beyond the Call

The backdrop of the New Testament takes place during the Roman Empire. Unless you were a Roman citizen, you had to do a little extra to get noticed. Scholarly versions of the verse below refer to a practice of impressment by the Roman law on Jews. Therefore, when Jesus urges listeners of the Sermon on the Mount to go the extra mile, this action serves as a plea to go above and beyond the call.

And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two [miles], Matthew 5:41.

As a parents of 2 boys who ran cross country and a girl who does spring track, I haven’t met many teenagers who love to run. There were a few on St. Georges track team that won back to back state titles, but runners appear to be a dying breed. Running is one of those hobbies that you have to work at, requiring discipline, focus, and mental toughness. When asked to run an additional mile, few have the energy to be up for this challenge.

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. 27 But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit], 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

In the passage above, Paul is appealing to athletes and sports fans. As a home of the Isthmian Games, Corinth would host this Track and Field Event every two years. This would run opposite of the ancient Greek Olympic Games. To win at this level of competition requires commitment, dedication, and resolve. The average person is content to do what is asked of them. However, if you want to step up your game, going the extra mile will persuade Christians to go above and beyond the call.

Run with Certainty

After spending 4 years running cross country in high school, my college career lasted a week. The coach who recruited me and spoke at my high school banquet didn’t know my name on the first day of practice. Everything that I thought to be true about my potential in college was a lie. I’ve never been a quitter, but I lost my sense of purpose after 5 days. I didn’t have the energy to even make it on the junior varsity team. I guess you can say I lost that loving feeling for running if there is such a thing.

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary, 1 Corinthians 9:26.

Intramural sports kept me in shape after I gained the freshman 25. I suppose breaking the dorm record by eating 9 cheese steaks in 30 minutes wasn’t such a good idea. Anyway, as my first set of mid-term exams arrived, I used running as a study break to clear my mind. Some nights I took a slow jog around campus. When finals stared me in the face, running became like a break from life. Listening to the sound track to Rocky IV provided me to the adrenaline to fly around campus before returning to my books.

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, Hebrews 12:1.

Thirty years and another fifty pounds later, I have limited my running to the spiritual kind. While eluding to the Corinthian Games, a popular track and field event during the first century, Paul talks about the mindset runners possess. Instead of listening to your body, long distance runners enter a trance like state, focused on what’s ahead while maintaining a steady stride. When you run with certainty, there’s no doubt you’ll cross the finish line. Christian’s don’t leave their old life behind to follow Jesus just hoping to get into heaven. Rather, we run with certainty, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Taking as Many People with You as Possible

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul discovered a passionate group of sports fans.  Instead of modern sports like basketball or football, Corinthians embraced Track and Field as host of a Summer Olympics type of annual event.  Thus, Paul felt compelled to use words in one of his letters that appealed to this culture.  Within 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares evangelism with a race, hoping to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Years earlier, Jesus reveals an interesting concept to his disciples in the passage above.  While speaking about persecution, Jesus provides a heavenly perspective to a common event followers of Christ will encounter.  Human nature tends to make individuals fearful of what other people think of you.  However, Jesus warns the disciples about worrying about the wrong thing.  Rather, be on guard against the Devil, the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, who uses temptation to ensnare souls toward a life in hell, eternally separated from God.

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time, 1 Timothy 2:6.

The Bible is filled with promises about life and the future.  John 3:16-17 reveals why God the Father sent his son Jesus to earth.  Upon completing God’s will for his life on earth, Jesus gave himself up as a ransom, paying the price for the sins of mankind.  This selfless act made it possible for fallen creatures to have a place in heaven, John 14:1-4.  Thus, anyone who makes their eternal reservation, 1 John 5:13, should want to take as many people with you as possible.  May the hope of a new year inspire souls to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15-16 so that the afterlife will serve as a great big family reunion in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

Running with Giants

Prior to the passage below, the members of the Hall of faith are introduced.  Hebrews chapter 11 serves as a summary of the great men and women of faith who have walked the face of the earth.  I guess you can refer to these individuals as spiritual giants.  The context of running likely represents those inspired to follow in the footsteps of these godly people.

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.

Meanwhile, the apostle Paul eludes to a sporting event in his letter to the church at Corinth.  The Corinthians Games are similar to the modern day Summer Olympics with an emphasis on track and field.  Paul is encouraging readers to see the big picture, only one person is victorious per event.  Therefore, run in such a way which glorifies God.

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.

In modern times, there are some who take short cuts to get ahead in life.  These decisions shape your character.  The only problem is if you get away with cutting corners, you might be tempted to continue living on the edge.  Any type of compromise will disqualify you.  Therefore, if you want to start running with the giants of the faith, take the advice of God’s Word.  If you want it enough, developing a daily spiritual regiment will get you in shape to make running with these giants possible.

by Jay Mankus

Listening to the Judge

When Greece was as its mecca, bemas were used, a raised area for a public official who either made speeches from a stepped position or served as a judge for legal cases.  The city of Corinth was the host of the Corinthian Games, an early version of the Olympics.  During track competitions, a bema seat was used to insure no one broke the rules.  The apostle Paul, an avid spectator devotes a portion of one letter to listening to the judge.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

In modern track and field events, judges hold two flags, one that is white and another that is red.  In a relay, white represents a clean hand off.  Meanwhile, if a red flag is raised, a foul has been committed.  Although red means automatic disqualification in races; field events give competitors three chances before being eliminated.  Thus, whether you like the rules or not, if you want to be  successful you must listen to the rules.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:25.

One of God’s greatest qualities is that He doesn’t keep any record of wrongs.  However, just imagine for a moment if a judge was assigned to you daily, holding up a red flag for everyone to see each time you messed up.  This would be extremely embarrassing and make people uncomfortable, especially on a bad day.  Thank God this isn’t the way life has been designed.  Rather, the Lord created free will so that you have every opportunity to listen or to ignore the judge.  Until you cross the finish line, choose wisely by listening to the Judge.

by Jay Mankus

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