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Tag Archives: Liberty University

Handing off the Baton

In a track relay race, participants need to hand off a baton between a set distance.  Individuals may drop this and still continue, but if anyone wander outside of their lane judges can disqualify an entire team.  During the 2016 Rio Olympics, the United States woman’s 400 x 100 team failed to finish after dropping their baton.  However, after a video review, a replay revealed another woman in an adjacent lane caused this drop to occur.  Thus, the woman were allowed to re-qualify following an appeal, going on to win the gold medal.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

In life, some compare passing off a baton to raising children like Dr. Jeff Myers in his book Passing the Baton.  At some point, parents have to let go, knowing they have done all they could do with the time given.  Yet, if you are like me, there are some regrets.  There were conversations I didn’t have, issues I didn’t properly address and life lessons I didn’t impart.  Nonetheless, what’s done is done.  I can’t change the past.  All I can do is learn from my mistakes and do a better job with my last 2 kids before they leave for college.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart, Proverbs 29:17.

Upon dropping my son James off to college, I thought came to my mind, “its time to trust the Lord.”  Sure, as long my oldest resides in my home, I’m still responsible to encourage and nurture his faith.  Yet, the best thing I can do is pray that the faculty and staff of Liberty University challenges James and pushes him to new heights.  While nothing in life is guaranteed, I am holding out hope that the Christian influences at this institution will lead James to discover his calling on earth.

by Jay Mankus

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Savor the Moments

As a parent, I have a tendency to fast forward to the future.  It’s natural to want to skip diapers, the terrible twos and questioning stage.  Yet, if you avoid these difficult phases, its hard to appreciate the little things in life.  Thus, as my oldest son James starts his freshman year of college at Liberty University in the fall, all I can do is savor the moments.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” – Luke 10:40

Most people fall into one of two categories, possessing a personality like Mary or Martha.  Martha’s tend to be worry warts, usually serious, struggling to slow down.  Thus, in the passage above, Martha’s tunnel vision prevents her from enjoying Jesus’ visit.  Frustrated by the lack of concern by her sister, Martha’s words are played out in countless households daily.  Unfortunately, this character flaw steals the joy Martha should possess at this moment.

But few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:42.

Those of you who are carefree tend to fall into the Mary category.  Sure, she might not be task oriented like her sister, but she longs for conversations.  Eager to find out where Jesus has been, the people he’s met and progress the ministry has made, this explains the compliment Mary receives.  Although it may be difficult to alter your personalty, you don’t want to miss out on the blessings God has in store for you.  Therefore, with the help of the Holy Spirit, may you learn to savor the moments.

by Jay Mankus

 

Graduating on to the Next Phase in Life

Commencement refers to the time when something begins.  Thus, every spring colleges and high schools hand out degrees and diplomas for completing a required set of courses.  After these ceremonies end, its time for individuals to begin their next phase in life.  Subsequently, as my oldest son graduates today its time for James to prepare himself for Liberty University and possibly a spot as a pole vaulter at the Division 1 level.

When Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom, Luke 2:42.

One of the 4 gospels suggests Jesus celebrated a bar-mitzvah after becoming a teenager.  The Jewish faith continues this tradition today, giving young men and women an opportunity to publicly share what they have learned about the Torah.  Thus, Jesus was able to teach about the Word of God at the synagogue for the first time in Luke 2.  However, Jesus waited 17 more years before beginning his three year ministry on earth.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Perhaps, the apostle Paul was reflecting upon his own bar-mitzvah in the passage above.  Regardless of the context, modern churches offer those who seek the Lord a chance to complete their confirmation.  Essentially, this year long process or longer in some denominations, encourages boys and girls to take ownership of their faith.  At the end of this process, like graduation, its time keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  Whether someone is going off to college, participating in a mission trip or starting a new career, the time has arrived to graduate on to the next phase in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

On October 21st, the 2015 World Long Driving Champion was crowned on the Golf Channel.  However, there was one competitor who should have been there, but God had another plan.  One of my former students, the starting center fielder for Liberty University at the time, began to dabble in long drive competitions.  During a round I played with Joseph, he drove over the first green, a 380 yard par 4.  On the second hole, his tee shot plugged by the 150 marker on a par 5.  Joseph Feeley was destined to contend for this championship, but the Lord took him home before ever finishing college.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king, Daniel 3:17.

Another friend had just received a full time job at a local university.  This meant his daughter’s final two years of tuition would be free along with an opportunity to complete his masters.  After years of frustration, things were finally coming together.  Then, out of the blue, within a two day period, my Christian brother lost his job and father to a heart attack.  In the weeks and months that followed, one of his initial thoughts was “what did I do to deserve this?”

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” – Daniel 6:16

When Daniel was thrown to a lion’s den, I wonder what was going through his mind?  On their way to being thrown into a fiery furnace, did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego second guess their decision not to bow down and worship the god of Nebuchadnezzar?  At some point during a trial, human nature is bound to cause individuals to question God?  In the end, time is the great equalizer, providing insight to the how’s and why’s.  Yet, nothing is guaranteed, a waiting game until your last breath.  Thus, the next time you experience heartbreak hotel, seek the Lord for comfort, peace and understanding.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Class to Remember

Over the weekend I made my first venture down to Lynchburg, Virginia to see my niece graduate from Liberty University.   As I listened to Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker address the commencement crowd, I pondered about the hundreds of students I taught in high school over a decade.  After a couple of minutes I was drawn to a class to remember.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”- Acts 17:5

Every so often a teacher encounters a classroom full of angels.  While each may be rough around the edges, inside hearts of gold set the tone for a special connection.  Back in 2005-2006, I had the pleasure to create my first Bible elective: Biblical Leadership.  Little did I know back then that those 13 individuals would make such an impact for God’s kingdom.

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. – Romans 4:20-21

One of these students, Joseph Feeley went home to be with the Lord after a courageous battle with cancer.  Prior to this diagnosis, I was introduced to this warrior for Christ.  Joseph inspired his classmates to transform the spiritual climate at Red Lion Christian Academy.  Daily discussions turned into slices of heaven on earth as each student spurred one another on to leave a legacy of faith.  Although only 12 remain living today, I will always treasure the year I spent with this class to remember.

by Jay Mankus

 

Oppression vs. Possession

One of the major theological debates in churches today revolve around the presence of demons within believers.  The Bible reveals that those who are filled with the Holy Spirit can not become possessed by a demon or foreign spirit, Romans 8:9-15.  Yet, skeptics make a valid argument when they ask, “if this is true, how do you explain the sin and violent acts committed by Christians?”

To honestly address this question, the concept of spiritual oppression arises.  The context of oppression refers to situations when a follower of Jesus is affected or influenced by an undetected force.  Matthew 16:23 is one of the best examples of oppression as Peter’s mind becomes poisoned by a worldly mindset.  Later on in Acts 5:1-11, Peter believed Satan could enter someone’s heart.  If these things happened to leaders, how often does this occur within an average church goer?

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Jesus uses the parable of weeds to further the notion of oppression.  Matthew 13:24-26 illustrates how Satan can plant seeds while the church is sleeping.  This likely explains why the apostle Paul is so adamant about your thought life.  According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul urges fellow believers to take their thoughts captive, making each idea and image obedient to Christ.

Former Liberty University professor David Appleby and Dr. Ed Murphy have discovered the difference between oppression and possession is often interrelated.  Case studies, research and personal encounters by each of these men have brought some light to this taboo topic.  As progress continues in this area of spiritual warfare, maybe one day the church will be more open to this serious matter.  For now, anyone who desires to walk the less traveled road, Matthew 7:13-14, must put into practice Matthew 26:41 to ward off the daily schemes of the evil One, Ephesians 6:11.

by Jay Mankus

Cracked Mirrors

Before the popular video game, Halo was actually a Christian Metal band from Alabama, named after the acronym Heavenly Angelic Light Orchestra.  Relatively unknown for a decade touring in the south, Halo received national attention in 1991 with their song entitled My Buddy.  This songs illustrates how a son seeks to emulate their father like a mirror.

My buddy sees believing
my buddy sees before
and my buddy is a mirror
hanging on the wall
my buddy sees beside him
and my buddy hears the talk
and my buddy will see Jesus
lead me as i walk

(2nd stanza)

Unfortunately, what children often hear and see from their parents is life altering.   Abuse, abandonment, affairs and hypocrisy are just a few factors which have left cracked mirrors for children to put back together.  According to The Gospel Coalition, divorce rates among Christian families vary depending upon an individual’s dedication to God.  Among those families most devoted to Christ, divorces rates are roughly 20%.  On the other hand, those who relationships with Jesus waver, divorce rates can approach 60%.  According to a former Liberty University case study, the families that pray together stay together with 1 out every 1,024 praying couples divorcing.

Although this number is encouraging, cracked mirrors are swaying high school students to abandon their faith in college.  Several studies are revealing 60% of evangelical students put their faith on hold while attending college and nearly 50% never return to church following graduation.  When parents, myself included, send a mixed message to our children, living a fully devoted life for Jesus doesn’t appear or seem worth their time or energy.  The apostle Paul provides a solution for these shattered mirrors in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12.  Parents must begin to put aside their childish ways and begin to act like mature followers of Christ, Ephesians 5:1-2.  Jesus is the glue which can restore our cracked mirrors.

by Jay Mankus