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S.A.N.S. Episode 108: Dear Agony

Breaking Benjamin is one of the first groups I discovered from doing searches on You Tube. Breaking Benjamin isn’t a spiritual based rock band, but has produced songs with deep meaning. Such is the case of today’s featured song Dear Agony. The lyrics remind me of letters that I wrote to friends in college as I poured out my heart about what was going on in my life.

For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Lead singer Jackson Burnley IV sings about finding the enemy deep within you while singing Dear Agony. Like any emotional experience that you endure in life. agony has a way of sucking the joy and life out of you. The passage above coincides with Dear Agony as the wages of sin result in death. This is the ultimate form of agony, eternal separation from God. If you’re not sure about the afterlife, remember the words of 1 John 5:12-13 so that you will know for sure about your future.

by Jay Mankus

Wasting the Time God Gives You

Whether you own an alarm clock, phone, or watch, time doesn’t stop when you fall asleep. From the time you get to the time you go to bed; time keeps ticking away. Some days you may be productive while others have too many distractions to get what you want done. Subsequently, you’re either living the abundant life that Jesus promised, John 10:10, or you’re wasting the time that God has given you.

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. 13 And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. 14 And when he had spent all he had, a [g]mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want, Luke 15:11-14.

The Bible uses the expression of sitting down to signal completion. When completing God’s will for His life by dying on a cross, Jesus sat down to be with God the Father in heaven. Yet, many Christians sit down at the end of each day without finishing what the Holy Spirit has called them to do. Subsequently, sitting down often results in wasting the time that God has given you on earth.

For while we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. 11 Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11.

Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a little bit of prodigal spirit within all human beings. For some it’s the temptation of temporary pleasures, others struggle with materialism and people like me have a stubbornness that is hard to let go of. These weaknesses prevent Christians from seizing the moments in each day. Perhaps it’s time to stop wasting God’s time so that you can begin to taste the abundant life which Jesus has promised, John 10:10.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 107: Someone Like You

Twelve Stones is one of the first groups recommended to me by a student in one of my first senior high classes at Red Lion Christian Academy. Twelve Stones combines a classical rock sound with an occasional heavy metal beat. The Behind the Scars album contains a couple of ballads that remind me of secular bands that I listened to in high school.

From now on let no person trouble me [by [l]making it necessary for me to vindicate my apostolic authority and the divine truth of my Gospel], for I bear on my body the [brand] marks of the Lord Jesus [the wounds, scars, and other outward evidence of persecutions—these testify to His ownership of me]! – Galatians 6:17

Someone Like You starts off slow, but transitions into a head bobbing beat. I wouldn’t call this a ballad, but it’s more of a hybrid with a chorus that speaks of finding someone who doesn’t disappoint. From a human standpoint, every day is filled with disappointment as sooner or later someone or something will let you down. This is what makes God special; a supernatural being who saves you from yourself.

by Jay Mankus

The Evidence

After finishing my final exam in college, I was on my way to see a friend play in a tennis tournament. As the light that I was stuck at turned green, I proceeded to enter this intersection when the front on my car was hit by a vehicle running a red light. After getting out of our cars, this man immediately apologized. When the cops didn’t arrive for a while, I told a student eyewitness to go home. As soon as a police officer arrived, this man changed his entire story. The evidence of the skid marks was clearly in my favor, but to the judge I was a college student and the man who hit me was an outstanding citizen.

He who believes in the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] has the testimony [possesses this divine attestation] within himself. He who does not believe God [in this way] has made Him out to be and represented Him as a liar, because he has not believed (put his faith in, adhered to, and relied on) the evidence (the testimony) that God has borne regarding His Son. 11 And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son, 1 John 5:10-11.

On earth, every day someone gets away with a crime, lie, or sinful act. You may be able to fool friends, family, or your peers for a period of time before the evidence is revealed. When light exposes your actions, behavior and choices, you may become like the man who hit me in college, changing his story when the police show up. This painful experience of injustice served as a wake up call to me as a naive Christian. While right doesn’t always prevail initially, the evidence of an afterlife are written with conviction in the Bible.

In the former account [which I prepared], O Theophilus, I made [a continuous report] dealing with all the things which Jesus began to do and to teach Until the day when He ascended, after He through the Holy Spirit had instructed and commanded the apostles (special messengers) whom He had chosen. To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God, Acts 1:1-3.

Luke spoke to individuals who witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ former disciples tells his audience that you can know for sure about your eternal destiny, 1 John 5:12-13. John isn’t wishy washy like a skeptical individual watching an infomercial that sounds too good to be true. Rather John writes as if he just listened to a Tony Robbins motivational podcast, eager to tell others about securing a room in heaven. The Bible is full of evidence, nuggets of truth that will help you find your way home like the bread crumbs Hansel and Gretel left behind to follow when they needed it.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 106: Shout to the Lord

SKA is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s. I went through my own SKA phase back in the early 2000’s. This mixture of big band with American jazz and rhythm and blues appealed to me. Today’s featured song comes from Insyderz which is the first Christian SKA band I was introduced to. The featured song Shout to the Lord was my favorite when I attended Community Services at Willow Creek.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! – Psalm 100:4

The Insyderz version is unlike any that I’ve heard, but it brings back fond memories of worshiping the Lord on Wednesday nights with thousands of people in Chicago. The Book of Psalm is filled with commands to sing and shout to the Lord. When you’re moved by the Holy Spirit, worshiping God can be as exhilarating as dancing. May today’s song inspire you to lift up your voice as you sing to God.

by Jay Mankus

A Spiritual Injunction

An injunction is a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another. The purpose of an injunction is to compel a person to carry out a certain act or to make restitution to an injured party. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples uses injunction in the context of a direct command from God. This spiritual injunction serves as a reminder of how God wants Christians to act, behave and live.

And this command (charge, order, injunction) we have from Him: that he who loves God shall love his brother [[j]believer] also, 1 John 4:21.

In the days following Pentecost in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit began to flow and move through people. The apostle Paul suggests that this spiritual injunction continues today, Galatians 5:25. While spiritual disciplines may be a daily part of your life, sometimes God’s Spirit may urge you to pray for someone. This direct order may include calling a person from your past or reaching out to someone in need. Whatever the injunction, your response should be fueled by love.

All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

King Solomon ends one of his Old Testament letters with something to consider. God will bring every act, behavior, careless word and deed into judgement. In view of this future reality, Christians should fear, revere and worship God. During his farewell address to Israel, Moses urged listeners to invest your time on earth on things that bring life, Deuteronomy 30:15-16. This spiritual injunction from the past serves as a focal point to cherish and love your neighbor.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 105: Born Again

Today’s featured song comes from a Christian rock band which formed in Marietta, Georgia during the 1990s. Third Day is one of those groups with a distinct sound due to lead singer Mac Powell. Mac’s voice is easy to pick out on radio, even if I didn’t know any of the songs from Third Day’s latest album. Nonetheless, Third Day always seem to craft and produce songs inspired by the Bible.

He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5.

The concept behind the song Born Again was introduced in John 3. The author of this book adds assurance to being born again in 1 John 5:12-13. John writes about making your reservations for heaven. This isn’t a dream or a fantasy. Rather, becoming born again, Romans 10:9-11, guarantees Christians a room in heaven that Jesus went ahead to prepare for you, John 14:1-3. May this song touch your heart.

by Jay Mankus

Getting Your Emotions Under Control

One of Israel’s former kings describes time in the context of seasons. Just as Christmas is associated with winter in the northern hemisphere, every month brings with it a series of emotions. In Ecclesiastes 3:4, King Solomon follows sorrow with laughter. Since nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, James 4:13-14, you have to be ready to keep your emotions under control at all times.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, Philippians 4:6.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul touches on mental health. Apparently, members of this church with dealing with a growing amount of anxiety. Rather than try to handle this on your own, Paul encourages Christians to actively pray for the circumstances that are bringing you stress. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by emotions, be thankful for any little victory that you experience daily.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7.

When you create a list of things that challenge your mental health, include these petitions as a daily part of your prayer life. Building on the words of Luke 1:37, the apostle Paul suggests that God has the ability to give you the strength to endure any situation that you face, Philippians 4:13. If you search for the peace of Christ, this tranquil state will enable any believer to get and keep your emotions under control.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 104: To The Mystery

Besides Keith Green, Michael Card is one of the Godfathers of Christian music. Michael Card made his debut in 1981. This was well before national Christian Bookstores spread throughout the United States in the late 80’s and early 90’s. My brother-in-law introduced me to Card’s music while I was a college student at the University of Delaware. Since I still embraced secular music at this stage in my life, it took another decade to appreciate Michael Card’s music.

[For my concern is] that their hearts may be [b]braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively [c]more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One), Colossians 2:2.

Like any type of music, you have to be in a certain mood to listen to songs like To the Mystery. While this tune hasn’t aged well, the lyrics are powerful and make you think about the spiritual concept of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. If God has the power to raise human beings like Lazarus from the dead, the power of the Holy Spirit isn’t so far-fetched. I could have chosen from any one of a dozen songs from Michael to feature, but this mystery is worth sharing with the skeptical and unbelieving. Enjoy.

by Jay Mankus

Fill Up and Complete Your Joy

When a religious person opens the Bible, eyes tend to focus on God’s commands as a giant to do list. This expectation can become overwhelming. Yet, the apostle Paul places the emphasis on improving your spiritual life. When you become wore down by the worries in life, you’re unable to help others as God intended. This is why Paul speaks of filling up and completing your joy to live an abundant life.

A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:3-4.

When I went to fill up my car this week, the price of gas jumped by over 25 cents. This sticker shock placed an unnecessary burden upon my soul. While King Solomon wrote about the swing in emotions that every day brings, too much of one thing is not good. If you set out to fill up and complete your joy as Jesus describes in John 10:10, developing balance in your life is a crucial step to take,

Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention. Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others, Philippians 2:2-4.

As someone who has a history of burning myself out from a lack of balance, if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to help others as God intended. While Jesus devoted his life to serving others, He needed a small support group in the form of 12 disciples to fill up and complete God’s joy. If you don’t currently have a body of believers to share your life with, this void will keep you from filling up with joy. May 2022 be the year where you reach your full potential as you seek the joy promised in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

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