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S.A.N.S. 308: A Christmas Medley

The term melody if a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying. However, as spontaneous worship montages have grown in popularity throughout churches across the country, it’s not uncommon for musicians to blend the end of one song with the start of another. This is what the Red Rock Worship team has accomplished in their featured selection: A Christmas Medley. A medley is the most common form of overture for musical theatre productions.

And listen! You will become pregnant and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great (eminent) and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His forefather David, Luke 1:31-32.

When I was younger, my musical tastes were secular in nature, always standing up for my favorite bands of the 1980’s like Boston, the Cars, the Police and U2. However, my college roommate Mike opened my mind to worship music. While most students at Delaware were out partying, Mike and I sat out in lawn chairs in our front yard Friday night listening to Christian music and talking. May listening to A Christmas Medley get your soul ready to worship Emmanuel, God with Us.

by Jay Mankus

The Third Child is a Charm

The origin of the expression the“ third times a charm ” dates back to the 17th century in Great Britain. Likely based upon their spiritual heritage and knowledge of the Bible, the English believed the number “3” was lucky, bestowing fortune on a person when they encountered it in their life. This couldn’t be more evident when you consider the third boy mentioned in the Bible. While Jude mentions that Enoch was seven generations from Adam, the rest of Adam’s descendants are skipped by Moses, Jude 1:14.

And Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain; and she said, I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord. And [next] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground, Genesis 4:1-2.

The first child born to Adam and Eve was Cain which means “I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord.” This help was followed by Abel who went on to become a successful shepherd before his life was cut short, murdered by Cain. Despite receiving harsh punishment from the Lord, Moses does mention his family lineage beginning in Genesis 4:17. Cain was allowed to have a wife who gave birth to Enoch. Beside Jesus, Enoch was the godliest human being to walk the face of the earth.

 [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking. Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God, Hebrews 11:4-5.

Two of the first three boys mentioned in the Bible end up in the Hall of Faith. While Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6 receive most of the headlines in sermons, the passage above highlights the faithful nature within Abel and Enoch. As a parent who understands the power of prayer, I’m sure Cain’s daily prayer for Enoch and his other children was to avoid the same errors, mistakes, and sins he committed. Rather than write a book like Proverbs, Cain invested his remaining days on earth to become a godly father. May the story of Cain and Enoch inspire you to not give up on your own children, intervening daily like the persistent widow in Luke 18.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 307: O Holy Night

Rush Limbaugh introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller as it was one of his favorite groups to play on his radio show every Christmas season. O Holy Night was one of the Carols my parents church in Ohio would sing annually as part of their midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The service began at 10:30 p.m. with singing the first half hour. Following this time of worship, a tradition Catholic Mass lasted an hour as the final hymn ended right around midnight every year.

Now in the sixth month [after that], the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 To a girl never having been married and a [v]virgin engaged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [[w]endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! [x]Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women! – Luke 1:26-28.

Before moving to Cleveland, I focused on the commercialism and gifts that I received Christmas morning. Yet, this 90-minute service every Christmas Eve helped turn my attention away from what was waiting for me under a tree at home and toward that holy night more than 2000 years ago. As you listen to today’s feature song O Holy Night, may the lyrics help prepare your heart to make room for Jesus this season and throughout 2023.

by Jay Mankus

When You Think God is Done With You

Human nature has a way of viewing God like a strict disciplinarian who forbids any moments of having fun. According to the apostle Paul, this flawed mindset is hostile toward God, Romans 8:5-8. This is one of many ungodly beliefs that the father of all lies places into your thought life, John 8:44. Subsequently, when you blatantly since against the Lord in one form or another, you may come to the conclusion that God is done, finished with you. This is how Cain felt after killing his younger brother Abel.

And [the Lord] said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed by reason of the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s [shed] blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth [in perpetual exile, a degraded outcast], Genesis 4:10-12.

Besides dealing with the curse placed upon his father Adam in Genesis 3:17-19, Cain was forced to live as a vagabond, spending the remainder of his days on earth in perpetual exile as a social outcast. Surely, God was finished with Cain based upon his reckless act of disobedience to erase the source of his jealousy. However, this isn’t the end of this nightmare. According to Moses, Cain was allowed to marry and have children.

So Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod [wandering], east of Eden. 17 And Cain’s wife [one of Adam’s offspring] became pregnant and bore Enoch; and Cain built a [f]city and named it after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael the father of Methusael, and Methusael the father of Lamech, Genesis 4:16-18.

Long the days before King Solomon who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, Cain didn’t need to write a book like Proverbs to warn his first son Enoch of all his careless mistakes of the past. Rather, Cain appears to have raised and taught Enoch to walk with God daily, Genesis 5:20-22. While Cain may have given up on himself, the Lord was not done with this sinner. Cain emulated Proverbs 22:6 before it was ever written. Although Cain wasn’t a perfect father, he must have done something right. Enoch became the first and only human being not to experience death, an ironic ending to the son of a convicted murderer.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 306: Suelto

Based upon a recent survey, 13 percent of residents in the United States speak Spanish. As migrants from Central American countries continue to flock to the United States border with Mexico, this number will likely continue to climb. As someone who took two years of Spanish in high school and another two classes in college, I thought it would be appropriate to feature my first Spanish artist Sarai Rivera.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it, Ephesians 4:29.

The song I selected is Suelto which translates into English means loose. Like any word, you have to know the context in which this word occurs and takes place. While my Spanish is still pretty rough, Sarai’s song brought me to the passage above. The apostle Paul calls the Church at Ephesius to avoid being loose with their words. Meanwhile, anyone who may be hindered by some sort of a speech impediment can be loosed and set free by the power of the Holy Spirit. May Suelto speak to your heart.

by Jay Mankus

A Complementary Helper

Greek Mythology refers to soulmates as two halves of the same person who were separated by the Greek god Zeus due to jealousy and fear. While the Bible never directly mentions the term soulmates in the Bible, Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:4-6 suggests that the person you decide to marry should be a complementary helper. Based upon the passage below, God thought Adam might find a best friend like a dog from one of God’s created animals placed in the garden. Yet, no helper was found.

Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him, Genesis 2:18.

King Solomon devotes a portion of the Book of Ecclesiastes to highlight why two people are better than one. Solomon provides a couple of examples in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. This complementary helper may serve as a listener one day, a source of encouragement as well as challenge you so that you might reach your full potential. While some individuals search for a soulmate who may be identical, others pray for someone who complements their weak areas in life.

Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh, Genesis 2:23-24.

Adam’s personality is not detailed by Moses in Genesis. However, in the passage above Adam gets emotional as he is overwhelmed by God’s creation of Eve. After feeling his side, the place where God removed his rib and some flesh, a complementary helper of the opposite sex stood right in front of him. While Adam and Eve’s family got off to a rough start following Abel’s murder by their oldest child, this couple spent 900 years together on earth. Although it’s not mentioned in the Bible, I’m sure Adam and Eve learned how to become to complementary helpers through the years. A goal worth shooting for.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 305: Peace in the Storm

One of the first Christian songs I heard on the topic of enduring storms and trials in life is The Anchor Holds by Ray Boltz. A more recent song by Casting Crowns, Praise You in the Storm contains a similar message. Your mindset and perspective on spiritual storms in life will dictate how you react. If you’re not thinking of these unforeseen events as a spiritual refining process, you’ll overreact and won’t experience peace in this storm.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you, John 16:33.

Today’s featured song by Ore Clarke is based upon the ideal response to spiritual storms in life. The lyrics of Ore’s song point to a spiritual mindset of mature Christians. As you lean on Jesus for strength in difficult and emotionally draining situations, you will find peace in the storm you are currently going through. My prayer for you toward is that by listening to the message of today’s song, anxiety and worry will be replaced by the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The First Medical Miracle

Daniel Hale Williams performed the first documented successful pericardium surgery in 1893. Over the past 129 years, countless miracles have occurred with many procedures now considered routine outpatient surgeries. One thing that you may not know about my family is that my Uncle Tony is the longest living recipient of an open-heart transplant in the Unted States. Still alive today, Tony Mankus is a living example of a medical miracle.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh. 22 And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man, Genesis 2:21-23.

Moses writes about the first medical miracle ever recorded in the Bible. Rather than place Adam under general anesthesia like a common procedure in American hospitals, God wanted until Adam was sound asleep. Likely following a full day of work in the Garden of Eden as a ground’s keeper and farmer. As Adam was unconscious, God operates as a surgeon who removes a rib and part of his side to form the first medical miracle, in the Bible forming the first woman on earth.

And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband? 35 Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God. 36 And listen! Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is now the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment, Luke 1:34-37.

Thousands of years later, Mary had her own doubts about an encounter with an angel. Scientifically, to conceive a child without having sex is impossible unless it’s done via a test-tube with donated sperm. Yet, the angel reassured Mary that this would be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. After dealing with the fact that God could have chosen anyone, Mary came to realize that anything is possible with God, especially, medical miracles.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 304: He Understands

If you’re like me, you probably wrestle with the whys in life. Whenever circumstances, hardship and trials surface in your life, it’s natura; to wonder why God is allowing you or your family to endure this or that. Perhaps, this was the inspiration behind Chandler Moore’s song He Understands. While God understands the pain you may be currently enduring, daily events serve as a proving ground to test your faith.

And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

According to one of Jesus’ former disciples, repentance plays a crucial role. As human beings see the error of their thinking, confessing this to God in prayer plays a valuable role in spiritual maturity. Like an addict who recognizes that they have a problem, repentance is the first step to accepting God’s will for your life. However, you must yield control over to God by making Jesus the Lord of your life, Romans 10:9-11. As you listen to today’s song, may the Holy Spirit begin to guide and direct you.

by Jay Mankus

Pleasant to the Sight

The King James Version uses the word pleasant 57 times in the Bible. The context of this usage ranges from pleasant to the sight to delightful places on earth. Human nature tends to focus on the physical aspect of pleasant. According to Jesus’ earthly brother, anyone who fixates on physical features with a second glance opens the door for lust to enter your life, James 1:13-15. This is what happened to Eve in Genesis 3:6, turning what God meant for good into the rebellious act of sin.

And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight or to be desired—good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life also in the center of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of [the difference between] good and evil and blessing and calamity, Genesis 2:9.

Like any famous garden, there are certain centerpieces that attract visitors from across the country annually. According to Moses, the focal point of the Garden of Eden was the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. Based upon the passage above, both were located in the center of Eden. The beauty of this garden inspired the name for this special place as the word Eden means delight when translated into English.

The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good heritage, Psalm 16:5-6.

The apostle Paul explains the internal struggle that takes place within every human being, Galatians 5:16-18. While certain individuals and places have been blessed with attractive physical features, you have to make sure appreciation doesn’t turn into enticement. Jesus compares eyes to the lamp of human bodies, Matthew 6:22-23. If a lack of discipline causes your eyes to turn toward darkness, you’ll likely experience unwholesome lust, 1 John 2:16. May this blog urge you to center your attention on appreciation rather than lust.

by Jay Mankus

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