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S.A.N.S. Episode 150: Slow Motion Suicide

I was a big fan of the rock group Kansas as a teenager. Carry On Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind were my two favorites. Looking back, the lyrics of these two songs have spiritual elements which likely influenced lead singer Kerry Livgren to transition to a solo career. Today’s featured song Slow Motion Suicide comes from Livgren’s AD album. Not many artists have a PHD in music, but Kerry was way ahead of his time in using a variety of instruments and sounds during his career as a Christian artist.

And casting the pieces of silver [forward] into the [Holy Place of the [b]sanctuary of the] temple, he departed; and he went off and hanged himself, Matthew 27:5.

While the topic of today’s song isn’t positive, there is a reason I selected this tune. As someone who planned my own suicide as a child, most people don’t just wake up one day and decide to kill themselves. Rather, this thought is planted inside fragile minds by the Devil. As children are bullied, made fun of and or teased, ideas like “if I was dead nobody would care anyway” pop into depressed heads. Unless someone intervenes, this slow motion mindset will give birth to suicide. Stop these thoughts via prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Finding Spiritual Spotters

I was a novice weightlifter as I entered college. While I went with friends to local gyms, I didn’t really know what I was doing. When I moved off campus my junior year, one of my roommates was a former high school all-American linebacker. Mike turned our attic into a hardcore gym. Mike introduced me to the concept of spotting someone. When you lose the ability to finish a lift, the spotter comes to your rescue by pushing with you to place the bar into the barbell holder.

When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and when he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy and grew weary. So [the other men] took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun, Exodus 17:11-12.

Depending upon your age, strength, and the weight you are lifting, you may need one or two spotters. Anytime you’re lifting over 250 pounds, its safer to have 2 spotters, one on either side of the barbell. Yet, if you’re working out with someone like Mike whose body resembled a chiseled rock, one spotter is all you need. One of the roles of a spotter parallels a modern day life coach. Mike weekly challenged, encouraged, and pushed me to become stronger every day.

And Joshua mowed down and disabled Amalek and his people with the sword, Exodus 17:13.

One of the immediate benefits of having a spiritual spotter occurred during the Intramural Ultimate Frisbee title game. The guy who was guarding me was 6 foot 3, just under 200 pounds. While in the end zone, I was practically tackled as my elbow violently hit the ground. Yet, I held on, our team tied the game on the final play and won the championship in overtime. As you find and surround yourself with spiritual spotters, you’ll reach new heights, often well beyond your imagination and dream.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 149: The Only Thing I Need

During my final two years of high school, Yes became my favorite rock band. The 90125 album was weekly playing in my tape deck, highlighted by Changes. Since lead singer Jon Anderson has such a distinct voice, I was ecstatic to discover that he began to appear as a guest singer on Christian albums. While I could have selected a song from Anderson’s solo album, I chose The Only Thing I Need.

And my God will liberally supply ([i]fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

As a famous rock star, Jon Anderson didn’t need to rely on God for his daily needs. Yet, like any prodigal, Jon came to a point in life where he discovered the only thing he truly needed in life was Jesus. Thanks to an invitation to join 4Him in singing The Only Thing I Need; this reality has been passed on to former Yes fans. May the passage above become a daily prayer as you learn to trust God to supply all your needs.

by Jay Mankus

When You’re Friends Don’t Understand You

I graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s in Science 30 years ago. One week prior to this special day, the Ultimate Frisbee team played in a tournament at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia with the goal of qualifying for East Regionals. Despite a major injury to a teammate, Delaware went undefeated. One of the rewards was playing an exhibition against the professional team based out of Philly. Following this game, I was informed that the coaching staff wanted me to join their team. After considering this offer, I turned down this once in a lifetime opportunity due to a calling from God.

Make yourself an ark of gopher or cypress wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, and compartments) and cover it inside and out with pitch (bitumen). 15 And this is the way you are to make it: the length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits [that is, 450 ft. x 75 ft. x 45 ft.]. 16 You shall make a roof or [b]window [a place for light] for the ark and finish it to a cubit [at least 18 inches] above—and the [c]door of the ark you shall put in the side of it; and you shall make it with lower, second, and third stories. 17 For behold, I, even I, will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy and make putrid all flesh under the heavens in which are the breath and spirit of life; everything that is on the land shall die, Genesis 6:14-17.

Noah found himself in a similar situation in the days of dinosaurs. Noah lived during the age of the earth’s open canopy. According to Genesis 2:5-6, the initial atmosphere did not contain rain as the springs of the earth watered the ground and vegetation. Subsequently, when Noah stopped hanging out with friends to build this massive boat, others began to think that Noah was crazy; loco. Unfortunately, what the people didn’t understand was Noah’s special call from God attached with a promise to save his family from this impending flood.

Now [in Haran] the Lord said to Abram, Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]. And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and [a]curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves], Genesis 12:1-3.

Last week I left a cushy job of 9 years to start over. While I may regret this in the weeks, months, and years to come, there’s more to life than a job. When you’re working years quickly fade away, you have to start thinking of others rather than yourself. Although this transition will take some time to adjust, this new stage in my life will be centered around family. Before I left Delaware for good, I tried to explain the rationale for moving to South Carolina. Yet, there will always be some friends who won’t understand altering one’s life to follow God’s call.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 148: This Fragile Breath

When I first started teaching Bible to high school students at Red Lion Christian Academy, Todd Agnew released today’s featured song. Whenever This Fragile Breath came on our local Christian radio station, I couldn’t get enough of this song which combines a great beat with biblical lyrics. As this song nears the end, I’m always touched by the extended chorus of “Speak to me; Speak to me please.”

And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11.

The context of the passage above occurs as Elijah is battling depression. After receiving a death threat from Queen Jezebel, Elijah stops eating and begins to mope. Whenever I go through difficult periods in life, I’m oblivious to what God is trying to teach me. Sometimes it takes experiencing a natural disaster to open our ears to hearing God’s still small voice. May listening to this classic song draw you closer to God.

by Jay Mankus

A Prayer to Carry On

As I was driving from Delaware to South Carolina last Friday, I was listening to my favorite soft rock mix. As I was reminiscing about my past 25 years living in Delaware, the sound Breathe You In by Thousand Foot Krutch began playing. When I got stuck in D.C. traffic, I had time to replay this song several times to study the lyrics. During this time of reflection, I realized that Breathing God In is a prayer to carry on.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

One of the most moving portions of Breathe You In occurs during the liine “I’ve tried so hard to not walk away when things don’t go my way.” When adversity strikes, human nature has a way of doubting God. Therefore, whenever negative thoughts begin to fill your mind, it’s essential to cry out to Jesus when you’re weak to give you the strength to carry on, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.

At the conclusion of his letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul encourages Christians to not give up hope. Regardless of how tired and weary you may become, don’t waste all the time and effort that you’ve put into life. While meditation isn’t often associated with Christianity, when you visualize Breathing in the Holy Spirit, God will give you the will to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 147: Let You Down

Today’s featured song was introduced me by my son Daniel. Let You Down is by rapper and composer Nate Feuerstein who goes by the stage name NF. One of the things that has drawn my son to become a fan of NF is Nate’s raw emotion and honesty that he shares in each song. When I think of today’s title, humans beings can relate to either being let down or letting down other people you care about.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome, Jeremiah 29:11.

Let You Down begins with a child’s voice filled with sorrow, singing about letting down his father. From a spiritual point of view, every day Christians let down their heavenly father through poor choices or a lack of action. When you become broken, the weeping prophet shares a glimmer of hope in the passage above. May you overcome past mistakes by dwelling on the future life and plan God has for you.

by Jay Mankus

Supreme Insight

The United States Supreme Court was established on September 17, 1789. The concept of a Supreme Court dates back to the Old Testament. Prior to a visit from Jethro, Moses worked sunup to sundown serving as the only judge in all of Israel. Thanks to the wisdom of his father-in-law, Moses delegated all minor cases to other judges. Meanwhile, all of the major disputes came to the top court in Israel.

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, What is this that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening? 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God and His laws. 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, The thing that you are doing is not good, Exodus 18:14-17.

Last week the Supreme Court made national news on their ruling on an oppressive gun law in the State of New York and the reversal of Roe verses Wade. These two rulings overshadowed the January 6th Committee hearings which claim that former President Donald Trump was responsible for inciting an insurrection. Yet, if you have listened to the responses of democrats, liberals and progressive politicians, the words that have been spoken in response to Roe verse Wade are inciting another insurrection.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong, Proverbs 18:10.

When my family moved to Delaware in the Summer of 1976, this new neighborhood was extremely competitive. When someone wasn’t allowed to bend or change the rules, every so often one of the kids took their basketball, baseball, or football and went home. You don’t have to be a lawyer to possess supreme insight. Rather, when adversity enters your life, who do you turn to or run towards? Immature politicians run toward a camera to complain. Mature Christians run toward God’s safe and strong tower.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 146: Speak to Me

It’s not often that a song changes your life, but Kari Jobe’s Speak to Me worship montage transformed my perspective. When I stumbled upon this version on You Tube, I was going through a trying period at work. Due to a series of transitions, my cushy job was being turned upside down. In my despair, the words of Speak to Me became a daily prayer, asking God for comfort and peace.

Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me, John 14:6.

Over the course of a month, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the positive aspects of my life. Like the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8-9, my anxieties and stress were slowly replaced by the excellent and praise worthy things that God has blessed me with over the years. If the timing of this blog finds you going through a similar struggle, may the words of Speak to Me draw you closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Surrounding Yourself with the Right Team

As a former high school coach, the dynamics of a team changes every four years. Whenever a strong core of leaders graduate, coaches often struggle finding the right people to fill this void. Meanwhile, it only takes one bad attitude to poison a locker room. Subsequently, coaches have to weed out any bad apples and the immature before you can surround yourself with the right team of individuals for the future.

And Moses said to Joshua, Choose us out men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. 10 So Joshua did as Moses said and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the hilltop, Exodus 17:9-10.

When Moses reached a certain age, well beyond his youth, he realized that it was time to retire from the Israeli army. Subsequently, Moses selected his predecessor, Joshua, delegating the task of choosing a team to go into battle against the Amalekites. Based upon Moses’ words in the passage above, Joshua had less than 24 hours to surround himself with the right team.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

Fortunately, most of us are given a lifetime to surround ourselves with the right team of people. This team of individuals could be co-workers, neighbors, specific family members or people from a local church. According to the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, the ideal team consists of distinct traits that when gathered together form a body that functions as a well oiled machine. Whether you’re young or old, may the people you surround yourself form a solid community of faith.

by Jay Mankus

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