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Category Archives: Truth

S.A.N.S. Episode 247: My Weapon

You would think that an artist who was named the Gospel Music Association ‘s Dove Award winner for Female Vocalist of the Year four consecutive years and five total would be a household name. Unfortunately, Natalie Grant hasn’t received the attention that she deserves. Nonetheless, one of Natalie’s most powerful songs is My Weapon.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), Being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete, 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.

In the age of Cancel Culture, Natalie isn’t singing about physical weapons like a gun. Rather, Natalie points to the armor of God, using prayer as a weapon to fight back against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. When I listened to My Weapon for the first time, I was reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in the passage above. May you learn from Paul to become armed with spiritual weapons.

by Jay Mankus

Rejoice in God’s Blessings

The biblical term Deuteronomy refers to the Second Law. This book serves as a summary of all the lessons God tried to teach the nation of Israel. From the days of Adam and Eve to Noah and the flood, Moses was called by God to remind believers to rejoice in God’s blessings. This isn’t some sort of ancient fairy tale or make-believe game; this is a living God who blesses those who trust in the Lord.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God, Deuteronomy 28:1-2.

The context of today’s passage occurs just prior to Moses’ farewell address prior to passing the torch to Joshua. Instead of telling Israel, “I’ve got good news and bad news; what do you want to hear first?” Moses paints a vivid picture of what life on earth could be like by simply obeying God. This is the Could Be/Should Be portion of Moses’ message in Deuteronomy 28:1-14.

Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock, Deuteronomy 28:3-4.

Unfortunately, the final 54 verses of Deuteronomy 28 serve as a grim remember of a life without God. As someone who almost became a math teacher, this is the basic addition portion of the Bible. Following God’s commands plus daily obedience equals blessings in life. Rather than dwell on the negative, today’s featured passage should inspire you to rejoice in God’s blessings.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 246: To Know You

You have to love music to pursue this career for 25 years. Such is the case of Nichole Ellyse Nordeman who begam performing in 1997. Over the past quarter of a century, Nichole has done a little bit of everything. This includes serving as a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and pianist. One of my favorite songs by Nichole is To Know You.

Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise and skillful person glory and boast in his wisdom and skill; let not the mighty and powerful person glory and boast in his strength and power; let not the person who is rich [in physical gratification and earthly wealth] glory and boast in his [temporal satisfactions and earthly] riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord, Jeremiah 9:23-24.

The title of To Know You reminds me of the words spoken by an Old Testament prophet. Jeremiah sends an important message to Israel. Don’t get caught up in your gifts, skills, and talents that you have received. Rather, focus on the source, the giver of life. When you get to know to Person behind each gift, James 1:17, you will rejoice like the lyrics of To Know You.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Ready for God’s Test?

If you have ever studied the life of Abraham in Genesis, he had a tendency to act like a modern politician. Subsequently, one of the generational sins passed down to his son Isaac was lying. The most obvious is when Abraham told a powerful ruler that his wife Sarah was merely his sister. Since Abraham failed this test, the next one forced Abraham to choose his allegiance in the passage below.

After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, Genesis 22:1-4.

Peter is another example who is seen as a spiritual rock in Matthew 16:18 but had his own issues when he thought his life was in danger, Mark 14:72. Peter viewed Jesus as an earthly king, expecting Him to be crowned King of the Jews. Yet, when God’s plan didn’t fit his own expectations, Peter denied knowing Jesus in public three times. Peter was so overconfident, 1 Corinthians 10:12, he failed God’s test. Nonetheless, one failure prepared Peter for a future one where he passed like Abraham, John 21:15-19.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

As Tom Hanks declared in Forrest Gump, “every day is like a box of chocolates, you never know what’s inside.” As the sun rises on another day, are you ready for God’s next test in your life? Since moving to South Carolina, I haven’t done well. I’ve become a D student spiritually. Perhaps if I would take a leap of faith rather than trust in my own abilities, I’ll become a better student by years end. As for now, keep in step with God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25 and when your overwhelmed, trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 245: Healing Waters

Today’s musician came all the way from Adelaide, Australian to follow her dream to become a contemporary Christian artist. While Michele Tumes began his music ministry in Australian, she moved to the United States in 1993. Songs like No Greater Love in 2010, The Key, and Tinker Bell, also in 2008 put Michele Tumes on the map. One of her most soothing songs is Healing Waters.

In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—[a]waiting for the bubbling up of the water. For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted, John 5:3-4.

When I first heard Healing Waters on the radio, I was reminded of the passage above. In the first century, one place in Jerusalem developed a reputation for miraculous healing. A pool near the Sheep Gate was given the Hebrew name Bethesda. Desperate people came from all over the region hoping to experience healing waters. As you listen to today’s song, may you be encouraged by God’s power to heal.

by Jay Mankus

Love is Faith in Action

When the topic of faith is preached about in the pulpit, Hebrews 11 and James 2 is often referenced. Yet, after considering the words of King Solomon and Jesus, faith and love is a matter of the heart. Solomon warns one of his sons to guard his heart above all else. When the flow of blood to a heart is cut off, physical life is in jeopardy. However, Jesus speaks of the spiritual condition of hearts.

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life, Proverbs 4:23.

During a rough week of cross-country practice in high school, Coach Mauer give some advice dating girls during the season. I can still hear coach proclaiming, “if you let girls screw with your mind, you won’t be able to concentrate.” Unfortunately, these words came a week too late as I was turned down to attend homecoming with a female runner. As DC Talk once sang, love isn’t just another word, love is a verb.

For there is no good (healthy) tree that bears decayed (worthless, stale) fruit, nor on the other hand does a decayed (worthless, sickly) tree bear good fruit. 44 For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit; for figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a bramblebush. 45 The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks, Luke 6:43-45.

Love isn’t something that you can take on and off like an article of clothing. Rather, love begins in your heart. Jesus taught that what’s in your heart naturally flows out of you in the form of words. The battered, beaten, and bruised will likely spew hatred and resentment of the life they have endured. Yet, this doesn’t have to be the end as Galatians 5:22-23 speaks of a Spirit of spiritual fruit. May the words of Solomon and Jesus give you hope of a new heart where God’s love flows in the form of faith in action.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 244: Testify to Love

The Christian group Avalon formed in 1995 as a vocal quartet from Nashville, Tennessee. However, over the years, Avalon’s focus on worship music led to a slight name change to Avalon Worship. I was first introduced to Avalon through one of their Christmas albums. While some of their songs or more memorable than others, Testify to Love is one of my favorites.

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole [e]human race], Mark 16:15

The lyrics to Testify to Love are based upon the passage above. Known as the Great Commission, Jesus leaves a blueprint behind for future Christians to follow, Acts 1:8. First century Jewish Christians completed phase one: testifying about Jesus to everyone in Jerusalem. The apostles completed phase two by the end of the first century by testifying to surrounding towns and villages. The final phase is up to believers to testify about Jesus to the ends of the earth. May this song inspire you to do your part.

by Jay Mankus

Shut Up and Listen for a Minute

One of my greatest weaknesses is listening. This is likely due to my intense nature, completely focused on what I am doing. I must confess that when I meet someone for the first time, I rarely remember new names. Instead of taking off my blinders to pay attention to this individual, my mind is still fixated on what I’m doing or what I’m about to do. Therefore, shut up and listen is directed at my own life, but you may have a similar issue or struggle.

Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! – Psalm 46:10

Whether you’re a child sitting at a lunchroom table in school or an adult meeting new people at a social gathering, you’ll find a few people who will try to dominate the topic of conversation. If you listen intently, you may even hear two individuals wrestle for control, trying to one up the other. From time to time, I refer to this as a pissing match. This occurs when two or more talkers try to convince the group or table who’s the best or wisest.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? 10 He replied, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11 And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 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 19:9-12.

When God places me into humbling situations, I tend to shut down socially. I may feel compelled to speak, but I usually spend the rest of the day listening and observing others. If you get too carried away talking, you may miss the lesson God is trying to teach you through disappointment and failure. Although I rarely have something special like Elijah happen to me, when I open the Bible to study, God’s still small voice in the form of the Holy Spirit pierces my heart and rings my ears. When I shut up and listen for a minute, I’m always amazed by what the Lord teaches me by simply reading the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 243: Walking Free

The hymn In the Garden is the first song that I heard in church that points to a personal testimony. The chorus of In the Garden suggest that God walks and talks to Christians. In today’s featured song, Micah Tyler uses a series of true stories, testimonies of sinners who have testified about Walking Free despite being behind bars.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

Walking Free reminds me of one of the first Christian movies I saw called Twice Pardoned. While the story was different, the message is the same, God’s grace and forgiveness, Ephesians 2:8-10. If you like to watch sports, some athletes celebrate way too much. Yet, as Christians who have been saved, there isn’t enough celebration over the fact that in Christ we are walking free.

by Jay Mankus

Transforming Your Mind Through Song

Why did Jesus sing a hymn prior to leaving the Last Supper? What song did the disciples join Jesus in singing? Was anyone humming this tune on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane? When I first read the apostle Paul’s call to sing hymns and spiritual songs, I wasn’t sure why or where to do this? Yet, over the past month I’ve found myself re-singing a couple of the songs I listened to prior to going to work. Little by little, my attitude and mind has been transformed through Christian music.

 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]. 16 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:15-16.

To provide the proper context, I was forced to leave my position at Amazon in Delaware when my wife’s mom was living in hospice care in South Carolina. When I wasn’t able to find a full-time position before our move this past summer, I took a hardship transfer but was forced to start all over like I had never worked for Amazon. Like the Israelites wandering around in the wilderness following the Exodus out of Egypt, there were numerous days of bickering and complaining. This was my state of mind in July.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

Every day was like David’s confession in Psalm 51:1-4, struggling to get up to head off to work. This poor mindset took a toll on my body and soul. Beginning in August, like taking a pill to numb my pain, I started to sing Christian songs in my head that I listened to on my way to work. Rather than participate in a daily pity party, “oh woe is me,” I began singing these songs in my head. The more I hummed and sang, the better I felt. While my work situation hasn’t changed, my mind has been transformed via song.

by Jay Mankus

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