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The Sound of Worship

Worship is the expression of reverence and adoration for God. This celebration is usually held inside a building. However, in this age of the Coronavirus, places of worship have been forced to be creative. In those states where lock downs still exist, worship services have been moved outside. Although most properties don’t have the luxury of a natural amphitheater, some worship teams have taken to the streets.

Not only that, but can anyone understand the spreadings of the clouds or the thunderings of His pavilion? – Job 36:29

In the passage above, Job compares the sound of worship to a storm growing in the distance. As clouds darken, filled with thunder and lightning, spectators watch from a distance, amazed by this brewing sight of nature. While rain in the New Testament is symbolic of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament uses rain as a way to achieve truth. As voices cry out in public today, the sound of worship touches hearts.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the heavens of His power! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and [single or group] dance; praise Him with stringed and wind instruments or flutes! Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:1-6

The last Psalm in the Bible highlights the sound of worship. As a worship leader sets the tone, praise can spread like a wildfire, from one soul to another. Meanwhile, as the Spirit of God moves, enthusiasm to raise the volume intensifies. When you add instruments to this equation, souls awaken to clap, dance and shake their bodies to exalt the Great I Am. This is what can happen as souls hear the sound of worship.

by Jay Mankus

Celebration and Suffering

News of an expecting birth is worthy of a celebration in the form of baby shower.  After labor ushers into this world a new human being, joy consumes families of this infant.  In the years that follow, there are a series of memorable moments, first steps, first words and first day of school.  As new parents work together to raise children, celebrating is often replaced by suffering.  From childhood to adolescence, life only gets more complicated, especially for first time parents.  At some point, celebration fades away as suffering intensifies.  I don’t mean to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but this is a reality of life.

Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise), Luke 16:22-23.

After sharing the parable of the unjust manager, Jesus transitions into another parable.  Entitled the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus highlights a reason to celebrate and another to fear.  Using a story about a rich and poor man, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to detail what heaven and hell is like.  When Lazarus dies, God rewards this poor man with what Jesus calls paradise.  Meanwhile, a self-centered rich man who cared only about himself was sent to hell.  According to Jesus, hell is a place of eternal suffering, able to see those celebrating above, but unable to do anything to help their agony and pain.  This fact should convict and inspire the living to avoid a similar eternal destiny.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame,’ Luke 16:24.

In the previous chapter, Luke, a well known first century doctor recalls three parables that illustrate God’s grace, love and mercy.  Whether a possession is lost like a coin or pet, heaven celebrates each time a sinner repents.  Angels are programmed to embrace hearts that confess the error of their way.  Meanwhile, even if you are a prodigal son or daughter who has left your family, God will never abandon you.  These stories have been written to urge souls to surrender your life to follow Jesus.  Although this road is narrow as detailed by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, any worldly suffering that you might endure is worth this decision.  Therefore, do not ignore the passage listed above so that your eternal destination will be celebrated at your funeral rather than suffer, not knowing whether you are in heaven or hell.

by Jay Mankus

The Noise Inside of Heaven

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Christmas Classics won’t be far behind, airing in the next month.  One of my favorites, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” tries to explain how angels can influence human beings.  Henry Travers, plays Clarence, an angel longing to earn his wings by helping George, played by Jimmy Stewart, see how great his life is despite the financial woes of the Great Depression.  This film portrays the noise inside of heaven, ringing bells, as angels complete their assignment thereby earning their wings.

According to the Bible, heaven is compared to a party, similar to a wedding reception, Matthew 22:1-14.  From an eyewitness, the son of God, rejoicing occurs every time a sinner repents, Luke 15:7.  While there are certain stereotypes linked to born again Christians, this doesn’t mean that a church service can’t turn into a football frenzy audience.  In additional, beyond the emotions of any celebration, there will be no tears in heaven, Revelation 21:4, wiped away by Jesus

On earth, the sound of gun shots, screams and violence make heaven seem like an eternity away.  Instead of letting a doom and gloom mentality cause you to give up hope, take advantage of the coming Christmas Spirit.  May believers bring Joy to the World as the sweet sound of worship music revive souls, bringing the noise inside of heaven down to earth.

by Jay Mankus

From Songs of Praise and Promises to Doubt

One of my favorite Vince Lombardi’s quote is”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  However, if Vince’s team, the Green Bay Packers, did not respond to the vision he cast, Super Bowls would have been lost and his fame erased from history.  In a flash, when success is not achieved, songs of praise and promises often turn toward doubt and in football cries for FIRE the coach escalate.

At the pinnacle of the Egyptian Empire, a new king forget what Joseph had done to save their citizens from 7 years of famine, Exodus 1:8-10.  Thus, 400 years of slavery ensued.  Once finally freed, the Jews witnessed of one the greatest miracles ever recorded, Psalm 106:9-11.  A spontaneous celebration of singing praises to God followed, inspiring a new devout belief.  Nonetheless, as time widdled away, promises of faith faded from the memories of those who saw the Red Sea part in two.
Not much has changed since the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  People still experience a roller coaster of emotions, drawing near to God, then falling away.  Perhaps, there is a lesson from the past, one which involves clinging to the promises of God.   Despite what you may endure, fight through or see, God’s faithfulness never ceases, Psalm 106:8.  Since the Lord does not let go, press on to sing songs of praise like the apostle Paul in Acts 16:26, until the power of the Holy Spirit breaks through any walls of doubt that remain.
by Jay Mankus

Muzzled by Freedom

Today is suppose to be a national holiday in the United States, a time of reflection, thanksgiving and celebration.  However, as brave young men and women serve this country on foreign soil, the freedom they are fighting for is being muzzled.  As the summer heat begins to rise, certain states restrict the size of your beverage.  Meanwhile, activists, politicians and power hungry officials are trying to tell you what to eat, taxing and punishing the owners of popular restaurants.  If this trend continues, you’ll start being fined or arrested for freedom of speech.  Oh, that’s right; its already happening.

Like a high school administration that has lost control of their students, the innocent are being punished for the foolish sins of others.  Whether you drive a car, own a house or want to start your own business, ridiculous regulations and restrictions are taking the fun out of life.  Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is now treating citizens like little children who can’t stay out of trouble.  Perhaps this fall’s election will lift the malaise from the hearts, souls and minds of beaten down individuals.  If something doesn’t happen soon, the blood, sweat and tears of veterans will be forgotten.

On this Memorial Day, 2014, remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “don’t ask this country what it will do for you; rather, ask yourself what can I do for this country?”  When families, neighbors and young people begin to become doers of the word, Matthew 7:24, the chains of oppression will be unlocked.  Despite our best efforts, their is only One who is in control.  May the God of the dead transform the heart of the living so that freedom is no longer muzzled.

Please share your favorite war movie which inspires you to be proud of red, white and blue.

by Jay Mankus

A Midnight Stroll

One of my most memorable New Year’s Eve celebrations occurred in 1992.  In the middle of a mild Winter, temperatures in Delaware soared above 70 by midday.  Instead of your typical indoor festivities, I spent most of the day and evening outside.  Spending my last New Year’s in Newark before moving to the mid-west with friends from Chrysalis and college, I had ample time to say goodbye.  After watching the ball drop, commencing 1993, a half dozen people or so took a midnight stroll.

The temperature was 62 degrees at 12:15 am, perfect to walk, star gaze and reminisce about the special times I encountered while growing up in Delaware.  I don’t recall how many miles this stroll involved, but nearly 3 hours later the temperature dropped to 26 degrees as an arctic cold front blew through, causing the pace to pick up during the last mile just to stay warm.  This was one of those nights where time seemed to stand still allowing me to soak in the memories.  Despite the sadness, I knew God was leading me to a better place, preparing me through a trade school in Minnesota to become a polished leader.

Looking back, its hard to believe 21 years have passed.  Now as a parent, strolls become like wind sprints, stopping and starting, trying to keep up with busy schedules of 3 children.  Midnight strolls would be nice if I didn’t go to sleep shortly after eating dinner on some work days.  Thus, I do my best to be balanced, while trying to survive the difficulties of life.  On this special night, may God help you to slow down enough to practice Psalm 46:10.  The more you practice this biblical principle, the Holy Spirit can provide joy and peace for you in 2014.  Have a memorable, but safe New Year’s Eve!

by Jay Mankus

Strangers in the Crowd

The biblical accounts of The Triumphal Entry contain 3 common threads, except for John who only mentions two, John 12:12-18.  Matthew 21:1–11, Mark 11:1-11 and Luke 19:28-44 explain the detailed preparations necessary to make the first Palm Sunday a reality, followed by specific instructions Jesus leaves with two of his disciples.  Once executed exactly according to Jesus’ own words, all 4 authors emphasize the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy by the triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the waving of palm branches, an act of praise and worship by the strangers in the crowd.

While the Holy Spirit, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, led Matthew, Mark and Luke to recount these 3 main details, John is moved in a different direction, focusing on individuals who attended this celebration.  John 12:17 suggests that people who went to Lazarus’ funeral lined the streets, paying homage to the man who brought their friend back to life.  Though this passage shines light on a few of the participants, clues, hints and logic are the only tools we have remaining to connect the dots to the faces of these strangers in this crowd.

Matthew 20:34 confirms that two blind men from Jericho whom were healed by Jesus, followed him to Jerusalem.  Bartimaeus is named directly by  a similar account in Mark 10:46-52.  Meanwhile, Matthew 19:13-15 informs us that children were granted access to Jesus, likely following their parents trying to sneak a peek of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.   According to Luke 19:1-10, a short tax collector began climbing a tree to get Jesus’ attention.  After a life changing visit with Jesus, Zacchaeus was surely present, either in the front row or climbing another tree to pay Jesus the respect he deserved.

With all the clues and hints within Scripture used up, logic leads me to believe that anyone healed by Jesus came to the first Palm Sunday.  Furthermore, any family member who either heard, knew of someone or actually saw Jesus make a person whole again was likely in attendance.  As Palm Sunday 2013 approaches this weekend, don’t be left out in the cold.  Rather, line up early to become another stranger in the crowd, ready to worship the risen King!

by Jay Mankus

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