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S.A.N.S. Episode 59: Overcomer

About five years ago, I discovered a couple of Christian music mixes on You Tube. One collection was Electronic Praise, another Hip Hop, and the final one was Dance. This search on the internet for quality Christian music introduced me to today’s artist. Mandisa followed a song by Capital Kings. As soon as Overcomer started to play, I made an instant connection with the lyrics.

 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.

No one likes to endure disappointment and failure. As a former professional athlete, practice doesn’t always result in improvement. If progress is stunted or you start to regress, you need an overcomer spirit that Mandisa sings about in her song. If you ever find yourself down and out, doubting that you will ever achieve your dreams and goals in life, use Mandisa’ Overcomer to ignite and spark hope.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 58: Changed Forever

For a decade, I drove my children to school every day. When my older son James entered Junior High, I began to try to find Christian music to play on our ride to Red Lion. One of my high school Bible students led me toward Toby Mac. While I was never a fanatical fan of DC Talk, their former lead singer, Toby Mac’s Tonight album came at a perfect time. James connected with several of the songs on this album.

Be strong (confident) and of good courage, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go, Joshua 1:6-7.

Today’s featured song Changed Forever was one of those tunes that was repeated at least once each day. When I drove my golf team to away matches, Toby Mac stayed in my CD player without any objections. The lyrics of Changed Forever reminds me of the words of Joshua as he was preparing Israel to enter into God’s Promised Land. When you make the decision to follow Jesus, the Bible is a valuable resource to make sure you continue to be changed forever.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 31: Go There With You

From my introduction to Christian music in 1985, there have always been 3 main staples who have gotten most of the accolades: Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and today’s artist Stephen Curtis Chapman. When Chapman’s Great Adventure tour traveled across the country, I drove three hours to hear an album filled with classic songs. I was so touched that night by Go There with You, that I included it in my wedding.

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away, Revelation 21:4.

When I was put in charge of the Music at my wedding and the DJ at our reception, I made a mix with all of the songs to be played for all of the special dances. When Leanne and I danced our first dance as a married couple, Go There With You was played. In an age where staying married until death do us part is rare, playing this song was a statement of my will to love Leanne for the rest of my life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 28: Mirror

When I first started teaching at Red Lion two decades ago, some of my former students tried to update my Christian music collection. Since most of these teenagers weren’t impressed with my favorite artists, a couple made a few mixes for me to listen to before I purchased any new albums. One of the songs on this CD was from Barlow Girl, all-female rock band from Elgin, Illinois.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises with the harp or the lyre to our God!—Psalm 147:7

Today’s song by Barlow Girl uses a scene from the fairy tale Snow White to illustrate how girls struggle with their own self-esteem and self-image. Instead of singing about the evil queen was asks “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all,” Barlow Girl looks to Jesus to find their true identity, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Although Mirror is nearly 20 years old, it still stirs my soul. Pass this song on to any girl or woman who needs to be encouraged today.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 20: Over Drive

Since I first started to listen to Christian music in 1984, I’ve come across several Christian rock groups. Like any phase in life, your current favorite is the best until another sound causes you to change your allegiance. As for me, Idle Cure from Long Beach California struck a cord with my soul in the 1980’s. This special connection influenced me to purchase all of their albums.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being. 34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; as for me, I will rejoice in the Lord, Psalm 104:33-34.

Today’s song accompanied me on many of my college road trips. Whether I was driving to a retreat or visiting a friend at another campus, Over Drive was one of my go to songs to pass the time. Since I’ve spent most of my life living on the East Coast, I’ve lived most of my life in overdrive, rarely stopping. Yet, like the song suggests, being a Christian inspires me to reach higher, by drawing closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 5: Secret Ambition

I didn’t even know that Christian music existed until I asked Jesus to come into my heart, Romans 10:9-10, in the middle of my sophomore year of high school. I met Mindy at a FCA Bible Study. She was the only person I knew in high school who was an advocate for Christian music. Mindy made different mixes for me so I could figure out which artists I liked before purchasing an album. Mindy’s parents drove me and a couple of friends from Concord to my first ever Christian concert.

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.

If you haven’t already guessed by today’s song title Secret Ambition, Michael W. Smith gave me a good first impression of Christian music. While I barely recognized any of the songs that were sung that night, I went on to buy every one of Michael’s new albums over the next 5 years. The week i2(Eye) Album was released, I attended a youth convention in Salisbury, Maryland. This was the most fun I ever had on a retreat as a seed was sown to become a youth pastor. Thanks to Secret Ambition, this became a reality.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Volume 2: You Need to Know

Every song has a story of when you first heard it, what you were doing at the time and how this song impacted your life. The second new song I want to introduce you to is one I discovered in Cleveland, Ohio. When my father was transferred during my sophomore year of college, I needed to find a new place that sold Christian music. A friend from church gave me directions and when I arrived, it was the largest Christian Bookstore that I have ever encountered.

The Lord is my strength and my [impenetrable] shield; My heart trusts [with unwavering confidence] in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I shall thank Him and praise Him, Psalm 28:7.

The selection of music took up an entire section of a large warehouse as I entered Christian Music Heaven. You were able to select from a section of sample cassettes before purchasing a brand new one. I spent countless hours listening to music with headphones on. This is where my vast collection of genres began. Visiting this store gave me the idea of creating a cross over list of Christian artists who are similar to secular music stars. Today’s song is by Bob Hanson: a Bob Dylan sound mixed with a feel of the Doors. You Need to Know serves as a remainder to tell others what their relationship means to you.

by Jay Mankus

Sing to the Lord a New Song

Ten years ago, Express Yourself 4 Him was conceived. Thanks to the guidance of Pastor Bruce and Linda from Bible Study, I chose Word Press to share the messages that God has put on my heart. I didn’t really know what I was doing early on. Nor did I think this blog would last a decade. To celebrate my 10th year, I will be adding a second post per day entitled Sing A New Song. This combines my favorite two passions Christian music and writing.

Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully [on the strings] with a loud and joyful sound, Psalm 33:3.

My goal for S.A.N.S. is to share how music has influenced my life. This journey began at the Sonshine House in Bear, Delaware. Located just down the street from my church, I made this Christian Bookstore like a second home. After hearing an inspiration song on the radio, I had to stop by to ask Jackie, the owner, if she had this song. I regularly sang tunes out loud in the store if I didn’t catch the title. Jackie became my Christian music guru throughout college as this collection continued to expand.

And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord, Psalm 40:3.

Since most of my friends didn’t share my passion, I began to make cassette mixes of my favorite songs. I made about 30 different best of tapes before finally stopping with each one based on a specific genre. My very first mix received the most compliments which led me to make multiple copies for high school students who went on Chrysalis weekends. One of the two sides was entitled A Father’s Love based upon the Billy Crockett song which happens to be today’s song. S.A.N.S. Volume 1 is A Father’s Love.

by Jay Mankus

The End of Integrity

At the beginning of my adult life, doing what is right when no one is looking was a motto adopted by some of my mentors. Developing a good reputation at school, work and in your community was the way I was taught to make it in this world. By going the extra mile, arriving early and staying late was how individuals got noticed by their boss or owner. The more integrity was displayed, the greater your chances were to succeed and advance.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

During my final year of college, I became friends with the owner of a local Christian bookstore. Whenever I heard a song on the radio that I liked, I would go to Jackie to find this artist or specific song. This relationship ignited a life long quest for quality Christian music. When my life was void of integrity, inspirational lyrics gave me hope to press on despite bad habits, depression and periods of hypocrisy.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love, 2 Peter 1:5-7.

If you follow current events or politics, you are likely witnessing a different standard being applied, “do as I say, not as I do.” Instead of choosing integrity, the elect are using power to bend the rules in their own favor. Even if lies have to be spread daily, the end result trumps the means. If current leaders continue down this path, I’m afraid that the end of integrity is approaching. Now is the time to pray for conviction and revival.

by Jay Mankus

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