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S.A.N.S. Episode 139: We are the Reason

My spiritual mentor Ken Horne introduced me to David Meece while I was high school. Every Christmas Ken would share We are the Reason at Lay Witness Missions and Retreats. While this song hasn’t aged well, the lyrics are still amazing. We are the Reason helped me grasp the annual Christmas phrase, “the reason for the season.” Like a mini Bible message, We are the Reason clearly summarizes Jesus. mission.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us, Romans 5:7-8.

The passage above highlights the love displayed by Jesus. This verse condenses the gospel in one verse. Over the years, other versions of We are the Reason has popped up. Yet, whatever versions you prefer, We are the Reason has inspired Feel the Nails by Ray Boltz and When God Ran by Benny Hester. While Christmas is still months away, put We are the Reason in your 2022 Christian rotation of songs.

by Jay Mankus

Getting Your Emotions Under Control

One of Israel’s former kings describes time in the context of seasons. Just as Christmas is associated with winter in the northern hemisphere, every month brings with it a series of emotions. In Ecclesiastes 3:4, King Solomon follows sorrow with laughter. Since nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, James 4:13-14, you have to be ready to keep your emotions under control at all times.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, Philippians 4:6.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul touches on mental health. Apparently, members of this church with dealing with a growing amount of anxiety. Rather than try to handle this on your own, Paul encourages Christians to actively pray for the circumstances that are bringing you stress. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by emotions, be thankful for any little victory that you experience daily.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7.

When you create a list of things that challenge your mental health, include these petitions as a daily part of your prayer life. Building on the words of Luke 1:37, the apostle Paul suggests that God has the ability to give you the strength to endure any situation that you face, Philippians 4:13. If you search for the peace of Christ, this tranquil state will enable any believer to get and keep your emotions under control.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 42: On Fire

I was introduced to Switchfoot through a Christian movie entitled The Ultimate Gift. While teaching at Red Lion, parents would occasionally buy me Christmas presents. One of the last gifts I received was The Ultimate Gift. For some unknown reason, this DVD sat on a shelf, collecting dust for a number of years. Yet, when I finally opened this and watched the movie, I was overwhelmed by the story and touched by the music.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

There are plenty of films where the money from a will changes an individual’s life. Yet, when James Garner leaves his grandson a series of tests that lead to an ultimate gift, I was intrigued to figure out how this was going to end for Jason Stevens played by Drew Filler. One of these tests involves leaving the country alone, without his new girl friend. This decision montage uses On Fire to highlight Jason’s final choice. While Switchfoot has plenty of great songs, I hope you enjoy On Fire.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 32: Six Candles

On January 1st, 2012, I played in a disc golf tournament with my three children, won the closest to the pin (basket), and celebrated by going to Dairy Queen on the way home. When I got home, I received a call from one of the new members of Red Lion’s leadership team. After starting out 2012 in grand fashion, before this call was over I was fired from my teaching position of a decade. While some of my friends were canned prior to Christmas, my replacement wasn’t able to start until February 1st so I finished out the second semester. In the days that followed, I was critically ashamed and clueless of what to do next.

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. 12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you, Nehemiah 29:11-12.

January 2012 was one of the most difficult months of my life. The position that I was born for and created to do was taken away from me in an instant. While family and friends were extremely supportive, one song kept me going. I had recently purchased FM Static’s Critically Ashamed album over Christmas Break so I was in the process of listening to all of their songs. I can’t point to a specific lyric of Six Candles, but the sound and tone served as a source of healing in 2012. There were other songs that I relied on through this tough stretch, but I am forever thankful for Six Candles on the role that it played in reinventing myself over the past decade.

by Jay Mankus

Welcome the Word of God in 2022

If you have children or received any sort of electronic gift for Christmas, you will find instructions enclosed inside. This manual is designed to show you how to put this gift together if not already assembled and how to use it. The best selling book of all time does not contain instructions in the beginning. Rather, the Bible uses history to illustrate how to and how not to live your life. If you’re stuck in a rut or tired of not being able to turn your life around, welcome the Word of God in 2022 to jump start this new year.

So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth], James 1:21-22.

According to the passage above, Jesus’ earthly brother made an important connection between the Bible and this spiritual leader. When Joshua took over for Moses to lead Israel into God’s promised land, one of his first commands was to meditate upon God’s Word daily. If this practice results in the spiritual discipline of Bible Study, these truths will become implanted within your mind. Meanwhile, anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will began to develop a heart for God.

For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; 24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience), James 1:23-25.

Yet, whenever you read any book, you have two choices. Are you the type of person who loves plowing through book after book eager to discover the next one? Or do you savor each page, stopping to write down notes as you read so you don’t forget an important insight, lesson or point? At the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his audience to become doers of the Word, not just listeners. Anyone can read the Bible, but those who are convicted to turn their life around will welcome the Word of God in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

Silently Setting the Scene for Christmas

Franz Xaver Gruber composed Silent Night in 1818 using Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria as a back drop. When combined with Joseph Mohr’s lyrics, Silent Night was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011. In the past 200 years, this Christmas classic song has silently set the scene, preparing hearts and minds to worship Jesus, the Savior of the World.

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [b]Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being John 1:1-3.

Yet, in the first century one of Jesus’ disciples introduces the concept of a Trinity. One God with three distinct personalities. If you use the Bible as a source for history, these qualities are displayed throughout 3 different eras. God the Father is the mastermind who laid out a back up plan in Genesis 3:15. Meanwhile, God the Son came to earth and seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it], John 1:4-5.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, we now live in the age of the Holy Spirit. This invisible ghost serves as a counselor and guide throughout the days of our lives. According to one of the members of Jesus’ inner circle, God’s Spirit gives us everything we need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4. Therefore, as another Christmas Day approaches, silently set your heart, soul and mind to be ready to worship Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Greatest Gift of All

At the end of every year, talk shows reflect upon the current one to ascertain the best and greatest moments. Political programs focus on accomplishments and failures while sports talk tends to debate the greatest of all time. As another Christmas Day arrives, your mind may wander to consider the greatest gift you have ever received. Yet, there is one gift found in the Bible that claims to be eternal.

For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Comparing gifts and presents from year to year may uplift a generous giver in your family. Yet, the older I become, a gift may simply be having your entire family present for Christmas. While it’s hard to fathom the greatest gift I’ve ever received over the past 52 years, my favorite was a letter from a friend in college. After going an entire semester without hearing from them, opening this card brought tears of joy to me.

And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. 13 I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in [c]the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, [d]yes, eternal life, 1 John 5:11-13.

The New Testament of the Bible mentions the greatest spiritual gift ever provided to mankind. A Pharisee named Nicodemus was the first to hear about this future offering in John 3:16-17. The apostle Paul eludes to this in a letter to the Church at Rome. Meanwhile, the earthly brother of Jesus refers to an assurance of this eternal gift. All you have to do is accept Jesus into your life as a personal Lord and Savior. While you may receive many gifts this Christmas, eternal life in heaven is the greatest gift of all.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Upon graduating from the University of Delaware, I accepted a position as a Summer Work Camp Coordinator. Since the pay wasn’t great, I took a part time job as a Youth Director to put gas in my car. For the first six months of my adult life, I slept on a couch in my sister’s basement. When my car broke down just before Christmas, I depleted all of my savings, without the funds for food or gas. This is my story of overcoming anxiety and panic attacks.

Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear? 32 For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all, Matthew 6:31-32.

A prosperous future was certainty is doubt, but I knew that God had something better for me. As a desperate man, I found as many odd jobs that I could to survive. In my spare time, I practically lived at Cornerstone Church. I led an Accountability Group and Bible Study at night and painted whenever I wasn’t working. Despite the anxiety and panic living inside of me, serving God daily helped keep me in the present. In my poverty, I put my complete faith and trust in the Lord.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

Jesus addresses anxiety and panic attacks in his Sermon on the Mount. Instead of directing his message toward human beings, Jesus uses the birds of the air as a way to illustrate how God provides for all creatures. Since God created human beings in His own image, how much more does and will God provide for you and me? Subsequently, when I was $400 short of being able to attend a Youth Ministry Trade School, my church took a love offering for me. I received the exact amount that I needed. In the years that have followed, I don’t always feel peace, but I know the Lord will provide daily bread to survive.

by Jay Mankus

3G

Cellular technologies began branding 3G in June of 2003. However, it wasn’t until December of 2008 that the first 3G mobile and internet services were launched by Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Limited in India. Unfortunately, this new technology was only available in the cities of Delhi and Mumbai, marketing their product to other metropolitan cities. Eleven years later, 5G has arrived with speeds that range from ~50 Mbit/s to over a gigabit/s.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life, Romans 5:10.

If you have a vehicle, you probably have been encouraged to buy an extended warranty. If this seems too expensive, AAA will try to win you over providing a variety of services for an annual fee. Yet, when human beings break down emotionally, physically or spiritually, who do you call? AAA has limits on the numbers of miles for a free tow and cellular services vary depending upon your carrier. If you ever reach this point in life, you do have access to GGG.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed, Romans 10:9-11.

The 3G I am referring to is the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Three personalities in one, each has played a significant role over the course of history on earth. God the Father in the Old Testament, Jesus in the four Gospels and the Holy Spirit following the Day of Pentecost. You don’t need to drive to church to find God. Nor do you need 3G to access this supreme being. Rather, when you realize that there’s only one person who can fill void in your heart, God is waiting for you to let Him into your life, Revelation 3:20. This Christmas is as good a time as ever to do so before the sun sets on your life.

by Jay Mankus

Worn Out Before the Worship Begins

The Coronavirus has taken a toll on families, lives and souls in 2020. According to a recent report, over 100,000 small businesses have closed this year. Meanwhile, if further lock downs or restrictions are enacted in the weeks and months to come, more the 85% of restaurants could be forced to go out of business for good. Although the thought of Christmas may serve as a healthy distraction for some, many Americans are worn out before Christmas worship services begin, me included.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! – Psalm 95:6

The book definition of worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. While talking to a Samaritan woman in the middle of a hot summer day, Jesus refers to a physical thirst for living water. True worship is valuing the treasures of God, not temporary pleasures that quickly fade away. The inner essence of worship is designed to pour out your heart to the Lord. This occurs by responding to acquired knowledge of the Bible within your mind, as longings within your heart begin to ooze out. However, if you are emotionally spent, how do you regain a vigor for worship this Christmas?

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:24.

One thing Jesus doesn’t want is a counterfeit, a phony Christian faking worship. When anxieties, burdens, and concerns overwhelm your soul, Jesus serves as a weighing station, Matthew 11:28-30. Prayer is a way you can unload all of your spiritual trash, sucking any joy remaining in your life. Once this removal is compete, true worship can begin. Therefore, if you are still trying to pick up the pieces shattered by Covid-19, meet with Jesus now so that you’ll be ready to worship God on Christmas Day.

by Jay Mankus

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