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S.A.N.S. Episode 270: Speak to the Mountains

Today’s featured song comes from the son of youth pastor. While Chris McClarney was forced to move several times as a child due to the volatility of youth ministry, he now resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and children. One of my favorite Chris McClarney songs is Speak to the Mountains. Chirs’ lyrics remind me that God is bigger than my troubles in life.

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.

In the chorus of Speak to the Mountains, Chris sings with conviction of his belief that nothing is impossible with God on your side. I just wish I wasn’t shaken by the daily trials that I face in life. Perhaps, the more I listen to Speak to the Mountains I will be motivated to stop panicking and begin to trust in the Lord with all my heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

Is Winning Everything?

When you’re not a good student as a child, you try to find one aspect of life where you excel. As for me, stuttering prevented me from receiving positive recognition in class. The only thing I seemed to be good at was running. As my stick figure, skinny bones body began to fill in, winning little league games became a habit. Subsequently, I got addicted to winning as it became everything to me.

For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith. Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]? – 1 John 5:4-5.

This winning is everything attitude stuck with me until college. During my first semester at the University of Delaware, I rejected God like Peter who publicly denied knowing Jesus following his arrest, Mark 14:66-72. Although older neighbors warned me of the temptations on campus, I thought I could handle it. Indulging myself in the college party scene taught me a valuable lesson about the Lordship of Christ.

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 Fellowship of Christian Athletes brought me back to God. During a spiritual retreat on the campus of James Madison University, a burning conviction penetrated my heart. This gnawed at me all weekend until I jumped out of my chair at an open mic in the wee hours of Sunday morning. During this moment of public confession, I exchanged winning is everything for a will to make Jesus the Lord of my life, Romans 10:9-11. True inning on earth is making your eternal reservations for heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Developing an Attitude of Praise

Whenever I have a crappy day, human nature takes over. This is when complaining, grumbling, and fault finding takes over. Rather than refocus my thoughts to concentrate on the positive, the blame game commences as I point the finger in every direction except at myself. During my most recent pouting session, God convicted me that I needed to develop an attitude of praise.

Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels on every side of the throne and of the living creatures and the elders [[f]of the heavenly Sanhedrin], and they numbered ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, 12 Saying in a loud voice, Deserving is the Lamb, Who was sacrificed, to receive all the power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and majesty (glory, splendor) and blessing! – Revelation 5:11-12

Whenever I attend a new church, I feel uneasy about clapping and lifting up my hands in worship unless I know the song. I usually lip sync for a while until I learn and understand the beat and words. When some of the worshippers get carried away and caught up in worshipping God, I often think to myself, “what am I missing?” According to John, I don’t have an attitude of praise.

And I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth [in Hades, the place of departed spirits] and on the sea and all that is in it, crying out together, To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honor and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities)! – Revelation 5:13

Today’s Bible passage provides a glimpse of what an attitude of praise should resemble. The elders sitting in heaven aren’t faking their faith like some may do today. Rather, the residents of heaven are so overwhelmed by the Lamb who was slain on a cross (Jesus), an attitude of praise naturally breaks out. The hard part is developing an attitude of praise outside the church. May this passage challenge you resolve in your heart to develop a biblical attitude of praise.

by Jay Mankus

When Your Conscience is Unimpaired

The first mention of the human conscience is found in Genesis 3:7. Adam and Eve describe this sensation as an overwhelming tug on their hearts. By the time the oral testimonies from Israel’s history were written down, Moses described the conscience as a combination of conviction, guilt and shame. While the world may reject this biblical truth, God designed human beings with a spiritual thermostat known as a conscience.

[And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear ([e]unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:16.

My grandfather was the Chief of Police in Papile, Lithuania. When your father’s job description is to uphold the law, you leave behind a legacy of instilling right from wrong behavior. After my own father served in the United States Army, he made it clear what he expected of me growing up in his house. Subsequently, when I broke a rule or disobeyed, my father turned into a drill sergeant to keep me in line. This is what the Lord used in my life to keep my conscience unimpaired.

They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] [e]decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving [f]thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them], Romans 2:15.

Every human being is wired a little differently. Depending upon your knowledge of the Bible, you may have a clear understanding of right from wrong or you’re currently confused by all the grey areas that exist. Perhaps is this why Joshua exhorted Israel to meditate on the Torah Day and Night prior to entering into God’s Promised Land, Joshua 1:8. When you reach a point in life where God’s laws are written on your heart, your conscience becomes unimpaired.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Spiritual Mood Swings

Mood swings are an abrupt and apparently unaccountable change in an individual’s mood. From time to time, there are logical and rationale reasons to explain these emotional swings. Women may blame that time of the month while men might point to a personal matter. Nonetheless, Christians are called to higher standards in Matthew 5:43-48. According to one of Jesus’ disciples, trusting in the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4 helps overcome spiritual mood swings.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger appeases contention. 19 The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns [it pricks, lacerates, and entangles him], but the way of the righteous is plain and raised like a highway, Proverbs 15:17-19.

King Solomon points to a trait passed on to him by his father David, 1 Samuel 16:7. While the world often uses physical appearances and traits as a means to determine greatness, God looks at the heart. Unfortunately, even men and women with a heart for God have inner demons. Some fall prey to anger which can trigger a mood swing with just one word. As someone who had my own anger management issues in the past, learning to control emotional outbursts is no easy matter.

Because of the hope [of experiencing what is] laid up ([d]reserved and waiting) for you in heaven. Of this [hope] you heard in the past in the message of the truth of the Gospel, Which has come to you. Indeed, in the whole world [that Gospel] is bearing fruit and still is growing [e][by its own inherent power], even as it has done among yourselves ever since the day you first heard and came to know and understand the grace of God in truth. [You came to know the grace or undeserved favor of God in reality, deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it,] Colossians 1:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, grasping God’s grace is the best place to start. Emotional mood swings are usually followed by conviction, guilt, shame or a combination of these three. Once the fireworks of your mood swing have come to an end, there is a brief moment where grace can come to the rescue. If you haven’t reached rock bottom like the prodigal son, common sense may not be regained for days, weeks, months or years. Yet, when the Father’s love shines through, controlling spiritual mood swings is possible.

by Jay Mankus

Humble Beginnings

King Solomon was the first to state what many people tend to think following an epic collapse or fall from grace in Proverbs 16:18. Pride does call before the fall and results in a reboot or as the Bible suggests a humble beginning. No one likes to start over. Whether this refers to a job, life or video game, being forced to turn the clocks back and start from scratch can be deflating. Yet, humility puts life into its proper perspective.

Let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his elevation [as a Christian, called to the true riches and to be an heir of God], 10 And the rich [person ought to glory] in being humbled [by being shown his human frailty], because like the flower of the grass he will pass away, James 1:9-10.

One Old Testament prophet writes about the nature of death in Isaiah 40:8. Each spring flowers bloom, grass grows and trees become covered by leaves. Unfortunately, by the end of fall, lawns become dormant, leaves fall to the earth and flowers disappear for the year until this cycle repeats itself annually. If you own a house or maintain a property, keeping up weekly maintenance can lead to humble beginnings.

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me, Romans 7:15-17.

Yet, beneath the surface of every human being, there lies an internal battle that never ends. The apostle Paul writes about this wrestling match in the passage above. Whenever you discover that you’ve become a hypocrite, doing the exact opposite that you want, conviction, guilt and humility will follow. In this age of mental health awareness, your own sinful nature is often the source of your problems. Therefore, the next time you mess up, use this humble beginning as a teachable moment to rise from the ashes of despair.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back from a Rough Start to Finish Strong

Leaving a good first impression with a boss, co-workers and neighbors is valuable to get ahead in life. Yet, one bad day can trigger an avalanche of chaos that can bury you for weeks, months or for a year. Whenever someone loses faith in you or wavers on trusting you, you need to bounce back as quick as possible. You may not change their minds initially, but consistent dedication will pave a path for reconciliation.

What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. 29 And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go, Matthew 21:28-30.

Jesus understood that parents will be disappointed by their children. This may explain the Parable of Two Sons and the Prodigal Son. In both of these stories, these young men display disobedience and rebellion. Human nature causing males and females to change their minds, often doing the exact opposite of what was previously stated. Perhaps, conviction or embarrassment serve as inspiration to bounce back from a rough start.

Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. 20 So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently], Luke 15:17-20.

The Parable of the Prodigal is a much more famous and intriguing story. When a younger son begs his father for his inheritance, this money is quickly squandered through wild living. As homelessness and hunger arrives, this immature son comes to his senses. After putting aside his pride, he takes the walk of shame back toward home. Before you can bounce back, you need to see the error of your way so that your faith will result in a strong finish, Philippians 3:9-12.

by Jay Mankus

Embrace Holy Fervor

Since I wasn’t a good student early on in high school, I poured my heart and soul into sports. Whether I was running cross country, swimming, playing baseball or golf, I developed a fervor for greatness. I may have not been the most athletic and physically gifted individual, but I wanted to win more than most of my peers. While I didn’t have much of a social life, I didn’t care as long as I improved daily.

But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.

This is the type of passion the Bible refers to in the passage above. Faith provides a similar adrenaline rush that I experienced as an athlete. However, this conviction comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than seek to become a winner in a competition, faith is a driving force to deepen my personal relationship with Jesus. When God becomes who you seek to delight, holy fervor is conceived.

A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. 24 God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality), John 4:23-24.

During a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals how a desire for truth can give birth to holy fervor. Despite the flaws in this recently divorced woman’s life, a fire began to burn deep within her heart as Jesus spoke. This is the same sensation I experienced as a freshman in college when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Regardless of what happens this holiday season, make room for Jesus so that you may embrace holy fervor.

by Jay Mankus

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Just refers to behaving according to what is morally right and fair. Yet, when I think of just, I envision someone justifying why they do what they do. Since I’m not an analytical person, I rarely contemplate the why in my daily life. Perhaps, this is due to a tendency to rely on feelings, what my heart is telling me to do or say. I don’t consider myself to be just. Rather, I follow my convictions with the Holy Spirit the wind beneath my wings as Bette Midler once sang.

But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.

In the passage above, the author of one New Testament book examines how faith regulates the life of a Christian. Or should I say, what an active faith resembles. Beneath the surface, conviction from human consciences was designed by God to keep danger out by staying within the boundaries laid out in the Old Testament. When faith is great, fear shrinks as a holy fervor inspires individuals to pursue things that delight the Lord.

But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul, Hebrews 10:39.

Unfortunately, when human consciences become seared by actively indulging fleshly desires, it’s hard to go back to your life prior to becoming a prodigal. Sin has a way of entertaining you longer than expected, but leaves you feeling empty. This is the misery King David wrote about in Psalm 32:3-4. Before the darkness destroys what you have, respect your relationship with God. If you don’t have one, don’t delay so that you may begin the journey of the just who live by faith, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

The Unchangeableness of God’s Purpose and Plan

Most Hollywood films begin with a main character who is introduced in their ordinary world. This comfortable place quickly illustrates who the protagonist is, a specific desire in life and each is given a flaw that prevents this individual from reaching their full potential. Like a story from the Bible, screenplays have a call to action that will take the hero on a 90 minute journey. During this adventure, the main character is forced to rethink some of their beliefs and values. By the end, most characters will change.

Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath, Hebrews 6:17.

According to one New Testament author, God never changes. Later on in this book, a comment is made about God’s one and only son. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. This convincing statement is made beyond a doubt. This conviction is based upon God’s promise of a spiritual inheritance in the Old Testament. Although the forefathers of Israel never received this promise prior to their deaths, this oath is fulfilled in the afterlife, 1 John 5:13.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because [b]you have me in your heart and I hold you in my heart as partakers and sharers, one and all with me, of grace (God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing). [This is true] both when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the defense and confirmation of the good news (the Gospel), Philippians 1:6-7.

Anyone who has ever sought out God’s will for their own life, Romans 12:1-2, this never occurs in a straight line from point A to point B. Rather, freewill causes all human beings to deviate, going off course for an extended period of time. While your detour may not last 40 years like the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt, you will continue on the wrong path until common sense returns. Nonetheless, God has prepared in advance for you good works to do on earth. This is what the Bible means by the unchangeableness of God’s purpose and plan. May you put aside idleness so that you will fan into flame your God given gifts.

by Jay Mankus

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