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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 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 56: God’s Not Dead

The Newsboys was one of those groups that always had a distinct sound. This is due to Peter Furler and George Perdikis who are native Australians. The Newsboys began way back in 1985 in their hometown of Mooloolaba, Australia. Seventeen albums later, this Christian rock band still tours today with former DC Talk member Michael Tait. Tait’s addition as lead vocalist has helped the Newsboys evolve and remain popular today.

Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live; John 11:24-25.

What first attracted me to the Newsboys was their drum set up. Once strapped in, the lead drummer would rotate 180 degrees like a looping roller coaster and still play the drums. When I taught at Red Lion Christian Academy a decade ago, the school would host one to two major concerts annually. During my final concert at Red Lion, I served on the stage crew and my job was to put together and take apart the drum set for the Newsboys. This tour just happened to feature today’s song God is Not Dead. Enjoy!

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 39: Supernatural

While attending my first spiritual retreat in college, a couple of students stepped up on top of a cafeteria table and began to rap. Later that night a friend informed me that these students were from Liberty University and referred to themselves as DC Talk. This strange encounter didn’t win me over to rap music, but the Supernatural album made me a fan of DC Talk.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only,” Matthew 4:10.

When I first purchased this album, I drove a couple of students from Red Lion to a leadership conference in the Pocono Mountains. No one in my car objected to replaying this CD once the final song came to an end. While the song Red Letters moved me due to the inspiration lyrics, Supernatural in my mind is by far the best overall song. I hope that Supernatural touches you like it did for me two decades ago.

by Jay Mankus

Love With Your Life

Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 90 years old this week if he wasn’t murdered on April 4th 1968.  To honor his memory, Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986.  Four years later, Wyoming became the first state in the union to pass legislation to make Martin Luther King Day a legal holiday.  While Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech overshadows his 14 years as a civil rights leader, Martin Luther taught Americans how to love with your life.

Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14.

On their 1992 album Free At Last, DC Talk pays homage to Dr. King.  This group refers to spiritual slavery, when an individual is held captive by an addiction, unable to break free until Jesus enters their life.  Dr. King fought for a day when people were judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  Meanwhile, these Christians musicians longed for a day when forgiveness, grace and mercy reconciled their broken relationship with God.  One of the songs on Free At Last, Luv is a Verb, drives home the point that love is meant to be lived out.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love, 1 John 4:8.

The concept of love inspired a hit song by a relatively new artist called Hollyn.  Hollyn received notoriety for her appearance on American Idol.  Two years later, Gotee Records released One Way Conversations in 2017.  With the help of Toby Mac, Hollyn is a raising star who has followed in his footsteps.  Although the title is different, Love with Your Life illustrates that love isn’t love until you demonstrate it by caring for others.  Similar to Michael W’ Smith’s song Give It Away, love wasn’t put in your heart to stay.  The best example, Jesus, gave his life away by dying for you and me.  Go and do your best to love others with your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fostering Love

The concept of foster care in the United States was inspired by Charles Loring Brace.  In the middle of the 19th century, Brace’s heart was torn by the thousands of homeless children living in the slums of New York City.  Brace believed that these children would do much better if placed into a farm setting with Christian families living in the country.  Thus, the Orphan Train movement was born, transporting more than 100,00 children from 1853-1890.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends, Proverbs 17:9.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon encouraged the Israelites to foster love.  Anyone can point out someone’s flaws.  Yet, when attacked human beings tend to go on the defensive. Whether words spoken are in the form of exaggerations, in gest or gossip, any brash decision usually divides and separates relationships.  Therefore, when push comes to shove, its better to foster love by overlooking any offense against you.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

The apostle Paul addresses a similar issue during the first century.  Unfortunately, love was becoming just another word, void of meaning.  In their prime, DC Talk sang above Love is a Verb.  Love is meant to be exercised through selfless acts.  Sure, family may verbalize their love but without any sincere demonstration these terms of endearment are empty.  In view of the negativity fueled by a press upset after their candidate didn’t become president elect, turn the other cheek by fostering love.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Diamond Doesn’t Make Love Last

Watching commercials leading up to Valentine’s Day is rivaling those ads prior to general elections.  I can’t go 15 minutes without someone on television telling me what the best gift is for my sweetheart.  Should I go to Jared, purchase a giant teddy bear or choose chocolate to win my wife’s heart?  Whatever you choose, a diamond doesn’t make love last.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

I’m not sure where the concept or tradition of buying a diamond ring as an engagement gift began?  Looking back, I’m not sure if going broke or into debt to purchase a wow moment is the wisest option.  As DC Talk proclaimed in their hit song, Love is a Verb, an act of service, considering others more important than yourself.  Whatever I decide to purchase for Valentine’s Day, if my actions don’t match my gift, my love is meaningless.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:9-10

My goal for this year, not just for February 14th, is to be a better father, a more supportive husband and begin to love as Christ loved me, Colossians 3:13.  Diamonds have a time and place when the money is available, but love endures forever.  Therefore, as Valentine’s Day approaches, don’t get carried away like Christmas buying gifts.  Rather, display your love through acts of kindness, thoughtful words of encouragement and a smile to light up the mood of those around you.

by Jay Mankus

 

Consequences of the Second Glance

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.  From the roof he saw a woman bathing.  The woman was very beautiful, 2 Samuel 11:2.

As the third anniversary of this blog approaches, nearly fifty percent of the comments on Express Yourself 4 Him have been inspired by The Second Glance.  Written well over a year ago, readers have requested a follow up post or more information regarding this topic.  Thus, after mediating on this subject, today’s piece was born.

Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. – 2 Samuel 11:4a

At first, the second glance is inspired by curiosity, perhaps wanting to dwell on the beauty of an attractive male or female.  However, as David learned the hard way, this double take ignites a spirit of lust.  Like an uncontrollable beast, David skipped over the fact that Bathsheba was married, allowing temptation to have its way since her husband was out of town.  This Fatal Attraction blinded David’s mind, willing to cover up his sin with an Indecent Proposal that ended in murder.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. – 1 John 2:16

Outside of the Bible, one of the greatest examples of the consequences of the second glance was lived out in the life of Ted Bundy.  Prior to his execution on January 24, 1989, Bundy was granted an interview with James Dobson.  Oddly enough, Ted’s addiction to pornography began with a copy of the Sear’s Catalog.  In his case, the second glance led to an addiction that exploded into a life of lust, rape and serial killings.  Unfortunately, no one can escape the words of James 1:15 below.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

May this blog serve as a warning, scaring people straight away from sin and toward a God of reason, Isaiah 1:18-20.

by Jay Mankus

 

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