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When Your Dream Gets Shattered

When my family moved to Delaware in the summer of 1977, I was welcomed into a neighborhood with several kids my age. On rainy days or summer nights, a couple of my new friends invited me over to play Monopoly. Some of these games lasted hours until everyone went bankrupt. except for the winner who had bragging rights until our next marathon session. Losing often as a child helped prepare me for real life when my dreams did get shattered.

 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar [in Babylonia], Genesis 10:10.

Moses introduces readers of the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, to Nimrod, the son of Cush. When Nimrod laid eyes on the land of Shinar, modern day Babylonia, he thought this would be a great place for a city to be erected. Nimrod was a visionary who may have been the mastermind behind the Tower at Babel. While Moses does not mention Nimrod by name during the construction of this elaborate city, this was likely a major dream and goal of his.

Come, let Us go down and there confound (mix up, confuse) their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from that place upon the face of the whole earth, and they gave up building the city. Therefore the name of it was called Babel—because there the Lord confounded the language of all the earth; and from that place the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of the whole earth, Genesis 11:7-9.

While there are always construction delays in every project, the passage above details something out of this world. Moses’ use of “Let us” refers to God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Moses paints the picture of a spirit of confusion likely in the form of new languages each worker began to think about. Whatever happened on this day, Nimrod’s dream of a great tower was never completed. Like Nimrod, we all have at least one thing we want to accomplish before we die. Therefore, as you endure disappointment, failures, and setbacks in life, don’t give up on your dreams; don’t ever give up, Galatians 6:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 357: Hittin’ Curves

If you’ve had your driver’s license long enough, you’ll probably hit a curb or tow. This usually occurs to me when I’m pulling out of a restaurant in a hurry, trying to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic. Or you may have to back up to park on your street. While Delaware had curved curbs in my old neighborhood, South Carolina has square curbs so when you hit them, you definitely feel it.

Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you. 26 Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright. 27 Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil, Proverbs 4:25-27.

King Solomon writes about where your eyes are located will determine the path that you take in life. The Christian rap group Grits sings about this in their song Hittin’ Curves. If you’re gazing straight ahead, the probability of you striking a curve goes down. However, if you’ve distracted by a phone or something else while driving, you can hit almost anything. When you remove these distractions while driving, you’ll avoid any curbs or curves that you’ll encounter.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 347: Friend Like That

As someone who has moved multiple times in life, true friends are hard to find. Whether it was moving from New Jersey to Delaware in Elementary School or from Delaware to Ohio in college, when you do finally relocate, you will find out who your real friends truly are. When none of them reach out to you after your departure, your friendship was more of an acquaintance than anything else. Perhaps, this is the inspiration behind Hawk Nelson’s song Friend Like That.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

King Solomon wrote about what a true friend meant to him in the passage above. Through the years, Christian artists have reflected upon this topic with songs by Geoff Moore, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman. When a friend does stick closer than a brother, this kind of relationship becomes a spiritual treasure. As a new year begins, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to find a friend like that in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 346: Nothing Left to Lose

My last year that I was a single man, I lived with an attitude I have nothing else to lose. In 1993, I spent the first six months of this year living in six different states. I began the New Year in Delaware before spending 7 weeks at a Youth Ministry Trade School in Minnesota. While waiting for an interview in South Dakota, I spent some time in Ohio working odd jobs. After my job offer in Rapid City fell through, I worked a semester at a boarding school in West Virginia before being offered a full-time youth ministry position in Columbus, Indiana. This is the closest I’ve ever come to living the abundant life, John 10:10.

Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward, Philippians 3:12-14.

Perhaps Mat Kearney had a similar experience in his own life to inspire the lyrics to Nothing Left to Lose. Mat’s song reminds me of the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. Paul didn’t want to be an idle or stale Christian. Therefore, his mindset on earth turned toward heaven, making sure his own motives aligned with God’s will for his life. As you listen to Nothing Left to Lose, may you become embolden to live 2023 with your eyes fixed upon Jesus, Hebrews 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

A Moment Closest to Christ in the Face of Adversity

When I was in college, I attended a Walk to Emmaus Weekend. Following this amazing retreat with men, a group of us started an accountability group to keep the spiritual momentum going. Ed hosted this weekly get together on Monday night which was attended by Dave, D.R., Jack and me. The Reunion Group relied on an outline for sharing that included your moment closest to Christ. While at work today, the Holy Spirit opened by eyes and heart to a spiritual element that has been missing from my life.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— 17 The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you, John 16:16-17.

The emotions that I experienced were brought on due to my sister’s current battle with ovarian cancer. When I first moved to Delaware 25 years ago, I spent the first 10 years getting together on Friday nights for a combination of cards and games. While these nights at her house were often competitive and intense, this time brought our families together as my two oldest boys got to spend time with their older cousins Lizzy and Rachael. Unfortunately, over the past 15 years I’ve become so consumed with my own life that I haven’t spent enough time with the people I love.

I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you. 19 Just a little while now, and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you, John 16:18-20.

My moment closest to Christ came in the form of a rhema, a message from the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of the song Wanting the Things You Get by Santa Fe. The message of the attached You Tube pierced my heart, flooding my soul with conviction of not investing my time on earth in relationships. Instead, I’ve wasted a decade on self-indulgence on my computer, phone and watching television. My pledge for 2023 is to begin focusing my life and time centered around getting to know and love my neighbors. As I continue to pray for the miracle of healing for my sister Kathie, seize every moment that you have with family this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 309: Hark the Herald

When I was a teenager, church groups would organize nights to sing Christmas carols in various neighborhoods. In the middle of my junior year, I attended a lock-in at a Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. This event introduced me to people with similar interests, so I started to attending Sunday Night youth groups religiously. The following year I went to a local nursing home prior to Christmas to sing Christmas carols with the youth group. One of the songs we sang was Hark the Herald.

And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky] in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, Luke 2:8-10.

This Christmas Carol sets the tone for what really happened on that first Christmas. Angels appeared to lowly shepherds with a revelation that would change the world, John 3:16-17. While traditional choirs have disappeared at many churches today due to the popularity of contemporary worship music, I thought it would be nice to feature one that still exists. I hope you enjoy listening to the Spirituals Choir sing Hark the Herald “angels sing glory to the newborn king.”

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not Good to Be Alone

Depending upon your personality, silence can be a harsh punishment or needed break from the chaos of life. As the youngest child with two older sisters, I barely saw Kathie and Cindy once my family moved to Delaware from New Jersey. When my sisters became teenagers, they did their own thing, so I just hung out with neighborhood kids. Since I struggled with severe stuttering as a child, I didn’t mind passing time in solitary play in my backyard pretending to be one of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him. 19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every [wild] beast and living creature of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them; and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was its name. 20 And Adam gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the air and to every [wild] beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him, Genesis 2:18-20.

When I recently read the passage above, it’s clear that God designed human being to be relational creatures. Any time God looks down from heaven and see lonely people on earth, His heart breaks. Based upon Moses’ words, God was sad when Adam wasn’t able to find a suitable helper among the animals. While animal lovers believe that dogs are a man’s best friend, God demands and wants more in a relationship on earth.

Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

King Solomon highlights the benefits of having a suitable helper and or a soulmate. The helper will make a day at work more bearable, cheer you up or make you laugh. Meanwhile, the soulmate will keep you warm on a cold night, listen to your struggles from the day and encourage you when you’re feeling down. Last week, Leanne and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. I’m amazed at how quick life flies by, but we still have the rest of our lives to be together, not alone.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 291: God Who Moves the Mountains

I recently moved from one of the flattest states in the country, Delaware, to the Midlands of western South Carolina. My commute to work is up and down steep hills, over and over again for an hour. When I first heard the lyrics of today’s song, God Who Moves the Mountains, I’m reminded of why many prayers lifted up by Christians that go unanswered. Mountains serve as a mental block, causing doubt to replace faith as described by Jesus in the passage below.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

Despite the unknown of the future, Jesus taught his disciples to trust in the One who can move mountains. This in the inspiration behind Corey Voss’ song God Who Moves the Mountains. Jesus presents twelve men with the ideal scenario: the could be/should be result for any prayer spoken as long as you believe in the God who moves mountains. As you listen to the lyrics, may you be inspired to intensify your prayer life with a faith that moves mountains.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 288: Your Grace Finds Me

Today’s featured song comes from across the pond as they say in golf. Matt Redman is now based in Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom. Matt is also an active member of Compassionart, a charity founded by fellow musician Martin Smith. I was introduced to Matt by a local Christian radio in Delaware. However, during a recent You Tube search, I was touched by the lyrics of Redman’s song Your Grace Finds Me.

But He gives us more and more grace ([a]power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it), James 4:6.

One of the ways grace finds Christians is through the power of the Holy Spirit. Like the day of Pentecost, grace may arrive unexpectedly or come just when you need to hear some good news. Either way, God gives grace to the humble and those mired in difficult circumstances. As you listen to today’s song, may God’s grace find you in one way or another. Enjoy.

by Jay Mankus

The Second Death

After moving back to Delaware in the late 1990’s, I worked for one of my college roommates. John has just started a new Christian wholesale business and needed someone to help out with the Warehouse. As John and his wife Stacy focused on Retail Sales in their showroom, I spent two years as a production manager, overseeing the Inbound and Outbound shipping operations.

Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) and holy (spiritually whole, of unimpaired innocence and proved virtue) is the person who takes part (shares) in the first resurrection! Over them the second death exerts no power or authority, but they shall be ministers of God and of Christ (the Messiah), and they shall rule along with Him a thousand years, Revelation 20:6.

Like any job that I’ve ever done, music or the radio is needed to keep me focused. When I wasn’t blasting Christian music, I listened to books on tape and famous Bible teachers. The one cassette tape that got the most replays was a series of sermons on Great Awakenings. Former church historian Leonard Ravenhill is who introduced me to the concept of the second death.

Then death and Hades ([d]the state of death or disembodied existence) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14.

Ravenhill looked at the past to make sure modern Christians didn’t fall prey to the mistakes of previous generations. Leonard specialty was as educating churches on prayer and revival. Ravenhill had a way of bringing alive the past as if you were part of some sort of a time capsule. While everyone goes through a physical death on earth, the second death only occurs to those not listed in the Book of Life. To avoid this eternal destination, make sure your make your reservations before it’s too late, 1 John 5:12-13.

by Jay Mankus

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