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Time of Your Life

The concept of “Time of Your Life” began with a 1939 play written by William Saroyan. In more recent years, movies like Dirty Dancing have brought songs with this concept in the title. I’ve Had the Time of My Life by Jennifer Warnes uses dancing as a means to have fun. Depending upon your hobbies and personality, the goal of any day is to have the time of your life.

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.

When I look back on the past half-century, one year sticks out, 1993. I left a youth director position in Delaware to attend a youth ministry trade school in Minnesota. For 7 straight weeks, I was having the time of my life, living with other people my age who wanted to minister to young people. Not only was I transformed by the teaching I received, I also experienced a revival while living in Columbus, Indiana.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:9-10.

When I was having the time of my life, I was also working 90 hours a week. My only day off began with a Bible Study at McDonald’s with students, followed by lunch in Cincinnati with my good friend Phil, and ended with an adult Bible Study back at church. When you’re having the time of your life, make sure you don’t burn yourself out like I did in 1994. Balance is crucial for developing stability and longevity. If I only knew this back then, I’d still be having the time on my life. For now, I’m trying to recapture what was lost.

by Jay Mankus

What You Don’t Plant Never Blooms

Planning and Planting share one crucial ingredient: timing is everything. If you plant crops or a garden too soon, cold weather and frost can ruin all of your hard work. Meanwhile, if you wait too long to plant each spring, arid and wet weather can diminish and or nullify every seed that was soon. My last season of snap peas in Delaware never came up due to several inches of rain; swamping my garden for a week.

He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good, Ecclesiastes 11:4-6.

One of my favorite classes in college was Economic Geography. Most of this class was based upon simulations using natural resources and climate. One unit was farming, using the Farmer’s Almanac to determine what crop or crops you were going to plant based upon previous weather patterns. I decided to diversify, planting two different crops. While I did okay, planting anything involves taking a risk.

Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain—some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him [a]consider and [b]perceive and comprehend by hearing, Matthew 13:8-9.

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus explains the meaning of this story to his disciples. Most soils that you plant in will have limitations. Some regions are too arid, others too rocky and a few are so wild that thorns and vines can overwhelm anything you try to plant. The goal for any homeowner is to improve your environment (soil) annually. Although the weather may not cooperate for you, what you don’t plant never blooms.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 69: No One Like You

I was fortunate to see the David Crowder Band in concert twice before taking time off to lead worship at his home church. While David decided to change his band to simply Crowder, this group has a special gift for drawing audiences closer to the Lord. While teaching at Red Lion, I served on part of the security team for both of Crowder’s concerts in Delaware.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you, John 14:1-2.

When I first started teaching high school Bible, No One Like You was part of the regular rotation during our school chapel services. While Red Lion’s worship team did a good job, there is nothing like hearing Crowder play No One Like You live. David’s energy, joy, and passion lifted up the concert audience up, giving those in attendance a glimpse of heaven. May you enjoy this classic song.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 45: I Believe You

Today’s song comes from a group that I discovered in another bargain bin. Anytime you take a chance on an unknown artist, it’s either boom or bust. Yet, since it usually costs 99 cents to download a song onto your computer or phone, I don’t mind spending a dollar to see what I can uncover. Of the 14 songs on the This Too Shall Pass album by the Fold, I Believe You is my favorite.

Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and[c]to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me, John 20:29.

The Fold is an American indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois. While I lived in Chicago for a couple of years after getting married, the Fold didn’t form until 2002, long after Leanne and I moved to Delaware. I Believe You uses a similar style found in modern spontaneous worship montages. The initial pop rock melody transitions into a slower Spirit filled song before ending with the original beat. I hope you enjoy the Fold.

by Jay Mankus

Who is There to Hurt You?

While anxiety is less intense than fear, stress tends to be a more sustained emotional response than phobias. Although human beings may be threatened by overreaching and power-hungry individuals, inner demons are often your own worst enemy. Anyone who has ever experienced an anxiety attack, know the overwhelming feeling you endure and how it can interfere with your daily life.

Now who is there to hurt you if you are [d]zealous followers of that which is good? – 1 Peter 3:13

Since my days at Hanby Junior High School in Wilmington, Delaware, I’ve turned to music to find comfort and hope. Whenever I was sad, I’d listen to Air Supply or Chicago which made me even more depressed. Perhaps this empty feeling eventually drew me to only listen to Christian music. While in college, a friend introduced me to punk rock and a group called the Altar Boys. The emptiness I once experienced was replaced by a quiet confidence thanks to the song “When I’m with God.”

But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, to be envied). Do not dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition], 1 Peter 3:14.

No matter how big, tall or old you may be, there is always someone faster, stronger and smarter. Despite all of the new threats that you may experience, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ has eased many of my anxieties in life. Like the words of one of Jesus’ disciples in the passage above, who is there to hurt you if you are passionately following the Lord? No one likes hardships, persecution or trials, but when I’m with God my fears tend to fade away. Place your hope in Jesus today, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Undisturbed by Fear

The response known as fear starts in the region of the brain called the amygdala. This unpleasant emotion is often intense as individuals perceive and or recognize a dangerous threat. Depending upon the degree of fear that you encounter, physiological changes may produce behavioral reactions that conceive phobias. One of Jesus’ disciples suggests that reaching a certain level of faith allows Christians to be undisturbed by fear.

Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right. Let him search for peace (harmony; undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!] – 1 Peter 3:11

As a child growing up in Delaware, I’d had many strange encounters with snakes. I’ve had snakes slither in between my feet while cutting the grass, fall from trees right in front of me and stop right next to me while swimming in a creek. These experiences conceived a reoccurring dream while in college. Similar to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the snake in my nightmare is coiled up before instantly launching toward me to strike and bit me

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

This phobia of snakes haunted me throughout my childhood. That is until a conversation in college opened my eyes to the meaning of this dream. The snake was symbolic of the Devil whom I spent a lifetime running away from in fear like a coward. The Holy Spirit was calling me to confront this fear with the knowledge of the promise in the passage above. When Christians begin to pray for and claim a spirit of power, love and self-discipline, you will eventually become undisturbed by fear.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 18: The Best Thing in Life

The first artist to appear twice on SANS is Steve Wiggins. However, this time Steve isn’t alone, serving as the lead singer of Big Tent Revival. Since I’ve spent a majority of my life in the state of Delaware, I live in between two famous locations where revivals were held. Pike Creek and St. Georges each contained naturally amphitheater’s where preachers like George Whitfield led outdoor big tent meetings.

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.

These big tent revivals during the first great awakening led to the creation of the Methodist Church. Named after John and Charles Wesley who were methodical in their Bible Study and prayers. As for today’s song, I could have chosen a few from Big Tent Revival’s Open All Nite Album. Yet, the lyrics of the Best Thing in Life comes right out of scripture. A free gift for all to receive.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 6: Carry On

If you are old enough, everyone has the favorite time of their lives. For me this was 1993 as I ventured west from Delaware to Minnesota to attend a youth ministry trade school. This 7-week intensive training program transformed my life and gave me an inner confidence that I could do anything. The friendships that I made along the way were a blessing. When my initial interview at a church in Rapid City, South Dakota didn’t go well, I spent a semester teaching at a boarding school in West Virginia.

O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His doings among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them, Psalm 105:1-2.

Little did I know that teaching Communications and Poetry would ignite a desire to write. I created an album entitled A Simple Confession with 12 songs and wrote a book of poems. Before the year was over, I was offered a full-time youth ministry position in Indiana and met Leanne, my wife at a national convention. Before leaving Minnesota, I came across an obscure band named Shadow Wings. After listening closely, I discovered Pat Benatar is a lead vocalist on the Carry On Album. While the attached link isn’t the greatest, I wanted to introduce you to the song Carry On by Shadow Wings.

by Jay Mankus

Let Marriage be Held in Honor

In my earliest years as a child living in New Jersey, divorce wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. After moving to Delaware, I was introduced to this term when one of my friends mom got divorced twice. During my teenage years, it was still uncommon to enter a home where parents were divorced. Yet, as I entered high school, more and more adults began to give up on failing marriages.

Let marriage be held in honor (esteemed worthy, precious, of great price, and especially dear) in all things. And thus let the marriage bed be undefiled (kept undishonored); for God will judge and punish the unchaste [all guilty of sexual vice] and adulterous, Hebrews 13:4.

Perhaps this trend was encouraged by popular shows like Mash which regularly showed members of the Army cheating on their spouses. Distance and loneliness was seen as an acceptable reason for breaking marriage vows. At some point in the 1980’s, affairs, flings and one night stands aired weekly on major network television. Once cable arrived, temptation and sexual fantasies trampled this once sacred vow.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]. 22 He who finds a [true] wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:21-22.

This Bible may be considered an old fashion book with values that no longer applies to modern day life. Yet, King Solomon makes an interesting observation in the passage above. The words you speak, the people you hang around and the beliefs that are formed will shape your destiny. These self fulfilled prophecies will either produce healthy or failed marriages. May this blog persuade you to hold marriage as an honorable and sacred tradition.

by Jay Mankus

A Holy Christmas

When my parents moved to Delaware in 1976, a local Catholic Church about a half mile away was about to break ground. By the 1980’s, we moved from St. Mary Magdalene Church on Concord Pike to Holy Child. This was the church that introduced my family to the concept of a midnight mass. When my father was transferred to Ohio, another local church had an even better tradition. From 10-11 pm, Christmas carols were sung and the church service ended at 12 mid-night Christmas morning.

Who owe their birth neither to [c]bloods nor to the will of the flesh [that of physical impulse] nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God. [They are born of God!] 14 And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth, John 1:13-14.

After years of worshiping Santa and presents, I discovered the reason for this spiritual holiday. When the church bell struck 12 am Christmas morning, the sound of this bell announced the dawn of a new day. Strike after strike, 12 total times, helped me to begin to make room for Jesus as a young adult. As my parents drove home from this annual mass, the words of O Holy Night struck a cord with my soul. These 2 hours each Christmas Eve helped me make the 25th of December a Holy Christmas.

John testified about Him and cried out, This was He of Whom I said, He Who comes after me has priority over me, for He was before me. [He takes rank above me, for He existed before I did. He has advanced before me, because He is my Chief.] 16 For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift, John 1:15-16.

Now as a parent, I haven’t passed on this tradition with my children. Instead we celebrate my sister Cindy’s birthday, play games around a table and watch Elf. Not quite the spiritual experience that I was forced to attend and raised with. Yet, there is time to write a new story. Time to reflect upon the meaning of this day of Emmanuel, God with us starting as an infant who would go on to become a Savior. Therefore, as this holy night arrives, set your heart and mind and things above to worship Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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