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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 277: Cast My Cares

One of the first things I did in high school becoming a Christian was to join an accountability group. While it felt good to share to others what was going on in life, I felt like a few individuals tried to dominant each session, forcing the group to spend most of the time on this person’s issues. During college I joined a Chrysalis Reunion Group which was a perfect place to cast your burdens to others.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [o]ease and relieve and [p]refresh [q]your souls.] 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([r]relief and ease and refreshment and [s]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [t]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne, Matthew 11:28-30.

Today’s featured song sings about the passage above. Finding Favour created Cast My Cares for anyone who is being weighed down by heavy burdens in life. Hebrews 12:1-2 compares life to a marathon with a call to throw off anything that is weighing you down. May the lyrics of Cast My Cares encourage Christians to unload any anxieties, burdens and cares at the feet of Jesus in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 261: Next to Me

 Sometimes when you hear a new song for the first time, it may take time to decide if you like it or not. When I first heard today’s featured song by Jordan Feliz, I was curious by his combination of folk rock and soul style of Christian pop. Jordan incorporates the parable of the Prodigal Son into the lyrics of Next to Me as a call to come back home to Jesus.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field, Deuteronomy 28:1-3.

As I listened to a portion of the lyrics, I was reminded by the words of Moses. Prior to passing the baton to Joshua as Israel’s spiritual leader, Moses writes about blessings that come from God when believers are obedient. This is what Jordan sings about in the line “feeling deep down in his soul.” May Jordan’s message in Next to Me encourage you to draw close to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 245: Healing Waters

Today’s musician came all the way from Adelaide, Australian to follow her dream to become a contemporary Christian artist. While Michele Tumes began his music ministry in Australian, she moved to the United States in 1993. Songs like No Greater Love in 2010, The Key, and Tinker Bell, also in 2008 put Michele Tumes on the map. One of her most soothing songs is Healing Waters.

In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—[a]waiting for the bubbling up of the water. For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted, John 5:3-4.

When I first heard Healing Waters on the radio, I was reminded of the passage above. In the first century, one place in Jerusalem developed a reputation for miraculous healing. A pool near the Sheep Gate was given the Hebrew name Bethesda. Desperate people came from all over the region hoping to experience healing waters. As you listen to today’s song, may you be encouraged by God’s power to heal.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 231: Never Alone

When I first listened to today’s featured song, I was reminded of a Psalm of David. Known as the Shepherd’s Psalm, David compares God’s nature to a loving shepherd who provides comfort to anyone who feels alone. Tori Kelly first gained recognition after posting videos on YouTube as a teenager. In today’s song Never Alone, Tori joins Kirk Franklin to sing this comforting ballad.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me, Psalm 23:4.

The lyrics of Never Alone speaks to individuals who have fought through difficult seasons in life. Whenever someone is forced to endure a series of trials, crying and pain often ensue. Like the realization of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, at your weakest point opens the door for Jesus to be strong. May Never Alone encourage any souls that need to be uplifted today.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 200: Broken Heart

Today’s song comes from an American Christian rock band that formed in Albany, Oregon. Falling Up signed to BEC Recordings in 2003 after a recommendation from friends in the band Kutless. Followers of Falling Up believe their 2008 singles collection Discover the Trees Again was simultaneously the end of an era and the start of an incredibly exciting new chapter for this band.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

Every adult is familiar with broken hearts. Whether this is due to a failed friendship or marriage, all human beings are in need of healing. Subsequently, Falling Up’s lyrics of Broken Heart serve as a cry for help like a prayer where you pour out your heart to God. My today’s song encourage you to never be afraid or ashamed to ask God for healing.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 145: Heart’s Cry

Today’s featured song comes from the Hooters of Christian music. The Stand contains that classic rock and roll sound of the 1980’s. While keyboard has replaced the piano in most modern bands, you can hear the difference on a couple of the songs from the Heartbreak Town album. According to one of the websites I found, the Stand was influenced by the Raspberries.

The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent, Psalm 34:18.

Everyone has experienced some sort of heart break in life. This pain may inspire you to reflect upon poor choices that you have made in life. In the passage above, God promises to be close to those who have been crushed by a broken heart. As you listen to Heart’s Cry or the entire Heartbreak Town album, may the lyrics encourage and uplift your spirit to press on despite how you feel.

by Jay Mankus

Rise Like an Edifice

An edifice is an imposing building. This may be complex, elegant and or large in stature. In the passage below, edifice is like a city on a hill in Matthew 5:14. According to Jude, one of the best ways to rise like an edifice is to pray in the Holy Spirit. If the apostle Paul was correct in his assumption in Galatians 5:25, once you learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit your faith will rise like an edifice under construction.

 But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [[d]make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit; Jude 1:20.

During a first century conversation with his disciples, Jesus introduces the concept of moving mountains through belief, faith and prayer, Matthew 21:18-22. According to Jesus, belief is the difference between living an ordinary life and rising like an edifice. Perhaps confidence is the key that distinguishes one Christians prayer life above another. The greater your faith, the larger the mountains you’ll move.

Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—[which will bring you] unto life eternal, Jude 1:21.

Beside developing and strengthening your prayer life, Jude encourages first century Christians to guard and keep your lives in the love of God. Jesus’ earthly brother provides directions to obtain this spiritual state in James 4:7-10. As you draw near to God, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25. If you want to rise like an edifice, listen to the instructions of God’s Word so faith continues to grow.

by Jay Mankus

The Sum of Christian Belief

Who Are You by the Who is one of those classic rock songs that make you think about life. Pete Townshend’s inspiration behind this song comes from personal experiences with Wino’s, Alcoholic’s, Drug addict’s and the homeless. This quest to figure what led to this lowly position in life is a good lesson for Christians. Who we are and who we can become in a new found faith is the sum of Christian belief.

Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all [a]handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered [b]verbally to the holy people of God], Jude 1:3.

Heresy is a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religion. From a Christian perspective, there were numerous New Age ideas presented in the first century. As the original disciples of Jesus passed away, there weren’t many eyewitnesses remaining to refute these false claims. Subsequently, Jude was inspired by the Holy Spirit to address the sum of Christian belief.

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.

While theology is the science of God. some theologians make the Bible more complex and confuse young Christians searching for answers to questions in life. My spiritual mentor and high school swim coach encouraged me to start with John’s Gospel as well as 1 John. The passage above serves as the sum of Christian belief. The situation is human beings are fallen creatures. The task is who will save us from this condition. The action is to trust in Jesus, Romans 10:9-11. The result is eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

From Time to Time

Starting a few years ago, I decided to use a different translation of the Bible each time I study the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation. My most recent study involves the Classic Amplified Bible. This version opened my eyes to the words of one of Jesus’ former disciples. John took great joy whenever a Christian visited with the goal of sharing their faith. Unfortunately, this only occurred from time to time.

In fact, I greatly rejoiced when [some of] the brethren from time to time arrived and spoke [so highly] of the sincerity and fidelity of your life, as indeed you do live in the Truth [the whole Gospel presents], 3 John 1:3.

When something in your life isn’t important or a priority, you only experience this from time to time. From John’s perspective, he watched Jesus present the Gospel every day for three years. Jesus didn’t wait to share God’s love until the disciples reached their appointed destination for the night. Rather, Jesus seized every moment, walking, talking and loving along the way, stopping to perform miracles daily.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my [spiritual] children are living their lives in the Truth. Beloved, it is a fine and faithful work that you are doing when you give any service to the [Christian] brethren, and [especially when they are] strangers, 3 John 1:4-5.

John explains in the passage above why Christians should live out God’s Word daily by sharing their faith. When God uses you to comfort or encourage someone in the form of a divine appointment, the joy you experience from this encounter is amazing. Perhaps, this is the what the abundant joy that Jesus promised in John 10:10 feels like. Rather than casually share your faith from time to time, search for daily opportunities to pass on God’s love.

by Jay Mankus

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