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S.A.N.S. Episode 185: Battle for the Minds

Today’s song screams 1980’s. Crosssection released the album Before the Dawn in 1989. The lyrics of Battle for the Minds is a daily prayer Christians have been offering up to the Lord for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, if you ever watch cable news, it doesn’t take long to realize that the liberals and progressives have won this battle by controlling public education and most colleges.

See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah), Colossians 2:8.

The apostle Paul wrote about the Battle for human minds to members of the Church at Colosse. Paul suggests that intellectualism and philosophy interfere with God’s ability to shape your mind as a spiritual potter. Colossians 2:6-7 encourages Christians to daily study the Bible so that spiritual roots are developed. While the Battle for the Minds hasn’t aged well, the message still rings true today.

by Jay Mankus

A Prayer to Carry On

As I was driving from Delaware to South Carolina last Friday, I was listening to my favorite soft rock mix. As I was reminiscing about my past 25 years living in Delaware, the sound Breathe You In by Thousand Foot Krutch began playing. When I got stuck in D.C. traffic, I had time to replay this song several times to study the lyrics. During this time of reflection, I realized that Breathing God In is a prayer to carry on.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

One of the most moving portions of Breathe You In occurs during the liine “I’ve tried so hard to not walk away when things don’t go my way.” When adversity strikes, human nature has a way of doubting God. Therefore, whenever negative thoughts begin to fill your mind, it’s essential to cry out to Jesus when you’re weak to give you the strength to carry on, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.

At the conclusion of his letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul encourages Christians to not give up hope. Regardless of how tired and weary you may become, don’t waste all the time and effort that you’ve put into life. While meditation isn’t often associated with Christianity, when you visualize Breathing in the Holy Spirit, God will give you the will to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

Getting Your Emotions Under Control

One of Israel’s former kings describes time in the context of seasons. Just as Christmas is associated with winter in the northern hemisphere, every month brings with it a series of emotions. In Ecclesiastes 3:4, King Solomon follows sorrow with laughter. Since nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, James 4:13-14, you have to be ready to keep your emotions under control at all times.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, Philippians 4:6.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul touches on mental health. Apparently, members of this church with dealing with a growing amount of anxiety. Rather than try to handle this on your own, Paul encourages Christians to actively pray for the circumstances that are bringing you stress. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by emotions, be thankful for any little victory that you experience daily.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7.

When you create a list of things that challenge your mental health, include these petitions as a daily part of your prayer life. Building on the words of Luke 1:37, the apostle Paul suggests that God has the ability to give you the strength to endure any situation that you face, Philippians 4:13. If you search for the peace of Christ, this tranquil state will enable any believer to get and keep your emotions under control.

by Jay Mankus

Sorting Out the Details

Whenever you plan a weekend getaway or vacation, one member of your family has to sort out all the details. If you’re flying, what’s the best day and time to get the cheapest deal? Where are you going to stay and how close is this to the main attractions? During one trip early in my marriage, I forgot about all the Nascar fans in town for the race at the Monster Mile in Dover. My oversight made it impossible to find a hotel on our way back, ending up in a dive in the middle of nowhere.

If you know (perceive and are sure) that He [Christ] is [absolutely] righteous [conforming to the Father’s will in purpose, thought, and action], you may also know (be sure) that everyone who does righteously [and is therefore in like manner conformed to the divine will] is born (begotten) of Him [[r]God], 1 John 2:29.

One of Jesus’ disciples writes about sorting out all the necessary spiritual details to conform to God’s will for your life. The apostle Paul starts this process by developing the right mindset in Romans 12:1-2. While reaching out to a teenager pastor in the first century, Paul encourages this spiritual leader to daily apply his gifts and talents, 2 Timothy 1:6-7. As Christians begin to ascertain their spiritual gifts and adopt the mind of Christ, sorting out God’s will for your life begins to fall into place.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

However, sorting out all the details of conforming to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action will vary for each Christian. Some who come to a personal faith in Jesus late in life often have a clear vision of God’s calling. Young followers may have to explore for a couple of years or a decade, going through their own prodigal experience. Or if you’re like me you have to reinvent yourself at a stage in life to transition into a new job or calling. Whatever steps God takes you through, remember that success is the process of arriving until the Lord calls you home.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 66: Breaking Down

Depeche Mode was a popular group when I was in high school. Finding a similar sound to Depeche Mode wasn’t easy. While in college, I began to listen to a Christian radio program on Saturday nights that featured alternative music. The group that sounded the most like Depeche Mode was Code of Ethics. After buying the Visual Paradox album, Breaking Down reminded me of a classic 80’s feel.

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, John 8:26.

Breaking Down by Code of Ethics encourages listeners to examine your own life with a new set of eyes. If you are worried about what you’ll find, you may abort this call for reflection before it begins. Yet, as the Lord humbles the proud, humility is God’s way of breaking down walls that humans build and construct. While you may not like 80’s music, the message of Breaking Down is something to think about.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 29: Deeper

In my final year of high school, I became a big fan of U2. My favorite album, the Unforgettable Fire, was filled with biblically based themes. Today’s song comes from a Christian band from the United Kingdom who combines a U2 feel with alternative praise. At the time of their arrival on the Christian music scene in the United States, Delirious was considered to be on the cutting edge of worship music.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness, Psalm 147:11.

The song Deeper suggests that Christians reach a point in their relationship with God where faith becomes stale. Subsequently, the lyrics speak of an inner desire to go beyond a surface level relationship. Like the words of 1 Peter 2:2, Deeper encourages Christian to dive deeper than they have ever gone before. May Deeper inspire you to draw closer to Jesus Christ, James 4:8.

by Jay Mankus

Let Us Come Forward in Truth

In the days of Little House on the Prairie and Let it to Beaver, television attempted to present a moral or truth to viewers in each episode. While not every message was based on the Bible, America was a much more conservative culture. With each passing generation, executives and writers began to push the envelope further and further. Modern streaming services and series are a byproduct of this moral decay.

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by [b]that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

Whenever anyone makes an error, mistake or outright sins, the Bible encourages individuals who have messed up to come forward in truth. Unfortunately, telling the truth is discouraged in many cultures; seen as a form of betrayal like a nark or snitch. Yet, in the passage above, faith involves laying everything on the line. Regardless of how you may feel, honesty remains the best policy.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working], James 5:16.

My favorite class while attending Seminary was Revival and Revivalism. One of our textbooks studied the Great Awakenings. The second great awakening began when a young man felt compared to come up on stage and began to publicly confess his sins. When someone comes forward in truth, a spirit of confession can transform an entire congregation. Therefore, the next time you blow it big time, don’t be afraid to pour out your heart so that healing and restoration can begin.

by Jay Mankus

Finding Jesus in a Skeptical World

When the world was worried about Y2K in 1999, an obscure Christian group named Send the Beggar released an album to inspire believers to find Jesus in a skeptical world. Entitled Closer to Complete, this collection of ballads and rock n roll encourages believers to leave Jesus wherever you go. Leave in the sense of a legacy of faith, not abandoning or turning on and off your faith like many do today.

And Jesus said to him, Today is [[b]Messianic and spiritual] salvation come to [all the members of] this household, since Zacchaeus too is a [real spiritual] son of Abraham; 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:9-10.

When you read the Bible, first impressions of the Gospels tend to be like a sales pitch that sounds too good to be true. When Jesus stops to have a meal at the house of corrupt tax collector, this doesn’t seem fair or just. Yet, as Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, an overwhelming sense of conviction struck his heart. Instead of trying to find a way to write this off, Zacchaeus confessed and vowed to give back more than what he had stolen from hard working citizens.

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. 18 He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name,] John 3:16-18.

In the passage above, this time a Jewish leader seeks Jesus out at night. Likely afraid of what the other Pharisees would think if seen associating with Jesus, Nicodemus chooses the cover of darkness to ask Him about eternal life. Unfortunately, Nick couldn’t comprehend the concept of being born again. After a sarcastic comment, Nick shuts up and listens to one of the most famous verses in the Bible. The key to finding Jesus is a skeptical world is letting go of control and let Jesus to the wheel, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Where Presence and Practice Intersect

As a former athlete in multiple sports, practicing in the off-season is key to reaching your full potential. Before the days of travel teams and countless weekend competitions, sports junkies like me would hone their skills in local neighborhoods. Spontaneous pick up games would occur every summer day playing 500, steal the bases, interception, and whiffle ball. On rainy days, boards games, cards, and video games passed the time until the weather cooperated. The more I competed and practiced, the presence of improvement began to shine through.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul encourages members to practice their faith. While God does show up unannounced from time to time in the form of angels, answered prayers and signs, this doesn’t happen by chance. Peace doesn’t occur simultaneously as soon as you verbalize this word. Rather, peace arrives at the intersection of practice and presence. This develops as faith is exercised through reflection, prayer and thanksgiving. Practicing what you believe gives individuals the opportunity to fail and learn what you need to work on spiritually.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

According to the apostle Paul, focusing on the positive is a key step toward progressing. As your mind begins to dwell and focus on true and wholesome aspects of life, attitudes and behaviors tend to change for the better. However, Paul doesn’t want Christians to stop here. In addition, keep moving forward by practicing what you have learned from the Bible. The closer you draw near to the Lord, the greater your chances will be to experience the presence of God. Therefore, carry on by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit so that God’s presence appears when faith is practiced.

by Jay Mankus

A Place Where Peace and Harmony Reign

If you stop to observe your own environment, peace may be a rare commodity. Whether it’s driving in a car, going grocery shopping or a day at work, the rat race called life causes many to become stressed out. If you can’t change the external forces around you, Ephesians 6:12, it’s time for an internal transformation. The apostle Paul provides a blueprint for those who want to find peace and harmony in Colossians 3.

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always], Colossians 3:15.

This process begins with a new attitude, mindset, and perspective, Colossians 3:1-4. Paul encourages first century Christians to look beyond the present by focusing on eternity. However, before minds can fully change, one must put aside past addictions and bad habits. Like a trip to the cleaners, as individuals begin to put on their new self via the fruits on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, finding peace and harmony is possible.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

In the passage above, Paul provides a spiritual recipe by mixing the Bible with songs of praise. Just as faith comes directly from listening to and reading the teachings of Jesus, Romans 10:17, singing biblical truths stirs human souls. Unfortunately, there are temporary pleasures lurking around every corner to trip you up or lead you to revert back to your former way of life. Therefore, if you want to find a place where peace and harmony reign, sing a new song to the Lord, Psalm 33:3.

by Jay Mankus

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