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S.A.N.S. Episode 109: Walking on Water

Today’s featured song comes from a group that began in South Carolina. Need to Breathe decided to broaden their audience by crossing over to reach a secular audience. Although I never found one of NeedtoBreathe’s albums to be incredibly amazing, they have been consistent over the past two decades. The longer this group sticks around, the bigger their following has become.

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid! 28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. 29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus, Matthew 14:26-29.

As for Walking on Water, the passage above contains one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. Who needs a boat when you can walk on water. Yet, for Peter, he went from thinking Jesus was a ghost to getting out of his boat to imitate Jesus’ miraculous act. However, the moment Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. If you want to do the unthinkable today, keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 92: Unfazed

The Waiting’s debut album Tilbury Town in 1991 contained a classic Indie Christian sound. Over time the Waiting has evolved toward pop rock with a distinct energy and power. Band members include Brad Olsen, Todd Olsen, Clark Leake, and Brandon Thompson. As most of the electronic world was preparing for Y2K, the Waiting released Blue Belly Sky which is my favorite album.

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. 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 4:6-7.

The lyrics of today’s featured song combines biblical elements with the stardom of touring the country. Jesus compares first century Christians to being a city on the hill to shine light into a dark world. The theme of the title points to making sure that your faith isn’t fazed by fame or fortune. The key to demonstrating a consistent and steady faith is to be unfazed by the worries of this world. Enjoy this classic tune.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 84: Faith Like That

Jonah 33 is one of those sneaky good Christian rock bands that hasn’t gotten the airtime that they deserve. Based out of the college town of Fayetteville, Arkansas Jonah 33 combines hard rock with metal mixed in with biblically based ballads. Today’s featured song is Jonah 33’s most popular, Faith Like That, from their self-titled debut album in 2001.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses], Hebrews 11:1.

From a spiritual point of view, Hebrews 11 is known as the Bible’s Hall of Faith. Spiritual giants of the past are recognized for specific faithful acts that are highlighted in this chapter. If you want to possess a faith like these godly men and women, study how these individuals lived their lives. While none of these people mentioned are perfect, their faith is worthy to be emulated.

by Jay Mankus

Resting on this Hope

When I was a child watching sporting events, there always seemed to be someone holding up a John 3:16 Sign. I was too young realize that this was one of the most iconic verses in the Bible. The gospel author who wrote down Jesus’ words to a Pharisee named Nicodemus appears to refer to this in the passage below. The hope that Christians are resting on is the promise of eternal life.

And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless), 1 John 3:3.

In this age of war, the Coronavirus, and death, the thought of another world is promising. Yet, the skeptic will exclaim that “this sounds too good to be true.” Like the moving scene in Shawshank Redemption, you have two choices in life: get busying living or get busying dying? Or as Moses explains in his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, every decision that you make in life will either draw you toward life or death.

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.

Perhaps the point that John is trying to make is that without the concept of heaven, we have no hope. Returning to Shawshank Redemption, hope is what kept Andy alive while being in prison. Yet, for Red hope is dangerous, any empty promise for someone sentenced to life in prison. Faith is resting in the promise of the passage above. Christians place their trust in Jesus and rest in the hope of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Your Distinguishing Mark?

There are 96 verses in the Bible that refer to being set apart. Jesus makes a specific distinction in His Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:43-47. A follower of Jesus is called to higher standards than an unbelieving heathens. Perhaps, this is why one of Jesus’ disciples asks first century Christians, what’s your distinguishing mark? As you are forced to reside in a world of darkness, how are you making a difference?

What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may [d]realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a [e]distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah). And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be full [and [f]your joy may be complete], 1 John 1:3-4.

The apostle Paul alludes to a distinguishing mark while writing a letter to a teenager pastor. When you add Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:6 with 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, each Christian possesses a hidden talent known as a spiritual gift. As individuals begin to switch their allegiance from the world to the Lord, minds can be transformed by the Word of God, Romans 12:1-2. When faith is nurtured by the Holy Spirit, knowing what God’s will for your life becomes achievable.

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.

Your distinguishing mark should align your spiritual gift with God’s will for your life. Unfortunately, this process often takes decades to sort through to figure out what works and what doesn’t. For example, I set out to be a social worker, changed to a youth pastor and ended up being a high school Bible teacher. When I lost my job a decade ago, I had to start over from scratch. Like an ongoing work of art, each day serves as a fine-tuning process to magnify your distinguishing mark as a member of the body of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Kind of Person You Ought to Be

Six months after graduating college, I attended a Youth Ministry Trade School in Minnesota. These 7 weeks completely changed my life; encouraging me to stretch and expand my comfort zone. One of the techniques that I learned was setting goals from a Could Be/Should Be perspective. From a spiritual standpoint, I learned to take an inventory of where I am currently and where I need to be. While writing a first century letter, Peter challenges his listeners to consider the person that you ought to be in Christ.

Since all these things are thus [b]in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, 12 While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [[c]material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire? – 2 Peter 3:11-12

The origin of the term Christian dates back to sometime between 30 and 40 A.D. Citizens in the city of Antioch were impressed by members of their local church. Something was different about these people, a specific quality that set them apart from everyone else in town. As these followers of Jesus began to share their faith with the locals, one person put two and two together. “These people must be Christians, followers of Christ Jesus.

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a [a]slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

As this expression spread, the apostle Paul provided other churches with a simple spiritual goal to shoot for daily. As people of faith become imitators of Jesus, the fruits of the Spirit take precedence over the acts of your flesh, Galatians 5:1625. As hearts and minds become renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, the Holy Spirit steers you toward the person you ought to be in Christ. Prayer, reflection, and worship provide spiritual disciplines to keep your mind on becoming Jesus to your local community.

by Jay Mankus

A Touch of Faith

While seeing is believing, feeling Jesus’ hand where a nail once held him to a cross resulted in a touch of faith for Thomas, John 20:27-28. Jesus uses this moment to express how blessed those individuals who have never seen Jesus, but still believe. The authors of the four gospels share their own encounters, personal experiences, and recollections of Jesus. Some of these accounts may stir your heart that produces a touch of faith.

[We are writing] about the Word of Life [[a]in] Him Who existed from the beginning, Whom we have heard, Whom we have seen with our [own] eyes, Whom we have gazed upon [for ourselves] and have touched with our [own] hands, 1 John 1:1.

The touch move rule in chess is the most basic rule when competing in any tournament. If a player deliberately touches one a piece on the board when it is their turn to move, they must move or capture that touched piece if it is legal to do so. From a spiritual standpoint, when you reach out to touch a person or thing, your senses confirm that this object is real. Meanwhile, when your heart is touched by God, the Holy Spirit prompts you to act.

Until the day when He ascended, after He through the Holy Spirit had instructed and commanded the apostles (special messengers) whom He had chosen. To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God, Acts 1:2-3.

According to the four gospels and the Book of Acts, following Jesus’ resurrection he appeared to and interacted with over 500 people. Prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-6, followers of Jesus were in awe of God’s power to raise a human being from the dead. The Great Commission served as a blue print for the first century Church, Acts 1:8. Yet, when a doubting Thomas felt the scar in Jesus’ palm, this touch of faith is all that he needed to transform his life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 62: Above and Beyond

Today’s featured song comes from an American CCM singer and multi Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist. As someone who has dabbled in creative writing since high school, the lyrics of nearly every Bruce Carroll song moves me. While Above and Beyond appears on more than one album, Bruce’s biblically based lyrics inspired me to craft my own album entitled A Simple Confession.

Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life, John 8:12.

The words Above and Beyond contain multiple visual images. Most of my life I’ve allowed circumstances to dictate what I pursue. If I just trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit, my achievements in life would be above and beyond my expectations. As you listen to the lyrics of Above and Beyond, may you be inspired to develop a faith that will elevate you to new heights.

by Jay Mankus

The Walkers Prayer

From 1983 to 1986, I ran over 1,000 miles on grass and pavement. Over the summer to prepare for the upcoming Cross Country season, I averaged running 30 miles per week with 150 miles for months when I felt ambitious. After a friend from college introduced me to a section of Psalm 18, I turned this verse into a prayer before I went for a jog. Yet, the context of the passage below is based upon a shepherd approaching rocky terrain. These words serve as a prayer to avoid twisting an ankle as you walk.

For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect? – Psalm 18:31-32

Following a reconstructive surgery on my ankle during my junior year of high school, I was forced to wear a soft cast for five years. Whether I was going to school, off to practice or heading off for a run, this cast took a couple of minutes to slip on and tie the laces to secure my ankle. Before I finished tightening up this cast, I often said a silent prayer to God to protect my ankle from any major contact. If I ever overextended myself following my surgery, my left sock was soaked in blood at the end of the day.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places, Psalm 18:33.

There was a time when I took walking for granted. As a teenager and gifted athlete, I never thought about twisting my ankle unless I was going hiking on rocky terrain. Yet, my accident while running and subsequent surgery has forced me to place my faith and trust in the Lord whenever I go for a walk. If you do claim Psalm 18:33 as the Walkers Prayer before going outside, I can’t guarantee that you won’t slip. However, as you approach dangerous terrain, look down and watch each step so your feet are secure.

by Jay Mankus

When a Step of Faith Results in Healing

The author of the Gospel of Luke writes with a Greek style. Based upon first century historians, Luke was a physician who accompanied the apostle Paul on several missionary trips. It’s unclear if Luke served as Paul’s personal doctor like a modern-day nurse, but he does notice and reflect upon Jesus’ unusual healing methods. On two different occasions, a step of faith results in miraculous healings.

And they raised up their voices and called, Jesus, Master, take pity and have mercy on us! 14 And when He saw them, He said to them, Go [at once] and show yourselves to the priests. And as they went, they were cured and made clean, Luke 17:13-14.

Modern self-help gurus often refer to the power of human minds. This is where you can go down a slippery slope theologically where some use faith as a force to bring about healing. This is not what Luke is referring to based upon the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 21:20-22. When people in desperate need of a miracle exchange their doubts with belief in the God of miracles, a step of faith can result in healing.

And Jesus went with them. But when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent [some] friends to Him, saying, Lord, do not trouble [Yourself], for I am not [a]sufficiently worthy to have You come under my roof; Neither did I consider myself worthy to come to You. But [just] speak a word, and my servant boy will be healed. For I also am a man [daily] subject to authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my bond servant, Do this, and he does it. Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and He turned and said to the crowd that followed Him, I tell you, not even in [all] Israel have I found such great faith [as this], Luke 7:6-9.

An event that takes place earlier in the gospel of Luke proves this point. The centurion in biblical times is a non-com officer in the Roman Army who oversaw 100 men. Using his experience with the chain of command, the centurion didn’t want to waste Jesus’ precious time. All this man needed was for Jesus to give a command, to say the word. When belief replaces doubt, a step of faith results in healing.

by Jay Mankus

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