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S.A.N.S. Episode 253: Free

Freedom has been a constant struggle for lower class citizens, peasants and slaves through history. Israel spent 400 years under the oppressive rule of Pharaohs in Egypt. Yet, when Moses finally led Israel out of this state into the wilderness, it didn’t take long for bickering, complaining and grumbling to begin. Ginny Owens sings about joy the freedom brings in her hit song Free,

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

Ginny is best known for her song “If You Want Me To.” Meanwhile, she also recorded a song called Blessed with Cindy Morgan which also gained national recognition. Despite these songs, I decided to select Free as all Christians wrestle with some sort of unhealthy addiction, bad habit or sinful craving. May Ginny’s song and the apostle Paul’s advice in Galatians 5:7 help you to finally break free to a better place in life.

by Jay Mankus

An Eagle’s Perspective on Life

As someone who grew up 30 minutes from South Philadelphia, whenever an eagle is brought up, I immediately think of the National Football League franchise “the Philadelphia Eagles.” Meanwhile, the bald eagle became the iconic emblem of the United States on June 20th, 1782. While the eagle represents freedom in America, the Bible provides an eagle’s perspective on life.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired, Isaiah 40:30-31.

Prior to the invention of drones, eagles would provide a bird’s eye of the earth. One Old Testament prophet compares the Lord to a mature eagle. Although young Christians become exhausted, tired and weak, the power of the Holy Spirit will rise you up by renewing your strength. The above passage serves as a promise from God whenever you feel like you don’t have the energy to take another step in life.

Then I [looked and I] saw a solitary eagle flying in midheaven, and as it flew I heard it crying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the rest of the trumpet blasts which the three angels are about to sound! – Revelation 8:13

Yet, the title of today’s blog comes from a vision from John the Revelator. Following the 4th of seven tribulations in the book of Revelation, John sees an eagle flying solo. After scanning the devastation from the first 4 tribulations, this eagle cries out in a loud voice. Like a news video after a natural disaster, this eagle’s perspective on life serves as a cautionary tale of the troubling times ahead in the end of days.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 179: Freedom

In their prime, Mylon & Broken Heart had a little bit of Elvis Pressley in their music, dress and hairdo included. Mylon R. LeFevre was one of the pioneers in Christian music which likely explains his induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. As a teenager in the 1980’s Mylon & Broken Heart served as a good transitional band to go from listening to secular music to Christian artists.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

The attached video is from an old concert where Mylon speaks from his heart about freedom that comes from entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. While some of Mylon’s classic tunes haven’t aged well, the biblically based lyrics still speak to my heart. I could have chosen from a dozen songs to share, but freedom in Christ is life altering that everyone needs to experience.

by Jay Mankus

Not Just a Holiday

The first official federal holiday in the United States was not enacted until 1870. This initial legislation recognized four holidays: Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Due to secularism and the modern interpretation of the separation of Church and State, these religious holidays have been watered down over the years. July 4th was declared a day of prayer and thanksgiving for being free.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

The Chinese were the first to invent fireworks, sometime between 960 and 1279 AD. The original intent of fireworks was to ward off evil spirits. Yet, the Chinese set off fireworks to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday and other major holidays. This tradition was embraced by the United States on July 8th, 1776, following America’s Declaration of Independence. July 4th, 1777 was the first official Independence Day highlighted by the firing of guns, cannons, bonfires and fireworks in Philadelphia which was America’s first capital.

For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love. You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? – Galatians 5:6-7

The Bible speaks of a different type of Independence Day in Romans 10:9-11. In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes about the external and internal forces that limits a Christian’s spiritual freedom. Paul goes on to blame this on human nature, pointing the finger on sinful desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16-18. As you turn out to watch fireworks ceremonies throughout the nation, don’t neglect the freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

There’s No Need for Disinformation

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced news of a new Disinformation Governance Board. When an old Tiktok video of the individual selected to oversee this board surfaced, the credibility of this Disinformation Board was immediately put into question. Meanwhile, a tweet by Jeff Bezos called out President Biden for his own disinformation about a false statement on Covid-19 vaccines.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my [spiritual] children are living their lives in the Truth, 3 John 1:4.

According to one of Jesus’ former disciples, the Bible has its own plan for dealing with disinformation. At the beginning of one of his last recorded letters, John’s greatest joy as a Christian is to see people, he spiritually mentored to live their lives in the truth of the Bible. Since the Bible contains supernatural power as a living document, Hebrews 4:12, disinformation is exposed by the light of God’s Word.

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. 32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free, John 8:31-32.

Years earlier, John was present when Jesus told his disciples that spiritual truth will set you free. While disinformation, gossip, and rumors continue today, Christians who shine the light and love of Jesus will convict the hearts of those trying to control your speech. Despite the algorithms designed by social media sites that favor progressive ideas, living your life in the Truth will expose disinformation as its espoused.

by Jay Mankus

It Takes Two to Tango

The tango dance originated in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. Dances from the candombe ceremonies hasve influenced this popular style of ballroom dancing. As a teenager, whenever I got in trouble at school, one of my teachers used the expression “it takes two to tango.” While I knew nothing of the song written by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning and sung by Pearl Bailey, she was referring to my partner in crime.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but [the] woman who was deceived and deluded and fell into transgression, 1 Timothy 2:14.

Apparently, the apostle Paul used a similar expression while writing a first century letter to a teenage pastor. In the passage above, Eve is blamed for original sin. According to Paul, Eve was deceived and deluded prior to taking a bite of this forbidden fruit. Adam is portrayed as an innocent bystander, persuaded by his wife to join her. Instead of reminding his wife of God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, Adam goes with the flow by taking a bite too.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 18 Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men, Romans 5:17-18.

In another letter to the Church at Rome, Adam doesn’t escape justice. As the spiritual leader of his house, Adam failed. Despite having nearly unlimited freedom in this beautiful land, Adam was willing to God. Subsequently, Adam’s mental lapse ruined God’s initial plan to live forever. As soon as Lucifer gained authority over the earth, Ephesus 2:2, God’s master plan is laid out in Genesis 3:15. This prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus as sin often takes two people to tango.

by Jay Mankus

The Hidden Principle of Rebellion

Rebellion refers to an open resistance to an established government or ruler. In the earliest days on earth, God kept in simple by giving Adam and Eve freedom from every area of the Garden of Eden accept for one. The only boundary to steer clear from was to abstain from eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis 2:16-17. Moses doesn’t mention any craving, desire or enticement until a crafty serpent began to open Eve’s mind to rebellion.

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity, Genesis 3:1-5.

At the beginning of this encounter, Eve does the right thing by repeating God’s warning to avoid fruit from this tree. As Satan continued his subtle persuasion, Eve’s mind was open to bending this rule. According to Moses, Adam was right there with her, listening to Satan’s justification and rationalization to rebel against God. Instead of interrupting this conversation and tell Satan to get lost, Adam’s idleness opened the door for rebellion to enter the earth.

For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until [c]he who restrains is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one (the antichrist) will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by His appearing at His coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8.

The apostle Paul unveils Satan’s plan of introducing the hidden principle of rebellion to mankind. While this lawlessness has been restrained for now by the power of the Holy Spirit, there will come a day when this is unleashed. Immediately following the second coming of Jesus, the anti-Christ will reign the earth for 7 years until the battle of Armageddon. Yet, for now human beings must use prayer as a hedge of protection so that rebellion doesn’t poison your soul and ruin your life.

by Jay Mankus

Remember, Remove and Refocus

Remember not the sins (the lapses and frailties) of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your mercy and steadfast love remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord, Psalm 25:7.

Darryl Worley released the song Have You Forgotten in 2003. In the years following September 11th, 2001, politics began to influence television. The more liberal and progressive that the United States has become, images of attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon are considered unfit for the eyes of viewers. Unfortunately, with each passing decade, public education is rewriting history so that America’s Christian heritage and founding has been erased from college and high school textbooks.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

While human beings can’t change the current path of the world, you can remove obstacles from your own life so that you can make a difference. The author of Hebrews uses the analogy of running a marathon. The longer this race goes on, the more hot, tired and weak you become. In the same way, invisible sins can weigh down souls so that individuals become entangled in a web of lies and lust. Until you begin to unload these internal or external weights holding you back, you won’t be able to experience spiritual freedom.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to those believers who need to refocus. After remembering that God has removed your sins as far as the east is from the west, Psalm 103:11-12, discard bad habits so that your mind can start focusing on Jesus again. Like a person preparing for a fast due to an upcoming procedure, spiritual focus starts by purging any reminders from your past life before knowing Jesus. When your mind is transformed by God’s Word, Romans 12:1-2, setting your heart and mind on things above becomes achievable. Remember, remove and refocus this fourth of July weekend.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Liberation

Liberation is the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression. This release results in deliverance, relief and salvation. According to the Bible, no human being can liberate themselves spiritually. Despite whatever good intentions that you may have, everyone possesses a fatal flaw. Whether this takes the form of an addiction, bad habit, or a weakness, human nature will feed these cravings, desires, and longings throughout the course of your life.

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12

This painful reality creates a felt need within human hearts for a Savior. Unfortunately, many attempt to fill this void with alternatives and substitutes. Whether you follow the path of a prodigal in Luke 15 or chase after the meaning in life, there is a book that holds all the answers, John 3:16-17. Nonetheless, if you force people instead of letting individuals search on their own, faith can’t be assigned and is something that must be personally embraced, Romans 6:23.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

While studying the origins of past Great Awakenings in seminary, spiritual liberation begins with a spirit of confession. However, this requires someone to become vulnerable, pouring out their heart and soul to a congregation or gathered audience. This isn’t an act or something that can be faked. Rather, when secret sins are laid bare for all to hear and see, others feel compelled to reveal their own dirty laundry. Therefore, if you want to experience spiritual liberation, get your life right with God by confessing your wrongful acts in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Where is the Spirit of the Lord?

Prior to the New Testament, the Spirit of the Lord is described as a presence that takes over your body. Similar to a momentum swing during a sporting event, an inner confidence spreads as teammates begin to believe that victory is on the way, 1 Samuel 16:13-14. However, the Spirit of the Lord also has the ability to depart as well, like it did for King Saul. If God’s Spirit can come and go, learning to keep in step with the Holy Spirit is essential, Galatians 5:25.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom), 2 Corinthians 3:17.

Yet, the apostle Paul adds another element to the Spirit of the Lord in the passage above. Similar to his words on the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, Paul explains what the Holy Spirit can do for you. First and foremost, the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom to those formally held hostage by addictions and cravings of their flesh. When the Spirit of the Lord is present, liberty is made possible through repentance.

And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

The Bible serves as a spiritual mirror for all human beings. If you are not reading and studying the Bible on a daily basis, God’s reflection slowly disappears. Thus, the Bible serves as a wardrobe, the entrance to the Holy Spirit like C.S. Lewis’ the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The more you open this living book, the greater your chances increase for accessing the Spirit of the Lord, Romans 10:17. As you draw near to God, the Spirit of the Lord will come close to you, James 4:7-8.

by Jay Mankus

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