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The First Dismount in the Bible

The context of today’s passage has the anticipation of an elementary boy asking a friend during recess to go over to the girl that he likes who is playing on the playground to see if she is into him. Yet, on this occasion Isaac’s father sent out a party led by Eliezer to find him a woman to marry. Like a boy scanning under the tree for presents on Christmas morning, Isaac can’t wait to find out what his wife looks like.

And Rebekah and her maids arose and followed the man upon their camels. Thus the servant took Rebekah and went on his way. 62 Now Isaac had returned from going to the well Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the Living One Who sees me], for he [now] dwelt in the South country (the Negeb), Genesis 24:61-62.

This same pitter patter appears to be going on inside of Rebekah’s heart as well. While I’ve ridden on a pony, traveling on a camel in the desert is far worse than a long summer car ride. As this caravan comes over a ridge, making a descent into a camp of tents, a man stares into the distance to see who is arriving. When Eliezer gives word that they’re almost there, Rebekah asks about the curious man coming towards them.

And Isaac went out to meditate and bow down [in prayer] in the open country in the evening; and he looked up and saw that, behold, the camels were coming. 64 And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel. 65 For she [had] said to the servant, Who is that man walking across the field to meet us? And the servant [had] said, He is my master. So she took a veil and concealed herself with it, Genesis 24:63-65.

Back when I was in high school, there wasn’t an ESPN, Fox Sports or any other sports channel. The any program devoted to sports weekly was ABC’s Worldwide of Sports. This is how I was introduced to gymnastics. When Rebekah eagerly dismounts the camel she was riding, I immediately envisioned a woman’s dismount from the bars, balanced beam or rings. A dismount in gymnastics is symbolic of the grand finale, end of a routine. For Rebekah, this dismount signaled the beginning of a new life with a man she’s never met. This is true faith.

by Jay Mankus


Integrity of Heart and Innocent Hands

At some point as a child, you were blamed for something that you did not do. As a boy sitting at a junior high lunch table, the person who just unleashed a silent, but deadly fart, blamed me as everyone gagged. Before I could defend myself, holding my nose, no one believed me. While this is minor compared to what others are falsely accused of weekly, it never feels good to have your integrity attacked.

Did not the man tell me, She is my sister? And she herself said, He is my brother. In integrity of heart and innocency of hands I have done this, Genesis 20:5.

According to Genesis 20:17-18, King Abimelech’s wife and harem each had their wombs closed up, unable to have children for an extended period of time. This rare illness was brought upon Abimelech’s entire family because he took Sarah to become part of his harem. The passage above details Abimelech’s dream, where he pleads with God, claiming his innocence.

He who walks uprightly walks securely, but he who takes a crooked way shall be found out and punished. 10 He who winks with the eye [craftily and with malice] causes sorrow; the foolish of lips will fall headlong but [a]he who boldly reproves makes peace, Proverbs 10:9-10.

Following the conclusion of this dream, Abimelech confronted Abraham to figure out why he wasn’t completely truthful. Abraham thought he would be killed if he was honest about being married to Sarah. Unfortunately, Abimelech and his family was punished for his action based upon the idea Abraham was simply Sarah’s sister. Whether this blog finds you falsely accused or guilty as charged, James 5:16 provides a blueprint for confession so that integrity and innocence is restored.

by Jay Mankus

When God Talked Out Loud to Himself

As someone who struggled with stuttering for the first 20 years of my life, I often talked to myself. Since I rarely expressed how I felt inside my heart, talking to myself was more like a pep talk with the hope when I open ed my mouth in public I would communicate exactly what I wanted to say. Unfortunately, my nerves and or stuttering always prevented me from expressing a clear and concise message.

And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do, 18 Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed through him and shall bless themselves by him? – Genesis 18:17-18.

I’ve read the Book of Genesis multiple times, but I never realized that God actually talked out loud to Himself according to Moses. Perhaps, this is what the Holy Spirit wanted Moses to mention in the passage above. Whatever the reason for this rare moment, God didn’t want to leave Abraham in the dark about his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, where his nephew was currently living.

For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him. 20 And the Lord said, Because the shriek [of the sins] of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is exceedingly grievous, Genesis 18:19-20.

The Holy Spirit was sent following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Acts 2, to speak to modern day Christians. According to the apostle Paul, if you’re paying attention spiritually, Galatians 5:25, you can actually keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s message to the Church in Rome is similar, Romans 8:1-12, suggesting Christian’s have an obligation to God’s Spirit. While you probably won’t ever hear God talk out loud to Himself, God’s still small voice is audible if you’re listening, 1 Kings 19:11-13.

by Jay Mankus

It’s About that Time for Another Spiritual Alignment

My wife Leanne spent the last four years working at the front desk of an auto repair shop in Delaware. While Leanne’s knowledge about cars started with basic details, every year she has picked up a keen sense to notice subtle sounds. These noises that don’t mean anything to me, serve as warning signals that a part is about to break, needs to be replaced or is wearing down. Just as my wife weekly points out these signs for me in my car, it’s about time for another spiritual alignment.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, I am the Almighty God; walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete), Genesis 17:1.

From a vehicle point of view, whenever a bus, car or truck is out of alignment, this unequally wears out the tread of your tires. If you don’t notice this sound or vibrations, you’re putting your vehicle at risk as well as increasing the cost of your next alignment. Based upon the passage above, the Lord provides instructions to Abraham for a spiritual alignment. God’s call is to walk with God habitually, day after day, with your whole heart, soul and mind.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 [aj]To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike]. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? – Matthew 5:43-46

In the first portion of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers a similar call to those in attendance. Recognizing man’s fallen state in Romans 3:9-12, Jesus isn’t demanding perfection; He is asking Christians to strive for perfection. Jesus expects Christians to go above and beyond how the world lives. Thus, the call is to pray for and forgive those who hate you. Spiritual alignments help you love God and love your neighbors as yourself, Matthew 22:37-40. This spiritual exercise allows believers to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, awake and alert for God’s next warning sounds in life.

by Jay Mankus

Igniting a Fire Inside Your Heart

I didn’t understand the concept of a spiritual fire until my second semester of college. After indulging my sinful nature, the entire first semester, inside I felt like the popular Foreigner song “As Cold as Ice.” Despite warnings from older Christian friends, I had my own prodigal son experience, chasing popularity and the party scene. When you live a lie for three months, I began to feel dead inside or as Pink Floyd once sang, “Comfortably Numb.”

And he [Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God), Genesis 15:6.

After most of my floor funked out, there wasn’t as many distractions so I began to turn back to God. This spiritual U-Turn began at James Madison University during a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Retreat. My roommate for the weekend was the quarterback of Delaware’s football team. Despite his size and stature, Dave had a great heart and welcomed me with open arms. Following Friday nights Icebreaker, my heart was receptive to the people I met and speakers which followed.

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [[d]full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Like a series of building blocks, each session tied together, sparking a sensation in my heart that I had never experienced before. As Saturday night led into early Sunday morning, students gathered in a conference room for an open mic. One by one, athletes shared about how God touched them, reflecting upon Bible studies and keynote speakers. Just as Abram experienced a spiritual turning point in his life, this was the moment I made Jesus the Lord of my life, Romans 10:9-11. The Holy Spirit ignited a fire inside my heart that still burns today, prompting a stutterer to face my fear of speaking in public. Before graduating college, this spiritual fire sparked a miracle, healing me from my stammering past. While I’m still a sinner, this spiritual fire is real and still burns.

by Jay Mankus

When God Makes You Laugh

The book definition of sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt. Yet, most teenagers use sarcasm as a coping mechanism; a way to prevent their hopes from being ripped out of their hearts. When I struggled to express myself in high school due to stuttering, sarcasm helped ease the pain deep down in my soul. Subsequently, sarcasm and sarcastic friends made me laugh when I really wanted to have a pity party.

And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. 16 And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a son? – Genesis 17:15-17

Despite God’s character and nature in the Old Testament of being righteous and just, there are accounts which reveal the Lord’s sense of humor, 1 Kings 18:15-29. When God calls Elijah to have a spiritual duel with the worshippers of Baal, there are several jabs taken by Elijah, suggestions on why Baal isn’t responding. However, sometimes God will speak to you or send someone into your life to reveal a promise from God that makes no sense logically speaking.

And [he] said to God, Oh, that Ishmael might live before You! 19 But God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed, and you shall call his name Isaac [laughter]; and I will establish My covenant or solemn pledge with him for an everlasting covenant and with his posterity after him, Genesis 17:18-19.

When a woman is past their prime according to Google, via Don Lemon, having a child over the age of forty is rare. As for Sarah, she was approaching ninety, which is why Sarah likely laughed sarcastically at the news she would give birth to a child. Sometimes God makes you laugh when you need to be cheered up. However, when you serve a supernatural God, Sarah’s laughter was no joke as God was serious and does fulfill His promise in Genesis 21:5. There is a time for everything so don’t be surprised the next time God makes you laugh.

by Jay Mankus


The first mention of beer in the Bible has nothing to do with alcohol. Rather, beer is the name of a special well where one depressed woman was touched by God. Beer-lahai-roi is the name of a well located between Kadesh and Bered. Hagar was Sarai’s maidservant who ran away from home after being mistreated. Jealousy of the baby in her womb, Sarai mentally and verbally harassed Hagar to the point of tears. Unable to take these emotional scars, Hagar left thinking it was for the best.

Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the Living One Who sees me]; it is [c]between Kadesh and Bered, Genesis 16:14.

Whenever you’re alone, crying out to an invisible God seems to be a logical thing to do. While Moses doesn’t specify how many months Hagar had been pregnant, it’s enough to see an expanded belly. Depressed, lonely and in the middle of the wilderness, Hagar cries out to God for help. Based upon the words in the passage above, Hagar was blown away by how the Lord was able to hear and see the pain she felt inside her heart.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. 12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you, Jeremiah 29:11-12.

I have days just like Hagar, feeling lonely and helpless, unsure of my future. While I know the Lord can see my pain, I’m still waiting for a response. Perhaps, I’m like the person one Old Testament Prophet writes about in Isaiah 1. Clarity doesn’t come until confession is followed by a contrite heart. While living in Delaware, one of the Bible Studies I attended talked about spiritual blockage, which prevents clarity. Whatever the reason for my current spiritual condition, I pray that one day soon I’ll have a similar experience as Hagar at the well of Beer-lahai-roi.

by Jay Mankus

When Desperation and Prayer Unite

Non-religious individuals tend to turn to prayer during a life altering event. This could be just before a car accident, on a plane enduring extreme turbulence or some other unexpected dire medical diagnosis where even atheists cry out to God. As a child with a severe speech impediment, all I ever wanted was to verbally express what was on my heart and the words on my mind. Yet, my prayer life is usually only effective when desperation and prayer unite on my knees.

And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, Yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me [b]intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming or [c]at the last she come and rail on me or [d]assault me or [e]strangle me. Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says! And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He [f]defer them and [g]delay help on their behalf? – Luke 18:3-7

I was introduced to the Parable of the Persistent Widow in college. While Jesus’ words in Matthew 21:19-22 are often quoted by pastors during sermons on prayer, the persistent widow applies Jesus’ advice. Although desperation may lead you to pray for a miracle, doubt will stop any prayer from being answered. This widow was so persistent in her desperation, she kept on knocking like Jesus’ analogy in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:7-8.

When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.] 34 And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37 But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying? 38 Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it, John 11:32-38.

The shortest verse in the Bible,” Jesus wept,” is written by the disciple whom Jesus loved. Yet, the context of Jesus’ tears occurs following the death of Lazarus. When Mary blames Jesus’ absence for her brother’s death, desperation and prayer unite. This combination moves Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead. Of all the miracles Jesus performs, this one should inspire anyone wanting to see a miracle come to a point in your life where desperation and prayer unite.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 350: Broken Heart

An English proverb which dates back to 1742 states “THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY.” The context of this expression is when you pick up a coin to see how much it’s worth. The same can be said about turning the page from one year to the next. While 2023 is fresh in the minds of people today, you still have to deal with any lingering consequences from your past. If your heart is still broken when the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, there are still pieces to pick up in this calendar year.

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.

In their song Broken Heart, Falling Up turns to heaven in prayer to mend their emotion pain. Just as David was in need of healing in the passage above, countless individuals are struggling with their lives entering 2023. While many turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their pain, the lyrics of Broken Heart reach out to Jesus for healing. May the words of Matthew 11:28-30 encourage you take all those things in life weighing you down and place them at the foot of Jesus’ cross to find rest for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 333: I Surrender All

As someone who struggled to stay awake in church as a teenager, I probably missed several messages that God wanted me to hear. Then again, as Jesus often said to his followers, “let them who have ears hear,” Mark 4:9. It’s one thing to hear what a teacher says in class. Yet, to apply this advice by putting it into practice takes a combination of conviction, inspiration and motivation. This is the spiritual place that Clay Crosse reached when writing I Surrender All.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed, Romans 10:9-11.

My initial belief in God was based upon going to church and doing good deeds. This was reinforced within me during my confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately, I wasn’t introduced to a personal relationship with God until high school through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. When I accepted Jesus into my heart as my Savior in December of 1984, I was still in control. I had to wait until a retreat in college where the Lordship of Christ was emphasized. Like today’s song, this is when l I was finally willing to surrender everything in my life to Jesus. A new year, 2023, provides an opportunity to do likewise.

by Jay Mankus

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