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S.A.N.S. Episode 147: Let You Down

Today’s featured song was introduced me by my son Daniel. Let You Down is by rapper and composer Nate Feuerstein who goes by the stage name NF. One of the things that has drawn my son to become a fan of NF is Nate’s raw emotion and honesty that he shares in each song. When I think of today’s title, humans beings can relate to either being let down or letting down other people you care about.

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, Jeremiah 29:11.

Let You Down begins with a child’s voice filled with sorrow, singing about letting down his father. From a spiritual point of view, every day Christians let down their heavenly father through poor choices or a lack of action. When you become broken, the weeping prophet shares a glimmer of hope in the passage above. May you overcome past mistakes by dwelling on the future life and plan God has for you.

by Jay Mankus

What is Your Record?

When I was in grade school, boys were obsessed with records. Every day at lunch and recess debates broke out about who was the best athlete, rock band, and professional sports team. Lines were drawn, voices were raised and the victor teased anyone who didn’t hold their position. According to one of Jesus’ disciples, God knows your spiritual record based upon what you’ve done in life.

I know your record and what you are doing, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your recent works are more numerous and greater than your first ones, Revelation 2:19.

There was a long stretch in my life where I received a job offer for every position that I interviewed for. Despite stumbling through a couple of interviews when stuttering was still an obstacle in my life, God’s favor was clearly on my life. Unfortunately, sometime over the last decade, my record for interviews has hit a major losing streak. Like one of the churches in the Book of Revelation, my love for God has grown cold and the favor which was once bright as a rising sun has quickly faded.

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong], 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

The good news to my current dilemma is that God keeps no record of wrongs. The apostle Paul reveals this fact in a chapter devoted to spiritual love. Meanwhile, King David provides hope for anyone with a losing record in life, Psalm 103:7-12. God’s grace, forgiveness, and mercy is infinite. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’ve experienced a life filled with losing. According to Jesus, the only record God cares about is forgiving others just as the Lord has forgiven you, Matthew 6:14-15. When Christians start loving your neighbor as yourself, God’s favor will return.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 137: Somewhere Somehow

Whenever I hear today’s song, I think of my decision to leave youth ministry. After burning myself out in less than a year, the song Somewhere Somehow was released as a duet between Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Subsequently, as this song plays I think of all the special friendships and people that I met while serving the Lord in Columbus, Indiana. Just as the lyrics express, I hope for a reunion in the future.

Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east [where they are dispersed] and gather you from the west, Isaiah 43:5.

If this reunion doesn’t occur on earth, there is always heaven to look forward to. Whenever two famous artists unite for a special project or song, I get excited and emotional all at once. Nonetheless, Somewhere Somehow serves as a remainder that God is in control, not you. Therefore, as you listen to the lyrics of this special song, may the Holy Spirit help you believe that anything is possible with God.

by Jay Mankus

Snatching Souls Out of the Fire

A snatch and grab is a new phrase associated with the recent crime wave due to the elimination of cash bail. As more and more district attorneys stop prosecuting shop lifters, criminals are no longer afraid of getting caught. Yet, in the passage below, Jude calls Christians to snatch souls destined for eternal damnation in hell. When you care for and love sinners, there is hope for real change to occur.

[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality. 24 Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—Jude 1:23-24

Whenever I attend a funeral, most of the clergy approach the podium with confidence that the person who has just passed away is now in heaven. In the passage above, Jude refers to individuals who are teetering on the edge. Any soul on the verge of being destined for hell can be snatched out of these eternal flames. However, action must be quick and swift before it’s too late, Hebrews 10:26-27.

My] brethren, if anyone among you strays from the Truth and falls into error and another [person] brings him back [to God], 20 Let the [latter] one be sure that whoever turns a sinner from his evil course will save [that one’s] soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins [[a]procure the pardon of the many sins committed by the convert], James 5:19-20.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about the spiritual rewards for those individuals who steer anyone from the error of their ways. In the parable of the Lost Son (prodigal), Jesus highlights God’s love who waits patiently on their front porch for the wayward children to come back home. Therefore, as you wait for Jesus’ second coming, look for ways daily to help Christians make u-turns away from sin and turn back to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Difference Between an Animal and the Devil

When news broke of the Uvalde school shooting last Thursday, media outlets began searching for how and why this tragedy occurred. When the name of the shooter was unveiled, Salvador Ramos was compared to an animal and monster by several cable news analysts. While you can compare Salvador to Cain from the Bible, Genesis 4:5-7, there is a difference between an animal and the Devil.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[f]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

One of Jesus’ former disciples compares the Devil to the king of the jungle. This invisible enemy is like a hungry lion searching for prey to devour. As a child I remember watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom on Sunday nights before I went to bed. One episode featured lions separating young and weak Wildebeest from the herd. Once separated, it was only a matter of time before the lion’s hunger was satisfied.

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 10:10.

While animals follow their herd instincts, the Devil is much more destructive. According to Jesus, the Devil is similar to a thief who is eager to steal, kill, and destroy lives. Although you may not have physical possessions stolen, the Devil seeks to steal your joy for life, kill any remaining dreams and destroy your hope. While cable panelists may not know the difference between animals and the Devil, Peter is clear about the preventative steps Christians must take so that you don’t become the Devil’s next victim.

by Jay Mankus

Walking in Love

Walking on Sunshine is a song written by Kimberley Rew. This original piece was created for Katrina and the Waves in 1983 for their album. The Bible has their own version of walking on sunshine. However, according to one of Jesus’ disciples, walking is symbolic for living in love. Just as a Christian should learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, love for live should be a daily motivating force to spread sunshine.

And what this love consists in is this: that we live and walk in accordance with and guided by His commandments (His orders, ordinances, precepts, teaching). This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love [guided by it and following it], 2 John 1:6.

When I was a teenager, I wore my feelings on my sleeves. When I was in a good mood, I wanted everyone that I came into contact to celebrate and feel the joy inside of me. However, as depression set in which was 75% of the time, I didn’t want anybody in the same room with me to be happy or smile. I did the opposite of walking in love, trying to drag everyone down to feel my pain.

And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to love. The final verse of this passage is listed above. According to C.S. Lewis, faith, hope, and love are considered theological virtues. Yet, these spiritual qualities are only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. Subsequently, if you want to learn to walk in love, Romans 10:9-11, a personal relationship with God is essential. Once this journey begins, walking in love involves keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Moments that Matter

Sarcasm is a common response to something unbelievable or a concept too hard to grasp. When Jesus introduced the spiritual concept of being born again, Nicodemus couldn’t wrap his mind around this. Trying to be funny, Nicodemus appears to tease Jesus, imagining a newborn shoved back into their mother’s womb. Jesus wasn’t playing around as this initial conversation leaves behind one of the greatest promises in the Bible, John 3:16-17.

Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb again and be born? Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and [[a]even] the Spirit, he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God, John 3:3-5.

Another spiritual moment that matters takes place during a parade without floats or a marching band. Jesus’ reputation as a healer and miracle worker had spread throughout the region as countless individuals just wanted to see this man of God. A vertically challenged man named Zacchaeus decided to climb a nearby tree to get Jesus’ attention. This stunt to get noticed works as Jesus takes time from his busy schedule to meet with this corrupt tax collector. This magical meal transformed Zacchaeus’ life.

So then Zacchaeus stood up and solemnly declared to the Lord, See, Lord, the half of my goods I [now] give [by way of restoration] to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I [now] restore four times as much. 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 19:8-10.

These two memorable moments in the Bible magnify how a spiritual conversation can completely change your perspective about life. Jesus didn’t merely talk about living an abundant life. Rather, Jesus put his own personal agenda aside to fulfill God’s purpose for His life. As a Christian, I stride to have a spiritual moment that matters every week. Yet, every day with Jesus during his three-year earthly ministry, the lost got found and hope was restored to those who had given up. May you experience a slice of this abundant life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 86: Music Box Superhero

Like the 1996 film That Thing You Do starring Tom Hanks, life is filled with one hit wonders. These may not all be bands who disappeared overnight. Some are athletes who have that one amazing playoff run before turning into an average professional the rest of their career. Such is the case of the Julianna Project and their only memorable and notable song Music Box Superhero.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, Ephesians 5:19.

Back in the days when Christian Bookstores were in vogue, record companies put the best song they could find from obscure artists and compile these hits into compilation albums. The hope was that if you liked a specific song you would purchase the entire album on your next visit. Since the Sonshine House never carried the Julianna Project’s album, this is the only song worth listening to. I hope you enjoy it.

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

Praying for Blessings, Happiness and Protection

In my lifetime, more than 100 artists have written songs with pray, prayer or praying in the title. This includes secular artists like Praying by Kesha, You Got To Pray by M.C. Hammer and Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi. Regardless of your religious upbringing, when people get desperate, prayer is a natural response to someone in need. One of Jesus’ disciples suggests that prayer leads to blessings, happiness and protection.

Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection], 1 Peter 3:9.

A prayer is like a wish that pops into your mind. Sometimes a prayer can be a vivid vision of how you would like a situation in life to turn out. This may not be a Hollywood ending, but it’s an image of hope of how things could, might and should be if God gets behind the desires on your heart. Since story book endings are rare, prayers provide requests for change, progress and if possible a miracle. Yet, sometimes it’s the person who is praying who needs to change.

Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land, Job 1:9-10.

The passage above comes from the first completed book in the Bible. Shortly after Lucifer is banished and kicked out of heaven, this spiritual being finds a place on earth as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2. Following the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan needed to ask permission from God to tempt Christians. When the hedge of protection surrounding Job’s family is removed, hell is unleashed upon his life. Through all of the trials Job endured in life, he learned the importance of praying for blessings, happiness, and protection from evil.

by Jay Mankus

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