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S.A.N.S. Episode 304: He Understands

If you’re like me, you probably wrestle with the whys in life. Whenever circumstances, hardship and trials surface in your life, it’s natura; to wonder why God is allowing you or your family to endure this or that. Perhaps, this was the inspiration behind Chandler Moore’s song He Understands. While God understands the pain you may be currently enduring, daily events serve as a proving ground to test your faith.

And Peter answered them, Repent (change your views and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it) and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

According to one of Jesus’ former disciples, repentance plays a crucial role. As human beings see the error of their thinking, confessing this to God in prayer plays a valuable role in spiritual maturity. Like an addict who recognizes that they have a problem, repentance is the first step to accepting God’s will for your life. However, you must yield control over to God by making Jesus the Lord of your life, Romans 10:9-11. As you listen to today’s song, may the Holy Spirit begin to guide and direct you.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 291: God Who Moves the Mountains

I recently moved from one of the flattest states in the country, Delaware, to the Midlands of western South Carolina. My commute to work is up and down steep hills, over and over again for an hour. When I first heard the lyrics of today’s song, God Who Moves the Mountains, I’m reminded of why many prayers lifted up by Christians that go unanswered. Mountains serve as a mental block, causing doubt to replace faith as described by Jesus in the passage below.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

Despite the unknown of the future, Jesus taught his disciples to trust in the One who can move mountains. This in the inspiration behind Corey Voss’ song God Who Moves the Mountains. Jesus presents twelve men with the ideal scenario: the could be/should be result for any prayer spoken as long as you believe in the God who moves mountains. As you listen to the lyrics, may you be inspired to intensify your prayer life with a faith that moves mountains.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 283: Sparrows

Worry is one of the topics Jesus addressed in his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus points to the birds of the air who wait to see what food mothers will be able to bring back to their nest. If God prepares food for these small creatures, how much more will the Lord provide for human beings. This is the context and inspiration behind Cory Asbury’s new song Sparrows. This worship pastor at Radiant Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan is best known for songs “Let Me See Your Eyes” and “Reckless Love”.

Therefore I tell you, stop being [v]perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the [w]span of his life? – Matthew 6:25-27

Despite Jesus’ famous speech, millions of people wrestle with anxiety, concerns, and worry daily. Perhaps, the desire to be in control is what fuels anxiety and worry. When things are going well in life, anxiety and worry is low on my list. When situations and trials enter my life, it’s easy to allow worry to fester. May the lyrics of Sparrows by Cory Asbury speak to your heart and calm any concerns eating away at you.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 174: This Side of Heaven

Today’s song comes from an artist who didn’t take long to become popular. Keith Brown is the first Christian artist to go number one in Europe as a debut performer. This Side of Heaven is the album which put Keith on the map. While there are 5 different quality songs to highlight, This Side of Heaven is a great representation of Keith Brown’s sound and style.

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away, Revelation 21:4.

This Side of Heaven could have alternate interpretations depending upon how you view the lyrics. Stephen Curtis Chapman sings about Heaven in the Real World on earth. Keith Brown sings about the place we call home which appears to be based upon the apostle Pail’s words in Philippians 3:13-21. Whatever the inspiration was behind this song, I know you will enjoy this Side of Heaven.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 96: How You Live

Point of Grace started out as a female quartet in 1991. The current trio consists of Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappillino with Terry Jones leaving in 2003 to spend more time with her family. Point of Grace had a run of success as one of the top female Christian bands for a decade. While I don’t own many of their albums, Life, Love and Other Mysteries is by far my favorite.

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.

Today’s featured song How You Live reminds me the words of Jesus in the passage above. When you’re feeling down and need a little something to boost your energy, many turn to music for inspiration. Like my ride home from work on a Friday afternoon, blasting the radio as high as possible is a great way to blow off steam. May the lyrics of How You Live encourage and motivate you to draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 90: Wanting the Things You Get

It’s not often that featured songs complement one another on back-to-back days. Two Pennies by Between Thieves suggests that it’s better to share your faith rather than throw money at the poor. Today’s featured song by Santa Fe reflects upon your perspective on life. Wanting the Things You Get is a prayer for countless souls who have been lulled into a false sense of security by materialism.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

The message of Wanting the Things You Get may be the most inspiration song that I have played to date. As you attend church this weekend, may the lyrics of this song serve as a prayer to change and transform your perspective on wanting. Santa Fe builds upon the biblical theme in the passage above. If you can begin to seek first God’s kingdom and righteous, everything else will fall into place for you.

by Jay Mankus

Unsullied Minds

The United Negro College Fund recognized in 1972 that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Just as an athlete stretches and trains to improve, minds need to be challenged and pushed daily to learn. One of Jesus’ disciples made it his objective to stir up unsullied minds. This was accomplished by reminding first century Christians of Jesus’ teaching over the course of his earthly ministry. Yet, if idleness sets in, minds will forget the biblical truths in the Bible.

Beloved, I am now writing you this second letter. In [both of] them I have stirred up your unsullied (sincere) mind by way of remembrance, That you should recall the predictions of the holy (consecrated, dedicated) prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [given] through your apostles (His special messengers), 2 Peter 3:1-2.

From time to time, I’ll stay up way past midnight writing until inspiration fades and words disappear. If I try to press on, it’s not uncommon to hit a wall mentally. When your body and mind grow tired, recalling important details that you want to communicate come to a grinding halt. There are 253 different passages in the Bible to call readers to remember a specific message of the past. This large number of reminders suggests that human minds are forgetful.

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.

Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. The only way to maintain sincere and unsullied minds is by participating in a spiritual exercise. Like a form of mediation, dwelling on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:6-8, provides spiritual clarity. When you set your heart and mind on things above, your perspective on life and this world will change. If you want to stay focused, daily Bible Study and prayer will result in unsullied minds.

by Jay Mankus

Bouncing Back from a Rough Start to Finish Strong

Leaving a good first impression with a boss, co-workers and neighbors is valuable to get ahead in life. Yet, one bad day can trigger an avalanche of chaos that can bury you for weeks, months or for a year. Whenever someone loses faith in you or wavers on trusting you, you need to bounce back as quick as possible. You may not change their minds initially, but consistent dedication will pave a path for reconciliation.

What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He came to the first and said, Son, go and work today in the vineyard. 29 And he answered, I will not; but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 Then the man came to the second and said the same [thing]. And he replied, I will [go], sir; but he did not go, Matthew 21:28-30.

Jesus understood that parents will be disappointed by their children. This may explain the Parable of Two Sons and the Prodigal Son. In both of these stories, these young men display disobedience and rebellion. Human nature causing males and females to change their minds, often doing the exact opposite of what was previously stated. Perhaps, conviction or embarrassment serve as inspiration to bounce back from a rough start.

Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. 20 So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently], Luke 15:17-20.

The Parable of the Prodigal is a much more famous and intriguing story. When a younger son begs his father for his inheritance, this money is quickly squandered through wild living. As homelessness and hunger arrives, this immature son comes to his senses. After putting aside his pride, he takes the walk of shame back toward home. Before you can bounce back, you need to see the error of your way so that your faith will result in a strong finish, Philippians 3:9-12.

by Jay Mankus

Doubting God’s Ability to Intervene

Doubt has a tendency to deteriorate one’s confidence. People who doubt on a regular basis experience uncertainty. This uneasy feeling intensifies when you see things you can’t control. Meanwhile, if things don’t go according to plan, you may begin to wonder why God is allowing this to happen to you. If conditions or situations don’t improve, it won’t be long until you doubt God’s ability to intervene.

Then King David answered, Call Bathsheba. And she came into the king’s presence and stood before him. 29 And the king took an oath and said, As the Lord lives, Who has redeemed my soul out of all distress, 1 Kings 1:28-29.

This lack of confidence in an invisible God isn’t rare. Rather, anyone who seeks to become self-reliant may end up finding substitutes for God. Sigmund Freud refers to the Hero Complex which is an inherent desire and compulsion to help people. Yet, as these individuals attempt to become a super human being, it often leads to their own demise. Desire, inspiration and motivation only lasts so long.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of [b]the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, James 1:5-7.

Subsequently, this is where one must remember historical accounts of past miracles performed by God and His followers. In the passage above, the earthly brother of Jesus places faith into a storm at sea. Life can erode faith as the winds increase, causing waves to grow higher and stronger. However, as souls become distressed by external forces, this is where faith must intervene. When Christians access the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4, belief in God’s ability to intervene is restored and intensifies.

by Jay Mankus

A Lament for Covid 19

A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow. One Old Testament writer developed the nickname of the weeping prophet. Unfortunately, every time Jeremiah seemed to receive a message from the Lord, it made him cry or brought sadness to Israel. Perhaps, this was the inspiration for the Book of Lamentations. Whatever the reason, certain events like Covid-19 bring a similar cry for help today.

And I say, Perished is my strength and my expectation from the Lord. 19 [O Lord] remember [earnestly] my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me, Lamentations 3:18-20.

Since the Coronavirus struck the United States in 2020, more than 770,000 lives have been snuffed out by this deadly plague. Despite having access to vaccines in 2021, Covid 19 has now taken more lives in the United States this year than 2020, 386,233 and counting. You would think that as more Americans get vaccinated the death toll would steadily decline, but this is not the case.

But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: 22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not, Lamentations 3:21-22.

When science doesn’t have the answers or a cure, Jesus is the last line of defense. In the passage above, Jeremiah takes a dire situation and changes his perspective. Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, Jeremiah remembers all the past miracles performed by God in the Bible. Despite how bleak your future may be, hold on to Jesus as you lament to the Lord for a real cure for Covid 19.

by Jay Mankus

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