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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

The Connection Between Fear and Faith

When I get bored of listening to music, I turn to Podcasts for entertainment. As an aspiring screen writer, I often turn to Alex Ferrari’s Bulletproof Screenplay Podcast for inspiration. I recently clicked on one covering how Hollywood incorporates the nature of fear into films. The guest writer spoke about the Samaritans from the Bible which peaked my interest. This author explained how Samaritan parents created numerous gods to scare their children into obedience.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love [g]turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear [h]brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection], 1 John 4:18.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, fears are broken down into three different categories. Social phobias, agoraphobia and specific object phobias are like fingerprints that make one individual different from another. Whether your fears consists of animals, heights or public speaking, trusting God to confront and face these phobias is the first step toward experiencing freedom and peace. Yet, if fears are not faced, you will be limited in what you can do and where you can go in life.

But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what he has heard from us? 17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself). 18 But I ask, Have they not heard? Indeed they have; [for the Scripture says] Their voice [that of nature bearing God’s message] has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the far bounds of the world, Romans 10:16-18.

One of my favorite Christian songs of all time is from the group David and the Giants. I was so moved by their classic ballad “Perfect Love,” I incorporated this song into my wedding ceremony more than a quarter of a century ago. The lyrics are based upon 1 John 4:18. While every human being is afraid of dying at some point in their lives, only one was able to conquer death. Jesus faced his sentence of death on a cross with perfect love. The connection between fear and faith is yielding control over to God by allowing Jesus to take the wheel and guide you through life.

by Jay Mankus

How Can You Love Your Neighbor When You Hate The Person You’ve Become?

Clive Staples Lewis was an atheist and British writer before becoming a lay theologian. C.S. Lewis once contemplated the concept of loving your neighbor. The following quote reveals his thoughts. You are told to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you love yourself? When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings.” This same dilemma exists today as how can you love your neighbor when many people don’t like the person they’ve become.

Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect), Matthew 22:36-37.

Following a series of parables, Jesus is asked by a religious leader a spiritual question. “What’s the most important commandment?” Instead of de-emphasizing the other 9 from the most essential, Jesus divides the commandments into two parts. The first 4 commandments are based upon loving God with the final 6 focused on loving your neighbor. When Christians began to love God with all their hearts, soul and mind, the practice of religion turns into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 40 These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 22:38-40.

When hearts grow cold, love stops naturally flowing out of human beings. If faith is not revived or resuscitated, this lack of love can slowly turn into self hatred for oneself. When sources for love dry up, there is no positivity that bubbles over on to the people you interact with daily. The longer this subtle decay continues, there is no inspiration to love friends and family. The key to loving your neighbor is to tap into the love of God, John 3:16-17. As individuals begin to feel and sense God’s love, desires to pass this on to others is restored. Unfortunately, healing take time. Just hang in there long enough for restoration to ignite your heart with the love of God.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Break a Child’s Spirit

In this age of child prodigies, being an elite athlete in any sport forces many to grow up way too fast. Instead of living a carefree life until attending college or a trade school, the pressure to be the best can take a toll on young adolescents. If a parent begins to live their lives vicariously through this phenom, the fun of competing can quickly fade. Subsequently, many children end up resenting sports due to a controlling father or mother.

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit,] Colossians 3:21.

First time parents tend to become more strict with their first child and gradually become more lenient with every child thereafter. Yet, in the first century, Jewish father’s were disciplinarians, prone to demonstrate a tough love. Based upon the apostle Paul’s observations of parenting in the Church at Colosse, several children were walking around defeated, unable to please their father. This is likely the inspiration behind Paul’s command, “don’t break their spirit.”

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

Since my father served in the military, my initial years as a parent involved stern discipline. Yet, as my two boys, James and Daniel, learned how to speak, I had to ease off the throttle before I broke the spirit of my boys. To suddenly alter and change your ways isn’t easy as you can go too far in the lenient direction. Nonetheless, the goal of any parent is to train up a child in the ways of the Lord so that a legacy of faith will be left behind, Proverbs 22:6.

by Jay Mankus

Comforted, Cheered, and Encouraged

The term encourage(d) appears 9 times in the King James Version of the Bible. In an age where negative news steals most of the headlines, most Americans are searching for hope. Some sort of cheer, inspiration or uplifting story that rallies troubled souls to keep moving forward. Life is hard enough as it is without critics and condemnation from haters on social media.

[For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One). In Him all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden, Colossians 2:2-3.

While writing a letter to members of the Church at Colosse, Paul gets sentimental in the passage above. Just as King Solomon warned Old Testament readers to guard their hearts, Proverbs 4:23, Paul urges believers to brace human hearts with comfort, cheer and encouragement. If the heart is the wellspring of life, protecting it all cost is essential. This is Paul’s prayer for the church that he helped plant during one of his missionary journeys.

Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life. 11 Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing, 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11.

In one of two letters to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul reminds Christians of the hope that is in Jesus. Instead of dwelling on the negative side of mankind’s fallen, sinful nature, Paul shifts to the positive. Verses like John 3:16-17 and Romans 5:8, reinforces that Jesus died while we were still sinners. This is the good news of the gospel, 1 John 5:13, providing a reason to celebrate. This is why modern Christians should be comforted, cheerful and encouraged.

by Jay Mankus

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