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S.A.N.S. Episode 143: Go Through Fire

Today’s featured song comes from a multi-talented individual who is a Christian artist, musician, songwriter, record producer, and speaker. Rob Frazier’s father W. Burwell founded the Warrington Fellowship Church in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Since I grew up about 30 minutes from this church, it’s no wonder that Rob Frazier’s albums were easily accessible at nearby Christian bookstores in Delaware.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, 1 Peter 1:6.

Frazier’s song Go Through Fire appears to be inspired by the passage above. Peter writes about the refining process brought on by the trials that all human beings are forced to endure. However, if you want to grow and mature spiritually, you must go through these unexpected fires that arise weekly and monthly. May this classic ballad touch your heart and inspire you to draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 55: What Would Jesus Do?

Today’s song comes from the Cyndi Lauper of Christian music. Similar to Cyndi’s hit song Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Julie Miller has a joy for life that she places into each song. A former Rolling Stones article revealed Julie’s battle with fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes chronic pain in the muscles and bones as well as fatigue and mood issues. This is the context that sets the tone for What Would Jesus Do?

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a [a]slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

Julie uses the opening of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 to ask the question: what would Jesus do? While Julie has a distinct voice that you won’t find in many grown-ups, the lyrics of What Would Jesus Do stirs my heart and brings a tear to my eyes each time I listen. Julie sings about the need for Christians to exercise a labor of love. May this song inspire you to be the hands and feet of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 29: Deeper

In my final year of high school, I became a big fan of U2. My favorite album, the Unforgettable Fire, was filled with biblically based themes. Today’s song comes from a Christian band from the United Kingdom who combines a U2 feel with alternative praise. At the time of their arrival on the Christian music scene in the United States, Delirious was considered to be on the cutting edge of worship music.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness, Psalm 147:11.

The song Deeper suggests that Christians reach a point in their relationship with God where faith becomes stale. Subsequently, the lyrics speak of an inner desire to go beyond a surface level relationship. Like the words of 1 Peter 2:2, Deeper encourages Christian to dive deeper than they have ever gone before. May Deeper inspire you to draw closer to Jesus Christ, James 4:8.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 25: For Those Who Wait

A couple of years ago, my work station was moved underneath a flat sorter. Due to the constant noise, I was forced to use ear protection whenever I sit at my desk. The positive side of this change is that I’ve been able to listen to music, podcasts and shows throughout my shift. As I’ve scanned the internet to find new Christian artists, I came across a group called Fireflight.

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name, Hebrews 13:15.

The best way to describe their music is a mix between Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar. Today’s feature song is also the name of one of Fireflight’s 5 albums. The attached video uses an aspiring violinist who has a father who doesn’t support her dream to use her God given gift. As you listen and watch, I pray that the lyrics of For Those Who Wait will inspire you not to give up until fulfilling goals that others said were impossible to achieve.

by Jay Mankus

Stir Up, Stimulate and Incite the Love of Jesus

As a former high school teacher, there was always at least one student per class who knew how to stir up trouble. If I didn’t identify this individual quickly, it wasn’t long before I lost control of an entire classroom. Yet, stir up does include synonyms that can be construed as positive. In the passage below, one New Testament author refers to someone who generates, sparks and triggers an atmosphere of love.

And let us consider and give [d]attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Hebrews 10:24.

As soon as someone sets the tone for a positive climate to exist, others are stimulated to follow. Yet, if Christians don’t lead the way consistently, it won’t be long until another person fills this leadership void. The author of Hebrews urges believers to be attentive, careful and watch over one another. Guidance is provided by studying the Bible which is the source to finding out how to love.

And this is the message [the message of [g]promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [[h]no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents], 1 John 1:5-6.

While incite is often used in a negative manner, you can instigate a moment for the kingdom of God. In the passage above, light is the key to love. Unfortunately, all too often darkness enters the equation which tends to drag everyone else down. Therefore, if you want to stir up, stimulate and incite the love of Jesus, become partakers in Christian fellowship to inspire others to pass on God’s love.

by Jay Mankus

Holding Out the Word of Life

The Psalmist is one of the first authors of the Bible to refer to this book as words for life. In the passage below, this portion of the Old Testament serves as a flashlight in the dark, pointing out the right direction to go. When you receive amazing advice, it’s like food for hungry souls. Meanwhile, each time you open the Bible, spiritual percepts provide tangible understanding to unveil truths that were previously hidden from you.

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:103-105.

In the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul compares the Old Testament to a book of life. Inside of these pages, you will find a spiritual presence, Hebrews 4:12. This author suggests that these words jump off the pages, living and active to inspire souls to change for the better. Meanwhile, Paul uses the second coming of Jesus as motivation to hold up the Word of Life to whoever he comes in contact with daily.

Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose, Philippians 2:16.

In a letter to a teenager pastor, Paul explains how to correctly handle this spiritual book, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Bible serves as a spiritual guide to life as it convicts, corrects and disciplines those who stray off course. Although the original text of the Bible does not contain chapters or individual verses, John 3:16-17 points to salvation, not judgement. When you do hold out the Word of Life, make sure you do this with gentleness and respect.

by Jay Mankus

Transitioning from Summer Camp Back to Reality

Ten years ago my wife and kids persuaded me to become a summer camp counselor for a week at Cedarbrook.  This decision enabled my youngest Lydia to attend, a year younger than the accepted age.  This week just happened to be during a heat wave in the high 90’s every day.  To make matters worse I stayed in the only cabin without air conditioning.  Between the heat, humidity and lack of sleep, I was sick the rest of the summer.  This experience caused me to never return, retiring after my first and only year.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” Joshua 1:9.

Over the past decade, my two oldest boys transitioned from campers to counselors in training.  Teenagers go through a three year process before a bird name is selected and earn the right to become an official camp counselor.  James, my oldest, graduated and spent two summers as a counselor.  Meanwhile, Daniel completed his counselor in training last summer and is currently a cabin leader this week at camp.  Finally, my daughter Lydia has begun year one of training to follow in her brother’s footsteps.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

One of my favorite traditions is going out to lunch after Cedarbrook’s closing ceremonies.  This meal allows my children to share their experience from the week.  While they may be complaining and frustration, I redirect the topic toward their favorite or most memorable moments of camp.  As I listen, this conversation provides a transition from summer camp back to reality.  Often, my kids talk about what they would do differently to improve things for next year.  This debriefing session gives my wife and I the opportunity to share our perspectives and hopefully promote spiritually growth during this upcoming school year.  May this year’s experience inspire souls to follow Christ daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Consequence for Failing to Listen

For three years, Jesus poured his heart, soul and mind into twelve men. Whether eating, drinking, lodging or traveling together, Jesus trained these disciples on what it means to be a Christian. While the phrase “let him who have ears listen” is not widely recorded in the New Testament, this expression was likely repeated daily. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Jesus talks everyone should listen.

And other seed fell into good soil, and as the plants grew and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundred times [as much as had been sown].” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words,” Mark 4:8-9.

Unfortunately, busyness, distractions and timing influence your degree of listening. When I’m tense, tired or interruptions occur, my mind wanders. Thus, even when motivational speakers convict, encourage or inspire you to act, listening is a two step process. First, you must clearly hear what has been instructed. Second, heeding the words of Jesus requires a special attention to details, noticing the big picture. Without these two elements working together, the good news about Jesus Christ falls upon deaf ears.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your countrymen; you shall listen to Him and obey everything He tells you. 23 And it will be that every person that does not listen to and heed that Prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people,’ Acts 3:22-23.

During a sermon given by Peter, a passage from the Old Testament is quoted. Peter is trying to connect with his mainly Jewish audience by revealing a prophecy made by Moses. Without beating around the bush, Peter uses a message of fear to get the attention of this crowd. In this day of political correctness, suggesting that heaven isn’t for everyone results in outrage and persecution. Yet, Peter states that not hearing and taking heed of Jesus’ teaching will result in spiritual destruction. May this warning prompt hearts to develop a keen sense of listening.

by Jay Mankus

Infusing My Soul

Infusion is the process of extracting chemical compounds or flavors from plant material in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol, by allowing the material to remain suspended in the solvent over time. Synonyms for infusing include charge, fill, inspire, permeate and saturate. Once a compound is dipped into a solvent, time will slowly allow the extracting process to be completed.

‘You have made known to me the ways of life; You will fill me [infusing my soul] with joy with Your presence,’ Acts 2:28.

From a spiritual perspective, the Word of God serves as the material upon which souls absorb. Biblical principles, history and truth is available to any human being. Beside being one on the best sellers list year after year, the Bible is available through apps, commentaries and numerous online sites. Thus, infusing your soul isn’t limited to New Testament believers. Rather, anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness can experience the abundant life Jesus promises in the passage below.

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 overflows], John 10:10.

Those who don’t take develop a routine for infusing your soul become vulnerable to demonic attacks. Jesus warns his disciples about the enemy, seeking to take away the joy you receive from entering into a personal relationship with God. Beside reading the Bible, I spend several hours a day listening to Christian music. While the genres vary depending upon how I feel, the more inspirational the lyrics, the greater my soul is infused. Therefore, if you want to experience what Peter spoke of in Acts 2:28, you too can be revived by infusing your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Unplowed Ground to Cover

The phrase unplowed ground refers to fallow ground. This comes from the Hebrew word nir meaning tillable but untilled ground. In the passage below, the prophet Hosea is talking about land that could be productive, but for whatever reason has not been broken up, tilled, plowed, and prepared for planting. To anyone who is willing to take an honest assessment of their life, everyone has unplowed ground to cover.

Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate]; Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness.
Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek
and search diligently for the Lord [and to long for His blessing] until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you. You have plowed and planted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors], you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and your chariots, and in your many warriors, Hosea 10:12-13.

In the film Facing the Giants, a janitor stops by to tell a high school football coach on the verge of being fired something God put on his heart. After sharing this rhema, a message from the Bible, the janitor recalls a story about two farmers. During a severe drought, both farmers prayed for rain, but only one went out to his fields to prepare his land. If you expect God to help you cover the unplowed areas of your life, faith should inspire action.

Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a sincere love of the believers, [see that you] love one another from the heart [always unselfishly seeking the best for one another], 23 for you have been born again [that is, reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] not of seed which is perishable but [from that which is] imperishable and immortal, that is, through the living and everlasting word of God, 1 Peter 1:22-23.

One of Jesus’ disciples refers to an imperishable seed. This analogy represents the living Word of God, the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 details the power of the Bible, calling the words in this book as living and active. Each time individuals open up these pages to read, souls are convicted and inspired to cover unplowed ground. Therefore, if you want to experience a physical and spiritual harvest, let God’s principles renew and transform your mind. As you do, God will sow seeds within newly tilled areas.

by Jay Mankus

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