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A Spiritual Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a term my high school English teacher ingrained within my head. Whether our class was reading Canterbury Tales or Romeo and Juliet, she would always urge students to think about the foreshadowing of a scene. In the passage below, Moses points to the foreshadowing of Jesus, initially mentioned in Genesis 3:15 following original sin, Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.

Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on [the shoulders of] Isaac his son, and he took the fire (the firepot) in his own hand, and a knife; and the two of them went on together. And Isaac said to Abraham, My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. [Isaac] said, See, here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt sacrifice? – Genesis 22:6-7

As God puts Abraham’s faith to an unbelievable test, Bible scholars believe that the concept of a resurrection was conceived within Abraham’s mind. This is one of the few explanations that makes sense for a guy who had a tendency to rely on his own instincts rather than fully trust God. If this is true, Isaac’s hypothetical resurrection is a foreshadowing of Jesus coming back to life on Easter Sunday.

[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God, Hebrews 11:8-10.

All Christian’s hope that their life will leave behind some sort of legacy, to inspire others to elevate and take their own faith to new heights. The author of Hebrews nominates Abraham for the Bible’s Hall of Faith in the passage above. God’s initial promise to Abraham while residing in the land of Uz is a foreshadowing of the birth of a great nation, Israel. However, even Abraham struggled to believe in this promise until Isaac was finally born. As you read and study the Bible, may the Holy Spirit open your eyes to other foreshadowing’s found in this book.

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 366: Only You Can Save

After scanning all of my Sing A New Song posts over the past year, I realized that I repeated one artist and song, God Who Moves Mountains by Corey Voss. Due to this oversight, I am adding a pre-Leap Year edition, one more song before concluding this year long journey. The final song selection is Only You Can Save by Chris Sligh. This biblical truth is what one woman from Samaria discovered during a brief conversation at a well in the middle of a hot summer day.

Now numerous Samaritans from that town believed in and trusted in Him because of what the woman said when she declared and testified, He told me everything that I ever did. 40 So when the Samaritans arrived, they asked Him to remain with them, and He did stay there two days. 41 Then many more believed in and adhered to and relied on Him because of His personal message [what He Himself said], John 4:39-41.

The lyrics of Only You Can Save speak to the power of evangelize, sharing your faith with other people, regardless of how little time you have together on earth, 1 Peter 3:15-16. Chris begins this song reflecting upon a time when he forgot to share the love of Jesus while next to a man at a red light. Chris points to the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9-10, seizing every opportunity that God gives you to tell the world about Jesus. May the last song in this series inspire you to share your testimony with others in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

How Vision Can Keep You Going in 2023

One of the traits engrained within me from the Youth Ministry Trade School that I attended in the 1990’s is to be vision oriented. My first full time job following college did not use a time clock Instead, I filled out a weekly Plan of Action for my upcoming week. Every activity, event, and meeting on my weekly calendar had a specific purpose which I highlighted in my End of Week Report that I gave to my Senior Pastor. Maintaining vision produced spiritual results week after week.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children, Hosea 4:6.

As I now try to figure out my place in South Carolina in 2023, vision is the only thing that keeps me from giving up hope on my future. During slow months at my current job, I have 3 days off a week which I fill with projects that I have planned out for the next two years. My immediate vision is completing a brick patio which will extend my front porch. My primary vision is completing the Improbable Escape, a true story which took place during World War II. God willing, this will be completed by May 1st so I can move on to a 3-tiered astroturf golf green with a nursey in the works for 2024.

 And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a [u]deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him [[v]pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], 37 And they found Him and said to Him, Everybody is looking for You. 38 And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out, Mark 1:35-38.

While physical structures are enjoyable to complete, I also have a vision for my spiritual well-being. This includes joining a small group, a writer’s group and become an active member in the Aiken Community. The best way I know how to turn visions into reality is by emulating Jesus. If I can only discipline myself to develop a permanent time with God daily, this will keep me going like the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6. May this blog inspire you to make vision a guide for your future as “if you fail to plan; you plan to fail.”

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 352: Caroline

While a first century doctor features a story about a prodigal son, this doesn’t mean that prodigal daughters didn’t exist in the first century. Jesus spent time ministering to a woman at a well in John 4. After a slight back and forth in their conversation, Jesus reveals that this woman has been in a series of sexual relationships and the man she is currently with is not her husband as well. When this discussion ended, a spiritual hungry was left within this woman’s heart.

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. 13 And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. 14 And when he had spent all he had, a [g]mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want, Luke 15:11-14.

Seventh Day Slumber sings about a similar topic in their song Caroline. While it’s unclear if the song writer is referring to a friend or relative, but Caroline appears to be someone’s prodigal daughter. Due to unknown circumstances, Caroline has taken a break from God and is living life under her own terms. May the lyrics of Caroline inspire you to reach out to fellow Christians who have gone astray and have yet to come back to their senses.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 348: Right Things

Route 66 has a special place in my heart. Besides watching the movie Cars with my three children when they were young, traveling on Route 66 was part of my best and longest vacation with my family. During one of the summers, I was teaching at Red Lion, Leanne and I took James, Daniel, and Lydia on a trip of a lifetime. While the centerpiece of this trip was the Grand Canyon, Route 66 provided a slower pace of life, a chance to slow down and reflect upon God’s beautiful creation in the United States.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a [u]deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him [[v]pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], Mark 1:35-36.

As I wind down 365 different songs in 365 days from 365 artists in February, I turned to my son Daniel to help me finish the final stretch. Daniel led me to Chris Renzema. While I had several songs to choose from, the song Right Things seems to be a good fit for people still trying to develop New Year resolutions for 2023. As you listen to the lyrics of Right Things, may the words of Psalm 46:10 inspire you to be still by reflecting upon God’s creation of this planet.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 347: Friend Like That

As someone who has moved multiple times in life, true friends are hard to find. Whether it was moving from New Jersey to Delaware in Elementary School or from Delaware to Ohio in college, when you do finally relocate, you will find out who your real friends truly are. When none of them reach out to you after your departure, your friendship was more of an acquaintance than anything else. Perhaps, this is the inspiration behind Hawk Nelson’s song Friend Like That.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

King Solomon wrote about what a true friend meant to him in the passage above. Through the years, Christian artists have reflected upon this topic with songs by Geoff Moore, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman. When a friend does stick closer than a brother, this kind of relationship becomes a spiritual treasure. As a new year begins, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to find a friend like that in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 345: Letters from War

In the Old Testament, conquest and war was an annual sessional event. According to the prophet Samuel, kings led their armies off to battle each spring after the snow melt made roads passable. Based upon the account of David being sent by his father to visit his brothers to see how they were doing, communication was usually sent by messengers often riding on horseback. However, today’s song speaks of the connection between spouses after one is sent off to war by their country.

In the spring, when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites [country] and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 11:1.

While letter writing is becoming a dying art, replaced by emails, Facetime and texts, receiving a letter is a powerful visual aide. As a college student, I wrote anywhere between 20 to 50 letters a month, trying to keep up with friends who chose another path in life. Depending upon the person I was writing, I might ramble on for 3-5 pages, filling in every important detail. This is the context of Letters from War, always eager to find out and know if their loved one in still alive. May the lyrics of Letters from War help you have a better appreciation for life in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

What Grieves the Heart of God?

As the son of a former member of the military, my father pushed me as a child. When my dad felt like I wasn’t giving my best effort, he went into his Army Drill Sergeant mode. As an extremely emotional and unconfident individual, this wasn’t an effective strategy to inspire me to reach my full potential in life. Despite my father’s imperfections as a parent, he instilled within me a work ethic that few people my age still possess. Arriving early and giving it my all remains part of my DNA today.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart. So the Lord said, I will destroy, blot out, and wipe away mankind, whom I have created from the face of the ground—not only man, [but] the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air—for it grieves Me and makes Me regretful that I have made them, Genesis 6:5-7.

Unfortunately, there were a few times in college where I greatly grieved my mother by not calling her in the middle of the night to inform her, I was staying over a friend’s house before I went to work. On one occasion she thought I had died like a similar student my age. The parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 provides a glimpse of what God the Father does when we decide to live on our own for a while. Luke compares this to a human father sitting on his front porch, patiently waiting for our return.

These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren. 20 My son, keep your father’s [God-given] commandment and forsake not the law of [God] your mother [taught you], Proverbs 6:16-20.

While the Lord is a patient, King Solomon does write about what God detests. These behaviors listed in the passage above are prevalent on the nightly news. Whenever a saint begins to stumble by turning their attention toward the sinful nature God’s heart grieves. According to Jesus, this is expected by non-Christians, but God calls believers to higher standards in Matthew 5:43-48. Rather than follow in the footsteps of Demas who abandoned God in the first century, mend your relationship with God before you become too far gone, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 331: A Thousand Songs

There are hundreds of talented worship groups across the country and throughout the world. When I stumbled upon the Christ Fellowship Worship team, I enjoyed their montage of Christmas music. This is similar to spontaneous worship montages that I like to listen to before going to sleep, A Thousand Songs is like a series of condensed snippets of almost every Christmas song that I am familiar with to keep the theme of Christmas within your hearts and mind.

The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him, Psalm 28:7.

The passage above is a Psalm of David. As a skilled harpist, David had a special connection with music. Perhaps this is the inspiration behind David’s words about music. It’s unclear when David wrote this Psalm, but his close relationship with the Lord is unveiled. This commitment led the prophet Samuel to refer to David as a man after God’s own heart. May this Christmas season inspire you to sing songs in your heart to the Lord this holdiay season.

by Jay Mankus

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