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Be a Positive Trend Setter in 2023

One of the major choices you will have to make in life is if you want to go with the flow or become a trend setter? Jesus touches on this subject near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:13-14. The analogy Jesus uses is based upon who you walk with in life. Are you following the masses on the highway to hell? Or as Robert Frost once penned are you taking, “the Road Less Traveled?” Jesus appears to be referring to Psalm 1:1-3 as who you surround yourself will dictate the choices you make in life.

When Enoch was 65 years old, Methuselah was born. 22 Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him], Genesis 5:21-24.

After the earth’s first family got off to a rough start with one scandal after another, the first trend setter came 7 generations after Adam. According to the passage above, Enoch wasn’t like most of the men on earth. While others were trying to please their peers, Enoch had his heart on habitually walking with God. Rather than a casual relationship, Enoch daily prayed and drew closer to the Lord. This example set by Enoch appears to have inspired Noah to become a positive trend setter in an evil society.

But Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord. This is the history of the generations of Noah. Noah was a just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God, Genesis 6:8-9.

Apparently, everyone but Noah was heading down the highway toward hell. The life and example set by Enoch had been forgotten by followers of God. Rather than take the less traveled path, everyone but Noah went with the flow in a society becoming morally bankrupt with each passing day. Sound familiar? As bad as the media and news makes America and the world sound today, it only takes one trend setter in 2023 to alter the course of history. May the lives of Enoch and Noah inspire you to make a difference in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

My Helper and Keeper

After taking my last graduate level teaching class, I made some radical changes in my teaching style. My Classroom Management course taught me to seek out a responsible individual in each of my classes. This person served as the heartbeat and pulse of their peers. The purpose of this leadership position was to help and keep me aware of any learning difficulties within each unit. These unclear areas were then addressed prior to each unit test. While this system wasn’t perfect, it did help and keep me on track.

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth, Psalm 121:2.

The passage above was written during a climb or walk to the summit of a mountain in Jerusalem. This Psalmist remains nameless but was inspired to sing and write during this special stroll. One of the best ways to clear my mind in high school was to take a late-night jog while listening to my Walkman cassette player. One of my favorite music mixes was the soundtrack from Rocky IV. As each song began, adrenaline would cause me to run faster and faster.

 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield], Psalm 121:5.

According to the Psalmist, God gives you something greater than adrenaline. While specific details are left up to your own interpretation, the Psalmist credits God for helping each day and keeping him near. Moses speaks about this in Deuteronomy 28:1-3. Moses believes God’s presence as a helper and keeper is a form of blessings for being obedient to the Lord. Meanwhile, the Psalmist compares God to a spiritual warrior who shields the unarmed from danger. May you begin to see God as a helper and keeper.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 271: Gratitude

Today’s song comes from a worship pastor at Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Brandon Lake is also a member of the Bethel Music and the Maverick City Music collective team. Since today’s song falls on the Sabbath, Brandon’s song Gratitude is fitting. Part of any worship service is raising your voice in song as a form as gratitude to God.

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19.

The context of the passage above comes the apostle Paul. Paul’s first impression of Thessalonica wasn’t a good one. Subsequently, Paul felt like this new church needed to focus on the positive aspects in life rather than the negative. As you listen to Gratitude by Brandon Lake, may you be inspired to take the time daily to thank God for all blessings in your life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 260: New Creation

When I hear Mac Powell’s voice on the radio, I immediately think of Third Day. Prior to beginning his solo career, Mac was the founding member of the Christian rock band, Third Day. Mac and Roland Hayes were both inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame due to their long run of hit songs with Third Day. One of Mac’s most recent songs is New Creation.

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me, Galatians 2:20.

One of the first messages I heard when I first started attending a Methodist youth group in high school was becoming a new creation in Christ. Subsequently, when I first heard Mac’s song on Christian radio, I went back in time to this simple yet crucial call. As you listen to New Creation, may you be inspired to follow the apostle Paul’s advice in the passage above.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 255: Follow Your Dreams

If you’re in the mood for a little pop music, today’s your day featuring Follow Your Dreams by Raze. This Christian group from Tulsa, Oklahoma was formed by vocalists Donnie Lewis, Ja’Marc Davis, J.D. Webb, and Mizzie Logan. Raze have made their mark with number one singles on the Christian contemporary hit radio charts: “Always and Forever” and “More Than a Dream.”

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. 12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you, Jeremiah 29:11-12.

Rather than go with the obvious, I wanted to give people hope in this current recession. If you don’t have a dream to follow, make goals in life so that you have a target to aim for in life. The passage above is one of my favorite Old Testament passages. This message goes along with the lyrics of Follow Your Dreams. As you listen to this Raze song, may you be inspired to never stop following your dreams regardless of your age,

by Jay Mankus

Focus on Character

We are approaching the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech. On August 28th, 1963, MLK delivered this speech following a March in Washington D.C. inspired by a calling for equality and freedom for all. My favorite moment in this speech is Dr. King’s fervent dream when Americans will focus on the content of character rather than the color of skin.

And Samuel did what the Lord said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming and said, Have you come peaceably? And he said, Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice. And he consecrated Jesse and his sons and called them to the sacrifice. When they had come, he looked on Eliab [the eldest son] and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him, 1 Samuel 16:4-6.

While this sounds great in theory, one Old Testament prophet was deceived by the physical features and stature of Eliab. If a man of God can be fooled by a good looking individual, then anyone is susceptible. Martin Luther King Junior was the pastor of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. This ministry prepared Dr. King for his dream speech that focused on character.

But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.

Perhaps Martin reflected upon the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5. The world is full of people who jump to conclusions or base their opinions upon what members of the media profess. Rather than provide context, specific flaws and weaknesses are demonized and highlighted. At some point in the near future, this woke movement must end and be replaced by an emphasis on character. I pray that this day comes soon.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 193: I Speak Jesus

Today’s artist grew up in Buffalo, New York and was raised in a Christian home. This upbringing propelled Charity Gayle to start her own music ministry in Nashville, Tennessee. Charity got her feet wet as a worship leader in church which has opened the door to emerge as a female Christian artist. Today’s featured song I Speak Jesus is a prayer to call upon God’s higher power to change and transform your life.

And He charged us to preach to the people and to bear solemn testimony that He is the God-appointed and God-ordained Judge of the living and the dead, Acts 10:42.

Acts 2 introduces what Luke refers to as the apostles teaching. This involves acting upon the Great Commission shared with Jesus’ disciples prior to his ascension into heaven, Acts 1:8. Essentially, this biblical teaching makes speaking Jesus a top priority. As you listen to Charity Gayle’s song I Speak Jesus, may you be inspired to emulate the teaching of the apostles.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 176: Heaven is Calling Your Name

Two or More is one of those obscure bands that had a good run of albums with the most notable Life in the Diamonds. Since there wasn’t much information online about this group, it appears their music was influenced by 4Him. Produced by John and Dino Elefante, Two or More had a couple of songs which received national attention. One of those is today’s featured song Heaven is Calling Your Name.

Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and [g]everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I Am in the midst of them, Matthew 18:19-20.

The name Two or More was likely inspired by the passage above. While I was in college, this verse was regularly quoted in prayer. The context of this passage refers to church discipline, a form of accountability as there is power in numbers. Nonetheless, every Christian experiences a moment in life where you hear heaven call your name like Saul on the Road to Damascos.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 78: Devastation and Reform

Today’s features song is from a group that formed in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I first discovered Reliant K back in 2011, shortly before I became unemployed. Several of Reliant K’s songs spoke to during this difficult time in my life. Yet, Devastation and Reform comes from the Five Score and Seven Years Ago album.

Trust not in the lying words [of the false prophets who maintain that God will protect Jerusalem because His temple is there], saying, This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly and truly execute justice between every man and his neighbor, Jeremiah 7:4-5.

I could have chosen one of a dozen different songs from Reliant K. However, the beat and lyrics of Devastation and Reform combine a classic sound with a moving message. Since no one is immune from devastation, everyone has the opportunity to bounce back from disappointment. The next time you find yourself on the verge of self-destructing, play Devastation and Reform so that you will be inspired to overcome trials and tribulations that life throws at you.

by Jay Mankus

When Everyone Else Has Given Up on You

White Cross released In the Kingdom in 1991. One of the singles from this album is No Second Chances. The context of these lyrics refer to when you die, there isn’t a second chance to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, Romans 10:9-10. However, the Bible does suggest that some Christians will just barely get into heaven, Hebrews 10:26-27. If this is true, what does the Bible say when everyone else on earth has given up on you?

You are to deliver this man over to Satan for physical discipline [to destroy carnal lusts which prompted him to incest], that [his] spirit may [yet] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, 1 Corinthians 5:5.

In the city of Corinth, a member of the church who is either a teenager or young adult has taken his father’s wife for himself. This act of incest angered Paul and inspired the words above. Just as Jesus handed over Judas Iscariot over to Satan, Paul does the same for this man. Despite the tone of Paul’s letter, there is a sliver of hope that severe church discipline will somehow save this lost soul.

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

Meanwhile, the author of Hebrews points to a Christian struggling with addiction. While there is no description of this bad habit or habitual sin, there isn’t any sign of contrition or a willingness to change. Coaches, parents, or teachers encounter individuals like Hebrews 6:6 every year. Unfortunately, these prodigals haven’t reach rock bottom or come to their senses. My prayer to anyone who thinks they are too far gone, remember the words of Luke 15:18 because God never gives up on lost sheep.

by Jay Mankus

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