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S.A.N.S. Episode 69: No One Like You

I was fortunate to see the David Crowder Band in concert twice before taking time off to lead worship at his home church. While David decided to change his band to simply Crowder, this group has a special gift for drawing audiences closer to the Lord. While teaching at Red Lion, I served on part of the security team for both of Crowder’s concerts in Delaware.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you, John 14:1-2.

When I first started teaching high school Bible, No One Like You was part of the regular rotation during our school chapel services. While Red Lion’s worship team did a good job, there is nothing like hearing Crowder play No One Like You live. David’s energy, joy, and passion lifted up the concert audience up, giving those in attendance a glimpse of heaven. May you enjoy this classic song.

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

Removing the Leeches from Your Life

Leeches are an aquatic or terrestrial annelid worm with suckers at both ends of its body. Many species of leeches are bloodsucking parasites that are hard to remove once attached. My first encounter with a leech was in the state of Maine. Unaware of this native species, I was walking in swallow water when I first got attacked. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using my finger to remove it which only made matters worse. This traumatic experience at age 7 made me want to immediately remove leeches from my life.

Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power. 13 Food [is intended] for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will finally end [the functions of] both and bring them to nothing. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but [is intended] for the Lord, and the Lord [is intended] for the body [[a]to save, sanctify, and raise it again], 1 Corinthians 6:12-13.

From a spiritual perspective, a leech can be anyone or anything that clings, drains, and or sucks the joy from your life. The imagery used by Jesus in John 10:10 compares the Devil to a spiritual leech. This invisible force seeks to steal, kill, and destroy lives. While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus explains why it’s so hard to control human bodies. God’s Spirit is willing to help you remove the leeches from your life, but the human flesh is weak.

Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a [b]preciousness and paid for, [c]made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

This weakness is exposed through addictions, bad habits, and unwholesome cravings that individuals pick up over the course of their lives. While these inner desires may bring temporary pleasures, human bodies develop a dependency upon these highs that result in less and less satisfaction. In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns Christians against sexual immorality. This type of sin results in soul ties that make it harder to break free from. Perhaps viewing your body as a spiritual temple of God will give you the necessary motivation to remove all the leeches from your life in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

Supreme Expression

Pixar’s 2015 Inside Out follows a girl named Riley from her birth. Rather than express Riley’s life in a typical manner, emotions inside of her like joy, sadness, anger and fear steer the way. This creative twist of events provides a unique perspective of what goes inside the mind of a child. If only a spiritual element was added to this film, supreme expression could be realized.

You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works, James 1:22.

Expression is the process of making known one’s thoughts or feelings. Whether this is communicated through an articulation, declaration or proclamation, words begin to express what’s going on deep inside of you. According to Jesus’ earthly brother, when faith, good works and words are implemented properly, you reach what the Bible refers to as supreme expression.

You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes], James 1:24.

Yet, what if you are extremely shy? Or like me, born with a severe speech impediment. What do you do to experience supreme expression? This is the dilemma faced by a man from Decapolis. According to Mark 7:32-35, Jesus said, “Ephphatha” which is a prayer to open and loosen your tongue. When you add belief to this prayer, Matthew 21:21-22, supreme expression is possible to achieve through Christ who gives us strength, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

Trust the Process of Faith

My high school youth group used active learning exercises to illustrate biblical truths. The one I remember the most is where someone was asked to stand up on a platform. Instead of jumping into a crowd of teenagers, the volunteer is asked to turn around and close their eyes. On the count of 3, this person would fall backwards as two additional volunteers lock arms to catch the person falling.

Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it), Hebrews 13:21.

If you have ever struggled with trust, this is a good exercise to participate in. You are forced to place your trust in two strangers that you can’t see since your eyes are closed. The author of Hebrews urges readers to be strengthened in their faith. If you trust that God is working in your life, each day provides a series of obstacles and trials to complete the process of spiritual maturation.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

The earthly brother of Jesus adds joy to trusting the process of faith. Like an athlete who thrives in the midst of competition, Christians should embrace opportunities for spiritual growth spurts. Whether you are forced to endure hardship, persecution or undergo temptation, consider any of these situations a pure joy. By trusting the process of faith, maturity will continue as you grow and draw closer to Jesus in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

No Signs of Life

Today’s title is found in the lyrics of a band based in Columbus, Ohio. Send the Beggar’s second album Closer to Complete features a song entitled The Knot. The message is based upon a Christian who blends into their surroundings, afraid to make a public confession of a faith in Jesus. The lyrics include an autopsy performed by an angel, carefully examining this person’s heart. Inside the name Jesus Christ is pulled out, causing confusion which prompts a question: “why was this never shown?”

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions, Romans 6:11-12.

One of the things I struggled with as a new Christian was mixing feelings with faith. My life was like an emotional roller coaster lifting everyone up around me while on my highs. This was quickly replaced by depression as I sucked the joy out of every room that I entered. To be honest, there have been periods where I exhibited no signs of life as a Christian. Like James 1:13-15, my faith was dead inside.

Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and [a]faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and [b]faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy], Romans 6:13-14.

Apparently, first century Christians in Rome also experienced spiritual dry spells. Depending upon how you lived in the past, breaking any addiction or bad habit can take years. Similar to an internal tug of war, Galatians 5:16-18, ridding your life of sinful desires isn’t easy. King David describes this conviction and pain in Psalm 55:1-4. Whenever you find yourself spiritually dead or dying, on the verge of walking away from your faith, pour out your heart to God in prayer. May confession bring you back to life spiritually in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

The Greatest Gift of All

At the end of every year, talk shows reflect upon the current one to ascertain the best and greatest moments. Political programs focus on accomplishments and failures while sports talk tends to debate the greatest of all time. As another Christmas Day arrives, your mind may wander to consider the greatest gift you have ever received. Yet, there is one gift found in the Bible that claims to be eternal.

For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Comparing gifts and presents from year to year may uplift a generous giver in your family. Yet, the older I become, a gift may simply be having your entire family present for Christmas. While it’s hard to fathom the greatest gift I’ve ever received over the past 52 years, my favorite was a letter from a friend in college. After going an entire semester without hearing from them, opening this card brought tears of joy to me.

And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. 13 I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in [c]the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, [d]yes, eternal life, 1 John 5:11-13.

The New Testament of the Bible mentions the greatest spiritual gift ever provided to mankind. A Pharisee named Nicodemus was the first to hear about this future offering in John 3:16-17. The apostle Paul eludes to this in a letter to the Church at Rome. Meanwhile, the earthly brother of Jesus refers to an assurance of this eternal gift. All you have to do is accept Jesus into your life as a personal Lord and Savior. While you may receive many gifts this Christmas, eternal life in heaven is the greatest gift of all.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus, Joy, and Generosity

Before I became a Christian, there were several individuals that I met which stood out to me. I couldn’t figure out what it was about these people, but each of them possessed an inner peace. One winter night during my sophomore year of high school, a man in a wheel chair gave the keynote address to an audience full of athletes. By the time Skip Wilkins reached the conclusion of his testimony, I wanted what he had inside of his heart, Jesus.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 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 10:9-10.

Joy isn’t a feeling that comes and goes. Rather, joy is a state of mind that is fueled by the hope of eternal life, 1 John 5:13. Yet, joy isn’t a recognizable attribute in every Christian. Your degree of commitment to the Lord will affect what spiritual fruit if any that is naturally displayed every day. Yet, free will causes many college students to partake in their own prodigal like experiences. Subsequently, until human beings hit rock bottom or when common sense returns, joy will be absent.

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. 14 Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also, Romans 15:13-14.

The goal of any Christian is to put everything together so that a personal relationship with Jesus yields joy and generosity. The apostle Paul refers to this in the passage above. When anyone reaches this state, an assurance in God spreads hope to your heart. For those that continue their journey with God, joy and peace comes from a spiritual understanding of God’s promises, Philippians 4:6-7. As you draw near to God, may the love of Jesus result in joy and generosity.

by Jay Mankus

What Love Can Do for You

From a musical point of view, the Beatles were one of the most influential bands of all time. Despite being from England, the sound of the Beatles was embraced by Americans and idolized as their popularity grew. From a spiritual perspective, there isn’t much that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and I agree upon. However, there was one project released as a non-album single in July 1967 that I believe in. The title “All You Need is You” said all you need to say.

For I have derived great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints [who are your fellow Christians] have been cheered and refreshed through you, [my] brother. Therefore, though I have abundant boldness in Christ to charge you to do what is fitting and required and your duty to do, Philemon 1:7-8.

One of the apostle Paul’s first century letters highlight what love can do for your life. Paul is reminded by comfort, encouragement and joy derived from the love of Jesus poured out upon him from fellow believers. When the hearts of a saint are full of the Holy Spirit, love bubbles over as a form of spiritual refreshment. Paul’s advice to one of the servants on his ministry team is to do what it fitting and required as a child of God.

Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith ([b]your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength! 14 Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us), 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

Paul takes a different direction in a letter to the Church at Corinth. Love doesn’t come naturally. Rather, you need to be alert daily, regularly on your guard and stand firm in your faith. As Christians maintain their conviction and devotion for God, love can keep you going even when you don’t have the strength to carry on. According to Paul, love should be your motivation for everything you do, loving others as Christ loved the church.

by Jay Mankus

Why Hurt People Begin to Hurt Others

Every day hurt people are like ticking time bombs. Depending upon the circumstances going on in their lives, once the wrong situation comes along, there are usually no warning signs. When a frustrated individual snaps, negative energy is unleashed upon everyone in the room where this unfortunate event takes comes. Like someone under the influence of alcohol, it may take hurt people a few days to realize the pain they’ve inflicted upon innocent souls.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:26-28.

During a letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul begins to diagnose why emotional outbursts happen. The initial issue is anger that goes unresolved. Instead of explaining one’s frustration, this fury is swept under the rug temporarily. As days lead to weeks, a root of bitterness brews within human hearts. Meanwhile, this open door gives the Devil a foothold, an opportunity for hurt people to be used as a vessel of darkness.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 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 10:9-10.

Jesus predicted this scenario 2000 years ago. Whenever someone can not distinguish the voice of God from whispers of the Devil, self fulfilled prophecies begin to occur. Hurt and negative people begin a steady decline as hope and joy seems to disappear. To those who reach this spiritual condition, the Devil will steal, kill and destroy the lives of hurt people. If you feel like your life is too far gone, remember the words of Paul so that in your own weakness, Christ will become strong, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12.

by Jay Mankus

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