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S.A.N.S. Episode 315: Joy Song

Joy is one of those words Christians often talk about, but rarely demonstrate. As I was searching for a song about joy, I stumbled upon a Motion Worship who is rocking. What appears to be some sort of youth conference, everyone in the crowds looks to be active participants in worship. As you attend church in December, may you be overcome with joy like the attached You Tube singing the Joy Song.

Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer, Romans 12:12.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible on joy comes from the apostle Paul. While writing the Church at Rome, Paul blends joy with hope. Paul uses imagery of someone trying to hold onto something you really want like an athlete seeking to catch the game winning touchdown. If you are steadfast and patient in the midst of any hardship, you can hold on to joy and hope. In your weakness, may Jesus be strong, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

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Tears of Joy and Pain

King Solomon writes about the emotional twists and turns that life brings you. Some of these unexpected events result in tears of joy while other moments bring pain to your heart. To keep circumstances in their proper perspective, Solomon encourages individuals to take everything in stride within chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. Solomon ends his teaching on joy and pain with “God makes everything beautiful in His time,” verse 11.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

As an emotional individual, I find it hard to stay even keel. While I no longer experience the emotional roller coaster of my immature high school days, tears of joy and pain are a weekly occurrence. Subsequently, I tend to read too much into daily events. Sometimes bad days are merely the ebb and flow of life, part of the refining process as one of Jesus’ disciples writes about in 1 Peter 1:6-7. Despite this spiritual reality, certain songs and shows still elicit tears of joy and pain.

Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away, Revelation 21:3-4.

I don’t mind tears of overwhelming gladness, but painful sorrow is an emotion that I’d rather not face. After reading the final chapter in the Bible, John reminds readers of one of the final promises of God. According to Jesus, tears will cease in heaven. All kinds of earthly anguish, mourning, and sorrow will be wiped away like erasing a new white board. Although there may be slight indications of what was once sadness, this human condition will pass away in heaven. May this day come soon.

by Jay Mankus

Inveterate Murmurers

In the 2004 film I Robot, Bridget Moynahan plays a robotic scientist who uses big words that Will Smith struggles to understand. While reading the book of Jude, I came across the term inveterate. This refers to having a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change: Based upon the context of the passage below, this behavior has become a way of life.

These are inveterate murmurers (grumblers) who complain [of their lot in life], going after their own desires [controlled by their passions]; their talk is boastful and arrogant, [and they claim to] admire men’s persons and pay people flattering compliments to gain advantage, Jude 1:16.

During the first century, a few decades following the ascension of Jesus into heaven, the joy of many Christians had faded. According to Jude, too many church going individuals began to complain about their life. Rather than find a reason to celebrate life, negativity began to blind Christians from seeing their lives as half full. Subsequently, gossip and murmurs spread like gangrene within Christian communities.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:8.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul provided a solution for inveterate murmurers. Instead of allowing your soul to become consumed by anxiety and stress, focus on the positive aspects of your life. While the current economy and price of gas may be hard to overlook, fix your minds on whatever is true and pure. As you meditate upon the good things in your life, you can break free from the bad habits of your past. May this blog lift your spirits and point you in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

Walking in Love

Walking on Sunshine is a song written by Kimberley Rew. This original piece was created for Katrina and the Waves in 1983 for their album. The Bible has their own version of walking on sunshine. However, according to one of Jesus’ disciples, walking is symbolic for living in love. Just as a Christian should learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, love for live should be a daily motivating force to spread sunshine.

And what this love consists in is this: that we live and walk in accordance with and guided by His commandments (His orders, ordinances, precepts, teaching). This is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you continue to walk in love [guided by it and following it], 2 John 1:6.

When I was a teenager, I wore my feelings on my sleeves. When I was in a good mood, I wanted everyone that I came into contact to celebrate and feel the joy inside of me. However, as depression set in which was 75% of the time, I didn’t want anybody in the same room with me to be happy or smile. I did the opposite of walking in love, trying to drag everyone down to feel my pain.

And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to love. The final verse of this passage is listed above. According to C.S. Lewis, faith, hope, and love are considered theological virtues. Yet, these spiritual qualities are only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. Subsequently, if you want to learn to walk in love, Romans 10:9-11, a personal relationship with God is essential. Once this journey begins, walking in love involves keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

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

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