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S.A.N.S. Episode 100: Kings and Queens

Audio Adrenaline started out as a pop/rock outfit that emerged out of Kentucky Christian College in 1986. There aren’t many bands that last 20 years and release ten plus albums. This longevity is apparent in today’s featured song Kings and Queens which is part of a passion project from 2013. If you haven’t seen the attached video, the lyrics of Kings and Queens are moving as Audio Adrenaline seeks to demonstrate the love of Christ to Haiti.

Then little children were brought to Jesus, that He might put His hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But He said, Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed. 15 And He put His hands upon them, and then went on His way, Matthew 19:13-15.

Perhaps, the inspiration behind Kings and Queens comes from the passage above. The disciples didn’t feel like children were worth their time as ministry leaders. Yet, Jesus has to correct them of their ungodly belief so that future children will feel part of the body of Christ. Although not everyone possesses the personality to relate to and reach young people, God calls all Christians to love. Therefore, as you listen to Kings and Queens, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to love your neighbors as yourself.

by Jay Mankus

Let Us Not Love in Mere Theory

When I first read the passage below, an image of a famous scene from Good Will Hunting popped into my mind. The context of this scene is that Will played by Matt Damon picks apart Sean’s life played by Robin Williams. Will judges Sean solely based upon a picture that he painted. This brief synopsis of interpretation and theory is like a Christian who merely reads about love in the Bible. You can talk about love in theory, but without applying love, your knowledge is useless.

Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity), 1 John 3:18.

As a disciple of Jesus, John was fortunate to meet thousands of people every week. Apparently, some of these individuals talked about Jesus in theory, but their actions and behavior never changed. The expression “little children” is likely a kind way of telling his readers that they are immature and still have a long way to go. On the other hand, John could be simply using a common expression passed on by Jesus that he adopted following his ascension into heaven.

[Dear] little children, I am to be with you only a little longer. You will look for Me and, as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: you are not able to come where I am going. 34 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. 35 By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves], John 13:33-35.

Today, these two passages serve as a reminder from the first century church. This new command is a continuation of Matthew 22:36-40. In other words, as Christians develop and grow in their love for God, pass on this same intensity of love to your neighbors daily. The sign of any thriving church is the depth of love in the hearts of believers. Don’t just talk about love in theory. Rather, put your faith into action by showing the love of Jesus to everyone on earth.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 89: Two Pennies

Today’s feature song comes from a Christian musical group that formed in Dallas, Texas in 1990. The name of this group is very appropriate for this Easter Season “Between Thieves.” The lyrics of Two Pennies gives Christians another alternative to any homeless individuals that you many come in contact with. While handing a buck or two is easier, sharing your faith with the poor is a golden opportunity.

Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He [b]takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving], 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Everyone has certain God given gifts that are unique to you. One talent may be talking, another writing as well as the boldness to evangelize. My own two cents is that God has a plan and a place for all of us to serve. Unfortunately, barriers, obstacles, and time prevent many from giving to the world what they need which is love in action. May the melody and lyrics of Two Pennies inspire you to love others in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 50: That Lonesome Road

Today’s featured song comes from a band that formed during my senior year of high school. Mad at the World debuted in 1987 in Southern California behind the efforts of two brothers: Roger and Randy Rose. This group combines the in-your-face passion of punk rock with an alternative style of Christian music. That Lonesome Road serves as a warning for those who make bad choices in life.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[f]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

The lyrics of That Lonesome Road is a modern-day prodigal son song of what happens to human beings who make bad decisions. Sin has a way of separating Christians from the people who love them. Yet, like Peter’s initial encounter with the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia, choosing temporary pleasures in life will lead to loneliness and disappointment. May That Lonesome Road inspire you to take the path less traveled, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Intense and Unfailing Love

My parents took me to see Rocky I in the theaters in 1976. When Rocky III debuted 6 years later, this coincided with an inner desire to become a great athlete. The theme song Eye of the Tiger was a daily goal, striving to possess the same intensity of a prized fighter in each of my sports competitions. Two years later, I became a running machine while training for cross country just like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV. Unfortunately, my high school years were full of intensity but lacked love and understanding.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and [e]disregards the offenses of others], 1 Peter 4:8.

Intense refers to an extreme degree, force, or strength in which you pursue something. While intense is often associated with competitions, Peter urges first century Christians to pursue their spiritual lives with the same passion. In the passage above, Peter appears to reference Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:14-15. At the end of the Lord’s Prayer, forgiving and loving others is essential for being forgiven by God. This is the purpose and reason for pursuing intense and unfailing love.

You have granted me life and favor, and Your providence has preserved my spirit. 13 Yet these [the present evils] have You hid in Your heart [for me since my creation]; I know that this was with You [in Your purpose and thought], Job 10:12-13.

Whether I like it or not, I have become more like my father as I grow older. My passion for sports has faded, put on hold to become a better father and spiritual life coach for my children. While I am far from the earthly father that God wants me to be, the missing ingredient is an unfailing love like Jesus. Regardless of what has happened in life, all bitterness, grudges, and pain must be released and let go of for good. If I can exchange my intensity for sports and replace it with God’s unfailing love, forgiveness and reconciliation will become a reality on earth.

by Jay Mankus

A Reason to Change

A defining moment is very brief portion of time, an instant, where you have to decide in a moment. If you’re too slow to react, this moment will define your life in the form of disappointment, failure, and shame. This old French expression is now nearly 1000 years old since it first appeared in literature. Whether you just experienced the agony of defeat or thrill of victory, defining moments provide an opportunity to change.

For the time that is past already suffices for doing what the Gentiles like to do—living [as you have done] in shameless, insolent wantonness, in lustful desires, drunkenness, reveling, drinking bouts and abominable, lawless idolatries, 1 Peter 4:3.

If anyone had a reason to change, it was one of Jesus’ disciples. John 21:15-21 details Peter’s first interaction with Jesus following his public denial. Jesus asked Peter, “do you love me” three times as if remind Peter of his failure to acknowledge his friendship with Jesus three times. Hearing these words likely pierced Peter’s heart, creating an intense desire to never deny his faith again.

They are astonished and think it very queer that you do not now run hand in hand with them in the same excesses of dissipation, and they abuse [you]. But they will have to give an account to Him Who is ready to judge and pass sentence on the living and the dead, 1 Peter 4:4-5.

When I was a new Christian in high school, I really didn’t know what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Attending spiritual retreats in college pushed me in the right direction to the point where I had to decide if I wanted Jesus to take the wheel of my life? This is what the Bible refers to as the lordship of Christ, Philippians 2:9-11. Over the course of your life, you’ll likely receive bad information and instructions. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make problems go away. Rather, Jesus has a dumping station where you can unload excess weight, Matthew 11:28-30. This is the reason I changed, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Purify Your Heart with Sincere Affection

Sometimes the truth that a friend shares strikes a nerve. Such is the case of one Old Testament prophet who reveals a painful truth in Jeremiah 17:9. When your heart becomes open to the possibility that you’re not as nice as you should be, your soul becomes open to changing for the better. This is the message that Peter has for a teachable spirit: purify your heart with sincere affection.

Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [HolySpirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22.

Purification usually involves some sort of filtration process. Whether this is accomplished through cleansing, decontaminating or sterilizing the imperfections, purifying anything takes time. According to one of Jesus’ disciples, purifying your heart is based upon your degree of obedience to God’s commands. As the Holy Spirit convicts Christians for any wrongdoing, your heart begins the purification process.

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins], James 4:7-9.

Yet, to achieve sincere affection, Christians must seek the Theological Virtues of hope, faith, and love. According to C.S. Lewis, Cardinal Virtues are available to anyone, but Theological Virtues are only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:13. Actions and faith must work hand and hand so that hearts will be purified as the fruits of this process develop into sincere affection.

by Jay Mankus

The Faithful Will Become Fruitful

From a human point of view, no one will ever be faithful 100% of the time. The apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament prophet to illustrate this in Romans 3:9-12. The Bible implies faithfulness is an unswerving adherence to God’s commands and calling. While Jesus asks his followers to strive for perfection in Matthew 5:48, Paul understood that the weaker you become opens the door for Christ to become strong.

[The Father] has delivered and [m]drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son [n]of His love, 14 In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins. 15 [Now] He is the [o]exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation, Colossians 1:13-15.

In the passage above, Paul explains the spiritual condition that Jesus rescued Christians out of. In a letter to the Church at Rome, Paul states that new believers have an obligation to live according to the Holy Spirit, Romans 812. This means faith in Christ involves fleeing your old self along with any former addictions, bad habits and desires. This is the first step toward faithfulness as you will live and learn via trial and error like new parents figure out how to raise an infant.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

Jesus’ advice in the Sermon on the Mount is centered around developing the proper mindset. Instead of questioning God about why you haven’t received this or that, you might want to re-examine your priorities. According to Jesus, whoever begins to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, all your concerns and worries will be taken care of by God. Another way to express this truth is the faithful will become fruitful.

by Jay Mankus

Using Love Thy Neighbor to End Discrimination

The earthly brother of Jesus ends the first chapter of his letter to Christians scattered throughout the world following Nero’s persecution with a warning about succumbing to the ways of the world. As chapter two begins it’s clear that discrimination can corrupt and pollute human souls. Perhaps 2022 would be a great time to adopt love thy neighbor as a means to end discrimination. Yet, this begins by looking at yourself in the mirror to examine how you must change to love all people.

Are you not discriminating among your own and becoming critics and judges with wrong motives?Listen, my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and in their position as believers and to inherit the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him? – James 2:4-5

The first church I served as a youth direction in was in the country. This particular church community took Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24 literally. Subsequently, on Communion Sunday a large portion was absent, off seeking to make right any broken or iffy relationship. One of my friends who was a pastor of a nearby church began to alter Communion Sunday so that nobody knew when to skip church. While this was an admirable act of faith for those who skipped church mend relationships, discrimination was still occurring due to pre-conceived notions and judgments.

But you [in contrast] have insulted (humiliated, dishonored, and shown your contempt for) the poor. Is it not the rich who domineer over you? Is it not they who drag you into the law courts? – James 2:6

There will always be some sort of discrimination due to the ungodly beliefs that human beings have been picked up over the course of their lives. Yet, the apostle Paul claims that charity is the greatest spiritual act that Christians can display, 1 Corinthians 13:13. When love is present in hearts due to the power of the Holy Spirit, loving your neighbor as yourself is achievable, Matthew 22:38-40. Rather than have politicians create a new law that has nothing to do with the actual title, use the love thy neighbor principle as a means to end discrimination.

by Jay Mankus

Welcome the Word of God in 2022

If you have children or received any sort of electronic gift for Christmas, you will find instructions enclosed inside. This manual is designed to show you how to put this gift together if not already assembled and how to use it. The best selling book of all time does not contain instructions in the beginning. Rather, the Bible uses history to illustrate how to and how not to live your life. If you’re stuck in a rut or tired of not being able to turn your life around, welcome the Word of God in 2022 to jump start this new year.

So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth], James 1:21-22.

According to the passage above, Jesus’ earthly brother made an important connection between the Bible and this spiritual leader. When Joshua took over for Moses to lead Israel into God’s promised land, one of his first commands was to meditate upon God’s Word daily. If this practice results in the spiritual discipline of Bible Study, these truths will become implanted within your mind. Meanwhile, anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness will began to develop a heart for God.

For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; 24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience), James 1:23-25.

Yet, whenever you read any book, you have two choices. Are you the type of person who loves plowing through book after book eager to discover the next one? Or do you savor each page, stopping to write down notes as you read so you don’t forget an important insight, lesson or point? At the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his audience to become doers of the Word, not just listeners. Anyone can read the Bible, but those who are convicted to turn their life around will welcome the Word of God in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

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