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S.A.N.S. Episode 237: Closer to Love

Long distance relationships are one of those difficult decisions that people who are in love make. Sometimes these relationships survive, and others end up failing due to a lack of trust. Today’s song Closer to Love by Mat Kearney is based upon how one phone call can change your life forever. While distance makes the heart grow fonder, loneliness opens the door for temptation.

For there is no good (healthy) tree that bears decayed (worthless, stale) fruit, nor on the other hand does a decayed (worthless, sickly) tree bear good fruit. 44 For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit; for figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a bramblebush. 45 The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks, Luke 6:43-45.

My wife Leanne and I dated for a year living 8 hours apart. We tried to meet in Chicago once a month which was the halfway point. Yet, military families don’t have this option unless some sort of leave is granted over the holidays. While Closer to Love isn’t a spiritual song, it’s a topic that many people can relate to. I hope you enjoy today’s ballad.

by Jay Mankus

Getting on the Same Page of Unity

The origin of being on the same page is not fully clear. However, it is believed that this expression developed at some point during business meetings with executives. Rather than try to undermine one another, companies function best when leadership teams are on the same page. Churches often develop mission statements so that when questions arise, pastors and elders can get back on the same page as well.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper], Colossians 3:12.

Unfortunately, there has only been one reported church that has sustained unity, Acts 2:42-47. While great awakenings of the18th and 19th centuries breathed new life into churches, unity did not last. According to Luke who served as a first century historian, traveling with Paul on several missionary trips, the early church-maintained unity by eliminating poverty. Rather than take up a weekly offering during a worship service, wealthy Christians sold their own possessions to provide funds for every emergency.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony], Colossians 3:13-14.

The apostle Paul is blunt about what is necessary before unity can be achieved. This requires grace, love, patience, and selflessness. Apparently, early Christians practiced the words of Philippians 2:1-5 by taking on the attitude of Jesus. When church leaders emulate unity, members of a congregation start to follow. However, when unity is merely a spoken word without any action, getting on the same page of unity remains an unfulfilled goal.

by Jay Mankus

A Platform for Hope

According to C.S. Lewis, hope is one of three theological virtues, 1 Corinthians 13:13. While charity (love) and faith often overshadow hope, the author of one New Testament book highlights how you can’t have faith without hope, Hebrews 11:1-6. Faith and hope go hand in hand as faith is an assurance in God’s promises and hope is the spirit of perseverance which believes that one day they will become a reality.

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, Jeremiah 29:11.

Senator Barrack Obama rode a platform of hope into two full terms as president of the United States. Obama’s message of “hope and change” placed this articulate candidate into the White House and became the new leader of the Democratic party for more than a decade. One Old Testament prophet shared a message of hope to Israel. This passage serves as a source of optimism for the future.

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, Romans 15:13.

The Greek noun euangelion appears 76 times in the Bible while the verb euangelizo occurs 54 times. This is where the English term Gospel is derived. Gospel refers to the good news about Jesus Christ, John 3:16-17. The apostle Paul sums up this spiritual platform of hope in two verses: Romans 5:8 and Romans 6:23. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us to cancel the wages of sin. This is the platform of hope which inspires Christians to wake up to see another day on earth.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 171: Love Will Find a Way

If you’re a fan of beach music, then you’ll appreciate Mal Pope who is the Christopher Cross of Christian music. When I listen to Mal Pope, I have flashbacks of the 1970’s sitting in the back of my parents’ car listening to Sailing and Ride Like the Wind. Mal is short for Maldwyn. I could only find one of Mal’s song online which is also the title of his album Love Will Find a Way.

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.

One of Jesus’ former disciples reveals how love will find a way in the Bible. Similar to the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, love covers over a multitude of sins. Despite all the flaws of human nature, when individuals begin to love God and love their neighbor as themselves, love does find a way to cancel out out rough edges. I hope you enjoy Mal Pope’s soothing voice.

by Jay Mankus

Coming Out of the Closet to Show Others the Way

In the past century, liberals and progressives have taken symbols and terms from the Bible. Rather than highlight the biblical context of being happy and the Old Testament symbolism of a rainbow, new meanings have been ascribed. Perhaps, it’s time to flip the script by coming out of the preverbal closet to honor the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, Matthew 5:13-14.

When I turn on cable news or search the internet for what’s going on in the world, headlines seem to be turning darker and darker every day. If there was ever a time for the Christian Church to be a City on a Hill and the Light of the World, now is the time. If God is love, sirens of love should be blaring throughout places of worship to show others living in darkness the Way of Jesus.

Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your [z]moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and [aa]recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 5:15-16.

Unfortunately, many Christians are like high school cliques shining the light and love of Christ at each other. Meanwhile, prodigals and wayward souls continue to walk around in darkness without most churches doing anything to help. If you have similar concerns and thoughts, come out of your spiritual closet to show others the way to the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 169: Cast Me Away

Today’s song comes from the former lead singer of Life Savers Underground. Michael Knott is one of those musicians who is more famous as a producer of 35 albums. Michael has helped and mentored young artists through the years. While Michael’s alternative rock genre may not be to your satisfaction, Cast Me Away is a ballad that Michael speaks and sings from his heart.

Listen to my prayer, O God, and hide not Yourself from my supplication! Attend to me and answer me; I am restless and distraught in my complaint and must moan [And I am distracted] at the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression and threats of the wicked; for they would cast trouble upon me, and in wrath they persecute me, Psalm 55:1-3.

The inspiration behind Cast Me Away comes from Psalms written by David following his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. While I didn’t reference Psalm 32, David pours out his heart to God in prayer. Ashamed and convicted of his sin following an encounter with the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12, David feels horrible. While all sinners deserve to be cast away, God still loves and forgives you, Romans 5:8.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 166: Love Your Never Dies

Today’s song is great to fall asleep to when you can’t sleep. This isn’t because Your Love Never Dies is boring. Rather, it’s about a child who was mentored by his father who has since passed away. Despite this absence and void in a young man’s life, what Vincent learned has remained deep inside of his heart. This testimony comes in the form of a soothing ballad that was popular in the 1990’s.

Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as [d]a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the message which you have heard [the [e]doctrine of salvation through Christ], 1 John 2:6-7.

Love is one of those qualities that you can’t fake. You may try to live a Christian life without love, but you’ll be setting a bad example. In the passage above, one of Jesus’ disciples is blunt about how to distinguish real love from phony Christians. How you conduct yourself and walk illustrates your love for God or lack their of. May Vincent’s Love Never Dies inspire you to emulate the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 165: Does Anybody Love the Lord?

Today’s song was ranked among the top 25 Christian tunes of the twentieth century. If I can recall on the countdown that took place on New Year’s Eve in 1999, another one of Crawford’s ballads also cracked the top 100. When it comes to inspirational Christian songwriters, I would rank Rick third all-time behind Bruce Carroll and Benny Hester. Does Anybody Love the Lord serves as an open ended question.

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love, 1 John 4:8.

In the lyrics of Does Anybody Love the Lord, Rick points out the spiritual giants of the past. You don’t have tell anyone that you love the Lord if you’re a person of grace, integrity and mercy. Unfortunately, most Christians have their own prodigal experience, leaving the Lord for a period of time. Rick urges modern Christians to become people of action, faith and works. May today’s song challenge you to deepen your relationship with Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

A Lesson in Humility

When you can’t make your dream job happen, you have to come up with plan B. When plan B fails miserably, you have to scramble to use all of your available resources to hope something will turn up. This is a brief summary of my life over the past 7 months. Following months and months of disappointments, this emotional letdown has taught me a lesson in humility.

A false balance and unrighteous dealings are extremely offensive and shamefully sinful to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness, Proverbs 11:1-2.

One of the wisest persons to walk the face of the earth writes about humility in the passage above. King Solomon was no saint who had his own self-destructive practices. Solomon’s love for women led to 700 wives and 300 concubines. This series of poor decisions to indulge his sexual desires resulted in several dysfunctional relationships. Subsequential, Solomon provides his own lessons in humility.

Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [[b]possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not [c]think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped [d]or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [e]rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! – Philippians 2:6-8.

While I thought my life was bad, the Holy Spirit reminded me of what Jesus went through to save the world from sin. During his own set of temptations in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus could have bragged about his divine power by turning stones to bread and fly through the air like Superman. Yet, despite being the Son of God, Jesus humbled himself by laying down his own life to save the world, John 3:16-17. The next time you think that your life is so important, consider Jesus’ lesson in humility in the passage above.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 156: Love is All You Need

Today’s featured group contains a mix of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. After listening to the entire album to figure out which song to highlight, Look Up has a nostalgic blend of the Bee Gees and Doobie Brothers. Love is All You Need is an example of this with a similar sound to the Doobie Brothers music and a portion of the chorus has a glimpse pf that unique Bee Gees vibe.

Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us), 1 Corinthians 16:14.

In this age of Wokeness, love has been replaced by finger pointing. Rather than focus on the positive aspects of life, Cancel Culture seeks to single out every offensive thing you’ve ever said or done. While dealing with a major sex scandal inside the Church at Corinth, Paul reminds first century leaders to let everything you do to be influenced by God’s love. I hope you enjoy today’s trip down Memory Lane.

by Jay Mankus

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