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A Place Where Giving and Love Co-exist

From Mark 1:35-38 to the passage below, Jesus led my example. As the Son of God gathered 12 men to begin his earthly ministry, he immediately introduces them to what a daily quiet time with God resembles. Meanwhile, Jesus doesn’t just invest 3 years of his life into these men, Jesus loved each of them as a humble servant of God. Despite knowing his future destination on a cross, Jesus created a place where giving and love co-exist.

[Now] before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and [a]to the highest degree. So [it was] during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, [That] Jesus, knowing (fully aware) that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was [now] returning to God, John 13:1-3.

Most college students spend 4 years to complete their undergraduate degree. Yet, there are some like me who needed 5 years to complete this process. Jesus wasn’t just a ministry leader, He served as a leader, teacher, and spiritual guide for 3 years. John’s gospel spends chapter 12-21 on Passion Week, Jesus’ final week leading up to his death on a cross. This book ends with the restoration of Peter, giving him a second chance, based upon God’s love.

Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a [servant’s] towel, He fastened it around His waist. Then He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the [servant’s] towel with which He was girded. When He came to Simon Peter, [Peter] said to Him, Lord, are my feet to be washed by You? [Is it for You to wash my feet?] Jesus said to him, You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on, John 13:4-7.

While all human beings fall short of God’s glory, Romans 3:23, there is a place where giving and love co-exist. You won’t find this in every church, but where believers are united on fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:8, giving and love can be found. Humble servants won’t advertise or boast about this spiritual climate. Rather, givers focus on love in action that conceives a place where giving and love co-exist.

by Jay Mankus


The Crossover Connection Week 12: The Wilson Phillips of Christian Music

Back in the 1980’s, movie soundtracks played a big part in selling albums as well as growing the brand of secular artists. Following the popularity of Pretty Woman in 1990, Wilson Phillips’ debut album sold over 5 million copies two years later in part due to the hit song Hold On. As I expanded my Christian music collection in college, I came across an artist, Linda Elias, who has a similar sound as Wilson.

And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him, 1 John 4:16.

The music of Linda Elias spoke to a number of my Christian friends at the University of Delaware. While Linda is usually overshadowed by her husband Rick, a founding member of Rich Mullins’ Ragamuffin Band, they each sing backup on their spouses’ solo albums. If you just want to have fun by singing out loud to music with friends, the Meaning of Love album contains several memorable songs to shout out in public. May the lyrics of Linda Elias music touch your heart this week like it’s moved me the past 30 years.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 337: Epidermis Girl

Today’s song speaks to a desire to go beyond the physical aspect of love. The term epidermis means the surface epithelium of the skin, overlying the dermis. Unfortunately, too many men place appearance as a top priority in a future mate which causes many Christians to fall into the same trap as Samson. Despite Delilah’s impure motives, it only took one night to be there this woman before Samson fell in love, head over heels.

Then Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. The Gazites were told, Samson has come here. So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, In the morning, when it is light, we will kill him. But Samson lay until midnight, and [then] he arose and took hold of the doors of the city’s gate and the two posts, and pulling them up, bar and all, he put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is before Hebron. After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah, Judges 16:1-4.

The group Bleach sings about wanting to go deeper, beyond the epidermis to find out what’s inside the heart and soul of a woman. Rather than endure the hardship, pain and suffering that Samson went through, basing your feeling and love on physical features isn’t worth it. May the lyrics of Epidermis Girl convict you to find a woman who like David, 1 Samuel 16:7, is set on pursuing the desires of God’s heart.

by Jay Mankus

A Moment Closest to Christ in the Face of Adversity

When I was in college, I attended a Walk to Emmaus Weekend. Following this amazing retreat with men, a group of us started an accountability group to keep the spiritual momentum going. Ed hosted this weekly get together on Monday night which was attended by Dave, D.R., Jack and me. The Reunion Group relied on an outline for sharing that included your moment closest to Christ. While at work today, the Holy Spirit opened by eyes and heart to a spiritual element that has been missing from my life.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— 17 The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you, John 16:16-17.

The emotions that I experienced were brought on due to my sister’s current battle with ovarian cancer. When I first moved to Delaware 25 years ago, I spent the first 10 years getting together on Friday nights for a combination of cards and games. While these nights at her house were often competitive and intense, this time brought our families together as my two oldest boys got to spend time with their older cousins Lizzy and Rachael. Unfortunately, over the past 15 years I’ve become so consumed with my own life that I haven’t spent enough time with the people I love.

I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you. 19 Just a little while now, and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you, John 16:18-20.

My moment closest to Christ came in the form of a rhema, a message from the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of the song Wanting the Things You Get by Santa Fe. The message of the attached You Tube pierced my heart, flooding my soul with conviction of not investing my time on earth in relationships. Instead, I’ve wasted a decade on self-indulgence on my computer, phone and watching television. My pledge for 2023 is to begin focusing my life and time centered around getting to know and love my neighbors. As I continue to pray for the miracle of healing for my sister Kathie, seize every moment that you have with family this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 290: Household of Faith

Sometimes you hear a song on the radio, but the DJ fails to tell you after the song is over who this was by. I first heard this song months ago but didn’t catch the artist’s name. While I assumed the title was Household of Faith, something distracted me on my way home from work. Subsequently, my short-term memory erased the lyrics from my mind. After a recent You Tube search, this song was on the top of my computer screen as I discover Household of Faith is by Winner and Shen.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

As someone who was witnessed multiple friends and neighbors have their marriages end in divorce, the lyrics of Household of Faith serve as a prayer to keep faith at the center of your marriage. Unfortunately, when couples lose the will to love one another, it’s like Eve in the Garden of Eden staring at the forbidden fruit hanging from the Tree of Knowledge. May today’s song inspire you to hold fast to faith whenever a spiritual storm approaches.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 287: Grace

Jonathan McReynolds was raised by a single mother in Chicago, Illinois. Thanks to a loving church family, Jonathon learned how to play the drums at age five. This love for music opened future doors to become a Grammy winning gospel singer. Rather than succumb to gangs which is prevalent in the Chicago area, the Lord has truly blessed Jonathon McReynolds with songs like Grace.

But if it is by grace (His unmerited favor and graciousness), it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless], Romans 11:6.

As a former Roman Catholic, good works was what I was taught to strive for in life. While isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it prevented me from embracing God’s grace. Like the words written to members of the Church in Rome in the passage above, grace replaces a works mentality. Instead of earning your way into heaven, the reality of God’s grace makes me to love and serve others.

by Jay Mankus

What Will You Be?

Americans spent $10.14 billion on Halloween in 2021. A majority of this amount is centered around one question: what will you be for Halloween this year? Die hard Halloweener’s plan a year ahead, trying to outdo their costume from the previous year. For one night every year, kids and adults roleplay the creature, individual or superhero they dress up as. Yet, the Bible speaks of a spiritual costume.

And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory. So kill (deaden, [a]deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God), Colossians 3:2-5.

The apostle Paul writes about the mental preparation involved in being a biblical follower of Jesus. Once Halloween is over, as you leave your home daily, who will you be today? Will you put on your happy face, drag down your co-workers with criticism or lead by example? Just as Galatians 5:16-18 speaks of the internal struggle between the flesh and God’s Spirit, your thought life will dictate who you will be on any given day.

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]. 13 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 3:12-14.

After writing about putting to death your old self, Paul transitions to putting on Christ like qualities. Unfortunately, maintaining a positive perspective on life when things don’t go your way isn’t easy. What will you be can change in an instant if prayer and daily Bible Study becomes part of your routine. Therefore, if you want to be Jesus the other 364 days of the year, put an end to bad habits of your past and start putting on the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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

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