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S.A.N.S. Episode 101: Innocent Lost

Today’s featured song was part of a rotation of songs that I played every night while I was attending a youth ministry school in the winter of 1993. Since I needed to get up early every morning, I played a series of ballads to put me to sleep as quick as possible. These 7 weeks in Minnesota was one of the best times in my life which infused me with a spiritual confidence that I never had before.

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.

Susan Ashton’s Innocence Lost isn’t a deeply spiritual song, but it’s one of those that everyone can relate to as a sinner. While you may have good intentions, if you’re not careful you too could be reliving Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Just as this couple was filled with guilt and shame, Innocence Lost serves as a warning to avoid repeating the same mistakes of your past.

by Jay Mankus

Time of Your Life

The concept of “Time of Your Life” began with a 1939 play written by William Saroyan. In more recent years, movies like Dirty Dancing have brought songs with this concept in the title. I’ve Had the Time of My Life by Jennifer Warnes uses dancing as a means to have fun. Depending upon your hobbies and personality, the goal of any day is to have the time of your life.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

When I look back on the past half-century, one year sticks out, 1993. I left a youth director position in Delaware to attend a youth ministry trade school in Minnesota. For 7 straight weeks, I was having the time of my life, living with other people my age who wanted to minister to young people. Not only was I transformed by the teaching I received, I also experienced a revival while living in Columbus, Indiana.

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.

When I was having the time of my life, I was also working 90 hours a week. My only day off began with a Bible Study at McDonald’s with students, followed by lunch in Cincinnati with my good friend Phil, and ended with an adult Bible Study back at church. When you’re having the time of your life, make sure you don’t burn yourself out like I did in 1994. Balance is crucial for developing stability and longevity. If I only knew this back then, I’d still be having the time on my life. For now, I’m trying to recapture what was lost.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 77: Get It Right

Today’s featured song comes from a group that began in Brainerd, Minnesota. Silverline is one of those Christian rock bands that have been overshadowed and replaced with soft rock that Christian radio stations prefer to play. I initially discovered Silverline while searching for new music online. However, their lyrics on ballads like Too Far Gone from Silverline’s Lights Out album have moved me to listen more.

A wise man’s heart turns him toward his right hand, but a fool’s heart toward his left, Ecclesiastes 10:2.

Back when Chip Kelly became the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he intergraded music into drills and practices. This inspired me to create 4 different mixes which I played at baseball practices. Get It Right was one of the first songs on mix number one. Instead of getting it right spiritually, I spent time in between drills to instill proper techniques. If you want to get your life back on track, Get It Right is a good place to start.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 71: Pray for Rain

Today’s group began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, disbanded in 1997 and reunited in Nashville, Tennessee three years later. To avoid a lawsuit, Prayer for Rain shortened their name to PFR upon their return to the concert circuit. “Pray for Rain” is a line from a poem that touched band member Patrick Andrew who convinced the group to adopt this name in 1992.

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand), Jeremiah 33:3.

From a genre perspective, PFR is the closest sound the Christian music industry has to a modern-day Beatles. When you listen to Pray For Run, you’ll sense and recognize how the Beatles influenced PFR’s distinct sound. The lyrics of Pray For Run speak to individuals who become comfortably numb, praying for rain to snap them out of their spiritual slumber. I hope you enjoy one of PFR’s first hit songs.

by Jay Mankus

The Kind of Person You Ought to Be

Six months after graduating college, I attended a Youth Ministry Trade School in Minnesota. These 7 weeks completely changed my life; encouraging me to stretch and expand my comfort zone. One of the techniques that I learned was setting goals from a Could Be/Should Be perspective. From a spiritual standpoint, I learned to take an inventory of where I am currently and where I need to be. While writing a first century letter, Peter challenges his listeners to consider the person that you ought to be in Christ.

Since all these things are thus [b]in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, 12 While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [[c]material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire? – 2 Peter 3:11-12

The origin of the term Christian dates back to sometime between 30 and 40 A.D. Citizens in the city of Antioch were impressed by members of their local church. Something was different about these people, a specific quality that set them apart from everyone else in town. As these followers of Jesus began to share their faith with the locals, one person put two and two together. “These people must be Christians, followers of Christ Jesus.

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.

As this expression spread, the apostle Paul provided other churches with a simple spiritual goal to shoot for daily. As people of faith become imitators of Jesus, the fruits of the Spirit take precedence over the acts of your flesh, Galatians 5:1625. As hearts and minds become renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, the Holy Spirit steers you toward the person you ought to be in Christ. Prayer, reflection, and worship provide spiritual disciplines to keep your mind on becoming Jesus to your local community.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 6: Carry On

If you are old enough, everyone has the favorite time of their lives. For me this was 1993 as I ventured west from Delaware to Minnesota to attend a youth ministry trade school. This 7-week intensive training program transformed my life and gave me an inner confidence that I could do anything. The friendships that I made along the way were a blessing. When my initial interview at a church in Rapid City, South Dakota didn’t go well, I spent a semester teaching at a boarding school in West Virginia.

O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His doings among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them, Psalm 105:1-2.

Little did I know that teaching Communications and Poetry would ignite a desire to write. I created an album entitled A Simple Confession with 12 songs and wrote a book of poems. Before the year was over, I was offered a full-time youth ministry position in Indiana and met Leanne, my wife at a national convention. Before leaving Minnesota, I came across an obscure band named Shadow Wings. After listening closely, I discovered Pat Benatar is a lead vocalist on the Carry On Album. While the attached link isn’t the greatest, I wanted to introduce you to the song Carry On by Shadow Wings.

by Jay Mankus

Removing the I Can’t From Your Vocabulary

While attending a youth ministry trade school in Minnesota, I was first introduced to the term “red light thinking.”  Growing up everyone hears the words I can’t.  This may be spoken by adults, siblings or teachers.  Whom ever spouts out this expression is suggesting that you can’t accomplish what you hope for, think about and want.  Anyone who begins to believe this will be limited in what you accomplish in life.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

To combat red think thinking I was trained to practice a simple exercise.  After you have taken an assessment of a dilemma, problem or situation, spend any where between five to fifteen minutes to write down as many possible solutions as possible.  This time involves a collection of ideas without rejection, known as green light thinking.  When every angle is considered, then you can go back and scrutinize the unrealistic.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

The older I become, the crueler and harsher critics get.  Subsequently, the young, adolescents and adults are bombarded with daily chants of you can’t.  Debbie downers and negative Norman’s pound away dramatically impacting self-esteem.  Instead of facing a world full of challenges with hope, individuals struggle to believe in their dreams.  If this mindset is not stopped, spirits of doubt will eliminate the American dream.  May prayer, a supporting church and voices of optimism propel the hopeless toward a sense of with God I can.

by Jay Mankus

Reactions Without Responsibility

Any parent who loses a child to a drunk driver, victim of a crime or family member of a relative fatally shot wants to see justice prevail.  In the heat of the moment, especially after receiving this bad news, emotions can cause harsh reactions.  Yet, in America people are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty.  Sure, it would be nice if the court systems could speed up this process.  However, until individuals have their day in court, its irresponsible to incite violence, rush to judgment or use social media to encourage others to seek revenge.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:4

In the hours following the unfortunate shooting deaths of African Americans by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, reactions in the media were fast and furious.  Apparently, some people took black leaders, politicians and twitter posts literally.  Subsequently, now there are six dead police officers in 2 states, several more wounded and public servants have been betrayed by the citizens they are paid to protect.  The response by celebrities to the initial two deaths is a clear indication that reactions have consequences.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:5.

America has come to a cross roads, on the verge of a racial divide.  The leadership and message provided by Dr. Martin Luther King has either been forgotten or is absent from this current generation.  In view of this dire situation, its time for personal responsibility, realizing that everyone is imperfect.  During his sermon on the Mount Jesus encouraged followers to get their own lives in order before criticizing or judging other people.  The same truth applies to Americans today.  Therefore, the next time you have an urge to lash out, over react or post complaints on social media, remember these words of Jesus.  If put into practice, God’s Word can begin to transform lives one soul at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Cures for the Cold

As a former resident of the Twin Cities during the winter, even if it was for just 3 months, I know the bone chilling effects of cold weather.  Each evening, I ran 3-5 miles when thermometers dipped below zero.  On a night in February, it was close to -20 without the wind chill as I started my jog.  A couple of blocks down the road, my hair grew icicles.  After a quarter mile, I felt my body beginning to shut down.  Without a thought, I made a quick u-turn to head for home.

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19.

One of the most obvious cures for the cold is the creation of shopping malls.  Beside Woodfield Mall in Chicago, nothing compares to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Built on the old site of Metropolitan Stadium, former home to the Vikings of the NFL and Twins of MLB, this mall contains an amusement park, movie cinema and 400 stores.  In this wasn’t enough, an expansion project looks to add an ice rink, dinner theater, hotels and waterpark.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me, Psalm 51:10.

However, there is another cure for the cold that is often overlooked.  This one focuses on warming up a cold and weary heart.  Sure, a hot cup of chocolate, warm fire or steaming bath will provide a temporary fix.  Yet, what can you do to re-energize your soul?  When I come inside to a numb heart, the best remedy I can recommend is a quiet time with God.   Opening the Bible, you will find nourishing words of encouragement.  May the promises within get you through the dreary months of winter.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord, Psalm 112:7.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Is Jesus Missing?

I was watching a chick flick with my wife earlier in the day when I came across a catchy punch line.  Viewing “A New Town” on the Hallmark Channel, an ambitious woman seeking to become a CEO, volunteers to oversee her companies new acquisition in New Alm, Minnesota.  Beside the culture shock of leaving the city of Miami for a small northern town, her liberal beliefs clash with the religion of rural America.  When asked if she had found Jesus, her response, “I didn’t know he was missing,” didn’t go over so well.

In professional sports, a similar line is often used to explain athletes who have turned their lives around following battles with alcohol, drugs and the law.  Finding God, Jesus or religion is a common theme of the source behind these transformations.  However, the success rate is not 100% as many are unable to completely break free from bad habits of their past.  While victims of sin tend to blame God for their travails, Jesus isn’t the one missing, we are.

A relationship with Jesus is no different than any other thing that you want in life, you get what you put into it.  Matthew 16:24-26 illustrates this concept like a blue print for how to find Jesus.  Unfortunately, most people follow the path of the actress in A New Town, forfeiting their soul on the way to the top of materialism.  The next time you feel abandoned by God, don’t be deceived by the father of lies, John 8:44.  Rather, reflect upon Jesus’ words in the sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33 so that the blessings of God will convince the world that Jesus is alive.

by Jay Mankus

 

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