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S.A.N.S. Episode 334: Butterfly

When I entered college, the Chrysalis movement began in my area. This three-day retreat for high school students is based upon the transformation of a caterpillar into a Chrysalis to become a butterfly. Since I was too old to attend this weekend, I worked with my Emmaus roommate Dave, the adult version of Chrysalis, to start an accountability group in the Newark area to anyone who went on this weekend. When I heard the Seven Day Jesus song Butterfly, these memories flashed within my mind.

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

The apostle Pail speaks to this transformation in the passage above. Anyone who decides to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ must go through their own spiritual Chrysalis transformation. Colossians 3:1-14 speaks of the necessary steps and mindset needed to leave your former way of life. The hit series Lost produced a similar message in their season one episode Moth to illustrate this change. As you listen to Butterfly, may you seek to become closer to Jesus in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

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Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt

A friend who is a local pastor in Newark has a mantra that he repeats once a month, “hurt people hurt other people.”  Those who receive verbal attacks in the form of negative comments, put downs and sarcasm tend to build up resentment in their hearts.  At some point this frustration will boil over resulting in an emotional explosion.  This climate stunts one’s ability to love others on a constant basis.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, Isaiah 61:1.

Hurt people often wear emotions on their sleeves, sending out negative electricity when rubbed the wrong way.  Sadly, there are demented individuals who get their kicks by picking on someone until they explode.  This trend is made worse by social media sites which allow violent videos that gain attention or go viral.  In my mind, there isn’t anything funny about hurt people hurting others.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, John 14:27.

Jesus has provided a solution to hurt people in the passage above.  To overcome hate, Jesus extended peace to first century citizens.  Since talk is cheap, Jesus lived out love, reaching out to children, the helpless, poor and sick.  Even when the disciples wanted to call it a day or night, Jesus offered his time to strangers every day.  Despite being falsely accused, sentenced to death and dying on a cross, Jesus loved like He was never hurt.  In view of this, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with strength so that love will not die.

by Jay Mankus

 

Dreams Unlike Any Other

One of the least studied areas of the human mind is the power of dreaming.  Sometimes dreams are influenced by something you experienced, heard or saw earlier in the day.  This is the case of Julia Ward who passed by Union soldier’s singing a song about John Brown’s body on her way to the Willard Hotel.  The next night Julia Ward had a dream where the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic came to here.  This was truly a dream like any other.

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

When I was in college, I attended a local accountable group in Newark, Delaware.  While this group rotated homes on and off, we began meeting at my friend Eric’s house.  There were occasional nights where individuals drifted off on tangents, but most evenings I tried to stay on task, holding people to the promises and vows made the prior week.  On one particular evening, I couldn’t resist adding my own two cents, “why do you keep giving the same lame excuse time after time.”  That night I had a dream that I was in a bookstore.  When I turned the corner, I saw a book with a title exactly what Eric needed to help improve his quiet times with God.  Later that week, I went to look for some new music at a nearby Christian bookstore when I actually lived my dream.  Except, in this case as I turned the corner I bought this book, sharing my supernatural experience the following week.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” Acts 2:17.

According to a first century doctor, the Holy Spirit will usher in a future time where people of all ages will experience dreams and visions.  Although no exact time is mentioned, an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit will be the sign from heaven.  I won’t speculate whether this time has passed or is yet to come, but I will not limit what God can do.  Whether it’s the inspiration for a famous song or a call to action to help a friend,  I can’t wait to pass on the next amazing testimony about dreams unlike any other.

by Jay Mankus

Unusual Displays of Faith

One of my college roommates was a highly touted  football player coming out of high school.  Chiseled like a rock, Mike had the physique to play in college and possibly the pros.  However, when the Lord got a hold of his heart, a new passion blossomed.  Ditching the party scene, faith turned this giant into a man of praise.  Thus, weekend nights offered up a chance to relax, sit on a beach chair in the front yard and listen to worship music, interacting with strangers walking by.

This unusual display of faith inspired me to become more bold in my faith.  Although I don’t remember how it started, another Mike, Michael Mestern and I began a weekly tradition on Main Street.  Before each session, Mike and I prayed on the steps of the mall at the University of Delaware’s Campus in Newark.  Following this, we were moved to sing, like a street evangelist, walking back and forth, up and down Main Street, making a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Whether it was singing Christmas carols or songs from Chrysalis, the Holy Spirit guided us each evening like Galatians 5:25.  Sometimes we hummed, on certain occasions we raised our voices and most of the time we responded to conversations with praise.

The point of today’s blog is that you don’t have to be extremely gifted to be used by God, you just need to make yourself available.  Rollen Stewart displayed his faith by studying where cameras were set up during professional sporting telecasts.  Then, he used his wealth to purchase tickets, find the best place to stand out and hold up John 3:16 signs.  The question is: what are you waiting for or who are you trying to please?  May the words of 2 Timothy 1:6-7 inspire you to fan into flame your God given talents so that through usual or unusual means, the light of Christ will continue to shine, Colossians 4:2-6.

by Jay Mankus

 

Taking Your Phone for a Walk…

Huh?  What a preposterous concept.  That’s what I thought until I spent 2 hours on Main Street in Newark observing people.  Call it a psychology experiment or an unusual way to pass time on a boring summer day, yet technology has altered the way individuals communicate.

Instead of bringing a plastic bag along with you to pick poop, dogs are being replaced with iphones and smartphones.  Seeking immediate feedback, emails, texts and tweets are trending in the right direction, at least that’s what the masses think.  Listening to downloaded music on their stylish new buds, many are so consumed by the devise attached to their hands and or ears that they oblivious to the world around them.

Since language barriers were first established in Babel, Genesis 11:5-8, there have always been periods of division, misunderstandings and silence.  However, the evolution of cell phones has perverted social ethics.  Disinterest, disrespect and ignorance is on the rise, reaching epidemic proportions.  Thus, as blinded citizens continue to take their phones for a walk, its time for bystanders to help their neighbors break out of this spell, Galatians 3:1, until its too late.

What do you think about today’s cell phone manners?

by Jay Mankus

The Sounds of Violence

Yesterday, I was taking a walk on a cart path just north of down town Wilmington.  With a fence separating this golf course from nearby neighborhoods, I began to hear some commotion a few blocks away.  Voices gradually increased in volume, leading to a fervent disagreement between 2 individuals.  Others joined in yelling back and forth.  Memories of school yard fights flashed before my mind.  However, on this day, no fists, knives or guns were raised, just the sound of violence.

A few years ago in Newark, while having practice with my sons baseball team, I wasn’t as fortunate.  When a suspicious car rolled slowly through an adjacent street, several rounds of bullets were fired.  Before I knew it, I experienced my first drive by shooting, pulling the team quickly off the field into the building behind home plate.  The gunman proceeded to cross a creek behind the left field foul line, run across a field and hid near the University of Delaware until a police helicopter found him about a half hour later.  This time the sound of violence was too close for comfort.

The apostle Paul warned first century Christian’s that this day would come, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  His words were prophetic as children are regularly disobedient to adults and their parents.  Junior high and senior high teachers are now front row witnesses since the sound of violence has entered the classroom, especially in public education.  The consequence of this reality is persecution, with Christ absorbing this anger and hatred on the cross, Isaiah 53:3-11.  May the hope of this fulfilled prophecy help you overcome the sound of violence.

Please comment on how God has helped you rise above the violence in our world.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Joy Reemerged

On New Year’s Day, 2012, my oldest son, James and I played in a Disc Golf tournament.  After a small entry fee, James and I played well enough to earn a Frisbee, placing in our age brackets.  Before leaving, I also received money for winning a closest to the pin contest, 3 feet away.  We celebrated on the way home, going out to lunch with our 2 brand new discs.  Before last night, this was the last time I experienced joy.

This mood was broken by a chilling a phone call, a lost job and 18 months of hopelessness.  While I thought earlier in the year my luck was going to change, subtle signs from the Lord clearly revealed Chick-fil-A was not going to be in my future.  Falling apart on the inside, the prayers of dear friends and my church, has carried me across a barren desert of disappointment.

Deep in my heart, the only place I initially felt called was to coach Daniel, my younger son’s baseball team in Newark.  During my month as a Marketing Director, I was convicted by my lack of time with family.  In my absence, Coach Adrian, Coach Alex and my wife stepped in to fill the void left by me.  The team held their own, hovering above 500 before I returned.

Last night, winning the league championship culminated one of the most gratifying seasons ever as a coach.  Beside a few errors and base running blunders, every player contributed to score and or prevent runs from scoring.  Emotionally fragile at times like my last 18 months, everyone kept their composure until the final out.  The cherry on top is news earlier in the week of receiving a full time position with Amazon, with a start date set for next week.  I thank the Lord for holding me together and providing these blessings so that joy could reemerge.

by Jay Mankus

Feeling Better Now?

Misery loves company is a timeless expression which applies to nearly every generation.  Beside the Great Depression, a period forcing individuals to buckle up and bear down,  there is something comforting about discovering your life isn’t as bad as you first thought.  After complaining, moping and venting to others, sometimes this is all you need to do to feel better.

Such is the case in Psalm 88, where one of the sons of Korah airs his frustrations.  Sounding like an individual wrestling with depression, the gloom and doom, woe is me attitude can be felt by his troubling words.  Thus, as I read this chapter today, God gave me a new perspective on my own life.  Sure, I may not be where I want to be as an individual, professional and servant of Christ, but God has rescued me from the bitter pill of despair.

Like the double rainbow that appeared over the skies of Newark, Delaware last night, the flood has ceased and the sun is about to shine!  Don’t allow your own circumstances to block you from seeing the light, the positive.  Rather, claim the words of Psalm 88:13, believing that God will come to your side.  May God ease your pain, providing joy and peace to help you feel better now!

by Jay Mankus

Infestation

During the summer of 2004, a series of pop up thunderstorms hovered over portions of Newark, Delaware.  In a two week stretch, 27 inches of rain fell over my house, which happened to be undergoing a major makeover, adding a 3rd story.  While 3 separate waterfalls made it through to the first floor, my yard was a another story.

A new pond was added to our property, killing all the grass below.  Five truck loads of fill, 40 feet of drain tile and a retention pond was added to restore grass in my back yard.  Years of tilling, weeding and various applications brought a sense of pride back to my lawn.  However, like an episode of Animal Planet’s Infested, I woke up this morning to a weed infestation.

 

Living in the transition zone, between rye and bermuda  grass doesn’t help, yet there isn’t any grass remaining, except a few once plush sodded areas.  Dandelions, clovers and numerous aggressive weeds have erased 5 years of hard labor.  As in life, if you don’t keep up with daily maintenance, possessions begin to fall apart.  Likewise, if you don’t spend time in prayer, reading the Bible or in worship, a spiritual erosion washes your foundation away, Matthew 7:24-27.  Don’t wait any longer or your next infestation will drive you away from the people and things that you love!

by Jay Mankus

My Two Cents

During my junior year of college, I once attended a local church in Newark, Delaware, in walking distance of the University of Delaware campus.  Up to this point, I had never experienced a pentecostal worship service.  Beside realizing I couldn’t keep a beat or stay on clap with the regular members, something unusual happened during the tithe.  I have heard of 2 different offerings occasionally, one for the church and another for missions or a needy family.  However, this church had the quickest counters I have ever seen, informing the pastor after the song, there wasn’t enough money collected.

Since I was a typically college student at the time, poor with a few singles and some change in my pocket, I passed on my first opportunity to give.  Moments later, the pastor began preaching on Malachi 3:6-10, so I obliged giving nearly half of what I had in my wallet.  Just when I thought the actual sermon would begin, this preacher began to shout, “yelling you have to give until it hurts,” like the widow in Mark 12:41-44, informing the ushers to make one more pass around the pews.  Although the message he was trying to communicate was clear, this pastor’s tone turned my roommates and I off, never stepping foot into that church again.

I believe tithing is like going to church, reading the Bible or praying.  If someone forces you to do any of these biblical principles, you may agree to do it, yet there is a void which exists within your heart.  When you take ownership of your faith, you want to go to church, read the Bible and pray.  Therefore, your heart is the key to giving, which led the widow to offer up her 2 copper coins worth a fraction of a modern penny in Mark 12.  For what it is worth, my two cents are give in secret, Matthew 6:3-4 and give back to others what God has bestowed upon you, Galatians 6:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

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