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S.A.N.S. Episode 307: O Holy Night

Rush Limbaugh introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller as it was one of his favorite groups to play on his radio show every Christmas season. O Holy Night was one of the Carols my parents church in Ohio would sing annually as part of their midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The service began at 10:30 p.m. with singing the first half hour. Following this time of worship, a tradition Catholic Mass lasted an hour as the final hymn ended right around midnight every year.

Now in the sixth month [after that], the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 To a girl never having been married and a [v]virgin engaged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [[w]endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! [x]Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women! – Luke 1:26-28.

Before moving to Cleveland, I focused on the commercialism and gifts that I received Christmas morning. Yet, this 90-minute service every Christmas Eve helped turn my attention away from what was waiting for me under a tree at home and toward that holy night more than 2000 years ago. As you listen to today’s feature song O Holy Night, may the lyrics help prepare your heart to make room for Jesus this season and throughout 2023.

by Jay Mankus

The Greater Your Love…The Bigger Your Sacrifice

Jesus makes two transformational comments about love which one disciple couldn’t get off of his mind. The first is made to a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Based upon John 7:50-52 and John 19:38-42, the passage below changed Nick’s life. Meanwhile, the second passage was spoken to all 12 disciples during Passion Week. Unfortunately, none of the disciples were mentally prepared for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

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.

Between my best two friends in high school, Carl and Paul, I was voted most likely to get married first. While I spent college trying to figure out which qualities I wanted in a future wife, I was an all or nothing kind of guy so I stayed single as my two friends got married. During a pre-marriage conference in Cleveland, Ohio, I learned that I needed to have a will to love before I could truly love Leanne.

This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:12-13.

As a former middle and high school coach, it’s easy to distinguish the committed from the uncommitted. Attitudes and actions revealed who would become great and who might improve but would likely remain average at best. Jesus didn’t just talk about God in parables. Rather, Jesus was a man of action, living out and fulfilling that which He promised. The greater your love, the bigger your sacrifice as a parent or spouse.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 177: Dance

Today’s song reminds me of the classic film Footloose. Yet, Hoi Polloi’s music is alternative and more modern than the1980’s soundtrack Hoi Polloi was formed in New Zealand by vocalist Jenny Gullen and her husband. Jenny’s voice provides the feel of the Indigo Girls, but with creative lyrics and style that gives Hoi Polloi their distinct sound.

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:4.

Dancing was one of my favorite pastimes in high school and college. While I started out like Kenneth Wormald’s character in Footloose, I ended up developing into a smooth dancer. Songs like Dance remind me of my college days where I went clubbing with friends every summer in Cleveland, Ohio. When you play today’s you tube, I hope you’re inspired to put on your dancing shoes.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 164: Heart of the Journey

Today’s song is from an artist who is a hidden gem. Michele Wagner grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and received her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Ohio State University in 1983. When I first heard Heart of the Journey on a local Christian radio station in college, I was moved by the lyrics. According to Michele, trusting in God’s plan for her life is the heart of the journey.

 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.

The author of Hebrews 12:1 compares life to running a marathon. Rather than ending after 26.2 miles, a spiritual journey does not conclude until you have breathed your last breath. As you live each new day like it’s your last, turn to Jesus daily. When your journey takes a slight detour, keep in step with the Holt Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you don’t get lost along the way.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 122: How Could I Ask for More?

When I was working full time in youth ministry, Cindy Morgan was one of my favorite female Christian artists. While working in Columbus, Indiana at a Methodist Church, Cindy was one of the featured artists at an outdoor concert at Mill Race Park. The album that touched my heart the most was Real Life. At this time, there wasn’t many artists who addressed real life issues like How Could I Ask for More?

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([c]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

As a child, the alure with being rich and famous is common. Yet, when my parents moved to a wealthy area of Ohio and my girlfriend Leanne lived in an affluent suburb in Chicago, the emptiness of wealth was revealed to me. I didn’t see what I expected except for a desire to keep up with the Joneses. Looking back, the lyrics of How Could I Ask For Me reminds me that happiness comes the love of Jesus. So as my future job in South Carolina is still unknown, all I can do is thank God for the little things as I wait.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 95: Rescue Me

Today’s artist screams 1980’s. While I went out to Karaoke every Wednesday night at Rick’s Cafe in Chagrin Falls, Ohio over the summer, I had several college friends who were more musically talented. A couple of them joined bands who possessed a similar feel and sound to the Alarm. My best comparison of the Alarm is more upbeat than John Cougar Mellencamp but softer than Cheap Trick.

Do justice to the weak (poor) and fatherless; maintain the rights of the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; rescue them out of the hand of the wicked, Psalm 82:3-4.

When you’re young, old or somewhere in between, you will find yourself in situations that require some sort of rescue. Other people are often their own worst enemy, needing to be rescued from themselves. Whatever the case, remember the words of Jesus in Luke 19:10. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Romans 10:11 serves as a confirmation to those who call on the name of the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 78: Devastation and Reform

Today’s features song is from a group that formed in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I first discovered Reliant K back in 2011, shortly before I became unemployed. Several of Reliant K’s songs spoke to during this difficult time in my life. Yet, Devastation and Reform comes from the Five Score and Seven Years Ago album.

Trust not in the lying words [of the false prophets who maintain that God will protect Jerusalem because His temple is there], saying, This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly and truly execute justice between every man and his neighbor, Jeremiah 7:4-5.

I could have chosen one of a dozen different songs from Reliant K. However, the beat and lyrics of Devastation and Reform combine a classic sound with a moving message. Since no one is immune from devastation, everyone has the opportunity to bounce back from disappointment. The next time you find yourself on the verge of self-destructing, play Devastation and Reform so that you will be inspired to overcome trials and tribulations that life throws at you.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 52: Keep My Mind

When I lived in Columbus, Indiana a friend invited me to a Margaret Becker concert in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following the concert, I volunteered to help break down the stage and pack Margaret’s bus for her next concert. The interactions that I had with Margaret and her team that night made me a fan for life. In an age filled with compromise, Margaret has remained true to her faith and music ministry.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 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, Colossians 3:1-3.

The lyrics of today’s song Keep My Mind reminds me of one of the apostle Paul’s epistles. Depending upon the mindset that you hold will dictate the attitude and behavior that you display in life. When my heart and mind is set on Jesus, I feel my better about the present and my future. Yet, when I tend to be more selfish, I feel empty inside. As you listen to Keep My Mind, follows Paul’s advice listed above.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 13: Leaving Jesus

Sometimes artists use a play on words to communicate a completely different message from what a title suggests. Such is the case of today’s song by Send the Beggar, an alternative rock group from Columbus, Ohio. While living in Cleveland I came across this band which is one of my favorites despite their limited number of albums, just two. Send the Beggar’s sound and lyrics struck a cord with my soul while in college.

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice, be in high spirits and glory with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem [in that day], Zephaniah 3:14.

Leaving Jesus refers to making a spiritual impact on your community. Rather than abandon Jesus while out in public, Send the Beggar wants their listeners to leave behind a legacy of faith. Apparently, parts of Columbus were run down and dangerous. As a former social worker for the Methodist Action Plan in inner city, Wilmington, cleaning up run down areas gives people hope of a brighter future by leaving Jesus everywhere you go in life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Volume 4: All the Darkness

Today’s song dates back to my wedding in 1995. I was put in charge of two specific details: the disc jockey at the reception and the music played at our wedding. The week of our wedding, I got a call from my friend who had his van stolen with all of his music inside. Fortunately, our DJ was able to borrow enough music so that the reception was saved. Yet, this doesn’t excuse All the Darkness that occurs throughout the world on a daily basis.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

As for the wedding music, I asked my best friend from Ohio to sing Steve Wiggins’ song All the Darkness. Phil was a youth pastor in Springfield while I was at a church in Columbus, Indiana. Every Monday we met at a mall in Cincinnati for lunch. Phil taught me how to have fun while serving the Lord with competitive games of Laser Tag and mini-golf. Phil nailed the song as Leanne’s and my mother lite the unity candle. May the lyrics of All the Darkness stir and touch your soul as it did for me more than 25 years ago.

by Jay Mankus

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