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S.A.N.S. Episode 150: Slow Motion Suicide

I was a big fan of the rock group Kansas as a teenager. Carry On Wayward Son and Dust in the Wind were my two favorites. Looking back, the lyrics of these two songs have spiritual elements which likely influenced lead singer Kerry Livgren to transition to a solo career. Today’s featured song Slow Motion Suicide comes from Livgren’s AD album. Not many artists have a PHD in music, but Kerry was way ahead of his time in using a variety of instruments and sounds during his career as a Christian artist.

And casting the pieces of silver [forward] into the [Holy Place of the [b]sanctuary of the] temple, he departed; and he went off and hanged himself, Matthew 27:5.

While the topic of today’s song isn’t positive, there is a reason I selected this tune. As someone who planned my own suicide as a child, most people don’t just wake up one day and decide to kill themselves. Rather, this thought is planted inside fragile minds by the Devil. As children are bullied, made fun of and or teased, ideas like “if I was dead nobody would care anyway” pop into depressed heads. Unless someone intervenes, this slow motion mindset will give birth to suicide. Stop these thoughts via prayer.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 149: The Only Thing I Need

During my final two years of high school, Yes became my favorite rock band. The 90125 album was weekly playing in my tape deck, highlighted by Changes. Since lead singer Jon Anderson has such a distinct voice, I was ecstatic to discover that he began to appear as a guest singer on Christian albums. While I could have selected a song from Anderson’s solo album, I chose The Only Thing I Need.

And my God will liberally supply ([i]fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

As a famous rock star, Jon Anderson didn’t need to rely on God for his daily needs. Yet, like any prodigal, Jon came to a point in life where he discovered the only thing he truly needed in life was Jesus. Thanks to an invitation to join 4Him in singing The Only Thing I Need; this reality has been passed on to former Yes fans. May the passage above become a daily prayer as you learn to trust God to supply all your needs.

by Jay Mankus

A Prayer to Carry On

As I was driving from Delaware to South Carolina last Friday, I was listening to my favorite soft rock mix. As I was reminiscing about my past 25 years living in Delaware, the sound Breathe You In by Thousand Foot Krutch began playing. When I got stuck in D.C. traffic, I had time to replay this song several times to study the lyrics. During this time of reflection, I realized that Breathing God In is a prayer to carry on.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

One of the most moving portions of Breathe You In occurs during the liine “I’ve tried so hard to not walk away when things don’t go my way.” When adversity strikes, human nature has a way of doubting God. Therefore, whenever negative thoughts begin to fill your mind, it’s essential to cry out to Jesus when you’re weak to give you the strength to carry on, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.

At the conclusion of his letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul encourages Christians to not give up hope. Regardless of how tired and weary you may become, don’t waste all the time and effort that you’ve put into life. While meditation isn’t often associated with Christianity, when you visualize Breathing in the Holy Spirit, God will give you the will to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 146: Speak to Me

It’s not often that a song changes your life, but Kari Jobe’s Speak to Me worship montage transformed my perspective. When I stumbled upon this version on You Tube, I was going through a trying period at work. Due to a series of transitions, my cushy job was being turned upside down. In my despair, the words of Speak to Me became a daily prayer, asking God for comfort and peace.

Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me, John 14:6.

Over the course of a month, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the positive aspects of my life. Like the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8-9, my anxieties and stress were slowly replaced by the excellent and praise worthy things that God has blessed me with over the years. If the timing of this blog finds you going through a similar struggle, may the words of Speak to Me draw you closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Trying God’s Patience

Patience is one of those areas in life where I continue to struggle. Whether I’m driving in a car, waiting in a line or pleading with God in prayer for a specific request, I want things to happen on my time. History is filled with individuals who forced the issue, trying to make something happen without God. According to Moses, when human beings start to blame God for things not going as expected, we try the Lord’s patience.

Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at [Mount] Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah [proof] and Meribah [contention] because of the faultfinding of the Israelites and because they tempted and tried the patience of the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not? – Exodus 17:6-7

For the last 6 months, I’ve had my own wilderness experience. Rather than travel to a promised land, I’ve done everything in my power to find a job in South Carolina. My initial plan was to submit paperwork for an internal transfer within Amazon to a facility close to where my mother in law resides who is currently in hospice care. While I’m aware of some of my shortcomings as an individual and worker, I’m either testing God’s patience or the Lord has a completely different plan for my life.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. 12 Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer, Romans 12:11-12.

Failure and rejection are becoming a weekly occurrence to me, The last time I’ve seen this much resistance to a specific career is when I tried to pass the Players Ability Test as an assistance golf professional. Despite hitting 26 of 36 greens in regulation, I had 40 putts in round one, including a 4 putt. I missed by 2 strokes with 7 putts on the easiest hole over 2 rounds. Since my journey to South Carolina begins this weekend, I’m either going to try God’s patience by not knowing God’s will or receive a job in the final hour. Only time will tell.

by Jay Mankus

Rapt in God’s Power

When I read the passage below last week, I was reminded of one special night in college. Earlier in the evening, I attended a night of prayer sponsored by one of the Christian groups on the University of Delaware’s campus. At first, I was hesitant, afraid I might stutter as I prayed out loud. Yet, with each passing hour I became wrapped in God’s power. After this time of prayer concluded, I was so spiritually pumped up that I went on a prayer walk with a friend, witnessing to anyone who passed by.

I was in the Spirit [rapt in His power] on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a great voice like the calling of a [i]war trumpet, Revelation 1:10.

Based upon the context of the passage above, John was rapt in God’s power. Similar to a student seeking to absorb every word of a professor like a sponge, John was fixated on the voice speaking, John describes a mental state which people refer to today as being in the zone. While training for the upcoming cross country season in high school, some nights I entered into a trance as my body went into cruise control. This intense concentration is similar to what the apostle Paul calls keeping in step with God’s Spirit,

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [[d]full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

One of the best ways to keep in step with the Holy Spirit today is by reading and studying the Bible. Like a body builder working on every muscle in their body, meditating on biblical principles taps into God’s promises to His followers. When I start writing my blogs for the week, I often receive rhemas. These thoughts flow from a verse or portion of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to my attention with application to a current situation or need. When you draw near to God as James 4:8 instructs, rapt in God’s power can become a reality.

by Jay Mankus

Rise Like an Edifice

An edifice is an imposing building. This may be complex, elegant and or large in stature. In the passage below, edifice is like a city on a hill in Matthew 5:14. According to Jude, one of the best ways to rise like an edifice is to pray in the Holy Spirit. If the apostle Paul was correct in his assumption in Galatians 5:25, once you learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit your faith will rise like an edifice under construction.

 But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [[d]make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit; Jude 1:20.

During a first century conversation with his disciples, Jesus introduces the concept of moving mountains through belief, faith and prayer, Matthew 21:18-22. According to Jesus, belief is the difference between living an ordinary life and rising like an edifice. Perhaps confidence is the key that distinguishes one Christians prayer life above another. The greater your faith, the larger the mountains you’ll move.

Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—[which will bring you] unto life eternal, Jude 1:21.

Beside developing and strengthening your prayer life, Jude encourages first century Christians to guard and keep your lives in the love of God. Jesus’ earthly brother provides directions to obtain this spiritual state in James 4:7-10. As you draw near to God, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25. If you want to rise like an edifice, listen to the instructions of God’s Word so faith continues to grow.

by Jay Mankus

No Doubt About It

One of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church is a time of prayer during each mass. Depending upon the congregation or priest, a list of prayers is usually read out loud. Following each individual request, the audience responds with “Lord hear our prayer.” One of Jesus’ disciples writes about this in the passage below. According to John, God does hear these prayers and there’s no doubt about it.

And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him, 1 John 5:15.

It’s not uncommon for children to adopt an invisible friend when they are young. While parents may be uneasy about this behavior, this is the power of the imagination of a child at work. Similar to Robin Williams’ adult character in the film Hook, age and time have a way of sucking the joy out of parents. Rather than revel in the innocence of being young, the Devil has a way of wearing down faith, John 10:10.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:20-22.

During a first century walk, Jesus teaches his disciples a powerful lesson about pray. This isn’t a meaningless imaginary exercise where you pretend to talk to an invisible God. Rather prayer is maximized when Christians approach God without doubt. Having belief and faith takes prayer to the next level. To those who pray without a doubt begin to move the mountains blocking God’s path for you.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 114: Perfect Day

Manchester, England is often associated with football, a.k.a. Europe’s soccer. However, today’s song comes from a group based in Manchester. LZ7 was founded by Lindz West in 2005. LZ7 uses Christian electronic dance to share their faith through hip music. While there are a couple of different versions of Perfect Day on You Tube, I selected the one with Lauren Olds.

And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out. 39 [So] He went throughout the whole of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons, Mark 1:38-39.

When you wake in the morning, everyone has aspirations for having the day of your life. Movies like Dead Poets Society point to the Latin expression Carpe Diem: seize the day. This is exactly what Jesus does in the passage above. Beginning his day with a walk and time in prayer, the Holy Spirit leads Jesus to the exact place where God wants his disciples to go. The rest is history and the first of many Perfect Days. Unfortunately, when a human being exercises their own free will via a school shooting, days and lives are forever ruined. May a spirit of prayer lift up all families impacted by today’s tragedy in Uvalde.

by Jay Mankus

Absolute Confidence

Confidence is the belief, feeling, or inner desire that you can rely on someone or something. Whether you’re a gifted academic, natural athlete or possess unique trade skills, certain talents come with ease. The more this special quality is fine-tuned, individuals begin to develop an absolute confidence in their ability. The Bible speaks of a spiritual absolute confidence.

We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him], 1 John 5:18.

According to a member of Jesus’ inner circle, absolute confidence is conceived when individuals become born again. This spiritual conception comes from the Holy Spirit who gives Christians everything they need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4. The apostle Paul compares the Holy Spirit to an invisible force that you can feel and sense as you walk through life, Galatians 5:25.

And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land, Job 1:8-10.

One of the reasons why evil exists in this world is due to a lack of prayer coverage. Based upon the oldest book in the Bible, Satan complained that God was placing a hedge of protection around Christian leaders. Only when this hedge was removed, did Job become vulnerable to spiritual attacks. The act of sin is merely a byproduct of losing faith by giving into natural desires. The end goal is to become filled with Christ’s strength so that the Devil will not lay a hand on you. This is absolute confidence.

by Jay Mankus

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