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S.A.N.S. Episode 352: Caroline

While a first century doctor features a story about a prodigal son, this doesn’t mean that prodigal daughters didn’t exist in the first century. Jesus spent time ministering to a woman at a well in John 4. After a slight back and forth in their conversation, Jesus reveals that this woman has been in a series of sexual relationships and the man she is currently with is not her husband as well. When this discussion ended, a spiritual hungry was left within this woman’s heart.

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. 13 And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. 14 And when he had spent all he had, a [g]mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want, Luke 15:11-14.

Seventh Day Slumber sings about a similar topic in their song Caroline. While it’s unclear if the song writer is referring to a friend or relative, but Caroline appears to be someone’s prodigal daughter. Due to unknown circumstances, Caroline has taken a break from God and is living life under her own terms. May the lyrics of Caroline inspire you to reach out to fellow Christians who have gone astray and have yet to come back to their senses.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 50: That Lonesome Road

Today’s featured song comes from a band that formed during my senior year of high school. Mad at the World debuted in 1987 in Southern California behind the efforts of two brothers: Roger and Randy Rose. This group combines the in-your-face passion of punk rock with an alternative style of Christian music. That Lonesome Road serves as a warning for those who make bad choices in life.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[f]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

The lyrics of That Lonesome Road is a modern-day prodigal son song of what happens to human beings who make bad decisions. Sin has a way of separating Christians from the people who love them. Yet, like Peter’s initial encounter with the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia, choosing temporary pleasures in life will lead to loneliness and disappointment. May That Lonesome Road inspire you to take the path less traveled, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

For Every Wrong Turn… God’s Spirit Will Guide You Back Home

A first century doctor devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to illustrating the lengths to which God will go to search for lost and wayward souls. Luke 15 is broken down into 3 stories about a lost sheep, lost coin and prodigal son. For every wrong turn you may take in life, there is a Shepherd and Father who is waiting for you to make a U-turn back toward the Lord. Unfortunately, when most people get lost, pride or a stubborn heart keeps you from asking for directions to get back on the right track.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

Most prodigal stories resemble the 40 year journey of Israel from the Exodus out of Egypt to the promised land. Perhaps human nature is to blame as I’ve done my own wandering away from the Lord. One of my college friends once told me, “stop using Jesus as a crutch.” When times were good, I had a tendency to go off on my own, leaving the Lord behind as my Bible collected dust. Yet, when I broke my ankle playing sand volleyball just before my final year of college, this was a sign to come back to Jesus.

If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit [g]we have our life in God, let us go forward [h]walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit,] Galatians 5:25.

Unfortunately, most of the time things aren’t so obvious. This is where the Holy Spirit can intervene, to guide you back home. However, the context of the passage above includes an internal tug of war. Human nature feeds on cravings, desires and impulses that can ravage souls if not contained, Galatians 5:16-18. The apostle Paul provides crucial advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13. The next time you make a wrong turn by ending up in a tempting situation, look for the way out as you listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you back home.

by Jay Mankus

God’s Help or Satan’s Hurt

During a trip to Gibeon, King Solomon experienced a special dream one night. According to 1 Kings 3, the Lord appeared to Solomon in this dream, asking him to make a decision between wealth or wisdom. After thoroughly examining his options, Solomon requested a discerning heart and understanding mind. This decision pleased the Lord resulting in a life of blessings, riches and wealth like no other ruler in the Bible.

Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of David my father, and I am but a lad [in wisdom and experience]; I know not how to go out (begin) or come in (finish). Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who cannot be counted for multitude. So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people? – 1 King 3:7-9

In the first century, the apostle Paul writes a letter to a teenage pastor named Timothy. Apparently, Timothy was uncertain and unsure of what position to take on wealth. The passage above provides biblical insight and perspective. While blessings are a sign of God’s favor, Satan uses riches as a vessel for temptation. Thus, when money becomes your god, God’s initial help can quickly turn into Satan’s hurts.

But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. 10 For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs, 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

You don’t have to look any further than the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 to understand this concept. A younger son became consumed by his share of an inheritance. Before receiving this money, his mind became filled with earthly pleasures. Like an addict who can’t control himself, the prodigal son quickly became Exhibit A for Satan’s hurt. Broke, desperate and homeless, the only way to overcome Satan’s hurt is coming to your senses. May this story of redemption inspire you to embrace God’s help so Satan’s hurt becomes a thing of the past.

by Jay Mankus

How Many Times Does God Have to Bail Us Out?

Depending upon where you live, different phrases express the trouble that you are in.  Perhaps, you’re caught in a pickle, in the dog house, down the stream without a paddle or stuck in a precarious situation.  However you want to say it, it won’t be long before fate places you into a predicament where only God can bail us out.

Some of you may be like Joseph from the Bible, the envy of your family.  Thus, jealousy causes siblings to gang up on you, tease you or inflict emotional scars.  You press on only to find yourself falsely accused of someone else’s wrong doing.  As your reputation takes a hit, time and trust is the only thing you can do repair others opinions of you.  Despite the trials you endure, the Lord’s favor is upon you, showering you with blessings from heaven.

Unfortunately, most people fall into a different category, leaning more toward the prodigal son.  Curious, stubborn and unwilling to change, a series of poor choices results in a downward spiral.  By now, temptation is long gone, replaced by addiction, bad habits or cravings for temporary pleasures.  Call it human nature or self-realization, but until you come to your senses, Luke 15:17, you still think you can save yourself.  If this slide continues to the bottom of the barrel in life, your cries for help become more genuine, “help me Lord?”

How many times does God have to bail us out?   According to Matthew 18:21-22, forgiveness is suppose to be limitless.  If you reach out for help, God will extend hands of grace.  Therefore, whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, Romans 10:9-13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Anal or Apathetic?

There was in time in American history when most of its’ citizens would cross their i’s and dot their t’s.  This was considered normal, a byproduct of rugged individualism.  Unfortunately, those days have passed, leaving 2 extremes on either side of the spectrum: anal or apathetic.

Someone who is anal tends to be meticulous, a stickler for the rules, paying close attention to details.  A negative connotation of anal are individuals who are OCD, suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.  Meanwhile,  those who seem disinterested, emotionless or half-hearted are associated with apathy.  Thus, there is a growing generation of people who either care too much or are tuning out society, lukewarm at best about life.

Jesus wasn’t a fan of politics, but he did speak out and against religious leaders who allowed ideology to trump God’s Word.  Essentially, the anal are similar to self-righteous souls who look down at the flaws, mistakes and sinners around them without looking at themselves in the mirror.  Whereas the apathetic realize their condition, yet like the prodigal son, most keep on going down a path toward destruction.  Whether you are anal, apathetic or somewhere in between, may the parable of the Two Sons in Matthew 21:28-32 straighten you out to develop a Christ like life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Desperation: A Recipe for Restoration

In the 1971, Carly Simon released Anticipation, featuring the song that inspired this album.  Eight years later, Heinz Ketchup developed the slogan, “Anticipation is making me wait,” by mixing Carly Simon’s song with images of ketchup slowly flowing out of a bottle.  During an interview on National Public Radio, also known as NPR, Carly Simon shared the meaning of Anticipation.  While waiting for Cat Stevens to pick her up on their first date, the lyrics to this song were formed and the rest is history.

Although ketchup and God don’t have any thing in common, Heinz’ marketing campaign and Carly Simon’s song illustrate how the Lord works behind the scenes.  God allows individuals to experience desperation, causing hearts to develop a sense of urgency.  As one hungers for something more in life like the prodigal son in Luke 15:16-20, a recipe for restoration is generated.  Thus, despite any anguish, brokenness and heartache people have to endure, the Lord uses desperation to lead hurting souls beside still waters, Psalm 23:1-6.

Everyone understands how painful waiting can be.  Whether you’re at the hospital anticipating news from a doctor regarding life or death, impatiently waiting for God to answer your prayers or searching for clues to understand the trial you are currently undergoing, each scenario breeds desperation.  Like Nicodemus, seeking out Jesus at night in John 3:1, sometimes you have to humble yourself, realize you’re not in control and kneel before God, Luke 7:37-38.  May any lukewarm spirit holding you down be expelled as God uses desperation as a recipe for restoration.

by Jay Mankus

 

Putting God on Hold

In an attempt to upgrade my faith during the month of March, I have uncovered a poor mannerism.  When you blow off friends by failing to respond to instant messages, texts or calls, relationships become strained.  Unless you quickly apologize, you might not keep the friendships you possess.  Unfortunately, I have developed a pattern of this behavior, not with people, but with God.

After a time of prayer and Bible reading each morning, I am swayed by the Holy Spirit to either read another chapter, do research on an interesting topic or write a blog based upon something I learned.  As I try to prioritize my time with my used golf ball business, coaching baseball and trying to find a full-time job, I find myself putting God on hold for hours.  Before I realize it, I’m tired, its getting late and I still haven’t taken God off hold mode, giving lip service without any action.

Fortunately, I serve a God of second chances, giving me a fresh start every morning, Lamentations 3:23.  Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God is looking out for us on his front porch, waiting for our return, Luke 15:20.  Therefore, take out your ear plugs, Psalm 38:13-15, listen for the knocks, Revelation 3:20 and make a reservation with God today before distractions lead you to put God on hold for yet another day.

by Jay Mankus

Shout It Out

Tears for Fears once sang about releasing emotions in their song Shout.  “Shout, shout, let it all out;  These are the things I can do without, come on – I’m talking to you.”  Meanwhile, a laundry product called Shout claimed they could remove any spot on clothing by applying their special ingredients to make stains disappear.  While one brings back great memories and the other a mother’s dream, this blog is devoted to giving a shout out to words of the prophet Zechariah.

According to Zechariah 3:1, Satan is like a stain that just won’t come out, permanently damaging our spiritual clothes.  Left with filthy clothing, tainted by sin, these blemishes are a constant remainder of our imperfections, Zechariah 3:3.  Just when your mind comes to grips with this helpless state, an angel intervenes.  Shouting it out, this angel provides first class dry cleaning, replacing the old with a new outfit, Zechariah 3:4-5.

Serving as a spiritual laundry detergent, the Lord Almighty has a special day planned.  Revealed in Zechariah 3:9, God plans to remove all the sins of this land in a single day.  News like this is comparable to the excitement demonstrated by the prodigal son on the day he returned to his father, Luke 15:20.  Therefore, don’t act nonchalantly; rather stand up and shout it out, rejoicing about the forgiveness, grace and mercy poured out upon you and me to erase our dirty laundry.

by Jay Mankus

All In His Hands

The remnants of 2012 can only be described as life altering for me.  While residents of the New Jersey and New York coast continue to pick up the pieces of their personal possessions, I am trying to recover from an employment hurricane which began with a phone call on January 1st and ended today, New Year’s Eve, losing my job with Amazon.  This storm has eroded my credentials, weakened my resume and washed my vision for the future into the sea.  Like a mangled piece of wood surviving an F-5 tornado, God has stripped away any remaining ego, bringing me to my knees.

Similar to a fool full of non-sense, I believed I could do anything I put my mind toward prior to 2012.  As I tried to take things into my own hands, I failed miserably, coming up empty for position after position.  Some where between coaching and teaching, I had overlooked the truth of James 1:17.  Meanwhile, prayerful hopes of naming and claiming authority over my financial mess proved void of any immediate help.  The image which summarizes how I really feel is found in Luke 15:16.  Just as the prodigal son yearned for food, I longed for closure, yet neither came for each of us.

Thus, I’ve come to the bottom of the barrel at the end of 2012.  Though it seemed to take an eternity, I am reaching out to my senses, Luke 15:17.  Only the Lord, Jehovah-Jireh as Abraham described Him in Genesis 22:14, can provide what my family and I need.  Although my spiritual cup is empty, living water is available, John 4:13-14.  From here on out, my finances, future employment and all that I need to sustain life are all in God’s Hands!  May this lesson be less painful for you than it has been for me.

by Jay Mankus

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